Lilly lands Saffron on the rough ground outside Our Lady of Perpetual Agony with no trouble. The clinic does not usually get airlifted patients, so the arrival attracts attention. The woman who staffs the front desk comes running out. “What are you doing here?! This isn’t a starport!”
Imogen descends the ramp to smooth things over. She specifically did not call ahead so that they could not tell her no. When directly confronted with her passengers, the clinic is far more likely to accept and treat them. Imogen herself is still scratched up and covered in dried zerg juices, and her long blonde braid is caked with blood. “We have a bunch of people, some of whom are injured and some of whom are in shock. They need a safe, discreet place to be checked over. Your clinic owes us one.”
The receptionist rushes inside to get St. Maria. The surgeon is glad to see Imogen and Lilly, who helped save her clinic from a zerg invasion a month or so ago. The grandmotherly woman gives Imogen a great big hug and kisses both her cheeks. “Oh, you’re injured! Dios mío, what happened to you?”
Imogen explains that she is transporting a number of mistreated individuals, some of whom were beaten up by zerg. She is not entirely sure what all has happened to all the non-cooperative witnesses that they found in storage room solitary confinement.
“C’mon, bring them in, bring them in! That’s why we’re a clinic,” Maria invites.
“Ah, but do you have any side treatment rooms so that they can be separate from your regular patients?” Imogen does not want to traumatize these people even further by exposing them to Maria’s twisted approach to rehabilitation. Imogen herself was creeped out by her first visit here.
“How many patients do you have right now?” Lilly asks, as she joins them at the base of the ramp.
“I’ve got four right now since Sam Aran is still out and walking. I’d tried—” Maria stops herself, sighing. “Tragically, one of the others didn’t make it. Died from blood loss. So sad. But he wasn’t going to walk again anyway…”
Imogen recalls the foot amputation she witnessed, and her stomach rolls. But Maria is a doctor, and that is what they need right now. These folks only need to stay here until transport off Mar Sara can be arranged, and for that, Imogen needs to talk with her former boss, Jefferson Duke. Maria is very welcoming, saying that the new arrivals can certainly stay for a little while. She begins seeing patients immediately in her surgery. Imogen does what she normally does at this place: she starts making phone calls.
“Maybe you could get some money from FRAWD for the clinic,” Lilly says as Imogen starts dialing. Imogen just laughs at the futility of that. “For taking care of the witnesses!” Lilly clarifies, but Imogen doubts that would make a difference.
The ringing stops, and Imogen turns her attention to the man on the other end of the line. “This is Jefferson Duke, Chief of FRAWD Office. How may I be of service?”
“This is Imogen Owendoher.”
“Imogen! Did not expect to hear from you. Did you get your last paycheck?”
“I’m sure that processed fine. I’m not calling you as an employee.”
“Did you need a reference for a new job? Is that it?”
“No. I need you to do something for me.”
“I was your boss for how long? Wasn’t that something?” he says, a little plaintively.
“Jefferson,” Imogen says, dropping any suggestion of respect for authority he might think is still in play here, “we have done things that you could not do. We have secured the witnesses for the Rose trial. We have done this not as FRAWD employees, as you seemed to feel that the risks we were taking were too big for the department to handle. We’ve done it on our own, as private citizens, so that you don’t have any problems on your hands.”
“Now, as I recall, you are not a citizen of the Dominion, Imogen. You were on a work visa, and if we’re not sponsoring that anymore…”
Imogen rolls her eyes, listening to the spineless man grasp at straws. What is he going to do, have me deported? “Lilly is a citizen. Look, you couldn’t make this happen because it was too dicey, politically speaking. We did it from the outside, giving you cover. You told us that you could fast-track things if we got the evidence. Well, we have the evidence. We have the people. You need to handle the government’s side of this and do what’s necessary there.”
Imogen’s intent is for Jefferson to feel she has done him a favor, but he views it more like she and Lilly have gone around his back. Perhaps she should have sounded more subservient, but she could not bring herself to feign respect for him. “I’m going to help those people,” Duke says, annoyed, “because getting them back to Korhal is going to help out the case. But don’t think I owe you anything.”
That is fine with Imogen. She just wants these people safe and able to testify. She gives Jefferson Duke the information on where to pick them up and then cuts the line, happy to be permanently done with him.