Remí accompanies Imogen and Lilly back to the level two landing bay where Saffron sits. When he sees the vulture bike welded to its side, he glances over at the women with eyebrows raised but just mutters, “I’ve seen weirder stuff.”
“It doesn’t fit inside,” Lilly says in their defense.
Remí suggests that they start their work there—inside—but Imogen redirects him over to the exterior exhaust ports first to give Lilly time to make sure Snowball will not be a problem if interior work is needed. When Lilly gets inside, terran-form Snowball is still in her room, maintaining his patrol. Heeding Imogen’s advice, she mixes up a diluted batch of Power Thirst. Then she steps to the threshold of her quarters and holds the treat out toward Snowball, saying, “Hey buddy, I promised you something good. What do you think of this?”
Snowball samples the new drink, and his eyes bug out a little in response. His whole terran form pulsates for a moment, his control wavering. He regains his composure and gives Lilly a big smile. “Yeah? You like that, buddy?” she says, happy at the reception. She is not really sure what the effects of so much sugar on his system will be and wonders if he will soon be bouncing off the walls like a hyper child.
Snowball pulls out his crayons and paper and makes a quick picture of his current form surrounded by lightning bolts, holding a cup that must contain Power Thirst. He gives the drawing to Lilly. “Now you just stay in here, stay tight, until we say you can leave my room,” Lilly tells him, stepping back and quickly closing the door to her room. The last she sees of him, as the door shuts, is him starting his next drawing. Apparently treat-time means he is off duty. At least he has something to do in there, Lilly reflects. She tacks the drawing onto the door of the fridge with a magnet.
Imogen calls inside for Lilly to check the spec sheets for anything about an exhaust filter. Lilly flips through the materials they recovered from the Exploracorp facility on Antiga Prime and familiarizes herself with the part to help her on her upcoming salvage outing. She may not be able to find this exact one anywhere, but at least she knows the size and shape now. She should be able to find something similar enough. It is certainly better than just having a random part number.
Clang! A metallic sound reverberates through Saffron, and is soon followed by two more quick ones, three long ones, and three quick ones. That’s not Imogen just doing some repairs, Lilly realizes, recognizing an SOS when she hears one. She pulls out her shotgun and heads outside.
* * *
“Yeah, right here, look at this,” Remí tells Imogen. “This is where your exhaust filter should be, but there ain’t nothing there. This is the piece that your friend needs to go look for. That’s probably the only deal. Your ship is advanced enough to run the self-diagnostic that completes the certification. They should trust that. There’s pretty good tech in those science vessels. So then it’s just the cost of the certification itself.”
Imogen determines that she can handle installing such a filter herself, and Lilly should have no problem running the diagnostic on the ship’s computer. She pays Remí the fee for the certification program they will need to install and relay the results of to Umoja Traffic Control. That will give the ship itself a year’s worth of access to Umojan worlds, regardless of Lilly’s visa status. “We can take care of it from here, then,” Imogen tells Remí. “But I appreciate your help, and I’ll still shake down Leo for you when I see him.”
As she and Remí come around Saffron, Imogen notices that Lizelle and her crew are no longer actively working on their own ship. The guys under Lizelle’s command have swapped their wrenches for truncheons of some sort, and the group is starting to amble towards Saffron. “Owendoher, huh?” the woman calls out.
Imogen most definitely did not provide her surname during their earlier conversation. Either someone over there was close enough to the consulate to hear the adjutant say it or something else is going on here. Imogen really hopes it is not that Remí has sold her out. Her wrench is still in hand, and she raps it against Saffron’s hull to alert her partner inside. To Lizelle, she says, “If you’ve got a problem with somebody else who happens to have the same last name as me, stalking around with your emaciated lot is not going to solve anything.” Her words indicate she is not afraid, but the situation does seem rather dangerous. This is a lot to tussle with, even with Lilly for backup.
Lizelle gets that Imogen is not cowed by her little gang. But even just with clubs, her crew can take down one small terran. “The name’s the only thing that matters,” she says. “People are paying good money for an Owendoher right now.” Her hand goes to her pistol, and so does Imogen’s.