Lilly and Imogen escort Egon back to his lab. With the blobolisk now on hand, Imogen examines its former residence. It is just a blob, some of which is soft tissue and some of which is hard carapace. The only thing approaching an appendage is an eyestalk. There is no way it was responsible for its own escape. But as she studies the cylinder, she realizes the scratches around the exterior breakage match the size of the lyote’s claws. There is a nearby vent, as well, with a scratched up and loose grating. “Seems like Sunshine saw this blob moving about and thought it would be tasty.” Lilly crouches down by the vent as Imogen turns to the owner of the lab. “Egon, we helped you recover this thing…”
“I helped you recover your zerg…”
“I want a sample of this.” She taps the blobolisk’s canister.
“W-well… I want a sample of your zerg!” he counters. Imogen and Lilly both just stare at Egon. “All right, all right,” he relents. “But not the eyestalk.” As he prepares a piece for them to take to Li June, he cannot help but fill the silence. “We’re trying to see if we can make improvements to our technology based on zerg biology. But we’ve got to be careful! Certain dangers can come with that, too.”
“Weren’t you going to run tests on us to make sure we aren’t infested?” Lilly asks, still a little freaked out about what was making Rory nervous. She straightens up and offers her arm.
“Oh, right!” Egon grabs the kit. “I got Imogen’s sample already. Just hold still while I take yours.” Lilly flinches as he clumsily jabs her. Then he spins away and starts the processing. “Just a few minutes here… and… yes! You are both clean. So that’s good! No one’s infected with zerg mutagen. All right!” Then his eyes drift to Lilly’s backpack, where Snowball’s head is poking out. “Uh, I could try this test on Snowball, but I’m pretty sure he has zerg mutagen in his system. That is pretty strange, though,” he adds, looking at the neural implant. “I haven’t seen tech like that before.” He is not familiar with Cerberus, having been in grad school back when the Confederate military was a thing. While he would be interested in studying strange new technology like Snowball has, he admits that his plate is currently overfull with the blobolisk and the new artifact.
Given the varied nature of Egon’s projects, Imogen asks what his field of expertise is. He describes himself as an applied scientist. “I work on a lot of electronics. I take interesting properties that we find in weird things like zerg samples and protoss technology that we acquire—or this weird artifact—and I see how we can apply it to our current battlefield needs. So reinforcing the bunkers is something that I’m looking at. Maybe down the line, improving our weapons speeds, or something like that…”
“Have you ever examined any protoss psi-gauntlets?” Imogen asks.
“Uh… no, I haven’t. I am curious how those work, but I doubt any of our troops would be able to use something like that. I mean, that’s probably specifically tuned to their biology.”
“Would you be interested in taking a look at one?” she prods, hoping to work out a deal.
“Uh, yeah! But I don’t know how I would get one. It’s not like these protoss visitors are going to share. They jealously guard their technology.” Then he rapidly asserts defensively, “They’re not that far ahead of us, though.”
“If I could get a psi-gauntlet for you to look at for a little while—not a long time, mind you—would you be willing to do something for me?”
“Probably. What’s a little while? What’s not a long time? What’s a something for you?”
Imogen explains the trouble she has with her science vessel, that someone using admin privileges set up a program to send packets of information out that she does not know how to properly disable. Egon recognizes this as a beaconing virus and suggests resetting to factory defaults, which will probably cost them all the data that has been collected so far. Imogen looks to Lilly and asks her, “Is that something we’re willing to do? We have the coordinates we need to go to.”
“Do what?” Lilly spins around from where she has drifted back over to the vent, screwdriver in hand.
Imogen joins Lilly at the grate and explains the situation. “Egon thinks we might have to wipe the computer systems completely to turn off the beaconing on Saffron.” Lilly nods that she is following along. “But if we do that, then there’s no hope of getting anything further off them about what was being done. And then our only lead is that facility on Chau Sara. Is that sufficient for you?”
“I didn’t find anything when I looked in the computer, so I’m not sure what else it could have, other than data from Mar Sara. What do you think?”
“I think we need to go to the facility. And if we’re going to use Saffron regularly, we need to deal with this beaconing thing. A lot of things on that computer were corrupted already. I think, at this point, we should just write it off.”
“Okay. I agree.” Lilly turns back to her vent project.
Imogen returns to Egon and declares, “I have a psi-gauntlet.” He agrees to help with Saffron in exchange for the opportunity to study the protoss weapon during their stay aboard Hyperion, including sharing any findings with her. She points out that she and Lilly will be around at least as long as Hyperion remains in space. “I imagine Matthew is likely to kick us off at the first port, though I’ve no idea how soon that will be.”
“Well, it’s just a matter of what the next job is. We’re pretty low on credits, so we’re trying to take some paying jobs, rather than furthering the revolution right now,” he comments.
“What is this revolution?” she asks.
“Uh… well, we want to take down Mengsk. I mean, he’s… he’s basically terrorizing the sector, don’t know if you’ve noticed…. I mean, yeah, the Queen of Blades basically owns the sector, but at least she’s honest about the terrorizing.”
Imogen looks up at the device hovering in the middle of the lab. “So what does that have to do with her?”
“What do you mean?” Egon asks, confused. “That’s just one of the money-paying jobs.” Imogen’s face shows her surprise. “Yeah, some Dominion people had it; some other people wanted it. They’re paying us money to collect some pieces of it. Some place called Moebius Foundation. They’re some very well-connected scientific corporate group.” He agrees with Imogen’s assessment that it is a xel’naga artifact.
“It’s related to the Queen of Blades somehow,” Imogen insists.
“How do you figure that?”
Egon knows about her interest in terrazine. She never explicitly said what she wanted it for, but she feels her questions were fairly revealing. And she has told him she has a psi-gauntlet… “It’s giving off vibes, it is,” she offers by way of explanation.
“Oh!” Egon says excitedly. “You’re getting psionic feelings off of it! That’s interesting… and slightly alarming. I’ll make a note of that.”
If I can’t get these screws to tighten, I’m going to have to drag some sort of box over here to block the vent, Lilly thinks. They cannot have this blobolisk getting away again, and there could be other lyotes in the ship somewhere. Sure, she has a zerg larva, but at least Snowball has tech in his head that helps control him. This blobolisk could do anything. Lilly finally gets the screws to catch on the extra bars that she is installing across the grating, and she smiles to herself, pleased. It sounds like Egon is excited about something, too, like maybe about the psi-gauntlet, but she is not really paying attention to that.
Lilly gathers her things, ready to go back to the hangar and apply the same treatment to the vents there. She cannot leave Snowball alone until she is sure he will not be able to run off again. She takes the toolkit, Snowball, and Sunshine with her, leaving Imogen and Egon to their incessant talking. They see her depart and follow along.