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Hike by khronosabre
Hike
That time Leta and Fiearius went wandering through the woods together. To find her ex-fiance. So romantic!

I still really like the lighting in this though.  Trees are cool.

From Caelum Lex: A Sci-Fi Web Serial
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Five Years by khronosabre
Five Years
More old art! From when we suddenly skipped 5 years and came back to find Cyrus and Addy with a daughter and Fiearius with grey hair :P Personally I think it's an improvement.

From Caelum Lex: A Sci-Fi Web Serial
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Aftermath by khronosabre
Aftermath
Hey it's 'upload old art!' time again. This is from way back in part 2 at the end after Leta's just been through something pretty traumatic, poor thing.

Her hair's pretty sick though huh?

From Caelum Lex: A Sci-Fi Web Serial
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As Corra stepped up to the front door of Eriaas Argoatan’s mansion and pushed the COMM button, she was struck with an old familiar thought: she never should have listened to Finn. She shouldn’t have boarded the Beacon. She shouldn’t have allowed him to talk her into ‘just saying hello.’ And yet, simultaneously, this was exactly the reason she was glad that she had.

Up until now, Corra had done just fine assuming that her friends and loved ones were capable of taking care of themselves. She had to, else she’d be sick with worry every minute of every day. The crews of the Dionysian and the Beacon had terrible tendencies to get themselves into constant trouble, but she always reminded herself that they also had the tenacity to get themselves out of it.

But now that she knew about Cyrus and Addy trapped on some Society-occupied moon, she couldn’t stop herself from getting involved.

Finn stood at her side, glancing over his shoulder at the cluster of agents that, for all intents and purposes, seemed to be digging a giant hole in the ground.

“Any thoughts on what they’re up to?” he muttered to her, sounding amused, and Corra shook her head.

“God only knows.”

Then, a smooth, cool voice rose out of the speaker. “Residence of Eriaas Argoatan, how may I assist you?”

“Erm — hi,” Corra greeted, mentally preparing to launch into the elaborate lie she’d plotted out this morning. They were a young couple looking to hire an architect, the same architect that had built this very house. They’d asked to see his work, he’d offered to show them the Argoatan house. Oh? They hadn’t been in touch for years? Well that’s strange. He’d promised to meet them here. Would he mind if they looked around briefly anyway? Oh thank you so much, we really appreciate it, the place is gorgeous from the outside.

But Corra, as it turned out, didn’t need the lie. As soon as she opened her mouth and began, “We’re–” the door swung open.

“Cousin Markis!” cried the man on the other side of it, throwing his hands out dramatically and then seizing Finn in a hug. Finn cast Corra a look of alarm, awkwardly patting the man on the back.

Releasing Finn at last, the stranger turned to Corra. “And Palai!” She received a hug of her own. “It’s so good to see you! Come in, come in!”

Alyx had implied that Eriaas Argoatan would be on their side once he knew why they were there, but Corra hadn’t anticipated him knowing right away. And she certainly wouldn’t have expected him to come up with his own cover story for them. Though, as he ushered them inside the grand foyer, she couldn’t help but internally grumble about it.

Hers was better.

Still, she put on her best smile and pretended to know the man as he walked them

further into the house where, to her mild dismay, more Society agents were milling about. Addy hadn’t been kidding: they really were trapped here.

“–you know, her little redheaded boy. Getting so big these days, you wouldn’t believe it.”  Eriaas was saying about somebody, presumably someone a cousin might know as they passed a particularly intriguing room where a number of agents were clustered around a table pointing at a screen Corra couldn’t quite see. She careened her head to try and get another angle.

It didn’t matter, probably, Corra knew. Not to her mission anyway. But for some reason she just really wanted to know what was on that screen or, better yet, what was in that hole.

Suddenly, she felt Finn’s elbow nudge her shoulder. She looked up in alarm as he laughed on cue and said, “Runs in the family, I guess,” before tilting his eyes away from the room in indication.

Right, she thought. Now wasn’t the time.

Fortunately, the upstairs part of the house seemed to be Society-free. So much so that Eriaas dropped the act.

“I’m glad you’re here,” he was saying, dropping down to a whisper. “They’re safe enough for now, but there’s just too much risk, especially with the little one. I’d much rather get them out of here.” He glanced over his shoulder at them. “You are here to get them out of here, right?”

“That’s the plan,” Finn replied, smirking nervously.

“So there is a plan?” Eriaas asked as he lead them up another set of stairs. Were they really hiding up in the attic? “I didn’t even see your ship out there. How exactly are you going to get them past the Society presence without anyone noticing? I’ve gone over it with them probably a thousand times, we were never able to figure out a foolproof method.”

“Don’t worry,” answered Corra, her tone a little grim. “Sneaking people out of places they don’t want to be is my specialty.”

“Oh? Is that so?” Eriaas regarded her with interest, but he did not press her further. Instead, he knocked twice on a door and pushed it open.

Through all of the whirlwind of the past couple days with Finn, on the Beacon and now here, Corra had barely a half moment to consider anything but the immediate task at hand. She had known she needed to help Cyrus and Addy from the moment Alyx mentioned their plight, but she hadn’t once considered what that meant. Not even for a second had she thought to wonder how she would feel upon opening that attic door and peering inside to see two of her dearest friends in the flesh for the first time in years. She hadn’t realized that her heart would stop beating when she saw the tall blonde woman pacing back and forth impatiently or that her breath would catch in her throat at the sight of Cyrus sitting on the edge of his seat, his eyes fixed on the door. Above it all, she certainly hadn’t thought about the tears that started to well in the corner of her eyes at the sight of a little girl, the spitting image of both of them, attached to her father’s legs and staring up at the newcomers wide-eyed.

