Not particularly in the mood to hear how genius Ren was — especially from Leta — Fiearius grunted, “It’s fine. Just get us the journals, we’ll handle the rest.” Leta opened her mouth to protest, but Fiearius caught her stare and shook his head. The last thing they needed was another ARC-induced outburst.
She asked Ren, “Where did you hide them then?”
“Remember that old library we used to study in?”
Fiearius wished he hadn’t noticed the pink flush in Leta’s face.
“Of course. You hid them there? But that place is huge, where–”
“Where do you think?”
They paused, and the deep blush in Leta’s neck was impossible to ignore.
“I was sort of hoping one day you’d find them,” he said quietly.
Finally, Fiearius decided he couldn’t take much more of this exchange. He pushed himself to his feet. “Well,” he muttered, looking around at them all. “Back to Vescent then.”
Seconds after the Beacon’s ramp lowered to touch ground in the vast, dusty hangar of the Conduit — the old abandoned ship that now acted as a homebase for freed allies — Finn was stalking down it, face clouded in determination. Without hesitation he started to the main doors where the guards were already watching him with curiosity. The Conduit didn’t particularly like visitors, but Finn had no choice but to invite himself inside: if anyone knew where Corra was, it was the Conduit’s leader and Corra’s mother-like figure from her own enslavement, Raisa. He was sure of it.
Of course, he’d asked Raisa before. When he realized his co-captain had disappeared without a trace, Raisa was among the first people he’d called. If Corra wasn’t with Leta on Vescent and she wasn’t on the Dionysian with Cyrus, she most certainly had fled to the Conduit to offer her help. It was the obvious choice. Raisa, however, had been less than accommodating, informing him that she was not at liberty to discuss Conduit members with outsiders. The matter, since, was dropped.
But this time would be different. This time she would answer.
Footsteps followed him down the ramp. Finn spared a glance over his shoulder and was surprised to see Cai starting after him, eyeing him uncertainly. Daelen and Alyx were nowhere in sight. Hell, he hadn’t even seen Alyx in days. Finn knew he was being reckless, potentially careless, but he didn’t care — not when he was this close to having answers. He had to know how Corra had found Callahan. How she’d killed him. What she’d been up to. And why she’d left when he needed help the most.
The armed guards flanking the door eyed him as he approached. One of them nodded at Finn and asked, “Hello. Your ally ID?”
But then he glanced at Finn’s right ear and noticed that it was fully intact — absent the cut that signified enslavement. The man set his jaw with suspicion. “Who’re you? What can we help you with?”
“Finnegan Riley. I need to speak with Raisa.”
The two guards exchanged bemused glances.
“Sorry sir, outsiders need prior approval to enter the facilities.”
Finn bristled with irritation. The Beacon must have still been in the Conduit’s approved-for-docking list. Apparently, that didn’t extend to its captain. “I have approval and I need to talk to her,” he lied simply, but neither of them seemed to buy it.
Cai, who had been hovering behind Finn, finally stepped forward. “It’s concerning an ally who may be here,” Cai put in, considerably more polite than his counterpart.
One of the guards fixed her attention on Cai and Finn could tell even from here where her eyes traveled. “You’re welcome to come inside and look for yourself, sir,” she offered to Cai.
Before Cai could answer, Finn stepped in front of him in a haste and cut in harshly, “No, I need to be there. I have to talk to Raisa.”
Which was apparently the wrong thing to do. The male guard adjusted his grip on his gun threateningly. “Is this man bothering you, sir?” he asked Cai, though his eyes never left Finn. “Know that inside these doors, you are granted full amnesty, freedom and protection from people like this.” He jutted the end of his gun in Finn’s direction with such an expression of disgust, he immediately jumped to his own defense.
“What?!” he demanded. “I’m not–god, I’m not a slaver, I–”
And that was apparently the wrong word to mention.