Imogen and Egon work on separating the impurities from the metal they already have, so that the vat will be ready for whatever Lilly finds. When that is finished, Egon asks Imogen more about the strange-looking gun-shaped device she has. “I didn’t think Umojans made weapons,” he comments when she tells him that it is a stun rifle from her home planet.
“It’s used for calming things down, not blowing things up,” Imogen points out. “There is some value to being able to take someone down without killing them.”
“I certainly think that’s true,” Egon agrees. “Good luck convincing anyone else around here of that.”
“It’s something the Dominion could learn,” Imogen adds.
Egon barks out a laugh. “Yeah, that’s really funny. I don’t think the Dominion’s capable of learning.”
“When I say Dominion, I don’t just mean Mengsk and his people,” Imogen clarifies. “I mean all of y’all on all these planets—”
“Whoa! Whoa! We’re definitely not Dominion,” Egon protests.
“—with your crazy accents.”
“You’re the only one here with a crazy accent,” Egon insists. “I mean, it’s nice, don’t get me wrong, but…”
“Confederate, Dominion, whatever government name Jimmy wants to set up afterwards… you could learn to do things a little less violently.”
Egon grows defensive. “Look, Jimmy, Mr. Raynor, he’s not looking to set up some government, afterwards, okay?”
Imogen throws her hands up in frustration. “Well, what does he think will happen when you tear Mengsk down? Because if you don’t set anything new up, it’s going to be chaos, and then the next strongman moves in.”
“Politics is really not my department. Take that up with… I don’t know… maybe the commander or Admiral Horner. They could probably help you out more with that. I’m trying to help the revolution. And I agree that, yeah, the Confederacy was absolutely terrible. But the Dominion is bad and they should feel bad.”
“The zerg, too?”
Egon stares at Imogen. “The zerg have killed millions of people! I mean, sure, the UED tried to enslave the zerg for a while, and that was kind of bad, too, I guess…”
“The Dominion has killed a bunch of people also,” Imogen points out.
“Yeah?” Egon asks, wondering what her point is. “Look, it’s not like I’m working for the zerg. Are you?”
The question is rhetorical; Imogen knows he does not expect an answer. But still, she finds somewhere else to look, fixing her braid. If she waits long enough, Egon will not be able to resist filling the silence.
“I don’t know what comes after, but whatever does is gonna be better than this,” Egon concludes.
“So does Jimmy ever talk about what should come after?”
Egon shrugs again. “Maybe sometimes? I honestly don’t pay attention to that much. So… what’s it like on Umoja? What kind of government do you have there?”
“We have a completely reasonable council. There’s mandatory voting in our elections. You rank the people that you’re interested in.”
Although he posed the question, Egon is not really interested in the reply. But since they are on the topic of Umoja now… “So, are you giving me the stun rifle so I can study it?”
Imogen presents her offer, “I’m willing to let you study the rifle, not keep it forever. But I want access to your research in exchange.”
“What part of my research?” Egon asks reluctantly. “I haven’t published everything yet, so I kind of—”
“I don’t care about publishing.”
“Well, I do! I need to, for whatever comes after the Dominion.”
“I’m not looking to steal your work,” Imogen assures Egon. “I’m interested in zerg technological interfaces.” He has done some work in that area and agrees to give her access to certain parts of his research, but not to any samples or materials.
Imogen settles down at Egon’s workbench and starts skimming through his logs. There are some useful notes concerning resuscitating zerg hearts. As she reads, she lends half an ear to Egon’s rambling about zerg regenerative capabilities and how a similar thing might be beneficial for terran forces. The blobolisk is where he got some of his ideas on this matter. He tells Imogen about how he has to keep it better secured now, since it tried to escape a second time.
“But I don’t mean injecting some crazy zerg regenerative DNA into a person. That’d be terrible! Ugh! No, don’t want to do that.” Egon pats the side of the vat holding the metal slurry. “I mean, fold the zerg regenerative capability into the neo-steel itself! Make regenerative bio-steel! Then your siege engine or vulture bike or whatever can slowly recover, mending itself.”
“Vulture bike?” Imogen looks up from her reading. The distant sounds of a vulture bike are getting closer, and it does not sound like a healthy one. Imogen steps out the garage door and gasps at the cloud of smoke she sees. “How many things do I have to fix today?!” she cries as Lilly pulls up.
“Delivery,” her partner says sheepishly.
“Are you all right? Are you one of the things I need to fix?”
“I’m fine,” Lilly assures Imogen. “But I found this!” she hops off the bike and forces the damaged spidermine compartments open. First she presents a piece of I-beam. Then she shows off the two hydralisk spines, like a cat giving a mouse to its owner. Finally, she pulls out the small reactor, presenting it to Imogen like the top prize.
Imogen’s eyes light up, and her mind starts whirring. “I wonder how that would interface with Saffron,” she muses. Imogen is constantly overclocking the science vessel’s much larger reactor. Something like this might be able to provide a much-needed small boost in times of trouble.
Egon comes running out with a fire extinguisher and sprays everything down. Lilly hauls the new metal to the melting vat. Once it is all molten, Egon treats it with more Umojan catalyst. When that has done its thing, Imogen tests the neo-steel alloy. Satisfied, she starts the process of producing patches. Lilly and Egon entertain themselves with discussion of hydralisk spines, what they are good for now, and what they could be repurposed for. Since Egon does not think that launching one from some sort of gun would be feasible, Lilly experiments with throwing. It is too short to treat like a javelin, so she flings it like a knife. It flips end-over-end and thunks satisfyingly into a crate. She pulls it out and tries again.
By the time Imogen is done, the power armor is all patched and has the extra vanadium plating that Jimmy had said would be a bonus. Hopefully, with this all taken care of, Raynor will be able to fully concentrate on the actual assault. When he comes around for inspection, Imogen offers to apply the vanadium upgrade to his suit as well, but he declines. He only trusts Rory Swann with his personal gear. Imogen is a little offended, but she does not push the matter. Instead, she helps herself to leftover supplies, as she was promised back during the payment negotiations at Joey Ray’s.
Lilly, meanwhile, is a little blistered. She has mild acid burns on her hands from handling the hydralisk spine too much.