Saffron puts into port on Umoja the following morning with no administrative mishaps, though the passengers still look roughed-up. As Lilly guides the vessel in for a landing, Imogen calls Uncle Leo to let him know that they have returned. “We’ve dealt with the problem, but there were some complications,” she tells him without preamble.
“What do you mean you dealt with the problem? I just wanted you to check in on things. I’m thinking about hiring some mercenaries to—”
Imogen’s bark of laughter interrupts him. “I was about to say ‘save your credits, Uncle,’ but I have a few other suggestions for what you could do with them.” Saffron is beat up, Imogen and Lilly are beat up, even the frying pan laser is beat up. Uncle Leo demands to hear the whole story, and Imogen tells him it is not something to discuss over the line.
“Aye, aye. Come to the safehouse,” he tells her. “Can you at least tell me, are you okay?”
“No. No, I’m not,” Imogen replies. And that is all she says until they are on the planet, back inside Owen’s Door Exports. She is subdued, but Lief’s chipper demeanor has returned. He survived being shot and feels that a protoss sort of owes him. On the walk to the safehouse, he even urges Imogen to give him a call to come in for backup when Malorn’s next job is ready.
Uncle Leo is not alone of course. Various other relatives are with him, just as before, including Imogen’s parents. They are relieved to see her back, having been worried sick about her the past few days. Leo does not mince words, though. “You look like you’ve been beat up quite a bit, lass. Lasses.” Imogen has cleaned herself up some, but there is no hiding the scorch marks on her jacket of the holes the gauss flechettes left in it. One side of her face is covered with bruises from the explosion slamming her into a wall, while the other is tinged slightly green from vespene burns. “What happened to you?” Uncle Leo asks. “Did they pirates do this to you?”
“No, this is because of what we did to them,” Imogen says.
“You should have seen the other guys,” Lilly adds.
“There’s no need for you to hire any mercenaries. Jackson’s Revenge has been destroyed,” Imogen finishes.
“What do you mean it’s been destroyed? It’s a battlecruiser!”
“It’s a crashed battlecruiser crushed on the surface of Jarban Minor,” Imogen corrects him.
Leo’s voice is heavy with disbelief. “How did you crash a battlecruiser, lass?”
“I’ve learned a thing or two in the Dominion,” Imogen answers coyly. Lilly laughs. Crashing ships seems the default way Dominion pilots land them. Leo presses, and Imogen tells him, “The details of how this all worked out are neither here nor there, but they’re in no position to do anything concerning Owendohers again. So this matter is closed now.”
Leo looks at her closely. “Lass, what did you have to sell to get whatever help you got? I know your little ship did not crash that battle—”
“Aiden gave up his life for this.”
Ma and Da start bawling, and other relatives murmur somberly among themselves about how Aiden did not deserve such a fate. Uncle Leo regards Imogen for a moment and then says quietly to her, “Well, if he’s gone, he’d best stay that way.”
“He’s never coming back here,” Imogen assures him, in a low voice that none of the other relatives can hear.
“Well, the ship’s dealt with, then,” Leo says more loudly. He goes over to a safe mounted in the wall and opens it. “Now, I don’t make it common knowledge, but I do keep a life insurance policy on everyone in the family, just in case.” He gives Imogen five hundred credits as the next-of-kin, but the rest he holds onto. The family needs to get a new ship, after all. “Thank you for taking care of this. But you didn’t have to do that much, lass. We’re a family; we can stick together. Even if you are off doing your bit in the Dominion. But still, thank you, again.” Leo, the head of the enterprise, is already considering logistics. “We’ll have to have a funeral for him then. Probably tomorrow. Will you be around?”
“I can stay that long,” Imogen agrees.
“But are you feeling okay, then?” Leo asks again. “You look pretty beat up.”
Imogen sighs. “Honestly, Uncle, I was shot and blown up and thrown around ships and my brother is gone. So no, I’m not all right.”
“Aye, that’s understandable. It was quite a scrape he’d gotten into. We’ll all try to be a little more careful.”
“He wanted the family to know that he was sorry. That he got in over his head, and he knew it.”
“Aye, he found out the hard way. But he was trying something, at least; he wasn’t just staying on the sideline,” Uncle Leo comments. He does not condemn Aiden’s choices. “It didn’t work out for him. But I hope things turn around. That his memory lives on, shall we say?”
