Corra lifted her shoulders in a shrug. “Carthis doesn’t have allies themselves, but they’ve made no indication they’re outright opposed to them either. If they want to take Ellegy and, more importantly, hold Ellegy, they’re gonna have to leave some things alone to appease its people. What easier thing to leave than the centuries old system of power and abuse they love so much?” Finn opened his mouth again, but Corra cut him off, “And no, Fiear’s supporting the Ellegian rebels who want to keep the place exactly as is sans Society control. There are a lot of sides in this conflict, but none of them care about my side.”
Finn propped his head in his hand and frowned thoughtfully at her. “Y’know, for someone who’s been gone five years, you sure as hell know a lot about what you missed.”
Corra just chuckled. “I wasn’t around, but I wasn’t gone. This territory war isn’t my concern, but the human impact is. And my friends’ lives are. I’ve helped out where I could.”
“Helped? Raisa said you were buried deep in the ally trade, getting yourself sold and bought by top-shelf assholes.”
“I was. But that doesn’t mean I couldn’t slip some intel the Dionysian’s way here or there. Or that I couldn’t convince a contact to send some work to the Beacon.” Her small smile spread into a grin. “Or have Leta convince Fiear to attack the absolute perfect diversion for my own missions.”
Finn returned her grin. “Devious. I like it.”
Corra released a long sigh and leaned back against the couch. “I mean, you can’t just abandon your flock entirely. Who knows what they’d get up to without you?”
“S’pose that’s true. When I left Fiear alone, he started a war.”
Corra grimaced. “That he did.” A moment of silence fell before she finally mustered up enough courage to ask, “You two doing okay?”
Finn looked amused. “You make us sound like a bickering married couple.”
“We’re fine, as far as I know.”
Corra leaned forward and rested her chin in her hand. “He doesn’t mind your –uh– less than enthusiastic feelings about that war you mentioned? Couldn’t help but notice this ship’s steered pretty clear of any battlefronts.”
“Being able to do so is a luxury I’m not willing to sacrifice,” Finn muttered. “Besides, this boat is a mess, you said it yourself. What help would we be to the great Soliveré fleet?” He let out a laugh that Corra got the feeling held a tinge of bitterness, but whether or not that bitterness was aimed at the fleet or the state of the ship, she couldn’t begin to guess.
“We’re still friends, if that’s what you’re asking,” he went on. “We talk, occasionally meet up, though less than we used to. Busy man and all. But does he hate me for wanting to keep my nose out of it all? I don’t think so. He asked us if we were interested in helping exactly once, many years ago.”
“And what’d you tell him?”
“That I’ve lost my taste for violence.” Finn smirked darkly.
Corra couldn’t ignore the lump that formed quite suddenly in her throat. She didn’t need to hear him say why. She knew why. The day still played out in perfect recollection in her own head every so often, just as it was now. The day Archeti fell, at the time, felt like a blur, but years later every detail was in focus. Every mistake she had made. And everything she could have done to change the outcome.
She forced herself to swallow the lump, but when she spoke, all she managed was, “That’s understandable,” and even those words came out dry and brittle.
Finn’s face flashed momentary realization and for a second she thought she saw a hint of apology, but he hurried onward, “But really, how much good could we do, anyway? The Beacon’s barely afloat as it is.”
“Yeah,” Corra agreed instantly, nodding perhaps a little too enthusiastically. “Definitely.” An awkward silence hung in the air as Corra tried to recompose herself. She could feel Finn watching her with interest, but she couldn’t meet his stare, instead locking her eyes on her own hand, tense and clenched at her side.
Finally, at last, she drew a deep breath. “Well. I did a little research on this archive and the Transmitter and all. Want to help me draw out a plan of attack?”
She could have sworn she saw brief disappointment cross his face, but Finn smiled and leaned forward in his chair. “Let’s do it. Tell me what you got.” The smile grew a little wider. “I gotta say, cap’n. I’m lookin’ forward to working with you again.”
Corra regarded him curiously, but then a mischeivous smile formed on her own face. “Yeah? Let’s get through this briefing and see how you feel after, hm?”
Addy trotted down the stairs to the lower deck, purpose in her step. She was full of energy, more than she had been in weeks — months, even. For the first time in ages, she was excited for something. Something that wasn’t just another boring budget meeting or planning committee negotiation or even the grand opening of a new business which was, pathetically, the most exciting event that happened on Archeti as of late.
No, for once, she was excited for something different. An adventure, like the old days. Corra had just finished laying it out to her: the Beacon would be touching down on the very moon they’d only escaped from days previous, though fortunately the other end of it. Finn and Corra themselves would seek out the mysterious archive Eriaas had mentioned to search for the artifact the Society had been so interested in. But as they did that, they needed someone to scour the archive itself, the books, for clues.
Addy had said yes before Corra had even finished asking.