A sea of busy people hurried along the main docks, restocking supplies, refueling their ships, barking orders at deck officers. Cyrus had never much cared for the chaos of space ports, but now he wasn’t sorry at all the Dionysian and the Beacon had docked here for the night.
Mostly because of the company.
“It’s peaceful way up here, isn’t it?” said Addy at his side, sounding wistful. Together they sat on the edge of an overhanging catwalk above the chaos of the main floor, drinking beer and people-watching.
“Yeah. It is,” said Cyrus sincerely, tilting the bottle against his lips and sighing. “Thanks for bringing me up here. And for the beer.”
“Thank Finn, I stole it from his room,” she said with a wicked grin. “We should toast to our victory, shouldn’t we? And all those new ships you have now?”
He shook his head. “My brother handed the ships over to Quin. We’re sticking with our floating tin can. Which — thanks,” he said suddenly, “By the way. For helping with that.” He looked away and could feel his face turn slightly pink as he added, “You did great.”
To his surprise, Addy’s face lit up with excitement. “Really?! I did? I’ve never done anything quite that illegal before. Always kinda wanted to,” she admitted sheepishly.
“Really? I can’t say this line of work was ever something I considered getting into … “ He trailed off. “I don’t think you ever mentioned,” he said suddenly, “why you agreed to help. I know you said you left Satieri because of the Society, but … why?”
It was only after he asked that he realized how personal of a question that might have been. Quickly, he added, “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want. I was just curious, but–”
“It’s okay,” said Addy at once. “Really.” She drew in a deep breath and lowered her beer. “A couple years ago, the Society contacted us — my dad and me — to test out some engine prototypes for them. Real fancy stuff, my dad was so excited to have such a big client. Turns out, they’re the worst client we ever had.” She smiled, but it did not meet her eyes. “Wanted complete control over the whole process, wouldn’t let us back out … dropped in unexpectedly to see how it was coming along. We tried to back out several times, but they ended up seizing all of my dad’s work and never paid him. And, well,” she admitted, her cheeks flushing with embarrassment, “we needed — need — the money.”
Cyrus nodded, as if he understood at all. In his old life, his life before the Dionysian, he’d been a lead engineer at Sonnete Industries; he’d made more money than he knew what to do with. Credits flooded his account and he could have vacationed every year if he wanted. But he only nodded at Addy, who was pressing her fingers into her forehead, suddenly pained.
“It gets worse. A few months ago, while I was working late in the garage one night, they — well — we’ll never be able to prove it was them. But these men with guns, they came in and raided the whole place. Destroyed everything, all the work we were doing. Our garage is still in shambles.” She bit down on her lip, not looking at him. “My dad, he’s not the type to be easily intimidated, but — well, that really scared him. That’s why he made me leave. For Carthis. Thought it’d be safer for me.”
Cyrus felt anger flashed through him. Fiearius, Leta, Cyrus himself and now Addy. Who hadn’t the Society injured in some way or another? No wonder she had been so quick to volunteer to help on this job.
“Gods, that’s awful,” he said quietly, stunned. “I’m so sorry. ” Though he was worried he might touch on something even darker, he couldn’t help himself. “Your dad, you’ve talked to him since you left? He’s…he’s okay?”
“He’s okay. He’s still on Satieri,” said Addy, smiling sadly. “Because he’s stubborn, he refuses to leave. Well — can’t blame him, I guess. Paradiex isn’t an easy place to leave … as you well know, you’ve been gone a long time,” she added, throwing him a look of understanding. She wrinkled her forehead and frowned, a look he had never seen from her. She did not frown much.
“Does it ever get easier?” she asked wonderingly. “Missing home.”
What he wanted to tell her was yes. One day she would be glad she left Paradiex and no longer reminisce about the lights of the entertainment district brightening the skyline or the huge festivals in the streets for every Ridellian holiday or the massive tech conferences that brought together the greatest minds of the Span. But as of that moment, he just didn’t think it was true.
So instead of reassuring her, he said, “It sucks. It really sucks being away from home.” He felt her curious stare, which he returned with a weak smile. “But it’s not all bad. I miss Satieri all the time. But truth be told, there are a lot of things I wouldn’t give up about the Dionysian either.” A more genuine smile started to form. “It never goes away and it doesn’t really get better. But I do think, as time goes on, it becomes easier to appreciate what you’ve got. Which makes the missing seem a little bit less bad.”
“I did have fun the last couple of weeks,” Addy admitted slyly. “Thanks for letting me help out on all the really illegal stuff.”
“You should probably get used to that,” Cyrus laughed. “I doubt Corra and Finn are planning on the Beacon being free from criminal activity.”
“Doesn’t seem that way, no,” Addy agreed. “Though I don’t know about this next job. We’re just transporting an old cargo ship for some guy. Seems harmless.”
“Oh it’s not,” he assured her. “Just wait. Something about the job breaks at least ten shipping regulations, I can guarantee it.” Her pleasant laugh reached his ears.
“So d’ya think your ship and my ship will cross paths again any time soon?” she asked.
Cyrus could only pray that she couldn’t tell how pink his cheeks had become. “Not sure,” he said, averting his eyes. “I usually make a point not to involve myself in the Dionysian’s schemes … “
“Well,” said Addy, her voice light and suddenly careful. “I really hope they do.”
Somewhat surprised, Cyrus glanced back to see her smiling sheepishly at him. “Me too.”