Hastily, Corra wiped her eyes with her sleeve.

Finn entered the room first. “I’m Finnegan Riley, I’m here to rescue you,” he declared, spreading his arms wide in demonstration.

“Finn,” Addy breathed in relief, already across the room and wrapping her arms around the man in a short squeeze. But her eyes weren’t on him. Her attention was, quite distinctly, on Corra who, not for the first time lately, felt an unpleasant blend of joy and absolute shame.

Slowly, Addy let go of Finn and nudged him aside til she could get a better look at the other arrival. Finding herself more nervous than anything, Corra tucked a few strands of hair behind her ear, her eyes lingering somewhere between Addy’s stare and the wall past her shoulder. Corra and Addy had been close once, as shipmates. And then, right as Addy’s life had started to change in huge, dramatic ways, Corra had abandoned her. It wasn’t something she was proud of and she wouldn’t blame Addy for hating her.

But after a few moments of lengthy silence, hate didn’t even seem to be on the table. Addy’s eyes suddenly welled up with tears and she threw herself at Corra, wrapping her arms around her old friend’s shoulders and squeezing so hard Corra lost her breath. And a bit of her composure.

Wiping her eyes again as Addy stepped back, Corra laughed a little and glanced over her shoulder where Cyrus had stood from his seat and was smiling at her just the way she remembered him smiling. That half-smirk she hadn’t even realized she’d missed. Her best friend for so many years, so different now yet still the same dork she’d always known. Now just a dork with a little girl at his feet.

“Kalli, you need to meet someone,” he told her, gently pushing the curly-haired child forward. Kalli looked up at Corra with Addy’s eyes and Cyrus’ wonder. “This is your a’iya Corra.”

Still fighting tears (god, how many times had she had promised herself she wouldn’t do this), Corra leaned down to look the little girl in the eye as she said, “Hi, Kalli. It’s so nice to finally meet you.”

Kalli glanced back at her father, then her mother, who nodded once, and then grinned widely and seized Corra’s hand in both of hers. “A’iya!” she exclaimed, bouncing up and down in excitement.

“Oh god, Cy, she’s adorable,” Corra said as she straightened up and her friend approached her. As emotional as she felt, she still laughed a watery laugh as she put her arms around him and asked, “How are you her father?”

Cyrus chuckled against her temple as he wrapped her in his embrace. “It’s good to see you.”

“You too, Cy-Cy,” she chimed, moving her hand to his cheek as they broke away.

To their side, Finn cleared his throat. “Not to be cliche, but –” He nodded towards the window where the sun was starting to set over the horizon.

“Right,” Corra agreed, separating herself from Cyrus. “We should get a move on. Not much time.” And if this plan were to go right, the timing would have to be precise.

Cyrus and Addy exchanged glances. “A move on what, exactly?” Cyrus asked. “There’s at least three dozen agents around here, who knows how many more on that ship. They don’t know we’re here, I doubt they’ll turn a blind eye on the two newcomers smuggling out three mysterious cloaked figures.”

“Who said anything about cloaks?” was Finn’s amused response.

Addy rolled her eyes and muttered, “Point being, what’s the plan? How can we leave without anyone noticing? Is there some secret passage we don’t know about?”

“Not at all,” Corra answered, strolling over to the window to look outside. Her eyes scanned over the agents working around the dig site, the few hovering by the path and finally settled on their ship, down in the main docking area. “We’ll walk right out through the front door.”

The answer didn’t seem to calm any fears. “Sorry, let me just clarify this,” Cyrus said, slowly this time. “We’re going out the front door. And there are…no cloaks?”

“None.” Corra tapped her fingers against the wood frame of the window. “You all ready on my mark?”

There was a shuffle of nerves and dismay behind her. “I–I guess, but–” Addy began, just as the grey metal beast parked down the hill wailed an awful bellow so loud the ground beneath the house trembled. Behind her, Kalli shrieked, Eriaas muttered, “What the–” and below, she saw every Society agent look up from what they were doing, abandon their post and take off in a sprint towards the ship.

Corra grinned and looked back at her entourage. “Then let’s go.”

——————–

Minutes later, after a scramble to collect as many of Kalli’s things as they all (mostly Finn) could carry, the group was hurrying down the stairs and Cyrus, as always, was questioning everything.

“So it’s a drill? Like an emergency drill?”

“They’re required to run them every so often, whenever their fleet’s higher-ups demand,” Finn explained in Corra’s stead as she crept down the last few steps and peered into the hallway. Just in case. Many years and many escapes had taught her the hard way that it was better to be safe than sorry. Fortunately, the drill seemed to have done the job. The hall was clear. She moved ahead.

“So you just found out when they were going to have one?” Cyrus, ever nervous, checked for himself before following after her. Kalli was clutched in his arms, clinging to his neck. “And planned to rescue us at the same time?”

“No, no, as far as we knew there were none scheduled,” Finn replied. “But this one–” Corra felt him gesturing at her– “Somehow got a message through the channels that they’re supposed to have one.”

For perhaps the first time in history, Cyrus looked impressed at Corra’s ability to use technology. “How’d you manage that?”

There wasn’t  time to explain how she’d managed it. How she’d freed the mother of a man who had a connection in the right place to give her access to the right system to allow her to falsify her credentials and request an emergency drill of this particular ship at this particular time to allow just enough of a distraction to execute an extraction mission. So she just shrugged and said, “I have my ways.”

Cyrus didn’t seem satisfied, but they continued through the house, Corra scouting ahead to make sure they were in the clear every step of the way. It seemed the plan had worked. There were no agents in sight. Protocol dictated there shouldn’t be. In the event of an emergency drill, all crew had to be on the ship following their designated emergency duties. In theory, they wouldn’t see a soul until they were safely away from here and back on the Beacon.

