While Imogen stays behind babysitting, Lilly heads out into the surrounding wilderness with her two helpers. The hunt goes well, but the sound of a dropship passing overhead disturbs the peace. Lilly, Sally, and Lady Belvedere do not run into any patrols themselves, fortunately. They do find some edible berries, but the real jackpot is the scantid they bag. The giant insect—definitely not a zerg—resembles an enormous scorpion with two tails. They are the result of nuclear-disaster fueled mutation but are still quite edible for all that. Sally helps Lilly drag the “land lobster” back to camp while Lady Belvedere keeps a lookout for troopers.
Once back, Lilly prepares a meal for everyone—except Imogen, who is drinking a comfort smoothie. The fresh food, and the quantity, garners much praise from the former prisoners, including a vocal Madame Rosé. “That is quite excellent, I must say. Haven’t had grilled scantid in a while. Now, I appreciate the rescue and how you’ve got us all hunkered down here… but do we have a plan for getting out of here? Is help on the way?”
“Help is not on the way at this very moment,” Imogen admits. “Your prison break was not supposed to happen today.”
“I appreciate work getting done ahead of schedule,” Rosé says magnanimously.
“We need to all lay out on the table what particular fields of study we know about that could be of use here,” Imogen tells the crowd. “For example, we need a lot of power if we’re going to be able to fool orbital sensors. Anybody here have any experience in vespene mining or survey work? That could maybe help us determine if there’s some sort of vespene geyser around here. Maybe one that wasn’t big enough or impressive enough for industrial processing, but that we can work something out from. I wasn’t able to find anything with our sensors, but if anyone here is a mineralogist or knows what to look for in the landscape…”
“Well, I’ve done a bit of mining in my time,” Rosé shares. “And, yeah, sensors on a science vessel probably wouldn’t do it unless you were already close enough. At which point, might as well just walk there, right? But I don’t know about setting up a refinery without having other supplies. Normally you’d have an SCV, a batch of basic construction materials… You could do it quickly, but you need to start somewhere.”
Imogen thinks of the salvaged space construction vehicle sitting mostly assembled in her quarters. “We do have a partially functional SCV,” she shares.
“Oh, you do? Well, we might be in business then.”
Imogen displays her selection of tools: oil rag, clamps, alligator clips, wrenches, pliers, duct tape, a flashlight, the whole kit. Her Umojan stun rifle also has some advanced technological components that could be repurposed. Lilly volunteers the springs from her pen collection.
“This might just be crazy enough to work,” Rosé says, nodding to herself. “If we can find a geyser and gather enough materials to make a field refinery, we should be able to get you a ready source of vespene fuel.”
“This planet has been through war a number of times. Are there any ruins out here?” Imogen asks.
“It’s a possibility,” Rosé allows. “I don’t know this particular area myself. But if we found something like that, that would be perfect. It would have the raw materials we need. It’s highly unlikely we would just find a stockpile of the fuel itself directly. Not in the amount that we’re going to need, anyway. We’ll need a continuous stream. Even if we just find an abandoned vespene geyser without much left in it, it should be enough for our purposes.”
“Lilly, did you see anything promising when you were out hunting your scantid? Any puffs of green or purple on the horizon?”
“Nope.” Lilly was not looking for those sorts of indicators, but there was a hillier area a little farther afield that had more scantids. She could certainly check that out. Lilly imagines harnessing a squad of scantids up to Saffron and dragging the camouflaged science vessel across the landscape to the hypothetical vespene geyser. The terrain is really too rocky for that, though. “Do you want me to go back out?” she says aloud. “Look for something?”
“Aye, that’s our only option, since the sensors couldn’t find anything. It’s going to have to be eyes.”