“Corra — “ Finn heard himself grit out, but Mica pressed the bat against Finn’s throat and unleashed a grin.
“Riley, look. It’s your faithful little kroppie. I didn’t think she’d show. Types like her are more apt to run off aren’t they?” He laughed, and then cocked his head at Corra with an eerie light in his eyes. “But since you’re here. I’m going to assume you have my money?”
Corra narrowed her glare. “I’m going to assume you didn’t hear me,” she growled. “Drop. Him.”
All the good humor suddenly vanished from Mica’s face. His expression clouded and his mouth twitched. “As you wish,” he breathed, and abruptly he took Finn by the shoulder and shoved him to the ground, a heap of limbs.
Every inch of him felt bruised and beaten. Head spinning, Finn pulled himself up to his elbows, squinting in the darkness at the scene that was quickly growing dim.
But he could just make out Corra’s face. She was gazing at him, horrified.
Mica edged a step closer, holding the bat at his side. “So what is it then, slave girl?” he asked. “Walk right in here with a couple rifles and nothing to offer? You’re outnumbered, outmatched and out of ideas by the look of it.”
“Oh I have one idea,” Corra muttered. Finn saw her finger tightening on the trigger, but Mica snorted in amusement.
“You can’t kill me. What would Callahan say? Callahan’s an idiot for hiring your type to begin with, but I doubt even he will hire a kroppie who’s keen on killing his associates.” Even now, Finn could feel the power of his smirk. “And neither would anyone else.”
Mica, however, was just warming up. He nodded to the two other men in the room. “So why don’t you two just put down those guns before you do something you’ll regret,” he suggested as the men started to close in on them. Corra’s friend was glancing at her, looking for guidance.
“If you play your cards right, maybe, just maybe I’ll let you walk out of here alive,” Mica was going on. “I’m not an unreasonable man. I can let bygones be bygones.”
“Corra…” her friend muttered, stepping backwards toward her.
“Once I’ve extracted full payment of course,” Mica grinned, whacking Finn with his foot. And suddenly there was a light behind Corra’s eyes. She wasn’t frozen, Finn realized, she was thinking. She locked stares with him and gestured ever so slightly towards Mica. Well, Finn thought, he’d just have to trust her. And with a deep inhale of breath, he seized Mica’s leg.
The man let out a disgusted, “What?” and had already lifted his leg in an attempt to kick him off when a mighty battle cry filled the basement and Corra barreled towards them to crack the butt of her rifle into his face.
Blood splattered across the wall as Mica doubled over, but he bounced back up and delivered a firm right hook into Corra’s eye. As she stumbled backwards, Finn sensed his opportunity and reached up to drag Mica down. Corra, looking up, bewildered, took her chance and smacked him again with the gun.
This time, he tumbled over easily as Corra spun around and, swinging the rifle like a bat, knocked it into a second man’s head. Her friend, who had apparently taken her cue, was already slamming her foot on top of the third on the floor when Finn managed to turn to her.
He only got a second to register the image before Corra was yanking him up and pushing him towards the stairs by the small of his back. Her companion, whose height was close to rivaling his own, slipped her arm under his and helped him climb back towards the light.
Corra spun back around to the basement, moving backwards and brandishing her gun as Mica and his men started to recover from the quick and violent assault. As soon as they reached the upper level and were away from the door, they heard him cry, “After them!”
Slinging her gun over her back, Corra hurried to catch up with the hobbling pair. “Hurry,” she cried breathlessly. “Run!”
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Finn felt his feet moving on the ground, and he knew his arm was slung over a woman’s shoulder, and he could see Corra running ahead of him through the alleyways — but other than that, very little was making sense. He just knew they was going somewhere. Quickly. But where?
He must’ve mumbled the question aloud, because suddenly the tattooed woman tightened her hold on his arm and said, “The Beacon. We’re going back to your ship, Finn. The Beacon. Are you alright?”
“Loud and clear,” he said quickly. “I mean — yes. Who are you again?”
“My name’s Alyx. I was on the Dionysian a year ago.”
“That’s a shame.”
“You’ve no idea. Now c’mon, we’re almost there.”
Corra hung back, stopping so she could take his other arm and throw it around her neck. “Hang in there, Riley. We’re almost to the ship. You can pass out there as long as you want.”
“In your bed?”
Corra cracked a wry grin. “Nice try. We’re almost there. Just a little further — “
Even now, even in his own haze of confusion, Finn recognized his ship. He’d recognize her anywhere. Parked on the docks, three stories of perfect shining metal. Gods, it felt like ages since he’d sat in the pilot’s chair. He felt eager to do it again. Except —
“Wait,” Finn heard himself mumble. “Who’re they?”
A crowd of people had formed outside the Beacon’s ramp. At least twenty peopled stood tall, guns raised, forming a line. A barrier.
“Oh god,” Alyx breathed in his ear. “It’s the Ministry gang.”
“What are they doing here?” Corra groaned.
“Probably looking for me,” said Alyx, sounding shaken. “I told you they wouldn’t let me just walk out of there so easily. Someone must have seen you, found out which ship is yours. They’re here to take me back. Oh god.” She brought her free hand to her forehead, panic starting to set through her. “They’ll sell me to the ally traders this time. I’m sure of it.”
“We’re not letting that happen,” Corra said firmly. “Okay? We’ll figure this out, we’ll–”
From what Finn could discern (he was operating on a slight delay), the situation had just gone from bad to worse, especially when a shout of ‘There they are!” rang out behind them. All three heads spun around to see Mica, nursing his broken bleeding nose and flanked by his angry henchmen, guns raised.
“Move,” said Corra, her voice shaking. “Move — we have to get to the ship — !”
“What about them?” said Alyx, pointing toward the line of gang members.
“Cross that bridge when we come to it?”
All at once, the Ministry gang cocked their rifles, a sea of scowling, angry faces.
“I think we’ve come to it!” Alyx cried.
The three of them were forced to a stumbling, staggering halt, caught between groups of two armed aggressors, both looking ready to tear them all apart.
But then — it was the strangest thing — the scene started to dissolve. Finn told himself to focus, to think of what they could possibly do, but his vision was growing clouded with white light. Corra’s voice wound toward his ears, but it sounded like she was at the end of a long tunnel (“No no no, stay with us, keep it together, Riley!”). The last sound he heard was the piercing blast of a gunshot before he sank to the ground.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –