FRAWD Investigators: DORF Star | Scene 14

Lilly and Imogen would have preferred to already be in place when Lendasha’s forces arrived, but as that is clearly not to be, it is time to get a move on. Imogen leads the way to the secured entrance of the restricted area near the lecture hall. The guard on the left challenges her, “You’re not supposed to be here.”

“I’ve got a piece of paper that says I am,” Imogen counters, waving the documentation from Dr. Brine authorizing them for a tour. “And it’s signed by your boss.”

He takes the paper and looks it over while his partner calls it in. They only hear one side of the conversation, but it is enough to increase Lilly’s unease. “You’re giving a tour? … Ooooooooh.” He glances at the group of women in front of him. “What? No, there’s two. … What? Well, okay. Makes no difference to me. … Yeah, probably two. Sure. You can’t really t— … Yeah, sure, you can tell. Fine.” He clips his radio back on his belt and addresses the FRAWD contingent, “Yeah, you’re cleared to proceed. The head scientist will be here in a second.”

A few moments later, the door opens from the other side, and Dr. Brine welcomes them in, all smiles. He does not even bat an eye at the additional person in their party. “We are so pleased to receive you. Now, you were from what division, again? Just jog my memory here.”

“The Fraud, Retaliation, Abuse, Waste Division,” Imogen answers. “We’re here to make sure you’re using your resources properly in the service of the Dominion.”

“Of course! I assure you we are very judicious in how we use our resources. I think you’re going to like what you see here. You’re going to learn a lot, and if the science goes over your head, don’t worry about it. I’ve got a pamphlet produced for external consumption that you can take back to your headquarters if you really want. But everything you see here today has to stay within these walls.”

He leads them down a hallway that is not nearly as bright and eye-catching as the museum’s exhibit gallery. Clearly, this is more of a work area than a show place. The otherwise austere walls have the occasional poster to break up the drab matte black. One says, “DBD: Minimize reflective surfaces,” and has a cartoon of a laser bouncing off a mirror and melting a person. Another says, “Watch out! Wear eye protection.” It shows a person with ridiculously huge goggles.
“Should we be wearing safety glasses?” Imogen asks.

Dr. Brine opens a cabinet under the poster and offers them all tinted safety visors. They are one size fits all and designed to fit over prescription glasses. Lilly turns away from their host and slips on the cloaking goggles before putting her visor on over them. 

The lighting changes from standard fluorescents to red when they turn down the next hallway. Dr. Brine offers an explanation related to the lasers that they test, as this helps the beams be visible. “We’re doing some interesting tests on a new weapons platform. Did you want to start with seeing a test?”

At the mention of the test, Lilly’s stomach drops; she is sure he means her to be the subject. Imogen engages in some conversation with the self-satisfied scientist, but Lilly pays no attention, instead scanning the area for cloaked threats. She could really use a target to shoot or punch right now. If we could just hurry this up, that would be great. She hears a sound coming down the hallway to the right, the whirring hum of something charging. Based on where she was outside the building when she saw the laser testing lab, that seems to be its direction. She takes a quick peek around the corner and sees a cloaked protoss slipping through an open door into that very chamber. The goggles do not provide clear enough information for her to tell if it is the same protoss as before. There is at least one around, but there could be more.

The scientist’s attention is still occupied by Imogen, and he is saying something to her about her Umojan education. Lilly taps Malorn’s arm and points down the hall. He nods at her and says nothing, but she sees his eagerness projected across the terran face he wears. Malorn turns down that corner himself, paying no heed to what the rest of the tour group is doing. Lilly signals Imogen behind the scientist’s back and takes off after Malorn. She nervously adjusts the collar of her jacket as she walks, wondering, Why don’t they put the tattoos lower on the body?! She supposes she should just be glad they did not stamp “resoc” across her forehead.

Imogen sees her teammates making their move and endeavors to keep Dr. Brine focused on her. “No, no, nothing on Umoja compares to what you’re working on here, for sure. We haven’t had the same sort of pressures to develop new technologies. All our things are just to make life easy, not to defend the people.”

Brine chuckles. “Now, now, I know you were being coy the other day about Umoja. And I perhaps said some things I shouldn’t have. Umoja’s not that bad. And you’re right; you’re focused on artistic pursuits. In the Dominion, we have to fight for what we’ve got. And that’s what we’re all about here.” Despite Imogen’s efforts, he turns and notices where Lilly and Malorn have gone. “Oh, it looks like your associates want to get straight to the test. Shall we?”