After exploring a sacred Founder site on the water world of Tlaina, the crew of the Blind Jump return to their ship, only to find four armed Tlainax describing themselves as “Claim Jumpers” barring their path. The Claim Jumper fandom is a dark-grid group known for stealing ships and secrets from prospectors, so the crew immediately recognizes the threat.
“Yeah, we’re going to be taking your ship,” says one of the Tlainax.
“You can have it when you take it from us… um, you can’t have it!” replies Whooey.
Max extends a cyberblade. “I’m glad you showed up! It’s going to be so much fun to beat your a**es.”
Two of the Tlainax look nervous, but the apparent leader hefts his weapon and says, “All right, hand over the relics.”
Shuhb draws two gauss needlers and two microwave rayguns and fires at the Tlainax. All four shots strike home. The two Claim Jumpers hit by the microwave rayguns both turn and run, screaming shrilly. The two needle shots both hit, but only graze the Tlainax. Miaulong blasts the apparent leader with the lightning gun, blasting a 10 centimeter hole through his armor and torso. Whooey pulls his own microwave raygun and fires wildly, missing completely.
Max charges in and stabs with his cyberblades, knocking the last Claim Jumper back. Lefty pulls two Founder rayguns and fires, dropping the last of the opponents. “Well, that was easy,” says Max. Shuhb sees a grav flier headed away at high speed, and assumes that it was the Claim Jumpers’ ride. The crew collects up the weapons dropped by the Claim Jumpers and boards the Blind Jump.
After a brief debate, the crew selects a new set of coordinates and makes the blind jump to a new solar system. The new system has a few small rocky planets and some ringed gas giants, and no obvious signs of Founder activity. Whooey and Binx hop on the sensors and begin sweeping the system for any signs of technology. It takes a few days of scanning, but Binx picks up a strange electromagnetic signature on a moon of the innermost gas giant. Binx traces the signal to a specific location on the barren, rocky surface. The signal resembles a combination of a malfunctioning power generator and a gravity generator, but doesn’t really match either, or anything else the crew has encountered before.
The crew detaches the bow section and heads down to the moon, looking carefully for the source of the signal. As they cruise slowly over the surface, a fissure appears, gaping open like an enormous set of jaws. Inside is a huge space, easily capable of holding several ships the size of the Blind Jump, and lit with a pulsing green glow. “Oh, hello, creepy moon mouth,” says Whooey. “It might be dangerous, let’s go!”
Miaulong lands the ship, and the maw closes overhead. The closed space fills up with an ammonia-based atmosphere, necessitating environment suits. As the crew begins to explore, they quickly realize that this installation is different from other Founder sites they have visited. The walls are rounded and asymmetrical; strange lights appear and disappear within the wall material; the floors have a strange rippling texture. As they explore, the crew realize they have been exposed to radiation, as some of them exhibit mild symptoms of radiation sickness. “Yeah, we’ve been bombarded by some high energy particles,” drawls Shuhb.
“You got a pill for that?” asks Max.’
“At least the scanset says we’re good here – radiation levels are normal,” puts in Binx, and the crew moves on. As they enter a long stretch of corridor, a strange orb descends from the ceiling and fires a stream of phosporescent orange goo at the crew. Except for Binx, who was trailing behind, all of the crew are entangled as the goo polymerizes. Miaulong fires his lightning gun, striking the orb but not doing any apparent damage. Lefty fires his rayguns wildly, managing to hit the orb again, but not damaging it. Shuhb pulls the auto-needler he acquired from the Claim Jumpers and sprays fire at the ceiling, punching a hole in the orb that begins to leak orange fluid.
Max bursts out of the goo in a combat roll, readying his weapons. Whooey struggles against the goo but cannot break free. The orb fires an energy blast at the crew but misses. Miaulong returns fire with the lightning cannon but misses as well. Lefty continues to blast at the orb with his rayguns, but cannot seem to connect. Binx unslings her needle assault rifle and fires a burst at the orb, shattering it in a burst of goo and sparks. As soon as the sparks stop, Binx examines the ceiling carefully to try to spot any sign of where an orb might emerge again, but without success. Whooey samples some of the orange goo to see if the crew could synthesize it later.
After another two hours of exploring, the crew reaches a large, empty chamber. As they take their first few steps into the chamber, their weight abruptly doubles. Thinking quickly, the group heads towards one of the exits. As they do, the gravity changes again, this time dropping down to normal but also reversing direction. Max manages to activate his grav boots in time, but the rest crash into the ceiling in a messy pile. Picking themselves up, they run for the exit, but fail to reach it before the gravity shifts again, returning to the normal orientation but dropping to a mere .3 g. The crew falls back to the floor, but the low gravity means they can land more gracefully. Max and Binx make it out of the room before gravity shifts again, but the rest don’t quite reach the exit before gravity shifts yet again, this time to zero, leaving them floating in midair. Gravity shifts once more, oriented towards the ceiling, allowing the crew to escape the room. “It’s like a really morbid game of Pong,” muses Binx as the crew heads further into the installation.