Lilly startles awake, a dream about vulture bikes and canyons slowly fading away. She gets up to check on Imogen, but first she glances around her room, looking for Snowball in case something he was doing woke her up. He is not in his little bed, and she finds herself wondering if she told him to patrol again. Figuring he must be on Saffron somewhere, she just shrugs and goes to Imogen’s quarters, hoping that she will not trip over him. Imogen is sleeping soundly, so Lilly does not disturb her. Lilly no longer feels tired herself, having rested enough and feeling a little pumped from the adrenaline the dream has left lingering in her system. She flips on a few lights, deciding to look for Snowball and planning to sharpen her knives once she has settled the question of where he is. What begins as a casual glance around turns into a search of the entire ship. She does not find Snowball, but with Saffron’s lights on, she now sees that the hatch to the escape pod chute for her own room is open.
With a curse, Lilly heads to the front of the ship and exits by the main hatch. As she steps down the ramp into dim clusters of crates, she scolds, “Snowball! Snowball, form up.” Lilly goes through all the empty boxes, but there is no sign of the zerg larva they have brought aboard Raynor’s battlecruiser. The hangar doorpad looks too high for Snowball to reach, provided he has not transformed into something else. Lilly searches through the crates again, growing annoyed. “Snowball, don’t be dumb! I could be sharpening my knives!” She checks Saffron’s exterior, including the empty escape pod chute that leads to Imogen’s room. Finally, she decides to check the top of the science vessel. She is not sure how adventurous Snowball would be, but it does not seem like he would be able to get out of the hangar, and the roof is the only place she has not checked yet.
Imogen slowly drifts awake. For a moment, as awareness is returning, she senses the familiar presence of Lilly outside the ship, actually on top of Saffron. But there is no Snowball, whose feel she has grown accustomed to over the past day, and she senses a couple other lifeforms in the general area. These two strange beings move beyond her range in different directions from each other. As the cobwebs of sleep fade away, Imogen assembles everything she has just sensed into a theory: Lilly is outside the ship investigating the kidnapping of Snowball. Not wanting to tip off the perpetrators, Imogen tries to stealthily exit the ship. She opens the escape pod hatch in her own room.
Lilly hears the resulting creak and leans down from the roof. “Snowball? Imogen?”
“Shhh! Do you have eyes on the intruders?” Imogen asks.
Lilly’s eyes go wide in alarm. Intruders? She tries to drop quietly down from the roof but ends up stumbling into a set of boxes and making a racket. Figuring that anyone out here knows for sure where she is now, she decides to play it up. She pulls out her gun and starts shouting, “Show yourselves,” hoping that Imogen will remain unnoticed as a result of this display.
Imogen slips into the central room on Saffron and pries up a panel to access the power conduits in order to hook them up with the local lighting in the hangar, planning to startle the intruders by suddenly turning on the lights. No one else is visible in the hangar, but the increased illumination reveals an ajar grating on a vent in the wall. It is too small for an adult, but something Snowball-sized could fit. Since whatever presences Imogen sensed upon waking are gone now, she wonders if they left that way. She rushes over, extending her psionic senses, but she cannot detect anything.
Lilly scans the room, stepping up beside her friend. “They must be moving fast,” she hears Imogen mutter.
“I think they must’ve gone out through this vent.”
An adolescent terran might be able to fit, or a zergling, but not Lilly or Imogen. Lilly has heard that zerg prefer to retreat to warm, cozy, safe places. If there are zerg on this ship, the ducts would be a natural place for them to hide. “He’s going for somewhere warm?”
“He’s not the only one,” Imogen insists. “There were others here. It wasn’t just Snowball.”
“I don’t know what they were,” Imogen says. “I heard things moving around,” she lies. No need to reveal the exact manner in which she detected them. “I heard them out in the hangar, but it didn’t sound like you or Snowball.”
“I checked this place top to bottom, and I didn’t find him. He must’ve gone in there. We need to find out where these ducts go,” Lilly says.
“I can’t turn Saffron’s sensors back on,” Imogen insists. “We have no idea if they will send out messages.”
“Oh, no, I just meant we need to follow the ducts.”
“I don’t know how we can do that. We can’t fit.”
“Rory’s across the hall,” Lilly offers. “I don’t know how popular we’re going to be if they find out about Snowball, but if he’s in the ducts, they’re going to find out. Oh man, maybe children took him. Are there children on this ship?”
Imogen shrugs. “I’ve no idea. But we can start with Rory, and if that’s not an option, maybe Egon’s lab has some sort of sensing equipment.” Wait… how did I even get here from Egon’s lab? Imogen briefly wonders, realizing that she does not remember returning to Saffron.
Lilly has stepped all the way up to the grate, where she is making one last attempt to get her larva back. Maybe even if someone took him, he is not restrained or he can get away. “Snowball! Form up!” she calls. She hears nothing in reply, and she has no idea where these ducts go. “He could be anywhere!”