The table descended into silence as the three of them, unlikely dinner companions, nervously picked at the food in front of them. It was often like this around here, Cyrus found. Perhaps it was just him, but ever since he’d arrived, he felt the awful looming expectation that at any moment someone would barge through the door and drag them off to be executed in the city sqaure themselves. It didn’t exactly make for good dinner conversation.
But suddenly Delia, to his side, started laughing, apparently at nothing. Alarmed, Cyrus looked at Leta who just stared back at him, perplexed. Delia just kept on laughing until finally she got a hold of herself.
“I’m sorry,” she blurted out as she tried to steady her breathing. “I’m so sorry. This is just so–it’s so weird. I just can’t believe that I’m sitting here eating cheap takeout on Vescent with Cyrus Soliveré hiding from the Society.”
Cyrus didn’t exactly get the humor in the situation, but she wasn’t wrong. He chuckled a in return and muttered, “Yeah, it’s — it’s kinda strange.”
“No no, you don’t even know how strange,” she corrected him, raising her hand. “I used to hate you.”
Cyrus said, blankly, “Wait — what?”
“Back at Sonnete? Gods, you were so rude,” she went on, and Leta snorted.
Delia continued, sounding amused, “I said hello to you every morning. You know what you said to me? Nothing. Nothing or hell, sometimes you even glared at me. You were so stuck-up and arrogant. You never gave anyone else the time of day. You acted like you were better than everyone there. You were genuinely terrible.”
It was not the revelation Cyrus was expecting. Though even if he had, it still stung. Okay, so he hadn’t been the greatest of people back then. Sure, he’d had a big head and a bit of a crappy attitude, but he’d never known that people actually hated him.
“I thought you two were friends,” said Leta, looking intrigued herself.
“Friends? Hardly,” Delia scoffed. “I didn’t even know you knew my name.”
Red by now with embarrassment, Cyrus stammered, “Of course I knew your name, I–” But there was a much more pressing question on his mind. “I don’t get it. Why did you help us then?”
“Well I’m not heartless,” Delia laughed. “Sure, I never liked you, but gods, if I’d turned you in on the Titan?” She shook her head. “I don’t want you dead. I don’t want anyone dead. I mean, I was genuinely glad when you left Sonnete. That’s a terrible thing to say, but it was true at the time. Now, of course, I feel awful, knowing that you were kidnapped. Definitely not glad anymore. Sorry about that.” She smiled sheepishly.
“But–I don’t know, you’re so much better now,” she went on. “You seem–I don’t know. Better.” A genuine smile pulled across her face before she added in jest, “Maybe getting kidnapped by murderous traitors was good for you?”
And that, Cyrus was found, was when he couldn’t take it anymore.
“I wasn’t kidnapped,” he said suddenly. Leta dropped her fork with a clatter. Delia knitted her brow, confused.
“I wasn’t kidnapped, Delia. And my brother’s not–”
“Cyrus,” Leta breathed sharply.
But he shook his head. “I have to tell her the truth. She has to know.”
“She already knows the truth,” Leta growled, but Cyrus had already turned back to Delia.
“Fiearius Soliveré isn’t a traitor. He’s not murderous. He’s not dangerous. The things the Society says about him, they’re lies.”
Leta put her head in her hands beside him, but Delia was watching Cyrus with wide eyes. “What are you–not dangerous–but the Titan!”
“He’s fighting the Society, yes. We all are. But not because we’re the bad guys, we–” Suddenly Cyrus’ words were stuck in his throat. How could he explain this? How could he make her understand? “They killed his family, Delia. When they made him Verdant, they killed his wife and his four year old son. Just to manipulate him.” He heard her gasp as she put a hand over her mouth. “And you remember the Nautilus?”
Her hand fell away, just slightly. “The terraformer project? Of course. It was your pride and joy.”
“And you remember the break-in? That ended with it broken nearly beyond repair?” She nodded. “It wasn’t a break-in. It was me. I destroyed it because I found out what they were going to do with it once it was done. They weren’t going to use it on uncivilized planets.” Delia’s hand clasped over her mouth again and her horrified eyes peered over it.
“And we’re not the only ones. They imprisoned Leta’s fiance just for knowing too much. They’ll kill anyone who makes even the slightest transgression against them, whether they know they’re guilty or not. The Society was once a force of good, yes, but it’s gotten too powerful. And now? Now it’s dangerous. That’s why I left when my brother showed up asking for help. And that’s why we’re fighting them now. That’s why we were on the Titan. That’s why we’re fugitives and have to get off this planet as soon as possible. And I thought you needed to know. I think everyone needs to know.” He reached over and put his hand on her arm as he said seriously, “You’re not safe, Delia. No one is. Not anymore.”
Delia could not have been more stunned. She didn’t move. She didn’t blink. She just stared at him, horrified, unable it seemed to find any words. Cyrus half wondered if they were about to be thrown out. But before she got the chance, there was a knock on the door.
Leta practically jumped out of her seat, her hand going to the knife she hadn’t taken from her hip since they’d landed. Cyrus too got to his feet and quietly started to usher Leta towards the back room. Delia almost seemed like she wasn’t even going to get up, but finally, as Cyrus secured the both of them out of sight, he heard her footsteps and the sound of the door opening.
On the other side, he heard a quiet, nervous voice. “A-are you Delia?”
Cyrus felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up. There was something oddly familiar about that voice …
“Yes, can I help you?” was Delia’s cold response.
“I’m looking for — an engineer. An experienced engineer. My ship, The Beacon, has a broken B-valve … ”
And it hit him. But no. It couldn’t be. There was no way. Ignoring Leta’s hushed protests, Cyrus peered around the corner into the living room, past Delia and at the woman standing in the door. The messy blonde hair. The gray-blue eyes.