Truth be told, she would have much rather just disappeared with Callahan’s ship than do this job. Something about it just wasn’t sitting right with her and hadn’t been ever since they’d agreed to take the assignment. Perhaps it was the notion of smuggling such large, valuable cargo across volatile Ellegian borders. Or perhaps it was the deal location itself, a high profile, high population metropolis that teemed with possibility of disaster. But in all likelihood it was neither of those things that had been keeping her up at night with worry. It was more likely the man who’d given them the job, halfway across the span by now. Callahan himself. The way he’d acted towards her, the manner in which he’d disregarded her. She could still hear his biting tone even now and it made the pit of discomfort in her stomach throb.
Apparently Addy had noticed. “Hey,” she said suddenly, putting her hand on Corra’s shoulder. “You okay? You went all quiet there.”
At once, Corra shook it off. “I’m fine,” she assured her. “Just a little worried about this job is all.”
“You think it won’t go well?”
No, Corra thought instinctively. But she said, “I’m sure it will.”
“Of course it will,” Addy said. “And it’s not like you’ll be alone. No matter what happens, if anyone can handle it, it’s Finn.”
Right, thought Corra, feeling bitter. Finn could handle anything. Everything she couldn’t.
Did Addy think her incapable, too?
Corra just forced a chuckle, agreed, “Hope so,” and continued through the bay towards where Finn and Daelen were lingering near the Beacon’s airlock. Finn was leaning against the doorframe, a plume of smoke rising above his head. A foul smell reached her nose and she pulled a face.
“Are you smoking?” she demanded. “That’s disgusting.”
“That’s why I’m doing it outside,” said Finn dramatically, swiping the cigarette out of his mouth and sticking his hand out the door.
She turned on Daelen. “You’re a doctor, shouldn’t you tell him not to do that?”
“He has,” Finn promised, grinning.
Daelen shrugged at her with his arms crossed. “There are only so many times I can argue with people’s personal decisions to ignore good advice.”
Corra glared at Finn a moment longer. Then she asked, “So how was the inspection?”
Finn sighed out a wisp of smoke. “Well Mica’s guys came here, they looked her over,” he gestured towards the shining black ship parked inconspicuously in the Beacon’s bay, “and they left. So I’m guessin’ everything checks out and the deal’s still on.” He took one last drag, and then tossed his cigarette out the door. “Mica said he’d meet us at his nightclub. You ready to go?”
Corra took a deep breath. “Ready as I’ll ever be,” she grumbled.
– – – – – – – – – – – –
The club was called Heat, at the furthest end of the strip under a glowing white neon sign. A hanging velvet rope circled around the entrance, a detail Corra found cute as she stepped over it and walked straight past the bouncer.
Inside, electric red light doused the dance floor. Booths lined the walls, and in the heart of the room was an elevated stage, filled with dancing women and men. Corra honestly wasn’t sure, judging both by their state of dress, if they were patrons or strippers. It was hard to tell in this town.
“Classy joint,” said Corra, over the noise.
Finn smirked. “C’mon, that’s him in the corner there.”
The furthest booth was dark, quiet and and rimmed with thick red curtains, no doubt for under-the-table business meetings just like this one. Men and women in various states of dress sat around the table. In the middle of them was Mica himself, in a cheap-looking suit, lounging back with one arm hanging casually over a woman at his side.
He looked to be in his late-thirties, with a sunken gaunt face and short trimmed beard, which he grinned through as they approached the table. “About time you two showed up,” he said smoothly. He nodded toward the crowded stage. “Thought perhaps you were just enjoying the dancing.”
In a neutral voice, Finn said, “Not when business calls, unfortunately,” and sat down. Humming with anticipation, Corra reeled in her nerves and calmly lowered to the seat beside him.
“So you know why we’re here then?” she asked in an even tone.
“Naturally,” Mica agreed, flicking a dull glance in her direction. “Callahan told me you’re his newest hires.”
“S’right,” said Finn, his voice impossibly relaxed, like they were meeting new friends for brunch. “Finnegan Riley, and this is Corra, captains of the Beacon.”
“Captains?” Mica repeated in disbelief. “That so?”
Corra could not help but notice that Mica shot her a particularly amused look. One of her fists balled under the table. “That’s right,” she said, keeping her voice calm. “Captains. Captains with a rather busy schedule, so maybe let’s get started?”
Mica’s lips curled. He did not bother to introduce anyone else at the table. “Yes. I suppose you’re right. Let’s cut through it, shall we?” He looked at Finn. “It’s my understanding you have quite the deal for me. Tell me about Callahan’s ship.”
“Sure. Although you know a lot about it already,” said Finn at once, one eyebrow shooting higher on his forehead. “Your people came poking around to check it an hour ago.”
Mica’s smirk broadened. “Well, you don’t expect me to go into this deal blindly, do you? Now — tell me what I don’t already know. Why, exactly, is it worth my money?”