With a wince of pain, Leta cracked open her eyes. Morning light was flooding from the nearest window and pouring over her face, cutting through her skull like a knife, making her see stars. Gods, she couldn’t remember the last time she was this hungover …
She managed to pick up her head achingly and glance over the bed which was not, she noticed curiously, hers. And she was not actually under the covers, but on top of them. She still had her shoes on. In the next confusing moment she realized her arm was numb and prickly — because Cyrus was asleep on it, snoring into his pillow.
Oh right, she thought, tugging her arm free and sitting up. Some of the night was coming back to her now: she vaguely remembered stumbling into this hotel room late last night because the Dionysian “was too far of a walk.” The room only had one bed, and she’d told Cyrus they could share it, although he’d insisted he’d sleep on the floor because he was a gentleman, of course; who did she think he was, his brother?
Naturally, they’d argued loudly back and forth for ten minutes and then fallen asleep before reaching any resolution. Now, feeling somewhat amused, Leta gently nudged Cyrus’ shoulder with her elbow.
“Cy? You alive?”
Squeezing his eyes shut, he groaned, “Barely.” His glasses were still smashed up on his face, askew.
Leta pressed her palm to her aching forehead and peered around the small, shabby excuse for a bedroom. “How’d we end up in a hotel room anyway?” she breathed in confusion. “We can’t afford a hotel room. Even one as shitty as this … “
“I believe you expertly talked the clerk into giving us a payment extension,” Cyrus mumbled, putting his feet to the floor and casting her a smirk. “Said you’d have enough money to pay him in the morning.”
“I said that?” Leta mumbled in amazement. “Well … I don’t, so we’d better get out of here fast.”
Ten minutes later, after splashing cold water on her face and regaining some consciousness, Leta stood outside the hotel, squinting against the morning sunlight reflecting off the water. Cyrus walked beside her back toward the ship, ruffling his untidy hair.
“Suppose I’ll owe Ren an apology for that, huh?” he said, gesturing back toward the hotel. Leta laughed.
“I think he’ll understand. So where do you think the rest of the crew ended up?”
“Last I saw last night, Corra was arguing with Finn. About gods know what…You know how combative she gets when she drinks,” he muttered, rolling his eyes. “Nikkolai was helping Maya not vomit. I vaguely remember Amora sitting at the bar looking offended.” He frowned thoughtfully. “Oh and there was that girl Fiearius showed up with all of a sudden. Before those guys with the uniforms stormed the place and they both ran off.”
“Yeah,” said Leta blankly, blinking her eyes, “what the hell was that about?”
Cyrus just shook his head. “I don’t wanna know, frankly.”
Leta wasn’t sure if she wanted to know the answer, but nonetheless, after a short pause, she ventured, casually as she could, “So do you think Fiear took that woman back to the ship with him?”
The look Cyrus gave her in return was one of pure, unadulterated disgust. “Please,” he begged, “please don’t ever ask me that ever.”
Leta laughed, but it was a half-hearted, short laugh that died quickly. “I didn’t say you had to picture — alright, nevermind, sorry.” A tired sigh passed through her lungs — thank the gods she’d soon be passed out in her own bunk, ready to sleep away her headache. “Let’s just go back to the ship and pretend last night never happened, yeah?”
“Good idea,” Cyrus muttered, but then he suddenly stopped short, his eyes widening. “Or perhaps not…” he muttered, pointing up ahead at the docks where a large vacant spot lay open, just a patch of sand blowing in the wind. Leta’s mouth fell open. The Dionysian–it was gone.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Was there any chance his loyal, faithful crew hadn’t noticed the Dionysian was gone from the docks? Any chance at all? Given his luck lately, Fiearius had to guess no, which was why, once he’d landed the ship late that morning, he stalked through the cargo bay toward the exit, in a hurry to get this confrontation over with, thanks.
Unfortunately, he still had some rather vocal company.
“You can’t do this, Fiear!” Richelle was hurrying down the stairs after him, desperation in her voice as she grabbed for his arm. “I told you, I’m not going, I’m not going back to Paraven!”
Fiearius wasn’t interested nor concerned with why this girl wanted to avoid her home planet so much, so he merely grunted, “Yes, you are,” and punched the gear to lower the exterior ramp.
“No, I can’t go back here! Let’s just go — you said I could come with you! You said so last night!”
Fiearius glanced at her begrudgingly. What the hell was the matter with this girl? He’d met plenty of ship-chasers before, most of which were beyond desperate to get off their local rock, but rarely were any quite this adamant when they ended up back there anyway.
But whatever the reason, it had nothing to do with him. Once the cargo bay door creaked open, Fiearius marched outside.
Predictably, the scowling, dark faces of his crew greeted him at the bottom of the ramp, each looking sunburnt, exhausted and dirty,like they had been waiting for hours.
“Oh look, the great captain returns for his abandoned crew,” Corra called bitterly as Cyrus shook his head and Leta glared at him in disgust.
“I can’t believe you flew the ship when you were that drunk,” she muttered. “Are you completely insane?”
The only person not calling for his beheading was Finn, who sat on the ground a few feet away, smirking tiredly. “But still, overall, a pretty good night, eh mate? Hey — how’d you even get away from those authorities who were runnin’ after you, anyway?”
“Yeah, what was that about?” asked Cyrus suddenly. “Those people chasing you last night. What’d you do?”
Fiearius was perplexed. “What people? I didn’t do anything. Why do you automatically assume I did something?”
“Because you did do something,” said Finn at once, amused and interested now. He glanced up the ramp of the ship and smirked “Don’t you remem-”
But his words were cut off. “Wait,” said Leta sharply, shielding her eyes from the sun and following Finn’s eyeline, “who’s that?”
Fiearius knew who she was looking at before he even glanced backwards. On top of the ramp, Richelle was standing with her hands planted on her hips in defiance, glaring at him as she shouted, “I’m not going back!”
Fiearius shook his head at her, but Leta repeated, “Go back?“All at once, confusion and disgust darkened over her face. “Wait, she’s who you brought back with you to the ship last night? But she’s — “