Chapter 9: Torian

Take her to him.

As soon as Goddora made the order, the office fell expectantly silent. Leta started to rise out of her chair, more than ready to finish this job. However, across the room, it could not have been more obvious that Saviano was displeased with Fiearius’ taking control of the deal. The man’s grip tightened on his glass and he regarded Fiearius with his jaw considerably firm. He did not, Leta realized, believe that she was actually a doctor.

“How convenient to bring a surgeon to a weapons-trade,” he commented, stiff, sarcastic and not yet moving to follow Goddora’s order. “And an alpha-planet surgeon at that. Land that tin-can of yours on alpha planets often, do you, Fiearius? I thought that was a no-no of yours?” His eyebrows shot up into his hairline, but he did reach back and open the door for them.

“Well, you know, you gotta do what ya gotta do,” Fiearius replied, shrugging his shoulders as he stood up to his chair and crossed casually toward the door. Leta pushed herself to her feet and followed as Fiearius sighed, “If that means flying a tin can, parking on alpha planets and kidnapping doctors, so be it. Not everyone is lucky enough to have cushy desk jobs following orders.”

As he strode from the room, Fiearius smirked and patted Saviano cheerfully on the shoulder. Saviano mustered the tiniest smirk in return, his eyes icy.

“You must be getting desperate,” he muttered after them. “Or more desperate than usual.”

Leta wasn’t sure if she should have been amused or aggravated by their back-and-forth, but she was distracted from it anyway as she stepped into the next room. She wasn’t sure what to expect when she entered, but it was indeed a room with a very sick man.

Judging by the furniture and curtains, it had once been a guest room in the hotel. Now, the narrow bed held the sunken figure of Roman, an older man who was ghastly white and paler than the bedsheets twisted around his abdomen. Beside the bed was a nightstand, crowded with a mess of medical tools and opened vials. A broken med cart stood nearby.

This — this was their idea of emergency medical care? It looked as if a first aid kit had been dumped on the nightstand and a child had picked through it. Leta could not help but glance at Saviano in disbelief.

But all he said was, “Let’s see this decade of experience of yours then,” with a gentle smirk. His glinting eyes glanced toward the figure in the bed, clearly disbelieving he could ever be healed. “Bad business, I’m afraid,” he sighed. “Roman. On the wrong end of a deal, shot in the stomach, oh, about a w–”

“Five days ago,” Leta interrupted automatically. She picked up the bedsheets, looked over the blood-soaked bandages that clung to the man’s ribcage and the estimation clicked together in her mind. She had been considering the possibility that she could not, in fact, help this man and complete the deal. But she was overtaken by the same sensation that always overtook her when she approached an operating table: suddenly, pieces fit together, her mind went calm and things made sense.

“He was shot five days ago,” she continued, adjusting the sheets so she could better see the patient. “And it looks like he’s allergic to this metaporfin you’ve got him on,” she added, lifting the bottle from the nightstand indicatively.

Over Saviano’s shoulder, Fiearius was grinning. She swore she saw pride in his face.

Saviano, however, looked flustered beneath his mask of forced calm. A line in his jaw twitched.  “This is absurd,” he remarked beneath his breath. Clearly he doubted that ‘decade of experience’ lie Fiearius had spun. Or perhaps he hated the way the power in the room seemed to be draining from him and shifting to Fiearius and his little partner.

Whatever it was, Leta was only able to watch as Saviano suddenly dug his hand into his jacket and in one motion drew out his pistol, unclicked the mechanism with his thumb and lifted it straight at Leta’s chest. Immediately, Fiearius’ own hand jumped down to the gun at his hip as Saviano said, casually, his gun straight and steady at Leta, “You won’t mind that I keep things honest, here, Fiearius.”

All the breath froze in Leta’s lungs as she found herself staring, for the very first time in her life, at a loaded gun pointed directly at her heart. In the silence, she tried to push her brain forward, which was running along the lines of oh gods oh gods —

Her eyes shifted from the barrel of the gun over to Fiearius. He was no longer grinning. After a beat of silence in which he met her eyes, his expression stern and worried, he reacted. Not with his gun, she noticed, as his hand slid away from his hip.

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