“So with the exception of this,” Fiearius gestured to the command center around them and the hangar beyond, “the base is defunct. Perfect.”
“Let’s finish it off then,” said Dez, lifting his rifle like a bat and readying to slam it into the console he stood before. Before he could complete the arc, though, Quin cut him off.
“Hang on there, muscles,” she called, raising her hand. “Let’s not be hasty. Maybe we should leave this room intact.”
“”Til we get the hangar door open would be good,” Leta suggested, glancing at Dez in distrust.
“No no, not just the hangar door,” Quin corrected, shaking her head and drawing a circle in the air with her palm. “This whole thing. Might come in handy y’know?”
Fiearius raised a brow at her skeptically. “What exactly are you saying?”
“I’m saying, these ships are real nice, but a place to store ‘em would be even nicer don’tcha think?”
“No,” he said shortly. “No, that’s not what we agreed on.” He holstered his gun and folded his arms over his chest. “You help us disable the base, you get the ships, we never said anything about the hangar.”
“Well that was before I saw the damn thing,” Quin said simply. “And I ain’t only talkin’ about the hangar either.” She glanced to the door. “Rest of the base ain’t so bad itself.”
“And what about the two hundred agents still inside?” Leta demanded, her eyes slitting dangerously. “Doubt they’re just going accept new management.”
Quin eyed her in confusion as though she’d just asked the most basic of questions. “They ain’t gonna have to. All rounded up like that, you’d be surprised how quick we can take care of ‘em.”
Leta threw a hand in the air. “Are you out of your godsdamn mind? They’re low-level employees. They don’t know who they’re working for. They don’t deserve whatever it is you — “
“Hang on, just hang on.” Fiearius lifted a hand between them. “We’re not killing anybody. That’s not what this is about.”
“She shouldn’t be taking the ships either,” came Dez’s voice unexpectedly. All eyes turned to him. “Utada can’t take the ships.”
Practically pushing past Fiearius, Quin stalked towards Dez, the fury in her face so strong that even Dez took a step backwards. “Excuse me?!” she demanded. “What did you just say?”
If Dez was alarmed, it certainly didn’t prevent him from keeping his mouth shut. “If you take the ships, we look like petty thieves only in this for material gain. Mere criminals. The people will have no reason to side with us. It sends the wrong message.”
“Message?” Quin repeated. “Message?! I didn’t haul a hundred of my people through the jungle for two days for a fucking message.” Dez looked about ready to argue, but Quin swung her attention to Fiearius. “Is this what you think too?”
“What? No! Of course not!” Fiearius defended at once. “The ships are yours, we already agreed to that–”
“They’re hers only at risk of undermining the entire effort,” Dez muttered sharply.
“Undermining?” Quin growled. “Soliveré, you best keep this Sochy pet of yours under control or I’ll–”
This was unraveling, and it was unraveling fast. Fiearius knew it. So did Leta. She stepped between them and growled, “Would all of you stop? We need to get out of here!”
Shouting filled the room, the voices yelling over one another. Then another sound stole Fiearius’ attention. A distant booming sound, far off, but getting clearer.
He looked up. The ceiling that was starting to vibrate as the deep booming got louder and louder. Or rather, closer and closer.
“Hey,” Fiearius began hesitantly, his voice nearly drowned out by all the other sound in the room. “What is–”
All other noise was suddenly halted as the speakers in the control room erupted with a voice that overrode all of them.
“Attention intruders,” it stated in a bass that shook the walls. “This is the dreadnought Legacy. We have your position locked. You’re surrounded. Surrender and you may be permitted to live.”
The voice dropped off and the four occupants of the room stood in stunned silence.
Finally, Leta whispered, “I thought we shut off communications and security, how did they know–”
“We must not have been fast enough,” Fiearius answered under his breath.
They fell silent again, listening only to the great boom of the ship that must have been directly above them. Finally, Quin took a deep breath, spit on the ground and declared, “Well hell of a reason to slow down now.” She hoisted her rifle onto her back and started for the door. “Our rides outta here are ten miles away and there’s a goddamn sky-beast in between us and them. Don’t know about you lot, but I ain’t waitin’ for ‘permission’ to live.”
Fiearius turned towards her. “The ships,” he said. “Get your people into the ships. I’ll get the door open and you can all get the hell out of here.”
“Oh I’ll do ya one better than that,” Quin agreed. “You.” She pointed at Dez. “Help me rally up the troops and get ‘em into those fighters. To hell with your damn ‘message.’” As she ran out the door, Dez cast Fiearius one more glare before following after her, leaving only himself and Leta in the control room.
Leta turned to him, panic hiding behind her eyes. “You know how to work the controls?”
Fiearius mustered a nervous smirk. “Not a clue. Lend me your eyes, would ya?”
At once, they stepped toward the front consoles. Fiearius found the interfaces familiar but the content was anything but. The most advanced Society programming Fiearius had ever touched certainly couldn’t control the docking protocol of near a hundred fighters. Out the window below them, they started to see Quin’s people rushing into the hangar, climbing into ships that were still locked into place. Leta, apparently, wasn’t having much luck either. And it was only minutes before they had a helpful reminder of how long this was taking.
