FRAWD Investigators: Liberation Day | Scene 6

When they reach Mar Sara airspace, Lilly calls Li June to see if there is anything specific she needs picked up from Mar Sara City before they swing by her place. Li sounds surprised. “Come by here? I’m sure I can think of a few things, but what do you need? Or is there something specific you have for me?” Lilly admits she needs help with something but does not share further details just yet. Li agrees that they can pay her a visit. The shopping list she gives Lilly includes twenty pounds of sugar—for future sweet tea—and a ridiculous amount of turret ammunition. That quantity of bullets might attract a lot of attention of the sort that Lilly does not need right now. Might need to take multiple trips for that. Li insists she will reimburse Lilly for these items and that they can work out some mutually agreeable terms for whatever Lilly needs help with later.

Rather than deal with any officials at the spaceport, Lilly sets Saffron down in the wastes a couple miles outside Mar Sara City. The landing is smooth this time, earning her no scolding from Imogen. It is early in the day here, so the weather is still nice and cool for the hike into town. Mervin packs up his meager belongings—and his cat—into a spare rucksack. Lilly gives him some stationery supplies she has picked up in her travels, since he seems to like to draw. One notepad has the Cerberus logo, while another is FRAWD branded. The pen is from the Bank of Tarsonis. Imogen makes sure he has a Lost & Found business card in case he ever needs anything from them again. Mervin is actually upbeat as they hike into town, actively smiling.

Their first destination is Joey Ray’s. Imogen figures that will be a good place to make some connections for getting Mervin set up. As they approach the bar, Imogen notices that there are fewer Dominion patrols than other times they have been here. Puffs of green gas in the sky across town indicate the refinery is operational again. The town seems calm, and Imogen wonders how many troops were pulled from here to go fight on Tarsonis.

Out front, the board with the specials advertises Victory Burger with a pitcher of Liberation Cola. Inside, Joey stands behind the bar cleaning glasses as they come in for an early lunch. UNN fills the TV screens. Kate Lockwell is actually doing a report on the high cost of victory. “A lot of Dominion soldiers gave their lives for this,” Kate says. Then she carefully poses the question, “Are we getting what we need from this victory?” She cannot call Mengsk and his generals out for their dumb ideas, but at least she is trying to find an angle to push back on. Even she does not mention Tarsonis by name, though.

They step up to the counter, and Imogen introduces Joey to her friend Mervin. “He’s new in town, and we’re trying to get him set up.” Turning to Mervin, she explains, “Joey here is a good person to know—” Joey gives his head a quick shake, and Imogen’s voice drifts off. It seems this is not a good time. Imogen glances around the bar but does not see anything troublesome. Still, she heeds his warning and smoothly changes topics. “—for drinks. He’s a good person to know for drinks!”

Imogen orders a Celebration Salad for herself, and Joey makes a crack about all the meals ending with expeditious retreat, as if it were a dessert. Lilly asks if she can still get Freedom Wings, and Joey says, “Uh, turns out we’re all out of freedom. Who would have thought?”

They settle down at a table after placing their order. Imogen watches the clock tick as they eat. Some people come in, some people go out. Finally Joey comes back over to them and apologizes for the delay. “The sauce is great today,” Lilly tells him, licking her fingers. The menu calls it zerg blood. “It doesn’t taste like zerg blood, though.” She knows that personally. Actually, it tastes a lot like the old creep sauce he used to serve. Lilly wonders whether all his special burgers are really just the same dish with a different name. 

“What’s going on?” Imogen asks Joey.

“I’m trying to work an angle inside the Dominion, so I’ve just got to be really careful,” he shares softly. “I’m playing it a little close. A little too close.”

“It seems like there are a lot fewer soldiers around right now, though,” Imogen observes.

“Yeah. Probably they got pulled off for that liberation job. I thought they were going after Tarsonis, but I stopped hearing anything about that on the news. So I don’t know what they were up to.” Imogen snorts but holds her tongue. “I suspect they’ll be coming back real soon,” Joey continues. He sucks in a breath. “It just makes everything a little tough, you know? Anyway, this is your friend… Mervin.”

“And this is Mr. S,” Mervin shares, as the cat crawls out of his backpack and curls up on his shoulder.

Joey gives him a bit of a scowl. “Normally, we don’t allow animals in here—”

“It’s a service animal,” Imogen insists.

“Riiiiight. So, you vouch for Merv?” Joey asks Imogen. With her aye, Mr. S is allowed to stay.

“Do you have any messages for me, Joey?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. Jimmy left something for you. He dropped by not too long ago.” Imogen is surprised to hear that. “Yeah, in person,” Joey tells her. “He’s able to move around a bit when there are fewer patrols. He’s a quick fella, though not as quick as he used to be.”

Lilly pictures broad-shouldered Jim Raynor in a fur-lined trench coat, a cigar sticking out from under the wide brim of a purple fedora. The outfit her adjutant is currently wearing would make a great disguise.

Joey hands Imogen a small slip of paper. Sounds good. Love to see what intel you’ve got. Right now, I’m a little busy planning to liberate Mar Sara. You in? Imogen’s eyes go wide. She flips the page over. I’m a little worried about my boys getting shredded, though. The power armor needs some retooling and, well, Stetmann ain’t much for practical mechanics.

Imogen hands the paper over to her partner to read. “What does Mar Sara need to be liberated from?” she wonders aloud.

“From the iron grip of the Dominion?” Joey suggests. Imogen sees his point, but there are also zerg on the planet. Liberation could mean a lot of different things, and she is curious what Jimmy’s take on it is.

Lilly looks up from the note. “Sounds like they need mercs.” Maybe I won’t need my ID, she thinks. Not if the government is about to collapse.

Joey leans in. “Jimmy’s on-planet. We’re going to make our move soon. If you’re not in, we understand. Just maybe don’t be around Mar Sara City when it happens. But if you can help out we’d really appreciate it. Your science vessel has really helped us out in the past.”

Imogen groans. Here she thought she was taking Mervin to a relatively safe place, and now it turns out it is a warzone. “What do you think?” she asks Lilly.

“Sounds like a job.”

“If we can agree to some terms.” Jimmy’s note makes no mention of payment, and she and Lilly are not members of Raynor’s Raiders.

“We can see what we can do,” Lilly tells Joey.

“Aye, science vessel sensor support is a service we can provide,” Imogen agrees. “But…” 

“It can’t hurt to see what he has in mind,” Lilly says. “Oh, and Joey, three Cold Fusions, please.”

“Make that four,” a man’s voice drawls behind her.