Chapter 12: About Time

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It was not Cyrus’ first time visiting the Beacon’s engine room, but it was the first time he felt rather nervous about it. After lingering in the doorway and simply listening to the churning of the engine for a few awkward seconds, he summoned his nerve, dove a hand through his hair (he’d spent ten minutes trying to flatten it this morning, without success), and used his other hand to knock on the open metal door.

At once, a blonde-haired woman popped up behind the engine, a rusted pair of pliers in her hand. “Hey!” said Addy in surprise, smiling. “What’re you doin’ here?”

“Well — “

Dropping the pliers on the floor with a careless clank, she wound around the engine to greet him, all smiles. “I thought I heard Corra say the Dionysian was headed our way.”

Cyrus laughed, feeling affectionately distracted by the streak of dirt on her forehead. “Well here we are. Here I am. Your way,” he muttered, and then quickly decided he was the most awkward person in the entire span.

Fortunately, Addy didn’t seem to mind nor notice. She swept a hand toward the room. “Come on in, have a seat…somewhere. Anywhere you can find a spot.”

She turned around and pushed a pile of spare parts off of a trunk to make room.

“Sorry for the mess,” she said as metal parts clanked to the floor noisily. “I’ve been making some adjustments while we’re docked, the place just kinda got away from me.”

“No, I like what you’ve done with the place,” he said as he lowered onto a crate and looked around the crowded room. Addy leaned against her work bench across from him, and after a few expectant, silent seconds passed between them, his eye caught something he was certain hadn’t been there before. At once, he came to his feet and wandered towards the main engine chassis. “Is that a–”

“It is!” Addy’s face brightened. “It’s a mid-range core adapter, I found it out in Genisi’s junkyard, can ya believe it?”

“Same type and compatibility?” he asked.

“I had to modify it a bit, but I just–”

“Right, since the valve is kind of–”

“ — Useless, yeah, so I removed it and used a–”

“Coil instead?” Cyrus finished. Addy beamed at him, and Cyrus thought he actually felt his heart flip over in his chest.

“Well I’m impressed,” he said sincerely. “I didn’t even think of putting one in here.”

“Maybe I know her a little better than you do, hm?” said Addy, but she was teasing; she patted a hand on the edge of the Beacon’s wall with affection.

He started to weave around the room, examining the piles of ship parts Addy had clearly enjoyed picking through. The sight triggered something in his memory — something warm and familiar; something like home.

“Back on Satieri, did you spend much time in the East Paradexian yard?” he asked suddenly, glancing over at her. “Where all the big firms dumped their old ships? I always found the best parts there when I was growing up.”

“I used to go out there every weekend to pick over the new intakes,” Addy laughed. “Do you remember that big old frigate sticking up right in the center?”

“Of course, that thing’s been there for ages.”

“I used to love climbing up to the top and watching the sun set over the city,” she sighed, leaning back against the wall with her arms folded. “You know, this travelling, it’s really nice … but I don’t think any city we visit will beat Paradiex.”

Cyrus watched as her expression shifted with sadness. He knew that feeling — that horrible longing for home that never really went away.  It still sat in his chest too, even now, four years since he’d left.

Suddenly feeling guilty for upsetting her, Cyrus turned back around and changed the subject. Although she probably didn’t think so, he did in fact have a reason for being here — about time he explained himself …

“Hey, so.” He edged forward. “I actually came over here to talk to you about Satieran frigates believe it or not.”

Addy tilted her head, curious and puzzled. “Yeah? What about ‘em?”

“Have you ever worked on one of the 800 series before? I’ve only worked on the 900s, but maybe you’ve–”

Addy pursed her lips in thought, and then realization came to her face. “Oh! Yeah, the 800’s, the ones they retired from primary service because of the faulty security system? A lot of small businesses bought ‘em real cheap.” Sudden unease flickered over her face. “And my dad used to do a lot of mechanic work for the Society, until — well, until he decided they weren’t the kind of people he wanted to work for. Before that happened, though — bunch of those 800s came through our shop.”

Cyrus’ eyes brightened. “Do you by chance know how to breach that security fault then?”

Addy laughed. “Oh yeah. It’s real easy, a kid could do it. It’s no wonder they retired them from border patrol jobs. Why do you ask?”

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