Leta chose to wait outside on the grand front porch, arms folded against the light breeze. Nearly twenty minutes past while Corra and Will talked. She could hear their murmured voices near the front door, but was quite sure she didn’t know want to hear their troubled conversation.
At last, the front door banged open.
“Sorry,” said Corra at once, looking pained as she hurried down the steps and down the yard. “Didn’t mean to keep you waiting.”
“No, that’s alright,” said Leta, her heart sinking at the sight of Corra’s face, her obvious distress. She fell into step beside her, heading toward the ship. “What happened in there? Did you — what’s that?” added Leta quickly, spotting Corra’s balled-up fist.
Corra held up her hand. In it was a round black sphere small enough to fit in Corra’s palm, made of glinting metal, looking aged and dented, like it had been dropped several times.
“Is this a paperweight?” she asked blankly. “Did you steal a paperweight?”
Corra laughed, but the laugh died quickly. “No, much fancier than that. It’s an ancient relic supposedly. Will said it was a gift from Mr. Lawson, but he wanted me to have it.” She smiled sadly.
Lightly, Leta suggested, “Do you want me to throw it at him? His head, maybe?”
Corra laughed again, genuinely this time. “No. No. It’s a…nice gift. Will thinks it’s some kind of data storage. Whoever gave it to Mr. Lawon said it has the Caelum Lex in it somehow, but he can’t figure out how to get it open.”
Leta eyed the sphere, raising an eyebrow. It seemed impossible that something so scratched and dirty contain information as important and archaic as the Caelum Lex, the colonist’s documented list of laws. True copies of the laws were scattered across the span, valuable, treasured and placed in museums, though as the years passed, even those numbers were dwindling.
“I’ll have Cyrus take a look at it,” Corra mumbled, slipping the sphere back into her pocket as they walked along. Sad silence fell between them. “This was such a mistake,” Corra despaired suddenly, throwing her head back and staring sadly into the night sky. “What the hell was I thinking, coming out here and trying to ‘save’ somebody who obviously doesn’t need to be saved…”
“But now you know,” Leta pressed. “And you did offer something really kind to Will.”
Corra sighed heavily and shook her head. “I wasn’t even really doing it for him. I wasn’t thinking about him. It’s stupid. It’s so stupid. I just had this stupid idea that me and him could get a ship of our own and go off on some grand adventure like we used to talk about growing up. But that’s ridiculous, of course. How would we even? And why would he want to?” Frustrated, she shoved her hands in her pockets and frowned at the ground. “The whole thing was stupid.”
Leta had never heard Corra speak this way before. Unpleasant surprise ran through her. “Wait. You want to leave the Dionysian?”
At once, Corra looked as though she’d been caught in the act.
“I–well–no,” she stuttered, shaking her head. “Though…It’s not that I want to leave exactly. The Dionysian’s my home. And it’s crew is my family.” She frowned and looked away. “I don’t know what I’d do without them. You all mean the world to me. But…”
She looked up at her again and hesitated, struggling for her words. “The thing is, I’ve been gifted this rare opportunity. Not many allies ever get released from their deeds. But I did. And what am I doing with it on the Dionysian? Nothing. I mean, taking care of the armory for a criminal I guess, but…that doesn’t really sound that meaningful in the end does it?”
“It’s not that I’m unhappy,” she clarified quickly. “I’m not. I love it there and I like what I do and I don’t really want to leave, but…” Her voice trailed off as she watched her feet take step after step below her. “Aiden–he used to say I need to do what’s right for me. Life’s too short to spend your time following paths you’re not satisfied with. And for whatever reason, maybe the whole ordeal on Kadolyne or all that mess with Cyrus or maybe just a general passage of time and growth or, whatever…the Dionysian’s just not satisfying me anymore.”
Corra finally took her eyes off her feet and rested them on Leta sadly. “I don’t wanna leave,” she said again. “But I think maybe it’s time that I should.”
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
An hour later, the ship lay dark, sleepy and silent. Leta stood in the kitchen counter alone, stirring tea, the spoon clinking gently in the mug. As soon as they’d reached the Dionysian’s ramp, Corra muttered in defeat that she was going to bed and then disappeared towards her quarters. Wishing there was something more she could do, Leta simply bid her a sad goodnight.
Standing there numbly, Leta’s mind buzzed. Corra wanted to leave? Leta knew she would be leaving soon herself — of course — but Corra’s departure from the ship still struck her as a horrible loss.
And what would Cyrus say, if he knew? He would be crushed.
Abruptly Leta turned and reached for the a bottle of whiskey in the cabinet. After this day, her tea needed livening up. She was just wasting the whiskey bottle under her nose when a sudden voice made her jump out of her skin.
It wasn’t Fiearius, it wasn’t Cyrus. It was Ludo, of all people, who had materialized in the doorway. Leta had the sudden sense that he’d been standing there for several minutes.
Unease prickling her skin, Leta lowered the bottle. “Seems that way,” she said, averting her eyes to the copper liquor splashing into her mug. All the while, she could sense Ludo’s eyes on the back of her neck.
“Didn’t think Vescentians with fancy medical degrees drank much,” he grunted, stepping toward the counter and standing beside her. Glancing at him shortly, Leta saw he was smiling at her, showing yellow teeth. “But don’t worry. I won’t tell.”
Leta had never been alone with Ludo before, nor had she been with him in such close quarters. She picked up her mug to leave, but Ludo went on, “S’funny.” He laughed. “S’funny just that someone like you is on the ship at all.”
“Hilarious,” Leta agreed dryly, sipping her tea and walking to the door. But then Ludo’s words stopped her in place.
“Maybe if you fit in enough, the cap’n will change his mind about you.”
Leta lowered the mug. “He’ll — what?”
“Change his mind,” he grunted, turning around toward her, folding his arms. “About turning you in. There was just a fresh warrant out on your arrest. You know, s’quite an impressive bounty you got on your head.”
Leta simply gazed at him. Fiearius was considering giving her into the authorities? For a reward? It couldn’t have been true. Fiearius had every chance and he hadn’t even tried.
Ludo seemed to be reading her mind.
“Aiden talked him out of it about a month ago, told him to hold off,” he explained, scratching his beard thoughtfully. “But since Aid’s gone and all … “
Leta’s eyes narrowed toward a glare. Ludo was lying, of course he was lying. Uncomfortable as it was to admit, things with Fiearius lately had not been so terrible. Sometimes conversation flowed so easily, it felt like they were old friends. Or maybe that was her imagination; perhaps it was one-sided.
“Yeah? Pretty sure Cyrus and Corra would kill him,” said Leta shortly.
He barked a laugh. “Well then why d’ya think he hasn’t helped you go get your man yet?”
“He just buried his best friend. That might have something to do with it.”
“Naw.” Ludo didn’t sound distasteful — in fact, he sounded practically appreciative of the captain’s genius. “He’s just biding his time is all.”
He grabbed for the whiskey bottle from the counter. “Just thought I’d clue ya in,” he said, swinging the bottle at his side as he walked through the door. Briefly, his hand slid against her hip as he muttered, “Innocent girl like you.”