The Blind Jump crew is exploring a strange living alien installation on a dusty, Mars-like world. As they continue to explore, they come to a room filled with cells containing incubating biodrones. Six biodrones patrol the room. The crew decides not to risk that space and retraces their steps, heading in a different direction. They wend their way through a series of twisty corridors and come upon some biodrones spraying blue goo onto the walls. Whooey moves in, and the drones ignore him. He moves to the wall and samples the blue goo, and his container promptly dissolves. “Screw you and whatever this stuff is,” says Whooey.
The crew arrives at a large chamber with a giant rotating model of a DNA molecule in the center. A catwalk surrounds the model with a control console on one side. Shuhb heads for the console and finds the last coordinate fragment. He also finds a display of a portion of a DNA helix. Whooey finds a section of the helix where the base pairs are misaligned, and with some work, the crew manages to correct the pairs. A DNA fragment appears on the console, and the team records it and heads back to the ship. They head for the Tlaina system to resupply and acquire new equipment, figuring that the ship they now know how to locate will likely be the most dangerous yet.
Resupplied and ready, the crew heads for the completed coordinate set. As soon as they emerge, their goal is apparent – a massive starship, larger than anything they’ve ever seen. The Blind Jump orbits the ship as Binx fires up the scanners, and she quickly locates two jumpships in stealth mode. “That better not be those anti-matter missile guys,” mutters Shuhb. The ship itself shows power systems, and it seems to have two separate drive systems – a wormhole drive and something else. A docking bay is visible on one side.
“I’m a little concerned that there might be actual Founders here,” says Binx.
“If we check out the other ships, it might alert other prospectors,” suggests Lefty.
“We should at least see if they are recognizable,” says Binx. Miaulong brings the Blind Jump in close for visual scanning. One does resemble the ship the crew encountered before. The other is similar but from a different shipyard, and both are missing a landing pod. The crew detaches their own lander and closes in on the docking bay. Binx determines that there is a debris field near the docking bay, with some trace atmosphere – something happened recently. Inside the docking bay is one landing pod. Miaulong lands next to the unknown pod, and the crew immediately sees four racer drones patrolling the docking bay, armed with needle rifles. Miaulong sets the autopilot to return the lander to space, and the crew disembarks.
Whooey fires up his exploit software and attempts to hack the drones. The first drone he attempts to hack explodes. He attempts a second time as the rest of the crew readies their weapons. A second drone explodes. He continues, and this time he succeeds in seizing control of a drone. He downloads the drone’s memory and discovers that it belongs to the Group of Nine, an intersystem conglomerate consisting of political leaders from nine different species. The Group of Nine is focused on establishing galactic standards for things like power cells and control systems, so sponsoring a prospecting ship seems out of character. “Could be a crew gone rogue,” suggests Whooey. He transfers the controls on the drone to Miaulong, then tries to hack the last drone, which explodes. Turning his attention back to the surviving drone, he tries to determine the composition or location of the prospecting crew, but without success. Binx quickly camouflages Lefty’s drone to resemble the others,. The newly captured drone accompanies the Blind Jump crew as they proceed into the ship. Reaching a large room, they spot a sniper just as he fires at Whooey, knocking him back…