While Lilly heads off with her drinks, Imogen looks over the bulletin board near the bar. There is a wanted poster for a Jim Raynor as well as sign-up sheets for the Hydralisk Hunt. Entry costs five credits, and the prize is one hundred. The ad includes the warning to “enter under your own risk,” and brags that last year’s survival rate was eighty per cent. When Imogen gets to the last sentence on the flyer, she wonders aloud, “That survival rate isn’t for the hydralisks, is it?”
“Nah,” says the bartender. “Them hydras… I think only about two-thirds of them survived last year. They’re tough fellas, I tell you. They stand up to a marine, toe-to-toe. You new to town?”
Imogen turns to the dark-skinned man. “I heard that your bar was looking to get a vespene delivery pipe set up straight to you. What are you looking to power here?”
“Oh that! I’m looking to expand the bar a little bit. I could quick-freeze margaritas if I had a source of vespene fuel handy. And I could do manufacturing right here in the bar.”
“What would you manufacture in a bar? Little umbrellas?”
“Uh, well,” Joey Ray looks around the room, settles on the TV in the corner. “This is the third TV I have had to buy here. Some of my customers, they are a little bit rough.” He nods over at the man Lilly is talking to. “They get upset about things they see on the TV, so if I could quickly manufacture a new TV, that would be helpful. If I had a vespene line, I could do that. Sure, it would be a little bit expensive, but it would be fancy. Oh, and I could try making a drink with vespene bubbling through it. I don’t think that would actually taste good, but people would try it, I bet.”
The variety of answers coming at her and the way the bartender has been using the room for prompts makes Imogen suspicious. He clearly wants a pipeline, but he was not prepared to explain why when asked. He must want it for something illicit. “Aye, I’m sure you could make all sorts of useful things if you had manufacturing of your own. Replacing smashed glasses and making any other tools you might need for any of your side interests. I’ve heard vespene can be used to make all sorts of useful things… for the right customers… for the right price.”
“It can,” he allows carefully, “but we don’t have the pipeline here yet.”
“So are you getting it some other way, until you get the pipeline in place?”
“I wish! It’s hard enough trying to get legitimate vespene. Getting vespene on the black market here is a tough game. This is a Dominion-controlled town. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone in the refinery or barracks—someone with access—could be a source. I don’t have access, though…. Do you?”
“I’ve heard that a barrel of vespene can be worth a lot of money,” Imogen replies. “That’s what my boss told me.”
“Who’s your boss?” Joey Ray asks, eyes narrowing.
“Well, tomorrow, my boss will be Lisa Prescott at the refinery. I’ve got an in there now.”
“If we could get a barrel of that stuff, that would be really handy. But it would have to be untraceable. There’s a lot of people watching. Or can you just expedite this pipeline?”
“What would you do with it, when you got it?” Imogen asks.
“Do you really want to know?”
“I do want to know,” she confirms. “If there isn’t a supplier of terrazine in this city already, then, aye, I do want to know what you would be doing with it.”
Joey Ray frowns. “Well, I hope we wouldn’t be wasting it on that, but I do know a guy who probably would want some of it diverted to that. Although he shouldn’t. He ought to know better.”
“Who’s this guy?” Imogen asks. If there is someone here who has been exposed to terrazine, she needs to talk to him to find out what his experience was like.
The bartender is reluctant to provide that information to someone he has just met, even though he does not think Imogen is a narc or with the Dominion. He wants the pipeline established first and offers a sample of terrazine in exchange. He warns her, “Lady, that stuff will mess you up. It will hook you; it does things to you. My friend got clean, but he’s not quite the same.”
“How’s he different?”
“He’s not with it, not present. Granted, he was a weird dude to begin with.”
“Is your friend terran?” Imogen asks. If this is a protoss that could be beneficial in even more ways.
The bartender gives her a funny look. “Yeah. What, do you think my friend’s a zerg?” He nods his head at the hydralisk skull on the wall.
Imogen tells Joey Ray she will see what she can do about whatever is holding up his application at the refinery if he will put her in touch with his friend. He agrees that they have a deal, but only once he gets his vespene.