Lilly’s head pounds something fierce the next morning, and her memories of the night before are pretty hazy. Well, at least this hangover means I’m not still drunk, she reflects. She is still in her clothes from yesterday, dirt, blood, and all. When she heads out to hit the shower, she finds that Karax is already aboard, having let himself onto Saffron. He is eager to move on, having yesterday fulfilled his obligation to share information with their host. Lilly still has work to do here, though. She needs to unload all the supplies she purchased yesterday. It will be rough with her hangover, but she feels she deserves the pain.
Lilly begins lugging packages into Li’s house. The recluse is still at breakfast, large glass of sweet tea in hand, and encourages Lilly to take a plate and join her. “Thank you for getting all those. You must have been out late last night. I didn’t even hear you come in. Or did you take two trips? Is that why you got in so late?”
“No,” Lilly answers. It comes out more as a groan. She loads her plate with hash browns, biscuits, and sausage gravy.
“You doing okay there? You look a bit of a mess.”
“Drank too much,” Lilly admits.
“Also looks like you got freshly hurt, what with that bandage there. Did you get hit out in the wastes?”
“Yeah, they’re still out there,” Li says grimly. “Glad you made it back all right then. It’s still mighty dangerous. And I do appreciate the supplies. Those will keep me going for quite a while. Your patient seems to be recovering. I’m going to be honest with you: I will not be sad to see him go. Even though protoss don’t have mouths, I always feel like he’s frowning.”
Lilly laughs at that. “Probably,” she agrees.
Imogen comes into the dining room at this point, smoothie in hand. “Did you have any productive conversations with Karax?” she asks Li.
“I did. He wasn’t able to answer all my questions—well, I should say he might have been able to, but he did not. I understand, of course. And I did learn some interesting things. Might have some ideas I can put together, maybe eventually make something work,” she answers vaguely but happily. “It’ll take me a little bit of time, though.”
That is sufficient for Imogen, since Li sounds satisfied. “So, have you run your tests on that cerebrate sample we brought you all those months ago? Or sent it off to somebody who does that sort of research if you don’t do it yourself?”
“I ran the tests myself,” Li says, “and I sent some of the data away to some trusted folks who don’t get to see all the pieces. Now why do you ask?”
“These people you sent things to, they’re researchers on zerg things? Or infested things? Or what?”
“Primarily zerg-based researchers. The Dominion invests quite heavily into that area so there are a lot of heads looking into that. I make sure no researcher gets to see the full picture, though. I just ask for small, independent analyses. And then I pull that information back together.”
“I know you wanted the cerebrate sample because it was related to the Queen of Blades. But you know I have an interest in other, less prominent infested terrans.”
“That you do. What are you getting at?” Li pours another glass of sweet tea and puts it down on the table in front of Imogen.
“I already told you I had a sample of Aiden’s blood. Well, now I have two vials of blood from two infested terrans who are both still cognizant and remember their former selves, but are functioning now as part of the Swarm.”
“It’s good to hear they’re still themselves, after a fashion,” Li says encouragingly.
“So, if you know a way that these samples could be useful for figuring out if there’s any way to reverse the process… I trust that you are able to do things discreetly, and I know you have a network of people that you work with. Those are connections I lack. But what I do have is the samples to provide. And I’d like a copy of whatever results come from them.”
“I’ll take your samples, sweetheart, but I can’t guarantee any results,” Li cautions her. “But I have been working on some zerg things, and maybe with this new protoss knowledge I’ve just acquired, I may be able to help you out a little bit. I’ve got a project I’m cooking up. Give me a few more weeks, and maybe I’ll have something together.” Imogen thanks her; she is unlikely to find anyone anywhere else who can even promise that much.
Malorn comes into the dining room then, even though he does not need to eat. He is just there for companionship, though he would never admit it. When Imogen checked him over this morning, she determined they could dispense with the IV at this point, so he now moves about unburdened. “Have you completed your nutritional supplements yet?” he demands.
Lilly grunts a negative, and Imogen offers him some sweet tea to try, passing along the glass Li poured for her. “What form of drink is this?” he mutters as he dips in a nerve cord. “What? This is… it’s empty!”
Imogen laughs, but Li takes Malorn to task for his rudeness. “Might be high time for you to be moving on, fella,” she admonishes.
“Aye, aye,” Imogen agrees. “Are you well enough to fly today, Lilly?”
“Yup,” Lilly rasps.