Noises in the central hub rouse Imogen. She went to sleep on the ship instead of in one of Li’s comfortable bedrooms in order to be nearby in case either of her patients had problems during the night. For the same reason, she left her door open to be able to hear any distress. Now she is regretting it, though, as she hears Durian’s tinny voice sounding out of a speaker.
“Listen, Lilly, I need you to take this communicator and get as far away from this guy as you can, okay?”
“Why?” Lilly replies, far too loudly in Imogen’s ears.
“I think he’s trying to hurt you! And he may have drugged you.”
“I am doing no such thing,” Malorn replies. As he speaks, Lilly interjects comments about how Malorn is not doing anything like that, since he himself is unwell. “Is this how terrans get jobs?” Malorn finally demands.
“Buddy, I don’t know what kind of job you think your running—”
What the bloody hell is going on out there? Imogen throws on a robe and steps to her doorway. Lilly looks flushed as she holds Malorn’s hand to her mouth and calls into her comm, “He’s not trying to hurt—”
“Imogen, explain matters to this terran who seems unable to understand a basic proposition!” Malorn demands, noticing her there.
Imogen looks to Lilly, wondering if she is the terran in question. “Oh, yeah, I wanna proposition Durian,” Lilly purrs lasciviously. “He’s so handsome.”
Imogen’s eyes settle on the bottle in Lilly’s other hand. “What are you doing with my whiskey at this hour?!”
“Imogen! Imogen, are you okay?” Durian’s distant voice sounds urgent.
“I jusht had a, a little bit,” Lilly says contritely, but the difficulty she has getting the words out suggests otherwise.
Imogen snatches the bottle from Lilly and shakes it at her. “This isn’t beer! You can’t just be drinking it like it is!” The alcoholic content is one issue, and the sentimental value is another. “It’s from Umoja, and you almost finished it!”
Lilly throws both her arms around Imogen in a big hug. “I’m sorry, Imogen!” she gushes. Then she breaks away and lurches over to the fridge to get them both a beer. But from where Durian is, it sounds like there is a scuffle going on. He shouts more threats into the phone, including about trying to trace the call.
“Is that Durian on the line?” Imogen asks, looking pointedly at the comm in Malorn’s hand.
“It’s Duuuurian,” Lilly confirms. Then, as if this information is highly significant, she adds, “He’s jogging. Jogging.”
Imogen shakes her head at the scene. “Give me the phone, Malorn.”
“Very well,” Malorn says in a huff. “This is fruitless.”
Lilly hands him one of the new beers. “Just drink this,” she tells him in her exaggerated whisper. “Imogen will handle it. She’s talky.”
Imogen backs away from the carousing as she brings the comm up to her ear. “Why are you trying to trace the call?” she asks in response to Durian’s sputtering. Li June would not like that. “We’re on Mar Sara.”
“Because it sounds like you’re in danger from some crazed protoss who’s trying to ransom you!”
“What?! I don’t know what Lilly’s told you, but she’s pretty drunk right now,” Imogen tells him. She steps into her quarters to better concentrate on her negotiations with less interference from her companions.
With slurring words, Lilly explains to Malorn that Durian is her boyfriend. “That explains everything,” Malorn grumbles. “Love is a lost cause.” Lilly disagrees with that assessment, arguing that Durian is awesome. “Well, I wish you better in such endeavors,” Malorn growls.
“Thank you!” Lilly says, throwing an arm around him. “I’m sorry about your girl, but you can do better, Malorn,” Lilly insists.
“Do you have a better mercenary that I could get credits from?”
“No! No, I mean better than what’s-her-face.”
“Ugh! I wish to strike her from my mind. If I could purge the image, purge her very name, I would. If only memories were so easily squashed as toxins are.”
“You can do it,” Lilly tells him.
“What, you have the ability to wipe memories?”
“No, but the Dominion does.” It takes Lilly a few tries to get the long word out in a comprehensible manner.
“The Dominion can wipe memories, you say? Intriguing. Tell me more.”
“Mmm-hmm,” Lilly confirms with a sad nod. “It happened three times to me. See?” She pulls aside her collar to show him her tattoos. “This one is from the Confederates. This one is from the Dominion. And this one is from some sort of science people,” she haltingly explains.
The organizations are all meaningless to Malorn. But if this has happened three times to Lilly already, he figures it must be a rather common occurrence. “If they have the power to selectively wipe memories, that could be useful.”
“I don’t think it’s so selective, Malorn,” Lilly slurs. “I lost a lot. I don’t remember anything.”
“Anything? You used to be someone else?”
Lilly grows a bit reflective. “Well, physical stuff you can remember sort of, I think.”
“Basic muscle memories is retained, but you get a new identity?”
Lilly hems and haws. “Well, you have to make your own ID, but yeah, I guess.”
“Intriguing… I will ponder this,” Malorn says, a distant look in his glowing eyes.
The happy drunk from the phone call with Durian has now been replaced by a depressed one. Lilly sorrowfully confides, “It removes a lot. And then you don’t know what you don’t remember. Or why they did it. Or what you did to deserve it. I’ve been resocialized so many times. I’ve done so many bad things.”
“Maybe it’s better to forget sometimes. It seems to have worked out for you,” Malorn points out. This confuses Lilly, so he elaborates, “You have a ship. You don’t answer to anyone else.”
“I do have a ship. Saffron.” Lilly brightens up. “You’re a good man, Malorn!” She claps him on the shoulder. “You’re my best friend. I love you, man.”