Gun in hand, Lilly beats Imogen to the comms tower and leads the way inside. She hears a door at the top clatter open. A male voice calls down, “You’re crazy to be flying out there. We’re under attack! Just stay down there, stay safe! We’ve got a problem with the comms.” Lilly and Imogen do not wait to hear the whole message before starting up the gray concrete stairs at a run. The whole way, Imogen shouts about what forces they observed in order to continue the charade. “Aw crap,” the man above cries. “We’ve got to let the garrison know.”
They hear footsteps coming down the stairs toward them. When they meet in the middle, he is confused. “What are you doing? You should just stay down there. You’ll be safer. You’re a target if you’re up in the comms booth.” He tries to negotiate his way around them.
Lilly throws Imogen a look for guidance. With a quick, “Do whatever,” her partner skirts around the man whose shirt is labeled Ross and keeps climbing. All right, Lilly thinks, cracking her neck. The technician does not see it coming when she suddenly grabs him. She quietly chokes him out, not that anyone at the top of the tower would have been able to hear a scuffle over the sound of Imogen’s heavy footfalls and frantic shouting. Lilly relieves him of his small pistol and glances around for binding material. A super-long extension cord snakes down the stairs nearby. Lilly pulls it free with a yank and then secures Ross with it. Her long legs catch her up with Imogen just a flight below the comms booth. She seems to have a plan, so Lilly does not take up a protective position in front of her.
This time a female voice drifts down from above. “Ma’am, I just need you to calm down and stay down there. The Dominion is in control. We’re going to take care of it.” The way her voice stutters and cracks suggests she does not quite believe that herself. Her statement is followed by a door slam. Presumably she has gone back to work at her station.
Imogen reaches the top platform. Pistol in hand, she throws open the door and snaps off a shot. The bullet scores the arm of the technician. With a scream, she yanks her arm away from the communications console. “Oh no! The raiders are here! The raiders are here!” She stumbles back a few steps, cradling her injured arm to her chest as blood streams down it. Sprayed droplets stain the neatly embroidered Wilson on her chest pocket a bright red.
The radio crackles to life. “Uh, Mar Sara, we noticed that there’s interference, it seems. Can you clarify that everything’s okay over there?” The solar disturbance must have passed.
Lilly levels her shotgun at the technician and looks to Imogen for guidance on how to proceed. What are we doing? Are we shooting? Her partner, though, has stepped up to the console, leaving this problem to Lilly to deal with. “Uh… Get down?” Lilly orders weakly. She steps further into the small room allowing the door to close behind her.
“Repeat: Mar Sara, is everything okay there?”
“Restrain her!” Imogen snaps over her shoulder at Lilly. She turns back to the comms equipment, searching for how to switch to teletype mode. No way does she want to speak into a microphone with her accent.
“Got it!” Lilly says, pleased to have clear orders. The injured technician is freaking out, never having been shot before. Lilly grabs her, holding the squirming woman against her chest and slapping a hand down over her mouth, just in case the comms equipment is voice-activated in some way. Then she glances around for more extension cord.
> Solar flare. Rebooting system now. Everything’s fine here.
< We’re getting your sensor readings. Storm should have passed by now. Do we need to send repair crew?
> Negative. Wilson’s gone to take care of it.
< Excellent work, Officer Ross. I’m glad that you finally admit she’s a better mechanic than you.
> I didn’t say that!
There is no response to Imogen’s defense of Ross’s prowess, but that is just fine with her. This went better than the online chat with Neiman.
Wilson yanks her head free of Lilly’s hand. “What are you going to do to me?! Just, just make it quick, if you gotta kill me.” She scrunches her eyes closed, braced for the worst. “Or… you’re going to sell me to the zerg, aren’t you? I heard that’s what you do. You’re in league with the zerg, aren’t you?”
Having completed the mission Jimmy tasked them with, Imogen turns to the prisoner. “Sell you to the zerg?! We’re not going to do that.”
“You’re just going to throw me to the zerg for fun, then?”
“There’s no zerg involved!”
“I’ve seen the reports! I know that Jim Raynor is actually a lovesick slave of the Queen of Blades.”
This sounds more like tabloids than news reports to Imogen. “As long as you don’t interfere with what we’re doing here at the comms tower, you’ll be fine.” With the binder of detailed instructions leftover from Wilson’s recently-completed training, Raynor’s folks should be able to staff the tower convincingly. According to the schedule posted on the wall there are still several hours before the next shift starts.
Just then there are sounds on the staircase. Lilly has her hands full with Wilson but manages to readjust her grip to shut the woman up again. Imogen steps over to the door, nudging it open with her pistol just enough so she can watch the final approach. She sees Ross peaking around the corner below. “If you don’t want to end up like Wilson, lay down on the staircase, hands behind your head,” she tells him. Let him think the worst, if it gets him to cooperate.
Ross hesitates. He sees the muzzle of a pistol and hears the distant sounds of gunfire outside. His own weapon is missing. As he starts to kneel, he shouts out, “Wilson! Are you in there? Are you okay?” When he gets no response from his shiftmate, he stammers out, “How can I trust you?” He puts his hands slowly above his head. “How do I know you won’t just kill me right here on the stairs?”
“I haven’t shot you yet, have I?” Imogen points out. “And as you may recall, we didn’t shoot you earlier, despite what you may have heard about raiders. Most of that’s propaganda.” He takes her point and lays down fully. She cautiously descends to his level and then secures his hands with her duct tape. He holds still but does anxiously ask again about the other technician. “Aye, she’s a little scratched up, but she’ll be fine,” Imogen assures him.
“Oh boy, I’m not going to hear the end of this,” he mutters. “You won’t get away with this, you know!”
It is such a cliché thing to say that Imogen replies in kind. “We already have.” She puts another strip of tape across his mouth, then yanks him to his feet and prods him up the stairs. Once they are all together, Imogen gives Wilson the same duct tape treatment so that Lilly is free to act. Wilson gets to keep her arms in front of her, though. That position makes it easier for Imogen to dress the shallow bullet wound racing across the woman’s forearm. All the blood made the injury look worse than it really was. Imogen knew what she was doing when she took the shot; it was to startle, not maim.