FRAWD Investigators: DORF Star | Scene 3

The next morning, Lilly finds she has two messages. Big Daddy Browder’s Gas & Guns is running a special on knives, buy one get one free. The other message is not as exciting, coming as it does from Jefferson Duke. “I haven’t seen you around in a while. Could you come by my office today? I want to touch base at ten this morning.” Imogen is copied on that message.

Lilly leaves an MRE for Snowball and steps out into the living room. She finds Malorn still asleep sitting up, but the blanket is now draped around his shoulders. Hope that was warm enough, Lilly thinks. Imogen is setting a cup of coffee out on the low table by the couch with a note that says they will be back later. Together, they head to FRAWD headquarters, leaving a protoss, a zerg, and a lyote closed in their apartment. Along the way, Lilly excitedly tells her friend about the knife coupon, and Imogen bemoans their lack of funds, as this would be a good opportunity to get two really high-quality knives.

They step out of the elevator into the large floor of desks, and Norm greets them with his standard, “Hey, guys!” 

Duke leans out of his office, sees them, and waves them in. “Lilly, Imogen, how are you doing? I was surprised you missed the department luncheon last week.”

“Oh,” Imogen replies, “that would be when we were back on Mar Sara probably.” He questions that last word, and Imogen clarifies that she is not sure what day the luncheon was. “Are we on the distro for that?” She further derails follow-up questions along that line by discussing pay, a topic she knows Duke will push off to Payroll.

“Now, where have you two been? I haven’t seen you much around.” Duke looks at both Imogen and Lilly.

“I told you,” Imogen is quick to answer. “We needed to follow up on the Mar Sara vespene pipeline. You said you were going to look into whether there were funds for that, but, you know, you have also said many times that the wheels of government turn very slowly.”

Lilly backs up Imogen’s story, mentioning the raiders’ attack on the factory and the zerg drone she saw transporting vespene.

“Oh, that’s right, you were going to double-check on that,” Duke recalls. “All right. Wait, you said raiders attacked? I heard about that on the news.” He shakes his head and takes a sip from his glass, then sets it down and looks them in the eye again. “I’ve been getting some pushback that our agents are getting involved in various ruckuses. Look, I’m trying to push through the medical coverage, but I can’t do that if you keep getting in these situations that are looking real dangerous.”

“But you gave us that assignment!” Imogen protests.

“No,” Duke corrects her. “You chose, without my explicit authorization, to go back to Mar Sara. Now, I like that can-do attitude, but you want that health coverage, right?”

“Yes, sir,” Lilly agrees.

“So you want us to stay out of your hair for a while? Is that what you’re saying?” Imogen asks. That would suit her just fine.

“No! You’ve just got to stay out of trouble, okay? It reflects poorly on the department if you get injured in the field.”

“Well, I’m sure Norm could help us write the report in such a way that it wouldn’t sound so bad,” Imogen suggests.

“He can but, you know, being here helps to get more face-time. Performance review season is coming up, and I have been thinking, ‘What have Lilly and Imogen been doing?’ I know what Norm’s been doing. He’s been here. Every day he’s writing these great reports. Y’all have been—” 

“We’re field agents!” Imogen interrupts.

“Well….” Duke draws out. “That’s not an official work role. Now, I know you’ve been doing good work, but I’ve got to have more evidence of that. I’ve got to take it up to the Board… You don’t want to know all the terrible things I have to deal with in the Dominion bureaucracy.”

“Well, let me ask you a question then,” Imogen counters. “What’s become of the Grom case? How is that progressing?” She and Lilly brought back all that evidence of illegal activities by Rose, Inc. Does he not remember any of that? she wonders.

“You got the wheels started turning, and I appreciate that. It’s going to take time. Now, Mr. Grom, he came asking about that, actually, while you two were out. But you weren’t around for me to point him to.”

That’s because his pilot abandoned us, Imogen thinks. But for once, she keeps her mouth closed.

“So he might try to get a hold of you here in the next week or so. He’s a busy, busy man. For him to take time out to come see you, and then you’re not here, that also reflects poorly on the department. So can you just try to be a little more present?”

“Yes, sir,” Lilly agrees automatically.

