Most of the supplies Li June requested are easily obtained, but Lilly runs into problems picking up the ammo. As the freckled young cashier rings her up, a buzzer sounds. He apologizes for needing to perform a random ID check. Lilly glances around for Imogen, but her partner is still in one of the other stores. She rattles off her Dominion citizen number, hoping that will be sufficient.
“Wow, most people don’t know their number. Uh, do you have your physical ID?” the cashier asks. “That just helps a bit,” he adds, gesturing at his scanner. Lilly pulls her damaged ID out of her wallet and shows it with an apologetic shrug. “Whoa! Should probably get that replaced,” the clerk comments.
“I broke it,” she says simply.
The clerk can make out part of her citizen number, and that matches what she told him, so that is good enough for him. He types in the number and her name. Unbeknownst to him, Lilly’s hand drifts toward her knife, just in case something goes wrong. She does not really want to hurt him, but she is ready if she needs to. It takes a few moments for the results to come back, and the clerk makes casual conversation with her. “Must be doing some serious hunting, huh?” he says, nodding at the piles of ammunition.
“Getting ready for next year’s Hydralisk Hunt? Oh! There it is.” The cashier turns his attention back to his screen. “Looks like your ID is expired or something. You’re going to need to go to the command center to get that sorted out. But, I gotta say, you look great for seventy years old.” Lilly manages to keep a straight face. So that’s what I did in the database…. “You get a five percent senior citizens discount.” He punches that in and then looks up at Lilly again. “Wow! What do you do to take care of yourself?” His pale skin is reddened in places from the harsh Mar Sara sun.
“Umojan moisturizer,” Lilly replies, thinking of the cream Imogen gave Malorn to help with his wrinkles.
The cashier buys the lie. “Umojan moisturizer, yeah, that makes sense. I bet they have crazy anti-aging tech. You know, I’ve never seen an old Umojan. Hunh! I’ll have to try getting some myself.” He packs up all her purchases and encourages her to get her ID fixed. Now that it has been checked against the system, she could get in trouble with the authorities for using an expired card. “As long as you go take care of it today, it should be fine,” he tells her.
I guess I better do it before we liberate the city, Lilly reflects. All she says, though, is, “Thank you, sir.”
Lilly anticipates a lot of lying will be required at the command bunker, so she does not head there without Imogen in tow. “So, I did something dumb,” she starts when she meets back up with her partner.
“Did you not get the ammo?”
“I got the ammo. Even got a five percent discount.”
“So far it sounds fine.”
“So… I need to get a new ID… My ID is expired.”
“Ah, and there’s not going to be an official building in town tomorrow,” Imogen observes, thinking she understands Lilly’s dilemma. She glances at her watch. “There should still be time to do it today.”
Lilly continues to drag her feet, drawing out her words before finally confessing, “So… this one’s not a real one.”
“And somehow I messed up the database entry, so it says I’m seventy. That’s not going to fly. And I’ve been flagged for an expired ID.”
“Well, we can just tell them that’s your mother Lillian Washington, and the two records have gotten mixed up,” Imogen suggests smoothly.
See, this is why I need Imogen around, Lilly reflects. They discuss possible approaches, including Lilly hacking into one of the workstations while Imogen distracts the employees, or maybe even just bribing someone to make the change. Bribe! Another one I didn’t think of. From her time in FRAWD, Lilly knows the Dominion is plenty corrupt. They settle on leading with bribery, and if that doesn’t work, falling back on an after-hours break-in. Lilly gives Imogen a heartfelt thank you.
“Of course,” Imogen replies. It does not matter to her that Lilly’s ID is fake. Most of the Owendoher clan is a smuggling outfit, after all.
* * *
The command center houses the opulent offices of the planetary governor. The rank and file employees each have small cubbies with high-walled partitions to provide client privacy. The clerk at the desk to which Lilly and Imogen are routed for ID renewal is a heavy-set middle-aged woman with a motherly attitude. “All right, now what can I do for you? Seems like you need a new ID? What is your number? No, never mind, we’ll just look that right up and we’ll see what we can do about that.” Her long fingernails clack on the keyboard as she accesses the system. “Oh, your ID has expired… forty years ago?! Is that right?”
“No, that’s not right.” Lilly hands over her ruined ID.
“Whew! No, that ain’t right. Now how did this all happen here?” The gouges through the citizen number and barcode make the card unreadable.
“It was on the table and I cut it,” Lilly says.
“Aye, when you were chopping the vegetables. She didn’t realize her ID was lying on the counter,” Imogen adds for the clerk, fleshing out Lilly’s barebones story.
The clerk continues typing and looking at her screen. “It seems your Dominion identity really got messed up—oh you know what probably happened? I bet someone tried to steal your identity. That’s probably what happened. Mmm-hmmm.” She nods to herself. “See, people think they can get into the system and we won’t notice. Oh, we notice. We notice. We find it all out.”
It was me; I’m the one who tried to steal my identity. Lilly keeps her expression level. This is just too perfect.
The typing continues. “Yup, someone mucked with the system, putting in numbers they do not understand.” The clerk shakes her head in disappointment. “Oh, lordy. I tell you what, why don’t we fix your identity, and then we’ll print you a new card. Now, I hate to ask, but I have to ask… How old are you, Ms. Washington? Or what is your date of birth?”
“July 17, 2476.”
They fix the height field as well, since that has somehow gotten off by almost six inches. “Weight 120 pounds? We can leave that,” the clerk continues, all friendly. Worrying that such a break from reality will cause her trouble with the ID in the future, Lilly supplies the correct value. “And place of birth Antiga?” When Lilly nods, the woman gives her a soulful look. “Oh, I’m sorry, darling, about your planet. I heard they’re reopening up resettlement soon, though!”
“Thank you, ma’am,” Lilly says politely. This whole process has gone much more smoothly than she expected. And now I have a legitimate ID!
“Were you a veteran?”
“Yes, ma’am.” Lilly fiddles at her collar, nervous all of the sudden.
“I thought so!” The clerk glances at Lilly over the rim of her glasses. “Are you all right, honey?”
“Aye, Antiga,” Imogen interjects, trying to close down the topic.
“Sorry to hear that. You weren’t resocialized or nothing, were you? Oh, lordy. I had a cousin who had to get resocked. He was real bad. It didn’t quite set him as straight as we’d hoped.” The clerk’s mood dampens. “He didn’t make it. I’m real sorry. But!” She brightens up again. “Here is your new Dominion ID! Thank you very much for coming, Citizen Washington.”
Lilly grabs the freshly printed card and beats a hasty—and quiet—retreat. Things took an uncomfortable turn there at the end.
“Y’all have a very nice day!” the clerk calls. Imogen thanks her, covering for Lilly’s abrupt departure.