“There can be no victory without sacrifice. For everything gained, something must also be given away. It is the natural order of the Span we live in. No success comes without loss …. ”
Hazy gray rain fell to the ground in sheets, flooding the cobblestone walkway. Watery-cold wind rippled through Leta’s hair and tossed her black dress around her knees. Around her, Fiearius’ old pirate crowd, families and citizens of Vescent, and soldiers and pilots from Carthis all filled the courtyard. Leta planted herself in the back of the crowd, rigid as a statue, as Gates’ rough, hoarse voice carried over the audience. Sounds of people crying, sniffling and wiping their eyes, punctuated his words. Continue reading →
Her gun was in her hand, her finger poised on the cold metal trigger, but she couldn’t pull it. She couldn’t even aim properly. The weapon vibrated in her shaking grip and, as if of its own accord, refused to be pointed at the man advancing towards her. But it wasn’t the gun fighting, it was herself. What was she even thinking? She couldn’t shoot Arleth Morgan. She couldn’t shoot a Society Councillor. She admired him — his strength, his courage to fight for the Society. Why would she ever want to hurt him?
“Now now, Ms. Adler. No need for violence,” said Morgan, still smiling. He held out his broad sweaty palm. “I’ll take that if you don’t mind.”
Of course she didn’t mind. Without hesitation, she set her weapon into the man’s palm. He smiled at her with a twist of smug self-satisfaction as he unloaded the gun and placed it neatly on the console beside them. Continue reading →
The jagged skyline of Vescent’s capital city began to sink into view. The Dionysian descended toward the docks, and Leta leaned her palms against the bridge’s console, trying to steady her shaking sweaty hands. This was where she’d grown up with her mother, where she’d gone to university and accepted her first job in a clinic. Where she’d met Ren in a noisy little tavern in the city square. Where she’d first laid eyes on a riotous pirate ship captain, shouting over the sound of the waves on the harbor docks ….
Gray clouds twisted around the top spires of the buildings. The sky lit with flaming red-orange bursts as the ships in the upper atmosphere battled. Carthis’ fleet — flanked by Quin’s and an assortment of Fiearius’ old criminal friends — had descended into Vescentian space first, drawing out the planet’s defensive barrage and engaging them in what was surely a spectacular sight of space weapon technology. Leta had caught only glimpses as the Dionysian swerved through the front lines and went straight for the planet. It was the Dionysian’s responsiblity — her responsibility — to get onto the ground and shut down the missile defense turrets so that the bombers could get through and take out their targets. Continue reading →
The war room was crowded again. This time, everyone suffered from a state of exhaustion, worry, and turmoil. Bowing her chin toward her collarbone, Leta found she could barely summon the necessary strength to meet anyone’s — even Fiearius’ — eye. She folded her arms and listened as the murmur of discussion lifted and fell, lifted and fell, over the course of hours. Half of her mind was elsewhere, in the station’s medical ward, where Finn lay unconscious, still in critical condition, undergoing another round of surgery …
Leta blinked her eyes and straightened up, tuning into the discussion. A military officer had just brought up the map of Vescent, where it shimmered in a three-dimensional projection above the table. She recognized every detail of the map, and it was a good thing, considering what they were going to do next … Continue reading →
It was with begrudging, enormous effort that Cyrus untangled his limbs from Addy’s, put his feet to the floor, and got up out of her bed. He pulled on his clothes and crossed towards the door, wondering what the hell could be going on with her ship. He’d told Addy he’d check and see.
But for reasons he couldn’t fathom, the Beacon seemed to be shaking all around them. Floor to ceiling quivering. Cyrus leaned his head out into the hallway, and in the room behind him, Addy’s voice called out, “What is it?” But Cyrus didn’t know what it was.
“Are we taking off?” he called back to her, but suddenly Addy was at his side, her hand on his hip as she too looked out into the hall.
“No way, her take-offs don’t feel like this. The engine’s not even running. It’s gotta be external.” Continue reading →
She propped her chin in her hand, gazed across her desk at Fiearius and simply smirked at him. She’d been sitting like that in absolute silence for minutes now, until finally, she said, “Sorry, sweetie, I just can’t believe you signed up with Carthis.”
“Yeah, well, neither can I,” Fiearius muttered, leaning back on the couch and taking a long sip from the glass of whiskey she’d offered and he’d immediately accepted. Glancing to his side, he added bitterly, “Already starting to regret it.” Continue reading →
The mess hall inside the CORS seemed to be miles long, brimming with noise and activity as military officers and cadets took their midday meals. Even in the organized chaos, Fiearius had no trouble spotting his brother across the room: of all the people sat at the long tables, tapping away on consoles and jabbing their forks onto plates, he was the only one not dressed entirely in Carthian green. A vacant circle surrounded him that told Fiearius who the clear outcast was right away.
“There you are,” said Cyrus, looking up as Fiearius approached his empty table. “I was beginning to wonder if they’d killed you after all.” Continue reading →
Growing up, Fiearius had often imagined himself having adventures across the Span. Haggling in the markets of Tarin, playing poker in a shady dive bar on Archeti, exploring the streets of the Ellegian capital city — he’d dreamed of it all, and everything had seemed possible. But if someone had told him then that one day he would find himself taking a tour of a Carthian military space station? He would have laughed in their face.
When the doors to his bedroom were thrown open and Corra stood on the threshold, Finn knew he should have felt a wave of embarrassment. After all, he was sitting on his couch, drinking a murky glass of whiskey. Smoking a cigarette. Alone. And it was barely noon.
Corra pulled a face of disgust and perched her hands on her hips. “What the hell are you doing?”
Adopting a look of comedic offense, he put out his cigarette in a tray on the floor and scoffed. “What do you mean, what the hell am I doing?” he said, exhaling a plume of smoke. “What does it look like I’m doing?” Continue reading →
“Never thought I’d be able to convince ya to go on a date with me,” said Finn as he held out his arm for Leta to take. But Leta completely ignored the gesture, and instead brushed past him and strode into the elegant garden party as if she’d gone alone.
“This couldn’t be less of a date,” she muttered, snorting. She adjusted the straps of her short dark dress and took a deep breath as she melted into the sea of people crowding the cobblestone garden. “I’m only doing this for Corra.”
“Hey, so am I,” said Finn, though without much conviction, as Leta had already started beelining past the fountains and toward the bar without him. But Finn spoke the truth: he’d agreed to take this job only for Corra’s sake. Something about her sad puppy-dog eyes made him feel weak and guilty. So he’d carefully sidestepped any correspondence with Callahan (who was furious, demanding to know why his cargo had not yet been delivered) and took up Corra’s good cause: attending this fancy-ass garden party only to sneak the enslaved allies out of it. Continue reading →