When Lilly and Imogen head to the front of the museum, Durian stays in the back to help out wherever he can even though his hour is long since up. He is particularly concerned about people going into shock following the traumatic experience. He promises to catch up with Lilly and Imogen later, though. Lilly settles their tab with him, and as they part ways, he is in a good mood, pleased with all the positive exposure his fledgling company is getting.
If anyone questions why they hired him, Imogen is prepared to say that Jefferson Duke told them to stay safe, so they brought in some extra help in case things went wrong. And no one can deny that things went wrong. She doubts Duke will let them expense Durian’s retainer, but she and Lilly have enough personal funds to cover it.
They enter the now-abandoned exhibit hall, intern in tow, and the highest ranking person they can find is Sarah Palmer, manager of the public-facing half of DORF. As emergency services roll their gurneys through the public area, she peeks her head out of the office, inquiring whether it is safe to come out. Imogen assures her it is, but when asked what happened, she replies that Palmer is not cleared to know what goes on in the restricted section of the facility.
“Well, are we safe to operate our museum? I just want to make sure that the terrible things going on back there—whatever they are—do not affect the front part of the museum. Our report looks good, right?”
“Your museum is completely compliant,” Imogen assures her. “And we’ll be sure to express your complete cooperation in our report.” She suggests that the museum’s governing board reconsider the wisdom of maintaining shared space with the research activity.
“Oh, gosh,” Palmer says. “Dr. Brine has so much sway in the Dominion, though. It’s so hard to—”
“I don’t think I’m compromising anything to tell you that Dr. Brine is dead,” Imogen shares.
“And also, this is a very good location for you, but I think it has been demonstrated that it is not really a secure enough location for them.”
Lilly sees Malorn slip off. Disinterested in the conversation herself, she steps to the front doors, still wide-open from the medics coming in. The world outside is off-color, and she realizes she is still wearing the safety visor and, under it, the sensor goggles. She pulls them off and tucks them in her pocket. She was going to return them—she is no thief—but DORF owes her something for trying to test their gun out on her. With her vision now completely normal, she notices the Universal News Network vans pulling up out front.
“You heard it first, here on UNN, zerg in the Dominion Optics Research Facility!” one reporter says, facing a camera set up to get a good view of him with the building in the background. Museum guards have set up a small blockade, and journalists are at it demanding access to eyewitnesses.
Lilly is not too interested in chatting with them herself, but it seems right up her partner’s alley. Maybe Imogen can talk to them and plug FRAWD, she thinks. And it would be good PR for Durian. He could be the hero. Lilly brings her comm up and toggles it on. “Durian!”
He misreads the energy in her voice as urgency. “Yes, Ms. Washington! Did you get out all right? Are there any other threats? Sorry, I’m off the clock: are you okay, Lilly?” He adjusts his form of address but not his concern level.
“Yup.” She finds it kind of sweet that he sounds so worried about her when she was not even injured. Sure, that protoss whacked her with his fancy stick, but Imogen is the one who had her chest ripped open. “C’mere.”
“Yeah, just give me one second.” She hears him shouting to people in the background, “Yeah, just put some gauze on that and you’ll probably be fine. You’re going to be okay. You did good, you did good.”
Imogen finishes with the museum manager and steps up alongside Lilly. Seeing the journalists out front, she quickly checks her appearance in a window, closing up her duster so the blood-soaked shirt underneath is hidden. Then she heads out to the cameras. She and her partner are here legitimately so there is no reason to conceal FRAWD’s involvement. Good publicity for the division might make Duke more lenient toward her and Lilly when he finds out about the stir here. Lilly lingers behind, but Imogen does not mind handling this on her own.
A short while later, Durian tromps out from the back and crosses the exhibit hall to join Lilly. Even without his power armor, he is a hefty man. Lilly thinks he will do fine in front of the cameras. He again asks if everything is okay, and she simply points outside at the UNN folks.
“Phew! That’s a lot of reporters!” He looks over at Lilly. “You a little camera shy?”
“Durian!” Lilly says pointedly, tipping her head at the crowd.
“Wh-what? You want me to talk? I’m not a, not a—”
Durian hems and haws a bit. Then, thinking it will get him out of it, he says, “I’ll go if you come with me.”
“‘Kay,” Lilly agrees without batting an eye, and they step outside.