As Lilly approaches the rough-looking terrans to talk, Lief whispers to Imogen, “Why isn’t she shooting them?”
Imogen looks at her cousin, incredulous. “Do you see how many of them there are?!”
“Do you see how much of her there is?” he counters.
Imogen sighs. “That’s… that’s not going to work. She wouldn’t be able to take them all down before they got to her. And besides, we need answers. This way, she can get some of those directly from them.” She listens in on the conversation as well as she can with the increasing distance.
Once Lilly begins heading with the group towards the outpost, Imogen considers her own next move. Whoever that woman in charge is, she greeted Lilly by name, so Imogen feels confident that they have found where the crew of Jackson’s Revenge is based locally. The thugs admitted to using the zerg presence on the planet as something of a screen, but they seem to be treating the infested building with a healthy dose of caution. Imogen no longer thinks that that structure is involved in the rendezvous. Sure, it might be a source of samples they could sell, but Li June is not currently offering commissions, and that is not why Imogen is here.
Imogen knows that her current distance is too far to get a clear psionic read on the life signs inside the old factory, so she tells Lief they need to move closer. When she turns her attention to her cousin, though, she finds him aghast that Lilly has gone with the thugs. He suggests that she might turn them in for credits, a notion that Imogen flatly rejects. “Lilly’s not going to do that.”
“It’s not that I don’t trust Lilly,” Lief clarifies. “I just don’t trust anyone.”
“Then you shouldn’t’ve come,” Imogen tells him.
“I thought it would be interesting, something fun! Something to do.”
“We’re here for Aiden, we are, not for adventure. There’s plenty of that to be had in other parts of the sector.” She scans the somewhat desolate ground between the outpost and the scrawny patch of thorny trees in which they are concealed. The terrain dips lower where a creek meanders through the area. They will look a mess after crawling alongside it, but the bank should give them enough cover to get a bit closer.
The majority of the thugs have entered the factory with Lilly, but the man she heard called Marshall and his partner are still patrolling the area. Imogen and Lief wait until the guards have moved on a bit and then dash over to the creek. They drop below the bank and slide along low, but then Imogen hears approaching footsteps. “Get down!” she hisses at Lief, and she rolls into the water, ducking below.
Imogen cannot hold her breath very long, though, and she has to break the surface for air sooner than she would like. When she does so, she sees Marshall up on the bank, looking around and muttering, “What was that noise?” Imogen is somewhat muddy, there are plenty of zerg about, and she knows the pirate group is a little anxious about the infested building… This has the makings of a shaky plan. She splashes water up in the sentry’s direction and growls like she has heard some zerg do. It is enough to create the desired effect. “Nope nope nope nope nope,” Marshall yelps, as he backpedals rapidly. “Ain’t dealing with that!”
“What was that?” his partner Jan asks.
“Some sort of zerg, and that’s enough for me,” he tells her as he continues his retreat.
Imogen breathes a sigh of relief and then looks around for Lief. He must have stronger lungs than she does, as he has been under quite a while. She ducks her head below the surface, and through the murky water she sees him further down the creek. It deepens in that part, enough so that his struggles were not disturbing the water above. His foot has gotten caught, and he cannot resurface. Imogen swims over and uses the crowbar from her toolkit to lever up the log. It creates enough space for him to slide his foot out. Once he has caught his breath back on the bank, she checks out his ankle. Lilly has the medkit, but Imogen has duct tape, and there are plenty of sticks about. She wraps up the ankle to contain its swelling and provide enough support that Lief can move on it, telling him, “It’s not as bad as you think it is. It’ll be fine with some rest and ice, but we don’t have time for that right now.”
He gingerly puts some weight on it. “That’s my dancing foot. I need that one.”
“I think they both are.”
“Aye, but I’ve been working on a one-legged dance, you see.”
“Some sort of jig?”
“It’s going to be all the rage next year on Umoja,” Lief insists. “It’s something to do, anyway. They’ve not yet automated dance.”