Once out of the Cerberus facility, the terran rescuees head straight into Saffron, the thin air of Chau Sara being no good for them. The zerg, though, have no trouble with the atmosphere and congregate outside. All except Snowball, that is. On the approach to the science vessel, he stealthily transforms from hydralisk to terran. The only one who notices is Shelley, who concludes this must be another experiment from the facility.
As Lilly and Spikey approach the ship, they find Imogen in her breathing mask in conference with Zagara. “I need to call my queen,” the broodmother insists, “but I don’t have the resources to do it, and I cannot fit on your ship. Would you…” Zagara makes a groaning noise, choking on her words; it seems to pain her to ask for more help. “Can you send a signal to Char for me?”
Lilly’s eyebrows shoot up at the request. The Queen of Blades does not like us! She keeps her mouth shut for now though. This is up to Imogen to handle.
Imogen makes sure she clearly understands the request. “You want us to record you saying a message, and you want us to transmit it to Char?” Zagara concurs. “I will agree to do that,” Imogen says, “if you tell the Queen of Blades that we helped you and that we didn’t mean to offend her in anything we did earlier.”
Lilly does interject at this point. “We held up our side of the deal. We didn’t have to wake you up. We had the chance to betray you, to leave you for dead, and we didn’t. Man, that was my last painkiller, even.”
Zagara agrees to put in a good word with the Queen of Blades about the two terrans, but she is puzzled by the request. “I don’t understand why any terran would want to be known by the Queen of Blades.”
Yeah, too late for that, Lilly thinks, recalling Kerrigan’s angry video message on Redstone.
“Many terrans see her as a murderer,” Zagara continues, “but terrans have murdered far more terrans than she ever has.”
“I’m sure Mengsk has killed more people than she has,” Imogen mutters.
“Mengsk is both the betrayer and the creator, in some fashion,” Zagara growls. Hunh, Imogen thinks, that’s an interesting comment. This sort of perspective further cements her view that broodmothers at least are both sentient and sapient. Of course, Zagara then continues with a bloodthirsty conclusion.
“One day, we will have his blood.”
The broodmother records a message of hisses, clicks, and growls and provides the coordinates to beam it to. Li June does not interfere, but she watches the whole exchange with interest from the hatch of the science vessel. Generally speaking, she prefers to be hidden away, but this is a really weird exchange, and she cannot resist the opportunity to take some notes.
Once they have the message, they quickly transmit it. After all, there is going to be a large explosion soon. Satisfied, Zagara starts to lead her brood away. “Hey, bud, what do you want to do?” Lilly asks Spikey. “Want to stay with these guys?” she asks, throwing her head toward the broodmother. I don’t know where we can put him, she thinks. Hydralisks are big, Spikey more than most, and Saffron really is not. Spikey looks at Lilly, looks at Zagara, and then holds up a claw for one final high-five. Lilly does not leave him hanging. He slithers after Zagara and turns one last time, raising a claw in farewell. When he gets close enough to the broodmother, they seem to confer for a moment. Zagara turns back to Lilly, eyes narrowed, but then she departs.
It is time for Lilly to do so, as well. She heads inside, where Li is already at the sensors and Imogen is mucking about with tools and wires, coaxing heightened performance from the life support system. “Everyone sit on some piece of floor and try not to move around too much,” the Umojan orders. It is only an hour or so back to Mar Sara, so they should be fine, but there is no reason to work the filters more than they need to.
Shelley is crouched on the ground near where Imogen is working, mouth going a mile a minute. “I can’t believe I was controlling those zerg, and then there was that other zerg! And then you guys came in and shot everything up, and I helped out with the zerglings, too!” She gives Imogen back the laptop.
Lilly lets all the words roll over her, focusing instead on piloting the ship. Once done with her modifications, Imogen engages with Shelley, who seems the least traumatized of all the rescued terrans. Imogen gives her the full story… at least, the version that does not involve any psionic angle. Rose Corp hired someone to kill all the witnesses. They were lucky that the assassin who was hired had experiments that he wanted people for. Otherwise, they would all be dead. The trial cannot proceed without witnesses, and everyone but Grom was taken, some more forcibly than others. “It’s still potentially dangerous to testify against Rose, as you can see,” Imogen tells Shelley, “but if you have any sway with any of the other people here, encourage them to go through with testifying.”
Shelley thinks many of them will be too afraid to return to Korhal at all. She was taking night classes to be a paralegal, though, and is not willing to back down just because of some scare tactics. “Rose is going to have to pay for what they did,” she insists. “And that Neiman guy, too, whoever he is.”
“He’s an independent contractor.”
“So Rose will try to absolve themselves from all responsibility and say that he was just a loose cannon,” Shelley grumbles.
Imogen talks with Shelley a bit longer about her experiences. When she mentions that Neiman had a weird accent she did not recognize, Imogen objects, “Well, you don’t want to hold that against someone.”
“I recognize Umojan accents,” Shelley insists. “I mean, Umojans are weird, but they’re not bad people.”