“But you’re not wrong about one thing,” he went on. “Dune’s a good place for business. So if it’ll make you shut up, we’ll head there. Go to your fancy party. I honestly hope it works out for you.” He paused thoughtfully. “It won’t. Since I hate hope so much.” He shot a quick glare at Corra. “But go on and try.”
“So you’re not coming,” said Leta bitingly. “Even though we have more of a chance of finding out anything with you there?”
Fiearius mustered a smirk. “There’s little chance that anyone in that room won’t have noticed the Society’s database of bounties in the last four years…” He grimaced apologetically. “And I’m just a bit recognizable. I’ll pass.” He stood up to his feet, kicking his chair aside on his way toward the door.
“But please, go. I shall live vicariously through you as I get some real work done so you can afford to go dress shopping,” he went on casually. “Oh and good luck getting Cy to go with you,” he added, letting out his bark-like laugh. He left the deck to go set the course, leaving Leta looking shocked, and really quite hurt, at the table.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Once Fiearius left, Leta put her face in her hands and allowed herself exactly three minutes of hatred, anger and swear words so vicious that Amora, the cook, gasped in horror as she entered the mess hall. But Leta wasn’t listening to Amora. She had half the mind to stalk after the captain on his own ship and slap him across the face for promising to help her and now acting completely useless.
Finally, with several deep breaths, she shook it off. She didn’t need him now. She had work to do.
So, with Corra on her tail, Leta marched to the command deck where she crawled up the ladder, knocked twice on the metal hatch to Cyrus’ room and called, “You awake in there?” Without waiting for a response, she pushed it open and climbed inside, holding a mug of coffee in one hand. Just as shamelessly, Corra clambered in afterwards.
Leta’s first impression of Cyrus’ room was that it looked less like sleeping quarters and more like a workshop. Blueprints covered the walls, drawings lay in piles, and his desk was covered in textbooks. Leta glanced over the walls curiously before she looked to the figure in the bed, who had just sat upright, alarmed, his hair a mess.
“What the–?” said Cyrus incredulously, his face reddening as he secured a sheet around his middle. With his other hand he fished for his glasses off the nightstand.
“We come bearing coffee and good news,” said Corra cheerfully, plopping onto his bed beside him, as Leta reached to hand him the mug, which he accepted wearily.
“Coffee and news are great,” he muttered, “but what I really would love is some privacy…“
“You’re not too hungover to listen, are you?” said Leta, hardly able to contain herself as she lowered to the edge of Cyrus’ bed. “Because something’s happened. And I wanted to ask y — wait, are you really naked under there?” she demanded suddenly, as she glanced down at the blanket with an irked brow, laughing at the fresh redness in his face. “Whatever, never mind. Listen — I found out the name of the guy who captured Ren. And I’m going to get him to talk to me. He works for the Society and he lives on Dune, and every month he holds these parties in his mansion. And I want to go to the next one. I want to talk to him. I have to talk to him.”
If this was too much information for Cyrus at this early hour, he did not appear to mind. In fact, he frowned thoughtfully. “But how will you not get caught?” he asked after a moment.
“We’ll be in disguise,” Corra put in helpfully, casting him a hopeful grin.
“And you know how to get in?”
“That’s easy,” said Leta at once.
“Identifying the guy?”
“Covered!” chimed Corra.
Cyrus glanced between them and fell into a contemplative silence as he considered the notion. For a moment Leta’s heart sank: he would turn them down, just like his brother had. He too would call the whole thing stupid and cast them off. But then he muttered thoughtfully, “That’s not a bad idea. It’s probably worth a shot, right?”
“See! I knew I liked you better for a reason,” said Corra, beaming and grasping his shoulder.
Leta, sighing in relief to finally have real help, went on, “So you’ll add us to the guest list,” she continued, trying to calm herself, though her fingers drummed atop her knee as she stared intently at him. “And you — you could stand watch while I make nice with these people and talk to this asshole. You’re smart and helpful and you know how to use a gun and Fiearius refuses to help, so — I was hoping you’d come with.”
Cyrus paused in mid-sip of his coffee, slowly lowering the mug. “Oh — no I — I don’t think so,” he answered, sounding characteristically nervous. “I can’t see how I could help. And she’s much better with a gun than I am.” He gestured to Corra. “I don’t think you need me. I’d probably just get in the way.”
Corra, busy examining her nails, pointed out, “And you hate large social gatherings.”
“And I hate large social gatherings,” Cyrus agreed, smiling sheepishly. “I’ll help you get in. But unless you get Fiear on your side, I think you two are gonna have to take on the rest alone.”
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
“I can’t believe I’m doing this,” Cyrus sighed, nervously adjusting the collar of his formal jacket as he stood in the gardens beside Leta. All around them, couples stood in line to enter the gala, chatting and laughing. “I can’t believe — “
Before he could finish, Corra hooked her arm around his, elbowed him in the ribs and lifted her chin confidently, using her free hand to swish her new dress. “Shush,” she scolded, grinning through the mask on her face. “What if the cap’n’s right and we do get into trouble? Won’t you be glad that you came?”
“If I’m not dead,” Cyrus muttered, and then winced when she squeezed his arm too tightly.