As a new day starts aboard Hyperion, Lilly is mildly surprised to find she does not have much of a hangover. Whatever Stetmann gave her was pretty effective. When she emerges from her room, she finds Imogen already up and about. “Were you out late drinking with Sally?” her partner asks.
“Uh-uh.” Lilly shakes her head. “I screwed up, Imogen.”
“What did you do?” The question is inquisitive, not accusatory.
Lilly lets out a sigh. “Durian broke up with me. I mucked it up so bad, Imogen. I called him while drunk! The second time, that is. I was going on about how I was going to go after Mengsk, like I’m some sort of card-carrying raider or something!”
Imogen’s eyebrows shoot up. “You told Durian that you were going to go after Mengsk?”
“Yeah, I think I did. I was really drunk.”
Imogen is at a loss for words for a moment. Her eyes dart up to the shelf above the science station, but the Umojan whiskey was safe from Lilly last night since Imogen hid it after the last drunken debacle. “I didn’t think Durian would take our activities very well, but I’m sorry to hear this… Are you doing okay?”
Lilly waves away the question. “What’s our next job?” she asks, not wanting to dwell on her sad situation.
“Well, there are certainly a few things you can do for me before we leave here, if it would help you to have something to keep you occupied. The next job is the same job we were already started on: getting Neiman.”
“I forgot about that guy,” Lilly admits.
“He’s probably forgotten about us,” Imogen says. After a moment’s thought she adds, “Although we did cost him a laboratory.” He cannot have been happy about how things ended on Chau Sara. “Let me lay it out for you, Lilly.” While Lilly was drunkenly breaking up with her boyfriend last night, Imogen was formulating a plan to save the sector. Most of the details will be new to her partner, so Imogen explains everything.
The ensuing torrent of words flows over Lilly, but not much sticks. Something about turning Neiman over to the Queen of Blades… okay, yeah, that sounds vaguely familiar. But then Imogen goes on about how Neiman’s death will not solve the problem of Earth wanting to take over the sector. No, that is a problem that Imogen says she and Lilly need to take care of themselves. She wants to steal some comms tech from Neiman and find some way to power it. This has something to do with some scientist and some sort of artifact. Where does Mengsk fit into all this? Lilly wonders sourly. He’s cost me my boyfriend, so I might as well follow through.
“Based on what Rory said about the Xel’naga artifact causing power fluctuations on Hyperion, I think that what Neiman needs a Xel’naga artifact for is to power his communications device—just like an enormous moebius reactor—so that he can psionically trigger it to reach back to Earth. When the Swarm comes in to get Neiman, we need to already have that equipment. We need to be able to place that call to Earth instead of him. I need to place that call to Earth.”
Lilly tunes back in. “You want to hack some Xel’naga thing?”
That is not how Imogen would have phrased it, but she nods. “We are also going to have to break into the Moebius Foundation to access the artifact so I can use it to power the communication device.”
“Okay,” Lilly says, expecting that to be the end.
“So what do we need to make all this work?” Imogen asks rhetorically as she steps over to the science station, where a whiteboard is mounted on the wall. “We need—”
“Possibly,” Imogen acknowledges. She jots down the other requirements. For starters, they need a planet that could realistically be expected to have a Xel’naga device on it. That is the information they will feed to Narud through the transmitter Imogen recovered from his cell in Ten Tines Prison. Narud’s message indicated he would be able to get Neiman there. The planet also needs to not currently have a zerg presence or a terran population. Imogen assigns the task of identifying such a planet to Lilly, who is well-traveled throughout the sector. “Maybe you can call our good friend Malorn for his perspective on where Xel’naga stuff might be. Once you determine a good planet, I can tell Aiden where the Queen will find Neiman.”
Next bullet point. “But! We also need to make sure that we can get Narud out of there.” At Lilly’s confused look, Imogen reminds her, “Neiman has Narud captive, and I don’t trust the Swarm to be careful.” She does not want any unnecessary casualties from this operation. The third bullet point is recovering Neiman’s equipment so that the Swarm does not destroy it in the process of destroying him.
“So… pick a planet, hack the Xel’naga, recover equipment, and rescue Nimrod?”
Imogen changes her bullet points to numbers so that the order is clearer to Lilly and throws on a couple more. Four: gain access to a Xel’naga artifact themselves. Five: send a convincing message to Earth so that the UED never wants to come to the Koprulu Sector again.
“I’ll work on the planet,” Lilly agrees. “Who’s this, uh, Narud?”
“He was a prisoner at Ten Tines,” Imogen explains. “We’ve never met him. Neiman nabbed him before we got there. But he’s the one who left us the message in the holographic projector. Didn’t you wonder where I had got that from? Anyway, if you’re happy to pick a planet, I’ll go talk to Egon. I’ve got to spend some time looking over the Xel’naga device that Jimmy’s crew has put together.” And she leaves to do just that.