The next day, Lilly lets Sunshine sniff the bloody knife and then takes her to Abdul’s apartment. The lyote noses around and then runs up the stairs to the top level. She continues sniffing and jumps around some while yapping, but she seems at a loss for how to continue. Lilly pulls down the folded staircase that leads to the roof, and Sunshine charges right up it. She heads to one of the corners and pokes around there, but it is a dead end, the ship being long gone. Her performance, though, is enough to assure her handler that Sunshine will recognize the scent should they come across it again in the future. The lyote performs similarly outside Shelley’s place, earning an MRE and a pat on the head from Lilly.
Sunshine does not do nearly as well at Grom’s, where Imogen hopes to find an indication of whether Rose is using a ghost to scope out opportunities to snatch him. The lyote just cannot handle this part of town, though. There is too much activity and too many new types of smells. Sunshine grows nervous, alternating between hiding behind Lilly and barking at passersby. She starts drawing uncomfortable levels of attention, so Lilly takes her back home.
* * *
Lilly and Imogen also spend some time aboard Saffron over the weekend. Lilly pokes around on the computer systems and determines that the battery recharging station was an add-on for this ship model, not part of the standard deployment. Still hopeful of finding a spare, they search all the shelves, drawers, and cabinets. They find an old corroded battery of the same type as the one in Snowball’s implant. The battery itself is worthless for anything other than experimentation, but it does have a label with the address of the Exploracorp manufacturing facility that produced it on Antiga Prime. “That’s a vespene planet,” Lilly says, as soon as Imogen reads off the address. The planet was a fringe world that rebelled against the Confederacy and was overrun by zerg shortly thereafter. Unlike the planets of the Sara system, Antiga Prime was never glassed by the protoss, so there is still breathable air. It has a nicer climate than Mar Sara, temperate rather than arid. If Lilly and Imogen are lucky, there will also be useful salvage. Currently, Antiga Prime is not colonized, as the zerg remain present to some degree and no one has been so bold as to reclaim it. Saffron will help them detect zerg from the air, though, and is also equipped with a weapon in case any flyers attack them.
“If this factory is abandoned, maybe we can find a recharger there,” Imogen says hopefully.
“And some other goodies. That would be nice.” Lilly sums up all Antiga Prime has going for it: “Sounds like a good place to get vespene and tech and piss off the Queen of Blades.”
“Aye, our standard agenda,” Imogen mutters, but she does not disagree. They have enough fuel to get there, and the planet seems like their best bet, both for Snowball’s battery and Saffron’s tank. Maybe they can even land close enough to this facility to avoid having to deal with any ground-based zerg. “So, what do you think about going there before going to Chau Sara?” Imogen asks. The wrecked planet is important to Lilly, so Imogen feels she should make the decision.
“Sounds like a good idea to me,” Lilly agrees without any deliberation.
* * *
Prior to leaving Korhal, though, Lilly must bring the weekend’s findings to her boss. Jefferson Duke is surprised to see her at his door and asks how her chat with Grom went on Friday. Lilly lays out all the evidence for him, concluding with their belief that a ghost is involved.
“Ghost, whew!” Jefferson shudders. “That’s scary business to be touching, Lilly. I mean, you probably know better than most. If ghosts are involved, I don’t know… that’s…” He fishes around for a silver lining. “That doesn’t sound like a Dominion ghost, though, so it might be all right.” They will be less likely to step on any other branch of the government. “I’m not going to lie; this is a little bit frightening.”
“Yeah, and it has to do with Rose Corp. It’s more evidence for Grom’s case. This is critical evidence. We have to get it to the case investigators to speed things up.”
Jefferson swirls his gin and tonic around, mulling over what to do. “You know, Lilly, I think you’re right. This is the kind of evidence we need. You’ve got a real mind for government matters. I’m glad we have you on our team. I’ll pass this up with my strong recommendation that they pursue legal action against Rose Corp. And I’ll stay in close contact with Mr. Grom in case something else comes of this. But I do want to stress that you and Imogen need to stay safe out there. If there are ghosts around… Fighting zerg is one thing, but fighting ghosts—you don’t even know what you’re dealing with!”
“Do you want us to investigate more, sir?”
“If you come across something, please do pass it on, but this is pretty clear evidence. I’m sure Rose Corp is going to say that it’s all circumstantial… but I think you’ve done enough. You helped save these people—that was some mighty good work you did—so I know it’s in some ways personal. But it can make it difficult to investigate, when one is personally invested.”
“But we didn’t rescue these guys just for them to get kidnapped again,” Lilly says.
Duke agrees that would be terrible and assures her that the wheels of justice are turning. He even informs her that a magistrate conducted interviews at Rose Incorporated, so something is happening. “It’s a big case, too, so I appreciate you investigating it.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Having smoothed things over with Duke, Lilly leaves to conduct some last minute shopping. She picks up dog treats for Sunshine, sweet candies for Snowball, and some Korhal knick-knacks for her raider friends. Then she meets up with Imogen, and they head off to visit another zerg-infested planet for personal reasons.