Knock knock knock.
The sound echoed through the Beacon’s empty command deck. Corra let her knuckles fall from the door as she waited. You better answer, she thought, half in threat and half out of worry that he would not. Sure, it was very late at night (or very early in the morning), but when they’d shared a ship, Finn had always kept odd hours.
Fortunately, the door slid open. A disheveled, yawning man greeting her on the other side. His hair stuck up at all angles, his eyes were squinting into the light of the hallway and his shirt was nowhere to be found. Clearly, she’d woken him.
Before she could even spare a word of half-hearted apology, Finn blinked himself into waking and said, “Well. This is surreal. When was the last time I found you outside my door in the middle of the night?” which made her laugh.
“Been a while, true,” she admitted, brushing past him to enter his room. It hadn’t changed much since she’d been here last, years ago as that was. There were an extra few layers of mess. More mostly-emptied bottles than was healthy. A pile of laundry that probably hadn’t been touched in far too long. But the smell was the same. Comforting, Corra thought. But now wasn’t the best time for reminiscing.
“Not that kind of visit though,” she added, a touch more harshly than she intended.
But Finn just laughed. “I would never have presumed as much.” Hitting the button to slide the door shut, he turned back into the room. “So what can I really do for ya, cap’n?”
Captain. The word made Corra outwardly cringe as she lowered herself onto a couch.
“Well, we can start with that. I thought I made it clear that I’m only here temporarily to figure out this Transmission business.”
“Crystal,” Finn agreed, sitting down across from her.
“Then how come the crew seems to believe that I’m their returning prodigal captain? Here to save them from their troubles?” She rose a brow at him, quite sure she knew where the rumor had come from. She noticed he didn’t deny it. “Which I guess is my second point. This ship. Is a mess. I’ve been here all of twenty four hours and most of that time has been spent listening to everyone’s griping. There’s not one person on this boat who’s not pissed at somebody else. What the hell happened?”
“Eh.” Finn leaned back, sliding his palms behind his neck. “Depends who you ask.”
“That much I got,” Corra mused. “Cai blames Alyx, Alyx blames you, Daelen blames everyone. What’s your take? Just so I have a, y’know, well-rounded view.”
“Well, I s’pose I’ll take my fair share of the responsibility.” Finn grinned and added, “Though for the sake of argument, I might point out it was you who left your devoted flock to fend for themselves.”
Corra let out a bitter laugh and shook her head. “Fair enough. It’s not just the ship either. Cy and Addy are a wreck just waiting to happen. Oh — and Leta! I just got off a call with her. In my absence, she’s apparently taken up murdering Society Councillors in the middle of Carthian ballrooms.”
“No kidding?” Finn raised his eyebrows, intrigued. “Like I said. We’re all a mess without you.”
“Clearly. But I can’t clean it up this time.” She fixed her eyes on him, far more seriously this time. “I really can’t. I’ve already been away long enough. I have people relying on me, people who are genuinely suffering who need my help. I need to get back to them. So.” She sat up straight and dropped her palms on her knees decisively. “The real reason I came by. Let’s talk about the Transmitter.”
“Right. The Transmitter. The mystery device you want to hunt down.” Corra couldn’t help but notice his tone of disbelief.
“You said you wanted to help me find it,” she reminded with a note of warning.
“Of course, and we absolutely will,” Finn agreed. “I just think it’s a bit odd, that’s all. That you’re so interested in this bizarre legend.”
She’d had this conversation already. First with Addy, though she hadn’t pressed it. Then with Cyrus, who had. Corra was prepared for the questioning, but not from Finn. “It’s more than a legend. It exists. The Transmission I have proves it.”
“Sure, it probably exists, but you don’t know what either of those things are or what they do,” Finn pointed out.
“The names say all I need to know,” Corra countered at once. “They transmit.” Before he could ask, she jumped in herself, “What, where and why? Who knows? But if the Transmission is worth a slew of bounty hunters after me and the Transmitter has the Society after it, it’s probably a good idea to figure it out first, don’t you think?”
Finn did not look convinced. “To add to your arsenal?”
“To keep out of everyone else’s.”
Finn paused, surveying her through narrowed eyes. He sounded curious, not judgemental, when he asked, “Why, though? Don’t you have enough to worry about?”
“Plenty,” Corra agreed. “But this is part of that. God only knows what Callahan’s people want with it, but considering their business, I doubt it’s good. The last thing I want is more power in the hands of slavers, no matter what that power is. As for the Society? They hold Ellegy and Ellegy is still the center of the ally market. Don’t really want them to have it either.”
Finn looked suddenly intrigued. “If you want the Society out of Ellegy, why not help out Carthis then? I hear that’s their plan. Enemy of my enemy and all that.”