Aiden arrives with the thermos of creep he promised Lilly before leaving the night before. As he hands it over, he asks where her little friend is, but she just evasively replies that he is around somewhere. Aiden advises her that creep is for walking or laying on; she should not dump it on Snowball. Lilly puts the thermos in the ship and then locks Saffron up. Aiden plops down next to Imogen, who is seated on Saffron’s ramp, breathing shallowly. “So, where’s your protoss friend?”
“He’ll get here when he gets here,” she replies.
Discussion turns to the upcoming operation. Aiden supplies that Blight does not think he can cause the ship to crash outright, but he might be able to force a landing. What’s the difference? Lilly wonders. Imogen hopes that does not mean more Jarban gliders getting blown up. Aiden points out that Jackson’s Revenge has anti-aircraft capabilities which can cause some problems for the zerg air force. His concern is that even if the battlecruiser puts down temporarily to check on the pirates who sent the mayday, it will launch again.
Lief watches on, out of his depth, as Imogen spouts opinions on the weak points of ships’ engines while Lilly and Aiden discuss various zergs’ tactical capabilities compared to that of Jackson’s Revenge. They decide to have the scourge and devourers focus on the rear of the vessel, where the engines are, to try to get the ship to the ground sooner. Most of the battlecruiser’s weapons are concentrated at the front, so that will be safer for the zerg, as well. Jackson’s Revenge is not a fast ship, but it can turn quickly, meaning the zerg will need to remain vigilant even with this plan. With most of the damage in the rear, the terran boarding party will be entering from that direction as well, since the hull will be weakened there.
“I’d like to hide Saffron and hit them with the EMP,” Lilly adds. After some back and forth, they decide the best way to do that is to camouflage Saffron on the ground to keep their way off the planet safe. Imogen suggests hiding the science vessel inside the infested research building. That way, the EMP missile will look like part of the zerg assault and not tip off the pirates that terrans are involved. Lilly intends to not fire the EMP until the battlecruiser is already on the ground. That should take their sensors offline, inhibit their repairs, and also disable the reactor that powers the Yamato cannon.
Aiden points out that the EMP will not solve all their problems. “Not every system on their ship requires fancy electronics. You might recall that they have just regular gatling guns for their primary weapons. So those will still be a danger.”
“Maybe we don’t need the EMP,” Lilly allows, “but I’d like to use it when the ship comes down to keep it down as long as we can.”
“Oh, it’s a grand idea,” Aiden assures her. “Keeping that Yamato gun offline is worth a lot. And it will make it easier for us to get in, but I don’t know what effect it will have on other systems. I’m just saying, be prepared for some systems to still be active. I don’t know what it will do to the psi-disruptor.”
“If it doesn’t work on that, it’s fine,” Imogen tells him. “We’re just looking for whatever advantage we can find. And remember, Brother, the psi-disruptor is not the only thing we have to do here. We have to solve your personal problem, not just your zerg-friend’s problem.”
“Aye,” Aiden draws out, aggravated by his sister’s tone of voice. “Destroy the psi-disruptor, and we can call the Swarm. They can deal with the rest of the ship.”
Imogen shakes her head. “How fast’s the Swarm going to get here? If that ship leaves, it leaves, and Owendohers are still in danger.”
“I don’t know!” Aiden responds, frustrated. “That’s why we need to make sure the ship stays here.”
Lilly pulls the conversation back to tactical concerns. “I want to do the EMP when they’re on the ground. But if we need to be close by to board the ship…”
“Then you being off somewhere in Saffron is a problem,” Imogen finishes.
“I mean, I’m fast, but I’m not that fast.”
“What if Old Red was available?” Imogen asks. “Would you be that fast then?”
Lilly smiles. She would love to ride Old Red, and vulture bikes are not that loud. She could probably quickly make her way undetected to rejoin the boarding party. “It could work,” she agrees. And she even has a spider mine she could put in the bike. That thought reminds her that there are potentially more spider mines recoverable from the factory. Maybe they could even trap that structure. If the pirates disembark to investigate the mayday, they would have to go in there. “I’m going to go look for spider mines,” she announces.
Everyone searched some part of the factory the previous day, but the focus at that point was on medical supplies. Now the four of them return to the smoldering wreck with an eye toward salvage and sabotage. Imogen jokes to Lilly, “We can do this like we did on Redstone III: just collapse the structure on the enemy, hopefully without falling off it ourselves.”
Imogen heads inside to look for weak points, while Lilly sloshes through the water, searching for spider mines. She sees one floating downriver and starts to move in that direction, when suddenly an enormous geyser of water erupts. It must have hit a fish or a log or… something.
In the manufacturing chamber, the spider mine Imogen activated the day before is still intact, clamped to the floor. She begins to consider outlandish plans for attempting to trigger it, such as by sending Naja’s corpse swinging towards the mine via some harness system. Imogen is not sure what the spider mine looks for, whether a moving organic mass is sufficient or if body temperature matters. She ropes in Aiden and Lief to help her work through her idea. Lilly joins them after giving up on panning for spider mines, but eventually they discard the trap idea as being too difficult to make be both reliable and concealed. “I don’t think this is going to work,” Lilly tells Imogen, “but… I found another one!” She holds out an undamaged spider mine that she uncovered inside the factory while looking for material to aid the trap construction.
“If you have a way for them to be useful…”
Their utility should be self-evident. “They’re spider mines!”
“Aye,” Imogen says, “spider mines that I don’t know how to trigger. Maybe shooting one with the frying pan will set it off.”
Lilly is confident that shooting one with any gun would set it off. That was a standard method for clearing them back in her soldier days. But that should not be necessary; they have a vulture bike. “I think Old Red can arm them,” she says, offering her friend some encouragement. And it is true, too, not just an excuse for a joy ride.
While Imogen heads back to Saffron with her brother to get Old Red in working order. Lilly, stays at the factory to keep trying to get something useful out of it. She throws a piece of scrap metal at the planted spider mine, but it does not react. Then she looks around for large debris that she could use to hide it. She throws a panel of corrugated steel wall at it and then swears in alarm when the mine perks up and takes a few steps on its tiny legs. By the time the metal clangs to the ground, though, the spider mine has locked itself back down, having dismissed the incoming material as non-threatening. “That was dumb,” Lilly mutters.