FRAWD Investigators: The Ambush | Scene 4

Imogen’s thoughts are interrupted by a tap on her shoulder. “Uh, are you okay?” Egon asks. “I mean, you didn’t pass out, so that’s an improvement from last time, right?”

“Well, you haven’t passed out either, so I guess that means your experiment is going pretty well,” Imogen counters, turning around. A haze hangs along the ceiling now, glowing an eerie blue thanks to the Xel’naga artifact, but whatever Egon was working on is currently on hold. He gushes on for a bit about meshing a few genes recovered from zerg DNA fragments with neo-steel to make regenerative bio-steel. He is very emphatic about never doing such a thing to a person, but he has no qualms about using metal in his experiments. 

Imogen hops over the railing and puts a hand on Egon’s arm, guiding him along with her over to his computer. “I need you to access whatever files you have about the Xel’naga, and I need to know everything you know about the Moebius Foundation,” she tells him.

Egon claps his hands with excitement. “What kind of research are you doing?” He logs in without a second thought, swiftly pulling up his notes. The Xel’naga device has been totally inscrutable to him. “It seems to be stone-like, and yet it conducts electricity,” he marvels. He then goes on to list various other physical features, such as its dimensions and weight. The repulsor field is required to keep its several tons off of the deck. When the crew was recovering the pieces out in the wild, they had to use cranes to move them. “I have a few ideas on how to release its energy, but it is locked somehow,” he shares. 

Before Imogen can comment on that, Egon supplies her with information on the energy signal that the pieces of the artifact emitted, which helped the raiders track them down, and how that contrasts with what it is now emitting, fully assembled. That catches Imogen’s interest. Being able to simulate that could help her and Lilly lure Neiman to a more precise location. Although Egon’s interests lie more with detection than spoofing, he is only too happy to share copies of his sensor readings with her. “And you wanted to know about Moebius?” he finally asks.

“Aye. You’re doing this job for them,” she says, gesturing at the artifact filling the middle of the room. “Do they make moebius reactors? Are they somehow connected to that?”

“Yeah, they’re the company that makes those. I don’t know much else about them, other than that they’re willing to deal with us and most people aren’t. They’re some kind of tech company, but I don’t work there, so they can’t be that good.” Egon does not think he has any of their publications, since belonging to scientific subscription services is a little tricky for a rebel organization. And that is not even taking into account the extra funding he would have to fight for to cover the fees. “So, yeah, unfortunately I don’t know that much about them, other than that they’re not very old.”

“Who hooked you up with this job?” Imogen asks. “Was it something Jimmy arranged, or did someone approach you?” 

Egon is uncertain, but he thinks the Moebius Foundation came to the raiders. That is not of much interest to him, though. He is eager to hear about whatever project Imogen is working on related to all this. “Is your Lost & Found company also doing scientific research? You’re searching for more of these, right?” he asks, looking over at the artifact.

Imogen gazes at it, herself. “I’ve got to tell you, having something like this on hand—that you don’t just have to turn over to someone who hired you—could be very useful.”

“Yeah,” Egon agrees with a sigh. “That’s why they pay you the credits, though.”

“But if there are more things like this out there… you could do a lot of good with this much power.”

Egon presses his lips together and tilts his head. “Well, you could do a lot of things if you could control it. I haven’t had much luck with that.”

“No, I imagine you wouldn’t,” Imogen says under her breath.

Her companion hears her, but knowing her secret, he does not take it as an insult of his scientific acumen. “Wait, wait! Can you connect to it, and maybe I can take some readings? Oh, here, let me just…” He pulls out some electrodes to attach to her forehead.

Egon may be a bit flighty at times, but he has never betrayed Imogen’s trust; she consents to some experiments. All she asks in exchange is a guest account on his computer system to conduct her own literature searches of whatever is already in his database. When all is said and done, Egon has new readings to study, Imogen has suction cup circles on her forehead, and they both know a little more about the Moebius Foundation, since as it turns out, he did have some memos.

The company was founded three years ago, somewhat after the end of the Confederacy. Scientists who were influential under the former regime—but who escaped Dominion purges—make up its core staff. They were prominent in academia or the corporate sector, but not necessarily politically active. The foundation has no established headquarters. Rather, the raiders will deliver the artifact to a receiving party on Dead Man’s Rock. Imogen is not terribly fond of that planet, but it is easier to work with than breaking into a secure science facility would be. Maybe we can hijack the transport ship, she considers. I just need to use the device, I don’t need to steal it.

Egon looks over his readings, scratching his head. “So you need a psionically active person to puzzle around inside there and get it going,” he concludes.

“Aye, it’s like a siphon,” Imogen tells him.

“There’s almost no energy in here, though. It’s not a battery?”

“Oh, no, not at all. There’s some other… place… that the energy comes from.”

“What do you mean, some other place?”

“I don’t really know,” Imogen replies haltingly, trying to put the sensations and concepts from her earlier vision into words. “I can’t really articulate it.”

“But then how do you know, if you don’t know?!” Egon demands.

Imogen sighs. “If you’ve never been to the other side of a bridge, you still know something is holding up that end,” she points out. “This is a bridge.”

“It doesn’t look like a bridge,” Egon counters. “Not on these charts,” he adds, gesturing at his readings.

“You don’t have the eyes to see it.”

“I’m using all the eyes I have!”

“You don’t have the right ones,” Imogen tells him gently. “This is like a retractable bridge and a psionic person needs to be the one to lower the drawbridge.”

“Oh, it’s like a gene lock,” Egon realizes, finally finding an analogy that works for him.

“Aye, but it’s a psionic lock.”

“Ah, bother. I suppose it’s just as well,” Egon says with disappointment. 

“You weren’t going to be allowed to keep the artifact anyway,” Imogen tries to console him.

“No, but that just gives me the drive to extract as much information as I can from it before we hand it over. I had been hoping Moebius would ask us to do something with it, but we’ll see.”

Oh, I intend to do something with it, Imogen thinks. But the scope of that is not something she will trust Egon with at this point.