The holographic field around Saffron and the makeshift refinery fueling the camouflage is just barely large enough. There is no extra space outside the building or the ship for people to rest and remain hidden. That is a bit of a problem, considering how late it is. The air around the refinery is not healthy, but closing up Saffron with so many people aboard would tax the environmental systems. Still, it is better than being in a prison cell.
Saffron’s tank is full, as is Old Red’s. Fuel is definitely not the issue right now. No, space is. The former prisoners are already somewhat unhealthy, and breathing in vespene fumes is not going to help. After a rough first night crammed aboard Saffron but with the main hatch open, Lilly decides that the best alternative is sleeping out in the open under low-lying physical camouflage, like a hunting blind. She goes off on her own in the morning, not even thinking to check in with Imogen before she leaves. Unfortunately, she cannot find much shrubbery around. Her search takes her farther and farther afield.
For her part, Imogen immerses herself in the life support system aboard Saffron, exploring all options for coaxing as much out of it as possible. If they have to flee the planet with all these people onboard, she needs to ramp up its performance. Her progress is limited by how much she is willing to power on Saffron as she works. She tests the ship as carefully as she can, powering up only one subsystem at a time, taking some readings, and then shutting it back down.
She hopes her fellow Umojans will forgive her for the solution she finally develops: repurposing the filters that reduce the pollutants in Saffron’s emissions. Dominion units are different from Umojan ones, so adapting it to the cabin air system is a bit of a pain, but Imogen finds a way to make it work. Here in atmosphere, she can guarantee Saffron’s occupants clean air. In vacuum, they can probably last about four hours. That should be enough for an in-system rendezvous if Raynor can bring Hyperion to bear.
Life support is a critical system, and it is tied into the emergency beacon of the comms. As Imogen is conducting her final tests, the comm system kicks in briefly when she powers life support. It is only for a moment, but that is enough for her to see that Raynor has been trying to call her. That is not a call Imogen can afford to make without some sort of security on the line. She sticks her head outside Saffron, looking for Lilly, but her partner is nowhere around.
“Professor Von Heel Hauken!” Imogen calls. He helped her with the computers before. She may not trust him to hear what Raynor has to say, but she does trust him enough to secure the comms. As soon as the call goes through, Imogen shoves Von Heel Hauken right back outside and closes the door to the main hub. Security is more important than politeness right now.
The audio connection is staticky, but Imogen recognizes Jim Raynor’s voice. “This is command ship Hyperion. Saffron! Saffron, are you there?”
“This is Saffron! We’re here, but I don’t know how long I can hold this open,” Imogen responds.
“That’s probably wise, yeah,” Jimmy hurriedly agrees. “Are you still safe? Everybody okay?”
“We’re safe for now, but I don’t know how long that will last. There are patrols out and about. I’ve got some shielding up, but…” Imogen sighs in frustration. “There are so many people. We can only carry them for about four hours.”
“Okay, okay. We can get in-system,” Raynor tells her.
“Is there a rock you recommend?” Imogen asks.
Jimmy gives her the coordinates for a lifeless dwarf planet, but he has a warning for her as well. “We’ve done some initial scans on the call trace, and we saw there are some turrets going up in your neck of the woods. You’re going to need to be real careful when you blast out of there. Me personally, I wouldn’t risk flying out while those are still standing.”
“Okay, so we need to sabotage those first,” Imogen says, adding yet another item to her to-do list.
“And you want to get out right quick then, because they can go up real fast.”
“Do you have any readings on their air situation? When we fly out of here, what’s Lilly going to have to contend with?”
“It’s going to be nasty,” Jimmy tells her, not mincing words. Like Tarsonis, Korhal has an orbital defense platform. This one is directed towards external threats, rather than internal ones, which is a slight bit of good news. But it is still likely their biggest problem when making a break for it. Even though they are on a backwater part of the planet, the platform can still scramble fighters to their area. “Given the low population on the ground out there, they’re not going to have any compunctions about blowing you out of the sky. So you’re just going to have to get out of atmosphere as fast as you can. Might have to dodge a few lasers. I’m sure you two gals are up to it.”
“All right. Is Egon around? I have a holographic projector working around the ship right now to hide us on the ground. I’ve been working up some plans for adapting it to confuse sensors looking for us as we fly out. If that’s something Egon could think about, that would be helpful,” Imogen explains.
“I’ll try to relay what you said,” Raynor replies haltingly. “Ain’t none of that made sense to me.”
Imogen summarizes, “Right now it tricks eyes. I’d like it to trick sensors.”
“All right. When you’re ready, give us a ping. We’ll try to give you what cover we can, at least in space.”
“Thanks, Jimmy. I’m sorry it went down this way,” Imogen tells him.
“Hell, it is what it is,” Raynor replies philosophically. Then he cuts the line.