Saffron sits under a pile of branches and leaves, a screen of camouflage that is currently keeping the aerial wraith patrols from finding them. But this ploy will not fool the Dominion for long, not if they get an advanced sensor array up and running nearby. Or even worse, an orbital scanner sweep. Imogen’s cloaking and Lilly’s piloting have only bought Lost & Found a little time. And unfortunately, cloaking is no longer on the table. The burns up and down Imogen’s arm are all that remain of the ghost glove that made that possible. The clock is ticking, as a sensor array could be operational as soon as the next morning. In addition, there is the potential danger of foot patrols. The science vessel is easily recognizable from ground level.
Keeping the prisoners they recently liberated from Ten Tines Prison free is definitely going to require a more long-term solution. And a lot more food than Saffron holds. The seven new passengers are undernourished to begin with. Lilly gives out what candy she has and then tells Imogen she will go hunt. With her comm off, of course; Imogen insisted on no calls while they need to remain concealed. She even stashed Sheila the zerg radio away in her footlocker.
“Any of you have any outdoors skills?” Imogen asks, addressing the recently liberated people. “Anyone want to help Lilly go dig up some grub? You, Sally?” The woman is a former soldier, so she likely has some survival skills.
Lady Belvedere of Stanley-on-Shroud shares that she has done a lot of equestrian training. Although there are no horses here for her to ride, her time in the saddle has given her an interest in the environment and a keen sense of perception. She is happy to go along as well. “Surely it’s not so different on foot,” she says.
“I’m going to kill things,” Lilly states, just to make sure the politico does not think this is just some sort of joyride.
“That’s fine,” Belvedere agrees. “If you want to eat, you have to kill, right?”
Sally has Lilly’s shotgun, and she herself has Sweetpea, the protoss laser rifle. Lilly hands Belvedere a pistol. At the sound of alarm from the woman, Lilly asks, “Can you shoot?”
“Uh, not really, no.”
“What were you going to use? Knife?” Lilly holds hers out to Belvedere, but she makes no move to take it.
“Sharp eyes! I’ll look for things and point them out… although I do feel taller when I’m on a horse.”
Lilly actually laughs. So far, these politicians seem pretty disconnected from reality. But maybe that is because they have been in a box for so long. She departs with her two volunteers.
Imogen, meanwhile, turns her attention to the holographic emitter that concealed Narud’s earlier escape. Or rather, Dr. Narud, based on his scribbled manifesto. Imogen does not have time to review those papers right now, though. Before cannibalizing the projector to conceal Saffron, she needs to make sure there is no important information on it regarding Neiman’s plans. Despite Professor Von Heel Hauken’s contributions during Saffron’s cloaking, Imogen leaves the scientist and engineer out of this little project. The fewer people exposed to Neiman-related information, the better. When she examines the projector closely, she finds that it has a one-way transmitting capability as well. There must be a partnered receiver, but whether that is in Neiman’s hands or Narud’s, Imogen does not know. There is also some sort of obfuscated message stored on this device, which hopefully will illuminate that situation. But Imogen will need her more computer-savvy partner’s help reading that.
Once they have gotten whatever information is stored on here for their Queen of Blades job, then Imogen can repurpose the projector for camouflage. This is a sophisticated enough device that it could suit their needs. But to conceal all of Saffron with it in such a way that would fool high-grade sensors for long enough, she is going to need a much bigger supply of fuel than the science vessel has. The generators on Saffron are sufficient, but she cannot risk bleeding their reserve tank dry. That would seriously reduce their escape options. Imogen sighs. The amount of fuel she needs is prohibitive. They are not just going to happen upon a vespene refinery out here in the wastes.
Von Heel Hauken notices her disposition as she puts the projector away for now. “What seems to be the problem?”
“We need more vespene,” Imogen tells him.
“Why don’t we just get that cloaking shield up again?”
“There is no cloaking shield,” she reminds him. “There was a hacked together plan that burnt out.”
“Ah, well perhaps we can find a vespene geyser,” he responds. These natural formations constantly leak the important fuel. Extractors and refineries tend to be built around them, but small ones are often left alone as not justifying the expense. Even on a developed world like Korhal, there could be geysers too minor for development but that can still fit Imogen’s needs.
Fully powering up Saffron’s sensors to try to search for an active geyser risks giving away their position, so Imogen operates them only in short, quick bursts. Running them from the ground is also not ideal. After a short while, Imogen gives up in frustration. It is impossible to collect enough data—not and be careful enough, too.