The next morning, Saffron departs Korhal for Mar Sara. Since they will be visiting Li June, Lilly makes sure to pick up a few items for her before takeoff. She settles on fancy electronics that Li has asked for in the past, ones unlikely to be stocked in Mar Sara City shops. While Lilly is getting those, Imogen acquires additional materials for the science vessel. No systems are currently in dire straits, but the hull needs some patchwork once they have access to Li’s garage. As Lilly returns to Saffron, her eyes settle on the vulture bike mag-locked to its side. I do have a hobby, she realizes. I need to ride Old Red around more. Mar Sara is a good place to take him for a drive.
The trip to Mar Sara takes a couple days. Mervin—formerly Frank—is doing much better with Mr. S—formerly Mr. Snuggles—for company. The metalwork that Imogen picked up from Vido’s, that he himself crafted in the past, provides a good meditative focus for him. He is more stable and quieter than before, often sitting still stroking his cat as he sifts through the memories that the trinket helps to surface.
Imogen’s current hobby project—at least, her non-zerg one—is fixing up an SCV suit that she and Lilly salvaged on Mar Sara. She invites Mervin to mess around with her mechanics kit as much as he likes, now that his memories of metalworking are returning. In gratitude for all she has done, he offers to help her with the SCV suit. He does not have much experience with the electronics side, but rejiggering the plating is right up his alley. Together they repair most of the issues with the suit. However, the back is missing some neosteel plating, and Imogen does not have any of the right kind. “You can’t just duct tape over this,” Mervin tells her. “You need this to be a solid component. The good news is that installation should be simple once you get the part.”
Lilly spends the flight time working on her busted Dominion identification card. It was physically ruined by her sloppy knife work while making Mervin’s ID. Unfortunately, by the time Saffron reaches Mar Sara, it is electronically corrupted as well. Lilly’s attempts to access the citizen identification database has flagged her account in some way she cannot figure out. Getting any further on that front requires more direct access to Dominion systems. Maybe Li could help with that… Otherwise, Lilly is looking at making a new ID totally from scratch, complete with new name and history. That might be hard to explain to Durian. Lilly curses to herself over how much she has screwed this up. Yeah, that was dumb. At this point, she feels the best course of action is just to hope no one ever needs to scan her ID. Or that Imogen can make up a believable story about what happened to the ruined one if Lilly really needs to show it. She is saved from further reflection by an incoming call to Saffron.
Imogen glances up from the SCV suit that she and Mervin are working on and recognizes the number. Not wanting the soldier to know about Malorn, she tells him, “This is a business call. Would you mind…?”
Who’s he going to tell? Lilly wonders.
“Oh! Is there anything I can help with?” Mervin asks. “You two have been so great to me. I want to help you if I can give back something to your business. Is it a vendor?”
“You can help by waiting in my quarters,” Imogen replies.
“Oh,” Mervin says, a bit crestfallen. “C’mon, Mr. S. We’ll let them do their business.” When the door closes behind him, Imogen nods at Lilly to answer.
Malorn’s antagonizing voice vibrates through the central hub. “Ah, yes, you are starting to learn to force me to wait when I call you. I did not think you would grow in wisdom such. It shows you are somehow improving your meager status.”
“How’re you doing, Malorn?” Imogen asks, refusing to rise to his baiting.
“I am doing well. I have tracked Lendasha’s movements, and I know where she is going to be. Which means I know where I am going to be. And that means I know where you are going to be.”
“And do you know when we’re going to be there?”
“In ten days. I can give you the coordinates. A portion of the tal’darim Death Fleet has taken over some terran space station.” Lilly looks up the spot and finds that the place is called Iceberg Station. “They are refueling there, and Lendasha will be arriving just before we do. Conveniently, since it was a terran space station, a mixed terran/protoss assault force will easily be able to blend in. Particularly if you will be my two terran servants.”
“Are you saying that there are still terrans there, enslaved?” Imogen asks.
“Enslaved is such a harsh word,” Malorn quibbles.
“For someone who himself was forced to work for terrans in a mine, I’d think that this might be a bit more of a sensitive area for you,” Imogen observes.
“It is a matter of the strong enforcing their will upon the weak,” Malorn says, waving away the issue. “I’m going there to relieve Lendasha of her warpblade. Unleashing the terrans upon my foolish brethren would be, as you terrans say, a cherry on top.”
Lilly laughs at the incongruous choice of words, while Imogen reflects that they really will have come full circle then. She, Lilly, and Ted unleashed Malorn and the other protoss slaves at the Rose Mines to deal with their captors there.
Malorn suggests that they meet at a suitable neutral location and take his ship in. Imogen is worried about mundane matters, such as them all fitting in the snug fighter, but Lilly is just excited to see the sleek craft again. “Once we are on the station, we will accomplish our mission. Any spoils or freeing of slaves are yours.” Lost & Found agrees to the rendezvous, and Malorn signs off.
“We’re going to have to find some way to research Iceberg Station,” Imogen comments.
“Yeah,” Lilly agrees. “He didn’t say anything about what sort of gear to bring.”
“I don’t think he plans ahead,” Imogen observes.
“Do we, really?” Lilly asks.
Well I do, Imogen consoles herself.