Further up the small hill, Lilly scoops the still blob into her box. Snowball probably came out here as a zergling and then reverted to changeling form when he was severely injured in the attack on the other zergling. She hopes that is all that happened. She cannot really tell whether he is alive at all right now. Lilly rushes the box back aboard Saffron, setting it on the floor in her room. She looks down at poor Snowball, unsure of what she can do to help.
Lilly stands at the operation table with the lead scientist of her project. He wears a Cerberus patch on his Confederate uniform, the same as she does. “Now you see, Colonel, we need to do this dissection of this xenomorph here. You can see the spina bifida is over here,” he says, pointing to the jaw. What a load of science baloney, Lilly thinks. Clearly this guy knows nothing about anatomy. She ignores him and focuses on the opportunity before her. Not many people get to see the inside of a xenomorph without first being eaten by one. The internal organs are actually surrounded by a lot of gooey material. The scientist dumps onto the specimen a jar of the thick purple slop that the xenomorphs generate. “Now let’s see how it reacts!” As it turns out, the xenomorph was not completely dead. Reinvigorated, it slashes out at the scientist with one clawed limb, spraying the room with blood. Well, that was dumb, Lilly thinks.
Lilly dumps her last jar of creep over the injured Snowball. In his changeling form, he is almost entirely made of the goo that coats most zerg organs. She hopes the creep can encourage some of that to regenerate. She refills the jar with PowerAde and leaves it sitting next to him. Then, bereft of other ideas, she closes the door to her room and heads outside to rejoin Imogen.
When she exits Saffron, Lilly sees that the door to the dropship is closed and no one is around. A camera is set up ten meters away. Suddenly, the dropship’s wide door opens and the ramp deploys. A perfect line-up steps out of the vessel, Imogen on the right, then Durian. Kate Lockwell has the center spot, with two more marines on her other side. The final Fruit Basket is actually in front of them all in an alert crouch, scanning the area for danger. The first steps forward are carefully choreographed. Everyone looks around, immediately starting to work. Sounding very official, the journalist addresses the camera, “This is Kate Lockwell, live from Tarsonis. It’s a great day for humanity! Dominion forces are advancing on all fronts.” The camera pans to cover Durian and his troops continuing forward. “But, don’t forget, this effort is sector-wide. Our troops hail not only from Korhal but also from the Kel-Morian Combine. And on UNN’s own Liberty Squad, we have our Umojan. Humanity stands united against the zerg.” The camera swings back around, and then Kate calls, “Cut!” She congratulates her team on their excellent work. “Fruit Basket squad, you guys look great in power armor. Power armor makes everyone look great. You did a good job. Imogen, thank you very much. I like that serious grimace. Umojans are very serious people, aren’t they?”
Imogen does not disabuse her of that notion. Her lips are pressed together to suppress any sort of sardonic smirk from showing her opinion of the theater of this all. While Kate reviews her footage and Durian scouts around with his marines, Imogen hurries over to Lilly.
“He’s not doing so good,” Lilly says quietly. “I don’t know if he’s dead. I poured some creep on him. Maybe you should take a look.”
That sounds really serious to Imogen. Fortunately, there is enough activity going on that she can slip away for a moment. “Give a shout if they start looking for me,” she tells her partner. Lilly presses the medkit into Imogen’s hands.
Once aboard Saffron, Imogen examines the patient. She sees occasional movement, breathing of some sort, so Snowball is still alive. There are no signs of consciousness, though, and his eyestalks remain collapsed. He has many gashes that Imogen imagines should be sewn up somehow, but she is not in a position right now to figure out the status of the organs beneath them. She certainly does not want to do more damage by proceeding incautiously. At any moment, she could be summoned back outside for the all-important Dominion documentary, and she does not want to be mid-surgery when that happens.
For now, Imogen administers one of the potent painkillers that they picked up on Umoja. It has an immediate effect, rapidly encouraging Snowball’s own healing capabilities. Imogen breathes a little easier. The disordered blob pulls together, forming the more cohesive blob that she is accustomed to seeing between transformations. There are still some holes and gashes, but scars should not be a problem for a creature who can change shape. One of the eyestalks actually looks up at Imogen for a moment with a vague sense of recognition. Then the eye closes, and Snowball shifts around in the creep that Lilly poured in. Imogen tucks a blanket over him.
Once back outside with Lilly, Imogen hands over the medkit. “He’s alive,” she assures her friend. “He’s a bit roughed up, but I gave him a shot and he’s sleeping it off.” Lilly nods. “And I closed up the ship,” she adds. Lilly lets out a sigh of relief.