Chapter 14: Fearless Leader

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The engine was in stable working order. For now. Cyrus stepped back from the churning metallic bane of his existence and sighed. He couldn’t even count the number of times he’d had to fiddle with bits and pieces of this monstrosity just to keep the damn ship afloat. Every other day, something was breaking. No matter how many times he cobbled pieces together, it just couldn’t function properly for much longer than 48 hours straight.

It wasn’t that Cyrus didn’t know what he was doing. He was a renowned Satieran engineering genius for gods’ sakes. After finishing undergrad at nineteen and his master’s degree at twenty-one, he’d designed ships so advanced, they made the Dionysian look like she was made of alphabet blocks. This old piece of junk should have been childsplay to him. Unfortunately, it was anything but. Every update he made, every new part he installed, every advancement he added that should have made their lives easier — ended up just making her more of a mess.

Fiearius often said that the Dionysian had the soul of a beautiful woman. If it did, Cyrus thought, it was a woman who enjoyed pissing him off.

For now, however, it was running. The damage Fiearius’ reckless piloting had done was minimal. It would need a more long-term fix to keep it from breaking again later, but Cyrus had long given up on prevention with this beast. He was now a master of damage control instead.

As Cyrus finally abandoned his work in the engine room, he glanced to the clock on the wall by the door. Gods, was it really that late? Or…early, he supposed. It was difficult to tell time in space. One minute you were heading downstairs to an evening repair session, next thing you knew, it was three in the morning.

Not much different than his college years on Satieri actually, now that he thought about it.

No one else seemed to have trouble knowing it was so late; the entire upper deck was dead silent. Upstairs, Cyrus considered getting a cup of coffee and maybe visiting Corra to check in on her. Just to make sure she was all right. She’d been such a wreck when she’d stormed out of the bridge. Probably she could’ve used some comfort, or someone to talk to or maybe a cup of coffee herself.

But no, he thought again, talking himself out of it with an uneasy turn of his stomach. She was probably asleep. As he probably should have been also. Changing his mind, he kept on up the stairs to his own quarters on the command deck.

The command deck led to the bridge, as well as his bedroom and Fiearius’, which were accessible by ladder. He didn’t quite make it to his ladder, however. As he crested the top of the stairs, he realized he was not alone in the hallway. Down on the floor, the sprawling figure of Fiearius was slumped unnaturally against the wall, his head craned to the side. A bandage was still snaked around his shoulder.

As Cyrus carefully crept closer, he realized Fiearius was asleep. Excellent. Now he could simply step over him and climb up and shut the hatch before he even knew anyone was there. Luck was rarely on his side though.

“Cy?” mumbled a heavy voice just as he reached out to lay his hand on the rung. Holding in a sigh, Cyrus glanced down at the dazed eyes staring up at him. “What time is it?”

“Three,” Cyrus replied, and then frowned. For some reason, he hadn’t actually thought much about Fiearius sleeping in the hallway. It really didn’t seem all that unlike him. Now that he actually looked at him though, he was a touch worried. “Are you alright?” With another bout of concern, Cyrus glanced toward the ladder to Fiearius’ room and realized, “You tried to climb that, didn’t you?” When his brother did nothing but look away, ashamed, Cyrus rolled his eyes. “Of course you did. Because sense in Fiearius-world doesn’t exist.”

“Just like sympathy in Cyrus-world is unheard of,” Fiearius grumbled in return.

“It’s hard to feel sympathetic about a situation I would never have put myself in,” Cyrus replied. “Pity maybe. I’ll give you some pity. Are you okay? Do you need me to get the doctor?”

“No,” Fiearius said at once, rather heatedly. “No,” he said again, amending his tone to a more calm sort. “I don’t need a doctor. I’m fine. I like sleeping here.”

Cyrus tilted his head curiously. His brother always had been particularly easy to read, despite what he seemed to think were his best efforts. “Sure you do,” he humored him. “The conversation with her went that bad huh?”

Fiearius picked up his eyes again, and Cyrus was struck by how hopeless, drained and washed out he looked in this moment. It was an unsettling sight. Thank the gods they had a doctor now, if for no other reason than to make Fiearius never look so sickly again.

Fortunately, Fiearius glared in annoyance a second later, an expression much more typical of him.

“No. It was fine,” he said bluntly, though the words sunk into a sigh. “Just….I don’t know.” He paused, seeming to struggle with something before he admitted, “She wants me to save her boyfriend.”

“Fiance,” Cyrus corrected absently. “I know. She told me.” He watched quietly as his brother leaned his forehead on his hand. “You gonna do it?”

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