In the morning morning, Lauren and her group talk about Earthseed. They find it comforting, sort of like church. They've been taking a few days to rest, and they feel triumphant about the fact that they've continued to survive. Writing in her journal, Lauren reviews the recent past.
During a noon stop on Tuesday—September 14 (yes, we're jumping back a few days)—a battle has ensued. When Emery takes the two little girls Tori and Doe out of sight to pee, the three are attacked by a gang of bald men. Lauren and her group fight them off, with Lauren successfully shooting one opponent after he grabs Tori.
From hyperempathy, Lauren collapses like the man she shot, but she's soon back up to continue the battle. She shoots another attacker, and then she and Bankole retreat behind trees to keep firing. The attackers shoot at them, and they—Lauren, Bankole, and Harry—shoot back. The attackers finally flee, and Lauren passes out from a minor bullet wound.
When Lauren recovers, she finds out that Jill was shot to death during the fight. Allie—Jill's sister—is very upset.
The group buries Jill and decides to camp where they are.
Zahra asks Lauren if she's realized there's something unusual about the newcomers (Emery, Tori, and Grayson Mora), and it dawns our heroes that these newcomers are sharers: they have the same hyperempathy condition that Lauren has. That's why they're touchy and nervous all the time.
Grayson tells Lauren that they all need to leave before the attackers come back: it turns out the attackers are the painted-faced pyro addicts everyone fears.
Grayson also asks Lauren how many times she "died" from hyperempathy. She says three or four times, and she points out that he looks fine. He didn't defend the group when they were under attack, in other words, so she's insulting him.
Grayson says he had to protect Doe and had no gun, anyway, but he also says he'll fight to protect everyone if the group teaches him to shoot.
The group starts heading out on the road, and Grayson asks Lauren about them all. She explains that they don't kill unless threatened, they don't eat human flesh, and they help one another instead of stealing from each other.
Grayson agrees to live their way, but he doesn't understand why Lauren is the only sharer in the company of non-sharers. Lauren isn't sure what's up with him, but she again thinks he's a former slave.
Lauren comforts Allie as she grieves the loss of her sister. Lauren notices how they're all functioning as a family and taking care of one another.
As the group continues to walk, Lauren talks with Emery. Emery thinks they're free of the attackers, but the fires the attackers have been setting might catch up with them. They also talk about the hyperempathy sharing. Lauren asks Emery if children always inherit it. Emery says sometimes kids inherit it, and sometimes they don't; bosses prefer to buy workers/slaves who have the syndrome.
Our heroes notice a fire catching up with them.
Trying to stay ahead of the fire, our heroes walk more quickly. They risk taking one rest break, but they fear they'll have to walk all night. By the time they get going again, the fire, behind them, is on both sides of the road. It's like a terrifying moving wall headed in their direction.
The group takes turns pushing the carriage and Bankole's cart.
By night, smoke and ash swirl around everyone, so they have to tie clothes around their noses and mouths to protect themselves. Eventually, they make it to safety.
Lauren's group beds down to camp. She volunteers for first watch, and Grayson Mora offers to watch with her.
Lauren doesn't want Grayson to have a gun, because he isn't prepared to use one yet.
Grayson finds this insulting and asks Bankole for a gun. Bankole says no, so Grayson insults him.
Doe Mora, the child, saves the day by giving her father a pomegranate from Zahra—an action that lightens the tension.
Bankole insults Grayson Mora back, but no argument breaks out.
The group camps for the night.
The next morning, our heroes find the corpse of a young woman on the road. Emery wants her clothes, so she, with Allie's help, strips the dead woman.
In the clothes, Emery finds a thousand dollars. It's the first money she's ever had.
At a store, Emery buys pears and walnuts for everyone as a gift—she's able to give to others for the first time, instead of only taking.
Lauren thinks Emery has decided she's one of the group.
Sunday, September 26, 2027
The group makes it to their new home: Bankole's land in the hills of Humboldt County.
Bankole's land is empty and wild—and isolated.
Our heroes expect to find Bankole's family in a house and outbuildings, but instead they find nothing. The house has burned down, and no one is to be found.
Uh oh. Maybe this is not the good place they'd hoped for.