FRAWD Investigators: Challenge on Chau Sara | Scene 17

Lilly has been helping people get settled inside the clinic while Li June and Snowball stay hidden away aboard Saffron. Once everyone is on a bed or chair, she steps back outside, and Imogen waves her down. “You should call Grom to let him know how this all went and that we’ve arranged for people to get back to Korhal safely. But also that we don’t have any official standing at all anymore. Grom can apply whatever pressure he has directly to Duke, but there’s nothing further we can do from that angle.”

“Understood.” The call will be routed from Saffron through the Mar Sara communication network, traveling over public lines. Lilly doubts any terrans are listening in on her and Imogen, and there is no need to fear the Dominion government on this matter. However, if Rose Corp could tap Grom’s lines, they probably would. Don’t be dumb, Lilly thinks. She opens her conversation vaguely. “Hello, sir. I’ve got some news for you about our friends. Would you like me to tell you? Can you talk?”

“Oh, it’s about our friends…” There is a pause as he flips on his phone’s secure mode. The sound quality changes slightly. “Yes, yes please. Is everyone all right?”

“Yes, we recovered everyone, sir.” She lets him know that they are on Mar Sara getting injuries treated, though she cannot tell him the extent of them. Maria is still figuring that out.

Although Grom sounds legitimately concerned about everyone, he does also comment, “It’s more things we can add to the pile, in terms of trying to take down Rose.”

Lilly delivers Imogen’s message regarding Mr. Duke taking care of getting the witnesses a lift to Korhal. When she mentions the part about the pair no longer working for FRAWD, Grom inquires what they will be doing now. “We’re going into business for ourselves, sir. Private scouting, collecting samples, things like that.” Grom says that he will keep that in mind since he has had to make some cutbacks in the surveying department. “Just let me know,” Lilly says. “We have a proper science vessel. We can do detailed scans.” She thinks back on Durian’s marketing strategies and throws in a cheerful, “Keep us in mind, sir.” Then Lilly glances over at Imogen to see if there was anything else she was supposed to say. The Umojan gives her a silent okay sign. “Anything else we can do for you, sir?”

“No, you two have done so much, you deserve a break,” Grom says. “Thank you. You’ve done a lot to help those people. And this helps me a lot. I wish there was something more I could do for you, but things are very busy right now. But don’t you worry. I’m going to push this case, make sure everyone knows what Rose is up to. And then when I take them out as competition, I’ll be the only mining consortium.” Realizing how that might sound, he hastily tacks on, “Of course, I’m not going to enslave people like they did. I’ll pay them reasonable wages that I can afford. And if it’s not affordable, I will not hire them in the first place.”

“I look forward to that future, sir,” Lilly tells him, her smile creeping into her voice. “Honest business.”

“Cut-throat capitalism, not out-right slavery, that’s what I always say. You ladies have a good day, now.”

“You too. Take care, stay safe. Sir.”

Once the line is closed, Imogen speaks up again. “Now you should call Durian.”

“Wait, why Durian?” Lilly asks, confused. Do we need to hire him for something?

“Just to tell him you miss him,” Imogen says, a little punchy. “Or don’t you?”

“To tell him I miss him?” Lilly echoes. How does Imogen know that I miss him? “Oh, did you hear something?”

“No! You two look good together.”

It seems to Lilly that Imogen really likes making calls. Maybe it is an Umojan thing, or maybe it is just her talkative nature. But this is so disjointed from everything else going on around them that Lilly grows concerned. Imogen is a mess, and it suddenly occurs to Lilly that the blood in her hair is her own. “We should have the doc look at your head.”

Imogen protests weakly, not at all fond of Maria’s non-gentle ministrations, but she does have a splitting headache. She lets Lilly usher her inside. Maria gives them a quick status update. “Most of these people are just in shock. A lot of them just need warm blankets and tequila. I don’t think that’s going to be good for you, though,” she adds, taking a look at the back of Imogen’s head. The dreaded suture machine is involved again. “Now, this won’t hurt… much.” When the treatment is all finished, Maria advises, “You’ve got a minor concussion. You should take it easy, try to avoid too much physical activity, too much bright light. Don’t look at any screens; definitely don’t use a computer of any kind.”

“No computers, understood,” Imogen says happily, glad to have an excuse to stay away from the frustratingly backward Dominion and Confederate interfaces. “Probably safer for the computers, as well.” She turns down the offer of a full lobotomy.

Lilly also gets treated, unfazed by the equipment. These sorts of machines are deployed on battlefields. Normally marines are doped up on stimpacks, though, and do not feel the pain of treatment. Noting the variety of injuries, Maria asks if they were fighting zerg or terrans, and Lilly simply says, “Both.” She has holes from Neiman’s sniper rifle as well as from Spikey’s spines.

“You two need to take better care of yourselves,” Maria scolds.

With their injuries all patched up, Lilly and Imogen leave the clinic. Shelley walks out with them. She will be filling the role of point-person for the rest of the dealings with FRAWD, taking charge of the other witnesses. She says farewell to Lilly and Imogen at the base of Saffron’s ramp, and then her eyes drift off to the horizon. As the two women board the science vessel, they hear her mutter, “I bet there are zerg out there. But how can… How can I talk to them?”

Hope she doesn’t get herself killed by zerg, Lilly thinks.