Once aboard the science vessel, the protoss introduces himself as Arudin. Alert to potential tension between him and their local terran, Imogen asks her partner, “Hey, Lilly, did you give Spearmint his stuff?”
“Nope. It’s in my bag,” the other woman answers, continuing to work at the central console. “Getting the ship ready to go.”
Imogen is content to let Lilly concentrate on piloting and avoiding zerg while she takes care of the mental health of their passengers. She roots around in Lilly’s backpack, extracting the photographs and other random items that Lilly picked up in the barracks. If Spearmint has pieces of his past to focus on, maybe she can prevent an incident between him and Arudin. Saffron is not very spacious, but she keeps the two of them as separate from each other as she can.
All we need is Sunshine, and then we have all the crazies, Lilly thinks as she revs the engines. The creep is very clingy, but she powers her way out of it before any hydralisks get too close. She checks the readouts and smiles in satisfaction to see that the irradiator has fully recharged. Then she plots a course due west, enjoying the fun of flying for a while. Suddenly something occurs to her. “Wait, was that your tiger?” she asks, looking over at the protoss.
“Bengalaas,” Imogen corrects her.
“There was one aboard one of our ships. It was not mine. If you encountered it, it must have survived in the wild here.”
“Yup,” Lilly agrees.
“Some of my brethren chose to keep animals. I was not among them. Interesting creatures to study, though. I suppose a piece of our homeworld might be all we have left… Where was it? Can we retrieve it?”
That sounds perfect to Imogen. She and Lilly have already cleaned up the landing pad at the starport near where they encountered the animal. He can go off looking for it while she gives the ship another working over. Lilly readily agrees to take them there, but Imogen has a question for Spearmint first. “Do you want to go back to that cult?”
“Those people are crazy, but those people need protecting,” he says.
“It’s your choice,” she tells him. “You could leave this planet, but I understand that it’s your homeworld.”
“I’m not just going to leave this planet behind,” he insists. “Is there an organization that can help us reclaim it? This Dominion that you talked about? Do they have the forces to wipe out the zerg here?”
“The Dominion is actively engaged in fighting zerg in various places throughout the sector,” Imogen explains, “but it’s not like you can just submit a request for them to clear out your planet.”
“Is there an organization that you can do that with?” he counters.
Imogen has no idea what to do with the information on Antiga’s current status. It is certainly not FRAWD’s area of concern. The raiders are currently pursuing jobs for money, so it is possibly they could pass the information to Jimmy, but maybe the Antigans would not want another rebellion based on their world.
“You got any resources to mine?” Lilly asks. “What about Grom? The older one.” This seems a better deal for Grom than that whole cerebrate/Queen of Blades situation. Antiga Prime is temperate with far fewer zerg than Redstone III.
It is an attractive idea, but Imogen points out that a lot of machinery will be coming to the planet if they bring in outside help this way. Spearmint insists he is fine with that. “But how many of your group are open to technology?” Imogen presses.
Spearmint estimates maybe a third. People put up with a lot in the interest of staying together to stay safe. But if they can have a proper society again, then they will not need to continue putting up with the crazies who have inhaled too much vespene. “We don’t have credits, but we have minerals, we have vespene. The zerg haven’t been mining it. They’re high quality. We were an up-and-coming world… before the invasion.”
“Let the miners at that, and they’ll hire the mercenaries for you,” Lilly suggests. Privately she wonders whether she and Imogen could get some sort of finder’s fee for brokering the deal. A steady stream of vespene for Saffron sure would be nice.
Spearmint insists he has the authority to speak on behalf of the people of Antiga, more right than the majority of the cult members, many being Confederate bastards or Sons of Korhal terrorists. Imogen delicately reminds him that that latter group run the sector now, having become the Dominion government. This is why the corporate approach seems the best in this case.
He rubs his hand over his chin in weariness and mutters that he will need a shave before meeting with corporate higher-ups. They can help him with that, too, having rescued his shaving kit. They also agree to ask around in order to find out where anyone evacuated from Antiga may have resettled. It is possible Li June would have leads on that or there might be some sort of social club in Augustgrad. With all that settled, Spearmint feels no need to report back to Marsha. They could leave the planet right now, as far as he is concerned.
Arudin is willing to provide coordinates for a world that had a protoss colony five years ago. He has no way of knowing its current state, but it is a starting point for reuniting him with his people. While Spearmint and Lilly engage in a discussion on whether or not swimming zerg are a thing, Imogen does a fuel audit. She concludes that they can drop Arudin off on the way to taking Spearmint to see Grom on Korhal and still feel confident about being able to visit and leave Chau Sara. With the new battery on hand, Snowball is no longer a ticking time bomb, so spending a few days at the FRAWD office would also not hurt. They will just need to keep the zerg larva away from their guests and make sure those guests remain civil with each other for the duration of the trip.