“You got a plan here, princess?” Fiearius grumbled to Richelle as he pushed open the heavy door and took the first cautious step out of his interrogation cell into the hallway. He carefully peered around a corner, glimpsing a few officers milling down the hall before Richelle shoved him in the chest to get back.
“Just pretend you’re still cuffed,” she ordered sharply. “With this — ” She lifted her wrist, flashing the librera she’d drawn on her hand. The ink was smudged, but she still said, “No one will question us. The police here have a very strict cooperation policy. Trust me. We’ll just get the rest of the crew and walk right out. Not a problem.”
Fiearius blinked at her. That was her plan? Find his crew and somehow stroll out of this heavily guarded station? He couldn’t say he was convinced, but he did, generally, subscribe to the impossible. And he also wasn’t in a place to argue. As Richelle stepped around the corner and strolled down the hall with confidence, Fiearius had no choice but to follow after her.
A few steps behind, Fiearius found his eyes were drawn to the silk green headscarf Richelle wore around her shoulders. The sight of it gave him an odd clench in his chest — that scarf had once belonged to Aela. Richelle must have gone through his bedroom, he thought, in search of disguises … she probably had no idea the scarf belonged to his dead wife …
Just then, another officer came into view and Fiearius side-stepped into an alcove. Richelle quickly ducked beside him, and in the moment of pause, she looked up at him with shining puppy eyes.
Clearly, he wasn’t doing the best job of hiding all that was amiss at the moment. “Are you okay?” she asked suddenly, putting her hand on his shoulder, presumably to comfort him. “What happened in there? What did that officer say to you?”
“Nothing,” Fiearius lied at once, plucking her hand off and dropping it back to her side. Nothing Richelle needed to know about anyway. Hell, according to Leta, even he didn’t need to know she was sick and weeks from death. A mix of anger, frustration and — though he could hardly admit it — raw, pulsing fear was still broiling somewhere inside him, but he had to push it aside. For now.
Richelle just blinked up at him a moment longer in thoughtful silence until her eyes drooped to her feet and she whispered, “I’m so sorry by the way. For getting you into this.”
Drawn out of his own dark thoughts of Leta for the time being, Fiearius furrowed his brow. “Did you?” he asked after a pause. The night before was still a blur. All he knew was where he’d ended up in the morning. And who he, rather disturbingly, ended up with. But that was another subject for a different time. “What happened? Did I actually kidnap you?”
“Sort of,” Richelle replied with a shrug, leaning around the corner again. Finding the coast clear, she slipped back into the hall to continue onward. “But only because I asked you to,” she went on, speaking quietly until she glanced back up at him with a newfound fire and added, “Although I told you to just slip out the back. The gun and the shouting? That was all your idea.”
“Of course it was,” Fiearius muttered just as he saw another shadow start to stretch over the path before them and he pulled Richelle sharply down a different corridor.
“Ah, right, I think…Yeah, I think Cyrus is down here,” she remarked, hurrying off in front of him. “Corra’s in the one down the hall. Finn’s in room A and I think Leta’s right across the way.”
Fiearius quickened his pace to follow her, and then was struck with a realization. “Wait,” he started, “How do you know all their names?”
Richelle glanced back at him, perplexed. “You seriously don’t remember anything? Last night, you introduced me to them, for one, and then you talked about them all night.” Her expression darkened fleetingly as she glanced toward the door to Leta’s cell. “Some … more than others … “
“I did?” said Fiearius in alarm. Before he could begin to imagine what kind of drunken confessions he’d made last night, Richelle stopped short in front of him and he nearly walked into her.
“Here, your brother’s in here!” she breathed, lifting herself on tip-toes to gaze into the small window in the door.
Fiearius watched as Richelle importantly adjusted her scarf and straightened her stance. Then she cleared her throat like a trained actor preparing for the role of a lifetime. At last, she put her hand on the doorknob, pushed it open and announced, “Gi’et ti madal’lin!”
Fiearius stood off to the side and stared at this girl in alarm. It was, perhaps, the most broken Ridellian he’d ever heard.
Fortunately, the officer inside the cell didn’t seem to know better. He stood to his feet, startled. Behind him sat Cyrus who made a face of confusion, no doubt wondering why some tiny Satieran-looking woman had just come through the door and shouted nonsensically, ‘Get the exit!’
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
This was just getting ridiculous, Leta thought as she pushed herself to her feet and crossed her arms, glaring at the metal door of the cell. Officer Tiya had left her in here alone ten minutes ago and now she was left to wait for some kind of resolution.
Kicking her chair aside, Leta started to pace the floor, throwing furious, impatient looks at the door. Was the crew still being interrogated? Had they escaped?
Just when she was wondering if she would be the only prisoner left incarcerated with the Paravian police force, the door handle shook, the door was thrown open and not an officer, but a small woman in a head scarf burst in. “Gi’et mad–” she began defiantly, but lost her steam as she looked around the room. “Oh…” Just as Leta was trying to make sense of what was going on, of all beautiful sights, Corra burst in from the hall.
“C’mon, chika, let’s go!” she declared cheerfully, waving her arm towards the door where the rest of the crew hovered.
Meanwhile, Finn was making a show of elbowing her aside. “Leta! Leta!” he cried. “We’re here to rescue you!”
“About time,” Leta muttered, quickly crossing toward the door. It was then she noticed the only person who did not look relieved at the sight of her: in the hallway, past Cyrus’ shoulder, Fiearius was regarding her with the strangest look she’d ever seen from him. Leta couldn’t quite place it. His face was dark, his eyes cold. It might have been anger, or perhaps, oddly, disappointment.
Before she could begin to understand, he’d turned away from her and she felt a hand circle around her wrist and pull as Corra ordered, “Hurry, hurry, I wanna see how badly this plan is going to work.”
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – —–