After leaving Spearmint at Grom, LLC, Lilly and Imogen head to FRAWD headquarters. Norm greets them as he disappears off to do… whatever it is he does. Imogen looks through her desk, trying to see if anything consequential has shown up in her physical inbox or the system, but as usual, she is frustrated by the lack of anything that makes sense. They are not very good about dating things here, so it is impossible to tell what is new versus what is old.
Lilly pokes at her own desk a bit, wondering why they have even come here. If it were up to her, they would just never show up again. It worked fine with the refinery in Mar Sara City.
Imogen, though, is playing it by the book. She is actively searching the cabinet for the resignation form when Jefferson Duke steps out of his office, glass of scotch in hand. “Ah! Imogen! Lilly! How you two been? That teleworking, is that working out all right for you? You’re not getting too stir-crazy at home? I know you two like being out in the field, but being closer to home has been all right?”
Imogen looks up from the cabinet. “Actually, no. It hasn’t been working out. I’m trying to find the forms for resignation, but I can’t. What are they filed under?”
Jefferson keeps his cool at this shocking news. “Did I hear you right? You say you’re quitting?”
“Yes, sir,” Lilly speaks up. They are not even that good at their jobs, never getting forms in or doing reports, so she does not see why it should matter to him.
“Are you sure you want to do that? I mean, the benefits of working for the Dominion are significant.”
“Like the health care?” Imogen counters. “And the ample freedom to do field work?”
“Not the first, but that second one, yeah.”
“That you told us we couldn’t do anymore.”
“You did a lot of the field work. At some point I gotta get Norm out there…”
“Well now he’ll have his chance.”
Duke asks why they are quitting, verifying that there has not been any harassment of which he was unaware. He takes a sip of his scotch and then continues, inquiring if pay is the reason. He acknowledges that they are not paid that much but also points out they do not get shot at as much as if they were in the military. “Have you really thought this through?”
“Aye. The wheels of government turn quite slowly. You yourself have said this many a time,” Imogen tells him. Duke continues on, encouraging them to think it over more, asking them to delay, to maybe fill out the form but not sign it just yet. Finally Imogen asks why it matters to him, and the answer is of course that it will look bad for him.
“It matters to me because of the size of my department! I need people doing work. If I don’t have you doing work, it looks like my department’s not getting anything done.”
It never matters whether anything actually gets done, just what it looks like. It occurs to Imogen that maybe they could work out some sort of actual fraudulent arrangement here. “Can you just leave us as placeholders so that you keep the funding until you hire replacements?”
Duke does not bite for it, but fortunately he also does not recognize the offer as something to cause a fuss over. “No, once you resign I have to put out a vacancy. It’s a huge mess to hire more people. And I’ll have to have Norm train them… Losing all your experience is going to be miserable. You did such good work on that Rose job.”
“How are things progressing with that Rose job?” Imogen asks.
“They’re doing okay…” Duke begins, but he needs to flip through some notes before he can be more specific. “They want to question all the witnesses, but they haven’t been able to get in contact with any of them except Mr. Grom.”
“We told you about that, sir,” Lilly says. She delivered the report herself, telling him about Abdul being dragged off by a ghost.
Duke equivocates, a skill he has in spades. Imogen struggles to maintain her composure, as he waves away the evidence they accumulated as being tainted by association with Grom, a Rose competitor. “This is why we’re leaving,” she declares. “This is not effective.” Duke asks what they have lined up instead, and Imogen tells him that they will be working for themselves as independent contractors.
“So y’all are going to be unemployed?”
“Yes, sir,” Lilly says, ready to be done with all this.
“Lilly, I always appreciate your honest, forthright attitude.” Jefferson sighs, but he accepts the news. He insists that they remain long enough to share the customary cake for departing employees. They have to share because he is only budgeted to have one on hand at a time. Jefferson pipes a personal message on the top himself, just as he would for retirement or bereavement cakes.
Idly, Lilly wonders whether piping icing is covered in manager training, given what a neat job he does. This is the first time she has seen a cake in the office, but she and Imogen are not present enough to have any idea of what sort of turnover their department has. People they have never met before come out of the woodwork for a slice as Duke offers meaningless platitudes about the quality of Lilly and Imogen’s work and how they have transformed the department. He ends by telling them, “There’s always a place for you back here.” After the smattering of applause, he adds, “You’ll have to go through the vacancy system again to reapply and all that, but it was really great having you. You made this a brighter place.”
“Thank you, sir,” Lilly says. “If you ever need contractors…” Duke says he will keep that in mind. “But not for report writing,” she adds. With that, she and Imogen turn over their badges and head out.