FRAWD Investigators: A Very Special Mission | Scene 8

Following the meeting with the comptroller, Durian is free to spend some time with Lilly, since his underlings, affectionately referred to as the Fruit Baskets, are still occupied with taking care of their dress uniforms. Lilly definitely needs a beer after the day she has had so far and is happy to accompany him to the Non-Commissioned Officers’ Bar, or as it is more commonly called, the N-Cob. The beer there is watered down, but there are pool tables, TVs, and arm-wrestling matches. Most importantly, there is no bureaucracy and no one who knows she is a resoc. It is as fine a place as any to spend the evening.

Durian sees the arm wrestling, and it puts him in mind of how he first met Lilly, that match they had on the Shooting Star en route to Redstone III. Lilly took him on with her bare hand when he was in his power armor. She was a good sport about it, but he could have crushed her hand. It makes him uncomfortable to think of accidentally hurting her.

They grab a couple beers and take a seat. Lilly nods over at the arm wrestling match. “You know what, that reminds me of something. Did I tell you that I stabbed myself in the shoulder with an ax?”

Lilly’s tone is casual and cheerful, almost proud. “What? How do you stab yourself with an ax? Normally that happens with a knife.”

“I know, right? I fell on it! It was this big,” she says excitedly, holding out her arms to demonstrate the length of the blade. She describes the final move she tried on Axion, the one that resulted in her falling backward onto the weapon. Durian asks why she was swinging an axe around and is surprised to hear that she was sparring with a protoss. He is familiar with psi-gauntlets but not with whatever Lilly was using in this bout. She sketches it out on a napkin to show him.

“Dang, that looks like some pretty serious stuff. Ain’t never heard of anything like that outside some Old Earth histories. Hey, I didn’t know you knew protoss. You’re friends with some I guess?”

“I guess, yeah,” Lilly says. Durian is unaware that the job he did for her and Imogen included the protoss Malorn, and Lilly sees no reason to inform him of that now. “He’s sort of a military guy,” she says of Axion, “so it was cool. Apparently they have a class system or something.” 

“Yeah, I’ve heard about that. Way too complicated. I also heard that they have one big hive mind almost. Sounds kind of like the zerg to me, but I don’t know. I don’t call the shots.” He shrugs. “It’s weird that protoss fight with weapons like that,” he says, tapping her napkin. “Just get a gun, right? Oh, maybe it’s a ceremonial weapon, like Dominion swords are. Hey, maybe you took part in a protoss ceremony, and you didn’t even know it,” Durian jokes.

“You mean like we’re married or something now?” Lilly says with a laugh.

“I hope not! I mean… I mean, that’d be really weird to be married to a protoss and not even know it, right?”

“Maybe I avoided it by taking a hit to the shoulder?” Lilly suggests.

“Yeah, yeah, that’s probably right. If he had defeated you though, you know, maybe then.”

“He didn’t hurt himself like I did, but he didn’t do that much better, either.”

“Do protoss even get married?” Durian wonders.

They are a few beers in by now, and Lilly laughs again. “I don’t know.”

“I’m not married,” Durian says, “but I wouldn’t even think about marrying an alien. That’s crazy.”

“Don’t spar, I guess,” Lilly recommends. “You should have seen the looks on their faces, though. It looked way worse than it was. It was just my shoulder, and they were worried about my organs!”

“I’d believe it. They think terrans are pretty weak. It would take a lot to take you down, though. I wouldn’t want to have to face you, not even in a ceremonial duel. You almost beat me at arm wrestling, and I was in power armor!”

“I didn’t think I did that great, but I couldn’t really tell,” Lilly says, recalling the match. “I didn’t get hurt, so…”

“I’m just saying I’m glad we’re on the same side.”

“Me too,” Lilly agrees.

“War does crazy stuff but, hey, at least we’re united against the zerg.” Durian holds up his glass.

“This is going to be fun,” Lilly says, referring to the Special Mission. She clinks her glass against Durian’s, her own personal zerg a million miles from her thoughts.