“Where the hell are we going now?” Leta hissed under her breath as Fiearius held her by the wrist and led them purposely through the sea of guests. Luckily, everyone seemed too tipsy to pay them mind as they slipped from the main hall and down a deserted corridor that Leta felt certain was off-limits. It was much quieter here, the music and laughter of the party fading behind them.
“Upstairs,” came Fiearius’ vague reply as he turned for a carpeted staircase. Annoyed as she was to be left entirely in the dark, Leta had to admit there was something nostalgic about this sneaking around.
“Feels like I’m sixteen again,” she muttered, glancing over her shoulder to satisfy her paranoia that they were being followed. “When I would sneak out of parties to make out with boys upstairs … “
Fiearius swung his head to her immediately, eyebrows high on his forehead. “Well that option’s not off the table.”
Cutting him a glare, Leta wrenched her wrist free from his grasp. But then she smirked, too.
A minute later, after they wound through the maze of hallways, Fiearius stopped sharply in front of a set of handsome mahogany doors. He tested the door handle and then swung it open. Inside was a wide, oval room that resembled a library, or perhaps an open gallery space: art hung on the walls, sculptures rested on shelves and pedestals stood proudly throughout the room.
“We’re stealing from a museum now, are we?” said Leta, who did not feel particularly surprised by this. “Aren’t there security cameras in here?”
“Probably. Ah — there it is.”
On a pedestal in the middle of the room sat a silver glass case, about a foot wide. From the inside came a metallic-purple glow, like some kind of night light. It was quite beautiful, really, but …
Leta awaited realization. It never came. “Fiear, what the hell is that?”
“It’s a prototype for some energy … er … conserver-thing. Used in commercial vessels all over the span, it does something fancy that makes ships way more efficient. Some say it’s the most important piece of technology in recent history. Changed the way we think about fuel.” He turned back to her. “It was also Cy’s high school science fair project.”
Leta’s jaw fell open. “It was?”
“We were all so proud when he discovered it,” he explained, sounding rather nostalgic. “His greatest contribution to science. Until some jackass stole it right out of the school auditorium. He was able to replicate the tech, but the original? Apparently has been sitting in this guy’s private collection for the past ten years. So.” A grin spread across his face. “I’m going to steal it back for him.”
Leta walked a circle around Cyrus’ invention. “So that’s what this is about?” she whispered. “All this — so you could get a gift for your brother?”
Her expression must have softened with emotion, because Fiearius muttered, “Stop looking at me like that. Keep watch at the door, yeah?”
Leta turned around on her feet, but then she suddenly froze: a security guard was rounding the corner before her eyes. He was a portly man, a nightstick at his waist, a coffee cup in one hand, and he did not seem to notice at all that Leta stood wide-eyed a few feet to his right.
Silencing the yelp in her throat, Leta quickly side-stepped and ducked behind a tall shelf just as Fiearius did the same. Leta cast him a dark look that said plainly, What the hell do we do now?
Crouched beside her, Fiearius held a hand and smiled in a way that seemed to suggest, Oh, I got this.
Leta rolled her eyes tremendously. She’d never once found that look reassuring.
The guard was apparently doing rounds as he walked along the perimeter of the room, humming to himself. Fiearius stood to his feet and crept forward toward the guard, and as he did, he snatched an artifact off a nearby shelf: a long tube that he raised over his head like a bat.