Lilly has spotty memories of serving on Antiga Prime when she was fighting the Confederacy. The planet was not glassed like Mar Sara and Chau Sara; it is still temperate with plant and animal life. But that latter includes plenty of zerg. The atmosphere is breathable, but most terran structures are in ruins from the war. The zerg did not completely overrun the planet; the terran military forces withdrew. But it has not been re-colonized since, and there has been no contact with survivors. It is possible all the terrans were killed by zerg or maybe something is preventing communication.
As Lilly pilots Saffron down through the atmosphere, she and Imogen see that parts of the planet are covered in creep. They locate the Exploracorp facility, but there is no clear landing pad next to it. The most defensible place to park is a small island about a kilometer away that has a bridge connecting it to the mainland. Other ruined buildings are in the general area, additional potential sources of salvage. Whether this was a base or just a town is not obvious, but it could hold useful materials.
While they are still checking out the area, the sensor suite detects a quickly approaching hostile creature. It is a small flying zerg traveling at very high speed. Lilly tries evading the zerg first, but it just loops back around. Something about the zerg seems familiar to Imogen, something that gives her a bad feeling when Lilly suggests ramming it. Imogen recommends instead that they try out the irradiator that Rory enabled. “Remember, the goal is to not crash the ship! Let’s try the weapon.”
Lilly targets the zerg, and a green cloud of radiation surrounds the creature. Parts of it start decaying and wilting, but it is still barreling toward them. “Right. The weapon isn’t fast,” Lilly mutters, and she zigs Saffron out of the way. The zerg whips past them and circles back around. Pieces fall off it, and its wings disintegrate, but before it falls from the sky, the zerg explodes.
“That’s not what Rory said would happen…” Imogen murmurs.
“Blew up like baneling,” Lilly observes. If it had collided with Saffron, the suicidal zerg would have self-detonated at the ship. Too bad we can’t get a sample for Li.
* * *
Lilly lands Saffron without a scratch, surprising herself a bit. Once on the ground, Imogen opens discussion of how to proceed. Their main reason for coming to this planet is to replace or recharge Snowball’s battery, but another real concern weighing on Imogen is fuel for Saffron. They have enough vespene to get from Antiga Prime to Chau Sara, but not from there back to Korhal. The ruins could have vespene, particularly if there are military structures, but so might the Exploracorp facility. Working science buildings are large consumers of vespene, and Imogen is confident of where the gas would be stored in such a facility if the supplies were not destroyed by the war. They decide to proceed as planned with the intention of exploring the other ruins after they have exhausted their original target.
They grab their backpacks, clearing out some space for bringing back whatever they find. They leave the respirators and climbing gear behind—this planet is in far better shape than Redstone III—but Imogen brings the medkit in case they need to treat any zerg-related injuries, and she packs mechanics tools so that she has them available for dismantling equipment or fixing it up, as appropriate. Lilly tells Snowball to bunk down, and he accepts being confined to quarters. Imogen knows the requirements of his battery, so there is no reason to bring him along. Lilly slings her new frying pan laser over her shoulder, then holsters her shotgun. And her pistol. And she brings her knife, because you never know.
When they open Saffron’s main door, Sunshine bolts out. As the lyote runs around, sniffing things, Imogen comments, “I still think she’d make a good pet for Li, but this is a perfectly fine planet for her to live on. If she comes back to us when we’re ready to leave, she can come with us, but that’s her choice.”
Lyotes are endemic to Mar Sara. Even though they met Sunshine aboard Hyperion, she is likely from that world, and it too is zerg-infested. “She can take care of herself,” Lilly says confidently.
Lilly takes a few test shots with the new protoss weapon, her first ever, and then they head across the bridge. It is a bit rickety but definitely able to hold their weight. The terrain is rough, partially bombed out, but there is no creep. They skirt the edge of the ruins, staying inland of the coast of the large lake for some cover. There are no signs of zerg tracks along their route. After a week in Augustgrad, the air is refreshingly clean, and the water in the lake looks so, too. There has been no industry to pollute Antiga Prime for the last several years. Imogen observes that it is not quite as nice as Umoja, but she appreciates the change from what she has come to consider standard for Dominion worlds.