“Well when’s that gonna be?!” someone beside Leta yelled back. “Where are they?!”
Ducking away quickly, Leta looked to Cyrus and Addy.
“How’re we going to get through the blockade?” Addy whispered.
“We can just make a run for it?” Cyrus suggested, but Leta shook her head.
“They’ll grab us. There are too many of them.”
Cyrus glanced back at them, his face wrought with indecision as he pushed the glasses up his nose. Finally, that familiar look of epiphany started to light his eyes, a look that reminded Leta of Fiearius, as he said, “There’s a lot of us too.”
“What?” Addy whispered, but Leta thought she understood: there were not many Society commanding officers. Ten, fifteen, at best. But there was a whole crowd of angry people …
Suddenly, in a powerful voice Leta would not have expected from him, Cyrus stood back and bellowed, “We won’t stand for this!”
A few people looked towards where he was crammed into the crowd and he hastily ducked a few inches to avoid their gaze. But there was already a general murmur of agreement. “We won’t be treated like this!” he went on, altering his voice a little. Someone on the other side of the alley confirmed, “We won’t!”
Another woman up front cried, “We’ve had it with you lot! Had it!”
The commanding officer’s face darkened. “Calm down. We’ll let you through as soon as–”
“Not soon enough!” shouted Cyrus, and this time a chorus of cheers followed him. Leta watched him, half-horrified, half-amazed.
“You can’t keep us here!” cried another voice, followed by, “We’re getting through and we’re getting on those ships, no matter what!”
The crowd was rippling with movement and noise, and then Leta felt a surge of pressure on her back; people were pushing forward.
“I think it’s working!” Addy whispered, both terrified and hopeful, as she grabbed ahold of Leta’s arm and Cyrus’ shoulder. People were moving from all directions now, and yells filled the area, a din of anger.
“Settle down!” roared the commander up front as his wall of agents started to get pushed back themselves. “Settle down or we’ll be forced to take action!”
“You can’t control us!” roared one man, raising his fist in the air. And then it happened.
The first gunshot seemed to shock every person in the crowd. The crowd screamed, then ducked to the ground. The second gunshot that cracked in the air made yells of anger erupt as suddenly the sea of people launched forward.
In the chaos, Leta quickly seized Addy’s hand as people began to fight their way forward. Cyrus led the way, gritting his teeth as he shoved people sideways.
“Get to the shuttle on the left, hurry!” he shouted over his shoulder.
Bodies shoved into one another. In the disorder, Leta fleetingly lost sight of Cyrus and Addy, and she spun around.
What she found made a yell of alarm erupt in her throat. Addy, struggling against a commander’s arms, fighting for freedom. Horrified, Leta immediately shoved forward to help her but before she could, Cyrus’ voice rang out over the crowd.
“Let her go!” he growled, and cracked his knuckles across the man’s face. In nearly the same motion, he seized Addy’s wrist, reached out to grab Leta’s and darted onward towards a ship Leta didn’t recognize.
Short of breath, panicking, the three of them clambered up the ramp into the small fighter ship. Cyrus lunged forward to hit the control pad, closing the heavy door behind them, sealing them inside the ship.
“Are you okay?” he breathed, turning to Addy in particular, who was massaging her neck where the man had grabbed her.
“I’m fine, I’m fine,” said Addy, quickly turning toward the front of the ship. “We need to get in the air.”
Cyrus nodded in agreement, but he didn’t yet move. Even with the door closed, the din of the outside was still audible. Bursts of gunfire, screaming. Cyrus stood there, totally quiet, as though listening to it. His eyes were on the ground and his breath seemed caught in his chest. He must have felt Leta watching him, because he finally looked up, locked eyes with her, frowned resolutely and had to turn away.
She saw guilt in his face, and she knew why: he’d caused this chaos. Leta could think of nothing to say, but she squeezed his shoulder.
“You can fly this thing?” Cyrus asked as he joined Addy at the control panels.
“Well enough,” was Addy’s response as she busied herself at the console. “I just need to override the docking security…”
Cyrus nodded again and looked back at Leta, seemingly about to say something, when suddenly there was a loud banging to her left. She jumped backwards, ramming into the opposite wall.
