Page 77

Now I have two, Jeth thought, picturing Cora, the way she smiled and how easily she laughed. Of all the things he had learned in the past twenty-four hours, this was the easiest for him to accept. He wondered if he hadn’t known it on some unconscious level right from the start, like the way so many of her mannerisms reminded him of Lizzie. Two sisters.

And I’ve failed them both.

Jeth stood up, unable to sit still any longer. “How do we find them?”

Milton and Sierra exchanged a look that Jeth didn’t like.

“We’re working on it,” Sierra said.

Jeth put his hands on his hips. “What does that mean?” He regretted it at once, watching her flinch. She saved Cora, he reminded himself. She risked everything for his baby sister.

But why didn’t she tell me who Cora was back in the Belgrave? If he’d known, none of this would’ve happened. Jeth wanted to demand an explanation, but he held back. His mind was too full to handle anything else. Besides, he already had a pretty good idea why she hadn’t. My sister has a hard time trusting people, Vince had said. And he was a thief in her eyes, a criminal only interested in the biggest payoff.

Jeth dropped his gaze, regret a painful wrench in his chest.

“I’ve reached out to some of the contacts I made when I first decided to steal the Aether Project,” Sierra said. “They’re the kind of people who have their own spy networks and the like.”

“Wait.” Jeth raised his hand. “You really were planning to sell the Aether Project? Even with all the stuff about Cora on it?”

“No, I was going to delete anything relating to her or your mother. Anything that would put them in danger. Even without it, the project is still incredibly valuable. There’s enough in there to undermine the ITA’s monopoly.”

Jeth exhaled, feeling minutely better.

After a moment, Sierra went on, “I’ve asked these contacts to keep a lookout for Renford’s ship. We’ll hear something soon.”

“That’s it?” Jeth said. “We just wait around until we hear something?”

Sierra looked poised to argue, but Milton spoke up before she could say anything. “We’ll find them, Jeth. It’s just a matter of time and patience. And once we locate that ship, we’ll steal them back. This crew can handle anything.”

“Yeah, sure.” Jeth turned toward the door.

“Where’re you going?” Milton said.

“To check on Flynn’s progress.” It was a lie. Jeth didn’t know where he was going except elsewhere. He needed time alone to think. Milton was right that the crew had a lot of skills necessary for a job like this. Except they didn’t have Lizzie, and they didn’t have access to all their usual tools. Not without Hammer.

Hammer. He’s going to kill me when he finds out what happened here. That was the other thing Milton didn’t know, how determined Hammer was to make Jeth one of his men. When he found out that Jeth and his crew had imprisoned Dax and Sergei, he’d send others after them.

And if Hammer learns about Cora and Lizzie . . .

You mean, if he doesn’t know already?

A shudder racked Jeth’s body, and he almost stumbled as he took the first step up the ladder to the engineering deck. He righted himself, then froze at an odd, faint sound. It seemed to be coming from the deck below, someone shouting his name.

Jeth turned and headed downward, arriving moments later in the aft cargo bay. It was Dax, shouting from the brig. He stopped at Jeth’s approach.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Dax said, leaning against the bars and glaring. Avalon’s small brig was nothing more than a metal cage with a heavy, old-fashioned lock on the door.

“What I’ve got to,” Jeth said, screwing up his courage. “And that’s find my sister, and then get her and my crew as far away from Hammer as possible.”

Dax snorted. “Then I guess you really are as dumb as you look.”

“You’ve got a lot of room to talk, considering that implant you like to wear.”

Dax ran his hand over the base of his skull as if expecting the implant to be there. He grunted. “You might have a point. But my point is that if you want to find your sister, you need to let me out of this cage.”

Jeth snorted. “Why? So you can report to Hammer what happened here? No thanks.”

Dax rolled his eyes. “Not all of us live and breathe for Hammer.”

“Oh yeah? Doesn’t look that way to me. The big guy told me how those implants work.”

A cruel smile stretched across Dax’s face. “Oh yes, so I heard. He’s got big plans for you.”

Flinching, Jeth turned away. He was too tired and worried to be wasting time here. He would deal with Dax later.

“I can find her,” Dax said. “I know exactly where your sister is.”

Jeth stopped and swung around. “Yeah? And how’s that?”

“I marked her just before the ITA got away.”

“What do you mean, marked?”

“I shot her with a tracer. It’s what I do, you know.” Dax made a gun out of his forefinger and pretended to pull the trigger.

Jeth blinked, remembering how Dax had missed shooting that ITA soldier. It had seemed incredible that a man with his skills and reputation could miss at such close range. Now he understood. “Why did you do that? Why didn’t you shoot the men abducting her?”

Dax shook his head. “My tracer gun was the only one I had, and I figured she’d make the most worthwhile target. Besides, there was no way we were going to overtake Renford’s men. But what I want to know is why Renford wanted her in the first place.”