Uncle Leo extends Imogen and Lilly hospitality for the night. The next day is the funeral, a very somber affair. Lief is restrained, and Imogen’s parents are still in shock. Uncle Leo praises Aiden for his entrepreneurial spirit. He concludes by saying that unfortunately war comes to all shores, even here on Umoja, and Aiden is a victim of that. Listening quietly, Imogen finds the connection tenuous. Just because Aiden was an arms dealer, does not mean war is to blame for his loss; in fact, he has gone and signed up to fight in one.
After the ceremony, Leo approaches Imogen and Lilly with a business proposition. “Since we’re out a ship and there’s still a bit of a blockade, I was wondering if you could make a run for me.” Imogen is fine with that; Saffron has some space for cargo. “There are just some, uh, ‘general goods,’ shall we say? They need to get to some fringe world called Mar Sara.” Lilly watches Imogen and her uncle hash out terms, her partner claiming that Mar Sara is out of the way, while Leo tries to play the family card to get a better deal. Ultimately, though, they settle on a fee to be paid on delivery by the recipient, who Uncle Leo describes as, “A fella named Joseph Ray. He’s a local business executive in Mar Sara City. I think he runs most of the town, more or less.” Imogen has been suppressing a smirk since Joey’s name came up, but when her uncle finishes the description, she can no longer contain a laugh. “What’s so funny now?” Leo demands.
“Do you do your research, uncle?” Imogen asks back. “Or do you not know who you deal with?”
“Aye, I do! Joseph Ray.”
Imogen laughs again. “What are you sending him? Fresh vegetables?”
“Look, disclosing the contents is not part of the deal. You don’t get to know what’s in the package,” Leo tells her, all serious.
“If I’m taking a box to Joey, I damn well want to know what’s inside it,” Imogen insists.
“It’s for your own safety that you don’t, lass. The customer specifically requested minimal information sharing. Do you want this job or not?”
“I can see that there’s been ‘minimal information sharing’ going on if you think Joey runs that town.”
“Joseph Ray. Mr. Ray to you, I think,” Leo blusters. He continues on over the sound of his niece’s laughter, “You might think that running around in the Dominion has gotten you all kinds of status. It hasn’t! It’s just made you kind of dirty and nearly gotten you killed.”
“No, that was coming back to Umoja that did that,” Imogen counters.
“Look, make the delivery, collect the credits,” Leo grinds out.
“Aye, I can do that. It’s probably not really for Joey anyway. He’s probably just a middle man.”
“You will address him as Mr. Ray—”
“I’ll do no such thing. He’d laugh at me!”
Leo says he will have a few crates dropped off at their ship and reiterates that they are not to be opened. He provides no fake manifest for them, leaving it to Imogen and Lilly to make sure their ship does not get inspected. Given how unprofessional he considers Imogen to be behaving, he asks whether this is their first running job. Imogen insists that they have a lot of experience moving things around that they do not want others to see. “Ma and Da may have wanted to raise a couple upstanding citizens, but they didn’t succeed at that,” she says, an assessment her uncle agrees with. With the business handled, things get a little less adversarial, and Leo urges Imogen to take care of herself in the Dominion.
Her parents, on the other hand, beg her to stay. “Are you sure you don’t want to run the business here?” Da asks when she seeks them out for farewells. “You don’t have to go back to the Dominion. We’ve lost Aiden; we don’t want to lose you, too.”
“I’ve never been interested in your door industry. You know that,” Imogen reminds them both.
“It’s our business. Us. It’s the family business,” Ma insists. “And we’re not getting any younger.”
“Maybe you should talk to Lief,” Imogen suggests.
“Your cousin Lief?! I don’t know if he’s serious enough,” Ma says. ”He’s always getting one idea or another.”
“He’s grown up quite a bit in the last few days,” Imogen tells her parents. She talks him up a bit more, and they come around to the idea, promising to talk with him. Then, before she goes, they ask that she write them. “I will when you write me,” she counters.
“But you don’t have an address, lass!”
“You can have letters for me sent to Joey Ray’s bar on Mar Sara,” Imogen tells them. They are unaware of her earlier verbal fencing with Uncle Leo, of course, but she thinks it will be a nice topping for that, should he learn of this. Besides, given how much material Joey handles for Raynor, he should be able to hold a few pieces for her.
“Joey Ray… Joey Ray…” Da mutters, as though the name means something to him. “Oh! Mr. Ray. Yes, we’re sending him some excellent doors.”
They give Imogen a hug and shake Lilly’s hand, thanking her for keeping their daughter safe.