Before meeting Li for breakfast the next morning, Imogen calls Jim Raynor. “This is Jimmy,” he answers. She hears a metallic clang in the background. “Aw, hell. Where’s Rory,” Raynor mutters.
“Rory’s not around, but I am.”
“Ah, Imogen! Good to hear from you again. You gonna be able to help us out?”
“We’ve finished our chores, so if there’s some place you need us…” The attack is not until tonight, but she definitely needs several hours for the sort of repairs he was talking about yesterday.
“Yeah, that’d be right helpful. Meet us at the coordinates I gave you. Make sure you’re not followed, if you don’t mind.” Imogen inquires about arriving in Saffron, and Jimmy allows that there is space to land, though not exactly landing space.
“I’m sure Lilly can handle it,” Imogen assures him.
Over breakfast, Li inquires about protoss technology. On their previous visit, she had expressed an interest in any they might acquire. “Oh! Thank you, that reminds me that there was something else I wanted to talk with you about,” Imogen says. “There’s a space station that was overrun by tal’darim. It’s called Iceberg Station. Do you have anything about it in your files?”
Li pushes away from the table. “Let me see what I can pull up here.” Imogen and Lilly follow her back to the watchfloor. “Looks like it used to be an old Kel-Morian asteroid-mining fuel depot, but the station’s free-standing, not built into one of asteroids. Anyway, that was years ago. You’re saying it got taken over by protoss, by tal’darim even? That’s newer information than I have. What are you fixing to do there?”
“Liberate slaves,” Imogen supplies a half-truth. “That’s where we started, so…” Saving the slaves from the Rose Mines was the most useful thing FRAWD ever did, regardless of how far the prosecution has gotten yet.
“Wait, the pirates are keeping slaves? Or the tal’darim are? I don’t really follow.”
“What pirates?” Imogen asks. Li shares from her records that apparently a group—not associated with Jackson’s Revenge—took the station over from the Kel-Morians and used it as a trading center for the black market. “Maybe those are the folks who are now enslaved by the tal’darim,” Imogen hypothesizes. “The information I have is that these protoss took it over and they’re using terran forced labor there.”
“To do what?” Li asks, sounding genuinely puzzled. “It’s not like you can mine anything on the station itself. Are they just serving them? And why take the station at all?”
“I don’t know what they’re fixing to do there,” Imogen admits. “Maybe it’s useful for its position, or maybe the tal’darim are using it for storage, since it is set up as a depot. Do you have any schematics for the place?” Imogen has only ever been to an Umojan immigration station and a Dominion assault platform. Anything Li can tell her about this facility will be welcome.
Li has only a description of the place, no floor plans. There are multiple docking areas, but their current condition is questionable, given who has been in charge of maintenance lately. However, there should be a proper landing bay, one with air and gravity. Iceberg is a mid-sized station and would employ a couple hundred workers under normal conditions. Pirates, though, are notorious for understaffing any enterprise that does not produce loot. A few dozen people would be able to keep a section of the station going. Much of it could be derelict now.
“Well, we’re going there,” Imogen tells Li. “We have other things we’re working on, but that’s our best lead for snatching some interesting protoss equipment for you.”
“That would certainly be interesting. I don’t know much about tal’darim. I hear they do a lot of—to put it politely—reverse engineering other technology. But, really, stealing.”
“My information is that they steal from other protoss as much as they do from anyone,” Imogen shares.
“That sounds about right. Now, if you don’t mind me asking, how are you two figuring you’re gonna sneak onto or take over a whole space station filled with protoss warriors?”
“Well, that was partly why I was asking if you knew anything about the station, to help us work out a plan. But in truth, we have a source who has more information than we do and who we’ll be meeting up with in a few day’s time. After this whole Jimmy thing is done.”
“Would you be willing to share that source with me?” Li asks hopefully.
“Hrm… that source doesn’t take calls from strangers,” Imogen tells her.
“Well that sounds like a smart source. I’m even more interested.”
“Last time we tried to exchange such information about a source, it didn’t work out well,” Imogen reminds Li, thinking of Nieman. “For either of us.”
“That’s true,” Li acknowledges. “But can you at least go through the effort of asking your source if they’d be willing to share some information with me? This someone clearly has an in with protoss information. I’m mighty interested.”
“I can ask, but I know what he’ll say…”
“Well, you just gotta ask the right way. You’re very convincing when you want to be, Imogen, I know you are.”
Imogen laughs. “Maybe I’ll have Lilly get him drunk first.” Lilly smiles. She always has a good time drinking with Malorn.
“Do what you gotta do,” Li says non-judgmentally.
“And what should I ask him on your behalf?”
“Ask if he’s willing to share research with another person who’s interested in such artifacts. Or who might be willing to pay for their delivery.”
“I’ll do my best,” Imogen tells Li. She sighs internally. Malorn is just going to go on and on about how beneath him this is. He will demand why he should condescend to share anything. She can just hear him now: “Even inferior protoss technology is superior to terran technology. Blah blah blah. I’m so great.” On the other hand, if Malorn wants more beer, this is a way to get some Dominion credits that can turn into some. Imogen thinks that is the best way to frame it. She has her psi-gauntlet, and Lilly has Sweetpea. Twice now, Malorn has taken protoss technology that he deemed some protoss unworthy of and has given it to terrans. She can point out that he already does not care about the technology they will encounter on the station—other than Lendasha’s weapon. Why not turn it into beer? And he can insult the losers by taking their technology and giving it to terrans.