The mystery man’s tracks lead to what is left of the barracks, the southernmost building in the ruined firebase. Imogen and Lilly reach the entrance together, but before they head in, Imogen pauses, holding up a hand for Lilly to wait a moment. She concentrates, psionically detecting four life forms other than her and Lilly in the area. She cannot tell whether or not they are zerg, but she is sure they are farther back in the building. Perhaps their attacker met up with the rest of his crew here and are still inside. “I hear movement,” Imogen lies to Lilly, “but it sounds muffled by several sets of walls. Probably nobody’s in the first couple rooms here, but it sounds like there could be as many as four people farther in. I’m all for sneaking in, but maybe after that first room, you should lead the way, and I’ll hang back a bit so as to not give away our position.”
Lilly nods, shotgun at the ready. Imogen leaves her own pistol holstered. She would like to dialogue with these people, and waving a gun in their faces seems a bad way to start things off. Having her military escort ready for zerg makes sense, but Imogen believes their party will better demonstrate openness to talking if she herself is unarmed. They enter the bunker, Lilly taking point.
Lilly picks her way carefully through the infested ruins, the collapsed walls around her covered in creep and other disgusting zergy organics. Her team moves along with her until her commanding officer holds up a clenched fist to signal a halt. He stands up ahead of her, a Cerberus tattoo visible on the back of his neck. He points down a long corridor to the left, motioning the troops forward. “Keep your net launchers handy,” he whispers. “We’re going to capture ourselves a cerebrate. Washington, get out those drugs.” Lilly swaps a new vial into her weapon and then moves around the corner. Hyrdalisks patrol the area on the other side of the collapsed walls, but they do not notice the soldiers crawling past and into the room with the big, ugly slug-like cerebrate. Lilly raises her tranq gun to fire…
Shaking off the memory, Lilly shifts her grip on her shotgun and looks around the first room. The whole building is on a slight tilt, having taken some hits to the stanchions during the war. Debris and junk, some of it former ceiling tiles, fill the space. The beams of sunlight coming in illuminate vines, and even darker corners have moss and lichen. There are signs of a hastily made camp. The small fire has been out for hours at least. Lilly crouches down by it, poking around in the ashes, then holds up a finger to Imogen, indicating her belief that only one person spent the night here. There are no indications that this is a frequent campsite, no personal effects, no effort to clean the place up and make it more comfortable. There is another smashed video display, too, and nothing of value to salvage.
Lilly leads the way onwards into a darker section of the bunker, heading toward where Imogen heard the noise. No internal lights are on, and the ceiling is inconveniently still intact here. Behind her, Imogen flips on a flashlight, but Lilly is too far forward to benefit from that. She puts on her goggles from DORF, which should help pick out the heat of any living beings in the room she is about to enter. As she looks around, though, she finds the area is swamped with heat from somewhere else; it might be this room has an outside wall that the sun is beating down upon. She wrinkles her nose at an unpleasant rotting odor. Lilly does not see anyone here, though of course they could be hiding. She holds a hand up and waves Imogen forward, then ducks down behind some debris herself to remain hidden.
Imogen steps into the room and shines her flashlight through the space. For just a moment, she catches a glint that looks like a reflection off the eyes of an animal. She jerks the light back in that direction, but she cannot find it again. There is definitely at least one animal in this room, though, and it appears to be dog-size. “Sunshine?” Imogen hisses. “Is that you, girl?” Imogen continues sweeping the room with her flashlight, and finally the beam lands on a lyote in the corner. It is not wearing a pink ribbon and looks to be larger than Sunshine. It glares at Imogen, who keeps talking, her voice level and reassuring. She detected multiple life signs; maybe those were this lyote’s pups, but there could also be terrans hidden in here. “I’m not interested in ruining your little den here. You sharing it with anyone?” She maintains awareness of the lyote in the corner but also glances quickly about for a nest like the ones Sunshine has made. The creature growls at her.
Lilly observes the room, taking advantage of the light Imogen is casting about. She moves around the edge of it, looking around for any signs of terrans or batteries. Much to her surprise, what she finds in the opposite corner is a slightly smaller lyote along with two pups. She does not find them with her eyes, though, but with a poorly placed step. There is a sharp yelp, and the dam nips at Lilly’s heels, the teeth just barely breaking the skin. Lilly steps back in surprise, instinctively pointing her gun, but she really does not want to shoot the innocent creatures. Instead, she takes another blind step back, giving the family some space so as not to antagonize further. She loses her footing on the debris and falls backward into lyote droppings. The force of her impact with the dilapidated floor causes it to give way, plunging her down a level.
“Stupid resoc, can’t do anything right,” Lilly mutters as she climbs to her feet in the room below the lyote den. She hopes the scent of their dung on her will not cause any problems with Sunshine later. That is not a problem for right now, though. Lilly looks about her and realizes this is a room that was sealed off, so it is relatively undisturbed. It was in a war, but it has not been looted since. No batteries, of course, she thinks with a sigh. This looks more like it was someone’s quarters. Having your own room in the barracks is uncommon, so it must have been someone with rank. Now that she has seen a relatively unspoilt room, Lilly recognizes that this building belonged to Antiga’s local militia, not the Confederates.
There are actually some personal effects here, including a picture of a family and someone’s commissioning. The guy in the colonial militia uniform looks familiar to Lilly, and she wonders for a moment whether she served here herself. Then she places him: it is their attacker, the man they are tracking. He looks better fed and less tan, but the build is the same. His hair is shorter in the photo, and he has no beard. This must have been his room, but it is obvious no one has been in here for years. A beam of light flashes across the space, and she hears Imogen up above ask, “Are you all right down there?” Lilly sticks up her hand to show the photo to Imogen.
A hand emerges from the hole with a picture, but the image is meaningless to Imogen. “All right… you found a photo…”
“Of the guy,” Lilly says.
Her partner’s terseness is unhelpful, as is often the case, but Imogen reflects for a moment. There has only been one guy on this entire planet so far, the man they are looking for. “The guy with the battery?” she asks.
“Yes! I think this was his room.”
“It only looks like people were in the first room of this place. Maybe he wasn’t able to get this far because of the lyotes,” Imogen suggests. “Is there anything else down there that you think would be of interest to him?”
“There’s a bunch of stuff. One way to find out.” Lilly gathers up all the photos she can find, sticking them in her backpack along with a pretty slick electric shaving kit. She also stuffs one of his formal uniform jackets in there. It does not have many medals, but it does have something else useful: his name and rank. She and Imogen are looking for Lt. Spearmint. Finally, she grabs an old towel and tries to quickly wipe off the lyote scat. Then, with Imogen’s flashlight indicating potential handholds, she hauls herself back up to where her partner is. The climb is a breeze, and Lilly gives her neck a satisfying crack once she is back on a solid floor. She has still got all her limbs, so everything is going to be okay.