Splinter (The Machinists Book 2)

Splinter (The Machinists Book 2) by Craig Andrews

Book: Splinter (The Machinists Book 2) by Craig Andrews Read Free Book Online
Authors: Craig Andrews
else.” He pointed at the damaged power port.
    “What happened?” Liam asked, eyes wide. He traced the blackened port with a finger.
    “The battery died,” Allyn said. “I tried to power it back up.”
    “You what?”
    “Don’t look at me like that. I was curious.”
    Liam shook his head.
    “Do you think I ruined it?” Allyn asked.
    “It depends on how much power you used. You could have melted the circuits together. We won’t know until I start the transfer.”
    “I’m sorry, Liam,” Allyn said. “It worked for a second.”
    Liam pursed his lips, clearly disappointed.
    “If you are still able to transfer the files,” Allyn began. He thought about how to explain. “The desktop was empty, except for that one master folder, but even before the accident, the computer was pretty beaten up. I have a hard time believing that the one folder was the only thing ever on the computer.”
    “You think someone wiped the hard drive?”
    “Yeah,” Allyn said.
    Liam sat back, a contemplative look on his face. “Then we found only what they wanted us to find.”
    “Exactly,” Allyn said. “But I’m just as interested in what they didn’t want us to find. It might tell us whose computer it was and lead us to who’s behind all of this.”
    “Unless the computer was stolen.”
    “I hadn’t thought about that.” Allyn’s budding enthusiasm soured a bit. “But then again, if it was stolen, why go through the trouble to wipe the hard drive?”
    “I don’t know,” Liam said slowly. “I can still try to recover the lost files, but it’s going to depend on how they wiped the hard drive. If they did a quick delete, then there will be fragments and archived information, but if they did it right, we’ll be lucky to find anything more than crumbs.”
    “And if it was stolen, the information will lead us nowhere.”
    “True.”
    Allyn shrugged. “Anything is better than what we have at the moment.”
    Liam nodded and sat up a little straighter. Allyn had given him a project, and more than that, they still had hope. Allyn felt a little better, too. The tension in his shoulders was melting away. If anyone could salvage the computer and recover its information, Liam could.
    As Allyn’s pressure and anxiety eased, the lack of sleep threatened to catch up to him. He leaned his head on the window and looked out. It was the darkest kind of night, where the moon and the stars were hidden behind a thick mass of clouds, and even the streetlamps were off or burned out. They followed the river; its slow moving water looked like shadowed glass. Their car was the only car on the otherwise lonely highway.
    Allyn pulled away from the window abruptly. The river was on the wrong side of the road. “Where are we going?” he asked.
    Jaxon shifted in his seat but remained silent. The rest of the car’s occupants watched him but didn’t pipe in with additional questions. Allyn didn’t like it. Jaxon was the acting grand mage, but his time in that position was limited, and he’d made a point of including Liam and Allyn, along with Leira and Nyla, in his decisions. Wherever they were going, whatever they were doing, it was for Jaxon, not the Family.
    They rode in silence for a time, continuing to follow the river until, eventually, Mason turned off the highway onto an old two-lane logging road. The winding road led them deep into the forest, and Allyn quickly lost all sense of direction. Mason turned onto a narrower lane, where a steep cliff was slowly overtaking the asphalt, then from it to another, always going uphill and deeper into the wilderness. The paranoid part of Allyn felt like an abused pet unknowingly being driven into the woods to be abandoned, but the rational part watched his surroundings, a realization brewing. The deeper and deeper Mason drove, the clearer and clearer their destination became.
    Allyn caught Liam’s eye. “The manor?” he mouthed silently.
    Liam’s eyes grew wide, and he watched their

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