But as Corra traversed the last few steps into the foyer, something caught her eye. A brief flicker of movement. It wasn’t, she realized quickly and with a heavy sigh of relief, a living being. No, just a hologram spinning slowly over the long table those agents had been huddled around when she’d come in.

Still, it kept her attention a moment longer than it should have. She didn’t even know what it was. Some bizarre machine unlike any she was familiar with. A long thick tube extended from a series of three domes side by side. Out of the tube were more, skinnier tubes reaching for the sky. It looked ancient and strange, but it struck a chord and she suddenly had to know.

“What are they looking for here?”

Cyrus waved the question off, as though it was unimportant. “Oh just some old legendary machine.” He gestured into the room her stare was fixed on. “The Transmitter or something? Sounds like a load of bulls–” He stopped himself as he remembered that his daughter’s ear was just inches from his mouth. “Bull’s butt?” he corrected hesitantly, earning a devious giggle from Kalli and a glare from Addy.

Corra, however, had stopped paying attention, frozen on the precipice of that room as the word stuck in her head. Transmitter? There was no way that could be related to the ancient device she currently had in her possession, the Transmission. And yet, there was no way it couldn’t be. Either coincidence was too unlikely.

“Finn?” she called, her voice still hushed out of precaution. “Get them to the ship. I’ll be right there.” He probably would have liked to argue, but she didn’t give him, or anyone else, the chance. If the Span was sending her a sign, and surely it must have been, she would be a fool not to look. She slipped into the room and approached the hologram.

It looked even more confounding up close. Intricate patterns entwined around the machine. Wires sidled out from its base. Corra couldn’t tell from the hologram itself whether it was small or massive. But there was something about it that rang familiar to the strange little tube stowed away in the Spirit.

She stared at it a moment longer before finally she was able to drag her focus down to the tablet left abandoned in front of it. Well, whatever was on there couldn’t hurt to have, right? Without second-guessing herself, she slipped her CID out of her pocket, slotted it into the input port and let it do its thing. Data-mining CID functionality was another thing there was rarely time to explain.

The little light on the device turned green just moments later, letting her know it was ready to go. “Thanks, Society,” she mumbled in a sing-song voice as she removed the CID and shoved it back into her coat. “I’ll just take this and–”

Suddenly, a voice broke out somewhere behind her. Corra jumped and spun around, but thank god, there was no one in the room. Judging by how quickly that voice was growing louder, however, there soon would be.

Her eyes darted to the door that she’d come through. Her exit. Just as two others, others she only needed to identify by the thick black libreras on their skin, entered it.

Corra was under the table before the women even had a chance to glimpse the room.

“–you sure they don’t need us on the ship? It is a drill,” one was saying nervously, glancing back at the door.

“Don’t worry,” said the other with an air of authority. “Taigen can run it. He’s done it a thousand times. It’s just bureaucratic nonsense.”

“If you say so…”

The longer Corra stayed here, the more chances she was giving them to discover her. The women had moved all the way into the room, leaving her doorway wide open. If she was quick, if she stayed low, she could slip out. She just had to be fast. And silent. And–

“It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that the Transmitter isn’t here,” said the voice above her. “The archives, as a whole, aren’t here. We would have picked up a signature by now. The terraform hasn’t altered enough to cover anything deeper.”

Corra found herself pausing at the edge of the table. She was crouched in position, ready to launch herself out the door the moment the opportunity afforded itself. And it had. Now was her moment. But she hesitated.

“So we’re going to move on then?” the other voice asked.

“No.” There was a pause. “Not yet. If we move on now, our budget for the project will be cut and we’ll be sent back to the frontlines. I don’t know about you, but given a choice, I’d rather be here excavating a dirt pit than on the Ascendian battlefront.” Another pause before she added, “No, we’ll stay here until we manage to figure out our next step in the mission.”

“You think they’ll wait that long?”

The woman laughed. “Of course they will. If we find this thing? If it does what they say it does? If it even exists? It’ll be the most significant machine in the history of the Span. They’ll wait lifetimes as long as there’s hope. I guarantee it.”

Corra felt her heart still. The most important machine in history? It sounded like–well, it sounded like, in Cyrus’ words, bull’s butt. Even so, though, she couldn’t shake the feeling that she’d just stumbled onto something huge.

Before she convinced herself to linger once again, Corra shook the thoughts from her head, remembering instead the face of Cy and Addy’s little girl who needed to get out of this place and get home. She took a silent deep breath, braced herself and then slipped silently out from under the table and through the door before anyone was all the wiser to her presence.

Corra had never wanted to get back to the Spirit so badly.

————————

“It really wasn’t that bad,” Addy was telling Alyx as they sat around one of the Beacon’s dining tables over drinks and dinner. They’d arrived back on the ship only an hour ago, but already things were starting to feel more normal to Finn than ever. Their old crew back together again. Getting along. Enjoying a meal. This, more than anything else, was what he’d missed.

“More boring than anything else,” Cyrus added, bouncing Kalli on his knee.

Alyx, who had bunkered down to listen to what she’d thought would be a dramatic story, failed to hide her disappointment. “Well I’m glad you’re alright,” she tried and Addy smiled at her. “So we should take you back to Archeti then? I’m sure they’ve missed you.”

But then, Addy hesitated. “Mm yeah, I suppose so.” She shared a glance with Cyrus who, Finn couldn’t help but notice, didn’t look exactly contented by the answer.

“Not that we’d mind keeping you around, of course,” put in Daelen from across the table.

