In the Grom, LLC, cafeteria, Lilly and Imogen sit down at the end of a long table to enjoy their free lunch. The mood changes when Shreev, the pilot from the Smashing Star, comes into the room. She marches up to the head of their table and slams her tray down onto it. “What are you two doing here? Haven’t you caused enough trouble?”
“We’re eating lunch,” Imogen replies levelly, “same as you.”
“No, you’re up to no good. What, are you calling zerg down here?” Shreev demands. “Is that what this is about?”
“We sent them to your house,” Lilly replies without batting an eye.
“Is that a threat?” the pilot snaps back. “I could have security escort you out of here right now. I should do that.”
Imogen raises an eyebrow. “Oh, can you call security for people just being mean? Because I’m pretty sure you’ve done worse things.” Shreev was going to leave them stranded on Redstone III surrounded by lava and zerg. They only got her to agree to abandon them in Dead Man’s Port instead after Durian’s intervention.
“I’m pretty sure I’m an employee of this company, and you are just two schlubs trying to fleece Mr. Grom.”
Shreev’s invective is muted by the sounds of crunching food. Some people glance their way, but Imogen has no way of knowing if the pilot is always so argumentative. Lilly seems content to let it slide, but Imogen embraces the opportunity to let out her pent up frustration on this convenient target. She has been handling Spearmint with kid gloves for days. Combine that with dealing with protoss, who are themselves so taxing… And Shreev herself is a reminder of Redstone and the subsequent falling out with Neiman. Imogen feels some sense of betrayal over that, but also failure. She extended trust to him, and he abused it. What is wrong with this woman? Why is this such a huge issue to her?
Imogen begins to actually feel Shreev’s anger and realizes she has inadvertently extended her psionic senses. She draws them back and instead loosens her tongue. “You’re just a pilot, a pilot who couldn’t even land her ship safely and probably couldn’t cut it in the military back when you were there. You certainly should not be making business judgments about what is or is not appropriate for Grom—the founder of this company—to pursue. If we are presenting business plans to him that aren’t sound, that’s for him to decide, not some lousy pilot like you.”
Lilly snorts. She’s probably going to end up on Antiga, attacked by zerg.
“Just a pilot!” Shreev mutters. She slams her tray again. “Don’t you tell me about how to run anything, Umojan. I fought with the Dominion for a long time. We’re the only thing keeping the zerg back. What has your planet done? Nothing! With all your advanced technology, you’re useless! I’ve lost more friends and family in this war than you can imagine. So don’t you tell me how to run things.”
Imogen’s probably killed more zerg than she has, Lilly thinks. It is amazing to her that this woman is so angry at them. Lilly herself totally forgot about her after Redstone.
Shreev snatches up her tray. “You watch yourself,” she hisses and storms off.
What tension was building in the cafeteria dissipates. There is some murmuring, but it does not look like anyone else wants to exchange words with Imogen and Lilly on the pilot’s behalf.
“Boy, that pilot really doesn’t like us!” Lilly comments between bites. The food here really is quite good.
“I wonder if she can actually do anything to us,” Imogen says quietly.
“If she’s got any sway with anyone who would matter.”
“Hunh.” Lilly shrugs.
They finish their lunches and return to the lobby. After a little wait, Grom shows up, Spearmint in tow. Although the proposal sounds interesting to him, he would like to talk with the two FRAWD agents before making his decision. Spearmint, still rather on edge, is at least slightly hopeful. This company seems to have the resources to make this work, though they may need to also hire mercenaries. Grom waves Dwight over and tells the Antigan secretary to give Spearmint a tour, particularly showing off the mining equipment. Before they walk off, Imogen checks with Spearmint that he will be all right in that environment.
“I don’t need you watching me, okay?” Spearmint growls. “I’ve been through a lot. Just leave me alone. I appreciate the help you’ve given, but this is my world’s fight.”
Imogen nods in acceptance. She has done what she can for his psychological health, but now it is time to just let him be.