Debris from the battle spinning off into the asteroid belt the Hesperus hails the crew.
"Perhaps this is not the place to introduce ourselves. We are sending you coordinates where we can meet and properly acquaint ourselves." Coordinates arrive and the Hesperus quicky exits the area.
Strig sets course for the coordinates and initiates transit. Both ships arrive far outside the Pact Worlds in otherwise empty space.
As the ships settle into normal space, the Hesperus suddenly targets the crew with all weapon systems. Captain Amuru hails the crew again, "As you have both the frequencies and the counter signs you are either a spy or legitimate. Your ship configuration would indicate spy. So, speak quickly, who exactly are you?"
Kallie'Dar introduces herself to the captain and verifies her identity. Asserting her authority, Kallie'Dar demands a meeting with the captain and a proper introduction to the last vestige of House Gallion.
A few tense moments go by, finally Captain Amuru agrees to receive the Heiress and her... entourage.
A shuttle arrives to transport the crew. Zopa and Strig remain on board the ship, just in case.
Visually, the Drow cruiser is an intimidating, blade shaped ship. Its faceted hull bristles with turrets and torpedo launchers. The pitch-black hull seems to absorb light causing the silhouette to shift subtly to the naked eye. The shuttle docks in an upper bay. After the bay doors seal the captain and a contingent of Drow soldiers greet the crew as they disembark. Captain Amuru bows to Kallie'Dar as etiquette dictates. She is obviously not happy to see the last heir to House Gallion on her ship.
"What is your operational status" demands Kallie'Dar.
More baring her teeth than smiling the Captain says, "All systems are operational. Following the loss of communication from Apostae we had to eliminate a small number of imposters; reptoids." motioning to the nearby lift and taking the lead, "Following that we initiated blackout protocols to keep our research and assets secure from discovery." Everyone boards the lift.
The lift opens and everyone steps onto the command deck. Amuru proceeds toward what appears to be a ready room. Personnel on the command deck are all watching Kallie'Dar with special interest.
Turning to face Kallie'Dar as the door closes, the captain cuts to the point, "What are your plans for our vessel now Mistress? The contacts we still have on Apostae indicated the purge was quite thorough. The last report on you was at a dead end sector in the Vast. We settled into a routine of pirating supplies and even considered opening negotiations with the Pirate Lords for proper territory in the Diaspora."
Kallie'Dar indicates her interest in the projects currently under research and relocating the ship further away from the hostile forces hunting the Hesperus. In addition, she has no interest in commanding the ship directly but would expect the crew's loyalty in return for expanded opportunities.
Amuru seems pleased by Kallie'Dar's disinterest in assuming command of the ship. Her attitude lightens.
"Of course, Mistress, our current compliment of research is at your disposal." The captain summons her Chief Mate Xin Drev, a "not-quite-drow" male, and assigns him to escort Mistress Gallion and her servants to the research labs for a full briefing as she desires.
The crew spends the next few hours receiving briefings on various research projects. Fields of study include personal augmentations, personal weapon tech, personal armor, multi-operator combat mechs and specialty starship systems. Much of the research is fairly standard with a few promising theories that could bear innovation.
Minds numbed by the technical briefings; the crew returns to the ready room to discuss options with the captain. Kallie'Dar tells Amuru that she wants the Hesperus to relocate to the Ki Nebula sector to avoid the forces hunting them.
"While it would be good to finally be free of the immediate threat, what of retaliation for the attack on our House?" Amuru, obviously a soldier first. "Our contacts on Apostae indicate significant activity in the Gallion estate and a sense of something much larger coming."
Kallie'Dar confers with the crew and the following directives are presented.
The scope of the plan set, Amuru finds the terms agreeable. The Ki Nebula now has a starship full of drow troops lurking in the gloomy corners. Kallie'Dar provides the Captain with comm frequencies for Nelari as a beginning contact in the area.
After the crew takes time to decompress, a message from Nelari indicates the materials have been refined and repackaged for delivery. Their contact in the Combine is eager to receive the materials. The crew lands at the terminal and the refined materials are loaded.
Independent reports from the Combine indicate that civil unrest is building in the lower-class zones of the various Arcologies. Official news sources are still reporting how wonderful it is to live in the Arcologies and touting all the improvements to the mid and upper-class zones.
