Leta provided him with a weak smile. She didn’t have any words of comfort or reassurance to give. This wouldn’t be easy or pain free and given the subject matter they were investigating, it had the likelihood of being quite awful for him. But as unenthused as he was and as guilty as Leta felt for pushing the matter, if the alternative was watching Carthis finish their war the most uncivilized way they knew how, she knew it was for the best.
“We should go tell Gates.”
“Right,” Fiearius agreed, swallowing the lump in his throat and hardening himself. “Let’s go get this over with.” He headed for the door and Leta made to follow him, but Quin spoke up.
“Actually, ya mind stayin’ a spell, doc?”
Leta paused in the doorway to look back at her. Then she looked at Fiearius who just shrugged and said, “I can handle it, don’t worry,” and headed off towards the airlock. Leta watched him go before reentering the room.
She’d known Quin for a long time now. She’d had meetings with Quin, conversations with Quin, she’d even drank with Quin, but she had never, not until this moment, been alone with Quin. It was only just now, in this room, that she realized just how much of a presence the woman had. It was Fiearius’ quarters they stood in. And truly, they were on the Beacon so they belonged to Corra and Finn. But right now, Quin stood in it so confidently that Leta could not imagine this whole ship belonging to anybody but the woman before her at any point in time in its history.
“Sure, what do you need?” she asked, feeling more self-conscious than she liked to.
Quin didn’t immediately answer. She looked Leta up and down. She unfolded her arms and clasped them behind her back. And then she said, “I need you to go to Satieri.”
Leta frowned. “I–Well I was already planning to, but –”
Quin held up her hand and Leta instantly closed her mouth out of some strange survival instinct. “I need you to go to Satieri with Soliveré. To find this whatever it is he’s looking for and get him through it.”
“I–I don’t disagree,” Leta muttered, confused as to why this conversation was even happening. “But–why?”
“Because with all due respect to our dear admiral, brave and intelligent as he may or may not be, let’s not pretend that without a bit of steering every so often, he’d run himself right into the ground. And from what I’ve seen so far, you’re the best candidate for the job. You might even be the only one pointing him in a direction he actually agrees with. So. I’d like you on the ground with him for this one.”
Nothing Quin was saying was news to Leta, though she’d never heard it said so frankly before. Still, the question remained. “Why are you telling me this?”
There was a momentary twitch of irritation in Quin’s brow, but nonetheless, she explained, “Because the damn fool has it in his head that you want nothing to do with him. And look, honey, I don’t know what the state of your relationship is at the moment, nor, honestly, do I give two shits, but now ain’t the time for squabbles and I couldn’t care less about your pride, either of ya. He ain’t gonna ask ya to go with him, but you’re gonna go anyway, alright?”
There was a lapse of silence as Leta gazed at Quin, finally understanding what this was about and finding herself at a loss for words. Fiearius was still bitter that she’d asked for distance weeks ago? So much so that he’d told Quin about it? So much so that he thought, even after Ellegy, that Leta wouldn’t have his back in the upcoming crux of this whole war?
She didn’t know whether to be offended or amused.
Finally, she decided on the latter. “It’s funny,” she mused in a breathy laugh as Quin narrowed her eyes on her, “that you think him not asking was going to stop me from going.”
It took a moment, but slowly, a smirk twisted into Quin’s lips. “I always knew I liked you, Adler.”
“Oh no! Look out!”
Cyrus gasped and ducked under cover as something went flying over his head and hit the wall. “We’re under attack! Where’s our ammunition?”
Addy, to the left of him, looked over in alarm. “We gave it all to the enemy!” she despaired. “What are we going to do?”
Another projectile was launched right over them. They were doomed, backed into a corner and out of options. “We’re going to have to surrender,” Cyrus told his lover grimly and she provided him a horrifying look of sorrow. “We have no choice. We’ll have to give ourselves over to Great and Powerful Dark Wizard and–”
“Darkness Wizard!” came a shrill correction from the other side of the room.
“Sorry, Great and Powerful Darkness Wizard,” Cyrus reiterated in total seriousness, “And hope for the best.”
“Oh my,” cried Addy, leaning against the couch she hid behind, surrounded by the plush toys that had been viciously lobbed at her. “If only we had someone to save us.”
Both of them waited for a moment in silent expectation, but the room was quiet. Cyrus frowned. Addy glanced over her shoulder. Cyrus said it again. “If only we had someone to save us!”
This time, there was some muffled noises, pattering feet, the sounds of cloth being moved about and finally, a tiny person clambering up onto the furniture above their heads.
“I’ll save you!” shouted Kalli, her hands on her hips and the purple and silver shambles of a costume haphazardly wrapped around her.
Addy gasped and threw her hand onto Cyrus’ chest, looking up in admiration. “The Mighty Dragon of the North! She’s here to rescue us!”
