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“Have a good trip.” Fiearius waved him off, yawning.

Cyrus frowned and gestured towards the outside world. “Come on.”

Fiearius blinked back at him. “What?”

There wasn’t time for this. “Come. On,” he said again, gesturing more dramatically.

But Fiearius didn’t budge. “Why?”

“Just come with me, please,” Cyrus snapped before marching back into the living room, grabbing his brother’s arm and yanking it towards the exit.

“Where the hell am I going?” Fiearius wanted to know, only just letting Cyrus pull him along out of the door.

Cyrus didn’t answer as he turned around to make sure the apartment was sealed and locked. Satisfied it’d be safe in their absence, he spun around and came face to face with Fiearius glowering at him. Unphased, he looked the man up and down, his clothes wrinkled from sleeping in them, his hair pointed in all directions and an unflattering gauntness to his features.

“I wish you’d taken a shower or something…” Cyrus muttered in distaste and Fiearius’ glare only deepened. But there wasn’t time. “Come on, let’s go.”


It was still early enough in the day that the PIT trains were empty. Most of Paradiex was enjoying a sleepy Sunday morning as Cyrus and Fiearius rode the R line train east, seated across the empty cabin from one another. Fiearius looked like he was having a sleepy Sunday morning of his own, yawning every few minutes and his eyes continuously drifting closed despite the constant rattle of the train.

He had stopped asking where they were going a few stops back, apparently accepting the fact that Cyrus was not going to tell him. Which was for the best because if he had continued and Cyrus had become annoyed enough, he probably would have.

At last, the train rumbled to a stop at a station Cyrus knew all too well. “This is it,” he said, grabbing the railing to pull himself up and hitting the button to open the doors. Fiearius stretched his arms over his head and sauntered after him, stepping out of the train onto the platform and squinting into the sunlight.

It took him a second, but he recognized it soon enough.

“You’re taking me to your work?” Fiearius asked, looking up at the Atelier Industries sign adorning the massive shipbuilding dock in front of them.

“Sort of,” Cyrus answered, not stopping as he walked straight from the platform and down towards the main gates. “C’mon, hurry up.”

It was a short walk from the PIT station to the entrance and Addy was there to meet them, Kalli glued to her leg. “Did you find it?” she asked as soon as she saw the two of them approaching. Cyrus held up the tablet and her face lit up. Until she was close enough to grab it from his hand and examine it. “This is the wrong one.”


Addy waved him off. “It’s okay, it’s okay, it’ll do.”

They fell into step together. “Sorry, it was the only one I could find.”

She regarded him skeptically. “I told you, it’s on the kitchen table.”


“This is the one from under Kalli’s bed.”

“Can’t we just keep them all in one place?”

Behind them, Fiearius coughed. “Morning, Adds.”

She glanced back and smiled. “Oh morning, Fiear.” He received a distracted wave before she returned her full attention to Cyrus. “This one can still link up to the auxilliary core, right?”

“I think so…”

As they walked through the complex and out into the main docking area, they passed every ship Atelier currently had in production. Huge ships of all shapes and sizes and at all levels of completion. Cyrus was intimately familiar with the progress of each and every one, but there was one in particular that he’d been involved in more than the rest. While he and Addy continued to work on city reparations and vessel contracts under Atelier Industries’ name, they had simultaneously pushed this ship through as quickly and efficiently as they could and in only six months, a record, Cyrus was sure, it had come to fruition.

It was that very vessel that they headed towards now, parked between two huge freighters that dwarfed the little cargo ship. If someone wasn’t looking for it, they probably wouldn’t have noticed it was there at all.

“So I checked the nav system, it’s still getting that little glitch when I try to reroute, I think it’s a code error--” Addy said.

“Oh, that was on purpose,” Cyrus told her. “Leave that there.”

Addy groaned. “I told you to make a list of all your ‘intentional imperfections’ so I could stop trying to fix them.”

“I did!” Cyrus defended, “I mean...I may have forgotten to add that one, but--”

“P’ahti!” Kalli suddenly called and Cyrus felt a tiny hand tug the bottom of his shirt. When he glanced down at her, she was pointing back towards the main walkway, towards, Cyrus realized, where Fiearius had stopped following them.

He was standing some hundred feet back, his expression empty as he stared at the ship in front of them. Cyrus, feeling rather proud of himself, smirked. “Hey!” he called and waved his brother forward. “C’mon.”

Fiearius at first didn’t seem to hear him. He just continued to stare, stunned, at the ship until finally Cyrus saw him breathe, “What the fuck….”

Addy nudged Cyrus’ arm and muttered through a forced grin, “Not exactly the enthusiastic response we were hoping for…”

“Give him a minute,” Cyrus mumbled as he watched Kalli run to her uncle and seize his hand. Stunned as he may have been, even Fiearius didn’t resist when she pulled him onward after her parents. As he rejoined the group, doubled over by the tiny girl’s grasp, his eyes never left the ship and he never stopped looking like he was being harassed by a ghost.

Which, in some sense, he was. Before them, was the spitting image of the Dionysian. From the top of its dented hull to the base of its crooked ramp, it looked exactly as it had the day it had departed for the very last time.

Cyrus had poured practically all of his free time into making it as perfect (or, as Addy pointed out, imperfect) as he could. Given the results, he was pretty impressed with himself. He could only hope ‘impressed’ was also an accurate description of whatever was going on inside Fiearius’ head as they approached the ramp.

“In retrospect, maybe we should have thought the presentation method through a bit more,” Cyrus whispered to Addy and she hissed an uncomfortable sigh.

“I told you I didn’t think it was a good idea--”

“Well she rushed us, we didn’t have time, what were we supposed to do--”

Not spring potentially traumatic memories on people maybe--”

“It’s not,” said Fiearius suddenly from behind them, finally released from Kalli’s hold and gazing up at the hull above them. “It’s not my ship…It can’t be.”

Cyrus and Addy shared a look and Cyrus coughed. “It’s not,” he confirmed. “Not exactly. We found the wreckage and salvaged what we could from it. Mostly interior subsections were intact, some of the outer hull. The rest we had to piece together. Got a new engine, cannibalized some other cargo ships, retrofitted new plates and --” He gestured to the ship. “Here we are. The Dionysian Mark II.”

Ever so slowly, Fiearius edged around them and took a few steps up the ramp towards the cargo bay. Even now, Cyrus wasn’t sure what to make of him as he let his fingers trail down one of the support beams. But finally, after such a long period of confusion, Cyrus saw his face start to light up and a breathless laugh tumbled out of his throat. “I can’t believe you rebuilt my ship…”

“Well. It’s not your ship,” Addy pointed out and Fiearius shrugged her off.

“Okay, but basically.”

“I think what she means isn’t just that though,” Cyrus felt the need to explain and Fiearius looked back at him, already frowning. “This was not a cheap undertaking. The parts from the original Dionysian might have been yours, but the re-fitting pretty much nixed the value of them. And then there was the new parts, the junked ships, the manufacturing. And all the time of all the people who worked on it. It was really expensive actually. We couldn’t just pay for it ourselves…”

The frown deepened. “What exactly are you saying?”

Addy grimaced. “We had to get an investor…”

Fiearius’ jaw dropped. “You sold my ship?!”

“That’s just it, it’s not your ship anymore,” Cyrus told him. “The investor commissioned it, paid for it, it’s legally theirs.”

“You’re fucking kidding me.” Fiearius shook his head in disbelief. “You can’t just -- why would you even show it to me then?!”


“Who is this person?” Fiearius snapped, holding onto one of the ramp’s beams defensively. “What kind of ‘investor’ would spend their money on fixing someone else’s ship?”

“The Dionysian’s model has been pretty popular since way back when the war first started,” Addy reasoned with a shrug. “Resale value skyrocketed.”

The logic didn’t sit well with Fiearius. “But the Dionysian itself?” he demanded. “What the fuck?!”

Addy’s brows creased at once and she gestured at Kalli who had her hand clamped over her mouth. “Language please.”

Fiearius let out a groan. “Why?”

Cyrus cast Addy a sideways glance. “Maybe they wanted to own a piece of history?”

Addy grinned playfully. “Or maybe they’re a fan of your work.”

“Well I don’t care who they are, they can’t have her,” Fiearius decided firmly. “I’ll buy her back.”

Finally, Cyrus could no longer hold it in. He started to chuckle and no amount of covering his face was able to hide it. “I doubt you could afford it,” he sputtered as Addy grabbed his arm in attempt to calm him, but ended up joining in.

Fiearius, meanwhile, stared at the two of them laughing in disbelief. It was hard not to feel bad at the look of absolute hurt on his face for dangling a gem in front of him only to take it away, and surely Cyrus would owe him an apology later, but for now --

“You can’t afford it,” said Leta, descending the ramp behind Fiearius. She was dressed all in black, her hair tied up in a knotted braid behind her head and a wry smirk danced across her face. “And she’s not for sale even if you could.”

Cyrus watched in amusement as Fiearius went from shocked to confused to understanding and at last, he let out an irritated laugh. “It’s you,” he stated. “You’re the investor.”

“Sure am,” cooed Leta cheerfully, leaning against the opposite support beam. “What do you think of my ship? Real beauty, huh?”

Fiearius ran his hand through his hair. “Yeah, she certainly is…” He took a step towards her and tilted his head. “Thought you had to go back to Vescent this morning.”

“Oh, I do,” Leta confirmed and lifted her hand towards the ship. “It’ll be her maiden voyage. But we’re already behind schedule because someone is out here on my ramp causing a fuss.”

Fiearius nodded in somber understanding. “Might want to blame those two for that.” He gestured towards Cyrus and Addy, who put her hand over her chest and feigned offense.

“Well. Let’s stop wasting time, shall we?” Leta suggested before throwing her hand towards the cargo bay. “Coming aboard, or no?”

For a moment, Cyrus saw Fiearius’ confidence flicker. The flirty, smug attitude faded and internally, Cyrus felt a moment of panic. This whole plan, the entire project, six months of work and his brother could let it fall apart just like that. But he wouldn’t, right? He couldn’t.

But his tone didn’t sound promising when he looked away and muttered, “Leta--”

“That’s Captain Adler,” Leta corrected at once, seemingly unphased by his negativity.

Fiearius snorted a laugh. “Oh, Captain Adler, is it? So, what, you need a first mate?”

“Oh, no.” She looked surprised. “I already have one of those.”

Fiearius tilted his head. “Pilot, then?”

“Got one of those too.”

He narrowed his eyes. “Gunhand?”

She lifted her finger thoughtfully. “Hopefully won’t need one of those much, but definitely covered if we do.” She smiled mischievously. “Hearsay tells me you’re a pretty good cook though.”

Fiearius released a barking laugh and shook his head until Leta stepped forward and took his hands in hers. “This is the Dionysian Mark II,” she said as he grew quiet. “She’s not the original. She never could be and she won’t try to be. But she’s something new. I don’t know where she’ll take us or where we’ll end up, but I, for one, am willing to take the risk. Hell, I need it. And Fiear -- I love you. I still love you. It’s a problem, apparently, I can’t stop.” Her hands gripped his tighter. “And I couldn’t imagine going out into the Span without you. I don’t think we’re made for planet life, you and I. Not anymore. I want to sail the stars again and I want you with me.”

They stood staring at one another for a long moment until at last Leta said, “So! I--” One hand rose to her chest dramatically, “--Captain Leta Ella Adler. Would like to formally invite you, Fiearius Soliveré, to join me and my crew on whatever adventure or danger or horrible peril awaits us.” She smiled hopefully. “What do ya say?”

Fiearius looked down at their hands and opened his mouth. Then he closed it again. Cyrus felt his breath halt in his chest and Addy’s grip around his shoulder tightened in anticipation. Even Leta, through her confident captain-ly smile, showed nervousness around the edges.

And then finally, Fiearius took a deep breath. “For you, Captain?” He lowered himself to one knee. “For you, I would sail to the very end of the Span.” Bowing his head, he lifted her hand to his lips and kissed the back of it and even as in-character as she was, Leta’s cheeks flushed pink.

But only for a moment.

Then, completely unabashedly, she yanked him up to his feet, seized the sides of his startled face and kissed him so forcefully that he stumbled backwards a step before they settled into a warm embrace.

“Aww,” Cyrus heard Addy coo from beside him. “I knew they’d get a happy ending.”

Cyrus snorted indignantly. “Ending?” He cast her a skeptical glance. “Adds, it’s the beginning. Tell me that again when they’re arguing over breakfast tomorrow morning…”

She scowled and elbowed him in the ribs as Leta finally released Fiearius from the kiss and declared loudly, “Alright, my faithful crew, let’s get moving.”

Taking Kalli’s hand, Cyrus started up the ramp as Leta ran off into the ship. He passed Fiearius who still looked a little stunned and seemed even more so to see his brother and sister-in-law climbing into the cargo bay.

“Wait, you’re coming too?” he asked, chasing after them.

“We’re stop number two,” Addy explained.

“We’re still taking a honeymoon, you know,” Cyrus informed him. “And you’re still babysitting the tornado.” He waved Kalli’s hand and she giggled. “The location’s just changed a little.”

“Besides, someone’s gotta monitor the first voyage.” Addy squeezed her husband’s shoulder and took a turn for the engine room.

“Don’t worry, you’ll have help,” called a voice from up above on the catwalk. Both brothers looked up to see Corra hanging over the edge. “With Kalli, I mean. Not the engine, good luck with that.”

“First mate?” Fiearius guessed as they climbed the stairs to join her.

“I can’t believe you thought she’d choose you over me,” Corra laughed, shaking her head. “Besides. I’m the one with all the work for us. You like freeing allies, don’t you? Brings back good memories, right?”

