“I’ll go.” Leta dropped her hand to her side, her bright green eyes lighting up. “I’ll go through the vents. I’ll do it.”
Fiearius was not surprised at all to see Leta volunteer. After learning the truth behind her mother’s death, she hadn’t been herself: sometimes she didn’t speak for hours, but retreated to his room, dug through data on the consoles, and conducted research, silent and surly. Other times, she paced around him and burst in angry tirades about the Society and what they’d done.
Fiearius navigated her grief as best as he knew how. He didn’t know how he could possibly help.
Besides going after them. He knew Leta wasn’t being flippant in volunteering for the more active role in this mission and though it wasn’t the safest, he wouldn’t deny her it. He wouldn’t deny her the revenge she craved.
He met her gaze steadily and nodded. “I’ll go with you.”
“There’s a bigger issue here,” Dez said suddenly. “We fly anywhere near that base, they’ll know we’re coming.”
“Ah, but therein lies the genius,” Fiearius mused. He folded his arms and leaned back against the console. “The Carthians know which moon Blackwater is on. They just don’t know where. About once a week they do a systematic bombing of the surrounding area in order to suss it out. We land during their attack–”
“Their radars will be scattered,” Cyrus realized. “We’ll blend right in.” At last, he looked interested and impressed, but Dez remained unphased.
“They’ll still be able to see us.”
“Right. Which is why — “ Fiearius reached over and circled a spot on the screen, some distance from the mountain, “ — we’ll park far away.”
The room grew quiet as they all gazed at the screen, the light reflecting across their faces. Finally, Leta asked, “Then what?”
“Then we walk,” said Fiearius, as though this was obvious.
Cyrus frowned at the map, knitting his brow. “Through ten miles of heavy jungle?”
“Well, yeah — “
“Jungle?” muttered Dez.
“Yeah, we’ll do it in two parts. Camp one night, make the attack early in the morning.”
“Camp?” Leta scrunched her face in disgust. “Like, in tents?”
Fiearius shot her look of surprise, then looked around at them all in disbelief. “Seriously? We’re planning an attack on a Society base and this is the part you guys have a problem with? Get over it, this is what we’re doing. All that’s left is to pick a place to meet up with Quin and organize.”
“Relara,” put in Cy suddenly and all eyes turned to him. “We should stop there. It’s easy to get to, it’s close to where we’re headed. And the Beacon will be there. I need to give them something. Something for the engine. It’s just a part, but it’s kind of hard to find so–”
But Fiearius lifted his hand, interrupting his rambly explanation. He didn’t need it. “Fine by me. I’ll send over the coordinates.”
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
The Beacon, in all of her splendor, always had the smoothest landing sequence Addy could imagine of a ship her size — even when her pilot was suffering from a concussion. Once the ship had lowered safely to the ground of Relara, Addy darted around the engine room, double-checking the readings on the console screens, only to find it was another successful docking. On a planet she’d never been and never thought she’d ever be able to travel to. Every time they landed at a new place, her heart leapt.
In the hallway, footsteps pounded down the stairs. Finn always stopped by to double-check on the engine after docking, so Addy started speaking over her shoulder.
“Hey Finn, do ya mind glancing over the A-thrusters upstairs? I think we might be — “
But when Addy turned around, it wasn’t Finn in the doorway. It was, of all unlikely people, Cyrus. He was leaning his elbow on the doorframe in a manner that looked a little uncomfortable, a nervous smile darting across his face.
Addy’s mouth fell open. “Cy? What’re you doing here?”
“I’m surprisingly full of it.” He unleashed a charming grin that fell off his face instantly. “Wait. No. Full of surprises. I’m full of surprises, I mean.” He stepped into the room, catching his hand through his untidy hair. “Actually, Relara’s close to our next job so Fiear wanted to stop here and regroup,” he explained, his tone now completely casual. “Since the Beacon’s here too, thought I’d swing by and say hello.” He paused next to the engine and turned to her with an awkward smile. “Hello.”
Addy clapped her palm over her mouth, but it did little to hide her grin. “Hi.”
Apparently, he was here for a friendly visit, because before she could say ask anything else, he turned away to admire the main core of the engine. “Did you ever get that clattering fixed? I tried to pick you up something to fix it, but — ” he grimaced at the memory of that particular port visit. “Well. Bounty hunters.”
“What? Bounty hunters?” Addy repeated, unsure if she should laugh or not. “Gods, your life is weird. The only exciting thing I did today was replace the batteries in our COMM devices.”
“Hey, I’d take that any day over bounty hunters.” He tilted his head at the engine, then swept a hand in her direction. “I’m not the only one with a weird life though. Look at you. Maybe you just replaced batteries, but you replaced them on a stolen Society ship currently engaged in black market vessel dealing.”
“Yeah, well. Some days are more exciting than others.” Biting down on her bottom lip, Addy lowered onto a nearby stool, still unable to take her eyes off of the man who was now wandering around the engine, gazing at it with admiration in his eyes. “Bet you never thought you’d end up grappling with bounty hunters, huh.”
He laughed, once. “Hardly. I never even imagined leaving Satieri.”
“Really? No childhood aspirations to be the most fearsome space pirate in the span?”
Cyrus cast her a pointed look. Then he spread his arms and nodded down at him: he was not quite 5’11, pale like he had not seen the sun in a year, and with engine oil staining his shirt.