Hooray! The big reveal has occurred! Jilly is a clone herself all along.
I suspected all along, either by coincidence or design, mostly because Jilly looks so much like the class 2 guards that were chasing Karen from the beginning. For that matter, she even acts much like one of them from the textual description. Her fetishes may be her own, however?
What I am surprised at, is that I sort of expected Jilly to be an "independent contractor", a bounty hunter, and professional kidnapper who kidnapped shiks, stealing them from their owners and taking them to some middle party. Using the vehicle metaphor, "Grand Theft Shik".
It turns out that Jilly is an agent operating with a clone rebellion group? It makes a lot of sense, as Jilly didn't seem to be quite her own boss at the beginning either; more like she was working for some other authority sent in for a temp job. And then she decided to rescue/kidnap a runaway shik on her own impulse. Then, what with her resources, and knowledge, made her seem like a professional kidnapper of shiks.
Now, it looks like she may be a recruiter for this shiks rights organization?
Clearly Nuage is running the show at this level. Hmn? "Nuage" = "New Age"? Nuage might be a dreselandes shik? Certainly she has the arrogance to be one!
This is where Karen had to, and needs to, choose her words with great care. Not the least once Jilly made her bombshell statement. Just when we think that Jilly's position, once defined, is lessened, we find that she does indeed have a bit of a homicidal streak?
Very interested to hear of the reason for the gas masks! It is due to environmental concerns. Possibly the colony is on a hostile world and requires domes and such and air scrubbers? It might even be a massive space station, or an outpost on a big rock in space for all we know. But regardless, where these runaway clones hide out is not terribly healthy! It might well be in the maintenance infrastructure of the colony, where breathable air is not a given?
So Karen's escape was not foreseen? Jilly did indeed act on her own impulse. That would explain Nuage's irritation and harsh words. On the other hand, Jilly seems to have made the right decision, as Karen is at least interesting to Nuage. I do wonder about Jilly's original intended job?
I also wonder what will likely come in search of Karen? And why did Karen run away in the first place? Was she deserting her position at all? She seems to have confused Nuage with her commander aboard ship, perhaps another dreselandes? Karen seems eager to submit, but then she might be inclined to submit to the local postal worker or a kid from the video arcade as well!
Did Karen merely leave the ship for a "look see"? Were those "class 2" guards part of the ship detail, or were THEY trying to steal her? Or they were merely "cops" of the colony trying to round up a stray shik? The battle cruiser angle has changed things from just thinking of Karen as escaping from the local clone facility with the class 2 guards chasing down their escapee as I first imagined.
Thanks for all the information!