“Oh, the best,” Fiearius agreed, rolling his eyes at her. “What about your other crew?”

“The Orion? I sent them on a mission out in the far reaches of Paravien space,” Corra answered carelessly as she lead them up towards the command deck. “We’ll be joining them in a few days.” She spun around and walked backwards through the hatch to the bridge. “That’s stop number three.”

In the bridge, Finn sat in the pilot’s seat, fiddling with the control panel as Leta stood over him. When he noticed they had company, he glanced back and glared. “I can’t believe you intentionally broke this thing.”

“It’s not broken, it’s character,” Cyrus argued flippantly, leading Kalli to the co-pilot’s seat.

“It’s broken,” Finn said again. “This isn’t in my contract.”

“You don’t have a contract,” Leta pointed out.

“Well I should,” he muttered under his breath.

Leta hit the COMM button. It sizzled in that ever so familiar tone. “We all set down there, Addy?”

“Sure are!” came Addy’s distorted voice. “Firing her up now.”

Standing up straight, Leta put her hands on her hips and looked around at her crew. For a brief moment, she locked eyes with Fiearius who, leaning against the back wall, smiled at her knowingly and nodded towards the bay window. She glanced at Corra, huddled behind Finn’s shoulder, a grin spread across her face. And then she looked down at Cyrus, seated in the co-pilot’s chair with Kalli bouncing excitedly in his lap.

He felt her hand on his shoulder. “We did it,” she said.

Cyrus smirked back at her. “Barely. But...we did it.”

“Alright, Dionysian,” Leta called to the bridge and Finn hit the command to start up the take-off sequence. Beneath their feet, the ship started to rattle. The vibrations shook the walls and filled the air with a cacophony of metal against metal. All eyes turned to Leta and she heaved a deep breath.
“Let’s go.”

Caelum Lex Pt. 3 Chapter 50: Eighteen Months (2)
This chapter is also too long so it's split into two!HERE'S PART 1 IF YOU MISSED IT!

Caelum Lex, the sci-fi, adventure, action, romance, space pirate serial! Chapter 50 of Part 3! In which it ends!

First: Caelum Lex Chapter 1: Medical Attention
Previous: Caelum Lex Pt. 3 Chapter 50: Eighteen Months (1)

So this is it! This is then end of Caelum Lex. I wanna thank everyone who's stuck with me the past three years, you're all awesome and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I'll be taking a little break to honor the achievement and I don't know what's next, but fear not, I'll be back :) 

After I finish Fallout 4.

Much love,
There couldn’t have been a more perfect day for a wedding.

Well, maybe there could have been. Back on Vescent, one of Leta’s long-term patients had relapsed in her absence. There had apparently been a violent riot on Ellegy, the first in nine months. And someone had been shot to death outside of Paradiex’s city hall.

But those were all things that Leta easily pushed from her mind as she watched Cyrus and Addy Atelier walk down an aisle of their friends and family, hand in hand, smiling so bright they shone. And in that moment, things were perfect.

It was Leta’s first Ridellian ceremony and while some things were a little unusual still (the requirement that guests wear dark clothes and hoods chief among them. Something about the new couple standing out to the dov’ha apparently. She had looked at herself in the mirror of her hotel room this morning and thought she was attending a funeral rather than a wedding), there were some elements that she’d preferred as well.

Another requirement dictated that the wedding take place in unison with the sunset, another dov’ha visibility issue she surmised, but one that led the backdrop to be a gorgeous orange and made Addy’s hair light up like fire. A section of the ceremony centered around describing Cyrus and Addy’s reasons to join together had been particularly touching and Leta had cried like a baby when they painted nervous, imperfect circles on each other’s palms in permanent ink.

Her favorite part though, she realized, came at the end, when the newlyweds lead the way to the party and the crowd was encouraged to throw brightly colored powder at them, to stain their white dress clothing in patterns of vibrant multicolors.

“It’s so the dov’ha pay attention to them and bless their marriage,” Corra explained, mid-toss as they tread carefully down the hill towards the lanterns, cluster of tables and the shiny dance floor below. “That seems to be the entire purpose of this event. ‘Hey, look over here!’”

“I wonder what happens though,” Leta posed curiously, “If there’s more than one wedding in one day. Surely there must be.”

“Oh yeah, they’ll get distracted, huh? I guess that’s why you’d want to throw a bigger, more attention-grabby party than everyone else?”

Leta nodded seriously. “What a fantastic marketing scheme for the Ridellian wedding industry.”

“It’s genius,” Corra agreed and then cast Leta a skeptical look. “Dunno about your gods, but my God, doesn’t need reminding to look out for me…” When Leta snickered quietly, she caught the eye of an older woman, clearly Satieran in her garb, perhaps Addy’s great aunt or something of the like, glaring daggers at the two of them. Corra saw her too and smiled awkwardly. “To each their own.”

The sun was well-hidden over the horizon and definitively blocked out by the hill when they reached the bottom, leaving the entire area lit only by the warm glow of lanterns and the strings of lights that, attached only to dark beams, seemed to float in mid-air over the dance floor and dinner tables. Leta looked around, admiring the ethereal atmosphere and wondering how, so close to such a huge city, this place could feel so distant, as she followed Corra to a table.

Briefly, she caught sight of the happy couple, still swarmed by a crowd of people offering their well-wishes. Through it all, even with his aversion to large groups of people, Cyrus was beaming. Kalli, who Leta thought did a wonderful job containing her energy during the serious portion of the event, was now running circles around the dance floor, her arms spread wide like a bird and a flurry of sound effects filling the air around her. Her uncle, Leta realized, was trailing after her.

She swallowed her discomfort and looked away to sit down beside Corra who, as always, knew exactly what she was thinking.

“Talked to him yet?”

“Haven’t had the chance.” She glanced back over her shoulder just as Fiearius caught Kalli in his arms and lifted her off the ground where she squealed in delight. “And I think he’s avoiding me.”

Corra snorted in agreement. “Probably.”

Surely, she meant the solidarity to be comforting, but Leta had to force a smile in response. Swiftly, she changed the subject. “Speaking of which. Finn seems to be avoiding me as well.” She cocked a brow at Corra who gave her a clearly fake look of surprise.

“Oh, really?”

“He walked away as soon as I came up to you two after the ceremony.”

Corra found a glass of water on the table and sipped it. “Hm.”

Leta leaned a little closer and fixed her with the accusatory glare she knew she deserved. “Don’t suppose you had anything to do with that?”

“W-what?” Corra took another gulp of water and smiled shakily. “I don’t--no way, I--” Fabulous secret Conduit agent, Corra may have been, but when it came to Leta, even she knew she had no chance.

“Okay, fine, I told him to get out of the way until I talked to you,” she admitted, dropping her head in her hands in defeat.

“Talk to me about maybe why he had his hand around your waist the whole evening?” Leta surmised.

Corra peeked up at her through her fingers and grimaced. “Yeah? Among other things?”

“Corra.” Leta took her hand and pulled it away from her face. “Are you and Finn-- y’know?” Corra didn’t answer, but by the way her cheeks turned bright pink, she didn’t need to. Leta’s jaw dropped. “How long?”

“Eh--” She saw quick calculations running behind Corra’s eyes. “About-- a year?”

Her jaw dropped even more. “A year?! Why didn’t you tell me?!”

Corra buried her face again. “Because I thought you’d be mad.”

Now, Leta laughed. “Why would I be mad?”

“Because you don’t like him,” Corra pointed out, frowning at her dully.

“What? That’s not--” Okay, it was sort of true. Finn was not exactly her favorite person in the Span. But -- “I don’t dislike him!”

The answer did not appease Corra. She continued to frown.

“No, you don’t understand, I don’t like him for me,” Leta tried to clarify. “But for you! I have no problems with him for you!”

The frown lessened and swayed back towards embarrassment. “I don’t know, I know you think he’s immature and irresponsible, but -- he’s changed a lot since the war,” she tried to defend. “And if you talked to him now, you’d be really surprised I think, he’s gotten a lot better and really got his shit together and --”

“Corra,” Leta cut her off. “It doesn’t matter what I think. What do you think?”

She blushed again and looked out into the darkness beyond the lanterns. “I think he’s cute. And nice. And he makes me laugh. And I like being around him…”

“Then for all intents and purposes, consider my position on Finnegan Riley officially changed,” Leta declared, finding her own glass of water and lifting it in a toast. Corra turned back to her and smiled, lifting her glass and taking a sip.

Leta drank the water and replaced it on the table. Unable to help herself, she glanced back over her shoulder. Nothing seemed to have changed around Cy and Addy as they were still churning through well-wishers one by one. Kalli was now safely restrained in her father’s arms and Fiearius, she couldn’t help but notice, was deep in conversation with a pretty brunette in a dark green gown. She also couldn’t help but notice that the bar was practically abandoned.

Leta nudged Corra with her elbow and tilted her head in its direction. “Think we have time for a drink?”


The cheers were still echoing through the night when Addy hit Fiearius in the chest with her palm. He caught her wrist and smiled down at her frowning, tearful eyes.

“You’re not supposed to make me cry,” she groaned, sniffling and hastily wiping her cheeks with a napkin. A dirty napkin. Cyrus noticed first, carefully replacing the one in his wife’s hand with a clean one. “Thank you--” she muttered to him before turning her fury back on Fiearius. “How dare you. I’m not supposed to be crying at my wedding.”

“I think you are, actually,” Fiearius pointed out, earning him another half-hearted slap on the chest. He shared a grimace with Cyrus and smiled down at her hopefully. “Good crying though? Right? Good crying?”

Finally, her anger broke. She sucked in a breath and sniffed herself back to composure. “It was a beautiful speech,” she admitted, still sounding a little offended about it though. It wasn’t until she smiled warmly and threw her arms around him that he knew he was in the clear. “Thank you.”

“No problem.” He patted her affectionately on the back and then added, knowing exactly what would happen, “Least I can do for my sister.”

He braced for the hit this time and tried not to laugh when she snapped, “Stop that. Stop it, I’m serious.” Addy spun back to Cyrus for help, but apparently just looking at him made fresh tears spring to the corners of her eyes. “Gods, I can’t --” She covered her face with her hands and shook her head. “I need a minute, okay?”

“I thought we were gonna dance now,” Cyrus suggested with far too much of a mischievous smirk on his face to be innocent.

“A minute,” Addy said again, controlling her breathing. “I’m gonna go talk to Finn or -- Daelen or -- someone who doesn’t make me cry and I’ll be back.” Without uncovering her face, she spun around and stalked off onto the dance floor, barging straight through dancing couples who had to jump out of her way in surprise.

Cyrus and Fiearius watched her go for a moment before Cyrus let out a happy sigh and muttered, “My wife’s the best. Gods, that feels weird to finally say.”

Fiearius laughed and slapped his brother cheerfully on the back. “You’ll get used to it.”

“Suppose so.” Cyrus sighed again. “That was a good toast, by the way. Really good. Thanks.”

Fiearius shrugged. “If I can’t give a proper toast to my lil brother finally marrying the woman of his dreams, what good am I?”

They fell into silence as Cyrus nodded slowly and watched the crowd of people milling around, seemingly having a good time. And then he said, “I’m glad you’re here,” which Fiearius thought was an odd thing to say.

“Why wouldn’t I be here?” He regarded his brother curiously. “I know I hit a bit of a rough patch a while back, but--”

“No, no, I don’t mean that,” Cyrus cut him off. “I mean, obviously you’d be here now. Of course, I knew you’d come, I just mean -- from before.”

Fiearius continued to stare at him blankly. “I’m not following.”

Cyrus groaned and ran his hand down his face. “I mean. Before -- everything. Before, all of this happened. Before the war, before the Dionysian. Back then. Back then, I would never have thought my brother would be at my wedding. Though...back then I didn’t think I would ever have a wedding, but that’s a different --” He shook the thought from his head. “Anyway. I’m just -- I’m glad. I’m glad that you’re here. And not just here.” He pointed to the ground. “Here.” He waved vaguely in the vicinity of everything. “It’s just good to have a brother again,” he decided at last. “That’s what I’m trying to say I think. It’s good to have you back.”

Fiearius eyed his brother for a moment. It was a sentiment even he had a hard time making light of, as much as his instincts wanted him to. Feelings were challenging enough. Feelings from Cyrus felt flat out impossible. But finally, he reached out and dropped his hand on Cyrus’ shoulder. “It’s good to have you back too, lil brother.”

Cyrus smiled and the two of them shared what an outsider might have referred to as a ‘bonding moment’, which was not a strong subject for Soliverés. Fortunately, Cyrus had recently become an Atelier and was already learning the ropes.

“Anyway, I should go find my wife, gods, my wife, can you believe that?” He shook his head and then fixed Fiearius with an expectant stare he had definitely picked up directly from Addy. “And I think you have your own thing to take care of still, don’t you?”

Fiearius clamped his mouth shut and smiled humorlessly. “Eh--yes. I...suppose I do.” Cyrus raised his brows and crossed his arms over his chest, apparently waiting for him to do just that. “Okay, okay. I’m going.”

Satisfied, Cyrus turned away to scour the area for the only woman not dressed in black, but Fiearius spotted the silver pot still sitting on the table beside them and couldn’t resist.

“Oh, Cy?”

Cyrus glanced back at him just as Fiearius tossed the bright blue powder from the pot directly in his face. “Dov’ha seré’a!” Fiearius cheered as his sibling attempted to glare at him through color coated glasses.

“Fuck you.”

“What?” Fiearius laughed as he walked backwards away from him. “You said you were glad to have your brother back!”

“I retract my statement,” Cyrus growled as he tried to clean his glasses and Fiearius turned away to walk across the dance floor.

