FRAWD Investigators: Owendoher’s Revenge | Scene 24

Before they leave Umoja, Imogen spends Aiden’s life insurance funds for new hull plating to use in repairs to Saffron and Old Red. For the damage they themselves will undoubtedly take in the future, Lilly and Imogen also pick up more medical supplies. Lilly, of course, replenishes other important stock like beer and candy. Imogen recommends the local artisan brew, McWeiser, and Lilly mangles the pronunciation. For her part, Imogen stocks up on fresh and healthy local fruits and vegetables so that she can enjoy some smoothies on the long flight back to the Dominion.

The crate from Leo does not look large enough in any dimension to actually hold proper doors, unless they are the kind that come in panels for assembly. Lilly does not really care about the contents, but she does wonder, Dog doors? as she hauls the crate aboard Saffron. She glances over at Snowball when she is done. He probably would have appreciated her room having a zerg door.

While they are still in a safe, stress-free location, Imogen takes the time to fix up their vehicles and mend Sweetpea. Lilly is happy to have the weapon working properly again, but the frying pan laser retains the same problem it has always had: it looks too protoss-y. She wonders aloud whether Lief knows anyone who could help them disguise it, and Imogen realizes that actually Aiden does, the prop master at the local theater. Someone who could make fake Umojan ray guns would probably be able to dress down a protoss gun into something more terran looking.

Lilly and Imogen head down to the theater district. When they enter the prop warehouse, they find a middle-aged man with pink skin and light brown curls in well-worn coveralls. The unsuspecting fellow waves a friendly greeting at them as they enter. “Now, what can I help you out with?” he asks.

“I believe you’ve done some work for my brother,” Imogen says as she disarmingly pushes a lock that has come loose from her braid behind her ear. She is not here to blackmail this fellow, not really. She just wants to let him know where she got the contact from. He seems to understand her meaning, but not her intent, so she soothes his reluctance with an envelope of credits. “We’re not looking for the same type of work,” she assures him.

“What’ve you got, then?” he asks, closing the shades on the workshop’s large window, just in case any prying eyes are about.

Imogen gestures to Lilly to open the duffel bag she is carrying. Lilly pulls out the frying pan laser and makes the introduction. “This is Sweetpea.”

With Lilly’s permission, the prop master looks it over. “This is a very nice design,” he says appreciatively.

“Yeah…” Lilly agrees with a grin, looking fondly at the weapon.

“Aye, but unfortunately, it looks very nice,” Imogen says.

He looks at her quizzically, not understanding the comment. “Where’d you get this made? This looks fantastic! This is, what, mimicking a protoss look?” He moves his hand along it, and Imogen hastily tells him not to press any buttons. “It’s got a good weight to it, too,” he adds, hefting it. “That must be expensive. So, do you want me to make it more roughed up and battleworn?”

“It’s not mimicking protoss. We want it to look less protoss-like,” Imogen tells him.

The prop master frowns. “Well, I think that would be undoing the original artist’s intention here. Who did you hire to make this? Was it McLeary? Did McLeary make this?” A competitive tone enters his voice.

Imogen tries to be even blunter. “It was made by a protoss.”

Lilly does not mince words. She takes Sweetpea back and shoots a blue laser beam across the room with it. The shot hits a mannequin wearing a suit of armor for an upcoming play and melts a hole through it. The prop master shouts in alarm, “You brought a real gun in here?! I could have been killed!”

“It’s my favorite gun,” Lilly says proudly, holding it back out to him.

Imogen calmly explains that it is, indeed, a real protoss gun. “But we know how good you are at crafting and design work, and we would really like it to look more like the sort of crappy weaponry that abounds in the Dominion.” He is not yet fully convinced to take on the job, worried that he will hurt himself, and Imogen assures him that they can remove the power canister while he works.

“We can turn it off?” Lilly murmurs. The thought never even occurred to her before.

“You’ll never get an opportunity like this again,” Imogen insists. “It takes real skill to make something as beautiful as this look so base, but we think you’re up to the challenge. None of your colleagues will ever have a chance to work on protoss technology. It’s an honor, it is.” Fifty credits and feeding his pride together seal the deal.

The prop master spends an hour working on the weapon under Lilly’s watchful eye. She hovers a bit too closely, and it makes him a little self-conscious initially. Soon he gets into his groove though, adding on various pieces of plastic similar to what is used in the Dominion. He attaches a decorative sight, as well as a functional sling. When he is finished, it is now a fancy weird laser gun, but one that does not advertise its protoss origin. And much to Lilly’s liking, the added strap makes it far less awkward to carry. Lilly tries it out and finds that even the grip is more comfortable now, molded to terran hands instead of protoss ones. She takes it over to a mirror to admire it as she tries out readying it. “I love it!” she exclaims.

The prop master comes over with a brush and some foundation and dabs over a bruise on her cheek to perfect the look. Lilly does not care; she only has eyes for her favorite gun.

* * *

Saffron finally leaves the Umojan Protectorate behind. As the ship travels, Lilly gets an electronic message from Durian. “Hey, Lilly. Hope you’re doing pretty well. While you’ve been out of the immediate sector, things in Dominion space have been staying busy. I’m on a permanent contract now with the Dominion military. Might be hard to reach me, but I’ll be in touch,” is all the short message says.

Permanent contract? Lilly frowns. Those are just big words for ‘conscripted.’ Durian was a discharged veteran; they must have called him back into service. That does not at all fit with the career goals he shared with her over beers. We need to break him out of there! Lilly thinks. Unfortunately, the brief note does not include where he is stationed. The signature does indicate he is now a sergeant in the Ninth Dominion Mechanized Infantry Battalion, so that at least is a lead.

“Look at this message,” Lilly says to Imogen.

“More knife coupons? Really, Lilly, I told you we could save up for a new knife, but you agreed medical supplies were more important.”

“They are. And my knife is good. But read this. We have to go get Durian.”

“That’s clearly not the type of work he wanted to do,” Imogen says after looking the message over.

“No, he didn’t. Not at all.”

“We’ll have to do some digging to find out where they are,” Imogen muses. She makes no argument against taking action. If this is something Lilly wants to do, Imogen will support her.

While the message is not a direct plea for rescue, that is probably only because Durian is too above board to ask. It is what he wants, even if he does not know it. Lilly starts going through the possibilities in her mind. She does not know if he has any family—she never thought to ask. That could affect the decision to fake his death versus try for an honorable discharge. There is no way he would be willing to just go AWOL. Who am I kidding, this is Durian. It will have to be an honorable discharge. She will have to fake the paperwork and submit it on his behalf. Once it has been processed, he will have to abide by it.