“Oh yeah, sorry, I didn’t mean to imply you have to leave,” Alyx added hurriedly. “You’re welcome to stay as long as you like. Just, if you want to go back, we can take you, I mean–”

“It’s fine,” Addy laughed, holding up her hand and shaking her head. “I get it. And yeah, I don’t know.” Again, a furtive glance at Cyrus, whose expression had gone suspiciously blank. “Maybe we’ll stick around a little bit? It’s kinda nice being with everyone again. It’s been so long, y’know?” She nudged her stone-faced boyfriend affectionately. “Right?”

Cyrus mumbled something in response, but Finn stopped paying attention to whatever marital troubles were playing out in front of him. Instead, he looked around the table. Alyx, Daelen, Cai, Addy, himself, they were all here, but–

There was one face missing from the scene. It couldn’t be. Corra was gone.

She’d just been here a moment ago, he was sure of it. She’d said something about how nice of an attic Addy’s friend had and then — How did she slip away so quickly? And more importantly, how far had she gone?

“Be right back,” Finn muttered as he slipped out of his chair and headed for the main hallway. He knew where she’d gone without even a second thought. The way she’d been acting the past few days? It was no mystery. He had been fully aware that the moment no eyes were on her, she’d try and make her escape. He just hadn’t thought she’d manage to have no eyes on her in the middle of a crew dinner…But now, the only question was whether or not he’d get there in time before she succeeded.

Finn quickened his pace.

Fortunately, for all of her skills and sneaking, when he rounded the corner into the side airlock, he wasn’t met with an empty room and a sealed door, but the sight of Corra herself leaned against the wall beside her ship, fiddling with some sort of tube in her hands. When she heard him enter, she glanced up.

“That took longer than I expected,” she pointed out with a smirk.

Finn pretended he wasn’t as out of breath as he was. “You were waiting for me?”

Corra lifted her shoulders in a shrug. “I’ve already wronged you enough. Figured leaving without saying goodbye wouldn’t be the best move if I ever want forgiveness.”

For a moment, Finn was stunned into silence. Forgiveness?

“Corra, I –” he began, but she stepped forward and swiftly pressed her finger to his lips to silence him.

“Please don’t,” she said. “Just–It was really good to see you. Take care of the ship. Take care of the crew. Please don’t try and sell her again.” She narrowed her eyes on him. “She’s yours and she’s Alyx’s and she’s all of these people’s, no one else’s. I don’t want to see her with anyone else. Do that for me at least.”

Her finger drew away and he said, “Of course. But Corra–”

“And make sure Cy and Addy are okay,” she went on. “They’re not right now. But they need to be. For that beautiful little girl’s sake at the very least.”

“I don’t really know if I can–”

“And hug Leta when you see her,” she spoke over him. Was she — no, those couldn’t be the slight glint of tears in the corners of her eyes. “And tell her I miss her and I’ll try to be in touch soon. And–”

“Corra.” Finn cut her off, taking her hand in his. “Why don’t you hug Leta when you see her? Why don’t you help Cy and Addy? Why don’t you look after this ship?”

She was already shaking her head and tugging her hand from his grip. He didn’t loosen it. “I have things to take care of, Riley. I have to go.”

“You can take care of those things here,” Finn insisted. “You want to research this, right?” He reached down and plucked the metal tube from her hand. “We can help. We can do that on the Beacon.”

Corra let out a sharp laugh. “And risk those bounty hunters after you? No way.”

Finn rolled his eyes dramatically. “Bounty hunters? Really? You think we’re afraid of a few bounty hunters?”

“They’re pretty nasty…” Corra muttered and he raised a skeptical brow. “Riley, I’m not staying. I have my own life now, my own missions, my own tasks, I’m not bringing those down on the Beacon. What we all had before? The pirating and the stealing and all that? After what came from that? How many lives were –” She shook her head again. “No. That chapter is over.”

“Right,” Finn agreed, releasing her hand at last. “That chapter is over.” She was glaring at the floor now so he reached over and lifted her chin with his index finger til their eyes met. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t start a new one.”

Corra’s eyes went a little wide. Finn’s hand dropped to his side and he smiled at her knowingly. Without another word, he turned from the room and headed back into the hallway. He didn’t need to look back once more. There was no hurry, he knew.

The Spirit would still be here come morning.
Sharing a bridge with Finn again was rather surreal. Careful to keep her eyes forward, Corra reached up to the secondary console and hit the brake thrust, pulling her ship out of its hasty traverse of empty space and settling her into a nice even pace forward. The Beacon, in all of its mass and glory, was just up ahead, barely making speed. They’d be upon her in minutes.

Corra could feel Finn’s eyes on the back of her head. He was lounging in the pull-out emergency seat in the back of the cockpit, hands behind his neck, somehow making it look more comfortable than she knew it was. The Spirit was not a ship meant for more than one person which had made the last few days uncomfortable physically as well as emotionally.

As soon as Finn had woven her his tale of losing the Beacon, they had both agreed that the issue needed to be sorted as soon as possible. As much as Corra trusted Alyx to take care of the ship just fine, the thought of Finn not being aboard at all didn’t sit well with her. Nor, she found out, did it sit well with him. Unfortunately, he’d sunk the last of his spending money into a local business. Namely, a bar. Corra had decided her next move could wait a few days to help out an old friend.

Honestly, it was the least she could do for him.

So far, they had managed to keep things light, even with the heavy unspoken words hanging in every nook and cranny of the tiny one-man ship around them. Despite many years between them, Finn still carried himself with that familiar teenage confidence and lackadaisical attitude. It was strangely comforting to Corra that even after everything that had happened, he was still the Finn she remembered. Older and perhaps more tired, but still distinctly Finn.

“So you learned how to fly I take it,” he said, sounding amused as Corra pulled the Spirit in closer to the Beacon’s great hull.

