Chapter 10: Rising Conflict Pt. 3

She spread her hands helplessly. “We’ve just spend the last 5 years on Archeti. Drawing blueprints and arguing with committees…”

Cyrus stared at her and got to his feet too. “We’re not just–we have a family, Adds. We have to give Kalli a home, a childhood, safety–”

“Of course, but a home and a childhood and safety aren’t mutually exclusive with running away from everything else,” she argued, speaking less guardedly now. Before he could even begin to retort, she went on, “Gods, Cyrus, we could be doing so much good for this effort.”

“We are doing good.” He couldn’t help the bite in his tone, but he tried to rein it in. “How is rebuilding Archeti not a good thing?”

Addy let out another heavy sigh and dropped her hands to her sides dramatically. “It is good. Of course it’s good.”

“Then excuse me, I don’t really see what the problem is,” he barked, far more sharp than he’d intended. Her eyes flickered up to him, hesitant, reserved and he could see her beginning to shove her anger and frustration back behind the wall she usually kept it behind. Part of him hated when she did that. He loved Adrasteia full of fire and passion unmatched. But part of him, the part he was ashamed of, didn’t mind when she set it aside to prevent an inevitable conflict between them.

It was just easier that way…

“I don’t really–” she began, sounding tired now as she looked straight past his shoulder at the wall. But Cyrus never found out what she wanted to say, because suddenly —

An alarm blared overhead, like a foghorn, filling the room with one long, warning wail. The lights in the room switched from dull fluorescent to a startling red. And then the foghorn ended, replaced by a metallic beep-beep-beep as the base’s alarms started kicking in one by one.

Cyrus locked eyes with Addy, knowing with absolute certainty that both their minds went immediately to the same place, all thoughts of their argument wiped from existence.

“I’ll get her,” said Addy, already halfway across the room. Seconds later, Kalli’s cry wailed right on cue, her small voice calling, “Ti’hma? Pa’ti?” from her bedroom. It was terrible to hear; it made Cyrus’ heart clench.

He went to the console screen, picking up the COMM. “Fiear?” he asked into it, praying his brother was paying attention. “What’s h–”

Fortunately, Fiearius’ voice cut through the static immediately. “Get your things together and stay there, I’m on my way.”

It took only seconds for Cyrus to throw their clothes, shoes and a few of Kalli’s stray toys into their traveling luggage. Addy reemerged from the bedroom, holding Kalli in her arms in her pajamas. Kalli’s hair was an explosion of curls (she had rather infamous bedhead) and she had wide, startled eyes, but she wasn’t crying anymore.

“It’s all gonna be okay, iss’chen,” Addy was saying, pressing her lips against their daughter’s ear. “All fine, you’re safe with us.”

Addy caught Cyrus’ eye meaningfully, gesturing to the luggage and he grimaced knowingly in response —  They didn’t need to have conversations out loud anymore to communicate around their daughter.

Addy smiled at Kalli again. “We’re gonna head back to Archeti, that’s all. How’s that sound? You ready to go home?” Kalli nodded, her light curls bouncing around her head, just as the door to their apartment slid open.

“Ready?” said Fiearius, already reaching to grab one of their bags. “We’re getting out of here.”

They all swept out of the apartment, a flurry of movement. In the hallway, the alarm blared even louder, and Kalli slammed her tiny hands over her ears and stuck out her lip. With her safely distracted in Addy’s arms, Cyrus asked, “Fiear, what’s going on?” as they hurried down the corridor.

Fiearius kept his voice lowered. “Rebels attacked the eastern entrance.”

“Bad?”

“Bad.” But his tone grew chipper when he added, “Which is why we’re leaving.”

Suddenly Addy’s words replayed in his head and Cyrus felt compelled to ask, “Wait, shouldn’t we help — what about everyone else in the base — ?

Fiearius barely reacted. He trotted down a set of stairs and said plainly, “Nope.”

“Will they be okay?”

“Probably,” Fiearius guessed. “Not my concern.”

Cyrus didn’t understand. Not that he particularly wanted to. Fiearius’ motives weren’t something he often found much pleasure in knowing, but he was still trying to work out what was going on when another voice rang out to them.

“Capta–Admiral?” It was Ren, paused in a doorway, looking concerned.

“Calimore,” Fiearius greeted, sounding far too cheerful given the circumstances, Cyrus thought. “Good. Hey, you want a ride outta here, we can drop you off on–”

But Ren spoke over him. “Have you seen Leta?”

Instantly, Fiearius froze.

“She’s not in her quarters,” Ren went on, surveying Fiearius through narrowed eyes from behind his glasses, “I haven’t seen her since lunch. I thought she’d be with you.”

Cyrus glanced to Fiearius’ face and he could see the alarm growing in his eyes. Then Addy spoke up, “Wait, she was meeting some reporter for an interview. At that bar, the one by the river, I think. She left an hour or two ago.”

Fiearius dropped the bag from his hand, where it thudded to the ground. “Shit!” he hissed.

“If she’s out there, where the riot’s happening–” Ren began, but he was cut off.

“I’ll go find her,” Fiearius said simply, already turning on his heel. “Rest of you, get to the Dionysian,” he barked over his shoulder.

Addy looked stricken with worry, but she nodded, tightening her hold on Kalli. Meanwhile, against all reason and logic, Cyrus felt a sudden wave of boldness —

“I’ll come with you.” The words burst out of him, and he marched after Fiearius.

“Cy–” Addy breathed, while Fiearius stumbled to a halt and growled, “What? No. Just get to the ship, Cy.”

“No, I’m coming with you.” He fell into step beside his brother. “I can help look for her.”

Cyrus,” Addy said from down the hallway, stronger this time, making everyone halt. He glanced back at her only for a moment before fixing a determined stare on his brother who had the look of a man that knew he was treading in dangerous waters.

He hesitated, looking between the couple, until finally he relented, “There isn’t time for this. Whatever, just get moving.”

Without another word, Fiearius turned and headed for the exit. Cyrus spared one more look at his daughter and her mother before following after him into the hallway, where the shudders of the battle outside were echoing through the walls. He swallowed, internally cursing himself.

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