The group takes public transportation to the Dominion Optics Research Facility. Along the way, Durian reminds his clients, “Don’t hesitate to call me, Ms. Washington, Ms…. Ondorrok, is it? What was your last name again?”
Imogen has let Durian’s mangling of her surname slide in the past, but this time she corrects him. “Owendoher.”
“O-wen-do-her. I do apologize. I’m not as familiar with Umojan names.” Ever the positive professional, he promises, “I’m going to get better at that, though, Ms. Owendoher.”
Trying to cut off any potential awkwardness with their patron, Imogen hastily adds, “And Ms. Ornery will have no reason to call you.”
Still, eager to be a good businessman, Durian reads out his comm number for the intern.
Malorn stares at the terran soldier and makes no move to retain the contact information. In his current guise, he does not even appear to have a comm. He has a communicator, of course, but it is of protoss design and nothing at all like the inferior devices his current associates use.
When they reach the museum grounds, Durian enters by himself and walks up to the ticket counter alone. He enters DORF as a regular paying customer. Well, not entirely regular. Wednesdays turn out to be Veteran Appreciation Day at the museum, so he gets in at a discounted rate. He is even allowed to keep his rifle on his person. The counter worker thanks him for his service and asks him to wear a little badge indicating where he served. Durian takes one for Char and pins it on his chest.
Once Durian is in position, Imogen leads her contingent up to the window and, as she did on Monday, immediately asks to speak with the manager. Sarah Palmer comes when called and recognizes Lilly and the Umojan, but when her eyes land on the third woman with them, she asks, “Who’s this other person?”
“She’s just a trainee who has to observe everything we’re doing,” Imogen says dismissively.
Palmer glances at the presented Dominion citizen identification and then does not fuss any further; if the research lab has a problem with this, they can deal with it themselves. “We’re a little short-staffed today,” she tells the agents, “so it’s good you got to check out our area earlier in the week. I think in the back, they might also be down a trooper or two. There was some sort of accident the other day.” She throws up her hands. “But I don’t really know.”
Imogen keeps Palmer talking a while longer so that Lilly can slip off for one last try at the sensor goggles. Lilly easily swipes them from their display. When she glances around, no museum guards are in sight, but Durian is looking at her. She hopes he does not think she is a thief; she is just borrowing the goggles, after all. Durian tilts his head, a look of mild confusion on his face, but then he shrugs it off. He taps the comm on his belt, reminding her that he is just a call away if there is trouble, and then goes back to looking at the exhibits.
Lilly brings the goggles up to her eyes, and the colors of the world around her shift. She does a quick scan of the gallery and catches a ghostly blue outline following a scientist through the door in the back. She glances over the goggles, and the figure is nowhere to be seen. She tilts her head back, looking through them again, and the protoss-shape reappears, visible only as long as the door remains open.
Imogen and Malorn join her. As they all walk toward the back, Lilly leans down to quietly say to the shorter woman, “I saw somebody go in.”
“Aye,” Imogen agrees. “I saw the scientist go through, too.”
“I think it’s one of Mal’s friends,” Lilly clarifies, trying to remain subtle.
“Oh. Lendasha’s here,” Imogen realizes.
“They are not my friends,” Malorn growls. His strange protoss voice reverberates a little too loudly for Lilly’s taste as he continues, “They are my adversary and her flunkies!” His guise maps his emotions to his false terran features, showing his eager anticipation at the upcoming confrontation. He leans down to join the huddle. “Remember, we are not to kill Lendasha this day. That would ruin everything, and make this whole escapade pointless. If she happens to get hurt, well, it happens.”
“We’re going to defend ourselves,” Imogen tells him. He might feel the need to embarrass Lendasha, but her priority and Lilly’s is to get the weapon and get out alive.
“Certainly,” Malorn agrees, “I would expect no—well, from a terran I might expect less.”
Lilly cracks a small smile, a bit encouraged that Malorn thinks she or Imogen actually could kill such a tough enemy as Lendasha sounds like. Malorn really does think highly of us.