FRAWD Investigators: Liberation Day | Scene 18

Joey Ray’s bar is happening. The inside is crammed with people, and more spill out into the street outside. Music blares from the still-broken jukebox, the selection limited to the one record stuck in place. In addition to raiders, a number of regular citizens are here partying. Every new arrival is greeted with raised glasses and cheers, regardless of who they are. Everyone is happy. Everyone but Imogen.

Lilly decides the bar is a safe enough place that she can let Imogen lead the way. Her partner is moving with purpose, and Lilly is along for the ride. Jim Raynor gives them a wave from the bar when they enter, and Imogen makes her way through the crowd to him, unconsciously smoothing her braid as she goes. He is serving drinks alongside Joey Ray. The color of the beer they are pouring looks quite light; they are likely diluting it to keep the mob from getting too drunk too quickly.

“Ah, you made it!” Raynor greets them. “What can I get you two? Everything’s on the house.”

“You can get me a private word with yourself. Outside. Now.”

Oooh, he’s in trouble, Lilly thinks. She has heard this tone of voice before.

Jimmy has not though. “Oh, about your payment! All right, sure, we can take care of that. We can go out back. I’ve got a barrel there for you.”

Lilly tags along. She trusts Jimmy not to do anything, but she does not know how much trouble Imogen is going to get into, considering how upset she is right now. The trio steps out into the alley, and Lilly immediately scans the area for threats. A group of raider marines is clustered further down the way taking a smoke break. They are not likely to overhear a quiet conversation, but if shouting starts, they may take notice.

“Now, you wanted a refill on your vespene, right? Is one barrel going to be good enough for that?” he asks, slapping a large drum sitting just outside the garage door.

“I understand that we were taking part in a raider action on your behalf, but I’m not interested in your bloody vespene right now.” Imogen is no Durian; she will never toe somebody else’s party line. But she does have principles. Just because some of the raiders are Lilly’s friends is no reason to keep doing jobs for them, if Imogen cannot stomach what they stand for. “Your men just executed somebody in the streets! Is that what this rebellion is all about? What is your long-term plan? How is this better from what Mengsk does?” She does not want platitudes, she wants insight.

Raynor lets out a long exhale. He runs a hand over his face, pushing back the loose hair that hangs around his forehead. “Well, that’s one corrupt taskmaster dead instead of a whole frontier station sentenced to death by the zerg. That’s a little better by my reckoning. It’s not ideal, I agree.”

“Do you actually have control of this?” Imogen presses. “Does this happen all the time? Is this going to keep happening? I know you can’t vouch for every single one of your people, but are you okay with this?” She wonders if this is why Li June distances herself from Raynor now.

Jimmy reaches for his gun, and for one brief moment, Lilly is on high alert. Once it is in his hand, though, he sighs, twirling the old-timey revolver around on a finger. It is a practiced move, one that settles him a bit. “Sometimes my boys get a little bit out of control,” he allows. “But a lot of them have been mighty wronged by that there Reggie Mac. I know you’re not from here, you’re not from the Dominion. Me, I’m from Mar Sara originally. Pre-glassing. Since I’ve come back, I’ve seen a lot of the terrible things that he’s done to all the people here. I understand where you’re coming from, but out here on the frontier, this is frontier justice that they delivered tonight. It’s not perfect. It’s not clean. But that’s what it is. He’s done a lot of terrible things, and I tell you, he deserved what he got. Now, maybe you haven’t experienced those kinds of horrors, but we are in a war here and he was a criminal. If you’re not comfortable with bringing criminals to justice—’cause the system they got in place here, that ain’t gonna bring justice—then I understand if you don’t wanna continue to be part of the organization. I won’t force anybody to do this. I need people that really want it. But those men who did the execution, they were wronged quite a bit.”

Raynor catches his revolver, stopping the spin, and flicks his hand to the side, flipping open the canister. “There are two bullets I’ve got left in this gun,” he says. He slaps the canister back in place. “There are two people that I still gotta bring justice to. So I’m not gonna fault a man for finally getting closure on something like that.” 

He slides the gun back in its holster, and Lilly fully relaxes, deciding Imogen really is safe here. Poor Jimmy, she thinks with some compassion. He should have let her fix his armor. He is obviously tired from the long day and working hard to take care of his troops. You know what, these two could use some alcohol. She heads back inside Joey Ray’s.

“You’re from Mar Sara, and so are some of your troops, but you keep saying that you can’t stick around anywhere too long,” Imogen points out. “What’s the long-term plan for keeping this place stable, other than just sending fake comms out from the tower? If you don’t have a proper plan for this one planet, how do you—Do you have any sort of plan for this sector? It can’t always be a frontier. Once you go after Mengsk, that’s the ‘civilization’ of the sector. You can shoot Mengsk with that bullet,” Imogen says, nodding at Jimmy’s revolver, “and when you do, there will be a huge vacuum left behind. What do you think is going to fill that vacuum? Because if you don’t have a plan for that, Kerrigan does. Are you going to drag all these people down with you,”—Imogen throws out an arm, including the whole city in her gesture—“just to deliver that bullet?”

