Lilly steps backwards, almost hitting the wall, and pulls out her shotgun. Naja and Kofi are too far apart for her to really threaten them at the same time, but she tries. “Hey! Hey, now! Wait a minute.” She does have the bigger weapon, but they might have more firepower elsewhere.
Their backup, however, is otherwise occupied. A high-pitched screech sounds, and then the factory shudders under the effects of an explosion. The ship is still airborne… for now. Upstairs, Booker swears. He is doing his best to evade the scourges in the air, but the factory is rather unwieldy, and there are Jarban gliders out and about as well.
Lief runs up to the brig door, sneaking a glance at the tense standoff in the rec room. He pulls out a set of small tools and starts working on the lock. The jostling from the explosion costs him one of the little instruments, snapping its tip off in the lock. “Buy me some time!” he hisses back to Imogen as he tries to figure out a new approach.
In the rec room, Naja throws a meaningful glance at Kofi and then flips up the table where they were all drinking not too long ago, ducking behind it for cover. The shots she takes around it go wide. Following her lead, Kofi does likewise, ending up behind the coffee service. Having suffered just some grazes, Lilly cracks her neck and unloads her shotgun at Naja’s table. Finally, this is a situation that she can handle with ease. All the uncertain thoughts about mangling social situations silence themselves. It is just Lilly and her gun now. She notices that the action is not quite as smooth as she expects; Naja’s hit must have damaged the weapon somehow. The shotgun blasts rip through the table, taking chunks out of Naja as well. Some stray pellets must hit something else important too because a new set of klaxons joins the other noise in the room. If the guys upstairs didn’t know something was happening down here before, they do now, Lilly realizes.
“You bozos, get down there and see what’s happening!” Booker yells at Jan and Marshall when new alarms start going off. They clomp down and find the hatchway jammed. Jan complains about how nothing works in the ratty factory, but she lends Marshall a hand, trying to smash through.
Imogen trusts her crowbar to hold and rushes down to the rec room. Right now the pirates do not know more Owendohers are aboard—Imogen strongly suspects she and Lief are actually the only ones—and it would be best to keep it that way. She pulls her pistol and takes aim at the lights in the rec room, hoping to give her bleeding partner the cover of darkness. The shaking and shuddering does her no favors, though, and she misses her target. To the pirates in the room, who are now clearly aware of her, those might have looked like warning shots.
Shirt soaking with blood, Naja spins around to see Lilly’s backup. “Owendoher!” she cries, recognizing the new arrival’s resemblance to her prisoner. “I see how it is now. Well, at least mercenary business is reputable, Lilly,” she grants with grudging approval. The new arrival at the rec room door looks like she has been in a scuffle already, given the blood on her face, and Naja wonders who of the crew she went through to get here. Maybe I can take her hostage, Naja thinks with sudden inspiration. Sort out the details later. Kofi’s shots are keeping Lilly pinned, so Naja makes a move. As she dashes to better cover to protect her from both attackers, she takes some shots at the Owendoher, but with the alcohol still in her system, she cannot land a single one. She ducks down behind a filing cabinet, but it offers no protection from the stream of vitriol that follows.
“Oh, you thought you could mess with the Owendohers, did you?” Imogen yells. “Didn’t know we had someone on the inside, though, did you? We know all about you and your secrets.”
Lilly worked for the pirates? Oh, that’s why Imogen hired her. Of course! One thing about this crazy situation now makes sense to Lief, but ace up their sleeve or not, guns are going off all around. “We’ve got to get out of here!” he shouts at his cousin, panicking a bit. Frustrated with the lock, he jams his lanky hypermobile arm through the food slot and reaches up to fiddle with the other side as well. The door springs open, and he tumbles in, away from all the shooting.
From her spot behind bits of broken furniture, Lilly smiles, happy to hear Imogen tongue-lashing the pirates. Finally, she’s here to do the talking.
“I’m not just any Owendoher,” Imogen continues. “You took my brother. You took my brother. You can’t just do that. The family yanked me back here from across the sector to deal with this. You’ve messed with the wrong Owendoher. I’m here for Aiden, and I’m not leaving without him. Where is he? What did you do with him? What did you do to him?”
“Gah! Your brother’s gone!” Naja screams, as the alcohol and the strain of her mistakes finally overwhelm her. “We lost him to the zerg! The zerg took him.”
“When?” Imogen demands. “When?”
“They took him a week ago. We’ve been trying to get him back. You can’t let Jackson know or he’ll have our heads!”