In the morning, Imogen shows up at the ship with a protoss repair crew to help fix up some of the damage Saffron took on Antiga. They are respectful of the boundaries she imposes and do not try to poke around the crew quarters. Lilly gets back her frying pan laser and tests it out, pleased with the changes to the heat dissipation mechanism.
Before they depart, Selendis pledges to contact them when she finds an appropriate tal’darim target. They exchange comms information so that the crew of Saffron can properly announce themselves when returning to protoss space. It finally sinks in for Imogen that Selendis really is high ranking. She had originally introduced herself as fleet commander, but somehow Imogen had not really clued into that and has just been thinking of her as the leader of this outpost. But like Jimmy, Selendis has a whole army at her disposal. Imogen does not have any sense of how vast it might be. If Selendis were to decide she does not like them, she might be able to levy a lot of resources against them. Ultimately, though, Imogen decides it is not worth worrying about. They have already pissed off the most powerful person in the sector, the Queen of Blades. Anyone else pales in comparison to that.
Once Lilly has the course for Korhal entered and their flight no longer needs her attention, Imogen asks for her help checking the battery in Snowball’s implant. Lilly tells him to stand at attention so that Imogen can take some readings off his original battery. When last she checked it, there were a couple weeks left on that one at current usage levels. It has been counting down about a day per day with him just doing basic patrols. Imogen swaps in the new battery, hoping to get an idea of how long it is good for, but the interface is not designed to provide that information as a matter of course. Only when power is low does the counter activate. With the new battery in place, the green “all good” light is lit, so it must hold at least a month’s charge. Imogen swaps the batteries again, leaving the original one in place for now. They can run that down further before switching for good, though she resolves to make the change earlier if they are about to embark on something foolish.
A question hanging over Imogen’s head is where they should go after Korhal. If Spearmint needs a lift from them back to Antiga, it would make sense to pick up the bengalaas then and deliver it to Selendis. Their lead on where to locate the creature is still relatively fresh. And with a replacement battery for Snowball, the zerg larva is no longer a ticking time bomb. It is true they might be racing Neiman to the Cerberus facility on Chau Sara, but he has had those coordinates for at least as long as they have, which is several weeks. Really, the only one who can address the urgency of reaching Chau Sara is Lilly.
As she works, Imogen broaches the topic with Lilly. “There’s a lot going on now. How important is it to you for us to get to Chau Sara sooner or later?” When Lilly does not answer at first, Imogen clarifies, “I’m not asking about waiting years, but if we’re going to help Spearmint get things going, it could be another week or so before we’re done with Antiga-related things. Maybe even two, if we’re then catching a bengalaas and picking up kakaru eggs to take back to Selendis.”
“What do you think?” Lilly asks back.
Lilly defers to Imogen so much, but this decision is not one the ex-soldier can just pawn off onto her. Exasperated, Imogen says, “I can’t answer that question for you. I don’t know what it is you need to know.”
“Well, it’s been there a while, and we’re only racing Neiman, who just needs to get a zerg to get in there. It’s not that hard to get a zerg,” Lilly says, nodding down at Snowball.
“That’s a very cooperative one, and that’s not going to be good enough to get in. You need to decide when he gets his promotion. If you’re not ready to do that yet…”
Imogen tries again to prompt a decision. “I’m doing these things because you want them done, Lilly.”
“No, I get it… I think we finish up what we’re doing with Antiga and gather up some resources first. We need to do that, if we’re resigning from our job. I don’t want to wait forever, but it’s probably not going anywhere.”
“So… are you going to tell me what you’re looking for?” Imogen asks. When they first acquired Snowball, Lilly showed Imogen her Cerberus tattoo and she said she did not like to talk about it. But the time has come that she needs to. Imogen watches Lilly wrestle with providing an answer and then adds, “You need something from the Cerberus facility. I can look for things related to what is attached to Snowball, but… Can you tell me anything about what we’re really looking for?”
Lilly lets out a sigh and admits, “To be honest, I don’t know what I’m looking for. What I know is that I have a tattoo that matches the logo.”
