Lilly and Imogen leave Durian at DORF to answer questions and drum up business. They head back to their apartment. Malorn is not there, but the frying pan laser is waiting for Lilly. There is a short note with it: “As per our agreement, Lendasha has been sufficiently humiliated. I will be able to make the next move against her when the time is right.”
Imogen is surprised. She had really thought Malorn would just vanish, the pathetic terrans having served their purpose to him. She will have to give him credit for upholding his end of the agreement and supplying Lilly’s payment. She expects she will never see him again, though.
“What should we do with this?” Lilly asks, holding up a ten-credit bill that was under the note. She has been to their fridge, and sure enough, they are now out of beer. “Do you want to go celebrate?”
Imogen laughs, releasing some of the tension of the day. “It’s not enough for a swanky new knife, that’s for sure. Aye, we should spend it going out drinking. That’s how Malorn intended it be spent, I’m sure.”
“Excellent!” Lilly looks over her sleek new laser weapon. She is not sure what to do with it, either. It is rather bulky and so alien looking. She definitely will not be hefting it around Augustgrad. Chau Sara is a burnt out wreck of a world, though, so she should be fine with it there. She definitely has no problem using it, as long as they can get away with it.
“Anywhere you can take Snowball, you can take that gun,” Imogen tells her.
“Yeah, that’s true.” Lilly laughs. “Oh! Snowball and Sunshine!” While Imogen gets cleaned up, Lilly checks on her menagerie. Sunshine has made a mess of the room again, no surprise there. Lilly herself is not an overly-neat person. She makes her bed every morning like a good soldier, of course, but other than that, things tend to stay wherever she happens to put them down. Since she does not own much, this is usually not a problem. Sunshine, though, continues to accumulate whatever is not nailed down elsewhere in the apartment. Imogen, used to the automated cleaners on Umoja, never picks up after herself, so Sunshine has acquired a few more of her belongings.
When Lilly’s eyes finally settle on Snowball, she sees the blinking red light in his cranial implant again. “Oh! Imogen!” she shouts. Her friend shows up in the doorway, and Lilly says, “I think we need to replace or recharge Snowball’s battery soon.”
“Look.” Lilly points at the flashing light. “Maybe in a couple weeks.”
Imogen was completely unaware of the counter, which has ticked down from 28 to 25 since Lilly first noticed it. “Well, the device was made by terrans, so maybe we can just buy a new battery that will fit it.” She grabs a screwdriver and asks Lilly to keep Snowball calm so she can pry open the implant.
Lilly orders Snowball to be still. He is nervous about Imogen reaching toward his head, but he complies. I wonder if he likes candy, Lilly thinks. He does like sweet things. She got some treats for Sunshine, and Snowball certainly deserves some, too.
“Aye, you’re right,” Imogen says upon completing her examination. “And this isn’t a standard battery type. It could be an old Confederate military style. Certainly shops around here won’t sell any of those.” Lilly suggests that they might be able to recharge it, and Imogen thinks that is definitely worth investigating. After all, they do have an old Confederate science vessel. They might be able to find a way to use Saffron’s power systems for the recharge. That could be rather dangerous, though, since it means either removing the battery from Snowball’s implant for the recharge period or else plugging the ship into his head.
“Li June might have a battery like that,” Lilly says hopefully. “She’s got all kinds of old Confederate junk.”
“True. Or maybe we do,” Imogen counters. “I found evidence that implants were actually being made on Saffron. There was a partially assembled one on the lab bench when we first got in. There could be one laying around in a drawer, left by whoever was making them. I certainly haven’t done a proper inventory of the ship yet.”
Lilly nods. “Sounds like a plan.”
“The facility on Chau Sara, that’s another possibility,” Imogen adds. She does not like that idea as much, though, since their plans for that activity are less concrete. “But goodness knows we don’t have the vespene to get off that rock right now.” As far as Imogen knows, there is no real rush to get there. She is a little worried that whoever was monitoring Saffron’s computers will also be headed to the Cerberus facility. But Lilly is the one to whom Chau Sara is important, and if she is not chomping at the bit to get there, Imogen is content to take the time to get the resources they will need to both investigate and get away.
“But!” Imogen tries to be upbeat about the possibilities. “We have a little bit of time to handle this. I think probably a good thing to do is head over to the spaceport and determine whether we can deal with this just with Saffron.”
“Yeah, but that can happen tomorrow,” Lilly says, waving the ten-credit bill. “We need to celebrate.”
They head to Local Beer Shop to enjoy a few rounds. Lilly gets a check-in call from Durian while they are there, thanking her again for the opportunity his first job provided. He says the exposure has already given him some leads on more work. He assures her, though, that if they ever need to hire the Endurians again, they have top priority.
“Tell him we’re at the beer shop!” Imogen shouts, a little tipsy, as Lilly takes the call. “Tell him to come by!”
“Come drink with us!” Lilly tells Durian.
“I would, but I actually have another job tonight! I can’t drink on the job.”
“All right, cool, cool.” She turns to Imogen, “He’s got another job.”
“Okay, well tell him he’s buying the next round next time, then,” Imogen says.
Lilly relays the message, and Durian agrees that is fair. When Lilly hangs up, Imogen remarks, “I’m glad somebody got credits out of this.”
“We got equipment,” Lilly points out with a smile. “And ten well-spent credits.”
Imogen smiles back. “Like Marcus said at the refinery, I have no regrets.”
“We could be mercenary-scientists,” Lilly suggests with a laugh, “with our science vessel.” They enjoy the rest of the night out, high on their success, sketching out drunken plans for what they could do as their own bosses.