“Had to, at some point,” Corra admitted with a shrug, taking hold of the manual controls. “Lots of places I needed to go without someone in public transit noticing.”

“Yeah? Like where?” Corra hesitated far too long. When he realized he wasn’t going to get an answer, he remarked, “You’re way more secretive than I remember.”

She couldn’t help but snort a laugh. “Learned from the best.” She glanced over her shoulder and flashed him a grin.

She’d meant it in a light-hearted way, a jab at their history, but his response was more serious than she’d anticipated. “Me? I was never secretive. I told you more than I told anyone,” he admitted. “You, though … you really don’t want to tell me what you’ve been up to all these years.”

Corra released a sigh. “You know the gist of it,” she pointed out. “I was helping the Conduit. Working undercover. Freeing allies. That kind of thing. I told you that.”

“I guess,” he sounded thoughtful, relaxed. “I guess I’m just wonderin’ why you didn’t ask me to come with.”

Corra kept facing straight ahead in fear of him catching a glimpse of how tense the question made her. And they’d been avoiding it so well up until now. She had considered many times how she would address the questions around her departure and though a thousand  explanations had run through her head, when they tried to rise to her lips, they got stuck. The cockpit descended into an awkward silence until finally Finn seemed to take pity on her.

“Shouldn’t we hail them to be let in?”

The Spirit was already beginning its docking sequence onto the Beacon’s starboard airlock. Grateful for the reprieve, Corra shook her head. “Don’t need to.”

Finn leaned forward to glance at her control panel curiously. “This little bird can stealth dock?”

“If she’s careful, yeah,” Corra answered, flipping the last few switches as the ship came up alongside the Beacon and locked itself into place. When she looked back at Finn, his brows were high on his forehead, impressed.

“You really learned how to fly.”

Corra flashed him an appreciative smirk, but didn’t move from her seat. Neither did Finn. She tilted her head at him. “You ready to go get your ship back?”

“Our ship,” Finn corrected at once, sliding off the chair onto his feet before holding his hand out to her. “Are you?”

Corra looked at the proffered hand and then at his face. “What?” she sputtered. “No. I’m not–” Corra had no intention of joining him on this section of the task. Get Finn back to the Beacon, that was the mission. Nothing else. “I’m not coming with you.”

Now Finn pursed his lips, exasperated. “Corra. If I walk onto this ship and Alyx asks ‘how’d you get here?’ and I say ‘Corra brought me, but she left’…” His voice trailed off and he eyed her pointedly as though she knew what the other half of the sentence would be. She did. And it made her sigh heavily.

“Riley, I can’t stay,” she insisted.

“I’m not asking you to.” He jabbed his hand towards her again. “Just say hello. This was your ship, your crew. They miss you. Say hello.”

She knew she shouldn’t. Corra had only gotten by the past few years by staying separated from her old life, her old friends (save for a few correspondences with Leta she couldn’t resist). She needed to get back to her mission. She needed to go figure out this Transmitter thing before anyone else got in trouble. She needed to leave.

But something made her reach out and take his hand and slip out of her chair. “Alright,” she relented. “Just hello.”

———————-

“I’m not doing it.” Cai crossed his arms over his chest. “Not gonna happen.”

Alyx balled her fists in frustration and let out a groan as she chased him down the hallway away from the bridge. They were fighting. Again. Fighting seemed to be all anyone was doing these days aboard the Beacon. In theory, Alyx should have been getting better at it, but she got the opposite feeling that as time went on, she was losing more and more.

“Please, Cai, it’s the easiest way,” she begged, catching up with him. “I need you to help me out on this.”

“I already helped you out,” Cai snapped. “And last time? Was the last time. I told you before, I’m not doing it again.”

“But–” Alyx growled and reached out to seize his arm, halting him in place and turning him back to face her. “But Cai. You’re the only one of us who can move about with that much freedom without anyone noticing. The rest of us don’t have the privilege of being able to slip away and–”

“Privilege?” he repeated, his eyes narrowing. A while back, Alyx hadn’t thought it was possible to make someone as typically bright as Cai actually angry. As of late, she was coming to understand otherwise. Right now, she knew she was flat-out wrong.

“Privilege,” he said again, venom-soaking the word. “Right, I’m so privileged that I can pass for a slave.”

Okay, so that had been poor word choice on her part. Inwardly, she knew asking a freed ally to pose as an unfreed ally in order to pull off a mission was insensitive. Insensitive being a bit of an understatement. Cai had already pointed that out to her quite politely the last time she had proposed the tactic and she had agreed that she wouldn’t ask him to play the slave on a job again.

But she’d thought this would be different.

“I didn’t mean it like that,” Alyx mended hurriedly. “You know I didn’t mean that.” Cai raised a skeptical brow at her, entirely unamused. “But Cai, this isn’t for me, I’m not asking you for my sake, this isn’t just any old job. This is Addy we’re talking about. Addy and Kalli. They’re stuck in the middle of a Society clusterfuck and we have to help them!”

“I agree,” Cai said simply and for a moment Alyx thought she’d gotten through. Until he added, “But I’m still not pretending to be an ally.” When Alyx sighed loudly and slumped a little, he said, “There’s got to be a different way to do this. The guy doesn’t even have allies. Why can’t we just go in and get them normally?”

“Maybe because guests showing up and then sneaking around is gonna look a little suspicious,” Alyx argued.

“Anyone sneaking a couple and their daughter out of a house onto a ship is gonna look suspicious,” Cai shot back.

“Not if the Society brass are occupied with dinner elsewhere.” Alyx stared right back at him knowingly. “C’mon. This works. We’ve done it before. Dae and I distract them. You slip off into the shadows and get them out. It works. It’s a good plan.”