Being back on Satieri hadn’t been exactly what Fiearius had always hoped for, that much was certain. The last year and a half had hardly been the triumphant return of his dreams. But as he walked through the crowds of friends and family dancing underneath the clear Satieran skies, surrounded by warm lights and brightly colored Ridellian banners, for just that moment, it felt okay. For tonight at least, home was what he remembered it as. For the first time since the Nautilus cracked open a hole in the sky, Satieri felt like Satieri again.

And gods, it was good to be home.

As good as his spirits were, a little extra spirit wouldn’t hurt for what came next. Dodging a group of preteens (his cousins? he wondered. Second cousins? It was almost impressive how many relatives Fiearius had forgotten about and Cyrus had not.), he made his way towards the bar. But just as he reached it, the music changed, everyone in the vicinity turned towards the dance floor and Fiearius watched the bartender saunter away on a break.

Sure, he probably could have reached over the bar and poured his own drink, but out of respect, he turned back around and watched as Addy pulled her nervous husband out onto the floor in front of everyone. The powder Fiearius had splashed him with may have been blue, but looking at him now, Cyrus was definitely green.

As eye-catching as Cyrus on the verge of vomiting was, someone else grabbed Fiearius’ attention just as the dance started. Only a few people in front of him, there she was, the woman he’d been looking for.

Well, shit. Apparently he was doing this sober.

Gently easing past a few grumbling relatives, Fiearius sidled up behind Leta. She was seemingly enthralled by the dance so for a moment, he said nothing, simply hovering just behind her left shoulder and enjoying the spectacle himself. Of course, Cyrus was only barely stumbling through the steps, but Addy had enough grace and a beaming smile to make up for it. Fiearius had seen this dance before at weddings in his youth, but he had to admit, this was the best performance of it he’d seen. Messy and inexperienced as it was. If anything, that made it better.

Finally, to Cyrus’ clear relief, the dance ended. Everybody clapped, Leta turned a quarter circle, met Fiearius’ eyes and nearly dropped her drink in surprise. Despite his own nerves, he wanted to laugh and as she recovered, he flashed her his best casual grin. “Hey there.”

“What the--why are you--don’t do that,” she scolded, holding her hand over her chest. “How long were you standing there?”

“Long enough,” Fiearius replied flippantly as he regarded the woman more fully now that he had her attention. Gods, it had been far too long since he’d seen that face. Nearly every day since then, he’d been haunted by the memory of that last night they’d spent together exploring Paradiex’s ruins, the last embrace they’d shared at the base of her father’s ship and the last words she’d spoken to him.

And just as badly, he remembered the final message he’d received six months ago when everything they had had at last fallen apart...

But of course, she’d flown to Satieri for the wedding. He’d known she would be here for ages now and yet he still didn’t feel prepared for this confrontation. Here she was, looking gorgeous as ever in a long slinky dark blue dress that tapered out at the bottom around her feet. Her silky brown hair was tucked into a traditional headscarf and the Satieran sun had already made its mark on her face which looked more freckly than ever. And he knew, he fucking knew he owed her ten thousand apologies.

But all he managed was, “Enjoying the wedding?”

She regarded him with something that might have been suspicion, but in true Vescentian fashion, she showed nothing but civility. “Well the ceremony was lovely. That thing they did with the candles in the beginning?”

“The ori’anné?”

“That’s it. That was beautiful. And the reception--” She gestured to the gathering around her. “Very nice. Open bar’s always appreciated.” She glanced over at Cyrus and Addy who were now huddled together over a plate of appetizers. “Happy couple. Perfect.” And then she looked up at Fiearius with a genuine smile that made his heart skip a beat. “And your toast. How long did it take you to come up with that?”

“Oh that?” He forced a laugh. “Please, that was all improvised.”

Leta rolled her eyes. “Sure it was.” She took a careful sip from her champagne flute and then, as easily as she might have mentioned the weather, accused, “I thought you were avoiding me.”

Fiearius hid the wince. “I was,” he admitted which earned him a look of surprise. But before she could comment on it, he changed the subject. “So why no handsome doctor on your arm, hm? Couldn’t convince anyone to fly all the way to Satieri?”

“One, I don’t date other doctors, you know that,” she told him, a little haughtily. “Two, only Cyrus and Addy could convince me to come back here, it was so hot today. Three. There was no one worth convincing.” She shrugged indifferently. “Besides, who says I need a man at my side to have a good time?”

“Not a soul,” Fiearius agreed obediently.

“Well where’s your date then?” she asked, crossing her arms over her chest.

“Ah right, let’s see, where’d she go?” he mused, turning from her to peer through the crowd, but only after taking note of the small flash of surprise and (he hoped) alarm at his response.

It didn’t take long to find the girl in question. “There she is.” He pointed across the way and Leta, with what looked like genuine interest, followed the line of sight. “See her? Blonde hair, purple bow, about 3 and a half feet tall?” It took Leta a moment, but finally she put her hand over her eyes in exasperation and laughed. Kalli was currently dancing wildly around Alyx’s feet. “She’s a heartbreaker though, totally unfaithful, I don’t know how long I can take it.”

“Babysitting duty, huh?”

Fiearius shrugged. “My life’s purpose it seems.”

Leta bit her lip thoughtfully and looked around her. After a moment, her expression turned toward a frown. “Who’s that woman?” She nodded towards a group of people near the buffet table. “Brown hair, dark green dress? Pretty young thing.” As Fiearius narrowed his eyes at the cluster, Leta muttered under her breath, “I think you were talking to her earlier.”

Ah, so that’s why. Fiearius tried not to internally gloat to himself and instead found the woman in question. “Oh, her. That. Is Teah.” He couldn’t stop himself from pausing for dramatic effect, taking in every moment of Leta’s anticipation. “She’s my cousin,” he explained at last. “Last time I saw her, I poured gravy in her hair. Twenty years ago. So…y’know. We had to figure that out a bit.”

Leta snorted a laugh. “This must be a fun day for you.”

He grimaced. “It’s interesting, that’s for sure.” As if to punctuate the point, at that very moment, he noticed one of his uncles staring at him as he explained something to Addy’s grandmother. He couldn’t hear what the man was saying, but he saw his father’s name mentioned twice. Turning back to Leta, he gestured towards the darkness beyond the party. “You wanna -- go talk somewhere else?”

Leta blatantly hesitated. Of course, she wouldn’t want to go walking off into the dark with him. What a stupid question. Why would she--

“Sure,” she said at last and even started to lead the way. Fiearius, reeling in relief, stepped into place behind her and they were quiet as they shuffled through the crowd and out onto the path that lead to the shuttle station.

They hadn’t gone far, the noise and light from the party still following after them, when Leta asked, “So. How’ve you been?” She asked it like she already knew the answer.

“Alright,” Fiearius replied instinctively and then only a moment later caught himself. “I don’t know why I’m lying to you. I’m -- I’m better. Actually.”

She glanced back at him, in the ever dimming light, her face becoming unreadable. “Yeah?”

“Yeah.” He put his hands in his pockets and took an extra step to catch up, falling into stride beside her. “Cyrus finally convinced me to talk to this therapist person and -- I don’t know, it’s been helping. I think. At the very least, she helped me figure out something I could stand doing. So I have a job now.”

“Oh, yeah? What are you doing?”

It felt embarrassing to even say it. “Well, I’m the night cook for a little diner by the PIT station…”

Leta, however, seemed thrilled. She smiled up at him and, possibly in support or possibly because the further they walked from the party, the more the desert cold set in, she took his arm in hers. “That’s great!”

“Yeah,” he answered at first, looking down at where their elbows were looped together. And again, he caught himself in a lie. “Actually no.” He let out a barking laugh. “It’s pretty shit. It’s a lot of work and I get paid pretty much nothing and I always smell like old oil now.”

Leta chuckled under her breath. “I wasn’t gonna say anything…”

“Thanks…” he grumbled. “Anyway. It is what it is. And I am better. I’m just a little…” Lost was the word that came to his mind, though he didn’t want to say it. Freeing Satieri, defeating the Society, returning home, that had been his goal for so long. And he’d done it. And now that it was done, he was left feeling like there wasn’t a heck of a lot left to do. Everything wasn’t what he imagined. Nothing felt meaningful or purposeful anymore. And everything he’d wanted was--gone.

“I’m just figuring things out still, that’s all,” he finished at last with his best impression of a careless shrug. “It’s fine.”

But Leta, of course, didn’t look convinced. She eyed him for a moment, the distant light from the hanging lanterns reflecting skepticism on her face. And then her expression changed. She looked away and crossed her free arm over her chest. “I know what you mean. It’s weird, isn’t it? ‘Winning’ I guess.”

Now it was his turn to eye her. Of everyone who’d come out of this, he had thought Leta had been taking it the best. She certainly made it seem that way. But she went on, “Every day, Vescent is starting to feel closer to what I remember, but -- I don’t know, it still doesn’t feel any closer to home.” She glanced up at him, a hint uncertain. “This is what I wanted,’s still weird.”

Fiearius couldn’t help but agree. “You’re still working at the clinic right?”

“Yeah,” she answered at once, running a hand through her hair. “Yeah I’m working at the clinic and that’s good. It’s good to be back, but it’s not--”

“Satisfying,” Fiearius finished for her and she nodded.

“Exactly. I used to love the thrill and dangr of the ER, but it just doesn’t have that appeal anymore.” She laughed grimly. “I guess a broken arm pales in comparison to raiding Society bases.” They fell silent for a moment as they came to a stop on the path, both simply watching the lights dance around their shadows. Finally, it was Leta who cracked first and groaned dramatically, “Why is this so hard?”

At that, Fiearius let out a genuine laugh. “What, adapting to normal life? Probably ‘cause we’re not normal.”

“No, you’re not normal,” Leta barked back. “I’m supposed to be the image of normality. Classy doctor, remember?”

“Oh I’d never forget,” Fiearius chuckled. “Maybe we just need to find some new massive power structure to derail.”

Leta pointed at him excitedly. “Ooh that could work. Let’s conquer something else.”

“Where do ya have in mind? Carthis? Paraven?”

“How about Tarin? I always loved Tarin.”

Fiearius looked up at the sky thoughtfully. “Tarin’s just a rotating democracy. Wouldn’t be that hard. Could probably take it with a few well-timed assassinations and some underground support I’d think.”

“Perfect, let’s do it,” Leta declared, turning towards him, seizing his forearms and lifting them up in her passion. “Let’s conquer Tarin and claim it as our own.”

“I can see it now,” Fiearius mused dramatically, dropping his arms over her shoulders as she put her hands on his waist. “Fiearius Soliveré, Supreme King of Tarin. And at his side, Ultimate Queen Leta Adler, the most fearsome and benevolent and classy Queen to ever rule.”

She laughed in agreement and despite the bravado, Fiearius looked down at her curiously. Somehow they were standing in a strange sort of loose hug. How that had exactly happened, he wasn’t sure. But now, he was a mere foot from her and privy to examining all those new little spots that had formed on her face. She looked different. Older, more mature, more weathered by everything she’d gone through. But at the same time, nothing about her had changed. Not since that very first night he’d held her a little too tight and admired her a little too closely. Her face that had never strayed too far from his thoughts was still just as he remembered it.

It seemed her line of thinking had gone a similar way and finally it was time to address to elephant in the room. Her expression had softened by the time she muttered, “Why didn’t you talk to me?”

Fiearius’ voice caught in his throat and she went on. “Why didn’t you answer? Anything? I--how many messages did I send you? How many times did I call? And--and nothing...” Leta looked away from him.

Slowly, he shook his head. “Gods, Leta, I’m so sorry, I --”

“I just want to know what happened.”

“Nothing, I just -- I couldn’t…”

Her arms dropped away from him and her face was wrought with hurt. “Why?”

He opened his mouth and nothing came out. “Why?” she pressed again and suddenly the dam broke.

“Because I couldn’t. I can’t explain it. I just couldn’t. I was embarrassed and ashamed and -- I wasn’t me anymore,” he said, the words flowing from him like a waterfall. “It felt like someone had taken over my body and I could remember what it was like to be me, but I couldn’t remember how to, and then I got all these messages from you and I knew. You wanted to talk to me, but I wasn’t there so you’d call and call and I just couldn’t answer because this -- this -- wasn’t who you wanted to talk to.”


“No,” he cut her off, taking a step back. “I fucked up, I know, okay? I joked about it, yeah, and then I actually did it because--” He let out a grim laugh. “I always do. I’m really good at fucking things up. And I’m sorry. Gods, I am so sorry. I don’t know what happened to me, I don’t really understand why I did what I did, I know, I should have just talked to you. Hell, you were probably going through the same fucking thing, but I just couldn’t. I couldn’t do it. And I’m sorry and I don’t expect you to forgive me, but --”

“I do,” Leta interrupted suddenly and he frowned at her. “I do forgive you.”

For a moment, the words stopped again. “Well -- you shouldn’t.”

“But I do,” she said quietly, stepping towards him. “I understand.”

“What? No.” He stepped back again. “No you don’t.”

“I do,” she insisted again, once more closing the gap. “I mean, I won’t lie to you, I was heartbroken. It really fucking hurt when you shut me out like that. But -- I get it. You needed to deal with something really hard and you needed to do it your way which -- is a way I don’t necessarily agree with. It’s kind of a stupid way.” She frowned accusingly. “But recovery takes what it takes and -- I’m glad you found your way out of it. I just wish I could have helped.”

Fiearius stared at her, lost for words. Of course, he could think of few better outcomes than this one, but it still left him feeling troubled. Why did he deserve such an easy clean slate? It didn’t make sense until --

“And what happened to us wasn’t entirely your fault,” Leta admitted, looking down at her feet. “I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t do anything about it. I just called you and sent messages, two forms of communication I know full well you’re not comfortable with.” She glanced up at him furtively. “I should have come back. I could have come at anytime, but I didn’t. I just buried myself in work and pretended I was doing all I could. But if I cared as much as I should have, I would have come back.”

