Two pairs of feet pounded down the grated metal stairs as Leta stalked with Cyrus to — of all ridiculous places — the Dionysian’s armory. Leta didn’t even know the ship had an armory (why would she?), but, according to the captain, it was of utmost important that she go there, equip herself with a gun and learn to fire it immediately. Because apparently she was joining him off-ship. Why, exactly, she could not fathom. I want you to teach what’s-her-face over there how not to kill herself, Fiearius had said, because I’m taking her instead.
With that, he’d strode uncaringly from the mess hall, leaving Leta and his crew to gape after him in shock. Then, just as quickly, her shock turned to alarm and defense. Hell, no, she was not going with this man anywhere. It may have been his ship, but she didn’t owe him, a complete stranger, a damn thing. Her glare turned quickly onto Cyrus, silently demanding an explanation. Cyrus had ushered her out of the mess hall quickly, ignoring the many pairs of curious eyes as they made for the hallway.
“Don’t worry, I’ll talk to him,” Cyrus was saying as they turned a corner, leaving the mess hall in their wake. “It must just be a mistake or, well, a rushed judgment or something. He’s probably just trying to make waves. There’s nothing to worry about. I mean, it’s probably not a bad idea, really. Learning how to handle a gun and all. And besides, Corra’s about the best teacher you could have, she really knows her stuff. It’s not that bad. And it’s handy. I guess.” He hesitated momentarily before hurrying on, “But you won’t need it. I’ll talk him out of it. There’s nothing to worry about. I’ll fix this.”
“Better talk him out of it,” Leta muttered, though it was hard to summon anger to her voice when she glanced sidelong at Cyrus. He looked almost as troubled as she felt. Almost. “What is this even for, anyway? Why does he need me to come along? Dare I even ask what you do on this ship?”
With that, an awkward silence fell between them. Cyrus looked like he wanted to answer, but had no idea how. He averted his eyes, a furrow in his brow, looking almost embarrassed to respond.
His hesitation was not exactly reassuring.
Finally, still not meeting her eyes, he admitted, “We do a lot of things,” in a voice that cracked ever so slightly under his attempt to sound casual. “We, you know, ferry passengers sometimes. Like the Dmitris and Mr. Harvey. We transport cargo too. People often pay us to facilitate trade on the other side of the span. We also, eh…” His voice trailed off before he managed quietly, “We steal guns.” He finally looked back up at her and smiled uncomfortably. Leta did not smile back. She merely provided him her best long, steady stare.
Swiftly turning around to speak to her as he continued to walk, backwards now, Cyrus hurried on, “I mean, we don’t always steal them. But they’re usually stolen at some point. See, there aren’t really many resources for weapons manufacturing out here. Most of it’s holed up on the alpha planets or with the militias. But, as I’m sure you’re aware, the outer reaches of the span have their own nice little sampling of criminals who prefer to be armed if at all possible.”
“So you’re smugglers,” said Leta bluntly, unsure if she should have been impressed, alarmed, neither, or both.
“Something like that. Black arms dealing is a pretty big market,” Cyrus went on. “We need some way to make money and honestly, with the Society on our tail constantly and our ship restricted only to planets where they can’t find us, we’re rather limited on what kind of jobs we can take at all. This…weapons thing? It’s really our only option. We never had a choice. Besides. Pay is decent, stealth is mandatory and, what do ya know, we’re actually surprisingly good at it. Go figure.”
Turning back around as he took to the stairs, he continued to speak hastily, “We’re still mostly in the transport business. Most of the time we take jobs from people who want certain things fetched from certain places so it’s a lot of flying back and forth to retrieve this or that. Whether the current owner wants us to retrieve it or not. Sometimes though, like this time, we just find something on our own. We see an opportunity?” He smiled at her a little sadly. “We take it. Literally. And now we have a few crates of stolen firearms in our cargo bay that we need to unload before A, the previous owner catches up to us and B, we run out of money to pay for fuel. And then we run out of fuel. And then we die cold and alone in space…” He shrugged helplessly as he slowed his pace through the hallway. “So before that happens. Here we are, going to sell the guns to the guy.”
Well, that cleared up a few things, Leta thought. As she followed after Cyrus, she could not help but stare wide-eyed at the back of his head. He certainly didn’t look like a criminal mastermind in her eyes, but then again, what did she know about criminals? The only thing she’d ever stolen in her life was information.
But these people — well, no wonder they flew under the radar. They were dealing arms illegally. There were certainly worse ways to make a living in the span, but nonetheless — she was truly in a den of thieves. The realization made Leta feel a little jumpy and certainly not any more willing to join Fiearius.
“But why would your brother want me involved in this?” she said, exasperated. “And who is this Goddorra person we’re supposed to meet?”
“Godorra’s the most worthless piece of scum in the whole span,” Corra suddenly interrupted bluntly, stalking out of an open door just a few meters down. Immediately, she glared at Cyrus.
Unexpectedly, Cyrus met her glare fully and mumbled, “I don’t disagree.” A tiny smile lifted the corners of his mouth and Corra’s stare softened. She did not return the smile, though she did frustratedly put her hand to her forehead and look over to Leta with a forced kind of patience.