Prior to departure, Imogen places a call to James Raynor. “We’re going to be going on a little scouting mission soon,” she tells him after the pleasantries. “I’m wondering if you can put me in contact with Horner so that we know who specifically he’s interested in pulling out of that prison on Korhal. Lilly and I are going to be doing some prep work for that.”
“Ah, yes. And I appreciate it mightily. But just some recon! I want to stress this: please do not put yourself in danger trying to break anyone out. That’s going to be a major operation.”
“I will do my best to restrain Lilly,” Imogen replies dryly.
“But, uh, no, you don’t need to talk to Matt.” Raynor’s voice grows distant, and Imogen hears rustling. “I’ve got a few names here.” He reads them off to Imogen. Clearly they are meaningless to Jimmy, but Horner said they were important. The titles are ridiculous, and Jimmy’s own handwriting is questionable. But Imogen gets the three names she needs. She wonders whether these are people who were important during the Confederacy. “Or they might have been important during the early years of the Dominion,” Jimmy suggests. “You piss off the wrong person, you get locked up. But Matt seems to think they might have some good ideas.”
“All right. And when we’ve found out what we can from our scouting, who do you want us to take the information to?” Imogen asks.
Raynor provides a dead drop on Korhal where they can physically leave any intel they gather. “We need to know the status of the prisoners—just to confirm that they’re still there. Also the overall force count, like what the guards are armed with. Uh, a simple sketch of the layout… And if you can get the full prisoner list, that would be really helpful. We can cross-check it and find out if there’s anyone else useful there. We might be able to do a full prison break, but we’re not sure. We’ve got to move quick when we do act.”
“All right then. We’ll see what we can do.”
“Much appreciated. Stay safe out there.”
“Aye. Good luck with everything,” Imogen wishes Jimmy.
“Aw, luck ain’t got nothing to do with it,” he replies.
* * *
Four passengers is more than Saffron’s environmental systems are designed to handle long term, but fortunately protoss do not breathe. Imogen has a tiny hydroponics set up for growing microgreens, and she offers its lamp to Malorn and Karax if they feel they need more light. Lilly is very quiet around Imogen during the first leg of their trip. Her memories of last night are very hazy, but she definitely remembers going through her partner’s precious Umojan whiskey. No need to remind Imogen of that. The flight goes really smoothly though, and Lilly enjoys the break from all the stress on Mar Sara.
Malorn is quiet too, recovering from his own hangover, but Karax questions Imogen about their first destination. “It’s a lawless rock on the edge of terran space,” Imogen tells him. “Mostly crashed ships and such.” She then diverts the conversation to her own salvaged ship. Karax has strengthened their security already, but there are other systems here that could benefit from his greater technical experience. Protoss have a lot of shield technology, so she shares her plans for inverting the defensive matrix with Karax. “I’d like to reverse it into some sort of imprisoning bubble that encapsulates an enemy and prevents them from shooting out,” she explains.
“Whoa, that’s a really interesting application of your primitive shielding capabilities,” Karax enthuses. “I don’t know why we have never thought of that kind of inversion before.” Quite taken with the idea, he suggests that they attempt to implement it right now, despite the ship being in the middle of space, far from any safe port in the event of an engineering mishap. “This shouldn’t be too difficult,” he insists.
Imogen peels up a floor tile and invites Karax down below. “Let’s just have a look at the system. Maybe it will give us some ideas.” She locates the hardware and starts explaining how the different components work together, including how it draws from the main reactor. Imogen is constantly having to deal with overloads there when Saffron gets into scrapes.
Karax nods along during the explanations and then suddenly starts flipping, twisting, and adjusting components. “There! Changes implemented!” he says with satisfaction.
Above them, Lilly is oblivious to Karax’s work. She does notice the wild power fluctuations though. She keeps the ship steady, riding out the little storm with no trouble. Must be some kind of weird nebula around, she figures with a shrug. These things happen.
“Whoa, there!” Imogen cries, as sparks fly around the reactor. She will need to look everything over next time Saffron is completely powered down. What Karax has done seems straightforward enough, though; she should be able to maintain the new capability just fine. Additionally, toggling the defensive matrix between modes is as simple as flicking a switch. That will be easy enough to reroute back up to Lilly’s piloting station for ease of use. This is certainly adequate payment for rescuing Karax.
“Your ship is actually relatively versatile given its very limited power capabilities,” he tells Imogen. “It’s an interesting restrictive space to have to work in,” he adds with appreciation, not recognizing his statements as the backhanded compliment they are.
Imogen uses that as an opening for picking his brain on potential improvements to the reactor setup itself. He cautions her about overdriving it too often. Suddenly, she remembers one of her thought experiments. She climbs out of the engine compartment and dashes to her room. Imogen drags out the power armor reactor that Lilly salvaged. “Do you think there’s anything we could do with this?” she asks Karax.
The khalai’s brow ridge creases. “Maybe? Understand that fissile reactors are not my—”
Imogen waves away that concern. “Do you think we can network these?”
“It’s not a matter of networking. It’s a power distribution problem.” They bat around ideas related to buffers, accumulators, bridges, and resistors. By the end of the conversation, Imogen has a plan sketched out for what she needs in order to link the two incompatible systems. The collaboration is not entirely smooth, though, as Karax finds paper a primitive surface on which to brainstorm. He is accustomed to using a full holo-projection setup, of course.