For a long moment, Cai said nothing. He glared at her from beneath his dark bushy hair, silent and stoic, as statuesque as she’d ever seen him. And then he said, “It’s a stupid plan. Get a new one.”

As he spun around on his heels and continued to stalk down the corridor, Alyx released a hopeless groan and shouted after him, “I’m trying, Cai!”

Not that trying seemed to be getting her anywhere. In all of her time as leader of this ship, short as that was, she had brought in exactly zero jobs and zero credits. Strange how, when she’d only been doing Finn’s job without the title, she’d been amazing at this kind of thing. But now, she was facing mutiny on all sides. Her crew suddenly hated her, her contacts wanted nothing to do with her and the ship’s coffers were becoming daringly thin. The Beacon, as they’d known it, was falling apart and Alyx didn’t know how much longer she could scramble to pick up the pieces.

Suddenly, a voice behind her said, “Being captain isn’t as easy as it looks, eh?”

“Not at all,” she grumbled in response before realizing that no, it was not her subconscious having a conversation with her but an actual living person standing in the hallway. She spun around and immediately her eyes went wide.

“Finn?” she sputtered, not even trying to hide her shock. “What–? How–?” She shut her eyes and opened them again to confirm that she had not simply lost her mind. It wouldn’t have surprised her if she had. “What are you doing here?!”

“I made a mistake. And I’m here to fix it.”

Alyx narrowed her eyes at him. “Fix it? You mean, fix how you tried to sell the ship out from under our feet? How you betrayed us? How you stopped caring about the Beacon and its crew ages ago and pretty much abandoned us to fend for ourselves while still calling yourself captain?”

Finn’s lips pursed and he glanced sideways as though in thought before he looked back at her. “Yep. That. I want to fix that.” When Alyx said nothing, he sighed and ran a hand through his messy hair. “Look, I screwed up. I lost sight of what was important and I was a terrible captain. I owed you better. I owed all of you better and I know that. I may not deserve another chance, but I’m here asking for one nonetheless. Let me fix things, Alyx. Please. If you’re willing to let me back aboard.”

Alyx fell silent. She had spent a long time being angry at Finnegan Riley. So long, in fact, that a spurt of irritation had become her default reaction to his presence. Yet now, as angry as she knew she should still be, as unforgiving as she wanted to appear, after their time apart, it wasn’t anger she felt upon seeing him, but genuine relief.

Still, she gave him a hesitant glare as she muttered, “I don’t know…You really don’t deserve another chance.” But she couldn’t keep the charade up for long. Her lips started to pull back into a smile before she couldn’t contain herself and marched forward to pull the man into a crushing hug. “Of course you can come back. This place just isn’t the same without you, captain.”

Finn released a grateful sigh and squeezed his arms around her. “Nor is drinking at the bar the same without you.”

Finally, Alyx pulled away and held him at arm’s length. “But I still don’t get it. How the hell are you here?”

Finn smiled back at her with a glint of mischief in his eye before tilting his head over his shoulder. Confused, Alyx followed the direction until she noticed another figure behind Finn, peering up at her with a mixture of relief and, Alyx thought, a bit of sadness. If Finn’s sudden appearance had been a shock, his companion was even moreso.

“Corra,” Alyx breathed in disbelief. The woman looked a little different than she remembered, but those deep brown eyes and freckled face were unmistakable even under the mask of age. For a fleeting moment, she thought perhaps she was dreaming after all, for both the Beacon’s captains to be standing before her for the first time in years. But there was one way to test it.

Practically shoving Finn aside, Alyx brushed past him and leaned down to seize the shorter woman in her arms. The way she felt and the way she laughed in her ear certainly sounded real enough to convince her.

“Oh God, Corra,” Alyx exclaimed, choking back a sudden need to weep. “I can’t believe you’re here. And you’re okay! God, I’m so glad you’re okay. It’s so good to see you.”

Corra chuckled appreciatively and squeezed her arms around Alyx’s back before breaking the embrace and stepping backwards. “It’s really good to see you too,” she mumbled, looking up at her, her brows creased downward in apology. “You can’t even imagine…”

“You have to come down to the crew lounge,” Alyx insisted, taking her hand and already starting to yank her down the hall. “So many people will want to see you and hear about what you’ve been up to.”

Alyx caught sight of Corra glancing up at Finn nervously, as though hoping he’d rescue her somehow. But whatever she was hoping for, Finn didn’t seem to comply. Corra glared. Finn lifted his brows. Corra jabbed her head toward Alyx. And Alyx looked between the two of them, oblivious to the content of the silent conversation going on between them.

Finally, she’d had enough. “Alright, you two are cute and all, but just tell me what I need to know.”

Corra caught Finn’s eye one last time in a last ditch attempt for help which he didn’t provide. So she heaved a deep breath and said, “Alyx, I–I can’t stay.” Alyx felt her spirits droop and her smile drop slowly off her face. “I have people after me. I have missions still in the works. I wanted to get Riley back and make sure everything here was okay, but I need to head out again.” She looked back over her shoulder. “I’m sorry. I wish I could stay. Really, I do.”

None of this was surprising, Alyx realized, but that didn’t make her any less likely to argue it. “Corra, c’mon. We haven’t seen you in ages. At least stay the night. Talk to the crew, we all miss you. One night can’t hurt.”

“She’s right,” agreed Finn. “You owe us that much, don’t you? As friends?”

But Corra was already shaking her head. “I can’t,” she mumbled under her breath. “I have to go.”

Alyx reached out and laid her hand on Corra’s shoulder. “But–why? What’s the hurry?”

A bitter laugh escaped Corra’s lips before she muttered, “The longer I stay, the harder it’ll be to leave…” She swallowed hard and met Alyx’s stare firmly. “I’d rather just go now, okay?”

