Voice garbled by her respirator, Imogen greets the guards with, “Are you sure it’s safe to breathe here?” as she and Lilly descend the askew ramp. The sergeant in charge of the squad has his pistol out, while the four troopers behind him are actively pointing shotguns at Saffron. “This area is supposed to be pretty toxic. I can’t believe you don’t have filter masks! Is it safe for you to be out and about like that?”
The sergeant completely ignores Imogen’s questions. “What the hell are you doing here?” he demands aggressively.
Imogen rattles the extra bag she is carrying against her hip. “We’re here for an environmental survey, of course!” She tosses a Lost & Found business card to him, but he makes no move to catch it. It falls to the ground. “I’ll be sure to pick that litter up,” Imogen murmurs, staying in character. She starts to crouch down, sample jar at the ready.
“This is a restricted area. You can’t be collecting samples here. I’m going to need to confiscate those.”
“Oh, did you want this one?” Imogen asks, holding up her jar of sand. “I don’t have any other samples yet.” The sergeant is a combination of angry, frustrated, and flustered by how out of touch with the seriousness of the situation she seems to be. Channeling my inner Egon seems to be working, Imogen thinks happily to herself.
Lilly, meanwhile, looks Saffron up and down sadly. “That was a hard landing,” she observes. “We’ll need some repairs before we can take it back up again.” She glances over at the sergeant. “Do you think I landed that way on purpose?”
“Oh!” Imogen says, straightening up. “Do you have a phone inside that we can use to call a tow truck or something like that? Is there a local mechanic shop? Or do you have a garage maybe, that we could use to fix this up? Then we’ll be able to finish our survey here and take these important samples back to the university in A-gust-o-grad.” With her overly-thick accent, she butchers the pronunciation of the capital. “Then maybe we can get some people out here to cleanse this land and get it fixed up real nice again and—” The words just keep rolling out in a lilt modeled after Uncle Leo’s.
“Stay right there,” the sergeant growls. “I’m going to call this in.” He taps his headset, and everybody nearby can hear his side of the ensuing conversation. “Yeah, I dunno, sounds like some kind of dopey researcher and a driver… Yeah, their ship’s kind of busted… I mean, I say, option A is just that—yes, ma’am… Yes. All right.” He drops his hand and takes the jar from Imogen. “Ma’am, I’m going to need those samples. This is a restricted area,” he reiterates, voice borderline professional rather than coercive this time. Perhaps his supervisor did not appreciate his cavalier attitude. The reformation does not last for long, though. Continuing in a huff, he says, “If your ship is damaged, yes, we can help you make a phone call. And arrange to get you out of here as quickly as possible.”
“Well that’s most generous of you, it is!” Imogen replies with delight.
“But we’re going to have to check your identities, take your information—”
Imogen presents the dirty business card recovered from the ground. “So you do want this then!”
“We’re going to have to check your official Dominion papers, of course. And probably in two to four weeks, you will be getting a summons in Augustgrad about your trespassing.” He orders them to leave all their things behind. While Imogen argues with the sergeant about how she needs her bag, Lilly steps back into the ship to deposit her weapons. The only one she keeps on her is her knife, since that is sheathed on the back of her belt and can be justified as a tool. When Lilly emerges from the ship, the sergeant is scowling, but Imogen wears a satisfied smirk and still has her gear. She has worn him down.