The day that Lilly and Imogen are packing up to head to Antiga Prime, a letter arrives addressed to Lillian Washington. While she reads it, Imogen takes a call from Li June. The recluse has new information on the Cerberus facility on Chau Sara. Her hacking has uncovered that the bunker has a unique two-person access requirement: one person needs to have the proper traditional key, and the other “person” needs to be an advanced zerg. There is some sort of scanner present that looks for such a biological signature. Li doubts a larva is advanced enough and suggests that Snowball might need a “promotion” if they are to get in quietly.
“If Snowball gets a promotion, I’m not sure how quiet he’ll be!” Imogen objects. She asks whether drones or zerglings would be advanced enough, but Li does not think so. Imogen follows up with questions about Li’s research on the catalysts they left with her. They have three catalysts: a hydralisk, a drone, and an unknown. Li tells her that the unlabeled one looks like it might be related to an unusual type of zerg she has seen before, one not focused on assault or attack, but also not a controlling zerg or a queen, either. Imogen informs her that it will probably be a week or so before they will be by with her deliveries, and Li promises to study the catalyst in the interim in the hopes of having something more specific to report.
Imogen hangs up and joins Lilly to give her the update.
“Look!” Lilly says with a smile as she hands the letter to Imogen.
The Tal’darim are raised to believe that they are superior to all, even other protoss. But I have learned that at least one pathetic protoss is weaker than two terrans I know. En Xava’kai, Malorn.
Imogen shakes her head as she reads it. A thank you note that does not actually say thank you and also puts someone down… It is what she has come to expect of Malorn. “We’ll probably never see him again. He got what he wants from us. En Xava’kai? I have no idea what that means.” It could even be a threat of some kind.
Lilly takes the letter back and slips it into one of the pockets of her rucksack as Imogen fills her in about the Cerberus facility. “It seems like the facility requires you to bring a zerg with you to be let in.”
“And Snowball’s not going to cut it… it needs to be more advanced. I’m not sure if it’s… well, I don’t want to say a sacrificial victim, but if the facility is for fixing up zerg to do things, maybe that’s why one is required to get in,” Imogen continues, thinking out loud. “Or maybe it wants operatives to show up with their… trained zerg partner? I’m not sure, but that’s what it takes to get in.”
“So, a live zerg?” Lilly asks.
“Aye, and not a zergling, either. Based on what we saw with the hydralisk in that lab,” Imogen says, remembering the scuffle at DORF, “I don’t really think you and I can just walk up with one on a chain.” Even a wounded hydralisk is something to be treated with caution and kept at a distance. Imogen sighs. “I don’t know what your long-term plan was when you took Snowball, Lilly, other than maybe finding out something about Cerberus, but it seems like maybe you’re going to have to decide what you want him to be.”
Long-term plan? Lilly holds back a laugh.
“You don’t need to decide right now; it’ll be over a week before we get there. But you need to think on it.”
“Do you think we should give him the catalyst?” Lilly asks.
“What other zerg are you going to find who’s going to want to walk up to the door with you?” Imogen counters. “Do you have other zerg friends you haven’t introduced me to?” Briefly, Imogen thinks of Ted, wondering what state he is in now and whether his infestation would trip these sensors. But that is immaterial, as she has no way to reach him, not since he “deserted” on Brontes IV. “You think you can wrestle a hyrdalisk into a cage with wheels?” Imogen asks jokingly, but Lilly seems to actually consider it. “I think the safest bet is Snowball grown up… but for that, we need a battery first. If the device in his head fails, then we don’t know if Snowball will even still be friendly.”