“Shh!” Leta hissed, swiping her hand sideways to shut the man up, weary of his voice carrying to the bridge. Whatever he was about to say, Leta was certain it wasn’t the time: after all, she was joining Cyrus on Archeti, against all of her better judgement, and the last thing they needed was a blow to his confidence.
He certainly had looked nervous at breakfast this morning. She wasn’t feeling particularly good about this plan either, but it was obvious Cyrus hated his new position as captain and all the attention it brought, so she had done her best to smile at him encouragingly. Or she’d hoped it was encouraging. Hopefully the smile had read, we can do this! Or perhaps, you’re an amazing interim captain! And not, please don’t kill us.
Stopping to help the older man to his feet, Leta then edged around him and turned into the bridge entrance, pausing on the threshold.
Fiearius was in the co-pilot’s seat, relaxed as if he’d just finished watching a mildly interesting film. Beside him, Cyrus was frozen, his hands still on the controls, apparently at a loss for words.
“So everyone’s fine,” she told him lightly, not entirely certain this was true (Rhys groaned from the hallway). “So I’ll finish getting ready? And I’ll meet you in the cargo bay, Cyrus.”
In response, Cyrus said, his voice a little shriller than normal, “Yep. Okay. Thanks.”
Exchanging a look of concern with Fiearius, Leta backed out of the room.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Ten minutes later, Leta threw her med bag over her shoulder (she’d come more prepared this time), and took the stairs down into the cargo bay. The wide room was crowded and lively, which Leta found interesting, as Archeti wasn’t exactly a fun landing point. The ship’s ramp door was down, providing a view of the landscape; even in her brief glimpse, the city of Genesi looked grim.
The deckhands Nikkolai and Javier were sitting together atop a crate, Cyrus was hanging nearby reviewing a map in his hands, and Rhys was slumped against a wall, swigging from a bottle of whiskey. Corra seemed to be the only one missing from the scene, and Leta felt a pang of guilt that she hadn’t stopped to see how she was doing. After how nice Corra had been, giving her a gun lesson, letting her borrow a set of her clothes …
Leta was distracted somewhat when she realized even Fiearius was present. He was leaning against a beam on the wall, talking with someone Leta didn’t recognize, but must have been from Archeti. The stranger was tall and lean, young thirties perhaps, though the unruly cut of his brown hair and the grin on his face made him look boyishly youthful.
“ — such a brilliant entrance there, mate,” the man was saying, grinning at Fiearius. A cigarette stuck out from the corner of his mouth as he spoke, his voice slightly muffled by it. “One of your best. Few more of those and maybe you’ll realize it’s time to recycle this hunk of junk?”
“Junk?!” Fiearius repeated incredulously. “She ain’t junk. I resent that. And I’m offended you’d think I would land her like that too. I’d do a better job even with this damn thing,” he gestured to the sling holding his arm. Rolling his eyes, he grumbled, “Junk. Better than that Carthian shit you fly any day. Everyone knows Carthians can’t build ships for the life of ‘em.”
“Oho, I can’t wait to show ya just how wrong y — wait, hang on,” he said, spotting Leta and suddenly swiping the cigarette from his mouth. If it were possible, his grin broadened, and his eyebrows lifted in what was, undeniably, appreciation. “Fiearius. Are you cheating on me? I thought what we had was special … why didn’t you tell me there was a new woman in your life?”
“I guess that depends on how you’re defining ‘in my life’,” Fiearius muttered under his breath, eyeing Leta in distaste. Then he let out a sigh and introduced diligently, “Finn, this is some doctor from Vescent that my brother decided to kidnap. Presumably, he did so for the sole purpose of pissing me off.”
“Ah, well in that case, we all owe Cyrus our thanks,” said the man. Without missing a beat, he stepped before her and stated cheerfully, “Finnegan Riley, old friend of Fiear’s, what’s your name?” and stuck out his hand.
Leta only stared. The man simply oozed boyish charm. She regarded him in both disgust and amusement, not taking his hand. “It’s Leta,” she deadpanned. To Fiearius, she rose her eyebrows in surprise. “You have friends?”
“You have a name?” Fiearius quipped back.
At this, Finn barked a laugh. “Oh, you two are adorable,” he said sincerely. Then he looked back to Leta, wagging a finger at her. “You — hang on … You were with Fiear when he killed Goddorra, weren’t ya? The second shooter?”
Leta, who had been looking over her shoulder to find Cyrus, snapped her attention back. “How’d you know about that?”
“Ah, everyone across the span knows by now, darlin’,” said Finn, an Archetian twang of an accent to his voice. Grimacing and grinning at the same time, he mused to Fiearius amicably, “As if the Dionysian needed more people coming after it. So, you paid dearly for that one yet? Goddora’s pals probably have a few words for you two.”