FRAWD Investigators: Moving Forward | Scene 16

When they reach Dead Man’s Rock, Malorn directs Lilly to where he cleverly parked his fighter amid the stripped-down wrecks of long-abandoned protoss ships. Lilly sets Saffron down gently, not rattling any of the occupants this time. Malorn disembarks, and Lilly tags along, eager to see his sleek craft again. He checks it over and is relieved to find that none of the filthy locals have desecrated it during his absence. 

Imogen joins them more slowly, having been eying all the wrecks around them. She had thought they might be potential sources of additional materials for Li June, but they are quite picked over already. “You going to be okay on your own for a couple weeks?” she asks Malorn once he has finished his inspection. 

“I will be as okay as I can be. I still need to heal. And I need to collect a few things I may have hidden around the sector,” he adds, mischief in his voice.

“If you can work on some sort of terran voice synthesizer, that could be useful,” she advises him. His holographic disguise is quite good, but it does nothing for him in that department.

“Distasteful but useful,” Malorn acknowledges.

Imogen shrugs. “You’ll already be putting your distasteful skin on, so why not?”

Malorn gives her a little dip of the head. “I appreciate your commentary.” Lilly steps up and claps Malorn companionably on the back in farewell. Then he climbs into his ship. “I take my leave of you two. Be well. I shall see you on Korhal in two weeks. I hope you do not die during that time.”

“Right back atcha,” Imogen replies with a smile.

The canopy closes, the sleek craft lifts straight up, and then it blasts away. Malorn does one loop-the-loop on the way out. Lilly admires the aerial performance.

“Ugh, this planet is disgusting! What have you done to this world?” 

Imogen turns and finds Karax standing at the base of Saffron’s ramp, looking around in horror. “We didn’t do this,” she tells him.

“You terrans, I mean.”

Imogen disapproves of Karax’s broad statement. “You should come to Umoja sometime. It’s beautiful and well-maintained by the terrans who are there.”

“Did you take all your trash from there and put it here? Ugh! The very air is toxic!” he complains, wringing his hands. “It burns!” 

“Then get back in the ship!” Imogen orders.

“I definitely will! We should not linger here. I would like to get back to my people,” Karax says as he heads back inside. Imogen and Lilly join him before too long. As much as they would like to recover protoss tech for Li, there is nothing of value left here.

* * *

It takes a few more days to reach the Browder system. The protoss who hails them starts off far more professionally than the comms tech on Dead Man’s Rock did. As soon as communications are established, though, Karax inserts himself into the conversation. “Uh, noble templar, it’s me, Karax. These terrans have rescued me.”

“Karax? We thought you had died out in the snow!”

Imogen realizes the khalai never did tell them how he came to be in Lendasha’s keeping. “Were you nabbed off Browder itself?” she asks Karax.

“Well, I was experimenting with some cloaking technology and I kind of went off-grid… but that’s not important.”

The templar on the line has a little fun at Karax’s expense but then clears their ship for landing. Imogen informs him that Lost & Found also has a delivery for Selendis.

“Oh. Oh, you’re that terran vessel.”

“Yessir. Science vessel Saffron,” Lilly confirms. They are told to proceed down and warned not to try anything. Protoss trust only goes so far.

A templar welcoming party awaits them on the snowy surface. They are armored, but their psi-blades are not out threateningly. Karax exits the ship as soon as the ramp touches down. The guards attend to him without exchanging words, at least not out loud. With the Khala, they have no need for speech. Karax turns back to Lilly and Imogen as they descend the ramp. “Thank you very much for these garments,” he says, tapping the purple fedora on his head. “I won’t be needing them anymore, but I very much appreciate all you have done: rescuing me, keeping me safe, getting me back to my people. It is so good to be back!”

Lilly waves him off. She is glad to have been able to help and certainly does not need him to strip back down to a loincloth out here in the snow.

“Good luck to you,” Imogen tells him.

Karax looks all around himself and smizes. “Maybe you would think of it as being able to breathe again after holding your breath for a long time. It’s good. Good to be back.” He heads off to bask in the Khala.