FRAWD Investigators: Bad Behavior on Browder | Scene 1

It is a little bit busy and a little bit crowded aboard Saffron during the six hours the science vessel spends in transit between Antiga Prime and the protoss colony that Arudin has provided coordinates for. When Lilly enters them into the navigational system, the terran records identify the planet as Browder II.

With Lilly’s room full of Snowball and Sunshine, Imogen has given Spearmint use of her quarters. She encourages him to stay there, away from the protoss anxiously prowling the main hub, and he puts up no arguments. Exhausted by the day’s events and their emotional toll, he lays down for a rest. Arudin, on the other hand, is still a bundle of nerves. Sometimes he stays still long enough to hover around Lilly, looking over her shoulders and demanding whether the ship can go any faster. Lilly remains chill at the controls, telling Imogen some about her bengalaas hunt with Arudin. From her position perched over at the lab bench, Imogen replies that he refused to spar with her, claiming that it was inappropriate.

“It would not be appropriate for one of your station,” Arudin agrees.

“I just thought it might be…” Imogen trails off. What she thought was that it might be a comfort for him as well as a good way for her to get some different instruction than what Malorn has provided. But it never even got as far as her revealing her psi-gauntlet to Arudin. At this point, with them headed to a protoss world, she would rather retain control of that information herself, so she lets the subject drop.

“I wonder if I painted it, if it would be less obvious,” Lilly says, seemingly out of nowhere.

Imogen follows her partner’s gaze to figure out what she is talking about and realizes the topic is now the protoss laser gun they stole from DORF. She could probably smooth out the sleek protoss curves with some decorative metal attachments, but she suggests they wait until after their visit to the colony. There is no reason to hide the weapon from the protoss there since Arudin knows they have it—Lilly leveled it at him when they first met, after all.

“Is there anything you can do to get us there faster?” Arudin asks the pilot again. She steps away from the controls over to the kitchenette. There she pulls out a bottle, which she then hands to him after popping the cap. “What is this?” he demands.

“It’s beer. Kick in the Face Stout. It’s really good,” she explains.

Arudin has never heard of beer. “What, is this some sort of medicine? I have no mouth,” he reminds her.

“Can’t you absorb it?” Imogen asks. Arudin dips his finger in, confused and frustrated. He points out that this is not how he consumes water, and when she presses him for details, he says that protoss simply get their moisture from the air. Lilly just shrugs and goes back to piloting, but Imogen is not ready to admit defeat yet. She takes the bottle over to the science bench and assembles a beer mister. She tries spraying some stout at Arudin, but he finds it repulsive and tells her to keep it away from him. Imogen sticks the contraption in her mechanics kit. Kick in the Face is pretty high proof, so it might come in handy some day to have an aerosol of it.

“I just need to be with my people!” Arudin laments. “I appreciate your efforts, just… get me there.” He does not have many details to provide about Browder II, though. All he knows is that before the war started, there was some sort of zoological research facility there.

The poor fellow is clearly nervous about being reconnected with his people, however much he desires it. With his nerve cords so severed, even if he is with them again, he will not really be with them. Malorn was fully capable of psionic activity, but his intentionally cut nerve cords are longer than Arudin’s war-wounded ones. As Imogen mulls this over, she unintentionally mutters loudly enough for the protoss to hear her. “Right, right, they don’t grow back, you can’t just go and attach a transplant or synthetic version…”

Arudin narrows his eyes at her, and she realizes she must sound like she is mocking him or at the very least confirming his fears about how cut-off he is. Imogen is not sure whether this damage is so severe as to prevent any advanced psionics, though she supposes that the very fact everyone can hear Arudin’s mouthless words means he still has some capacity. She does not have enough training to test anything beyond that, but that does not mean she will not try. Given how unhappy he is with her right now, she leaves him alone, as far as standard terran interaction goes. However, sitting over at the science station, she thinks at him, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, just in case Arudin is in a receptive state. Can you hear that I’m sorry? On Antiga, he was completely isolated from any mental contact, except maybe zerg. Imogen is no Khala, but maybe she can make him feel just a little bit less alone. She concentrates really hard and thinks, If you can hear how sorry I am, you’ll be able to hear your people.