Having left the drinking room behind, Lilly moves down the hallway toward the engine room access. Along the way, she passes a now-open closet that she had not noticed when on the ship earlier. It looks like it served as the armory, though no weapons are left inside. There is a substantial rack, empty now, but based on the hooks and its shape, it normally holds reaper armor. Those guys are crazy, Lilly recalls from her soldier days, either from excessive resocialization or the cocktail of combat drugs built into their suits. It is possible that someone on this ship is an ex-reaper, but no one that Lilly has encountered so far seems to fit that profile. Reaper armor is not as substantial as power armor, but it usually includes a jetpack to aid quick leaps up and down. Maybe someone grabbed it because it is worth money, or maybe they wanted the jetpack to aid their escape. Not so important right now.
Lilly does not waste any time on the first level. She jumps through the hatch and charges up the stairs. As she nears the top, it occurs to her that there might be people up there, and she jerks herself to a halt, ducking behind a console just inside the room. Lilly looks around for reflective objects in her line of sight that could give her eyes on the control panel she knows to be way across the large space. She cannot see anything clearly, but she does hear someone. Specifically, she hears sobbing, sparking, and clanking. She readies her shotgun and pops up.
Booker is at the pilot station, the main console that Lilly specifically does not want to damage further. He is in the final stages of putting on the reaper armor, just now grabbing for the gas mask that goes with it. As he does so, he sobs, “They killed Naja! Dammit, I’m gonna make them pay!” He hears movement and spins the chair around, seeing Lilly. “Oh!” He pulls the mask down, and his voice grows mechanized. “You’re going to fear the reaper!”
There goes keeping this room intact, Lilly groans to herself. Booker has a grenade of some kind. She remembers those are called D8 but not what the specs are. Not good. He has two pistols on his belt and who knows what chemicals are coursing through his system. Probably not opposed to blowing himself up, she figures. Reaper armor is no power armor, but it will definitely blunt blows. She needs to get closer to him for her shotgun to be effective, so she does what she has to: Lilly charges forward. Booker has the same idea.
Lilly is not decked out in her usual armor, and she does not have her gun. She holds a trident at ready in a large arena. Other terrans are in the fighting pit, but the place is darkened such that the audience around them is not visible. Across from her, Lilly sees her opponent. He is built like a linebacker and has dreadlocks that would make a protoss jealous. His dark skin makes his strange eyes stand out all the more. They are glazed over white, and Lilly wonders if he might be blind. “You be having a real bad time,” he threatens her. Lilly is not cowed; she charges at him to deck him. He simply disappears, but she is committed to her move. This is crazy, but what can she do? The only way out is through. She swings and POW! The blow connects. He may have cloaked himself, but he did not move.
The shotgun pellets blast through Booker’s armor as he hurtles toward Lilly, but he shows no sign of slowing down. He might not even feel the pain, depending on what cocktail he is rocking. The jetpack boosts his charge, and he comes right at her, both guns still in his belt. Clearly, his intention is to stick her with that grenade, not simply throw it at her. She gets a better look at it now. Deuterium. D8 is deuterium-eight. Shit. He’s going to blow us both up. Lilly twirls aside, causing him to overshoot her with his uncontrolled leap, but he swipes out with his empty hand, thwacking her arm. The jolt sends her shotgun skittering to the floor. Lilly dives after it, pulling the trigger as she rolls back up to her feet, but this time her shot goes wide, peppering the ceiling. Now the control console is behind her, and Booker is in the middle of the room, back to the stairs.
* * *
At the sound of a shotgun blast, Imogen quickly draws her pistol. “That’d be Lilly, then,” she tells her brother. She takes off at a run, heading for the control room. Aiden keeps pace with her, and she warns him that two other pirates were on this very floor when she left the ship earlier. They could still be alive around here. As she rushes down the hall, Imogen remembers how frightened Marshall was of her mud-zerg. Let him think the zerg are after him. Strictly speaking, one is. She replicates the shrieking noise she made down in the stream and is rewarded with sounds that indicate her plan was effective.
From farther down the hall, behind a door marked with a red cross, comes Marshall’s muffled voice. “Shit! The zerg are already coming for us!” There is a thunk of a latch sliding into place and then a bunch of clanging. Imogen suspects he is barricading himself inside that room, which is fine with her.
Aiden swears and points out the empty arms locker. “She’ll be fighting that reaper, then. That’s a dangerous lot. He’s not on the level. How tough is Lilly?”
“She can handle anything,” Imogen throws over her shoulder as she heads up the stairs. “Keep an eye on that door to Medical!” When she clears the top step, Imogen sees the reaper in the middle of the room and Lilly beyond him. She is not sure if her pistol has the punch needed to get through the armor, but she does know that reaper jetpacks are notoriously unstable. She fires at the equipment, hoping to render it inoperable. The bullets ricocheting harmlessly off the suit announce her presence, but the reaper ignores her.
Booker shakes with rage. He was there in the break room when Lilly was getting Naja drunk. Those were shotgun wounds in his beloved. Lilly, Lilly did this. Lilly the thief, Lilly the traitor. He charges again, D8 held close to his chest, and collides with her, triggering it. D8 is a shaped charge, generally used for demolitions. When the blast goes off, most of the force goes upward, destroying the ceiling in the middle of the room. Booker’s and Lilly’s bodies absorb all the lateral force, sparing the consoles around the room’s edges. The blast knocks Lilly backwards into one of the stations, and then she slides to the ground, scorched and still.