Begin Forwarded Message:
With heavy heart I call to thee
From the orb of endless sea
Where oceans sprawl both far and wide
And each street bears its watchful eyes.
But fear not for me nor companion mine
For open arms of friends we find.
To you, though, no one can compare
I’m yours, forever, always, I swear.
Without you I am frail, my dear,
But I am not ensnared by fear.
Yes our time may pass and flow
But we’ll meet again, of this, I know.
For now, the road between us goes
And upon it fourteen lilies grow.
I am a part of twelve, but one day, true,
I will make my way right back to you.
Fiearius stared at the message on the screen, feeling no more confident about it than the first time he’d read it. So he read it again. And again. He found himself more confused than relieved.
Four days had passed since the dreadful raid on the Titan. Four days since they’d had any news or hints or signs that Cyrus and Leta were even alive. Four days since the Dionysian had parked itself within the Beacon to collaborate on a rescue attempt with no direction. And now a message had arrived. A message that made about as little sense as could be expected.
Corra hovered behind him, reading the message over his shoulder. “It’s from Leta, right?” she asked, her voice hopeful and shaky. She had hardly been taking the news that her two best friends were gone well. But he was glad she and her crew were here. Though he certainly wouldn’t wish it on her, Fiearius had actually appreciated the company on the past few sleepless nights. It was mostly heavy doses of Flush keeping him going at this point, but the presence of a kindred spirit no doubt helped.
“It’s got to be from Leta,” she said again. “It has to be.”
A murmur of interest rippled around the room. Finn, Daelen, and Addy, who lingered near the doorway, exchanged hopeful glances. But Fiearius was already shaking his head. Technically, the message was sent by Rahdien Yseltin, a Satierian merchant on Tarin who had received it from someone by the name of Delia Kane with the added note “For my one and only tieh waré.”
Yseltin had added, I’ve never heard of this woman, but you’re the only tieh waré I know so perhaps it will mean something to you?
Fiearius didn’t know her either, but there was something familiar about the writing.
“It’s not Leta,” he said briskly, earning a worried stare from Corra. Leta would never write him a corny love poem. But there was someone else who did write corny love poems. And wrote them with Fiearius.
“It’s Cyrus,” he explained. “When we were kids, me and him used to write these stupid things together to send to people we liked in class. The question is what it means.”
“Well it means they’re alive,” Corra breathed, putting her hand on her chest. “That’s what it says right? That they’re with friends and they’re okay?”
“It’s more than that though isn’t it?” said Finn suddenly. “The orb of endless sea? That’s gotta be — “
“Vescent,” Fiearius finished, feeling his blood turn cold. The planet was practically a second home for the Society now. He was hard pressed to think of anywhere they could have been less safe.
He wasn’t the only one thinking it.
“Even amongst friends, Vescent is hardly a stable place for them to be,” said Daelen who was leaning up against the wall by the door. “There are constant patrols, checkpoints if they move around, the dock is swarming. No doubt Leta could easily be recognized. Cyrus too.”
Fiearius nodded solemnly, already wondering how to approach this now that they knew. But his mind snapped back to the message when Corra asked, “But what’s this last bit? The thing about fourteen lilies and part of twelve? That seems pretty specific to not mean something.”
“A symbol of some sort?” Finn guessed, his voice thin with doubt. “Something else from your childhood, Fiear?” He glanced at Fiearius, who couldn’t find anything familiar in the words. As far as he knew, lilies didn’t even grow in Paradiex.
“Something from Leta then?” Corra put in.
The room descended into silence as all three of them stared intently at the screen, reading the final passage over and over, hoping that something would stir in their memories and give it meaning. But Cyrus’ message didn’t strike any bells in Fiearius’ mind, nor Corra’s, nor Finn’s. Daelen’s though…
“Wait, the line before,” he said suddenly, stalking over to the screen and peering down at it himself. “It mentions a road, yes? A road lined with lilies.”