Fiearius stared at her and then asked hesitantly, “Is this your way of telling me you’re over me?”

After a moment of incredibly tense silence, he smiled and she laughed and shook her head. “No, gods, no. Not at all. The opposite, even.” Her eyes fell back to the ground and she knotted her fingers together. “I was afraid. Of -- I don’t know, that it wouldn’t work. Even if we called each other every day and talked all the time, that it still wouldn’t work. Me on Vescent, you on Satieri, even if we did everything right, it couldn’t have gone on that way forever.”

Fiearius released a long breath. “The thought had definitely crossed my mind…”

“I didn’t want to think about it,” she admitted, “I didn’t want to accept it. And with the clinic taking off and Vescent seeming to get better, I didn’t want to change it either. So...I don’t know. It was just...easy. To let it fall apart. To say there was nothing I could do, it was just Fiearius being Fiearius. And that was that.” Her shoulders lifted in a tiny shrug and finally, she looked back up at him. “So it wasn’t all you. We both built walls in our own ways...And I’m sorry too.”

“You don’t have to be…” Fiearius mumbled.

“Then you don’t have to be either.” She closed the gap between them and put her arms back around his waist. “We screwed up. Both of us. Let’s call it even.”

“It’s not,” Fiearius began to argue but Leta put a finger to his lips.

“It’s even,” she said again, more sternly. “And anyway, it’s in the past.”

Fiearius sighed and shook his head. “We never could get the timing right, could we?”

“We certainly couldn’t.”

“Something I’ll always regret,” he mumbled, suddenly finding her lips incredibly distracting.

Those lips curved towards a sad smile. “Me too.”

Her hands slid up the plane of his back, his moved down to rest on her hips and ever so slowly, the space between them closed until Fiearius felt the warm familiar wonder of her kiss. It was a slow kiss, a soft kiss, a kiss culminating in all the years of their strange tumultuous relationship. But here on this dark path, kissing Leta, it was the first time since the war ended that Fiearius felt...right. Right like he hadn’t been in so long.

But all good things had to come to an end didn’t they?

“O’rian! O’rian!” came a sudden shrill voice, barreling towards them down the path. Fiearius let out a good-natured groan as he separated himself from the beautiful woman in front of him and turned his attention to the tiny little woman running straight at his legs.

Kalli, as she was wont to do, stretched out her arms and, on cue, Fiearius swooped her up into his where she giggled incessantly. “O’rian, why were you kissing A’iya Leta?” she demanded cheerfully and it took a moment’s effort to not be embarrassed by the accusation of a six year old.

“I’ve no idea what you’re talking about,” Fiearius assured her as Leta blushed red and stifled a laugh.

“I’m telling ti’hma” Kalli said and Fiearius passed Leta a fake worried grimace.

“What’s your ti’hma up to right now, huh?” he asked the little girl.

“Oh, she told me to tell you it’s my bedtime and you have to take me home now,” Kalli relayed importantly.

“Is that so?” cooed Leta curiously. “And you want to go to bed?” Kalli shook her head vigorously.

Fiearius chuckled. “She just knows that if she’s good today and does everything ti’hma says, she’ll buy her the big purple dragon from the toy store, isn’t that right?” Now, Kalli nodded. Well who was he to deny his niece a big purple dragon? He looked to Leta, “I guess I better be taking her home then.”

“I wouldn’t want you to piss off a bride on her wedding day,” Leta chuckled.

And now he was supposed to say goodbye. It was good seeing you. Maybe I’ll see you again someday. But the notion just seemed so--well he didn’t want to say goodbye, frankly. So instead, he said, “Hey, I’m just babysitting this little monster at my brother’s place all week while they’re on their honeymoon. If you’re still around, I could stop by sometime. Have dinner with us a movie or something? If you don’t have to head back to Vescent right away.”

Leta’s face at once was struck by a certain disappointed sadness. “I’m afraid I’ve got to catch the first ship back tomorrow morning. One of my patients relapsed and--.”

That disappointed sadness was contagious. “Ah yeah, I figured,” he muttered. She was right after all. It would never work. One here, one there. What was the point of dragging it out? All that would accomplish is more pain for the both of them. Best just to let it fade…

“Well.” He shifted Kalli in his arms as she looked between the two of them curiously. “Have a good trip then.”


He started to turn away from her before he stopped and took one last look. “It was really good seeing you.”

She smiled back at him, the lanterns above the party catching the lights of her eyes. “Yeah, you too,” she said. “And Fiear?”


“We’ll see each other again soon,” she promised. Wasn’t that the same thing she’d said a year and a half ago? Fiearius smiled back and nodded like he was supposed to, but as he turned and walked away, he had the feeling it would be the last time for a long while.


Cyrus swung open the door to his apartment and stepped into the hallway. Where did she say it was again? Damn, he should have been paying better attention.

He marched down the hall and past the living room where he saw the shape of his sleeping brother on the couch. Cyrus paused for a moment to consider him, one leg propped up against the wall, the other flayed off the edge and his spine making a bit of an ‘L’ shape. The pose seemed far too mangled to be comfortable enough to sleep in and yet there he was, still in the same clothes he wore to the wedding the night before, eyes shut, snoring lightly.

Maybe they should get a bigger couch…

But that was a problem for a later date. For now -- “Hey, wake up,” Cyrus barked, smacking the wall above Fiearius with his palm. The jolt was enough to send Fiearius flailing to not fall off the edge of the cushions and tumble to the floor. He managed, but only barely. Cyrus stifled a laugh.

“W-what?” asked the weary man, blinking himself furiously into consciousness and desperately grasping at an understanding of his surroundings.

“Get up,” Cyrus ordered, smacking the wall again and turning on his heel to head towards the bedrooms. Surely, if it was anywhere, it would be there. Behind him, Fiearius stumbled to his feet and stood in the center of the living room, looking completely lost. But finally, he woke up enough to follow.

“What are you doing here?” he pressed as Cyrus ripped the sheets off of their bed then crouched down to look under it. “Aren’t you supposed to be on your honeymoon?”

“Yeah, on our way there,” Cyrus answered, finding nothing. Seriously, where the hell did it go? He checked the drawers next. “Just need to grab something first.”

Fiearius hovered in the doorway, running his hand through his messy hair. “What is it?”

“Diagnostics tablet.” Not in the drawers either. He spun around and made a rectangle with his fingers. “Just a regular looking tablet, about this big, should be around here somewhere.”

“Okay…” Fiearius glanced around the room as if his apathy might actually help locate it. Then he frowned and asked, “Why the hell do you need a diagnostics tablet on your honeymoon?”

Cyrus slid the closet door shut. “When do you not need a diagnostics tablet?”

Fiearius opened his mouth to argue, but as Cyrus brushed past him and headed towards Kalli’s room, he decided against it. It seemed unlikely that their six year old had need of the tablet last, but then again, it seemed incredibly likely that Kalli had taken the tablet anyway. He stood in the doorway and did a visual sweep of the room. The unoccupied room, as Fiearius noticed when he arrived moments later.

“Wait, where the hell is Kalli?!” he demanded with the kind of panic only possible from a man who had just lost his niece.

But Cyrus waved him off. “She’s with Addy. She came by earlier when you were still asleep.”

Fiearius gaped at him as Cyrus got on his hands and knees and put his head to the ground, squinting into the darkness beneath the bed. “I thought I was babysitting her while you’re gone.”

“Yeah, you were,” Cyrus answered, seeing a suspicious black shape near the wall under the bed. He grimaced as he reached for it. “What kind of babysitter lets someone just walk in and abduct their charge while they’re sleeping?”

“The door was locked,” Fiearius pointed out, sounding more than a little confused and still a tad too asleep to process what was happening. But when Cyrus sat up, unsuccessful, he too got on the ground and reached under the bed, his longer arm making contact and pulling the shape out from underneath it.

“Ah, there it is!” Cyrus took the tablet from his hand and rose to his feet. “Alright, that’s all we need, let’s go.” He stalked from the room and headed for the front door. Fiearius, albeit slowly, followed. Until he stopped. Cyrus had already opened the door and stepped out onto the landing when he looked back and saw his brother lingering in the living room, looking down at the couch as though contemplating whether it’d be worth trying to sleep on it again.

“Hey,” Cyrus called.


Fiearius stepped out onto the landing, taking a breath of the crisp night air that stung as it filled his lungs. The warm light of the apartment behind him flooded out of the windows and it was tempting to turn back. He didn’t want to leave. Gods, he didn’t want to leave. But he couldn’t impose himself on Cyrus’ family any more than he already had. It was time to go.

Another deep breath and he lifted his hood over his head. As he headed down the stairs, he reached into his jacket pocket and drew out a tiny bundle wrapped in paper. When he reached into his other pocket, however, he found nothing in place of where a lighter should have been.


Taking the last few steps out of the building and onto the street, he looked around for any sign of life. It was quiet tonight. Rather, it was too late on a Tuesday for any sensible Satieran to be wandering around the residential area of the Shipbuilding District. Well, they were missing out, Fiearius decided. He wasn’t fond of the cold on any planet, but Satieran desert winter held a certain familiar hatred to it. And even he couldn’t argue that the clear skies and endless expanse of stars were a sight to behold.

He’d walked a few blocks before he spotted a couple young guys and a woman leaned against the wall of an alley nearby. They were laughing and joking with one another and the orange glow of burning cigarettes lit their faces.

It would do.

Fiearius approached the group and one of them, the woman, noticed first. She nudged her friend in the ribs and told him to hush, gesturing at the stranger until all three grew quiet and watched him suspiciously. One of them even stood up straight and puffed up his chest as though it might actually intimidate him. Fiearius chuckled under his breath.

“Can I bum a light?” he asked once he was close enough. The two men glanced furtively at one another, but the woman, hesitant as she was, unhooked herself from where she was leaning against him and sauntered towards Fiearius, digging in her pocket.

She handed the lighter to him without a word and watched as Fiearius lit the paper and held it to his lips, breathing in until he could feel the weight of it filling his chest, hard and sharp and mildly comforting. The rumor had always been that once you’d taken Flush, nothing else felt the same. Turned out, that rumor was painfully true. But at this point? Any little bit helped.

Fiearius released the long breath of smoke and watched it drift upwards into the night. “Thanks.” He handed the lighter back to the girl and turned to leave, but she stopped him.


He probably should have just kept walking. Because of course, he could guess at what was coming. But foolishly, since he apparently never learned his lesson, he turned back.

“I know you. You’re that --” She clicked her fingers beside her ear and scrunched her face. “Soliveré right? The admiral? From the war.”

Her friends joined in before he could put an end to it. “No shit?” One of them squinted his eyes to peer closer at Fiearius. The other let out a disbelieving laugh. “You’re kidding, this guy? Here? The fuck are you doing here, man, shouldn’t you be out livin’ it up somewhere? Damn!”

The girl made a grab for his arm that Fiearius narrowly avoided as he took a step backwards away from them. “Come on, we should take you out somewhere,” she suggested enthusiastically. “Can you imagine what people will say when we tell ‘em we went drinking and smoking with the Rogue Verdant?”

“No way will anyone believe us,” said one.

“What d’ya say Soliveré? Admiral? Sir?” said another, laughing. “What do we call you? Come out with us? There’s this sick place down by--”

“No,” Fiearius cut him off finally lest this go on any fucking longer. The three of them went quiet, watching him with a growing sense of disappointment he couldn’t care less about. He took another long draw from the joint, needing it now more than before. “Sorry, you’ve got the wrong guy.” He exhaled and dropped the still burning embers on the ground before turning back to the street.

As he walked away, he could hear the group whispering behind him, debating his identity, questioning the woman’s eyes, but he didn’t listen to the words. He just pulled his hood higher up over his head and pretended, as he always did, not to hear them.

Gradually, it was becoming less of a problem. With the war over a year behind them, fewer people were so acquainted with Fiearius’ face that they’d recognize him instantly on the street. Even so, Ridellian dress code had been a surprising blessing. With a hood to hide what was likely his most noticeable distinguishing feature, he could at least move about the city without the constant attention he’d received early on. It was a lot easier to be identified as religiously devout than a controversial war figure.

A hood couldn’t solve everything though and Fiearius’ method of traversing Paradiex like a ghost was far more than clothing choices. The cover of night helped, of course. As did avoiding crowded places. Or entirely uncrowded places, for that matter.

The preference was what had drawn him to the Tailspin. It was a bar just outside the PIT train stop nearest his apartment and, as its name suggested, it was a frequent hangout for people whose lives weren’t exactly moving in an upward direction. It was a dump. The door creaked like it was about to fall off. The booths seemed like someone had taken a knife to them. Half the bar stools were missing and had been replaced by chairs from someone’s kitchen table. The bar itself wore a crack right through the center that made every drink set upon it unbalanced.

But when Fiearius walked through the creaky door, late on this Tuesday night, not one of the four or five patrons inside looked up. Only the woman behind the bar acknowledged his existence, and only enough to pour him his regular to be ready when he sat down. Not a word was spoken. Not a question was asked. He was free to sip his pure Satieran tequila in peace.

Something was different about tonight though and for a while, he couldn’t quite place his finger on it. Not until the man seated two stools away from him said, “So. This is what happens to washed up old admirals, is it?”

Fiearius’ fingers tightened around his glass, already knowing he was going to end up punching this asshole if he said one more damn word. But when he glanced over at his neighbor, he realized something about the man’s accent. It wasn’t Satieran. It wasn’t Ellegian. It was...Carthian?

