Lilly lets herself sleep in a bit to take the edge off the previous night’s drinking. When she does get up, she checks on Malorn. He is still out cold. The blanket she laid on him last night has slid off to the floor, so she tucks him back in. After some breakfast, she gets the shopping list from Li and heads outside. Saffron is open; Karax and Imogen are doing something with the door. Lilly checks on what they need—just plates for repairs to Old Red—and then decouples the vulture bike for her drive into town.
She handles the purchases in Mar Sara City smoothly enough. That includes a stop at Big Daddy Browder’s Gas and Guns to get Malorn a knife. Despite the recent tumult in town, the weapons chain remains open for business. Lilly gets the best knife she can with her limited budget of twenty-five credits. Each of Malorn’s psi-gauntlets has a big red crystal with a bronze setting, so she scans the shelves for something that might complement his look. She settles on a knife that also fits her picture of him as a tough, brute-force fellow. It is a wavy ceramic blade with a bronzish color. It has a jagged edge and a bit of extra reach, a nice touch since he is even taller than she is. The cashier rings her up, punches her customer loyalty card, and gives her a free beer, due to the current BOKGOB special. Lilly decides she will give that to Malorn with the knife.
After all the other purchases are done, she stops by Joey Ray’s, thinking to bring back lunch for everyone. The bartender glances up as she comes in the door but does not say anything. Lilly walks up to the counter. “Hey, Joey. I need three specials to go.”
He nods. “Three specials to go. Coming right up.”
“Oh, and an extra order of liberty wings. Or whatever they’re called now.”
“Revolution wings,” he says, jotting it down on the slip of paper for the kitchen. Lilly is at first surprised at how business-like Joey is being, and then she realizes that he must not recognize her. She is seldom here alone, and Imogen usually does most of the talking. Just as she is piecing this together, he turns back from putting in the order and asks, “Are you new in town?”
“No, it’s me, Lilly. Lilly Washington.” Joey is immediately apologetic, but she assures him it is all right.
“Did you change your hair maybe?” Or maybe it is the bruising, swelling, and bandages. “You look like you got messed up kind of bad,” he comments, eyes lingering on the gauze and tape on one side of her neck.
“Little bit, yeah,” Lilly acknowledges. “But, you know, the head’s still on,” she adds with a grin.
“That’s a good metric,” he agrees. “Now wait, you wanted three lunches to go? There’s you. I assume Imogen’s around. Who’s the third lunch for?”
With a shrug, Lilly just says, “Yup, I need three.” No one in Jimmy’s group knows about Li June’s dealings with Lilly and Imogen, and she is sure the recluse would prefer things stay that way. Li may have worked with Jimmy in the past, but clearly there was some friction there.
Unfortunately, Joey is intrigued by this non-answer. “Did you get a third crew member on your ship?”
Joey presses her, “Aw, c’mon now. You and Imogen—” He raps their business card against the counter, but Joey’s words are lost to Lilly, as memories of the past flood her mind.
Lilly is in her office, when the lead scientist comes in. “Ah yes, did you have any more on Subject 5P1KY?” The scientist has been eager to rip spikes out of the creature’s glands. Lilly has worked on these extractions herself. Mainly she just gets shot at. But rather than be upset with the subject, she feels empathy for him. That poor xenomorph had been chained up for so long. It just does not seem right, what they are doing to him. He must have some level of sapience. At the very least, he is aware of what they are doing… and of what he is doing. Although he has almost hit her numerous times, he has actually never so much as even clipped her with a spine. That seems deliberate to Lilly. Deliberate enough that she has set Subject 5P1KY free.
“Didn’t survive,” she reports. “We had to sacrifice him.”
“Ugh! Needed parts for some other experiment?”
“Sure.” The lead scientist’s rantings about the importance of his own experiment wash right over her.
Lilly cracks her neck, trying to figure out what lie she can sell to Joey Ray. I’m just trying to get lunch! She should know better than to go into social situations alone, without Imogen by her side.
“I’m just interested in your crew. You two seem to be pretty tight,” he tries again.
Lilly turns away, and he tosses a friendly hand out onto her uninjured shoulder. The combined motions inadvertently tug down her collar, exposing her resoc tattoos to him. She turns in horror and sees in Joey’s face that he recognizes what the symbols mean. She imagines from his wide eyes and raised eyebrows that he is marveling at just how many times she has been resocialized. The seating area is not packed with the lunch crowd yet, but there are some other patrons around. Humiliated, Lilly beats a hasty retreat.
Joey is dumbstruck.
Lilly is gone.
Three specials and an order of wings go uneaten.