Corra looked up at him, her head tilted curiously. “Does Vescent have some lily garden or something?”
“Not exactly,” Daelen answered. “But there is a street called Lily Road. On the west side of the city. A friend of mine used to live there. Perhaps that’s what it’s referring to. And the fourteen…”
“It’s an address,” Fiearius realized, his eyes widening.
“Could be,” said Daelen. “And from what I recall, the area’s mostly apartment buildings. So…”
“A part of twelve,” Corra muttered.
“Apartment twelve,” Fiearius translated, feeling a rush of adrenaline through his veins.
“Cy-Cy you little genius,” Corra breathed, shaking her head in disbelief.
But Cyrus’ aptitude was hardly Fiearius’ focus. They knew where they were. They knew exactly where to look, down to the very apartment number. After four days of nothing, here it was. Everything. There was no time to waste.
Suddenly, he launched himself to his feet. “Let’s go get them.”
At once, the awe wiped from Corra’s face and she looked up at him in horror. “Wait, what?”
“We have their exact location. We can go get them.”
“Whoa, whoa, hang on a minute, mate,” said Finn, lifting a hand in the air and smiling tightly. “Did you forget the part about Vescent being crawling with the Society? And that the Beacon is a stolen ship. And the Dionysian is slated to be shot down on sight. And there are wanted posters with your face on them…The message even says not to come for them.”
“I don’t care,” Fiearius said bluntly. “I’m not leaving them there.”
“And we’re not saying you should,” put in Corra gently, putting her hand on his arm as though he might run off at any moment. “But we need to think this through. Going to Vescent is dangerous, for any of us. We need a plan.”
Fiearius groaned. Apparently neither Finn nor Corra understood the timescale they were on. They didn’t have the freedom to spend forever standing around and thinking about it. They needed to act.
“We’ll figure it out when we get there,” he said and pointed to the Beacon’s nav controls, “Set the course.”
Corra stared at him in alarm. “What? No way! They’ll blast us out of the sky before we even get close.”
Fiearius groaned and rolled his eyes. “Fine,” he relented, turning to the door. “I’ll just take the Dionysian then.”
“That,” said Finn, “is a terrible idea.”
“It’ll be fine, trust me,” Fiearius growled.
“No, they’re right, captain,” said Daelen slowly. “Even if your ship is able to land, you’ll be required to give your CID upon entry through the docks. They’ll know who you are instantly.”
“And even if you had a fake CID, you’re kind of…recognizable,” Corra pointed out, glancing up at him warily.
“Again, not seeing why I should care,” Fiearius snapped.
“Because it’s suicide?” Corra said, crossing her arms over her chest. “What good are you to Leta and Cy if you’re dead on arrival?”
“More good than me here, not doing anything,” Fiearius countered. He couldn’t understand why they just weren’t getting this. Every moment they lingered, Cyrus and Leta were more at risk of being discovered. The timestamp on the message from this Delia person was already a few days old.They could have already been discovered.
Finn went on, “Listen. Someone else could go to Vescent. Someone they won’t be looking for.”
“Quin?” Corra suggested, but Finn shook his head.
“They know she’s with us. All of your other contacts too. We need someone who’s not connected to us.”
Corra frowned. “We don’t know anyone who’s not connected to us…”
Finn shrugged in admittance and opened his mouth to say more, but Fiearius had had enough of this. He had to go save them. These two could argue all night for all he cared, but as long as he knew where Leta and Cyrus were, he was going to go find them and bring them back.
“This is stupid,” he mumbled under his breath and without acknowledging anyone else in the room, stalked towards the door. It was only Corra’s panicked shout of, “Fiearius!” that stopped him on the precipice.
Reluctantly, he glanced back over his shoulder to find her staring at him with a nervous sort of resolve. “Don’t you dare try to undock the Dionysian,” she said, as stern as her quavering voice could manage.
But her bravery was wasted. “And what if I do?” Fiearius growled coldly.