Alyx wanted to keep contesting it. It didn’t make sense, as far as she was concerned. She wanted to talk to her old friend, that seemed reasonable enough. But something in the conviction of Corra’s words made her unable to conjure any more arguments. She looked up at Finn hopefully, but he too seemed to have resigned himself to her wishes. So Alyx would have to consign herself to say goodbye almost just as soon as she’d said hello.

But then Corra spoke up again. “Before I go though.” She tilted her head suspiciously. “What was it you were saying about Cy and Addy?”

——————

Addy sat on the edge of the guest bed, watching in exhaustion as Kalli dragged blankets and pillows across the room to “build a fort.” Her daughter was making a mess of the room that wasn’t even theirs, but Addy did not have the energy to scold her. Nor, she’d found, could she blame the girl for having too much energy to contain. A few more days of this and Addy would likely be on the floor building forts of her own.

They had been confined to Eriaas Argoatan’s attic (if this furnished loft area could even be called an attic) for nearly a week. They’d moved up here when it had become obvious that hiding in the guest rooms left a little too much risk that one of Eriaas’ Society houseguests would hear the tiny pitter patter of five year old feet.

Those same houseguests, much to Cyrus and Addy’s dismay, didn’t seem to be leaving anytime soon. Whatever their expedition was, it wasn’t going well and it showed no signs of stopping.

“P’ahti, p’ahti,” Kalli called as she barreled over to her father who was laying on one of the plush beds with his hand over his eyes, apparently trying to take a nap. Kalli seized his other hand and tugged it. “Can we go outside today? Please? Please please please.”

Cyrus slid his hand from his face and glanced over at Addy. She grimaced and he sighed. “Sorry, issyen,” said Cyrus, reaching over to ruffle her hair. “Not yet.”

Kalli let out a groan and returned to building her fort, though not without kicking one of the pillows in frustration first.

Across the room, Cyrus apparently gave up on his hopes of napping and sat up on the bed. Tiredly, he scratched his messy hair and unshaven face and for just a moment, he caught Addy’s eye. She smiled, just lightly, but he had already looked away. As if being trapped in an attic wasn’t already tense enough, the couple’s relationship was quite decidedly ‘on the rocks.’ They hadn’t mentioned it or discussed it (there were far more important things to worry about right now), but the conflict in their stuffy prison was palpable. Addy almost worried about the day they could finally get out of here and be on their way as they’d have to face it head-on.

Almost worried.

Just then, there was a small knock on the attic door before it carefully pressed open and the familiar face of Eriaas peered into the room. More than ever, the man had become a welcome presence, at least as far as Addy was concerned. A break from the monotony of their trapped existence. He brought a genuine smile to her face.

“Any news from below?” she asked, not expecting much of an answer. The lead agent said something interesting, one of the minion agents was rude, someone made some particularly good coffee, were the usual sorts of updates he had. But today, there was a different look in his eyes. Today, something was unusual.

“Actually yes,” he said, his voice hushed. No one below would be able to hear them from here, yet he continued to whisper as he went on, “I overheard something”

Addy exchanged a glance with Cyrus who sat up straighter. “Overheard what?”

“What they’re looking for,” said Eriaas, coming further into the room. He patted Kalli on the head as he passed her and her fort. The girl flinched away from his touch and Addy couldn’t help but notice Cyrus’ proud smirk. She returned her attention to Eriaas as he sat down in an armchair and leaned forward, lacing his fingers together.

“They’re usually quite good about keeping their discussions private,” he explained. “Never in the house, you know. But they slipped up. Or perhaps they’ve grown lax. Regardless, just this morning I was returning from my run and Parnassé and some of her people were meeting in the dining room. I hovered out of the way for a bit to see what I could garner from the conversation.”

Infuriatingly, Eriaas went quiet, instead looking between them excitedly until Cyrus demanded, “Well? And?”

Eriaas’ good spirits were unwavering. “And they foolishly told me everything I needed to know.”

Addy caught Cyrus’ glare of frustration. It was her turn apparently. “Which was?” she pressed, far more gently than her partner had been.

Eriaas glanced over his shoulder as though to check no one was listening, before he leaned in closer and whispered, “The Transmitter.” Addy got the feeling that it was meant to be significant to them. That she was supposed to have a mindblowing ‘aha’ moment. But all she could manage was a polite, if confused, smile.

“Ah, I forget, you two aren’t from here,” Eriaas went on, brushing off his disappointment. “It’s a bit of a local legend. See, our little moon? Was the first terraform following the Division War. As such, it was home to some of the greats of post-Colonization. Leaders and politicians and visionaries all made their way here to start the Ellegian cluster we know today. And, though we’re not proud of it now, they took most of Archeti’s Origin era artifacts with them. One of those artifacts, supposedly, according to legend, is the Transmitter.”

Still, this was ringing no bells to Addy nor, as far as she could tell from the blank look on his face, to Cyrus. Ancient history had never been either of their strong suits. “The Transmitter is said to have come from the Ark itself,” Eriaas went on. “No one is clear on what it does, though speculation runs amok. Some say it can simply transmit messages more efficiently over much more space than we can today. Others say it can contact the Origin. Some even say it can summon forth a new Ark to ferry our people onward to the next Span.” Eriaas lifted his shoulders in a shrug. “It could just be a broken old artifact, for all we know. But clearly the Society believes it’s worth something at least. That’s why they’re here. That’s what they’re looking for.”

Addy propped up her chin on her fist. It sounded like something the Society could spare a handful of agents for. Legends had to come from somewhere after all and even if the device was, as Eriaas said, a useless lump of metal, the risk could be worth the minor loss.

“So is it here somewhere?” Addy wanted to know.

