FRAWD Investigators: (Re)Socializing | Scene 15

After her meeting with Vaughan, Imogen makes her way across the mess hall towards Frank’s table. He is the only one there now and sits with his hands flat on the surface doing absolutely nothing other than breathing. Imogen pauses before getting too close and pulls out her comm to contact Lilly. As far as she knows, her partner is still attempting forgeries.

“Hey, Imogen, what’s up?” Lilly answers cheerfully.

“I need the ship for a while,” Imogen tells her. “Is there something else you can occupy your time with?” Lilly is very sensitive about her resocialization. It would probably make her very uncomfortable to witness Imogen trying to reverse someone else’s.

“Yup,” Lilly answers agreeably.

“All right. I can give you five or ten minutes to clear out of there.” Imogen puts away her comm and continues on to Frank’s table. “Come with me,” she tells him.

“I have an appointment with you here after dinner,” Frank states, making no move to get up.

Imogen groans internally at how literally he is interpreting their earlier conversation. “No back talk!” she snaps at him, trying to elicit some sort of emotional response. “Don’t play your fancy word games with me, soldier. We have an appointment, and you’re going to come with me now.” There is no way she can administer the terrazine to him here. She needs to get him to Saffron, a private environment that she has full control over.

Imogen’s words roll right over Frank. “I’m sorry, ma’am. Those were your orders earlier,” he says, completely unfazed.

But helping you recover your memories were your orders earlier, and I’m just trying to carry them out, Imogen reflects. Normally she does not feel comfortable forcing her will onto others psionically, but Frank gave her license to do whatever it takes to restore him. And that requires him to want to come with her. While she leans on those feelings silently, she continues an outward show for anyone paying attention. “Ah, very good, soldier. Your attention to orders is laudable. Now get up and follow me.”

Frank rises, dwarfing Imogen with his well-muscled six feet, but he obediently follows her as she leaves the mess hall. Unfortunately, so does someone else. At least it’s not Captain Hawke, Imogen thinks, thankful for small favors. She does not recognize this soldier, though judging by his bulk, he is probably a marine. As she rounds a corner, Imgoen chances a glance back and catches sight of the Delta Squad patch on the man’s arm. He bears the same blank expression as Frank and all of Epsilon Squad, for that matter. Was he tasked with following Frank? Following me? Or did I push too hard with my psionics again and snag an extra resoc?

Whatever the reason, she needs to lose him. If she were just on her own, she could run, but there is no guaranteeing that Frank would respond appropriately. The next stairwell they enter, Imogen yanks the door shut, intending to jam it. With it upside down, like everything else on this platform, she does not have quite the right angle to get it to work. Through the window, she sees their tail has almost reached the door. Abandoning this idea, she heads up the stairs instead of down, seeking a crowded space other than the hangar in which to ditch the tail. The more people around them, the more nervous she feels about being seen with Frank. These are all potential witnesses that could be used against her later. Her plan works, though, and when she does finally escort Frank down the long corridor leading to the hangar, they are completely alone.

* * *

Lilly puts away her comm and finishes up her almost-pizza with two more giant bites. “Can we go to your place?” she asks Durian.

“Uh, my place is kind of messy, if you can imagine it. But we can at least go for a walk,” he suggests. That works for Lilly. Before they leave Saffron, she locks Snowball up in her room. Imogen did not say anything about why she needs the ship, but it seems the wise thing to do. 

As they stroll together, Durian thanks her for being open with him. “If we find that adjutant you’re looking for, it’s your choice what you do. But if it’s a dark past, I recommend you just destroy it,” he says. “I ran into one guy back on Korhal who vaguely looked familiar. Apparently he was in the same gang I was. He tried to pull me back in, but I just needed to cut ties with that. That’s not who I am anymore. But that’s me. This is totally your call.”

Lilly nods. They chat a little about how the MREs were, and Lilly reflects that she should have pulled out beers for them. “Guess I’ll just have to come back tomorrow,” Durian jokes. “And actually, we should save them to celebrate. We shouldn’t drink the night before a mission. That’d be dumb. We drink the night after a mission.” 

That sounds great to Lilly. She lists out all the beers she has in stock, and they share favorites. Then Durian asks, “So, once you get this adjutant and do whatever you do with it, what comes after that for you?”

“I guess whatever job’s next,” Lilly says with a shrug.

“You gals got something lined up?”

Do we? Oh, yeah, do we ever. All Lilly says though is, “Yeah.” She has told Durian enough shocking things for one night. He does not need to hear about their jobs for the Queen of Blades, Selendis, and Malorn.

“As for me, I’ve got to reconstitute the Endurians, now led by an officer, proper. That should help the marketing a fair bit, I think.”

“We should work together!” Lilly suggests excitedly.

“Going into business together? Phew, that’s a lot. I don’t know… I don’t know anything about your salvage work.”

“Oh, is that too much?” Lilly asks, crestfallen now. Maybe she is rushing things with him.

“No, I just mean, you already have a fully functioning business that works very well on your own ship. I’m a guy with a gun and some power armor, so I’m not bringing that much to the equation right now. I don’t really think that’s fair for you.”

“A guy with a gun and power armor? That seems like a lot. You handled a lot of stuff really well,” Lilly insists, meaning more than just his military activities.

“Thank you, Lilly,” Durian says with a smile. “Maybe I can get a ride from you occasionally, and then I help you out sometimes. Until my business really gets going.”

“Yeah. We just have to make it through this mission,” Lilly says reflectively.

“That’s right. Focus on this mission first—”

“And then the beer.”

Durian grins. “And then the beer. That’s smart, Lilly.”

“So you stole cars?” she asks, going back to what he mentioned earlier about his gang days. “Did you drive them?”

“Apparently I was good at it. A little too good. And then I got caught.”

“I was a pirate.” Lilly shares. “Apparently.”

“So you stole whole ships!”

“I don’t know,” Lilly says with a shrug.

Durian can hear that bothers her, so he says, “Maybe it’s better not to focus on all that. I’ve been clean for four years. I’ve got no desire to go back to that life. I’ve got a legitimate business now. You know, for me, it worked out.” He pauses by a large window—upside down of course—through which the stars and Tarsonis are visible. Every now and then there is an explosion on the surface large enough to be visible from all the way up here, but he and Lilly are too battle-tested to find them alarming. They admire the sight for a while, and then Lilly pulls Durian off into a dark corner for some other entertainment.