FRAWD Investigators: Fallout | Scene 15

Imogen brings the three political thinkers to Matt Horner, hoping to catch a word with him herself. He is definitely a harder nut to crack than Raynor is. Imogen has developed some rapport with Jimmy and can lay into him if she needs to. But she has no established relationship with Horner. Their only real interaction has been tied to delivering letters to his estranged—or at least strange—wife. Once he has his politicians he swiftly dismisses her. “Thank you very much, Imogen. We’ve got to get to work putting together a tight council here. I know you’ve been very busy, so anything you want in the bar is open to you. You deserve a break. And Lilly too, of course, while you’re aboard ship.” Gracious, but not helpful. He clearly wants a private word with the new arrivals.

“Very well,” Imogen says, but she makes no move to go. “I have a few matters to discuss with you though.”

“Yes, we can have a private chat later certainly,” he agrees. “I don’t have any new letters for Mira,” he adds, again trying to get Imogen to move along.

“Well, she didn’t send a return one in response to your last.”

“Darn,” Horner replies sarcastically.

Satisfied that he will meet with her later, Imogen leaves the bridge for Rory’s workshop in the hangar across from Saffron’s. “How’re you doing?” Imogen asks. Last she heard, he was pretty busy.

“Doing all right, cowboy. We’re getting some manufacturing going, planning another hit somewhere… Seeing if we can put together this little revolution.”

“How long have you been living this life, Rory? Were you involved in all this when the UED came rolling through?”

“I was. I signed up with Raynor after the Dominion took over, but, yeah, I’ve been around that long. UED mucked up everything in this sector, I tell ya. Things were bad before they rolled around, but there was hope. After that, not so much.”

“What can you tell me about their tech?” 

Rory explains that when the UED invaded, they did a lot of onsite manufacturing and recruiting. There were many people upset with the Dominion who did not know any better than to trust the UED. Of course, they held back their best technology for their own troops. “Any specific kind of tech you’re interested in?” he asks, surprised to be having this conversation in the current climate.

“Does their tech run on the same sorts of stuff as ours does? Jorium and vespene and the like?”

“Actually, it generally uses fewer of those materials. In their part of the galaxy, those are harder to come by. It’s forced them to be more efficient. That helps them do the rapid in-place manufacturing, too. They’re much better at that than we are, even. They can make a little bit of minerals or vespene go a lot further. That’s why one UED base can cause so much trouble. But uh, why are you curious about UED? UED’s done.”

“Are they?”

“Well, we kicked their expeditionary force back to the curb, and I heard the Queen of Blades cleaned up any ships that were left.”

“But what about the ones back on Earth? If they manufacture so fast, why couldn’t they just send another force?”

“Well, they’d have to know what happened. Supposedly Kerrigan took them out before they could send a distress signal. I don’t know if that’s for sure, but information takes a while to get there anyway. They haven’t come in the last four years, so I think it’s probably fine. Maybe they decided it costs too much, I don’t know. I try to worry about just one thing: the Dominion. And maybe the zerg.” He taps his head with his mechanical arm. “Up in this little noggin, there ain’t also space to worry about the UED.”

“I’m not asking you to think about it for the long term, but that’s what I’m thinking about.”

“I notice you didn’t actually answer my question of why you’re interested in the UED,” Rory observes. “Is there something I should know? Did you find some tech that you think might be theirs? Something we can integrate into our systems? Maybe this vespene efficiency stuff?”

“No,” Imogen tells him. “No, I’m thinking about ways to make them think that coming back here would be a bad idea. Because they do still have operatives here.”


“And I have run into those.”

“Oh, cowboy,” Rory sighs, dispiritedly shaking his head. “You just know how to bring a man down. Even on a good day, you’ve got bad news. I don’t know what to tell you, cowboy. Maybe you could figure out what kind of comms they use and send a message that’s scary? Or say everything’s taken care of and they shouldn’t come back?”

“That’s why I’m asking you about their tech,” Imogen explains. “Because that’s what their advantage is. If there’s a way to get them to believe that it wouldn’t hold here, that would be a reason not to come back.”

“What, like we’ve strip-mined the whole sector? You’d still have to get a hold of some of their comms tech and power it enough. It would take an intense amount of power to send a signal with any speed back to Earth though. I do know that the UED sent a victory report when they ‘won,’ that is, when they enslaved the budding new Overmind. But that wasn’t a thing they could do routinely, sending information back. You would need like… the power of the Dominion to send a signal back. Or something equivalent.”

“You still working on your artifact-collecting jobs?” Imogen asks innocently. “Or is that all done now?”

“Uh, no, we are still doing that. I think we actually got all the pieces or something. We still got to deliver it to some scientific foundation that was interested in it. Why? You interested in getting in on some of that job?”

“Did you examine any of it?”

Rory shakes his head vigorously. “That stuff gives me the creeps. I stay as far away from it as I can.”

“But it’s powered by something,” Imogen points out.

“Yeah, and you know what? I think its power messes with my ship. So the sooner it gets off, the better.”

“How do you mean, messes with your ship?”

“We’ve been getting weird power fluctuations ever since we started bringing that thing onboard. I know how this ship’s power core works, and that ain’t right. Something’s messed up. Sometimes there’s too much power! Why is there extra power? I don’t like it!” 

“So, didn’t you just say it would take some huge amount of power to send a message all the way back to Earth?” Rory nods at Imogen’s summary. “And now, haven’t you just told me that your Xel’naga artifact is able to cause giant fluctuations in power?”

“Cowboy, I don’t know if you want to be messing with that. I heard what happened last time you got close to it,” Rory reminds Imogen.

“I’m not suggesting I mess with it,” she clarifies. “I’m suggesting that someone from the UED might be able to use that sort of power to send a message back to Earth.”

“Well, I don’t think there’s anyone from the UED on this ship,” Rory says dismissively.

“Aye, but what about in the foundation that you’re delivering it to?” Imogen points out.

“Uhhhhhh… I hadn’t really thought about that,” Rory admits in a small voice. “Look, I don’t really handle the deliveries, okay? Take that up with the commander, I guess. He vets the jobs.” He thinks for a moment and then demands, “But where would they get the money, though? They fronted us the money. Payment was once we had all parts of the artifact in hand, not on delivery—which is super convenient, I might add.”

That sounds even more suspicious to Imogen. “Do you know anything about this foundation?”

“They’re called Moebius.” Rory shrugs. “They do science. And they’re interested in this artifact for scientific research.”

“Maybe Egon will know,” Imogen murmurs.

“Look, I try to deal with technology we can understand. As opposed to getting mixed up in things that are only going to get us in trouble.”

Imogen nods at his point. “All right. I appreciate your time, Rory.”

“I’m going to have nightmares now about UED re-invading. It’s terrible!”

“Well, at least we didn’t bring a zerg onboard with us this time,” Imogen says brightly.