Imogen runs flat out down the corridor. Driven on by the strange wind sound, she ignores everything else. Whatever it is, it has gotten ahead of her, and she needs to catch up to it. Although the hall is illuminated here and lights are spreading aft, further down the way it is still dark. She feels like she is chasing that darkness, and it comes to a halt at the door to the armory. That section of corridor remains dark even though overhead lights are coming on farther past it. The door has not opened at all, which Imogen can tell from the dim light of its access console. Imogen halts at that door, and as soon as she hears that rushing, sucking noise coming from within Rory’s workshop, she slams the panel to open it.
The armory is a hangar just like the one in which Saffron sits, but it has been repurposed with extra equipment, parts, and machinery. The blast doors out to space are closed, but Imogen hears the thrum of engines. For just a moment, a ship is visible to her, and she recognizes the craft as being a protoss—probably even a dark templar based on the coloration—vessel. The cloaking wavers ever so briefly, and she sees a protoss hurriedly step aboard. Then there is a large rush of wind, and the strange ship vanishes. Imogen runs up to it, thinking it has just cloaked, but she does not collide with anything. The protoss vessel is gone.
Lilly reaches Rory’s garage and finds Imogen spinning round shouting to the room at large, “Where did you go?!” Lilly holds her gun ready and starts searching the room for intruders… or Snowball.
Imogen’s mind is a confused jumble of information on protoss. Malorn told her about bloodhunters, advanced members of his tal’darim who are cloaked all the time. But she has also heard of another group, the nerazim, who share this tendency. They are reputed among terrans to be assassins, like the protoss version of ghosts. And one of these was at large on Raynor’s ship and might have Snowball? And the way they were moving… Is this the blinking she has heard about, phasing out in one location and reappearing in another? Can their ships do that, too?
Lilly cannot find any sign of living beings hiding anywhere, but Rory’s hangar is more of a mess than theirs. “Snowball, form up!” she tries again to no avail.
Imogen is sure that a protoss could not have fit through those shafts. Thinking aloud, she says, “Something else must have released Snowball.”
Lilly considers. Snowball might have been able to reach the escape hatch trigger in her room. From the inside, that is easy to open since it is designed for use during emergencies. “He might have been able to get out on his own,” she offers. Maybe he thought he was supposed to resume patrolling when she went to sleep? Like they were trading off watches? She does not quite remember what orders she gave him.
“And that lyote tore open the vent?” Imogen asks.
“If Sunshine had come in, and Snowball found her threatening, he could have retreated into the warm safety of the duct system,” Lilly suggests.
“Then he was abandoning his post,” grumbles Imogen.
Smoke break every two hours, Lilly thinks. “I don’t know what those lyotes eat. Maybe she carried him off,” Lilly defends Snowball. Besides, he’s just a baby zerg.
Rattled by the protoss development, Imogen says, “But I didn’t sense Snowball in the hangar when I sensed the two other beings. Snowball was already not around by that point, and those creatures were there.”
“In our hangar?”
“So… you think he left before then? We don’t know how many of these dogs there are. This ship has a lot of problems, and ours is just one of them.”
Imogen spins around, throwing up her arms. “And what about the protoss!?”
Lilly sees nothing to match Imogen’s concerns. “What protoss?”
“The one that was just here!”
“Okay, okay,” Lilly says to her agitated friend, looking around again. “Is it here now?”
“I… I… I think the ship blinked away,” Imogen replies, sounding a bit overwhelmed.
“Was it cloaked?”
“Aye, that was what I chased down the hall.”
Lilly lets out a sigh. “Did it take Snowball?”
“We’ve got no way of knowing,” Imogen replies, but then she wonders if that is actually the case.
“This place has crappy security,” Lilly complains. Lacking other ideas, she resumes searching around the hangar. “What do you want to do, Imogen?” she asks as she futilely rattles boxes.
The protoss vessel is probably warp-capable, and it may have already made the jump. But if it has not, maybe there is a way of knowing if a zerg is aboard it, Imogen reflects. She nods to herself and announces her plan. “I think we’ve got to fire Saffron back up.”