FRAWD Investigators: The Ambush | Scene 15

With all the other pieces in place, Imogen monitors Saffron’s sensors for the arrival of Neiman’s dropship. As she waits, she nervously replaits her braid. Finally, the cloaked vessel appears, fully visible to the science vessel’s advanced sensors, if not its optics. Imogen pays close attention to the readings when Neiman opens his ship and then closes it after he and Narud disembark. Any edge she can get for hacking her way in will be most welcome. Her task, while Malorn is stalling Neiman and Lilly is rescuing Narud, is to steal the equipment for communicating with Earth.

Before she can do that, though, she has a call to make. Imogen powers up Sheila to contact Aiden. Noisome gas belches from the zerg radio, but the call goes through. “Brother, he’s landed; he’s here now.”

“We’ll be right on our way,” Aiden tells her. Then, a note of concern in his voice, he adds, “Make sure to steer clear. We’re focused. We know we’ll be able to find him. But stay clear as much as you can.”

“Do you have enough control over your compatriots to not take out any other terrans?” Imogen asks.

“It’s not a matter of control, Sister,” Aiden replies, hackles raised by her scolding tone. “It’s just a matter of sheer numbers. We’re going to cover that entire island.”

Imogen suspected as much, and the confirmation makes her glad that all the settlers are safely away. “Just don’t eat anyone you don’t have to,” she says.

“I won’t,” Aiden assures her, deciding now is not the time to quibble about whether zerg eat their victims. “Stay safe, Sister,” he adds with a note of tenderness before she cuts the line.

With the zerg now truly, imminently on the way, Imogen books it to Neiman’s dropship. Breaking into the vessel is complicated by the fact that it is still cloaked. She knows exactly where it is from Saffron’s sensor readings, but once she is actually there, she has to operate by touch alone. Imogen is a bit envious of the fully functional cloak—so much better than the temporary one she slapped together with a glove and a vulture bike. Maybe if I have time while I’m aboard, I can swipe the unit, she thinks. Then all thought is temporarily knocked from her. Not because of a psionic defense on the ship, no, but because she has misjudged the location of the ramp and it cracks her in the head as it comes down.

Ears ringing and vision unsteady, Imogen swiftly slips aboard Neiman’s ship. Although it remains cloaked from the outside, once she sets foot on the ramp, she can see the interior. She hurriedly searches for Neiman’s communication device. Malorn is delaying the UED ghost, but there is no telling how long she has before his return, and her sense of time is warped by her recent injury. Fortunately, she soon finds what she is looking for, and it is not terribly bulky, just rather unwieldy. The antennae is the size of a spear, so it is certainly not going into her backpack.

With that sorted, Imogen begins poking around the reactor. The cloaking equipment draws a lot of power, so it probably is installed near there. With a wide grin, she finds what she is looking for and swiftly extracts it. Interfacing it with Saffron will not be simple, but neither was doing so with the ghost glove, and she got that to work. The science vessel is definitely going to need some power upgrades for this to be usable. Worst case scenario, she and Lilly can sell it. Maybe Egon would be interested.

Imogen is going to be heavily laden with just the communications equipment and the cloaking device, so stealing anything else is out of the question. Sabotage is not, though. Before she leaves, she takes a few moments to rip out a few other important looking components around the reactor. She cuts wires and also removes pieces that she suspects Neiman has no backup for. The last thing she does is try to access his computer, hoping to find anything that can help her craft a convincing message for Earth. Unfortunately, the keyboard aboard this UED ship is even more messed up than Dominion ones. With her pounding head and blurry vision, she cannot be bothered to fight with it. Imogen is a little disappointed, but all and all, she has a good haul already. 

And haul is the right word for it too. The materials she needs to get back to Saffron are awkward to carry, and she practically drags the antenna as she juggles it with the cloaking unit.