Gale plotted the most direct course to the outskirts of the Frontier and the two ships made their way there at best speed (which is to say the Calypso’s speed, as the slowest ship). It was decided that, since the Hephaestus was short a shuttle anyway, they would hide the powered armor in the shuttle bay and disguise it as a shuttle needing repair. A few days out from the Frontier they picked up comms chatter indicating that Commodore Rainier and the Alliance were still in control of the area so both ships flipped transponders and tidied things up.
They were hailed as they pulled into the Highgate perimeter by a picket of gunships. Both ships were boarded, and the commanding officer, a Lt Whitton, along with his marine escort and Ensign customs officer, went over the ship in great detail, taking over two hours to complete the inspection, including asking a great many questions about the infirmary and the very odd cargo. In the end, both ships were cleared and passed on through to Highgate with no further incident.
Given it had been a month since the crew had had any shore leave, and half the crew was stir crazy, both ships set down on Highgate for R&R and refueling. Carl went hunting for bounties and other ships to fly with. Mikki, Grace and Hawke went into town to play. Brian, Abigail and Trevor went scrounging for electronics, both for more drones and for Valis upgrades. Conner and the Captain went out to dinner, with Gale in tow. Hart went to the Abbey. The rest went out on general wining and dining to stretch their legs and enjoy the planet. Only Hyacinth, Ivy, and Valis remained behind to watch the ship.
Carl easily found a new berth, so he packed his gear, quietly said good bye to the ship, and took his leave to find his fortune elsewhere. Hawke ended up in a port tavern where someone impugned the honor of someone else and a fight broke out. The Captain received a comm from Ivy that the local magistrate contacted her about a disturbance. The Captain finished her dinner and, with Conner and Gale trailing behind her, went to the courthouse to ascertain the damage. Adding up all the damage, injuries, and fines, the total amount needed to get Hawke released was 20,000 credits. The rest of the crew trickled in over the rest of the day and evening and the ship took off again for the black the following morning, with the engineering group and Valis diligently building more drones.
As they got near, Ivy hatted up again and the ship was easily found along the same course they’d last left it. They queried the drone control and found that all of the drones had been unsurprisingly destroyed and that they’d managed to get close to 5% of the interior mapped out. They downloaded all of the mapping data and footage from the drone controller, grouped up in the lounge, and went over it.
From the large hydroponics area (with the hole), there was a shaft heading aft towards the egg chamber. Along the sides of this shaft were many conduits that ran into the bowels of the ship, obviously air/moisture/water/nutrient distribution pipes. Many of them linked up with a pair of shafts that seemed to run the length of the ship on the dorsal and ventral parts of the ship. These ended in iris doors at the wall fore of the hydroponics area and aft of the egg chamber. Around the egg chamber were smaller chambers containing 1,000’s of tanks and smaller containers, each with lights on them, the vast majority of which were green, though some were amber and a small few were off. In the dorsal and ventral shafts there were rooms interspersed along the length with large walls of lights that seemed to correspond to the tanks and containers, as their lights matched the lights elsewhere. Additionally, on closer inspection, the iris doors had light panels on them as well, with lights on them that were amber or green.
Remote controlling the drones, Grace dispatched one to the drone room. Exploring it in further detail, she had the drone try to touch one of the lit buttons, but the button did not depress or change its status. They redeployed the drones and the wireless/line of sight systems so they could continue exploring the interior of the hulk.