“It has a ten-gauge engine,” Corra piped up at once. Mica’s eyes shot to her, clearly surprised to see her speaking. This time, she had made sure to memorize plenty of facts about the ship, and she went on with confidence, “She’s small — not a lot of room for product — but if you’re serious about smuggling off ports, this is the ship for it. There’s none faster.”
The corner of Mica’s mouth twitched as he regarded Corra, somewhere between amusement and irritation. “Know a lot about ships, do you?”
“Been traveling on one for close to four years now.” Corra shrugged her shoulders. “I know enough.”
Mica lifted his martini glass to his lips and peered curiously at Finn. “I thought you were the pilot.”
“I am,” he said, dropping his elbow on the back of his seat. “And she’s right. Ship’s small enough to bypass most port-inspections. In other words, you move that ship wherever you want across the span, and no one’s gonna ask any questions.”
“That would be quite the luxury, wouldn’t it,” Mica mused, sipping his drink and then lowering it to the table. “Fine then. How much do I owe you for the deed?”
“150K,” said Finn briskly. Mica let out a bark of a laugh.
“It’s hardly worth that!”
“It is when you consider that this ship has never once been searched,” countered Finn.
“150K is also what you and Callahan agreed on,” Corra pointed out. Worry twisted her stomach.
“That,” Mica scoffed, “was mere initial speculation.”
Finn grinned. “Nah. It was a final offer.”
But Mica just shook his head, chuckling. “You’re new to this business aren’t you? Tell you what, I’ll give you 120K and you can be damn thankful I’m even giving you that.” His amused smile faded into a threatening stare. “It’s no skin off my nose if you return to your boss empty handed.”
Corra’s mouth fell open, but no words arrived on her lips. They certainly couldn’t face Callahan again without the cash they’d promised to retrieve. But they couldn’t face him with less than they’d promised either. They needed that 150K, every credit of it, for this to be anything more than another failure to add to the roster. But as Mica watched her expectantly for her next move, Corra was at a loss.
Fortunately, Finn was not.
“How about you give us the 150K you promised,” he mused, reaching for one of the drinks on the table and bringing it to his lips, “and you can be thankful that we won’t tell Callahan about this.” A cheerful grin filled his face, though his tone was biting. “No skin off our nose if he decides you’re untrustworthy. Or that you like to waste his time. You’ve met Callahan haven’t you? He doesn’t like his time wasted.”
Corra held her breath as she awaited the response. At last, Mica muttered, “120K is a decent amount of — fine. Fine. 150K. Since you insist.” He gestured to a one of his men hovering outside the booth. “Lars, give them the credits.”
Corra exhaled a deep breath, relief flooding through her veins as she gratefully accepted a hefty briefcase from the man. Perhaps this had gone right after all.
Standing to his feet, Finn reached over and shook Mica’s hand. “Good man. We’ll leave the ship on the docks with your people. Great doing business with you.”
He stood to his feet to leave and Corra followed suit. She went to shake Mica’s hand too but he dropped his palm abruptly, as if he’d touched something foul. He suddenly smirked rather darkly.
“‘Captain,’ was it?” he said to her, his tone almost teasing. “‘Captain.’ What a span we live in these days.” His tone was loud and carrying as he addressed the table, as if readying them all for a tremendous joke. “A kroppie,” he sang. “An actual kroppie captaining a vessel.”
Scolding laughter exploded around the table. Finn had been halfway out the booth; he turned around in surprise. Corra went very still, unable to believe her what she’d just heard.
Without thinking, Corra’s hand jumped to cover her ear, shielding it from view: in the tip of her ear was the slightest cut, the symbol of her past enslavement. When she was a young girl at Goddora’s compound, ‘Kroppie’ had practically been her name. She had heard it snapped at her over and over whenever someone needed to put her in her place or demanded her obedience. It was, in most places around the span, the worst, dirtiest, most dehumanizing word to call a person.
In spite of the outbreak of laughter that made her want to sink into the floor, Corra stood tall. She breathed out, “I’m sorry. I don’t think I heard you correctly.” Her glare was as sharp as daggers, a fire raging in her eyes. “What the fuck did you just call me?”
“Oh, calm down,” Mica was saying, leaning back in his seat with his hands behind his neck. “Don’t get all worked up — “
Finn was at her side, quiet and stunned. Their laughter filled her ears. I’ll kill you, her brain said, over and over and over again. I’ll kill you I’ll kill you I’ll kill you. She could feel the weight of the gun in her pocket and her hand was so very ready to reach for it.
But no. She couldn’t. Killing Mica wouldn’t solve the Beacon’s cash flow. Nor would it win them any points with Callahan.
He wasn’t even paying her any attention now. Drink in hand, he grinned at the person to his right and said laughingly, “I mean, have you ever heard of such a thing, Ranso? These days they’ll let anyone man a boat — ”
“Let’s go,” said Finn lowly in her ear, holding her arm to steer her away. “Fuck this guy, let’s get the hell out of here.”
Feeling hot and dizzy with anger, Corra allowed him to lead her away from the table. The room was crowded, but Corra was too dazed to notice as she bumped into shoulders.
They were five feet away when Mica’s table exploded into laughter, and then he called, “Go on then, slave girl,” in a merry, laughing voice. “Don’t need your type dirtying my club–“
It was then that Finn halted at her side. His expression was blank, unreadable, when his hand fell off her arm and he turned on his heel. He crossed back to the table and in one motion, seized Mica’s collar with one hand and with the other, cracked his fist across the man’s once-grinning face.