Chapter 13: Ophelia

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Holding her breath in her lungs, Leta pressed herself against the interior wall of the ship to hide and wait. And wait. And wait. It was only as she heard the Society crew yelling urgent orders (“get a gun, get to the ramp! We’ve got an ambush!”) followed by a stampede of footsteps that she exhaled with relief.

Whatever distraction the C team was pulling outside, it seemed to be working.

“Looks like we’re clear,” said Finn beside her, relaxing as he lowered the pistol to his side. “We might actually be able to pull this off after all.”

“Let’s hope so,” said Leta, pressing away from the wall and hurrying deeper past the ship’s main cargo area, weaving past boxes and crates. She put two fingers to the COMM device in her ear. “Cy? We’re in. Miraculously.”

“Good,” came the crackle of the speaker in her ear. He and Addy, accompanied by Corra, were operating from a different frigate. “So from where you are now, the security console is on the deck below in the northeast corner.”

Leta nodded, though he could not see it, and quickly consulted the map she’d inked on the back of her wrist as she started down a set of stairs. They had mere minutes to execute: get to the console screen and dismantle the security systems so that Fiearius and his team could advance.

Finn followed quickly on her heels as she dodged downstairs. The stairs gave way to a long corridor, mercifully silent, save for their hurried footsteps on the grated floor. Leta couldn’t help but notice that the shining black Librera was embedded into the walls, into the ceiling, onto the planes of glass everywhere she looked.

“Not exactly subtle about showing their colors these days, are they?” Leta muttered, and Finn grunted.

“Of course not, they’re proud of it. Beacon has ’em too. The libreras. Well — you probably saw ’em. All over the main deck and in the bridge. Even the first mate’s bathroom for some reason.” He shook his head. “Think we’re going to have to paint over ‘em.”

Leta smiled. “Please do.”

“Take a right at the end of the hall,” said Cyrus’ voice in her ear. “Avoid the brig, there’s going to be a security guard there.”

Leta veered to the side, glancing over her shoulder to find the hallway still quiet and empty as her feet carried her forward quickly.

“So Doc,” said Finn in an conspiring undertone at her side. “Mind if I ask ya somethin’?”

Leta had a feeling where this was going. So she muttered, “You probably shouldn’t.”

And of course — judging by the grin on his face —

“You and Fiear, eh?”

Leta simply shook her head, still striding forward. “I’ve no idea what you’re talking about. And look, we’re here.”

She stopped shortly in front of the console screen embedded in the wall. Finn lingered over her shoulder, keeping watch, as Leta pressed her fingers to her ear. “Cy, Addy, we’re at the screen. Can you still hear me?”

“Loud and clear!” Addy’s voice filled her ear. “Go ahead with the entry code.”

Leta swiped one hand across the screen and began to type with quick, deft fingertips. Behind her, Finn was pacing the floor and speaking as casually as if Leta were merely making dinner reservations.

“Y’know I’ve known Fiear for years now,” he was musing aloud. “And I’ve never once see him do anything close to settle down with anybody. Which is fine, of course. Whatever ya wanna do is — ”

“Are you keeping watch over there?” Leta hissed.

“Of course. It’s funny, I had a feeling he liked you right when I met ya, considering how — “

“We’re not talking about this. Cy, can you verify the code again?” said Leta quickly, as the screen flashed a warning  that made her heart jump in her throat: USER NOT CONNECTED.

“It’s 08-560-845-834,” recited Cyrus, “and then you wait for the system to connect, and — ”

“It’s not,” said Leta, as the screen flashed at her a third time. “It’s not working.”

“Yeah, I’m seeing that now,” he said, a bite in his voice. He added to Addy, “I thought you said this was a sure thing, that it always worked.”

“It usually does!” Addy cried. “Let me take a look.”

Leta heard the sound of shuffling as if Addy and Cyrus were switching places. Then furious, hurried typing filled her ears.

“Hmm, this method has always worked on these models before,” said Addy curiously.

“Well it’s not working now,” Cyrus snapped, which made Finn grimace in distaste.

“Cy, you’re not going to win anyone’s heart like that,” he muttered knowingly. Leta clapped her hand to her forehead in dismay as bickering voices erupted over the line.

“ — it’s fully encrypted, which I can handle, alright?” Addy was saying. “Just give me a second to double-check the back-end — ”

Cyrus groaned. “I knew I should have just gone with my gut and written a crash code.”

“Oh please, that never would have worked!”

“It would have, I’ve done it before,” Cyrus defended.

“On a 900?” Addy asked and Cyrus fell suspiciously quiet. “Yeah that’s what I thought, those don’t have the same sub-set blockade.”

“I could have made it work,” Cyrus argued.

“Guys?” Leta prompted, throwing glances down the hallway. “Still here — on enemy ground, you might say — “

“Well we didn’t use a crash code, did we? So something else needs to work,” Addy grumbled as she continued to type furiously. “Ooh!” Relish filled her voice. “Did you know this ship has a C4 mapping capability? Gods, it probably has the power to detect ants on the sidewalk —

Focus, Addy, focus!” Cy groaned.

“I am focused, quit hovering like that — “

They could use some relationship advice,” said Finn wisely, tapping the side of his head. Then he pointed at Leta. “Luckily, I know just the couple –”

“You know we have no time for this?” Leta yelped, shooting Finn a look of pure malice. “Cy? You realize we’re standing in the middle of a Society ship alone? So if at any point you wanted to help me out here — “

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