In the morning, Lilly carefully slips out of her room so that Lief, who was sleeping on the floor of the central hub, does not see Snowball. She has cuts, burns, and bruises, but she is not moving too stiffly. She gathers a breakfast of MREs from the shelves and hands them out to Lief and Imogen. Her hard candy supply is dwindling rapidly, so she does not offer any to the terrans.
Aiden spent the night in the infested building rather than aboard Saffron. Under other circumstances, Imogen might have protested this decision, wanting to catch up with him a bit. But with her lungs in the shape they are, she was in no condition to stay up late into the night chit-chatting.
Imogen brings Lief outside with her to check on their captive pirate and give Lilly some space to deal with Snowball. This planet seems safe enough to Lilly, given that there are so few terrans and the local zerg are allies, that she offers Snowball the chance to go scout around. Maybe he can even find himself some creep. This seems as good a place as any to practice spying, and the zerg already know about it, so nothing important will be compromised. Snowball shifts from his terran form to a zergling, by way of the eerie blob that always weirds Lilly out. He heads off to explore, while she joins Imogen and Lief outside.
Lilly is a little preoccupied, worried about Snowball’s safety, but Imogen does a good job of keeping Lief’s attention directed away from the departing zerg. “Did you see that, Coz? That pirate just quickly shut his eye. He’s awake, he is.” She steps up closer to Old Red and offers Kofi the same deal she gave Jan: they will let him go, sans weapons and comm devices, provided he gives them intel on Jackson’s Revenge.
“What do you want to know?” he groans.
“What is the standard crew complement of the ship? Where is the advanced technology stored aboard it?” Imogen turns to Lilly. “What else?”
“What’s the protocol for mayday response?” Lilly asks, stepping up to the mounted vulture bike.
Kofi spills the beans. He estimates the battlecruiser will be manned by one to two dozen people, depending on the latest recruitment efforts. “I guess, though, minus five. Wait, is everyone else dead?” They assure him Jan is alive and wandering around free, since she was cooperative. Kofi describes the general layout of the battlecruiser. Crew quarters are in the back, and the captain has his own private rooms in the front. Secure storage is in the middle of the ship, easy enough to find if one enters aft and heads forward toward the bridge.
“Is this some sort of armory or a vault?” Imogen asks, wondering if she will need to break into a secure facility.
“Yes,” Kofi says simply.
“Oh, the armory-vault,” Lilly blurts out, a memory suddenly unburying itself. “The AV.” She prompts him to tell them about the crew’s typical response to a mayday call.
“With just the beacon going, they might think it’s a trap, but they have no reason to suspect Owendohers are packing significant firepower… unless Booker got out a message.” Imogen thinks that is unlikely based on the condition of the comms she had to fix. “So, probably, they’ll come in looking for zerg trouble. It was a known risk. I think they’ll come right away, ship guns blazing. Don’t get me wrong; you guys bested us. But Jackson’s Revenge is not to be screwed with. I’m surrendering, but clearly the ship’s not going to surrender. It is a battlecruiser. So unless your zerg friends have got something comparable, heh heh.” His chuckles turn to coughs. “Hey, can I get some medical…” Kofi’s eyes roll up into his head, and he passes out again.
Lilly and Lief take him down and leave him off in the wilderness, propped up against a tree. Maybe he will find Jan. Or maybe the zerg will find him. That is not their problem.