When Lilly and Imogen enter the open-floor FRAWD office the next morning, the large-screen wall-mounted televisions are all tuned to various news programs. This is precisely why Imogen decided they needed to go into work today. She has already prepped an apology to Jefferson Duke, since he did tell them to keep the investigation at DORF quiet and they spectacularly failed at that. Lilly, on the other hand, was all set to head over to Saffron this morning. Sometimes it seems to Imogen like her partner does not even remember that they technically work here.
“Lilly, Imogen, come over to my office for a chat,” Duke calls from his doorway. “I’m seeing some interesting things out there.” He nods his head at one of the screens. Even Good Morning, Korhal! is talking about the zerg attack on DORF. Their boss already has a gin and tonic poured.
“But the coverage of FRAWD is all positive,” Imogen starts.
The program cuts to an interview. Lilly is standing next to some big mercenary guy. “Local veteran saves Dominion facility,” reads the banner. On another channel, the anchor is saying, “Dominion FRAWD: good for something?”
Jefferson lets out a long sigh, embarrassed that his department has been called out as being the least funded. And by one of his own employees, no less! “Now I told you to stay out of trouble. And then I hear that at the facility you are checking out, there’s a hydralisk attack. Now tell me that’s a coincidence.”
“Aye, a coincidence. We had talked with you about money laundering. Normally hydralisks aren’t involved in that. You can’t say you think we knew there would be a hydralisk there,” Imogen points out. Duke sighs again, and she presses on more cheerfully, “But I’m pleased to report that the museum is completely clean, and not because of laundering. Your family’s donated a lot of things to a really good place. You can rest easy about that.”
Jefferson does not want to hear what this foreigner has to say about what his family has been through. “Lilly, you’re a straight-shooter. I want to hear from you first. Imogen, I’ll catch up with you in a few moments here.” He ushers the soldier into his office and closes the door on the Umojan. Lilly always gives it to him straight, and she never asks for anything. He invites her to tell him what happened.
Lilly provides her after-action report, sticking to the facts of the battle. She tells him how the zerg was in the research facility as part of DORF’s experiments. She leaves out details about protoss involvement or that she released the hydralisk herself. She does talk about the inadequate security procedures and how they had to fight the zerg.
Jefferson sums it up, “So there was a zerg attack while you were checking out the facility because they had zerg… You two just have the weirdest luck. And a hydralisk, you’re lucky to be alive! Look, I appreciate what you’re doing. I just want to reiterate that we don’t have the funds for health coverage. So if you’re in that kind of dangerous situation, get out of there! You don’t have to fight in that situation.”
“No, sir. Yes, sir.” All he has said is that they do not have to. He has not said that they cannot. Lilly suppresses a smile. The operation at DORF was one of the least dangerous things she has done lately.
“Okay, try to stay safe out there. Good to hear that the museum is in compliance.” He has Lilly send in her partner. When the Umojan comes in, he takes a sip from his drink and asks what happened to her during the zerg attack.
Imogen is not sure if Lilly discussed her injuries. “I’m not filing any claims, if that’s what you’re concerned about.”
“It’s not just about the claims. If something bad happens to you, that’s bad. And, if something bad happens to you, that’s bad for the department, so it’s bad for me to. It’s bad for everybody.”
“No, it’s good for the department!” Imogen insists. “Have you even been listening to what they’ve been saying?”
“Yeah, we’re getting some good press out of this; I do not deny that.”
“And for free! This isn’t an ad you had to pay for.”
“It is not for free,” Duke counters. “It took your time, even though I directed you to go there. That is a cost to the department. And yet, there were no compliance issues at the facility. Is that correct? The books are clean.” Imogen agrees with that. “Right, so from a FRAWD perspective, we didn’t find anything.”
Before he can tell her it was a complete waste of time, Imogen reframes it. “Because of this investigation, we can clearly say that any allegations of impropriety by the museum have been resolved. The research facility is clearly operating under unsafe conditions, but what you choose to do with that information is above my pay grade, that’s for sure.” Imogen spends some more time chipping away at his disgruntlement and then asks if he needs her and Lilly to lie low for a while.
“That’s what I had recommended! Just do some good, simple office work. Take it easy. I appreciate the go-getting attitude, but you can’t be going all the time. Norm’s getting buried under a lot of paperwork and report writing, too. He’s just one man; he can’t handle it all. If you and Lilly could help out with that… And again, we don’t have much travel budget. If you can stay in and do some office work, that would really help us out.”
If Saffron were in better shape and they had other jobs lined up, they could just quit this place and its puny paychecks, but Imogen knows they are not quite there yet. Instead, she inquires about a telework agreement. She would love to be able to just take a stack of whatever reports there are home and blaze through them over the weekend, then meter their release back to Duke as she and Lilly zip around the sector on their other errands. She gets some initial pushback from him, so she tries suggesting that her presence in the office would be disruptive and that Norm would be able to work faster without her here. Duke advises her that if she and Norm have a thing going, she needs to report it. Imogen gives up on that tack. She agrees to complete whatever prerequisite training FRAWD has and does not push for the telework to kick in immediately. There are still some things they need to do in Augustgrad, after all. Duke begrudgingly signs off on the arrangement.
Lilly and Imogen spend the rest of the day in the FRAWD office doing busy work. Lilly plays around with her stapler some, but mainly she just puts papers in Imogen’s in-basket. Imogen, in turn, transfers them to Norm’s. Imogen tries to figure out how exactly he spends his time, but he is seldom at his desk, and the most she ever gets out of him is a greeting and a promise that he will have the DORF write-up completed soon. Imogen cannot figure out the computer system well enough to look at his files. She does not even know where finished reports go.