Back at their apartment, Imogen checks her email and sees an ad from the War Pigs. “Having trouble in the neighborhood? Call the War Pigs. Sometimes non-violent!” She files it away. Hopefully they will not be flooding her inbox from this point on. She starts laying out spare gun parts on the coffee table in the small living room. While they were out earlier, she picked up some materials to fix her pistol, which has been making a weird clicking noise ever since Sam Aran “cleansed” it of creep with his flames.
Lilly checks her messages and finds that Big Daddy Browder’s Gas & Guns has sent her an offer for five credits off a knife. “Hey, Imogen,” she calls as she comes back out of her room, “you need a knife? I’ve got a coupon.”
“Uh… I don’t have a knife. Do you think I need to carry one?”
“Yeah. Everyone needs a knife.”
“Sure, uh, all right… we can pick one up tomorrow. You know, I probably will need it to cut off pieces of dead zerg, anyway.” Imogen turns back to her gun and begins taking it apart. She does not notice Lilly slip out.
Imogen spends the rest of the afternoon working on her gun. After she reassembles it, she finds that the pistol still makes a clicking noise. With a sigh, she starts putting away the materials when she is interrupted by an incoming video call, which her phone is able to redirect to the living room television. The blurry screen shows a young white man with wild hair and large yellow safety glasses. As the picture resolves a bit more, his attention is not fully forward; he is leaning away, fiddling with something off-camera. “Hang on, is this thing working?” The image remains a little fuzzy as he looks up. “Oh! Hey! You’re, uh, Imogen, right?” She nods. “Wow. Right! You had some sort of interest in terrazine gas?”
“Joe told me you had some experience with it.”
“Ugh. Experience is right. It didn’t do anything good for me. Not a good time, not a good time.” Sparks fly from a device in his hand that he keeps adjusting as he repeats all the standard warnings that Imogen heard on Mar Sara: terrazine messes people up and is addictive, and she should stay away from it.
“Those are all the same things Joe told me,” Imogen complains. This Egon is clearly a technician or scientist of some sort, given the lab coat and goggles, as well as the glass tubes with unidentifiable substances behind him. “Tell me something that someone with firsthand experience would know. Surely someone with your skills can provide a bit more information on just what exactly this chemical does to a person.”
“All right… It’s for your own protection… Chemically, the terrazine molecules bond with certain brain cells in your head. The high is literally a feeling. It doesn’t go into your bloodstream and cause something that makes you high. It is literally in your head. You really need to be careful if you are out there in the field. If you’re in a regular vespene refinery, it’s not a big problem if you see puffs of green. But one that is laced with a significant concentration of terrazine will have more of a purple haze to it, though it will smell just as bad. It’s highly valuable to people doing vespene refining. Some people say you can get a high from just contact in that situation, without heavy refining, but again… you should not use it. It is highly addictive.”
Imogen does not care about some kind of chemical high. “Are you talking about just some euphoric effect here or does it actually expand the senses in some way for terrans?” she asks.
“I felt like I could see into the future; I definitely couldn’t. I ended up just hitting my head into a wall because I was not paying attention. For terrans…” he draws the word out, seeming to search for something he feels comfortable sharing. “Let me tell you about the protoss. It’s supposedly more common on protoss worlds, and I’ve heard of at least one sect that uses it in religious rituals of some kind. It’s extremely important to them. Terrazine is ingested somewhat more commonly among them.”
Imogen can tell Egon is holding information back. She needs to give a little up if she is going to get anything actionable from him. “I’ve seen a protoss saturated in this chemical, and he was throwing around lightning bolts. Another protoss there, who clearly disapproved of his high companion, indicated that use by terrans was not going to do the same thing. But it seemed like for the protoss, it definitely expanded the extent of his powers. Do you know of any instances of terrazine doing this on terrans? Even if it’s not you, yourself.”
“All right…” he sighs, then his eyes dart down to a flashing light on the device in front of him, and he picks up the pace, speaking fast. “I’ve got time to just answer this one last question. I did not realize you would be on Korhal for this call. It’s taxing my security system a bit here. But… yes. I have heard that both the Dominion and the old Confederate ghost programs used it. They are some sort of psionically-capable terrans that the military recruits to be assassins. Some of them use terrazine to augment their powers in some way. But I heard that the program was abandoned because of the adverse effects. It made the ghosts less controllable. But maybe that was only a problem for the secret hit squads. I’ve also heard that even among non-psionically-gifted terrans, terrazine supposedly can be used to help recover lost memories, particularly those that have been deliberately buried in some way. But again… bad side effects, loss of control…”
Imogen tries to slip in one last question. If terrazine is so dangerous, maybe there is a safer avenue she can explore that can produce her desired results. “Do you know anything about jorium in this context?”
“Look, I’m—they’re tracing the call. I’ve gotta go really quick, here.”
“Please.” Imogen smiles ingratiatingly at him. “Who knows when I will have another opportunity to talk to such a knowledgeable scientist?”
“Jorium crystals… okay,” Egon says, words tumbling out of his mouth. “They’ve been reported to provide a related effect. Or somehow you can combine it with terrazine maybe. I never experimented with jorium, though. It’s a lot harder to make it into a deliverable medium, whereas with a gas, it’s easy to breathe it in. Just make sure that you don’t—” The video call shuts off.
Seems like a good time to take a walk, Imogen thinks. She does not know if Egon’s security system shut the call down because it was almost traced, or if his enemies (the Dominion itself?) interrupted the connection. Either way, she would rather not be here if someone is about to come kick down her door. She certainly was not providing any security from her side, since nothing she was doing was illegal. But clearly Joey Ray wanted vespene for some shady activities, and he was passing it on to Egon to work on. She had thought she would be talking to some sort of underworld scientist, but she had not expected the level of caution she witnessed. Who is this Egon fellow that it is not safe for him to call Korhal for even fifteen minutes? Interesting. Well, she needs to replenish her gun repair supplies anyway, so she might as well go pick those up now.