But it was then Cyrus interrupted, “Wait, wait, wait,” short of breath, anticipation flooding his voice. “The sub-set blockade? Is it the same one they use on the–”
And then Addy let out a squeal of excitement. “The Barralions! Yes!”
“So that means we can just–”
Addy laughed. “Crash the blockade and trigger the failsafe monitors boot. Oh man, yes! Why didn’t I think of that sooner?”
More hurried typing filled the line. Cyrus relayed the steps to Leta until all at once, the screen before her simply shut off.
“That’s supposed to happen,” Cyrus assured her. “We’re in. We got it.”
Leta felt dizzy with relief. “Let’s go shut down the communications,” she breathed, pulling away from the console and hurrying down the hall with Finn on her heels. She touched her earpiece.
“Security’s done, on our way to shut down communications now,” she said to Fiearius. “How’s it going over there?”
– – – – – – – – – – – –
“Peachy,” said Fiearius through gritted teeth as he darted down the long row of the docks, marched up the ship’s ramp and swung his fist into the surprised face of a junior Society agent. He careened backwards into the ramp so easily that Fiearius almost felt pity for the young man: these were just agents-in-training, after all. Barely armed, barely aware of what was going on and entirely unprepared. Meanwhile, Dez and Eve were firing their weapons rapidly, but just over the agent’s heads — making them scatter like insects.
“Everything alright on your end? Run into any trouble?” Fiearius asked over the chaos and noise, hoping Leta and her team was making short work of them too.
“Yes. The trouble is Finn,” said Leta dully. “Can I ask why you’ve paired me with the biggest pest — “
“No trouble over here, mate,” interrupted Finn’s loud voice. “Taking real good care of Leta! Y’know, your girlfriend — “
Then, as if this call weren’t frivolous enough, Corra’s voice suddenly chimed in. “I didn’t tell him! I don’t know how Finn knows! It wasn’t me! I’m serious!”
“Just finish the job and get out of there, alright?” Fiearius growled, to murmurs of agreement.
“You be careful too,” added Leta sternly, and then the line cut out.
Turning around, Fiearius marched through the ship’s entryway as more agents flooded into the cargo bay, the poor blokes. Although, as one brave soul came plummeting towards him with a knife and a battle cry, Fiearius supposed it was better to been over-prepared than under-prepared and he whipped his pistol out from his hip and shot him in the leg.
Free from mild danger, Fiearius glanced back at Dez who was ramming the butt of his rifle into an agent’s side. Nearby, Eve, perhaps in an attempt to pass her test run with flying colors, had hopped up onto a shipping crate and was making good use of her rifle, firing off rounds with booming authority.
Fiearius nodded at her, impressed.
Minutes later, they had practically chased off all the young agents. A couple unfortunate bodies lay scattered across the dock. A few more wounded writhed around in pain, but most of the agents seemed to have gotten the message pretty quickly: run.
“We good to board?” Fiearius asked into his earpiece.
“We’re good,” replied Cyrus briskly. “Lockdown’s been lifted. Should be able to make it to the bridge unhindered.”
“Unless you run into anybody,” Addy added, worry in her voice.
“Nothin’ we can’t handle, right cap’n?” said Eve at his side, cocking her gun and beaming up at him.
Fiearius nodded into the ship. “Let’s go.”
Fortunately, whether they could handle it or not wasn’t an issue. As the group rushed through the great cold halls of the Satieran frigate, ready to fire at anything that moved, they passed barely a single soul.
At last, they stalked into the bridge. It was a wide, circular room — so unlike his cramped space on the Dionysian. But as large as it was, there was only one woman inside at the captain’s chair. Instead of putting up a fight, she stood up with her palms in the air.
“Hands up, weapons down, step away from the console,” Fiearius shouted, crossing toward her with his gun aloft, directly at her chest.
“Right, yes, of course, I’m unarmed,” said the woman quickly, voice shaking. She dressed head to toe in Society’s wear, the black librera stitched near her shoulder.
Fiearius nodded towards the console and Dez started over to it. “Oh I didn’t contact anyone, the communications are down anyway, and I — ”
“You the captain?” Fiearius barked. “What’s your name?”
“Y-yes sir,” she replied obediently. “Leisa. Leisa Fardan.”
“Where’s the rest of your crew?” Fiearius demanded, still not lowering his own gun from her in case she changed her tune. Judging by the fear in her face, he doubted it.
“After the attack started, I told them to evacuate,” she breathed hurriedly. “They’re just kids y’know. Didn’t want ‘em to get hurt — “
Fiearius eyed her skeptically, but it didn’t seem like she was lying. The agents on this ship were just kids, trying to meet one stupid requirement to secure an easy desk job. If he were her, he would have done the same. Gradually his grip on his pistol started to loosen.
But as Fiearius was considering her, her mouth fell open in shock as recognition filled her eyes.
“You — you’re him, aren’t you?” she whispered, making him blink in confusion. “You’re that rogue Verdant! But you’re supposed to be dead!”
“Well,” Fiearius muttered, wrong-footed. He tightened his grip again. How much did she know? He suddenly felt very much in dangerous territory. “Obviously I’m not.”
But if this woman knew what being Verdant meant, knew that she was a few feet away from taking all the power of the Society in her hands, she didn’t show it. If anything, she showed, confusing as it was, excitement.
“Wow, I can’t–” she began, stumbling over her words. “This is so incredible, I can’t believe it. You’re — you’re a legend!”
Fiearius could only stare at her, perplexed. He glanced sideways: Dez looked puzzled, and Eve just raised her brows at him curiously.
“I’m a traitor,” he reminded the woman carefully.
“To the Council maybe,” she admitted. “Always been a legend to me and mine.” She lowered her arms, but when both Dez and Eve repositioned their sights on her, she threw her palms back in the air again. “The way you escaped, the way you just kept on eluding capture even after all that time and all those people they sent after you — people are talking,” she added in an excited whisper, as if her employers might swoop down at any moment.
“Talking?” Fiearius muttered.
“You’re an inspiration, sir! Really.” Suddenly, her face fell with sadness. “When we heard they’d finally gotten ya, we were so disappointed. Maybe gettin’ outta this nasty web wasn’t as possible as we’d hoped. But–” The grin returned. “Here you are. In the flesh. I can’t believe it.”
Neither could he. Dez and Eve was looking to him for instruction, but all Fiearius could do was stare at this strange woman. Society agents, his old colleagues, actually admired him? People were, as she said, ‘talking’?
Oh-oh. She’s doing some smooth, sexy stroking of his ego, ain’t she? Totally not suspicious. Never that.