After lunch, Lilly and Imogen head to the building in which FRAWD is headquartered. Jefferson Duke has not summoned them for a meeting, but they figure they should report in, particularly if they want to manipulate him into sending them back to Mar Sara once they have acquired the cerebrate sample for Li June. They enter the big open room where all the workers have desks on the second floor of the building. Imogen strides purposefully through the maze of ugly metal rectangles, Lilly tagging along. The Umojan sits down at one of the desks and pulls out a notepad, setting to work scribbling something.
The desk next to the one at which Imogen sits is labeled with Lilly’s full name. I didn’t know I had a desk, she thinks. The only thing on it besides the nameplate is a picture she does not recognize. Lilly starts opening drawers, seeing what is there. She finds a pencil and some staples but no stapler. There is also a really, really old sandwich, so far gone that she is unable to identify the filling. Lilly closes the drawers and picks up the picture to examine it. It is a tall woman in the formal military dress uniform of the Dominion marines. Oh, this is me, she realizes, graduating from the Academy.
Jefferson Duke leans out of his office. “Ah! Lilly and Imogen! You’re back from Mar Sara. Why don’t y’all come in here and tell me how things went.” Imogen snatches up her notes, and they join their boss. She warns him upfront that they will probably need a follow-up trip. “Did you find who was siphoning off vespene or who was buying too much?” he asks.
“We did determine why the usage had increased, but the refinery itself was attacked while we were there. It’s hard to say whether everything will settle down all right or if, in a month’s time, you might find that it needs checking again.”
Lilly nods in support, and Duke turns his attention to her. “Lilly, I know you always keep tabs on the military side of things—you’ve got a lot of connections in that world, that’s part of why we hired you. Does the scene on the planet seem safe? I heard there’s maybe raiders… is that a big deal? What’s your threat assessment?”
Lilly gives her opinion of the marines. “They seemed inclined to fight when there was zerg activity and they were close. But they seemed to be mostly focused on the city. I’m not sure—”
“Okay… marines protecting the city… That’s a good bullet point I can take out of that. Thank you, Lilly.”
“Is that all you’re looking for, sir?”
Duke nods. “I’ll see if I can scrounge up the travel funds. But I’m going to need a couple more bullets that I can put in the weekly report. Just give me the notes for your write-up, and I’ll have Norm type them up, edit them a little bit. Then we can put his name on it… looks good for his family.”
Duke nods his head at the sea of desks, and a young man lifts a hand. “Hey, guys,” he says with a little wave, then goes back to whatever he was doing.
Imogen smiles and hands Duke a sheaf of papers. “Oh, well, that’s good,” Duke says. “And I’m glad neither of you were hurt in that refinery attack. Dreadful, dreadful business. Glad you can spend some time doing work in the office. A little safer, a little less hectic. All right, back to work!” He closes his office door. Lilly and Imogen exchange a look and leave. Duke did not give them a specific task, and they do not get paid enough to make up work for themselves.