Chapter 26: Public Property

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“Good luck!” Corra called, waving over her shoulder as her feet carried her away from the town square. Addy and Cyrus stood by the fountain, seeing them off.

Finn walked beside her and added, “If we’re not back by tomorrow morning, you find that Eriaas guy who told us about the dig site and you shoot him, y’got me?” He mimed pointing a gun at his temple. “Right in the head.”

Addy laughed, and called from a distance, “Of course, cap’n. Right in the head!”

Corra smiled, and turned forward. Before them lay the sprawling town, a sleepy, quiet sort of place despite its size. A home to humble people who lived modest lives, away from any of the drama affecting the rest of the Span. Just regular folks making do. Much different from the expansive mansions and estates of ally-owners she’d spent most of her time in as of late. She liked it.

The Beacon had touched back down on the little Ellegian moon early in the morning and the four of them had set out into town to get a lay of the land. Well. They’d gotten breakfast anyway. But they’d also located the great Division War Memorial Museum and Library which was where half the group would be spending most of their day and they’d gotten directions to the old archaeological site on the edge of town where Corra and Finn would spend theirs.

“Y’think Addy’s friend was telling the truth?” Corra asked, adjusting the hood around her shoulders and glancing around her in case anyone was listening. “That no one around here knows what the dig was for? That he found the original Consulate Archives down there?”

Finn lifted his shoulders in a shrug. “Not sure why he would lie.”

She pursed her lips. “I guess the better question is whether or not he’s right.”

“If some rich guy sent archaeologists into your neighborhood and started digging for something they wouldn’t define and then left, would you try and find out what it was?”

Corra blinked. “Yes. Of course I would.”

Finn shrugged again. “Then there’s your answer probably.” When she sighed, he meandered close enough to elbow her playfully and added, “But maybe the locals aren’t as obsessively inquisitive as you.”

Corra laughed through a wince. “Always getting me in trouble, that…”

“Oh, I dunno,” Finn mused. “How would we have ever become friends if you hadn’t assaulted me with a thousand and one questions about my personal life?”

Corra snorted. She could still remember the day she met Finn for the first time. It was easy enough to recall, as it was also the day she embarked on her first real job aboard the Dionysian. The two had not been meant to coincide.

In fact, Corra had experienced not her first (and certainly not the last) bout of genuine anger at Fiearius for promising to take her on a heist job as a partner and then promptly inviting someone else along behind her back. As if he didn’t trust she’d be able to handle it on her own. That someone else, as it turned out, was Finn. Needless to say, they hadn’t gotten off to a good start. But things inevitably went wrong, as they often did on the Dionysian, when the owner of the object they were to steal returned home a little too early and Corra and Finn had ended up hiding out in a closet for a couple hours.

With nothing better to do, she had decided to forgive the man for what were truly Fiearius’ crimes and filled the time finding out everything she could about him. Which, to the credit of his secrecy, wasn’t all that much. Though at the time she’d found herself thinking rather highly of his mother.

Suddenly, she remembered a newer question that had been floating in her head for too many years. His mother. What had happened to her? Did she make it off Archeti? What about his aunts? Had they died that day too? And the one question it always came back to, did he know that it was her fault?

Corra clenched her eyes shut for a moment, wiping the thought from her head, then cracked him a smirk. “Like I said, always getting me in trouble.”

———-

Kalli had sat on the floor, crossed her arms over her chest and pouted when they left her on the ship. Cyrus had expected her to scream. Or cry, at the very least. But she’d taken him by surprise and turned a cold shoulder instead. She turned away from Addy when she promised they wouldn’t be gone long. She flat out pretended Alyx wasn’t there at all. And though there was a glimmer of hope when Cyrus guaranteed he’d bring something back for her, inevitably she scorned him too which somehow felt worse than a regular tantrum.

Maybe she was learning things from her mother…

Cyrus had cleared the thought from his head as soon as it had arrived. He was trying to stay open-minded about this (although logically he couldn’t help but blame Addy for Kalli being upset to begin with. Describing their outing as an adventure? If only she’d chosen a term more bureaucratic like official excursion or fact-finding mission, the whole thing would have been avoided. What had she been thinking?).

Still, despite their unstable footing these days, Cyrus loved Addy and if Addy needed to spend a day researching ancient technologies in a stuffy library on some moon then so be it. Whatever it took to fix the rift between them. Cyrus sorely missed days when he didn’t constantly feel like he had to tread carefully or risk shattering the ground beneath his feet.

Though a couple hours later, as Cyrus thumbed through his hundredth hand-written journal that smelled like mold and, strangely, very old apple pie, he couldn’t help but wondering how this was helping exactly.

He looked up from the book at Addy who was surrounded by her own pile of ancient texts across the library. The lamp from the desk she sat at cast a soft light that made her yellow hair shine like the sun, made her glasses glint subtly and put a sparkling reflection in her downcast eyes. Frustrating and stubborn as she may have been, gods, she was beautiful. Beautiful and smart and dedicated, even to something as silly as this ‘mission’ Corra had sent them on…

He probably stared too long because suddenly those pretty eyes were looking straight back at him, a smile beneath them. Embarrassed, Cyrus shot his attention back to the book. Journal. Notebook. Whatever it was. And pretended to be suddenly interested in this woman’s account of the materials used to construct the very building they stood in.

It was about as thrilling a read as anything else he’d gone through so far. Cyrus wasn’t even quite clear on what the purpose of this was. If Corra and Finn were out exploring a hole in the ground where the Transmitter supposedly was, why did they need to be reading these dry logistical records at all? Perhaps the better question was if there was a plan, why no one had thought to tell Cyrus so he’d know what he was looking for?

“Hey there.”

 

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