“Go Mighty Dragon! Defeat the Darkness Wizard!” cried Cyrus as Kalli, nay, the Mighty Dragon, leapt off the couch and ran across the room to tackle the bear dressed loosely in Cyrus’ clothing that had presumably been behind the attacks.
“Yes, go fight the wizard,” Addy whispered in Cyrus’ ear, sidling up to his side and letting her hand slide south from his chest. “And I’ll take the prince.”
“Doesn’t the hero get the boy in the end?” Cyrus asked, turning himself towards her and looping his arms around her waist.
Addy shrugged her shoulder towards where their daughter was still furiously wrestling a stuffed bear. “Ya snooze ya lose,” she cooed and closed the distance between their lips.
The kiss, warm and sultry and ever so enticing, however, only lasted up until Kalli was suddenly above them again grimacing. “Ew, gross.” She stuck out her tongue and Addy laughed as she broke the kiss to look up at her.
“Did you win?”
“Know what to do now then?”
Kalli let out a long dramatic groan, dropping her head and her hands in utter defeat. “Clean up…” she grumbled, kicking a misplaced couch cushion as she retreated to pick up the array of toys and clothes and miscellaneous furniture she’d thrown across the room in the heat of battle. “But I saved you!” she tried, a note of desperation in her tone.
“And we’re very thankful,” said Addy, standing up and helping Cyrus to his feet. “But does the Mighty Dragon of the North want her people to live in squalor?”
The little girl sighed heavily. “No…”
As Kalli resigned herself to her task, Cyrus started to lend a hand and Addy sat back down in front of her console, where she’d been when this whole attack had begun. Over her shoulder, Cyrus could see images of ships on the screen. Very very old ships. Ever since Corra had found a hint that the missing puzzle piece in the Transmitter mystery was a ship made from the Ark, they’d been reading everything they could to locate one. Ships didn’t just disappear, after all. Even if they were torn apart, those pieces went somewhere. It was just a matter of finding out where.
But right now? After everything that had happened yesterday with Dez and Fiearius and Leta and the hours long discussion about the state of the war, the Transmission wasn’t exactly on Cyrus’ mind.
Pushing one last couch cushion into place with his knee and leaving Kalli to finish the rest, Cyrus sauntered over behind Addy and wrapped his arms around her, leaning his chin on her shoulder.
“Found anything?” he asked, just because it seemed like the right thing to say. Of course she hadn’t. She would have told him if she had. But it was easier than bringing up what he actually wanted to talk about.
Addy shook her head. “Nothing yet.”
“Hm.” Cyrus squeezed her a little and tried to form some words. Just a couple. None came.
Fortunately, Addy knew him far too well. “What’s on your mind, Cy?”
“Satieri,” he blurted out before he could second-guess himself. Addy turned away from the console and looked up at him, curious. “I mean. Going to Satieri,” he continued. “Since I guess that’s on the agenda. Maybe. From what Fiear was saying last night. They might be going to Satieri soon.”
“Yeah, he did make it sound that way,” Addy admitted, shifting her body beneath his arms to face him. “You thinking about going with him?”
Cyrus swallowed the lump in his throat. “Yeah?” was his first answer. “Well, no,” was his second. “Thinking about it, yes. But–going to Satieri? It’s dangerous. Really dangerous. And–I don’t want to dictate any of this or force us to–not that I’d force us to–”
“Cy?” Addy smiled at him kindly. “Use sentences.”
He chuckled nervously and met her stare. “I just–I know this is important. And a free Satieri is what we wanted all along. And you said you wanted to be more involved and I don’t want to hold you back from that. If there’s any point to be involved, this would be it, right? So–about Satieri. It’s dangerous. And honestly it scares the crap out of me. But if you want to help, if you want to be a part of it, we’ll do it.”
Addy watched him as he stumbled through his explanation, quiet and pensive and patient. She continued to do so even after he’d finished. But finally, she smiled and lifted her hands to his cheeks. “Oh Cy-Cy. You are sweet and adorable and you heard me and that means so much, but–” A light chuckle passed her lips. “Marching into the midst of battle with your brother to free Satieri was definitely not what I meant.”
Cyrus couldn’t deny the relief that flooded through him. “No?”
“We’re nerds, sweetie,” Addy laughed. “Not warriors. I want to be involved, I want to be present and aware and doing something that helps if possible, but I don’t want to be dead. I trust Fiear and Leta and the others to do right by Satieri. I believe in what they’re doing. But I’m perfectly happy to root for them from the sidelines over here.” She gestured to the room around them. “If something comes up, something that caters to our specific talents, then by all means, let’s help where we can. But for now?” She leaned forward to kiss him briefly. “We’re all good where we are.”
Cyrus took a moment to let his emotions catch up to where his head was at. Finally, he exhaled heavily. “Thank the gods.”
Addy let out a long chuckle and turned back around towards the console. “No, thank me, for not being as delusional as you to think we could handle covert ops to home. Now get a console and help me find this signal booster.”