Finn looked hesitant — he so rarely was hesitant, it made her nervous. “I guess I’m just wondering if it was as bad as I think it was.”
Corra opened her mouth, then closed it again. Despite the vagueness of the question, she knew precisely what he meant. It was something a lot of people wondered. Whether or not they had the guts to ask it was another question.
She traced the rim of her bottle and said at last, “There were some chores less bearable than others. Some days…that were hard to get through.” She took a deep, shaky breath before she added, “But on those days, I had my family. The other allies in the complex. We were there for each other, through everything. We supported each other no matter what.” She smiled. “So…yeah, it was bad. But no. Probably not as bad as you think.”
“So they’re still there, your family? On Kadolyne?”
“Some of them probably, but it’s hard to say,” she admitted. “Goddora’s business was trade, so most allies really didn’t stay on Kadolyne long. Just long enough to be trained and sold to the highest bidder. I can only assume his successor operates the same way.”
“Do you think you’ll ever go back there?”
“I’d like to,” she said quietly. “I’d like to–I don’t know–help somehow. Get them out of there. Set them free.”
Finn’s hand stilled on her back. “Is that, ah, possible?”
“I don’t know,” she admitted. “Maybe? Hopefully? It’s difficult to imagine ever taking down an entire industry, but if I can just help in some way, even if it’s a small way? One day I’d at least like to try.” She sighed and slipped into thoughtful silence before adding quickly, “Not for a while though, of course. I mean, I don’t want to derail the Beacon or anything, I know the work we’re doing for Callahan, smuggling ships and all, is i–” She cut herself off suddenly and seemed to reconsider the statement.
“Important?” said Finn doubtfully.
She chuckled and shook her head. “Not the right word, is it? But hey, credits are important. Keeping our crew happy and fed, that’s important. Personal vendettas? Don’t tend to do that.”
“I don’t know, cap’n.” His voice warmed with sudden interest. “Freeing allies seems like a pretty worthwhile side-project to me.”
The way he spoke, it was as if they could turn the ship around and go set a whole colony of allies free within the day. Corra wasn’t sure whether to be startled, appreciative or annoyed at how easy he made it all sound, but she never got the chance to respond. Just then, the console across the room flashed with a new message.
Quickly swigging her beer, Corra set the bottle on the side table, gathered her sheet around her shoulders and slid her feet to the floor.
She took one look at the screen and felt surprise flash through her.
“What’s the Dionysian doing coming back here so early?”
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Hours after Blackwater, hours after watching a Society dreadnought crash into the side of mountain, Cyrus was still in shock. He was convinced he was dreaming as the rest of the day had played out: the Dionysian was on course back to Relara while Fiearius paced around the bridge, shouting at Dez and Quin over the COMM; Leta, quietly stunned, trying to make sense of what would happen next. Cyrus half-expected a Society ship to shoot them out of the sky any second.
It was only when the Dionysian touched ground again that he snapped out of it and took his first real breath. Fiearius continued to shout and argue, but Cyrus had nothing to add to the conversation. Cyrus had no desire to add to the conversation. And when he overheard that the the Beacon was ashore too, he remembered the last conversation he’d had with Addy and suddenly Fiearius and the debate and the threat of the Society was wiped entirely from his mind.
‘So how about that dinner?’ he’d ask when he found her. Casual, that was the key, he told himself as he wandered through the halls of the Beacon, trying to act like he wasn’t simply looking for her. Casual. Totally casual. But when suddenly a voice rang out behind him calling his name, casual was probably the last trait he seemed to possess.
“Cyrus! What’re you doing here?”
He spun around and as soon as he registered the messy blonde hair, the thin black glasses on the top of her head and those piercingly kind blue eyes, he tried his best to pretend she hadn’t made him jump in surprise by leaning calmly against the wall. Instead, he accidentally rammed his arm into it.
If she was phased, she didn’t act it. “I thought the Dionysian was off on an exciting mission,” she went on curiously, smiling.
“It is,” he answered, refraining from rubbing his sore shoulder. “I mean, it was. We were. But it’s over now. So…we came back.”
“Oh! How’d it go?”
Ridiculously, was the first word that jumped into his head, but out of his mouth came a sort of indicative crazed laugh. A crazed laugh that, judging by Addy’s face, only served to confuse her. Hurriedly, he added, “Kind of a long story.” A long story I can tell you over dinner, he said in his head with a charming smile that never made it to his face.
‘So how about that dinner?’ his brain reminded him. That was the line. Surely he could say that. It was easy. So how about that dinner.
“So how about that engine?” he asked and proceeded to internally kick himself.
Addy’s lips came together in confusion. “Oh, it’s fine? Everything’s running — “
But then Addy was cut off by another shout down the hallway. “Cyrus?”
Hesitant, Cyrus glanced back over his shoulder to see who could possibly be looking for him now. The lanky woman with strikingly bright blue hair he found there was not at all who he was expecting.
“Oh God, Cy, it is you!” Suddenly, Alyx came forward, threw her arms around him and scooped him up in a hug that practically paralyzed him. “What are you doing here?!”
“I could ask you the same,” Cyrus muttered as she finally released him.
“Ooh, you two know each other?” asked Addy keenly.
“I did a bit of a stint on the Dionysian a while back,” Alyx told her with a wide grin. “And now I’m filling in as the Beacon’s navigator. Small Span after all, huh?” She took Cyrus by the shoulder and gave him a fond shake.
“Y-yeah,” Cyrus muttered. “Guess so.” He glanced at Addy and shrugged as though that meant anything. Usually, he would welcome the sight of an old friend. Particularly an old friend as good as Alyx. But he had been so very close to an evening out with Addy (well, another five to ten minutes of babbling close anyway), that he had to try very hard not to resent her for magically appearing out of nowhere to ruin his plans.
Unfortunately, the sentiment must have been apparent for, after a moment, Alyx’s enthusiasm lessened a bit.
“Anyway,” she said through a vaguely nervous laugh. “Didn’t mean to barge into your conversation. Sure you two have a lot of important…engineery things to talk about. But apparently Corra’s invited the crew of the Dionysian over for dinner. I was just heading down there now if you wanted to come with?”
Dinner with the Dionysian crew? So dinner with his angry brother that he had purposefully come to the Beacon to avoid? He could think of nothing he desired less. And yet —
“That sounds awesome!” said Addy, giving a little bounce on her feet. “Dinner with everybody? Like the whole crew? That’s great, I need to meet Eve — oh yeah, Leta lent a book to me a while ago, I’ve got to give it back — “
Internally, Cyrus sighed in defeat. But Addy must have noticed, because her expression faltered. “Oh — but — we were supposed to get dinner — er, weren’t we, Cy?”
So she’d actually remembered? He almost felt his heart flutter were it not for the painful catch 22. Dinner alone? What he wanted. Or dinner with literally everyone? What Addy wanted. Who was he, though, to deny her what she desired?
“Oh no, it’s okay,” he assured her. “We’ll probably be out of here soon, so if you want to see them, now might be your only chance.” He smiled, though inside he was cursing his own poor timing. “We’ll just get dinner — some other time.”
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