The older man turned towards him and Fiearius got sight of his face. His mouth dropped. “No fuckin’ shit…”

Gates raised a brow at him and then shook his head and took a short sip of his drink. “I see your manners haven’t changed at all.”

“The hell are you doing here?” Fiearius demanded.

“Having a drink, what does it look like?” Gates smiled humorlessly and Fiearius simply glared back at him until he relented, “I may have asked around a little where I should have a drink.”

“Why?” was Fiearius’ gut response. His second wasn’t much different. He lifted his glass to his lips and looked away. “I have no interest in talking to you.”

Gates let out a sigh. “Stubborn as ever.”

“Fuck you.”

“I came all the way out to this shitty part of town and you won’t even honor me with a conversation?”

Fiearius scoffed indignantly. “If I recall correctly, it’s your fault it’s shitty.” He shot him a glare. “Y’know. The whole...destroying the planet thing.”

But if Gates was intimidated, he certainly didn’t show it. If anything, he only looked more curious. “If it’s shitty, why do you live here? Your council, they gave me and my family a huge loft in the middle of downtown and I’m nothing more than a political refugee. Surely the hero of Satieri could do better than--” His hand waved in the general direction of the door. “This.”

“I could,” Fiearius answered and left it at that.

“Yet here you are,” Gates concluded, continuing to press.

Fiearius’ fingers left his glass to massage his temple where a headache was already spreading. “Why do you fuckin’ care?”

“Curiosity,” was his only reason and though Fiearius could easily have ignored it, without knowing why, he didn’t.

“I used to live here,” he explained, his voice growing quiet. “With my family. It wasn’t as shitty back then. It was a good neighborhood.” He shrugged. “Feels like home.” The last shot of tequila in the glass could not have slid down his throat any quicker. The glass hit the bar with a dull ‘thud’. “Even if half of it’s in the Void.”

Fiearius didn’t have to look at Gates to know that he was watching him with that obnoxious stare he’d always had. The one that made Fiearius feel like a beast behind a cage in a zoo. Or like a fucking carnival attraction. Thank the gods, the bartender had already poured him another drink.

“So how you likin’ Satieri?” he asked, blatantly changing the subject and fully expecting the man to counter. Strangely, for perhaps the first time ever, he didn’t.

“It’s different,” Gates admitted. “Maryah loves it, actually. The kids just started school, they’re enjoying themselves.”

“And you?”

He frowned down at his hand on the bar. “Under other circumstances, perhaps I would welcome the change. But playing the part of mild-mannered Gordin Lareis from Ellegy to avoid being murdered in the street is a challenge…”

“Probably a good idea though.” Fiearius tapped his index finger against the bar. “Secret identities...maybe I should try that.”

Gates glanced at the room around them. “Right. Not so into being famous, I see.”

“It’s not that exactly. Hell, let em sing my praises all they want, just -- side effects aren’t so grand,” he muttered, tracing a symbol along the wood. He fell quiet for a moment before letting out a short laugh. “Y’know no one will hire me?” Gates tilted his head in consideration. “It’s true. Or if someone will, they just want to do it for the publicity. Which I’ve had numerous offers for, but -- an actual daily something-or-other to occupy my time?” He shook his head slowly. “Not a one.”

“That seems odd,” he remarked.

“Is it?” The question came out harsher than he’d intended. “What exactly am I qualified to do? I spent a decade as an assassin, few years as a gun smuggler and another five as an over-glorified foot soldier. Can you really see me working downtown in an office?” He groaned his frustration and put his head in his hand. “I didn’t even finish high school.”

“Aren’t there programs now for that exact thing?” he asked.

“There are. Real nice government sponsored programs to -- what are they calling it? Integrate pre-Restructure Society agents into post-Restructure life? It’s real popular with my old Internal Affairs colleagues. Me though?” He grimaced and took a deep sip from his glass. “I went to a meeting at my brother’s behest. Half of them wanted to thank me, the other half wanted to kill me. In the end, the guy running it told me I was ‘too distracting’ and ‘detrimental’ to the progress of others.”

Now Gates grimaced too. “Ouch.”


Both men lifted their glasses and drank, unintentionally in unison. When Gates’ glass met the bar again, he frowned. “I don’t think you’re giving yourself enough credit though.” When Fiearius glanced over at him, he was looking curiously up at the wall behind the bar. “You have plenty of marketable skills. You’re resourceful, adaptable, a problem solver, you think quick on your feet. Not to mention you’re a natural leader.”

Fiearius couldn’t stop himself from gaping at him. Gaping until he laughed. “Sorry,” he managed through the chuckling in response to Gates’ unimpressed glare. “Just weird. Hearing that from you of all people…”

Gates shrugged. “I brought you in for a reason, Soliveré, believe it or not. We wouldn’t have had a chance without you. I stand by my decision.” He lifted his glass again in a toast, although it lowered a few inches moments later when he added, “Even if it got me fired. And criminalized. And exiled from my entire home system…”

Fiearius clamped his mouth shut and scratched the back of his neck nervously. “Yeah...I guess I owe you an apology for that. But -- I’m not actually sorry.” Casting him an apologetic smirk, he explained, “Honestly, I don’t regret a thing. I’d betray you again in a heartbeat…”

To his surprise, Gates did not look angry, nor even disappointed. He just nodded a slow understanding and admitted, “I know. And between you and me?” His eyes glanced behind him, just in case, before he whispered, “I’m kinda glad.”

Fiearius smirked. “That so?”

“Not that it absolves me or anything, but I voted strongly against reviving that awful thing,” he explained. “And if you hadn’t stopped it? Well, we had measures in place to try and evacuate as many civilians as we could, but --” He shook his head. “It was never going to be enough. And frankly I’m not sure if I could live with that much blood on my hands. I’ve already got enough as it is.”

“Yeah,” Fiearius murmured and lifted his glass. “I can drink to that.”

The two of them clinked glasses and downed what was left of the liquor. “Well,” Fiearius declared as he slid from his stool onto the floor. “It was less awful seeing you than I expected.”

“Same to you,” said Gates.

“If you hear of anyone looking to hire a washed-up old admiral.” He shrugged half-heartedly. “You know where to find me…”

Gates snorted a laugh and nodded. As he turned for the door, though, he called out, “Good luck, Fiearius.”

Which was surely meant to be hopeful or reassuring. But as Fiearius walked out of the Tailspin and back into the street and above him, the sky, tainted by clouds from the Void nearby, cracked open and drenched him in a torrential downpour of rain, he didn’t feel very reassured.

Used to this by now, Fiearius dropped the hood, ran his hand back over his sopping wet hair to keep it out of his face, stuck his hands in his jacket pockets and walked quickly.

Funnily enough, talking to Gates was perhaps the most ‘himself’ he had felt in ages. Nothing was the same as it used to be. Not before he left Satieri, not after. Everything had changed. Cyrus and Addy had jumped right back into normal life as if it were nothing. They helped rebuild the city, they were getting Atelier Industries back off the ground, they were getting married.

And it wasn’t just them. The rest of Satieri had all moved on too. Hell, even Gates had it more together than he did. It had been a year. Everything was back in motion, moving forward, but Fiearius still felt stuck, trapped in some kind of purgatory. He was better now than he had been a while back, but not by much. He couldn’t move forward. But he couldn’t go back either, there was nowhere to go back to.

A year. A fucking year had passed and what had he done besides sit in a dive bar and drink tequila?

Gods, how fucking pathetic.

Fiearius tore open the door to his apartment and rushed inside, eager to get out of the rain. He was dripping massive amounts of water onto the floor, but he didn’t care. The apartment was where he lived, had lived for seven months, but it wasn’t home. It was just an empty box with a bed in it, for all it mattered. Not even a bed. A mattress on the floor.

He stripped off the soaking wet clothes and threw them in a pile across the room before collapsing onto the mattress. Something about that conversation had struck something deep in his core. That urge to fix this. The pull to get his shit together, to veer out of this downward spiral and get better. He had no idea how to do it, but suddenly, he knew exactly where he wanted to start.

Sitting up, he reached for the tablet that he’d thrown aside that morning and switched on the screen. Muttering to himself, he practiced what he was going to say. I’m sorry, that was the big one. I’m so sorry. I fucked up. Again. Please forgive me.

Please, gods, let her forgive me.

But when Fiearius found the contact he was looking for and hit the panel for her name, ready to call her, ready to start over and mend things, the screen displayed something else. It was all the recent messages she’d sent him, but it was the most recent that caught his eye. It was dated just a month ago and he had read it probably a thousand times since then.

It has been exactly a year since we’ve been in the same room. Happy anniversary I guess.

I write, and you don't answer. I call, and you are silent. You are more than halfway gone.

I know that you're in pain, that you don't sleep, that you are living with every single choice you made. I forgive you for shutting me out.

But there's a wall around you right now, and you're not ready for us, I can see that. I wish you would let me love you.


He read it again. And again. He knew every word by heart now, but seeing them there on the screen made them sting all over again. The confidence that had been running through him moments before was gone and his grip on the tablet weakened until it fell from his hands onto the floor with a clatter.

“Fuck,” he said to the room as, certainly not for the first time, and probably not the last, he covered his face with his hands and fell back onto the mattress, knowing that he was likely to lie there all night, awake and more alone than ever.


Cyrus winced as a speck of oil from the pan burst up and hit him in the cheek. “Godsdamn it…” he muttered under his breath and Fiearius groaned behind him.

“Stand back, lower the flame,” he drolled from where he sat atop the opposite counter. “Also you don’t have to just stand there the whole time watching it. C’mon, genius, use your common sense.”

Cyrus shot him a glare, but did as he was told anyway. The meat in the pan sizzled at the temperature change and the violent spitting of oil slowed to a stop. It was difficult to admit when Fiearius was right, especially when he so often wasn’t. But, Cyrus supposed, if he was going to be right about anything, it might as well be the thing he was teaching him.

“How’s it going in here, boys?” called Addy as she leaned up against the kitchen doorway, though her eyes were glued to the tablet in her hand. “Is my future husband a gourmet chef yet?”

Fiearius slid off of the counter and sauntered towards the pantry to dig through the shelves. “More like a diner busboy, but we’ll get there,” he promised her, finding what he was looking for and turning around to drop an onion in Cyrus’ hand. “Cut this.”

“I hate cutting onions,” he muttered, staring at the vegetable in distaste.

“But you like eating them,” his brother countered. “Cut it.”


“Do you wanna be a good husband?”

“Well yeah--”

“Do you wanna deserve your wonderful, intelligent wife?”

“Of course--”

Fiearius frowned and shoved the handle end of a knife towards him. “Then you cut the fucking onion.”

Still grumbling to himself, Cyrus smacked it down on the cutting board and brandished the knife as Addy finally looked up from the screen.

“Fiear, I’m trying to get a headcount together. Are you bringing a plus one to the wedding?” she asked with that tone that Cyrus recognized as her ‘I know this question is awkward so I’m going to say it as perfectly casually as I possibly can’ tone. Unfortunately, Addy’s definition of ‘perfectly casually’ was not always the best.

But Fiearius either didn’t notice or, more likely, didn’t care. He shrugged and answered, “Probably not.”

“No?” she pressed curiously. “There’s nobody you might want to bring?” If Cyrus had not been holding a sharp object, he might have face-palmed. Wonderful and intelligent, she surely was, but subtle she surely was not.

But as awkward as it may have seemed from the outside, Fiearius just laughed. “If you’re asking me what happened after you two so very gracefully left me alone with Kalli’s daycare teacher last week, the answer is nothing.”

“Really?” Addy seemed more disappointed than shocked. “You were hitting it off so well though.”

“You know I appreciate you, Adds. I know you’re just tryin’ to cheer me up, but -- I told you before. I’m just...not interested right now.” Fiearius shrugged and the kitchen grew quiet and a little uncomfortable. Only the sound of slicing onions broke the silence until Fiearius added, “But what the hell. Put me down for a plus one, it’d be embarrassing to show up to my little brother’s wedding alone, right?”

Addy beamed at him in relief, but Cyrus suddenly remembered, “Wait, what about Kalli?”

Fiearius regarded him curiously. “She doesn’t get her own invitation?”

“No, I mean, we need someone to watch her,” he clarified, putting down the knife. “I thought you were going to.”

“Sure, I can.”

“But if you have a date--”

“Oh,” said Addy from the doorway, but apparently not to them. She was staring at the tablet in her hand again, her eyes wide. “Oh.”

Fiearius eyed her for a moment before turning back to Cyrus. “Yeah, I can handle both. I can multi-task. Unlike some people.” He gestured to the pan. “Put the onions in.”

“Crap, right.” He scrambled to slide the onions off the cutting board and onto the stove.

“No, I don’t think you should bring a plus one,” Addy said suddenly, looking up at them with an expression that for once Cyrus couldn’t read. Excitement maybe? But weird excitement. Unsure-if-she-should-be-excited excitement.

“O...kay…” Fiearius muttered, equally unsure, moreso even. “That’s fine.”

“Because of Kalli?” Cyrus guessed.

Addy shook her head. “Nope. Well -- that too.”

“Then why?”

Addy grinned mischievously, but didn’t answer so Cyrus abandoned his station to join her and peer over her shoulder at the screen. It showed a new message. He skimmed it once and understood. “Oh.”

“I don’t really care…” Fiearius felt the need to clarify as he watched them, seeming a tiny bit worried now.

“But you will,” Addy suspected then turned to Cyrus. “Do we tell him or--”

Cyrus grimaced and examined his brother carefully. “I dunno...It’s a little--” Insensitive, maybe. Poking a wound Cyrus wasn’t sure had healed. Undoubtedly Fiearius’ self-proclaimed ‘lack of interest’ in romantic pursuits was the symptom of many causes, but there was no doubt in his mind that one rose above the rest. Cyrus had been raised to let things like that lie, not to dig up insecurities, no matter how obvious they were.

Addy, however, had been raised differently.

“Look what I just got.” She turned the tablet around and held it out to him. Fiearius met Cyrus’ apologetic grimace before leaning in and peering at the screen. He read through the RSVP, expressionless.

“So? I figured she was coming…” he said at last, his voice equally as blank. Or trying to be at least. It was so blank that it was obvious what was hiding behind it.

“Of course, but look here.” Addy pointed at the lower corner. “She’s coming alone.”

Fiearius glanced up at her skeptically. “Alright…”

Addy seemed a little crestfallen by his lack of enthusiasm. What the hell had she been expecting? Cyrus had to wonder. That Fiearius would jump for joy to find out that the woman he’d been in love with and inadvertently broken up with through neglect caused by an extended period of crippling depression would be attending a wedding halfway across the Span without bringing a date? It didn’t mean anything. Except that it would probably be awkward. Less awkward than if she had been accompanied, perhaps. But awkward nonetheless.

“Shit, I gotta get to work,” Fiearius declared suddenly, noticing the clock above the door.

Cyrus looked up at it as well. It was barely four o’clock. “I thought you only worked night shifts.”

“I do,” Fiearius answered, edging past them into the living room and retrieving his jacket. “But the evening cook just had a baby so I’m filling in for her shift too.” He shrugged as he pulled the hood up over his head. “I could use the extra cash.”

“Is she gonna be out long?” Cyrus asked, following him through the room to the front hall.

“I dunno, however long it takes to stabilize a tiny human being I suppose,” Fiearius muttered, tugging his shoes on.

“I mean, are you gonna be working evenings still next month?”

Fiearius frowned at him curiously, then cracked a smirk. “I’ll get someone else to cover the twelfth, if that’s what you mean. You’re not getting out of your bachelor party that easily. I have big plans. Big fucking plans.”

Cyrus was suddenly very aware of Addy standing beside him and his cheeks flushed red. “I--I don’t mean that. Kalli’s performance is on the third.”

“Oh, of course,” Fiearius assured him. “Would never miss our lil monster beating up other kids.”

“She’s not beating up other kids…” Addy pointed out. “It’s just forms and solo demonstrations and--”

“Soon enough though,” Fiearius interrupted with a grin, opening the door. “Alright, I’m out. Enjoy your wedding planning. Bye Kalli!”

From where she was playing in the back room, a little girl, or perhaps a monster, roared her response. Laughing, Fiearius stepped out and the door was mostly shut when Addy shouted, “Wait! I need a final answer. Plus one?”

The door (rather, Fiearius on the other side of it) hesitated. And then finally, they heard a decisive, “No,” before the door slammed shut and footsteps stalked out over the landing.

When Cyrus turned back to Addy, she was smiling proudly. “Knew it.”

He laughed and stepped closer to her, reaching up to brush a strand of hair behind her ear. “You are so nosy,” he cooed affectionately.

“Someone’s gotta look out for him,” she argued, sinking into his embrace as he slid an arm around her waist. “And no offense, sweetie, but you’re terrible at it.”

Cyrus snorted in disagreement, but didn’t actually argue. “Did you go through all those documents I filled out for us? The catering thing and the location and the Advocate. There were a couple spots I wasn’t sure of so I left them blank.”

Addy was nodding before he even finished speaking. “All done. There was one though I wanted to ask you about actually.” Without actually leaving his arms, she turned around, leaning her back against his chest and holding up the tablet for both of them to look at.

“Most of these are fine,” she muttered as she skimmed through different documents. “This is good, fine, done, here.” Her finger paused on one. “This one. The Certification of Marriage Under Satieran Law. It asks for a name, you just put mine, Atelier. But I think it’s talking about what joint name we want to use.”

“Yeah, it is,” Cyrus agreed. “So I put Atelier.”

Addy looked back at him. “We didn’t talk about this.”

“Sorry, did you want something different?”

“No, I just -- “ She frowned back at the screen and then once more at him. “You don’t want to even consider using your name?”

Cyrus shrugged. “I did consider it. And honestly, I’m kinda tired of being a Soliveré. It’s got so many connotations now. Anyone who hears it immediately thinks of the war and all that awfulness, but Atelier? Atelier is all good things. Atelier is the man that took charge rebuilding Satieri. Atelier is the engineering firm that’s going to take the Span by storm. Atelier is my amazing daughter and my incredible wife.” He pulled her closer against him. “I wanna be an Atelier.”

Addy watched him over her shoulder for a moment, her brows high on her forehead and a tiny smile curved into her lips. And then finally, she chuckled, “You are such a dork.”

He barked an indignant laugh. “What?! I thought you’d be happy.”

“I am, now I don’t have to use the argument I practiced, it’s just your reasoning.” She slid the tablet onto the table beside them and spun around to face him, her arms draping over his shoulders. “So cheesy.”

He scoffed and kissed her quickly on her forehead. “You’re cheesy.”

“You’re cheesier,” she shot back.

“You’re the cheesiest.” He grinned as she frowned up at him. But then her expression faltered and she sniffed the air.

“Do you smell--is that smoke?”

Suddenly, Cyrus remembered. The cooking lessons. The pan on the stove. The dinner he was supposedly making. “Oh shit,” he growled, releasing his hold on her, stumbling around her and sprinting towards the kitchen as Addy laughed raucously behind him.
Caelum Lex Pt. 3 Chapter 49 Bonus 2
Caelum Lex, the sci-fi, adventure, action, romance, space pirate serial! Chapter 49 of Part 3 Bonuses 2! In which we fill in some MORE gaps that'll be missing if you just read 49 and 50!

First: Caelum Lex Chapter 1: Medical Attention
Previous: Caelum Lex Pt. 3 Chapter 49 Bonus 1

“You’ve got a call coming through, Dr. Adler!”

“Coming!” Leta called back, shoving the pile of clean linens onto the shelf and spinning around, nearly running into a passing nurse.

“‘Scuse me, Dr. Adler!” he yelped, hurrying out of her way as Leta dodged around him and rejoined the quick flow of the clinic’s hallway only to immediately have a chart in front of her.

“Mr. Uli’s back with another of his famous ailments,” complained Dr. Halloway, rolling her eyes. “What do I do?”

“Just give him some sugar pills and send him on his way, we don’t have the space right now,” Leta advised, edging around her as she groaned and walked off. A hand shot up from amongst the crowd of doctors and nurses as someone called out.

“Dr. Adler, where did we put that case of supplies that came in yesterday?”

“Storage C!” Leta called back, ducking out of the way as a group of emergency personnel ran past at full speed, pushing a stretcher with far too much blood. She was about to chase after it when she spotted another doctor already on its tail. Taken care of. Good.

Finally, she emerged out of the crowded hallway into the equally crowded main floor of the clinic. Every bed that lined the room was claimed. Her staff huddled around them, working at double speed to handle the huge influx. But as busy as it was, Leta was relieved. Until recently, this level of crowdedness meant violence in the streets, explosions, turmoil. This, though? Six months after the end of the war?

Flu season.

“We’re running low on meds,” someone told her as she passed them.

“Already?” She sighed. “Get in touch with Unity, they might have some surplus.”

“On it.”

At last, after skillfully navigating her way through the maze of cots, she arrived at administration where Nikki was perched on a stool awaiting her. “Patch it through to your office?” he asked without missing a beat.

The room behind her was filled with a cacophony of noise. Coughing, talking, shouting to be heard over everything else. The kind of noise only a busy clinic could make. It was comforting and familiar and as stressful as it was, she couldn’t get enough of it, but as a backdrop to a call?

“Yes please,” she responded, swinging open the door to her tiny private office and switching on the light. It was little more than a closet, but it had a window out to the clinic floor and it held a desk, a console and a few moments of peace whenever she needed them. Collapsing into her chair, her finger hovered over the COMM button for just a moment as she glanced at the screen to prepare herself for whatever exchange was about to happen. She read the name and her heart leapt in her chest.



“Hey!” came the cheerful voice on the other side of the line, but it wasn’t the voice she was expecting. Not quite.

“Oh, Cy!” She tried not to sound disappointed, but she didn’t succeed.

“Sorry, is now a bad time?” he asked. “Time maps always confuse me, did I get it wrong? I can call back later…”

“No, no, it’s fine,” Leta assured him, forcing herself to smile as she spoke and praying it would help her demeanor. Fleetingly, she glanced out at the bustling clinic. “I mean, it’s as good a time as any.”

“You’re probably working, huh?” Cyrus guessed and Leta snorted a laugh. “When are you not though? Is your dad still making you babysit peace talks?”

“Fortunately, no! That’s all sorted out now. Didn’t you hear? Vescent’s parliament is reinstated. Except all of the old legislators got voted out and replaced with the leaders of the rebellion.”

Now Cyrus laughed. “You’re kidding.”

“Believe me, I wish I was. If my father makes me attend one more dinner with his friends who can’t shut up about how they were ‘robbed’ and what their plans should be for the next election, I’m going to go nuts,” she moaned, propping her head in her hand. “As far as I’m concerned, some new blood in those stuffy halls isn’t a bad thing. Anyway, I’m sure you didn’t call me to talk about Vescentian politics.”

“Nonsense, it’s my favorite subject.” He chuckled. “But you’re right.” Suddenly, his tone got very serious. “I did call you for a reason. I have some news.”

Leta’s stomach churned with worry. Her mind raced to a thousand places. What had happened? She had known something was wrong, hadn’t she? She’d felt it stirring in the back of her mind for a few weeks now. Taking in a deep breath, she tried to keep herself from jumping to the absolute worst conclusions before she asked, “Good or bad?”

“Both,” was Cyrus’ hesitant answer. “Preference on which first?”

Leta ran a nervous hand through her hair. “Bad,” she decided. “Bad first.”

“Okay, if you’re sure.” Cyrus paused for far too long and Leta clamped her eyes shut in preparation, praying it wasn’t what she was thinking. Please, be alright. Please.

“The bad news,” he began slowly. “Is that--it’s official now. You and I are just never gonna happen. I’m sorry.”

Leta’s eyes snapped open. “What?”

“The good news,” he continued, his voice instantly cheering up, “is that you’re invited to a wedding!”

She gaped at the console for a moment, her brain trying to catch up. “Wait, what?!”

On the other end of the line, Cyrus was laughing raucously. “Yeah! Um--Addy and I are getting married! We don’t have a date just yet, but of course you’re coming, so--”

“Cyrus!” Leta cut him off, slamming her hand down on the desk. “You--you asshole.” He was still laughing and as Leta slowly broke out of her panic, she couldn’t help but release a few breathless laughs of her own. “You can’t do that to me! I was really worried!”

“I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist!” he apologized without sounding even the slightest bit sorry.

“Yeah sure you couldn’t.” She rolled her eyes, but she was too relieved to know something actually wasn’t wrong to be too angry. Besides, this was the best news she’d heard in months. “But your shitty delivery method aside, congratulations! I’m so happy for you two. Tell me everything. You proposed?” She paused. “Again?”

“Ouch,” he hissed, but shook it off. “Okay, I guess I deserved that. But yeah, I proposed. Again. I dunno, I’ve been putting it off for a while, y’know? She always said she wanted to wait til we were back on Satieri, but we’ve been so overwhelmed with reparations and Kalli and figuring everything out and -- I mean, there’s no rush. But we moved into our new apartment a few weeks ago and things are finally starting to even out so -- I don’t know, why not right?”

“Right,” Leta agreed and added impatiently, “So you--?”

He laughed again, embarrassed. “I eh -- it’s cheesy…”

“All the more reason I want to hear it.”

“It’s really cheesy.”


He finally relented. “Okay, okay. I took her out to the junkyard by the east docks to salvage parts for our project.” Leta couldn’t stop a laugh from trickling out which he immediately took offense to. “Hey! You wanna hear this or not?”

“I do, I do, I’m sorry!” She stifled the laughter. “You went to your nerdy paradise, got it, go on.”

He made a noise of disapproval, but continued. “So we spent a few hours out there digging through it. There were a lot of new additions after the cleanup so we really did find some good stuff that’ll come in handy. Hell, we pretty much found a whole replacement engine if I can just--”


“Right, sorry.” He coughed uncomfortably. “Anyway, around sunset she said we should head back but I insisted we check out one more area, just in case. So we went over there and there was this really rare adapter we were sure we’d never find just sitting around in a junkyard. Because we wouldn’t. And we didn’t. Because I bought it a few days back and put it there that very morning.”

Leta practically squealed in anticipation. “And there was a ring in it?” she guessed.

“What? No, no, Ridellians don’t do the ring thing,” he corrected. “Though that would have been a good idea...But no, we do the S’aré Circle. The person asking draws a circle on the ground around the person being asked and then you stand together and...y’know...ask.”

“So the rare part she picked up--?”

“Was in the center of the S’aré Circle,” Cyrus confirmed and Leta could picture his cheeks turning pink as he talked about it. “Which she noticed a moment later and then -- yeah, I asked her. And she said yes. And now we’re getting married! And you’re invited. Sorry I worried you with the whole...bad news thing.”

Leta shook her head. “It’s fine, you told me an adorable heart-warming story, I forgive you.” Then, she added, far more sternly, “But seriously, never do that again. You scared the daylights out of me.”

“Sorry, sorry,” he said yet again. “I didn’t think you’d freak out so much. What the hell did you think I was going to say?”

The onslaught of potential disasters that she had pushed from her mind suddenly came barreling back in, but this time she was able to quell them. Cyrus would have told her if anything that terrible at happened. She was being unreasonable and she knew it. “I don’t know, just -- something far worse than that,” she muttered, trying to laugh it off, but once again, she failed to mask the nerves even in her laugh.