“Open up!” came the muffled voice from the outside. “We know you’re in there! Open up, surrender and we may show mercy!”
Leta met Cyrus’ stare, wide-eyed. “Can you override it faster?” Cyrus breathed.
“Fast as I can,” Addy insisted, her fingers tapping away furiously.
The banging got louder. “Open this door!” shouted the voice again. The noise was filling the whole cabin. Leta could see the whole door mechanism shuddering at the impact.
“Addy…” Cyrus warned again, but Addy just shouted, “A few more seconds!”
“This is your last chance to open this door before I fucking blow it off!” shouted the voice.
Leta and Cyrus shared a look of alarm, but finally, Addy shouted, “Got it!” and the floor of the ship roared to life.
“Get us out of here!” Cyrus yelped. As the ship lifted from the docks, Cyrus and Addy began cheering: they were truly leaving Vescent.
In silence, Leta watched wisps of cloud dart past the window, and she sank against the wall in exhaustion.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Hours or seconds later (really — it could have been days), Leta forced open her heavy eyes. Her vision was blurring, but then Cyrus’ face slowly swam into view. He was leaning over her as she slept in a chair, gently shaking her awake.
“You alright?” he asked, and there was a certain joy in his voice she could not understand. Then he said, smiling, “Leta, we made it. We just landed. The Dionysian and the Beacon are outside.”
Leta pinched the bridge of her nose and sat up. She knew she was supposed to leap to her feet, she was supposed to run down the open ramp in excitement. But as she sat up, she felt only shaky, feverish, as if she were getting over a bout of the flu.
“I’ll be right th — ” she muttered, but Cyrus and Addy were hurrying down the ramp. A chorus of happy yells told Leta that the Dionysian crew was waiting outside.
Cautiously, slowly, Leta ventured down the ramp. Standing in the broad shadow of the Beacon, she saw Amora, weeping in happiness and calling her name over and over; Corra, hugging Cyrus and Addy at the same time and jumping up and down; Finn, beaming at her and looking a little faint with relief. Her eyes scanned over their faces, and she was about to open her mouth when she felt a figure — a tall figure — advancing toward her.
She heard Fiearius’ voice saying her name, and she glimpsed messy auburn hair, the utter relief filling his eyes, his arms open to pull her into his chest. But then — her vision went white.
Blinding light filled her eyes. Something — something angry, something feral and scared — roared to life inside of her.
As Fiearius’ hands went to her forearms to pull her into an embrace, she yanked herself away and the words jumped out of her throat before she could stop them. “Get off — no! NO!” she screamed, and she felt everyone spin around, astonished, as Leta fought off her assailant. Her screams pierced the air, choking with sobs. “Don’t — you can’t — DON’T TOUCH ME!”
Fiearius stepped backwards and put up his palms in surrender, stricken with confusion and horror.
“Leta, it’s me,” he said, his voice calm. “It’s just me. What’s wrong?” He turned to Cyrus, his face darkened. “What happened to her?”
“I–I don’t know,” Cyrus admitted. “She was fine. I mean, the Society had her for a little bit. Twenty, thirty minutes, but, she’s been fine, I don’t know what–”
“Get back!” Leta felt herself scream, digging her hands into her hair. “Stay away from him, Cyrus!’
Fiearius took in a deep breath and ventured a careful step towards her. She instinctually staggered backwards. “Leta,” he said, his voice even. “Calm down. It’s me. Fiearius. It’s okay.”
“I — but you betrayed — ”
Her voice shook with doubt. Tears swam in her eyes and she slowly lowered her hands from her hair, regarding Fiearius closely, taking in all the parts of him she had long since memorized: the scar jutting through his brow, his tightened jawline, the concern blazing in his eyes. She knew that face. It all came flooding back to her: the jobs on the Dionysian, the days they’d spent joking and teasing each other, that particular barking way he laughed, his stupid nicknames, his smile, his cooking, his hands as they ran down her back.
Her lungs tightened, then she exhaled. “Fiear?” she said quietly, and he nodded at her, as if confirming that yes, it was really him, and yes, she really was home.
Finally, exhaling shakily, she pressed forward and threw her arms around his neck, collapsing into his embrace.