Lilly feels the eyes of everyone in town on her. She gets on Old Red and takes him far out into the wastes, where she can be alone with her humiliation. Old Red is still a bit beat up, just like Lilly is, but she is sure they can handle the wilds together. After all, just the spidermine compartments are damaged, and they never even have a regular supply of those. That is Lilly’s superficial take on the situation, anyway. Imogen might disagree.
Lilly chooses the roughest terrain she can find. It is therapeutic, just her and her ride coping with physical challenges. For a brief moment, she is content. I am good at something. And this is a pretty sweet hobby, she reflects. But her mind is more on the debacle at Joey Ray’s than on the view over the handlebars. The scene in the bar keeps replaying in her head.
Suddenly she hits a bump—uncommon with a hover vehicle—and she completely loses control of Old Red. Lilly is thrown from her seat, but she rolls with it, coming up onto her feet as the vulture bike slowly coasts to a stop against a low-lying dune. Lilly is no worse for the wear, just speckled with sand. Her long shadow stretching out before makes her realize just how late in the day it is. Somehow, the sun is starting to set. “That was dumb,” she announces to the wastes.
Defeated, Lilly plops down into a messy seat upon the sandy ground. The events at the bar bounce around her head in a series of disjointed worries. Ugh! Joey’s got connections to Jim Raynor. And Jimmy has connections to everyone! And Durian will find out—wait, Durian already knows. But Imogen will find out! Well, Imogen already knows, too, but she doesn’t understand. Now she’ll finally understand. Lilly grabs up a handful of sand and hurls it in frustration.
Something about the soft ground around her catches her attention. Even as upset as she is, she is still subconsciously on alert, and this spot has perfect conditions for burrowing zerg. She even sees some of the telltales. “Great,” she growls. And me out here alone, with night setting in. When she hears a chittering growl, she pulls out her gun, hoping for some cathartic action.
The hydralisk that lurches up out of the ground a dozen yards away is not Spikey. He is faster than she expects and gets his shot off before she does hers. The spine lodges in Lilly’s shoulder, jarring her arm. She feels the familiar burning pain of the acid. The hydralisk charges at her eagerly, and Lilly scrambles to her feet. Her funk clears enough for her to realize that she needs to get the hell out of there. I could die out here. I don’t need this fight. She may have thought she was looking for a fight, but with a fresh wound now, she is seeing more clearly. Retreat is an entirely legitimate tactic for a soldier to employ.
Lilly leaps on Old Red and guns the engine. The bike is much faster than the hydralisk. A few more spines come at her, but none hit their mark. With the sun completely down now, she worries about finding her way back to Li’s from wherever the hell she has ended up. Eventually though, she spots the compound’s muted lights in the distance.
The turret spotlights highlight Lilly as she nears the gate. Her heart races when the beams hit her, but the security system recognizes her as a friendly and lets her in. Still, that was another piece of stress she did not need. It has been a long day. Lunch was left on Joey Ray’s counter, and she has not had any dinner. She dismounts Old Red and trudges toward the science vessel, intending to go straight to her quarters there. Package delivery can wait until she is more even-keeled.