And Cyrus read her mind. “About Fiear?”

She’d promised herself she wouldn’t get Cyrus involved in this as some kind of middleman. He didn’t deserve that. And besides, wasn’t she supposed to be stronger than this? Stronger than worrying about a man halfway across the Span and what he might be thinking.

Her promise, however, forgot to take into account Cyrus’ good-heartedness. “Have you talked to him?” he asked without prompting.

Leta covered her face with her hand. “Not recently...The last we spoke was a couple weeks ago and even that was --” Awkward. Uncomfortable. Full of long pauses and unspoken words. “Brief. I’ve been trying to call him again since then, but he hasn’t answered. Or called me back.” She sighed and added hurriedly, “We don’t have to talk about this, if you don’t--”

“It’s okay,” Cyrus cut her off. “If you need to talk, talk.”

The logical, practical part of her wanted to say ‘no, I’m fine’ but the emotional part just kept going. “I don’t know what happened. I knew this would be hard, but it’s -- we used to talk all the time, when I first moved here. Or as much as we could, anyway. Things were kind of crazy, but we made it work. I’ll admit I kind of lost track of things for a bit, with the clinic really amping up again, but, I don’t know, it seemed okay. But now -- gods, we barely speak and when we do it’s like there’s some wall between us I can’t break through.”

Her hand ran down her face and she looked up at the screen blankly. Feeling a sudden urge to lighten the mood, she added, “But good to know nothing terrible happened to him, it’s just me.”

Cyrus was quiet for a long moment, so long she almost tried to crack another joke, but before she could think of one, he said, “Well I wouldn’t say that, exactly…”

Leta’s eyes widened in surprise. “What do you mean?”

“Oh nothing terrible happened to him,” Cyrus clarified in a hurry. “Not...really. I just don’t think it’s you. He’s -- eh -- been in a bit of a funk lately. Moreso than usual. And funk is probably understating it.”

Leta went silent, lost in thought. So Fiearius hadn’t just been acting strange to her which was something of a relief perhaps. But barely. She wanted to know more, but suddenly Cyrus started talking about something seemingly unrelated.

“We finally had our elections early last month, don’t know if you knew that. Fiear wasn’t even on the ballot, he still got some ridiculous percentage of the vote, but Varris and her council won as predicted. They’re making a lot of progress already. The reparations kicked into double-time now that there’s someone managing the budget and we closed the last camp a few weeks ago. All of Paradiex is back in permanent housing now. Businesses are reopening. We even had a festival a few days ago. Things are starting to get back to normal.”

“That’s--that’s great,” Leta muttered, unsure what this had to do with Fiearius.

Until he said, “Yeah, normal is great. But--not for everyone I don’t think,” which made it all click into place within her head. Of course, normal wasn’t great for everyone. Fiearius wasn’t built for normal.

“He’s not adapting well?”

“Again, understatement,” Cyrus replied. “It’s weird, everyone’s mood seems to be gradually getting better, but his just keeps getting worse. He got this shitty run-down apartment near the Nautilus Void, just barely outside the safety line. The new council offered him a damn mansion practically and he turned it down. He still visits at least once every other day and he’s relatively normal around us and with Kalli, but when he leaves? Gods, it’s like we’re turning a puppy out into the pouring rain. No idea what he does on days he doesn’t visit. He’s not working. He always looks exhausted. I don’t think he’s sleeping which is no surprise, he’s been a chronic insomniac since we were kids, but--”

Cyrus released a sigh. “We’re worried, frankly. I haven’t seen him this bad since...well, right after we left Satieri to begin with. He won’t talk to me about it, he brushes off any suggestion to talk to a professional, I thought maybe at least he was talking to you…”

Leta shook her head. “He’s not…But it sounds like depression.”

“I think it’s grief,” Cyrus suggested.

“Over the Dionysian? Quin? Dez?”

“Maybe. But I was thinking a grief older than that.” The theory made Leta go quiet. They’d all lost the lives they once knew long before the war ever started. She’d grieved her own, no doubt Cyrus grieved his, but Fiearius’ previous life had a few pieces theirs had lacked. He had parts of a life that was harder to lose. And she couldn’t agree more when Cyrus muttered, “I don’t know, getting back to Satieri was what he always thought he wanted but -- now that he’s here, I think maybe it wasn’t.”

“Yeah…” was all Leta managed, her chin propped in her hands as she stared across the room at the empty wall behind the door. The line went quiet for a long time. So long, she might have thought Cyrus had disconnected.

But finally he spoke again. “I hate to ask this of you, I certainly don’t want you to exert yourself in a way you’re not comfortable with but -- I do think if anyone can help him, it’d be you so....” He hesitated. “I’m sorry he’s being a jerk and not talking to you right now, but if you can, please don’t stop trying.”

For the first time since they’d turned to this topic, Leta smiled. “Oh I won’t. Don’t worry about that.”

“You’re a better person than I, I’ll give you that,” Cyrus commented. “Anyway, I should let you get back to work. Sorry this got so dark. I’ll get in touch as soon as we have a plan for the wedding, I know we’ve got a lot of Ridellian culture to teach you before it happens.”

Leta laughed once. “Oh I’m looking forward to it.”

“Take care of yourself, Leta.”

“You too.”

The COMM line disconnected, leaving Leta sitting alone in the relative dark of the tiny closet office. She looked out at the clinic floor and knew as soon as she walked out of that door, she would be bombarded with questions, needs, demands. She would be reabsorbed back into her new life, the one she’d carved out for herself in this new Span. A life she loved, honestly, even more than her past.

But there were still a few things she’d change…

Leta looked back at her console, frowned and scrolled through her list of contacts until she found Fiearius’ name.

She took a deep breath and hit ‘call’.

Eleven Months

“We should get up,” Corra suggested for what was probably the fifth time. And once again, Finn laughed defiantly, rolled towards her and pressed his lips against hers. The feeling of his hands roaming down her bare back had worked every other time to keep her in bed, but this time, guilt and responsibility were starting to settle in.

“I’m serious,” she protested, though her efforts to pull herself out of his embrace were half-hearted at best. “Alyx is gonna be mad…”

“Pfft,” he breathed against her neck before letting his mouth explore the sensitive space just below her ear. “Captain Iwata doesn’t scare me.”

“Because you have no sense of self-preservation.” Corra’s breath caught in her throat as Finn’s fingers stumbled down her thighs, but she somehow managed to get a hold of herself enough to seize his wrists and pull them away. Her eyes locked on his and she frowned in determination. “I do.”

Lest she be tempted again, Corra took his momentary surprise as her opportunity to wiggle out of his grip and roll out of bed. She winced as the covers slipped away and her feet touched ice cold ship-metal. “God, it’s freezing.” Her hand reached for something, anything, to cover her naked body. She was pulling a warm sweater over her head when she caught Finn’s eye, smirking at her, smug as he leaned back against the pillows.

“Karma for leaving me here,” he reminded playfully.

Corra rolled her eyes, but she knew this game well-enough by now. She returned his smirk and got back onto the bed, crawling on all fours until her face hovered over his. “How about we make a trade?” she cooed in the most sultry voice she had in her arsenal.

Finn cocked a brow in interest. “You have my attention.”

Carefully, she lowered herself til their lips were mere inches apart. “Come with me now,” she breathed, “and I promise I’ll make it worth your while later tonight.”

The interest was piqued. “You mean…?”

She broke a grin. “I mean.”

He stared at her for a moment, entranced by her face and the warmth of her breath. And then suddenly, he shuffled out from underneath her, stumbled to his feet and within instants was dressed (albeit messily) and ready to go.

“Come on, what are you doin’, lazy, get up.” He tugged on her arm and Corra laughed as he pulled her to her feet on the bed where, with him on the floor, they were actually at an equal eyeline for once.

“You’re ridiculous, y’know that?” She dropped her arms on his shoulders.

“And you,” his typical drawl turned suddenly posh, “are the most beautiful woman my unworthy eyes have ever seen. You are a queen, the light of my life, the hope in the darkness, the--”

“Hang on,” Corra cut him off, her brow creasing in suspicion. She recognized the line. “Have you been reading my book?”

He shrugged. “Thought it might be useful.” He snaked a hand around her waist. “See what it is that gets ya in the mood. My sun and moon and stars--”

A loud groan rolled from Corra’s throat as she grabbed his hand and jumped off the bed, dragging him behind her, still rattling off key phrases from The Bard’s Conquest all the way out of their quarters.


Alyx didn’t look up when Corra and Finn strode into the bridge, hand in hand, but she did greet them. In a sort of chiding way…

“Ah, the two lovebirds finally grace us with their presence.” Corra’s cheeks turned pink, but more out of embarrassment for how much of the day she’d spent locked in her bedroom than anything else. Her romance with Finn had stopped being embarrassing months ago when the entire crew of the Orion had admitted they already knew what was going on between their pilot and their operations manager.

“Yeah, I knew back on the Beacon too,” Alyx had added which had made Corra wonder if she was actually a terrible liar. Cai, however, who claimed he’d had no idea, gave her a bit of reassurance.

She still hadn’t mentioned it to Leta though…

“Sorry,” Corra responded, finding her way to a seat and offering no further explanation. She glanced out of the bay window at the scaffolded skyline of New Genisi and asked, “What’s going on?”

Instead of Alyx answering, another voice piped in from the ship’s speakers themselves. “Ark 0230 is en route to Ellegian moon Yeven for rendezvous with Conduit agents Balker and Nerrin and an estimated 346 recovered allies. Approximate arrival in 3 hours 24 minutes. Ark 0231 remains in orbit around Ascendia in preparation for agent Palava’s extraction. Ark 0232 landed in New Genisi carrying 546 Frees 2.2 hours ago.”

Corra glanced at the orange console screen beside her. “Thanks, Double-A. Not what I meant. But thanks.”

“We--” Alyx began.

“You are welcome, Ms. Corra,” interrupted Ark Assist.

Alyx was glaring at the console. “I do like this thing more now that we’ve got it helping us rather than hindering but...I wish it was a little less rude.”

Corra snorted a laugh as Finn defended, “Nobody’s perfect, Alyx.”

“Yeah, you know all about that, don’t you?” Alyx shot back under her breath.

Finn feigned offense. “I know all about being human? Yes, unlike some people.”

The two of them continued to bicker back and forth, but Corra easily tuned them out, instead examining the Ark Assist interface again which had just lit up with a notification. ‘New update from Ark 0106’ it read. It wasn’t the first time she’d seen a notification like that. In fact, the Ark Assist seemed to get new updates from various arks nearly every other day.

Each time, Corra contemplated reading them, exploring the adventures of these other mysterious people in far away mysterious parts of the universe. And each time, she marked the notification as read and logged it away without looking at it and without telling anyone it had ever existed. Maybe one day. Maybe later. One can of worms at a time.

“So Cai’s back?” Corra asked, her voice loud enough to cut through Finn and Alyx’s perpetual argument.

“Oh, yeah,” Alyx answered, shooting one more glare at Finn for good measure. “Daelen’s helping him and Aeneas get the newbies off the ark and into processing. I guess we’ve actually got enough real housing for all of them now so Petro’s chugging through that to figure it all out.”

“Poor guy,” Finn muttered.

“He’s dedicated to seeing Genisi resurrected, I’ll give him that,” Alyx sighed as two pairs of footsteps marched into the bridge. Corra glanced back and her face lit up.

“Cai!” She launched herself from her chair and across the floor to catch him in a hug. She hadn’t necessarily been worried about him, but it was his first solo mission. Cai himself had been a little hesitant when he’d boarded the ark two weeks ago. Hesitant, but determined. And Corra was hardly in a position to turn down any help she could get.

“I did it!” he declared proudly as he hugged her back.

“You did!” Holding him back at arm’s length, Corra grinned. “And you freed so many!

Through a chuckle, he shrugged and murmured, “Couldn’ta done it without your planning, boss.”

“Shh.” She patted him affectionately on the cheek. “Take the credit you’ve earned. Think of all the lives you’ve just changed for the better.”

Behind her, Aeneas was addressing Alyx. “Fleet’s up in orbit. Ready to move on your signal, admiral.”

“I told you not to call me that,” she groaned quietly, running her hand nervously through her purple hair.

“Yes, Aeneas, haven’t you heard? She prefers ‘Grand Leader Iwata the Third,’” Finn put in with a mischievous smirk, earning him yet another harsh glare.

Alyx is fine,” she growled.

Finn put his fingers to his chin in thought. “You know, it’s been, what, nearly a year since Satieri and I’ve yet to figure something out.”

Alyx’s fake smile was overly wide. “How to keep your mouth closed for more than two seconds?”

Corra couldn’t contain her snicker, but Cai seemed disheartened and impatient. “Again?” he asked through a disappointed sigh. Throwing his hand towards the two of them, he looked at Corra in despair. “Still?” Of course, still, she thought to herself as she nodded slowly and patted the man on the back. If Alyx and Finn ever stopped arguing about something, or more accurately, nothing, the Span would probably implode.

“No,” was Finn’s unphased response to her slight. “I haven’t figured out how it is that you went from taking orders from us--” He pointed to himself and to Corra who shook her head and stepped away, wanting no part in this, “--to us having to take orders from you.” She watched as Alyx’s brows rose high on her forehead. “How come you suddenly became an admiral? Where did this fleet even come from?”

Whatever Corra thought Finn was going to say, it wasn’t that. And the same could apparently be said for everyone else. The entire bridge went quiet as all of them stared at Finn in mild disbelief. Even Alyx had no quippy response, her mouth slackening a little as she watched him with a confused frown.

It was Aeneas who finally answered. “The fleet belongs to Archeti. We lent our services to Soliveré during the war, but now we serve the new admiral.”

