Egon performs the reboot on Saffron, and from that point on, it is safe to have the ship’s sensors online. Egon is clearly very comfortable at the computer station, though he does disparage the Confederate systems. Imogen tries to watch what he does, but he types way too fast. At her request, he investigates the previous login by admin. “Took them a couple tries. Wasn’t done by anyone I would consider an expert in any way, shape, or form. Had some technical training of some sort. Looks like they used Earth-based techniques. Yeah, they came in multiple times, tried to reset some things. They got at some of the data, but not all of it. Oh! They accessed these coordinates you said you were interested in.”
“Bloody hell.” Everything Egon is saying makes Imogen suspect they will run into Neiman again, likely on Chau Sara.
“Oh, well. Factory reset!” Egon slaps a final key with a flourish.
The system powers down completely, and there is a moment when Imogen worries that it will not restart, but then everything spins back up.
Welcome. You have just purchased a SCIENCE VESSEL from Exploracorp. Explore the galaxy today! Please enter your username. Note: Your warranty is out-of-date.
Lilly hears the boot-up message as she sits in her room sharpening knives. Excellent, it’s not tuned to my RFID tag anymore.
As promised, Imogen provides the psi-gauntlet for study. She hands it over with the warning, “Do not stick your arm inside this thing.” Egon looks about to protest, and she pushes back her right sleeve, revealing the mess of scars from her most recent attempt.
Egon pales a bit. “I’m not sure that I want to study this anymore… but I kind of still do… Maybe I can use it as inspiration for a trap of some kind.” He puts it in a bag and leaves the hangar, talking to himself about how the blobolisk needs some rest for a while, so studying the gauntlet will be a good use of his time.
* * *
Later that day, Rory Swann knocks on the door of the science vessel. “You cowboys doing okay in there?”
Imogen invites him in and offers to give him a tour. Lilly closes up her room, though. “Not in there. There’s a lyote.”
“Oh, that’s the problem,” Rory says with an eye roll. “So you guys have got a zerg larva.”
“Egon can tell you we’re both clean, we are.”
“I saw. I went and checked. But you’ve still got a zerg larva with something in its head. Cowboy, I don’t know if that’s something you should be messing with.”
“You’ve got zerg experiments going on in your research bay here on Hyperion!” Imogen counters.
“Yeah, I’m not too keen on those, either. I would rather just raid a Dominion depot and steal the plans to their siege tanks, but I got overruled.”
Lilly nods in sympathy, and Imogen asks Rory if this will create a sore spot in their friendship. He hems and haws about how some warning would have been good, but with the chaos of the evacuation, he understands what happened. Still, he feels they should secure their ship better. Imogen leaps on that opening to persuade him to help her with some modifications. He has a long list of tasks to do for Hyperion, but she and Lilly have nowhere to go as long as the battlecruiser is in deep space, and they offer to help.
“I’ve started on the vents already,” Lilly says.
Rory agrees, and over the course of the next week, he fixes the brakes and weapons systems while Lilly and Imogen help out where they can. They also agree to acquire some parts for him that he has been unable to find on the fringe worlds. They will be returning to Korhal soon, where such things are more readily available.
Lilly secures vent covers in their own hangar and trains Sunshine. Like Snowball, she seems content to eat MREs. The pink ribbon goes from being a muzzle to being a collar and leash. Lilly does suffer a few bites in the process of starting to domesticate the lyote. She is not sure about keeping the animal long-term. It might be better to see if Li June wants a companion; she has far more space at her compound than they have on Saffron, and Mar Sara is the lyote’s native environment.
As for registering the ship, Rory recommends avoiding all the red tape associated with claiming salvage, particularly since Saffron is a science vessel so the Dominion would likely just take possession of it. He first suggests they talk with Admiral Horner to see what his advice would be, but they are reluctant to approach him, given their previous questionable interaction with him. Rory consoles them that many people have a bit of a rough time with the admiral. “He’s more of a straight military man, and the rest of us, well, we’re Raynor’s Raiders…. I mean, he technically is, too, but, well, we come from different places.”
Imogen asks what Rory is in all this for, and he holds up his clamp hand. “I owe the Dominion some personal payback. I’ve been with the commander a while, and I’ve seen some of the terrible things Mengsk has done. Can’t let that stand. That said, this revolution has been kind of spinning its wheels for a while. Maybe now that we’re getting a little more work, we can make something happen. I don’t know, though; we get distracted real easy.”
Lilly laughs. “Tell me about it,” she agrees.
“Yeah, hard to stay focused on the mission and taking down an emperor when you’ve got to make money. Running an army is really expensive. And you’re trying to run a lab and a manufacturing workshop. And you got, oh, I dunno, a giant flagship that is hideously expensive to run, but you’ve only got a quarter of as many crew as you’re supposed to have. Yeah, yeah, things ain’t so good. But we’ll take the jobs we can get.”
He walks them through what passes for weaponry on Saffron. The science vessel is no gunship, but it can emit an irradiated cloud that is very dangerous for anything biological. Zerg, of course, but also terrans, so they should be careful when they use it. It is a very localized effect and will not have a lasting impact on the environment where it is deployed. Rather, the creature irradiated by the cloud becomes a carrier of the effect for a short while, suffering damage itself but also harming those around it. The thickness of a zerg’s hide is no protection against this, so even though it will not drop a large creature quickly, it will still be of help against threats like mutalisks that might attack their ship. Essentially, it is an amped-up sanitizer. It does draw heavily upon the reactor, so Rory cautions them not to use it too rapidly in succession.
Rory also points out the hardware that is present for some other capabilities, but they will not be able to use those until they figure out a way past the vendor’s lock-in system. Normally, they could pay for access codes, but the company that made Saffron does not exist anymore. Imogen is more worried about the fuel situation since they only have enough to get from Korhal to Chau Sara, and that is not the sort of place likely to have an open Big Daddy Browder’s.
Lilly wonders if there is anyone else who needs things from Korhal, that maybe setting up some sort of smuggling activity would be a way to curry favor with Dear Matthew, as far as getting his help figuring out the registration situation. That makes Rory think of another option, someone else currently on Hyperion who could help under the table. There is a mercenary recruiter/salesman aboard, the man with the sunglasses who they saw in the bar, Mr. Hill. Rory warns them that it will likely not be cheap to deal with this “generally slimy dude” but that he has a lot of connections and will work with anyone who has credits.