Saffron’s flight from Tarsonis to Korhal is uneventful, a good thing for the recently resocialized soldier aboard. Away from the warfront, Frankincense Tankard—soon to be resettled as Mervin—calms down substantially. Although his memories remain fuzzy and he has trouble holding the topic of a conversation for more than a few sentences, his behavior grows less erratic. He shares polite, but unsteady, meals with his hosts and occupies his time with his sketchbook and frequent naps. Most of the time, he stays out of the way in Imogen’s quarters.
Imogen closes the door to her room during one such rest period and turns her attention to the hybrid zerg radio Aiden arranged for her to receive on Tarsonis. She shows Lilly the zerg parts she harvested there, and they discuss what might best be able to get the radio’s heart pumping again. With Lilly’s insights, Imogen proceeds with the strange combination of mechanical repairs and surgery. She manages to get a connection through, but only for transmission. Hoping for the best, Imogen speaks into the device, delivering a one-way message much like Aiden did when she first got it working. “Brother! I hope you’re the one who’s listening. I can’t hear you; I can only send. We found what Mengsk was looking for. It was an adjutant that had a recording of him arranging for the zerg to be unleashed on Tarsonis all those years ago. It’s pretty damning. I don’t know where the adjutant itself is, but I have a copy of the recording. I’m going to look to get it in the hands of those who can get it out. If that’s good enough for your lady friend, let me know.”
With a belch of foul gas, the wheezing radio goes still once more. Imogen puts it away and goes to work on Saffron’s environmentals, amping up the air circulation to clear the vespene—and whatever else that was—out of their breathing space. If she keeps using this device, she will need to replace the air filters more often, that is for sure.
Lilly has her own adjutant concerns, of course. When she booted up hers on Tarsonis, she found it was encrypted. She spends some time on the flight trying to get access to her files.
Lilly is in a Cerberus research lab, an adjutant set up before her. I need to make sure that no one gets in here, she thinks after loading the data on. She decides that Confederate codes are not good enough and whips up her own encryption scheme.
Parts of programming blocks flit through Lilly’s memory. She tries many approaches, even the physical one of increasing the proximity of her RFID tag, but all without success. Nothing she attempts gets her any further in, nor do any of the myriad passwords she tries—including toaster, her old unit’s slang for shiny chrome adjutants. After a while she gives up, resigned to wait until she can get Li June’s help on Mar Sara. Lilly figures a recluse is the best person to help, given how sensitive the subject matter is. And Lilly trusts Li. Who’s she going to tell, anyway?
With Snowball gone, the adjutant is the only thing keeping Lilly company in her quarters. She sets it up in the corner, subconsciously arranging it to watch her like the changeling always did. Lilly treats it like a coat rack, using it to hold her other prizes from Tarsonis City Metro Station: a wide-brimmed purple fedora and a tacky fur coat. Despite its disguise, Lilly keeps the door to her room closed at all times to ensure Frank does not see that she recovered an adjutant from Tarsonis.
Before they reach Korhal, Imogen tries to contact James Raynor in order to arrange a meeting in person. Given that he once answered his phone in the middle of a raid, she is surprised to get his voice mail. “This is Imogen,” she says. “I’ve acquired something from the former capital that might be useful for you to broadcast around. I want to arrange to meet you somewhere reasonably safe where I can play it for you. Call me back or leave word with Joey. I’ll be on his planet before too long.”
First, though, there is the matter of Mr. Snuggles, Frank’s cat. Although Lilly has forged some identification for “Mervin,” he is not comfortable with the idea of leaving the ship in such a bustling place as Augustgrad to fetch the feline himself. Instead, he provides a description of his cat to Imogen and Lilly along with a detailed illustration. Mr. Snuggles was an outdoor cat, so he has been fending for himself since Frank’s forced enlistment.
“I had a flat. And there was a metal shop, fine artisanal wares,” he says. “I was an apprentice.” The words come out slowly, in hesitant clumps, a marked improvement over his manic behavior earlier in the week. Imogen leans on him psionically, not to influence him, but just to skim his surface-level thoughts. If she can get the information she needs herself, she need not trouble him with conversation. It is possible he can mentally picture useful information that he is unable to articulate. Sifting through the confused tangle is taxing for Imogen, and sweat beads up across her brow. Better than a bloody nose, she thinks.
Prior to his resocialization, Frank had aspirations to open a bar one day, but as he has recovered some on Saffron, he has been clinging more to his memories from his old career, rather than his old dreams for his future. Imogen sees an image of Frank himself because this is a memory of him looking in a mirror. The metalwork around the smooth glass surface is intricate, and the piece is surrounded by many others in a cluttered shop. The point of view changes, revealing the elaborate metal sign out front, giving Imogen the exact address for Vido’s Artisanal Metals. It is in a somewhat nice part of town, mainly mercantile. Imogen also gets a flash of the junkyard-like area in the alley behind the shop, where worn out metals await their upcycling.