FRAWD Investigators: Challenge on Chau Sara | Scene 10

Once she has gotten closer to the center of the room, Lilly notices a large door set in the floor in the northeast quadrant. That seems a more likely ingress point for Zagara than the narrow door up on the catwalk by Neiman’s computer station. As she looks around, Lilly gets a strange sense of familiarity, but given her unknown history here, she supposes déjà vu is to be expected. She takes her time lining up a shot on the overlord. Zagara said it is not salvageable, so there is no need to target the smaller device in its brain. It seems to have grown scar tissue up around it, so hitting the tech without harming the zerg would be pretty hard, anyway. Besides, who knows what would happen if the overlord suddenly had free will without Zagara here to rein it in?

Lilly takes a deep breath and squeezes the trigger on her protoss rifle. The blue laser gives away her position as it lances into the overlord across the room. The zerg catches fire and emits a low-pitched wail similar to a horse’s whinny. The time for stealth is over.

The blue beam of laser fire and the taunting chat message are not regular components of Neiman’s zerg control simulations. When they happen almost simultaneously, he hurriedly types commands into his terminal for the overlord and then grabs his sniper rifle. He brings it to bear on the mercenary partially hidden down on the arena floor who just shot his overlord with a strange weapon Neiman has never seen before. “I am not your enemy,” he shouts, “but I will do everything I have to, to stop the Queen of Blades. Including stopping you.” The bullet clips her arm. She winces but retains hold of her strange two-handed gun.

Imogen and Neiman shout at each other some, but down on the floor, Lilly has other concerns. With the improvements Selendis made, the frying pan will be ready to shoot again in just a few moments. Until then, there is the small matter of an enormous scarred hydralisk with tech in his head. He rounds a corner to come into view of her hiding place and fires a spine at Lilly. The projectile sinks into her shoulder, but she is distracted from the pain by the sense of recognition she feels. When the hydralisk reared up, claws raised, he exposed more of his scars. Those marks… there are a lot more than one would regularly see on a zerg, and they stand out in her memory. I know this guy… Spikey?! She fought side-by-side with him against the UED back when she was in the Dominion military. It does not matter how he has come to be here now with an implant in his head; he is her battle buddy, and she will do what she can to not harm him.

Lilly yanks out a painkiller and jabs herself with it, then ignores her injuries and trains her weapon on the overlord again. If she takes it out, maybe Spikey will not be controlled anymore. She catches motion out of the corner of the eye and glances back to Neiman’s location. He fiddles with something on his suit and then disappears with a shimmer. This just cements in Lilly’s mind her chosen target: the overlord. She sends another blue laser bolt at the floating zerg just as the flames from her first shot die out. The weapon hits its mark, but Lilly smells something strange, like insulation burning. The rifle itself is not overheating in her hands, but something has clearly gone awry inside it. Maybe Selendis can have her guys fix it in exchange for a hydralisk spine, Lilly thinks.

A thud sounds to the northeast, where the door down to the storage basement or wherever is. Something is slamming into it from beneath. Something else—another hydralisk spine—slams into Lilly. She is tough, though; she can take it. Lilly may not remember much about her time in the Dominion military, but she does recall she had the nickname Pin Cushion. Her lack of reaction must aggravate Spikey, as he comes charging at her with his claws raised.

Two big claws tear through the metal door in the floor, ripping it apart like aluminum foil. Zagara pulls herself up into the training room. Maybe she will be able to help tomorrow, Lilly thinks sourly, noting how slowly the broodmother moves on the creep-free surface. The hydralisk they liberated earlier follows Zagara still, hanging a bit back due to his injuries. Too far from the overlord to reach it with her spines, Zagara instead sends one at Spikey’s implant. He raises a claw at just the wrong time—well, the right time from his perspective—and takes the hit there instead. A horrible moan of distress issues from the broodmother at the damage she has done to one of her own. 

Lilly engages with Spikey, trying to get up onto his back. She does not think hydralisks really need air, so choking him out will not work. However, if she can just get close enough, she might be able to remove the battery from the tech in his head or pry something else off. Lilly drops the frying pan laser to wrestle, but Spikey is a worthy opponent. He is big with claws, and he is at least as strong as she is. Lilly cannot get a proper hold on him and takes a few claw hits in the process. That is enough to make her reconsider this approach. Lilly backs away, scooping her gun back up off the floor.

Neiman’s location is currently unknown, but clearly he has not fled yet because a bullet rips through Zagara, spraying zerg carapace and ooze from the back of the wound. The broodmother screams in pain and terror as she reels from the blow. Her hydralisk launches a spine at Spikey, and it thunks into the implant. Zagara, though, knows what direction she was hit from and ignores the enslaved zerg for now. Instead she spews a spray of acid up at an empty area on the catwalk above. Lilly sees the ghost’s outline, and then the man himself, as the liquid hits his reactor. Neiman seems unharmed, but his cloak is deactivated by the damage to his suit. Down on the floor, Zagara has folded in on herself a bit and is making a sort of coughing noise from… some orifice. The attack seems to have taken a lot out of her. Frankly, Lilly is not surprised. Zagara has been locked in a cell for weeks, and there is nothing in this environment to replenish the resources she is spending. She needs a good soak in some creep.

With the cloak gone, Lilly can clearly see Neiman line up his next shot at… the overlord?