The one-two punch of pulling both Raynor’s enemies into this hits Jim hard. If you can’t hold onto this planet, how do you expect to win this war? Is this just a personal vendetta? Everything Imogen is saying boils down to those questions. Are we a band of vigilantes, or are we a rebellion? He was not expecting to think about these things tonight. “Most people don’t think about that too hard,” he says, trying to scrape together a response.

“That’s a problem,” Imogen tells him.

“Most people, they just know Mensk is bad news and want to get rid of him. You know, about five years ago, I was like that, too. I knew the Confederacy was bad news, so I teamed up with Mengsk and we got rid of them.” He shakes his head at himself. “Ended up right back in the same situation. Some people—certainly Mengsk—accuse me of moving against him just to overthrow him and put myself in charge. Do the same thing, but I’m the guy on top this time. That’s not really my style. You want to know the plan? I will tell you what the plan is. I don’t share this with everyone. One, not everyone wants to know. Two, the plan might change. And three, it could be dangerous if too many people know what the plan is.

“We have previously never held any territory, right? We’re too small an outfit; we’ve got to stay on the move. We did help a group of farmers and scientists out on another fringe world. They’re willing to help us out in turn, and the Dominion, they don’t have a presence there. So we are getting some basic supplies there. Mar Sara could be place number two for that. How do we hold onto it? We’re going to keep control of that comms tower. We’re going to limit the number of visitors—though we’ve got to find a good reason to do that. Our comms people are very good though. They can keep that act going for at least a couple months. That’ll be enough time for us to really establish a nice little base of operations. 

“And then there’s Antiga, recently brought back into the fold without a strong Dominion presence. That’s another planet where we started a revolution before. Those are people who love to rebel, let me tell you! After my own heart, Antigans. If we get a few of these planets together while the Dominion is distracted somewhere else, we can scrape together a small fleet. The UED—although terrible, terrible people—showed that a small but hard enough strike right at Korhal itself can be enough to knock Mengsk out. Now, Mengsk got away last time, because I picked him up. If I’m not there to pick him up, he ain’t gonna get away this time. So, we’ve just gotta get a small strike force, led by our flagship Hyperion and our Admiral Matt—he’ll finally be a real admiral, with multiple ships under his command—to make a quick strike on Korhal. Minimal casualties. Hit Mengsk.” Raynor pulls out his gun again, twirls it around, and flips it open. “And I spend one of these bullets.” He slaps the cylinder closed again. “That is the plan.” The gun goes back in its holster.

“As for what comes after, it ain’t me. I’m a terrible person. I’m leaving that up to Matt to figure out. He’s a bit more of a philosopher. Got some crazy ideas about some political dissidents who have been locked up. We’re looking to hit a prison that Mengsk has. If we get some of those folks out, maybe they’ve got some good ideas we can put together. So, no, I don’t have a whole plan for that yet because Matt’s in charge of that. And I trust his judgment with that. He’s made much better life choices than I have, let me tell you.”

“Except for that marriage,” Imogen comments. Mira Han is a real piece of work. And Imogen still has a letter from Horner to deliver to her.

“Well, yeah,” Jimmy allows. “Everyone’s gotta make one mistake.”

Imogen has gotten what she wanted from Raynor. She does not need him to be thinking about the future, as long as someone in his organization is. All the better that it is “dear Matthew.” Imogen has not had many personal interactions with Horner. However, the brief conversation they shared on the bridge of his ship was enough to show that he has poise, leadership qualities, and comfort with a higher social tier than Raynor. He knows how to move in the necessary circles for sector-wide governance. Freeing political prisoners and seeing what they have to say, that sounds like a really good idea to Imogen. “When you’re ready to hit that prison, if you need a science vessel, you let us know,” she tells Raynor.

“I’ll keep that in mind. But the place is deep underground on Korhal. Not sure what use a science vessel is for that.”

“Our sensor suite penetrates pretty far,” Imogen says with pride. She hands him a Lost & Found business card.

“Good to know. We can always use more help. But I understand you have your own things you need to take care of in this sector.” He turns and raps the barrel of vespene beside them. There are now two drinks sitting atop it, a shot of whiskey and a mug of beer. “True to my word, I got this here barrel for you. One thing I can’t deliver is a way to get this barrel to your ship. I do apologize.”

Imogen chuckles and throws a look over her shoulder at where she assumes Lilly has been leaning against the brick wall, arms folded, this whole time. Her partner is gone though.