“I thought that big zerg said the mist had dispersed,” Lief complains as they head toward the factory through a gray cloud.
It turns out this is the smokey haze produced by the aflame structure. The group has no trouble tracking down the source. Lilly leads them stealthily towards it through shrubs and brush, following the creek. The cliff ahead is smeared with Jarban glider detritus, and the creature itself lies farther ahead like an enormous beached whale. The factory is akilter at the base of the cliff, actively on fire. Flames lick at both the top and the bottom. As they watch, a large communication dish mounted on the roof tries to start spinning, but it only gets a couple degrees before falling off its mounting.
“Ach, we’re going to have to fix that bloody factory!” Imogen groans.
“Or spoof the mayday signal,” Lilly suggests.
Imogen nods. They might be able to rip out some equipment and hook it up to Saffron. “Either way, we need to get into that control room and see what the situation is for sending messages to Jackson’s Revenge.”
“Okay,” Lilly agrees, proceeding straight up to the side of the factory where the drinking room is. She eyes the fires, trying to judge what it will take to put them out. The creek is a hundred meters away, so for that to help with the blazing undercarriage, she will have to fly this wreck a short distance. Pop-up factories like this one tend to be fully functional until they are suddenly not; even though it is a mess, she might be able to get it that far.
Imogen steps up next to Lilly, but her attention is less on the visible flames and more on what she can psionically sense. Blight has outed her; there is no longer any reason to be subtle about her abilities around this audience. “The woman in charge or that other fella you were in the shootout with is probably still alive in there,” she tells Lilly. “Somebody’s still in that room, at any rate.”
The exterior door to that chamber is closed, but that does not stop Lilly. At this point, she figures, the pirates inside have worse problems than her. She approaches the door, intending to grab it, but the incredible heat coming off the metal gives her pause. It looks pretty rickety, though, so she spins, giving it a solid kick. The door falls inward off its hinges. The room inside is hazy, but she can see that the reactor in the corner, where the Cold Fusion beer is stored, is still intact. That chill is probably partly why it is doing so well in these fiery conditions, but if the shielding around the reactor fails, they could be in some serious trouble of the explosion kind.
In the corner near the reactor, Naja is in a bloody heap on the floor. Kofi, similarly blood-splattered, is lying on the couch, also still. She shot both of them, and it looks like the crash was not gentle either. Lilly clicks her walkie-talkie on. “Two bogeys, not moving.”
“Ah, we’re right here,” Lief says from just behind Lilly.
She turns and sees Imogen and Aiden stepping through the ruined doorway into the room as well. “I’m going to the control room,” she tells her partner and then proceeds in that direction.
Imogen nods in acknowledgement and moves to check the bodies. Naja is definitely dead, but Kofi is breathing. Given the bruising around his head, he might have a concussion. The air in here is doing him no favors. “He’s still alive,” Imogen announces, trying to decide how to proceed.
“We should put him out of his misery, and the misery he causes others,” Aiden replies.
Imogen turns to her brother, who is taking ownership of Naja’s pistol. “We might still need one alive for some reason, so no. There might be codes or something. Lief, take this fella off the ship. Make sure he’s secure.”
“Aye, Coz. Turn the tables on them, we will.” Lief grabs Kofi under the arms, preparing to drag him away, but before he gets him off the couch, Aiden relieves their prisoner of his gun as well.
“Do you know how to use those?” Imogen asks him, now that he is armed with two pistols.
“Aye, I know a thing or two, I do. I suppose you know how to use what you’re carrying, too. I heard that in the Dominion, everyone has to carry a sidearm at all times.”
“It’s not quite that extreme,” she tells him, “but it’s a good idea.”