Six explorers, newly gifted with a wormhole prospecting ship, have boarded an installation of the ancient Founders, the vanished species that seeded the galaxy with wormhole exit nodes and enabled interstellar travel.
After exploring the installation for the better part of an hour, the prospectors encounter a pair of strange biomechanical beings standing near a large cylinder. The beings seem to sense the prospectors and begin moving towards them, claws extended. Binx raises her gauss needle rifle and sprays a burst of hypervelocity tungsten needles at one of the creatures, punching through its chest plate and dropping it to the ground. Miaulong leaps forward in her dragon-shaped power armor, opening her mouth to fire the attached lightning gun – which fizzles and fails. The remaining creature claws at Miaulong but cannot penetrate her armor. Behind him, the cylinder wall oozes apart and another creature emerges. “I think I know what happened to the last explorers,” comments Max. He projects an angry face on the front of his exosuit and yells, “Eat blades, space detritus!” Monomolecular swords extrude from his arms and he swings at the creature, shredding it easily.
Shuhb pulls needle pistols with two of his four arms and fires wildly, hitting nothing, while Hooey attempts to hack into the machine producing the creatures. Despite the incredible difficulty of hacking Founder technology, Hooey manages to gain access, only to be infected with a virus. Desperately, he self-destructs his cyber implant to prevent infecting the rest of the group. Miaulong charges in and strikes at the creature, but does not manage to get through its defenses, and another creature emerges from the cylinder. The newly-emerged creature bashes Miaulong into a wall, but his armor holds – but red lights start blinking frantically on the internal monitors. Lefty fires his raygun and melts a bit of one of the creatures’ chest plates. Binx fires at the cylinder, and as her needles hit, the cylinder walls melt and the entire machine collapses into a puddle on the floor.
“Sorry about your tech, friend,” says Max to Hooey, “but I fear this things are susceptible to a different kind of hacking.” He neatly slices one of the remaining creatures in two. “Get a shot of my good side!” Shuhb fires his needle pistols again, and this time one connects, dropping the last of the creatures.
Binx walks up to the remains of the cylinder and sighs, frustrated at its destruction. She scratches her feline ears and then grabs her tool kit from the team’s mule-droid, carving off the fingers from one of the creatures to improvise a set of specimen containers, then scooping up some of the remains of the cylinder into one of them. Her sampling complete, she turns to Miaulong and repairs her lightning gun.
The prospectors continue their journey into the installation, and discover more signs that someone has been there before them; wedged under some piping is a disassembly kit, which Binx adds to the mule-droid’s payload. Another twenty minutes finds them encountering another one of the creature-generating cylinders.
Binx and Shuhb peer around the corner at the machine. “Let’s disassemble it!” enthuses Shuhb.
“Is it on?” wonders Binx.
“I’ll find out,” says Hooey as he rushes up to the cylinder, prompting another creature to emerge.
“It’s my turn again,” shouts Max.
“I screwed something up,” says Hooey. “I don’t suppose we can talk about this?” he adds as he turns and runs away.
Lefty pops around the corner and fires his raygun. A red spot appears on the creature’s chest and it explodes violently. Shuhb fires one of his pistols at the feed tube for the cylinder – the needle punches through the tube, severing it neatly. The cylinder pulses for a moment, then explodes with a deafening roar. Lefty clutches his ears in pain.
The prospectors proceed towards the core of the station. As they approach the center, they spot a pair of turret-like protrusions on the walls. Max decides to try and sneak up on them, and moves stealthily up the corridor, but his efforts are in vain – the turrets erupt with pulse raygun fire, striking him repeatedly. One of the beams punches into his exosuit and although he twists aside inside the suit at the last minute, Max is still injured.
Shuhb runs up to Max. “I’m using you as cover!” he shouts. Drawing his pistols, he fires one, flips it in the air, fires the other, then catches the first and fires again. The third shot smacks a needle into the center of the turret and it sparks and shorts out. Hooey whips out his hand terminal and tries to hack the turret, but without success. Angered by his wound, Max charges the remaining turret and slashes it off the wall with his swords.
Moving to treat Max’s wounds, Shuhb realizes he did not bring any medical gear. Fortunately, Junker Binx is able to improvise some appropriate tools from the spare disassembly kit and the wreckage of the creatures. Shuhb pulls out a weird crab-looking creature, jams his proboscis into it, drains it of juices, and then tosses it aside. “All right, give me the tools now.” He manages to repair some of the damage to Max, but not all. Binx attempts to recover one of the rayguns from the turret, but it melts down in her hands as she removes it.
The group reaches a sealed airlock. Entering it, they observe a large fabrication chamber on the other side. The chamber is vented to space through several holes, created by a fabrication machine run amuck. The machine is firing lengths of rebar every three seconds at high speed in random directions. Binx watches the machine for a while and cannot identify any pattern. Hooey whips out his hand terminal again, and, fearing disaster, Miaolong tries to grab it. Unfortunately, he misses, but fortunately, Hooey’s hacking efforts are in vain. Shuhb shoves his proboscis in Hooey’s face. “Put it down,” he growls. Hooey stares for a minute then aggressively holsters his terminal.
“Tell me somebody recorded that,” chuckles Max. Miaulong, who is capturing everything on her SenseDrive and microbug, nods. Binx shakes her head at the pair of them, then pops open the airlock, sprints to the rebar machine, ducking at a near miss, and instantly cuts the power with her plasma torch, shutting the machine down. With the rebar no longer firing, the prospectors are able to head deeper into the station.
After another 20 minutes of exploration, they come across an area illuminated by brilliant light. Focused sunlight seems to be blocking the group’s path. Binx examines the area and finds some controls that block the sunlight with shields, clearing the path. As she moves on, she picks up a Founder raygun, tucking it away for future use. The prospectors are closing in on the station core now…