When Cyrus awoke the following morning, it took him a several groggy, confusing seconds to remember why a glow of happiness was filling his chest. Then he remembered: Addy. Their date. Their kiss. His stomach did several happy somersaults as he sat up, got out of bed and pulled on clothes, grinning dazedly to himself.
His grin faded by the time he made it down the ladder into the command deck and realized he had something of an audience. He intended to go eat breakfast in the mess hall, but he slowed to a halt outside the bridge. Two pairs of eyes were on him.
His brother was leaning back in his captain’s chair, hands folded behind his neck, smirking at him. Leta stood next to him with her arms folded. When they just continued to stare like he was an animal in a zoo, he snapped, “What?”
It seemed to satisfy Fiearius. “Yep. He’s alone. Called it.” He held out his hand to Leta. “Pay up.”
Leta whacked his arm with the back of her hand, then returned her attention to Cyrus. “Ignore him. How was your date, Cyrus?” she asked lightly while Fiearius grinned.
Tentatively, Cyrus moved toward the bridge’s door. “It was good. Really good.” He could feel heat rising in his face. “We went to a museum and got dinner and it was just really good.” He thought it was an appropriate answer, but Fiearius was still looking at him in a way that made him feel obligated to add, “We’re taking it slow.”
“Good for you,” said Leta sincerely, and Fiearius snorted, “Says the woman who tends towards the opposite.”
Leta shot him a look, but then she returned to Cyrus. “So you two are really hitting it off, huh?”
Cyrus felt himself turn red again and willed himself to not grin stupidly. “Yeah. I think so.”
“Perfect,” said Fiearius at once. He sat up in his chair, suddenly all business. “In that case, I have a proposition for you.”
Cyrus’ euphoria evaporated. He had seen that scheming expression before and it never meant anything good. “Why do I have the feeling I’m not going to like it?”
“Because you have trust issues. Listen, we’ve been planning our next moves. We’ve decided our best bet right now is to take the dreadnought Titan.”
Cyrus’ eyes widened and he felt interested in spite of himself. “That sounds…big.”
“Huge, actually,” said Fiearius. He stood up to his feet and began pacing the small space. “But here’s the thing. It’s currently on a mission well far away from any other Society zones. Unprotected. A sitting duck, if you will. The Dionysian’s far too small to connect with its external docks, but Quin, Rax and Elam will pile all their forces onto a few cruisers and those’ll be our boarding parties while the Dionysian hangs back and monitors.”
“Okay,” he said blankly. Leta did not appear startled by any of this news, which meant she’d already been apprised of the situation. “And?” prompted Cyrus, sensing the bad news was yet to come.
“The only problem,” Fiearius predictably added, “is that the ship’s main systems are ID-locked. Only the captain can make her tick.”
“So you need me to override it,” Cyrus guessed.
“Exactly,” said Leta, turning toward him. “But there’s a second problem.”
Fiearius smirked apologetically. “It can only be overridden from on the ship itself.”
Cyrus stared between the two of them. “Wait, you want me to actually…go on the ship during the raid?” He shook his head. “Why can’t I just override it afterwards?”
“Because it’s not just navigation we need,” Fiearius explained. “It’s a big ship, our most difficult raid yet. We’re gonna need blast door control, communications, security systems, the whole thing, if we’re gonna win this one. We need control of the ship as soon as possible.” Cyrus just stared at him in disbelief and Fiearius hurried on, “I know, it’s dangerous and really not your thing, I know, but I promise, it’ll be fine.”
“I’ll go with you as back-up, Cy,” Leta said at once, her expression patient and sincere; clearly, she believed this would work. “And Eve, she’s coming with us too.”
“And I’ll take up your place at the helm,” Fiearius said, patting the bridge’s console affectionately. “And I’ll actually pay attention,” he added with an accusatory glare. “So really. It’ll be fine.”
Cyrus could not say he believed that it really would be fine. But he swallowed hard and muttered, “So. Get on the ship. In the middle of the raid. And override the ID-lock.”
“And in return!” Fiearius said, raising his finger. “In return. For your bravery. We’ll stay here, on this planet, one more day. Which means one more day with your fair lady.”
Well, Fiearius certainly knew how to negotiate. The mere thought of more time with Addy made his heart lift. And last night, she had gushed (after they’d finally managed to physically break away from another, a difficult feat) that she couldn’t wait to see him again. And now maybe she didn’t have to wait long.
“A week,” Cyrus corrected, crossing his arms. He could negotiate, too. “I’ll do it if we stay here a week.”
Fiearius tilted his head in exasperation. “Cy, the ship’ll be gone in a week…”
“Fine. Three days.”
Fiearius cast a glance at Leta, who was observing in amusement. Finally, he sighed. “I can give you two days. Best I can do. And I’ll throw in convincing Corra and Finn to stay for the same.”
So he would have to risk his life and potentially get shot at and captured and murdered on a Society dreadnought. But he’d spend his last days in the company of an incredibly beautiful engineer?
Short of breath, flooded with panicky adrenaline, Cyrus jogged down the narrow hallway after Leta and Eve. The metallic blasts of gunfire were thundering through the lower deck, followed by a chorus of Society agents shouting. Over the sounds of chaos, Leta called, “So — was it worth it?”
A fleeting image of the last few days came to Cyrus’ mind. He and Addy had spent nearly the entire time in one another’s company, exploring the town, sampling the local food, running simulations on the Beacon’s engine. And kissing of course. Lots of that.
“Yep,” he called back. “Still worth it.”