The morning of Saffron’s second mission to Tarsonis, Durian arrives kitted out in his power armor, a fancy new upgraded set now that he is a lieutenant. Frank has stayed on the ship under Imogen’s supervision all night. Having had no trip to the armory, he is equipped only with his service rifle and basic uniform. She has kept him busy this morning servicing that weapon, as well as her own pistol. The activity seems to tamp down some of his anxiety and help him level out. Not unlike Lilly and her knife sharpening, Imogen reflects. Overall, he is on edge this morning but quieter than last night, perhaps because he—like Imogen—did not sleep at all.
She eyes him carefully now that Durian has arrived, unsure of how he will react to an officer being present. For the most part, though, Frank ignores the new arrival. Imogen’s pistol is disassembled before him, and he scowls at it as he methodically examines each piece. Imogen is not surprised. She may have worked really hard to repair that gun, but she did also set it on fire once. She hears him muttering, “Carbon scoring. Grease levels are off. Hasn’t been cleaned recently. Evidence of fire damage?”
Durian takes in the scene and throws Lilly a questioning glance. Imogen speaks up before her partner can. She is very reluctant to let Durian know what she actually wants to recover, but she can tell him half-truths. “We have a lead on another important adjutant, and I recruited Frank here to assist me with that,” she explains.
Durian frowns a little, wondering what Imogen is hiding. Probably the guy was volun-told by whatever officer Imogen spoke to. He is glad it is not one of his Fruit Baskets. “What’s this other adjutant?” he asks. “Lilly, were there two adjutants of yours?”
“No,” Lilly blurts out, but privately she wonders, Oh, gosh, could there have been?! She envisions a large locker full of adjutants and her having to figure out which is the right one to take.
“Okay, I just want to make sure I have the mission parameters straight. You have one adjutant, Lilly?” She nods at Durian. “And what’s your adjutant, Imogen? What makes it important? Important enough that you’re risking your life going back down there?”
“The company’s name is Lost & Found. It’s something that was lost, and I’m going to find it.” Imogen whips out a business card but fumbles the legerdemain, sending it flying wildly instead of right at Durian. He leans down and picks it up off the floor. “I’m still working on that trick,” she mutters. More assertively, she continues, “Does it matter what’s on it? That’s for the customer to worry about, not me.” Let him believe it is for Kate Lockwell if he wants, Imogen thinks. I’m certainly not going to tell him it’s for the Queen of Blades.
“All right, fine, I can respect that,” Durian says. He will afford his own clients similar courtesies once he gets the Endurians back up and running. “I’ll stay out of your way. Just stay safe out there.”
“That’s what Frank’s for,” Imogen replies.
“You, too, Frank,” Durian tells the other soldier.
The recently resocialized man looks up, having just finished reassembling Imogen’s pistol. “Who? What?” The direct address has knocked him out of the zone. Imogen drops her conversation with Durian and quickly presents Frank with another task.
Lilly handles all the piloting responsibilities on the way down once Durian provides the clearances. As they approach the planet, she calls for a sensor sweep in case zerg are on the prowl. Saffron is as much a target to them as any Dominion dropship. Imogen did not call in her plans to Aiden since they only have one catalyst left to get that radiolisk working. Lilly is not sure he would have enough sway to keep zerg out of their way, anyway.
With Frank now occupied efficiently repacking the toolkit, Imogen heads over to the sensor station and checks the area around Tarsonis City Metro Station. There is a small squad of Dominion troopers west of the station near a large pile of rocks and something that could be a derailed train car. Likely that is what she and Frank will have to deal with. Imogen steps over to Lilly at the pilot station and quietly suggests, “We’ll split up after we help you get sorted at the train station. The place was pretty collapsed last time we saw it. We can help you move rocks and such, if you want.” This will give Imogen a little time to observe Frank on the ground so she can get a better feel for how he will handle their real job here and how carefully she might need to manage him. “But if things go very poorly after the split, I’ll give you a call.”
“Got it.” As much as Imogen does not want Durian involved in her adjutant activity, Lilly does not want Frank hearing her own, but that will not matter until they are actually on site.