“But Snowball recognizes you in some way.” Lilly suggests that might not be related. “Not related?! You can understand him!”
“He’s a soldier; I’m a soldier. I don’t know. But the logo’s the same, so maybe?”
Imogen knows from her psionic blunder on Antiga that Lilly has uncertainties about her past. “There could be another way to help you remember something before we go there, if you think that sort of edge might be useful,” she offers tentatively. Lilly encourages her to share what she has in mind. “Abdul was a terrazine addict, and there was still some in his flat. I have a vial of it,” Imogen tells her. “From what I know of the drug—aside from its numerous dangerous side effects—it also can help with memory recall.” Egon told her it can help uncover memories suppressed by trauma, but Imogen does not want to make Lilly any more uncomfortable than she already is by explicitly stating that. “But it’s an addictive drug, and Egon—Dr. Stetmann—warned me a whole lot about how dangerous it is. I don’t know if one dose is enough to cause any long-term problems. I do know, though, that it would make you more susceptible to the type of attacks that I was telling you about. The kind that Selendis did to me. And I don’t know how long its effects will last.” No one has mentioned that side effect to her before, but it makes sense based on what the protoss leader told her about how the attack excites terrazine.
Lilly knows plenty of other people in the military who were resocialized. There were always rumors floating around ways to get lost memories back. Nothing about terrazine rings a bell. It could have been part of the long list of ridiculous ideas like drinking vinegar every day or spinning repeatedly to the left or jumping over cracks. She tried a couple because why not? But none of them ever worked.
“You don’t have to decide right now,” Imogen tells Lilly, trying to ease some of the pressure, “I just want you to know that this option is on the table.”
“All right, I’m going to be straight with you.” Lilly pulls aside her collar and points to the logo in question. “I’m not proud of it, but this tattoo means that I’m a resoc.” Imogen stares at her, and Lilly fully owns it. “It means I’ve been resocialized.”
“And what does that mean?” Imogen asks, confused.
“Oh.” Lilly was not expecting that response. Maybe it is something they do not do on Umoja. In the Dominion military, like the Confederate one before it, a lot of soldiers are former criminals, resocialized to give them new purpose. It is also used as a threat so that people do not act out. In other cases, it is a fast way to dump a whole new skill set into a subject and make them more compliant. “It means that either I was a criminal and they rehabilitated me, or for some reason they used it to train me. But I don’t remember what or why. These other two tattoos,” she yanks her neckline farther over, “also mean I’ve been resocialized! I don’t know what I did to earn these. I just don’t remember. That’s why I don’t want to tell people about it. People don’t look very fondly on resocs.” It almost got her fried at DORF.
This is definitely not something that Imogen has ever heard about before. “I don’t know who you were, Lilly. I only know who you are, and you’re a good person. If finding out who you were is something you want to do, I’ll help you with that.”
“I’d like to know,” Lilly admits. “Hopefully it doesn’t earn me another tattoo.”
“Well, nobody’s caught us yet,” Imogen says with a smile. “Let’s keep it that way.” She supposes the protoss just did, but that does not really count. No terrans have caught them, at any rate.
“So, I don’t know if the terrazine would help or not, but I’m willing to try it,” Lilly says. She has no problems with trying some random drugs, not if Imogen thinks they might help.
“Best to do that after we have no passengers anymore,” Imogen suggests. “And probably planetside.” She does not want to be adrift in space with an incapacitated pilot.
The trip back to Korhal is uneventful. Along the way, Imogen places a call to Rory Swann to arrange to deliver the supplies they owe him. He tells her about a drop-zone on Mar Sara, saying that things there have cooled off a little bit. It has only been a few weeks since the raiders’ disruptive activities in Mar Sara City, but they have been drawing attention elsewhere in the sector lately. Lilly and Imogen are already planning to go to make a delivery to Li June, so Rory’s suggestion is quite convenient. And so their plans are set: Korhal, a hunt on Antiga Prime, quick deliveries on Browder II and Mar Sara, then finally the Cerberus facility on Chau Sara.