“Leta.” His voice was raspy and dry, unused for days. His eyes scrutinized her face. “How — “
Before he could properly voice his myriad of questions, Leta angled her forehead against his, and then her lips were pressed onto his, softly but warmly, relief pouring out of her and into him, until she knew it had been a few seconds too long and she broke away.
“We have to go,” she breathed shakily, fumbling now to get Ren’s arm around her shoulders as she hurried to a stand. “Can you walk?”
“Leta.” Ren was having a most difficult time pulling himself into the moment, out of the haze. “How’d — I can’t leave, we can’t make it past–“
“No, no, we will,” Leta hastened, and there was a note of hope in her voice now, her breathing still shaky from the threat of tears. “I’m not alone. We just have to hurry — “
Mercifully, Ren seemed to be gaining more consciousness and movement in his limbs as Leta drew his arm around her neck and hurried to the door.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Fiearius spun around just in time to see the agent’s figure land heavily on the hangar floor. From where he was standing at the base of the Dionysian’s ramp, he couldn’t see which of his helpers from above had fired the shot, but he’d have to remember to thank both Corra and Finn later. They were likely the only reason he was still standing at all.
The ‘grab the biggest gun on the ship and cause a distraction’ plan had started out rather well, mostly because the biggest gun on the ship was a monstrosity Corra had affectionately named ‘the Crowd Breaker’ that effectively fired an array of ten rounds at once in practically every direction. It wasn’t built to do that. But apparently she’d broken it at one point and that was the miraculously positive result.
The Crowd Breaker and Finn’s rifle had been enough to fight off the initial wave and, he presumed, buy Leta and Cyrus the time they needed. Now, however, the inevitable had occurred: Fiearius had run out of ammo.
Fiearius stepped back as another agent stumbled and fell to the ground.
Fortunately, the Crowd Breaker wasn’t just a great gun. It was also a pretty fantastic battering ram and he’d made good use of it in simply swinging its length into his attackers’ faces. Face after face after face. It seemed the Baltimore agents were following an order to simply overwhelm him until he could be captured. Alive.
Not a single one had fired at him which could only mean one thing: someone on this ship knew about the Verdant CID. Someone knew he had it. And someone knew that some poor prison ship agent shooting him down would only cause more problems. Someone knew he had to be kept breathing.
But who that was couldn’t concern him for the time being. For now, he had to stay focused. Focused on the man’s face in front of him as he knocked his teeth out. And the next who got an elbow to the gut and the butt of a gun to the forehead. It was becoming mechanical at this point, like some rhythmic dance that was slowly wearing down his energy. He couldn’t stop, he had to keep going until the ground team returned, but dov’ha ti’arta, he wasn’t as young as he used to be. Nor was he the only one doling out injuries.
There was blood running down his temple from a blow he couldn’t now remember. Someone had dug a knife into his shoulder right before Finn took him down. There had been a few seconds when enough of them had managed to restrain him long enough to put some mounting bruises on his ribs. But the pain of the wounds, even the worst of it, was drowned out by adrenaline. That is, until all of a sudden, he felt a sharp burning tear across his legs.
Before he even had a chance to reconcile what had happened, he found himself crumbling to the floor, his joints no longer willing to support themselves with the fire now racing through his nerves. There was blood, he realized with a start, looking down at his legs through vision that was starting to become fuzzy, lots of it. He could feel the warm stickiness spreading quickly and coating his skin.
A familiar scream sounded from above the ship and a familiar voice shouted something directly behind him, but he couldn’t understand any of the words. It sounded like it was coming through a tunnel. Far off, distorted. His weapon was wrenched out of his hands, an effort he couldn’t even fight. A figure’s shadow spread over him from just above on the ramp. And slowly he became aware that the reason this had happened, the reason he had fallen, was a deep gash on the back of his legs, right where the joints met. And he knew exactly whose blade had made the cut.
Struggling to regain his senses, Fiearius managed to slowly look up to face the triumphant figure standing above him. Though Desophyles Cordova has always been an inch or two shorter, he nonetheless consistently dwarfed Fiearius simply in breadth alone. He was the one man Fiearius would never challenge to an arm wrestle. Not just because he was obviously stronger. But because he knew every single way in which he might cheat.
“Well,” he began, straining to keep his voice conversational, despite the searing pains he was beginning to feel all over his body. Apparently some of those hits had been a little harder than he’d thought. “Fancy running into you here.”
But Dez wasn’t paying him any attention. He was standing there, holding up the long straight blade that bore a fresh sheen of blood and admiring it thoughtfully. For a long moment, he said nothing. Until at last he asked, as casually as someone who’d just sat down to dinner with an old friend, “Didn’t you used to mock me for bringing this on missions?” He glanced down at Fiearius now, his dark eyes sharp and hollow as ever. “Bit ironic, isn’t it?”
Fiearius was in no laughing mood. He was starting to feel faint and though his arms were still managing to hold him up, they wanted to crumble any minute now. Even so, he forced a bitter one-note chuckle and growled, “Hilarious. So they’ve got you serving–” His breath choked in his lungs, “–on TTDs now? Kind of a downgrade.”
“They told me it was a useless gamble to wait here,” Dez remarked absently as he began wiping the blood from his blade onto his shirt. “They said there was no way you’d do something so stupid as to waltz right onto a Society prison ship of all places.”
Suddenly, he glanced down at Fiearius as though only just realizing he was there. A slow smile pulled across his face as he crouched down beside him and clapped a friendly hand on his shoulder. Fiearius struggled for his arms not to give way from the weight. “But they don’t know you like I do,” he said quietly. “They don’t know your weaknesses.” Dez sighed heavily and put his hands on his knees. As though scolding a child, he shook his head and said, “What did I always tell you about pretty girls?” His smile shifted into a sympathetic frown “They’ll only cause trouble.”
Fiearius met his stare calmly, though he was anything but. His thoughts went to Leta and Cyrus, out there on the ship with no idea what they were going to come back to. It hadn’t worked. This whole thing. He’d failed. And all at once, Dez put a hand on his forehead and shoved it backwards into the floor.
As he felt his mind start to dip into unconsciousness, he saw Dez stand up over him. “Forget the ship, find the others,” he ordered to the agents still hovering around the scene. “They’re here somewhere.” He glanced down at Fiearius, his expression cold as ice. “Someone take this one to a containment unit while I prepare my ship.” And the last thing Fiearius heard as his vision turned to black was, “We’re going home.”
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