Imogen has just finished packing away some zerg bits and a jar of creep for the radiolisk when her comm squawks. “What is it, Lilly?”
“Time to go. You ready?”
“We’re on our way back. Shall we just meet you at the ship?”
“Yeah, unless you need support.”
“No, it’s all been taken care of. Did you find what you were looking for?” Imogen asks.
“All right, then. How quickly do we have to get out of here? Can you delay a little bit?”
Spikey’s growl suggested the Swarm was coming, but Lilly is confident in herself and Durian. “Yeah,” she says.
Imogen would have loved to convincingly fake Frank’s death down here on the planet, but unfortunately, he has no power armor to abandon here, just his dog tags. If those could be found among zerg wreckage, that might help sell the story that he is dead, but arranging it in the time they have is not feasible. She will just have to hide Frank in her escape pod and lie through her teeth. It would be best for Durian to not know that Frank is still alive because that is news he could spread on the platform. “I need to do something at the ship before Durian comes aboard,” Imogen tells Lilly. “I can tell you when it’s ready.”
“Okay,” Lilly agrees. When she gets off the call, she tells Durian they need to hold.
Durian looks at her with concern. “Is everything okay? Is Imogen in a pickle?”
“She needs some time,” Lilly says, uncertain about what her partner is doing.
“All right, but…” He hefts his gun, then takes a moment to wipe away the creep that has been clinging to it since it was knocked to the ground.
“Did you see how Spikey totally helped me?” Lilly says happily. “What a buddy.”
“I’m just glad that Snowball is with his own… people,” Durian says a little uncomfortably. “Let’s get a read on our situation,” he suggests. They walk outside the train station and take a look around. Once clear of the building, they can hear the sounds of approaching zerglings. They are down the ridge right now, but it will not be long before they reach this site. “We’re out of time,” Durian tells Lilly.
Lilly comms her partner. “Sorry, Imogen, we’ve got to bail. We’re coming in hot.”
Imogen and Frank have just gotten back to Saffron when the call comes in. That gives too little time for any great theatrics. Rather than have Frank cut his arm and smear blood across the tags, Imogen just urges him to get in the escape pod and stay there quietly. She shuts herself up in her room, hoping to just completely avoid Durian. It was a weak story anyway, Imogen reflects. He was just resoc’d. I took him right down and returned with tags? That might fool Corporal Malvern, Frank’s immediate superior, but anyone who followed up would quickly find the holes in the lie. She and Lilly will just have to take Frank and run without lingering on the platform at all, so that any sign of them is long gone once his check-in time rolls around.
Lilly and Durian manage to stay ahead of the oncoming tide of spines, claws, and teeth. The zerg overtake the train station and keep coming, flowing northward toward Liberation Point Alpha. The Dominion base is on high alert now. Sirens blare, and loudspeakers announce, “We’re being overrun!”
At the sound of sirens, Imogen radios Lilly. “Are you here? Are you safe?”
“Yeah. You on board?” Lilly calls back.
“Aye, aye,” Imogen assures her.
Lilly runs up onto the ship, Durian right at her heels. She shuts the ramp and races through preflight, then launches into the air. Zerg flyers are approaching, so there is no time to waste. Durian is impressed with how smoothly she handles the ship, lifting it up and out of the base ahead of all the other dropships scrambling to evacuate. Only one shuttle is ahead of them, a Kel-Morian mercenary vessel. Lilly did not know that Hammer Securities did work for the Dominion, but that seems to be the case here. If even mercs are bailing, it must be bad down on the ground, she thinks. When a mercenary group retreats, it is really bad for their reputation. The only reason they would do so is if an officer gave that order or things are truly hopeless.
Meanwhile, Durian is over at the sensor station. He is no scientist, but he is trying to monitor the zerg situation as best he can. On Lilly’s suggestion, he tries hitting a mutalisk clump with the irradiator, but the zerg fliers manage to evade it. Durian is more of a boots-on-the-ground soldier than a gunner.
On the flight up to the platform, Imogen remains in her room. She radios Lilly and tells her, “We have to leave right away. As soon as you drop Durian off, we need to go.”
“Understood,” Lilly replies. She picks a hangar with quick in-and-out access. Once she sets the ship down, she tells Durian, “We gotta go quick.”
“Is everything okay?” he asks her.
Lilly shrugs, having no idea what Imogen is up to. She gives Durian a kiss and deploys the ramp.
“Do you need any help?” Durian presses. “It’s okay if you do. I want to support you.”
Under normal conditions, Lilly would just call out to Imogen, but right now, she picks up her comm since that is what Imogen used to talk with her. “Imogen, do we need anything?” she asks.
“Oh my God! Did we leave Imogen behind?!” Durian shouts over Imogen’s negative reply.
“No, no,” Lilly assures him, “she’s in her room.” What she is doing there, Lilly has no idea. She has been wrapped up in her own problems the whole time Imogen has been handling their current job for the Queen of Blades.
“You know what? If you gotta go, you gotta go,” Durian acknowledges. “But, hey, I’m off in three days, so let me know where you’re at.”
“All right. It’s a date,” Lilly agrees. She gives him one last lingering kiss, and then he dashes off. Lilly closes the ship up and heads right back out into space.