FRAWD Investigators: A Very Special Mission | Scene 12

Kate Lockwell grabs her camera and collapses its tripod. “Awesome work. That was an excellent shot. Are you ready to explore the railway station?” She looks around for Imogen and sees her approaching with a taller non-descript woman in tow. Imogen introduces her companion, and Kate compliments her piloting, having observed the science vessel’s descent. “Do you have prior military experience? You seem to have a kind of military bearing.”

“Yes, ma’am. Thank you, ma’am.”

“Well, it’s great to have you aboard on our Liberty Squad,” Kate says cheerfully. “I appreciate us having even more security than our military escorts.”

“You know, I think you two might have already met before,” Imogen interjects. 

“Are you sure? Well, I do meet a lot of people, so I apologize if I don’t remember your face,” Kate tells Lilly.

“You conduct lots of interviews,” Imogen acknowledges. With a laugh, she adds, “I mean, you probably don’t remember that you interviewed Durian a few months ago!” Kate is surprised to hear that. She racks her brain, trying to remember what she reported on in that time frame. “There was an escaped zerg at the DORF facility in Augustgrad,” Imogen reminds her.

“Oh yeah! I remember there was something at the DORF facility with a local veteran. That was him?” she asks, looking over at where Durian is standing watch with his team. “Wow.”

“He wasn’t in the power armor then, so you can be excused for not recognizing him.”

Kate surveys the squad of marines. “Power armor makes every man look good,” she says. Imogen snorts. “Or just hides their flaws, I guess,” Kate amends.

The Liberty Squad begins walking south. Their destination is Tarsonis City Metro Station, which is  south of Liberation Point Alpha, less than half a kilometer outside the firebase. There is a ridge to cross along the way. The landscape here is not covered in creep, but it has fallen into extreme disrepair. There is evidence of shelling, and some of the craters look more recent than others. In the distance, they can see derailed train cars lying on their sides along disrupted tracks. Most of the station’s roof is caved in, but the entrance on the northern side is still an intact and grand Art Deco arch. The doors themselves are long gone, though.

“Hold up, Durian,” Imogen says, before he can lead his squad in. “Let me have a listen first.” They may not have Saffron’s sensors on hand to detect lurkers, but Imogen has her own personal means of doing so.

“We’re providing security here,” Durian tells her. “We’ve got to make sure you stay safe. I appreciate what you’re trying to do, but it’s just better to have the military unit take care of this.”

“That’s fine,” Imogen says. “You can come stand next to me. But don’t just go wandering in.”

Durian shakes his head. “This is for your safety,” he tells her. “But it’s also for my safety. If I know you’re standing back safe, I can devote my full attention to the inside. If I also have to watch you in there, then my attention is split and it’s less safe for everybody. I do appreciate it, but—please!—I’m a professional.”

Imogen backs away from that fight but does not abandon her planned course of action. She is farther from the building though, so it is too hard for her to sense inside it. She is distracted by the sudden violent sound of chain gun fire. It cuts off, and all that is left is Durian’s muffled voice as he speaks into his radio. It is set to the local network he shares with just his squad, but his shouting still carries. “Go easy on that trigger, rookie. C’mon! It was just a rat. You gotta be careful. Save those bullets for zerg, okay?”

Imogen fiddles with her own comm unit, trying to tune in. “Do you know their channel, Lilly?” she asks in frustration. 

Lilly has a go at it. Either her military experience is too out-dated, or Durian is following some strict protocols, because she also cannot tune into his squad. On a whim, she tries some older Confederate channels and stumbles upon something interesting. The signal is brief and weak, but for a moment, Lilly hears some music she does not recognize. She alerts her partner to what she has found, as there had been talk of possible survivors.

Imogen and Lilly spread out, each tuning to the frequency and making adjustments until they have enough information to triangulate the location of the source. It is farther south, on the other side of the railway station, less than two klicks away. Unfortunately, that is zerg-controlled territory. “Kate!” Imogen calls to the journalist. This is, after all, the kind of thing Imogen was brought along to do. “We’ve picked up a signal that triangulates south of here. It may indicate that there are survivors.”

“What? Confederate survivors?” Kate asks, keenly interested. “We were pretty sure all Confederates… passed away. But if we’ve found survivors, that would be incredible!”

“Unless some zerg have turned on a music station,” Imogen offers in jest.

“That’d be awfully strange,” Kate agrees.

Lilly tunes in again and pumps up the volume so that Kate can hear the music. “Hey, wait,” Imogen says. “That’s… that’s Umojan.” It is a pop tune popular ten or so years ago.

“Well, there could have been Umojan Confederates, I suppose,” Kate posits.

“This was one of your important worlds,” Imogen points out. “There could have been tourists stuck here when you had all your fighting going on.” Not that visiting Tarsonis would have been that great a vacation. Even before the war it would have been an environmental nightmare to an Umojan due to all the sloppy industry.

Although this news is exciting, Kate still wants to make sure she gets some shots of the railway station, since she is contractually obligated to do so. Once that is taken care of, she is all in favor of finding out if there are actually terran survivors. They head down towards the arched entrance. Out of habit, Lilly cracks her neck. One of the Fruit Baskets spins in alarm at the sound. Durian slaps the marine’s gun down. “That is not a zerg! You can’t be that jumpy, okay?” Then Durian gives the all-clear, letting the civilians know it is safe to come inside.

As they enter and pass the jumpy marine, Imogen says consolingly, “It’s okay. My first combat with a zergling, I ended up shooting the ground. You’ll get used to it.”

The visor cracks open, and through a puff of cigar smoke, the man looks two feet down at the slight Umojan. “Uh, good to know.”

Lilly starts to call out, “Dur—” but catches herself from being too familiar with the mission commander. “Sgt. Breaker!

“Uh, yes, Ms. Washington.”

“Picked up some signal on a Confederate channel,” she reports. “To the south. A klick or two.” She plays the music for him.

Durian hefts his gun. “Well, if they’re survivors, that’s one thing. If they’re Confederate remnants, that’s another thing.”

“The planet’s overrun with zerg. Perhaps we can put bygones aside and rescue people before we start interrogating them about their political alignment,” Imogen inserts into the conversation. 

Durian suggests that it could be a Confederate plot to lure their group into a trap. “We just gotta be on our guard,” he insists. “But you’re right. It’s probably just survivors. Or a radio that’s gone haywire. That music sounds really weird. I can’t even understand what they’re singing.”

“Imogen says it’s Umojan,” Lilly tells Durian.

“The song is,” Imogen clarifies.

“Confederate channel, Umojan song…” Durian is beginning to sound uncertain again.

“Look, all I’m saying is, there were people on Antiga who had no idea of anything about the Dominion. They had been trapped on their planet since the zerg overran it and knew nothing of the current political situation. So let’s not jump to conclusions,” Imogen argues.

Durian takes her point. “All right, let’s keep moving forward.”