Finn didn’t look any more appeased. “But why is she the admiral? Shouldn’t you be the admiral?”

Now it was Aeneas’ turn to frown. “No…”

Finally, Alyx got a hold of herself. “Seriously, Finn? You’ve been on this ship with us for, like you said, nearly a year? How do you not know this?”

This conversation clearly hadn’t gone where he’d wanted it to. Perhaps he’d thought he was setting up an entertaining joke, but now he just looked a little silly. Still, as was Finn’s way, he played it casual. “I don’t know. I just followed Corra and -- yeah, I thought it was a little weird, but -- I don’t know, I never questioned it really.”

Corra released a sigh and ran her hand down her face. “Oh, Riley…”

“She inherited the title,” Aeneas answered at last.

“From Fiearius?”

“What? No!” Alyx rolled her eyes. “From my mother.”

The clarification seemed to do nothing for him which was when Corra realized that somehow, ever after all this time, Finn had never found out Alyx’s unkept secret. She watched as the same realization slowly dawned on Alyx’s face.

“Quin?” she prompted. “Quinida Utada? She was my mother.”

Finn’s jaw practically dropped off its hinges. “Quin was your mother?!” He stared at her in disbelief and then looked around at Corra, Cai, Aeneas. “Did all of you know this?” Corra closed her mouth abruptly, trying to look innocent, but he had already turned back to Alyx to hesitantly ask, “Did you know about...Fiear and--?” Without waiting for that answer either, another one occurred to him. “Wait, who’s your father?”

Alyx was overwhelmed, holding her hands out at her sides as if to block the flood of inquiries. “Yes, they all know. Yes, I knew about Fiear...And I don’t know. My father wasn’t around. Why does it matter? I don’t know who he was.”

“Riley,” said Aeneas thoughtfully.

“What?” asked Finn.

He shook his head. “Not you. Alyx’s father. I met him a few times. He was an asshole. Man named Riley. Atur Riley.”

The bridge went quiet as the information sunk in to each of them individually. Corra had heard that name before. Atur Riley, an asshole, was exactly how Finn had described his own father. And if Finn’s father was also Alyx’s father…

Finn looked confounded. Alyx looked horrified. And as Aeneas smiled innocently and walked from the bridge, Corra couldn’t help but look at the two half-siblings, always bickering and arguing and muttering to Cai, “It all makes so much sense now…”
Caelum Lex Pt.3 Chapter 49 Bonus 1
Caelum Lex, the sci-fi, adventure, action, romance, space pirate serial! Chapter 49 of Part 3 Bonuses 1! In which we fill in some gaps that'll be missing if you just read 49 and 50!

First: Caelum Lex Chapter 1: Medical Attention
Previous: Caelum Lex Pt. 3 Chapter 49: Refuge
Next: Caelum Lex Pt. 3 Chapter 49 Bonus 2
The tour went on through the night and into the early morning. True to his word, Fiearius had no trouble traversing even Paradiex’s strictly locked down regions, though it had more to do with reluctant guards than any feat of his own.

“Of course they’re not going to stop us,” he had boasted proudly as he helped her climb over a hastily erected fence blocking off the city’s silent Entertainment District while the handful of volunteer guards watched from nearby. “We saved the fuckin’ planet, a blind eye is the least they owe us.”

Or perhaps they figured it was their right to put themselves in danger if they so chose, Leta thought but didn’t bother correcting him. Nonetheless, nobody made even the remotest attempt to get in their way as they spent the night exploring deserted casinos, dancing in silent clubs, ‘borrowing’ liquor from empty bars and reliving Fiearius’ past through one outlandish story after the next. It was only after they’d watched the Satieran sun rise over the crippled skyline from atop a huge sign high above the street, that, exhausted and still a little tipsy, they hobbled back to the camp and spent some time exploring each other instead.

Leta was asleep when there was a loud knock on Fiearius’ door and she barely stirred to consciousness when he rolled out of bed and engaged in a hushed shouting match with whoever had disturbed him. The word Carthis came up twice, then she’d felt a warm kiss press against her lips followed by silence. She’d woken up an hour later to find herself alone.

So thirteen hours with Fiearius hadn’t quite been right, but she didn’t mind. It gave her the time to bid a tearful goodbye to Cyrus and Addy, to say farewell to Corra who, looking far more positive than she’d seen her in -- gods, years -- assured her it was more like a ‘seeya later’, to check in with Daelen and her patients and finally to return to her metal tube to pack what little possessions had made it this far.

It didn’t take long. One bag was able to hold everything. She lingered for a moment on an empty liquor bottle from Tarin, a small grotesque clay sculpture of -- was it a bear? A deer? -- and an ornate fitted mask she’d nearly forgotten she had, but soon enough she swung the bag onto her back and headed out of the shelter for the last time.

Leta had to consciously fight off the heaviness in her chest as she sought out Fiearius to say goodbye. It wasn’t goodbye, she kept telling herself and continuously failed to believe it. It wasn’t goodbye, it wasn’t an end, just a pause. Another pause in their long history of pauses...What would one more be, in the grand scheme of things, right? Just a little pause…

“Am I supposed to feel bad about that?”

As always, Fiearius was easy to locate.

“I don’t give a shit what happens to that guy,” he was telling La’aren and another member of the new Council whose name Leta constantly forgot. The three of them were huddled around the table of Varris’ shelter and makeshift meeting room and none of them appeared to notice when Leta shuffled into the back.

“So you don’t care if we do it then?” Varris confirmed, a glint of hope lighting her eyes.

“No,” Fiearius growled, “I don’t care what happens to him, but I don’t want him here.”

The other member of the Council put his head in his hand. “Soliveré, Gates is a popular figure in Carthis. No one wants to see him executed, but Carthian law is strict, he’s a traitor, there’s nothing they can do. But! If we offer him asylum, problem solved.”

“It could be an important step towards peace,” Varris went on. “Peace we desperately need. The gods know we can’t take another war right now.” She threw her hand out towards the city, decimated by the last one. When Fiearius didn’t seem to be convinced, she added, “Need I remind you it’s your fault he’s a traitor?”

“It’s his fault,” Fiearius shot back without skipping a beat. “For being shit.”

“Compelling argument…” the other Councillor muttered.

Though there was certainly a part of Leta that wanted to butt into this conversation, to say her own piece, for once she was too preoccupied. Her opinion was buried beneath the bundle of nerves that knew what she had to do and what she didn’t want to do. But she just had to get it over and done with.

“Fiear--” she spoke up, cutting him off from whatever snippy comment was already waiting on his tongue. When he glanced back at her, she took a deep breath and got out with it. “I’m leaving now.”

He stared at her for a moment as though he didn’t even understand what she was talking about. And then he said, “Okay,” and turned back to the table to continue ranting at Varris.

Leta waited a beat for surely that hadn’t just happened. He was just getting the last word out and then he’d turn back to her and he’d escort her to her father’s ship and they’d say goodbye and she wouldn’t get upset because it wasn’t really goodbye, it was just a pause, a little pause, but --

But Fiearius didn’t turn back to her. He didn’t stop ranting. The exchange around the table continued as though Leta hadn’t ever interrupted it at all. She didn’t even hear what they said, too absorbed by what was going on. Or wasn’t going on, rather.

After a solid minute of waiting, it hit her. It made sense, didn’t it? Fiearius was never very good with these kinds of things, was he? They’d had a wonderful night together, he’d kissed her when he left this morning, what more could she ask for, really? She may have been willing to brave the hard farewell, but he clearly wasn’t and it was probably selfish of her to force him, wasn’t it?

“Alright, see ya around,” she muttered mainly to herself as she looked away from the table and headed out of the shelter, trying not to let it get to her. But it did. It really got to her.

She wasn’t being selfish to want to get a proper goodbye from the man who supposedly loved her. He was being selfish by not giving it. What, it hurt him too much to accept it? As if it didn’t hurt her as well? He was the one who told her to go! He was the one who’d been so sure yesterday that it was fine, that distance couldn’t end them, that this was nothing. And now he wouldn’t even look her in the eye before she left?

Well, fuck him.

In a flash, Leta turned from sad to angry as she stalked through the camp towards the docks. Fuck him. She was so tired of this stupid dance. How long had they been doing this? One moment hot, the next colder than ice, what was even the point anymore? Hell, maybe this was his plan. Make her so furious that she wouldn’t even miss him when she was gone. So far, it was working.

“There you are,” Tritius greeted her as she approached his ship, a slim shiny black thing with the librera still emblazened upon its bow. “We were supposed to head out two hours ago. Are you ready yet?”

“Yeah, let’s go,” she snapped. Though she’d dreaded it this morning, now, in her frustration, she couldn’t wait to get off this damned planet and as far away from here as possible.

“Is that all you have?” her dad was asking her, taking the bag from her shoulder. “Do you need--”

“This is it, let’s go,” she said again, impatient. “Let’s just get home. I don’t want to--”


Leta spun back to glare at the figure racing across the docks towards her. Oh, now he wanted her attention? Really?

“What?” she yelled back as he closed the gap between them, seemingly running as fast as his legs could carry him. Only feet in front of her, he slowed to a stop, doubling over, supporting his hands on his knees and heaving in shallow breaths.

Between the gasps, he managed, “Did you--really think--you could leave--without--saying goodbye?” He peered up at her from beneath a sweaty brow and windswept messy red hair.

Leta gaped at him. What the hell was wrong with this man? “I did say goodbye,” she snapped, indignantly, crossing her arms over her chest. “I came to say goodbye and you just fucking ignored me so to hell with you coming here and asking that! I’ve said my goodbye, so you can just--”

Before she could tell him just what he could do, Fiearius rolled his eyes, stood up straight, seized the sides of her face and pulled her lips against his. Her protests lasted just a moment, her palm slapping his chest in frustration, and then they were blown away on the wind as she sunk into the embrace and gave in.

The kiss was a shock to her system, a lightning bolt down her spine. Then it settled into something that was slow, warm, relaxed.  Fiearius took his time roaming his lips against hers, then slowly, achingly, easing away. She didn’t open her eyes until she heard him mutter, “That wasn’t a goodbye.”

She pressed her hand against him again in a last ditch showing of defiance and then leaned her forehead against his chest. “You’re an ass,” she sighed.

She felt the warmth of his breath as he laughed against her hair.

“You’re in love with an ass. Which is worse?”

She lifted her head to tell him to ‘shh’ when she accidentally locked eyes with someone whose very face, stern and skeptical and full of judgment, served as an instant mood killer. Without even thinking about it, she dropped her hands to her sides, her face flushing red.

Fiearius regarded her curiously and then followed her line of sight. “Oh,” was his only comment when he realized the issue. Then he smiled cheerfully. “Good to see you again, Mr. Adler.”

“Soliveré,” was Tritius’ only response. “Leta. We’re already behind schedule.”

“Right,” she mumbled and, fighting her instincts to show no emotion in front of her father, took Fiearius’ hand. “Please take care of yourself, okay? Don’t do anything stupid.”

Fiearius barked a single laugh. “Why would I--”

“And watch over Cy too, don’t let him turn back into the cocky jerk he used to be, his words, not mine.”

“Okay, but --”

“And if you get injured or if something crops up, please go to a doctor, I know you hate them, but please.”


This time, she lifted herself up and placed a quick kiss upon his mouth. “I’ll miss you,” she whispered, clamping her eyes shut.

She felt his fingers gently tuck a stray hair behind her ear. “I’ll miss you too.”

Taking a deep breath, she turned around towards the ship, not opening her eyes until she was sure he was safely out of sight. If she saw him again now, she wasn’t sure she’d be able to walk up that ramp with her father. Her feet would refuse to carry her. It was only when she reached the top that she dared to look back at the man still standing on the docks below and it took all of her determination not to run back to his arms.

“Are you sure you can’t come with me?” she asked one last time, already knowing that he would shake his head.

“I can’t.”

“But we’ll see each other again soon, right?”

Fiearius smiled, but it was a sad smile. It gave her no comfort, not even when he called, “I love you, Leta.”
“I love you too,” she whispered, feeling hopelessness suddenly flood around her in all directions as her father lifted the ramp and she watched through watery eyes as Fiearius Soliveré disappeared from view.
Caelum Lex Pt. 3 Chapter 49: Refuge (part 2)
I guess this chapter was too long so DA is making me split it into two. Frustrating! HERE'S PART 1 IF YOU MISSED IT!

Caelum Lex, the sci-fi, adventure, action, romance, space pirate serial! Chapter 49 of Part 3! In which the aftermath begins!

First: Caelum Lex Chapter 1: Medical Attention
Previous: Caelum Lex Pt. 3 Chapter 48: Beam

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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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Add a Comment:
mimmime Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Happy birthday!!! :squee:
I was thinking of drawing something for you, but things happened... I will make something as a late birtday present! And I need to read the last few chapters I've missed!
khronosabre Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2015  Professional General Artist
Awww you're so sweet! Don't need to do anythin for me :) But thank yoU!
mimmime Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I will make something as soon as I can get to it...:XD:
RiotPilot Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2015…
Featured a easter egg! 
mimmime Featured By Owner May 31, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hey... I like the new banner on
It really brings out the mood...:la:
khronosabre Featured By Owner May 31, 2015  Professional General Artist
Aw thanks :D I started it nearly a year ago, but it just kind of fell to the wayside. Glad I finally managed to get it up there.
mimmime Featured By Owner May 31, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm sorry I've been so slow in reading!! Something has always come in the way and I curse myself every time I remember it after forgetting...^^;
khronosabre Featured By Owner May 31, 2015  Professional General Artist
Hey, whatever :D You read at your own pace, we'll still be around when you've got time
(1 Reply)
K-Zlovetch Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2015
Héhéhé, thanks for the watchback :love:
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