“Well, what do you want us to do here?” Imogen demands.

“I want you to do your jobs.”

“There’s no fraud to—Oh! Is there someone here you need us to investigate? Do you suspect someone here of fraudulent activity? Is it Norm?” Imogen cranks up her go-getter persona. She has no reason to believe Duke is doing anything illegal or that anyone above him is, but even if her questions are just annoying enough that he will not want her around, she will consider that a win.

Duke looks at Imogen, aghast. “No, there’s not fraud in the department! We barely get enough done. There’s no chance for corruption; there’s nothing to corrupt! No, we need to help people with compliance. Then, ideally, there’s no corruption. And the way you get to no corruption is compliance. And that means compliance reports. Now, I know you and Lilly like to do field work, but you’ve been traveling around a bunch, and my travel budget is only so big. Is there something more local that you know of that needs checking out?”

Oh, that is perfect, Imogen thinks. She would love a legitimate reason to go look at the facility before Lendasha hits it. “I have heard some rumblings about certain Dominion facilities,” she begins coyly. “I wasn’t sure if that was the sort of thing you wanted us to suggest projects about.”

Lilly is a little relieved to hear that Imogen knows what sort of projects they should be working on.

“You can feel free to suggest projects,” Duke allows. “But there’s still the matter of whether it will be approved. What are you two thinking?”

Imogen draws out her response while she tries to put together a convincing cover. “We’ve heard of some potentially suspicious activity at DORF.”

“DORF?” Duke asks. “That optics museum on the outskirts of town?”

“But is it?” Imogen counters. “Is it only an optics museum? Or is it also a money-laundering facility? That’s the question that I’ve heard asked, that’s all I’m saying.”

“You know what, I thought their prices were a little odd. They seemed unusually low,” Duke observes. “Took my kid there once. Pretty boring place if you ask me. All right, if you think you have a lead, you two can check that out. That would be very helpful.”

Imogen rushes to emphasize that they have taken his warnings to heart. “It’s just on the outskirts of town; we won’t be far away. Local travel only; we won’t expense the public transportation to get there.”

Duke provides paperwork declaring their right to inspect the facility. “Take a little bit of time. Definitely check that out. If it turns out there is something, that could be interesting. But don’t go broadcasting this information. Right? We want to make sure this is all handled through proper channels. If there is someone laundering money there, and they find out about the investigation, they’re going to boot scootin’ boogie on out of there. Keep it restrained. Share the information you find with me—and with Norm, so he can write the report—and we’ll get another wheel of law turning.” He sets down his glass to emphasize his point.

“Then… you will tell the higher-ups?” Imogen asks. “Because I thought you wanted us to be doing presentations and things, and making our faces all known?”

“To me,” Duke clarifies. “And I gotta make my face known to the person ahead of me. Look, I don’t know how it works where you’re from, Imogen, but that’s how it works in the Dominion.”

“Nobody works where I’m from,” Imogen points out.

“Yeah, you got, what, a four-hour work week or something? Yeah, that’s why Umoja’s not getting anywhere. Anyway… you have a great day!” Duke tells them. “Dismissed.”

“Sir,” Lilly acknowledges.

They leave their boss’s office and head to their desks. There are a few memos in their physical inboxes, including one announcing the annual luncheon that the department actually bought for all the employees. No wonder our absence was noted, Imogen reflects. We missed free food. There was a raffle, even. Norm’s desk is decorated with his winning, a half-sized statue of Emperor Mengsk. As he works at his desk, concealed by the large piece, he periodically slaps the button on its base. Mengsk’s voice sounds from some speakers, “Remember, I am the last bastion of humanity!” Imogen rolls her eyes. Norm hits it again, and Mengsk announces, “Don’t be dumb!”

“So, what reports are we supposed to write?” Lilly asks Imogen. “Norm writes them all, doesn’t he?”

“I was hoping so,” Imogen sighs. “Let’s just jot down some bullet points here and stick it in his inbox for him to make the report on our follow-up to Mar Sara.” They throw something together, leaving out the vulture bike and the science vessel, as well as their new pet. Then they leave the FRAWD building, having put in enough face-time for one day.