Still worried about the whole resocialization thing, Lilly is glad to get out and, well, socialize. It will do her good to spend some time with someone who will treat her normally and does not want to test things on her. Those scientists are too smart; they could tell I’m a resoc just from a two-sentence conversation! Lilly gives Durian a call, and he agrees to meet her at Local Beer Shop, a wannabe micro-brewery that mainly sells all the Big Beer standards, but at least they come in growlers. She picks up a bottle of whiskey for Imogen and a really dark beer, Kick in the Face Stout, for Malorn.
Over beers, Durian asks her how things are going for her. “That last job for Grom, it turned kind of sour at the end,” he says, shaking his head. He takes a drink. “But, hey, Queen of Blades hasn’t killed us, so that’s looking up!”
“We managed to get a ride from Dead Man’s Port. I actually met a mercenary group there,” Lilly tells him.
“Oh, really? That’s a rough place. I’ve never been there myself—that Grom job doesn’t count. We really just slowed down, didn’t even stop.” He seems sore about that.
“Yeah, it wasn’t too bad,” Lilly tells him brightly. “It’s an all right place. The mercs there seem pretty tough.” They talk shop for a bit. Since Durian is a company of just one guy in competition with well-established bands like the War Pigs, Lilly gives him Mr. Hill’s contact information. She thinks the broker might be able to line Durian up with some work. After some questions, though, Durian is reluctant to follow up on the lead. He does not like the idea of doing out-and-out illegal work. He wants to protect, not destroy. Blackmarket money is good, but his conscience does not support that sort of work. Of course, it all depends on how much above-board work he can find. If credits get tight, he admits he might give Mr. Hill a call.
“We have a job for you, if you’re interested,” Lilly offers.
“You have a job?! I’m definitely interested. Plus, I’d love to help a friend. That would be great. What do you need me to do? Just tell me where and when.” Lilly gives him the address of the Dominion Optics Research Facility and says the job would start around noon on Wednesday. Then, just out of curiosity, she asks if he still has his suit, unsure of whether that was his personal item or if it belonged to Grom, LLC. When he confirms that he does, she clarifies that she does not expect he would need it on this job. “Do you just need me to look tough in general? I don’t need to be battle ready? What’s the situation?” he asks.
“There may be some… trouble. And we might need some backup, so we’d just like to have you on hand. How much detail do you want?”
“I… Look, I don’t… I appreciate…” Durian stumbles for the right words, wanting to maintain his standards while also not insulting his friend. “I don’t want to know your business necessarily. But I don’t want to do anything that will get me in trouble. I only got my temporary mercenary license. If something were to go bad at a government facility, they could revoke my license real quick. That could be really bad.”
“Okay, got it.”
“I…” he sighs. “I’m really sorry. I would love to help. I don’t want anything bad to happen to you.”
“Wait, are you turning down the job, or do you not want to know the details? We’re cool either way, Durian,” Lilly assures him.
“I appreciate that. I’m in, just… I don’t want to know any details.” He takes a moment, then reframes the situation in a way he can accept. “You’re just hiring me in case something goes bad. That’s a perfectly normal thing. You’re a good friend of mine; it makes sense that you would do this. And you know what?” He puts down his beer glass, empty. “You’re not a thief, so it’s cool.”
Lilly smiles. “Cool!” She takes out her wallet and fishes out five mini-mengskses.
“Oh, no, no, no! Half upfront, half after the job. I’m not going to stiff anybody. I’m going to run a legitimate mercenary operation. And, hey!” He smiles widely at Lilly. “You’re the first customer of the Endurians! Congratulations!”
They get another round and talk about his plans for his mercenary “group.” He explains that he got tired of working for someone else all the time, but this way, he can work for a different person everyday. He paid his time in the Dominion as a marine and in private industry as security. There, in the mining business, he was just a cost center. He feels that as a mercenary he could be protecting important things or making people money. He knows some mercenary companies take any jobs that come their way, but he wants to do something positive.
“Do you like your boss?” Lilly asks.
“Well, I’m my own boss now,” he begins, but then he corrects himself. “Well, you’re my boss. Yes, ma’am. I’m on the job! I’ll go get my suit ready, do some shooting practice and everything else.” He talks with her more about his aspirations and admits that he is still figuring out the whole business side of things. He acknowledges that he needs to work on that. Even with that headache, though, this venture is still better than working for someone else and having to do jobs he does not like. “I might get sent to hassle some civilians. I don’t want to do that!”
“Yeah, I get it,” Lilly tells him.
“People use mercenaries for things they don’t want to do themselves,” he observes. “I want to have control over the jobs I’m doing. And, hey, if it works out, maybe we can go into business together.”
“That would be cool. Definitely been thinking about it. It’d be nice to work for yourself.”
“It would,” Durian agrees. “But it’s hard to find money to eat, too,” he admits.
“Yeah, but it’s not like we have health benefits at FRAWD or anything.” Durian is appalled to hear this, given the dangerous nature of Lilly’s work. Lilly acknowledges that the job is more dangerous than it seems like it ought to be.
“Man, almost nobody likes inspectors,” Durian commiserates. “I don’t mind inspectors; they’re just doing their job! They make sure everyone’s following the rules. What’s wrong with that? Only people who are corrupt don’t like inspectors, which is too many people. So, thanks for doing your part, Lilly.” Then he sits up a little straighter. “Excuse me. Thanks for doing your part, Ms. Washington.” He gives her a little salute, and they enjoy the rest of their meal.