“Intruders,” boomed the speakers so suddenly that Fiearius clamped his hands over his ears to shield them from the sound. “I repeat. There is no way out of the base. Surrender or face the consequences. We are poised and ready. Do not force our hand.”
Leta cast him a wide-eyed sideways glance. “Are they going to — do you think they’ll attack the base?”
Fiearius grimaced. Attacking their own base? Murdering all the personnel within for the sake of eliminating four intruders? Didn’t sound as farfetched as it should have.
“Fuckin’ hope not.”
Another voice suddenly erupted around them. This one a little friendlier. Only a little. “My people are ready to go, why the hell isn’t that door open?!” shouted Quin.
“Working on it,” Fiearius growled, forgetting or maybe subconsciously neglecting to hit the button that actually connected him to the ships’ COMM lines.
“Found it!” Leta suddenly exclaimed, making him jump. If the room wasn’t booming before, it certainly was then as the massive steel door started to lower, shaking the entire structure.
“Thank ya kindly, Soliveré!” came Quin’s cheer as the ships in the hangar started to lift off. “See ya on the other side.”
Now that the ships were free (and he could already hear the first few shots being fired as the fighters climbed out of the base and up into the Legacy’s sky), there was only one thing left to do.
“Let’s get the fuck out of here.”
They shared one last look of alarm before he turned for the door. But he’d only made it a step outside when Leta called for him in a voice he hoped to the gods he’d never hear again.
“Fiear — !” she cried, her voice choking, and he spun around with his gun in his hand.
They were not alone after all.
He never wanted to see this woman again, but there she was. Ophelia Varisian stood tall and poised behind Leta, who had been forced down to her knees. Leta struggled, but Ophelia dug her fingers roughly into her hair, holding her in place. Fiearius could hardly absorb the sight.
How had she gotten here? It must have been that the sleek black destroyer Cyrus had spotted docking in the base. A sleek black destroyer reserved for elite agents. A sleek black destroyer that had already chased him halfway across the Span.
But it didn’t matter how she’d gotten here. All that mattered was that she was holding a shining pistol against Leta’s temple.
“Drop your weapons, Soliveré, or I’ll end her,” Ophelia said coldly.
Leta’s eyes were fearful, but she gritted her teeth. “Don’t, Fiear.” Her voice was somehow steady. “Don’t give her your gun.”
When Fiearius didn’t move, Ophelia tugged on Leta’s hair and pulled her closer. “Now!” she yelled, just as Leta cried, “Don’t, Fiear, she’ll just kill you too!”
But in the end, it wasn’t a question at all. He was cornered. He had no back-up plan, no expert pirate savviness to get them out of this. Leta had a gun to her head. He had nothing.
In his defeat, he held up his hands., “Alright. Alright. Okay, I’ll do what you ask just…don’t — don’t go pullin’ any triggers…”
Carefully as he could, he crouched to lower his gun to the floor, and then righted himself to his feet. He lifted his brows at her indicatively, but Ophelia just glared at the weapon and flicked her eyes to the side.
Fiearius groaned. Gently as he could, he slipped his foot underneath the gun and kicked it aside so that it slid all the way across the floor and hit the wall.
“Happy now?” he asked, meeting Leta’s eyes only for a moment before forcing himself to look away. They were at an obvious disadvantage. A disadvantage that, as of this moment, he didn’t have any idea how to get out of. He was on the verge of failing her and they both knew it. Above them, ship fire blasted every few seconds, booming through the hangar and shaking the very mountain they were beneath, and all he could do was stand there, uselessly holding his hands up, and wait for Ophelia’s next move.
But she didn’t move. She only stood there, gun still on Leta and glare still set on Fiearius. Perhaps she hadn’t thought this through either. There were calculations blazing behind her eyes.Who to kill first, perhaps? Speed and accuracy of aim after she fired a bullet through Leta’s head?
His mind was racing, his heart was pounding, but his gun was a good 5 seconds away, a well-aimed shot another 10 and Leta would be dead before the bullet even caught flesh. He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t watch her die. And yet he couldn’t do anything else either.
It was over.
But then, in the eternal tick of a second, Varisian turned her gun from Leta across the room to Fiearius and finally making her decision. She squeezed the trigger.
The bullet blasted by Fiearius’ head — he could feel it ruffle his hair. It was nearly a perfect shot, but not nearly enough and as it zoomed past his ear, embedding itself in the concrete wall, her mistake became quickly apparent. As soon as the nozzle left her temple, Leta reached back and managed to seize the hilt of a small dagger Varisian had strapped to her hip.
Fiearius watched as, nearly in slow motion, Leta lifted the knife and swiftly struck it back into her captor’s thigh.
A scream of pain, and then Ophelia doubled over, dropping the gun as Leta tried to put some distance between them. But Ophelia had the advantage of Internal Affairs. She had the advantage of Flush. She recovered quickly, yanked the blade from her flesh and swiped at Leta, catching her on the arm and leaving a thin line of red.