“On the moon? Maybe,” Eriaas answered. “But here?” He pointed to the floor. “Definitely not. They’re on the wrong side. If the damn thing is anywhere, it’d be in the Consulate archives on the other side of the globe.”

“Then why would they think it’s here?” Cyrus asked.

Eriaas just rolled his eyes dramatically. “Some idiot claimed that my house was built atop the old Consulate in an attempt to tear the land from me. I settled the matter out of court, but the rumor stuck. To this day I still get tourists stopping by looking for a museum. It doesn’t help that the actual archives are buried beneath centuries of real estate developments and dirt. I only know where it stood because I paid a brigade of archaeologists to locate it for legal leverage.”

Across the room, Cyrus opened his mouth to speak, but it was Kalli’s voice that rang out next. “O’rian!” she shouted in glee, standing by the window and bouncing up and down on her feet.

Both Addy and Cyrus frowned at her, but it was Addy who said, “No, your uncle’s not coming, issyen.” The girl was probably just tired of no one paying attention to her.

“Why don’t you just tell them they’re in the wrong place?” Cyrus went on. “Tell them they’re on the wrong side of the moon and  they’ll leave and we can go.”

“I could do that,” Eriaas agreed, but Addy shook her head sharply.

“And lead them straight to wherever this thing actually is?”

“O’rian!” Kalli shouted again, earning her a “Hush” from Cyrus.

“What if it really is something significant?” Addy continued. “What if it gives them something we wish they didn’t have? They’re not exactly known for using moral judgment when it comes to technology.”

“O’rian!” shouted Kalli once more.

“No offense, Adds, but I’m more concerned with my family getting out of here alive than the Society finding some legend that probably doesn’t exist,” Cyrus muttered.

“Whatever you two decide, it’s up to you,” put in Eriaas just as Kalli stomped her feet and said again, “O’rian!”

Cyrus let out a heavy groan and pushed himself to his feet to join his daughter at the window. “What is it, issyen?” he cooed, sounding a little impatient as he picked her up and bounced her affectionately in his arms. “What’s the matter?”

He was starting to turn away when Kalli put her little hands on his face and forced his eyes towards the window she’d been looking out of. “O’rian!” she said again, definitively and this time, Cyrus went still.

A rush of panic ran through Addy. Oh gods, he didn’t. It would be just like Fiearius to run in here and try to save them despite their explicit wishes otherwise. But please, gods. “Tell me he didn’t…” she breathed, rushing from her seat to the window herself.

But Cyrus said, “No. No…not that uncle.” And when Addy looked out onto the path below at the two figures walking towards the house, she understood what he meant. It wasn’t Fiearius. It was Finn. And the small shape beside him? It couldn’t be…

“Corra?”

Caelum Lex          Tumblr          Facebook          Contact Me


VOTE FOR US PLEEEASE

Hey friends! Do me a favor and click that voting link right there? That would mean a lot to me thanks :)

So hey, I'll do a little kiriban thing for the heck of it, if anyone catches a screenshot of the 50k marker. Don't promise anything fancy, but I'll do you a quick doodle at the least. Cuz why not. Tradition. All that.

How are you all doing? Tell me about your lives, I always like that. Me, I'm pretty good. Kinda just...working and stuff. I'm starting a new cosplay! My second. That'll be fun. Is anyone watching Star Wars Rebels? I frickin love it. I'm gonna dress up as Hera for Celebration since it's in Anaheim this year and I'm kind of forcing my boyfriend to be Kanan, but he gets a lightsaber out of it, so he's alright with it. We'll take em to Wondercon and SDCC too so hey, threefer, huzzah.

I actually don't have anything else! But tell me about you!

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khronosabre
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:iconduvell:
Duvell Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2015
^^ I deff need to say that I love your gallery. that are some damn nice arts <3 such nice story inside it.
And thats why I got intrested in your story..What I will read in the future :)
(usual I need to take my time for that because English is not my native language.)
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:iconkhronosabre:
khronosabre Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2015  Professional General Artist
Aww man that is so nice thank you ; ; I'm so glad you like it! If you do check out Caelum Lex, let me know what you think :D
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:iconduvell:
Duvell Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2015
^^ you are welcome!!
And I sure will let you  know what I  think about it :)
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:iconarteaus:
Arteaus Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
How often do you get around to the Western united states comic cons (if at all?) My wife and I live out in Tucson and there are three just in Tucson, Phoenix, and Salt Lake City alone. The reason I ask is I got my wife interested in you're stuff and I thought it would be a good venue for you to promote Caelum Lex (that and so I can fanboy right in front of you...)
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:iconkhronosabre:
khronosabre Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2014  Professional General Artist
Aww that's really sweet.  I'm actually a purveyor of the even more western comic cons. SDCC, Wondercon Anaheim, Comikaze (LA). I don't table, just attend (because I have nothing to sell except a website haha) , but I try and hand out cards for CL when I can. But if I ever do hunker down for a table (and believe me I consider it every year...) and you happen to make it out to the southern California area cons (and you should, they're great), I'll definitely let you know :)

PS thanks so much for reading and spreading the word, you're the best!
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:iconarteaus:
Arteaus Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I try my best. We sci-fi junkies need to stick together. If I ever do end up at one of those cons (very likely) I'll look for your table ;)
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:iconjupiterblossem:
JupiterBlossem Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2014  Student General Artist
Thanks for the fave! Heart Love 
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:iconfreelex30:
freelex30 Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2014  Student General Artist
Thank you for the Fav! Feel free to watch me to, really appreciate! La la la la 
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:iconwoltz:
Woltz Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
:iconsayhiplz: Thank you so much for the fav!
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:iconhoshinodestiny:
HoshinoDestiny Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the fav!
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