The crew are provided with coordinates just outside the sensor range of the Combine primary solar system. Once they arrive it will require conventional thrusters to enter sensor range and coast into the atmosphere near the irradiated wastes of the southern pole landing at a settlement named Prism. The planet is otherwise studded with gleaming Arcologies, domed mega cities ruled by families of generational aristocracies. Wealthy and nearly immortal thanks to their access to cutting-edge technology to purify not only their blood but also to repair their genes avoiding any mutations due to exposure to the planet or cosmic rays that penetrate the thin atmosphere and gleaming domes of the Arcologies.
On landing, the crew are greeted by some very rough looking humans exhibiting extensive exposure to the radiation and vicious dust storms rolling across the exposed, irradiated wastes of the planet. The contact meets with the crew in one of the more stable structures in the settlement. He introduces himself as Pyre. He is better equipped and cleaner than his cohorts. He begins by offering less than half the street value "for their time and trouble."
After a brief negotiation the materials are delivered for a significant sum of credits. Payment is in hard currency. Drax notices the currency appears to be similar to another he has seen before. (Season1, Episode 5, "A Dark Twist")
Following the negotiations, the crew make small talk while the cargo is unloaded.
"Fascinating ship you arrived in, where does one find something like that?" The look in his eye shows a bit more than simple curiosity.
During the small talk, Glack senses something about Pyre isn't quite right. Outwardly, he presents himself as cordial and quite chatty. On a more subtle level, there's a disconnect between his words and thoughts. Some kind of delay. Almost like he is a puppet.
Glack alerts the crew telepathically and they all start idly scanning the room for signs of a trap while Kallie'Dar keeps Pyre talking. When no traps materialize, they are left with more questions.
After a few moments Pyre receives a message from his crew that the cargo has successfully been off loaded and they are departing for delivery.
"It seems our business is concluded. Safe journeys back to your nebula. I have a great deal of work ahead. Thank you for your assistance." Pyre says as he rises and exits the building.
Strig lifts off and pilots the ship into orbit.
During pre-flight checks Zopa reports a strange sensor reading recorded by the ship while they were meeting Pyre. The ship detected familiar signal communication in or near many of the Arcologies. It seems the Dominion are present and operating on the planet, specifically, the Mi-Go.
The crew decides their options are limited to death or destruction; not in their favor. If they decide to take action against the Mi-Go with no other evidence the Attien Combine would likely bring the weight of their planetary defenses to bear against them. Whatever the Mi-Go have planned is a problem for another day.
The crew returns to the Terminal.
On returning to the Terminal the crew assesses their operations in the sector. It is determined that the bounty placed on them by the Eclipse Syndicate from the Confederacy needs addressed before it gets 'out of hand'.
Bosho contacts the bounty hunter's guild and inquires where the bounty is to be claimed. Apparently, the broker handling the payout is located on the dromite home world of Triro. Strig sets coordinates and transits to Confederate space near the planet. After getting clearance for landing, they enter the thin, heated atmosphere of the planet and dock on one of the massive towers built by the dromite engineers as ventilation and above ground service centers.
A quick reference for the location of the bounty broker and they descend into the subterranean mega plex. They reach the storefront of a curiosity shop tucked back into an empty corridor. On entering it appears that the shop hasn't seen any real traffic for some time. Dust and grit layer every shelf. The figure behind the counter is definitely not dromite. Short in stature, dusky gray skin-tone, long pointed ears and a significantly sized nose with a set of spectacles perched precariously near the end indicates some sort of gnome. The proprietor turns and considers the crew squinting over the glasses before addressing them.
"You appear lost. This is not an information center." she says apparently perturbed at their disturbance of the shop's quiet.
Glack approaches the owner and indicates the purpose of their visit, "We seek to open discussions regarding the dissolution of the contract placed on our lives."
Even more confused the gnome scoffs, "That's not how it works, not at all. The Cartel won't be pleased you know. Well established rules and protocols are in place for a reason you know. You will, of course, have to present your case to the Tribune to invoke the right of Arbitration." grumbling and muttering the gnome produces a data crystal and an address not far from this location.
"Present yourselves at the designated location to plead your case. Only then can an Arbiter be assigned to negotiate with the issuer of your contract." The shop owner then shoos the crew out of her shop, "You're scaring away my customers, off with you." They emerge from the empty shop back into the empty side passage and head toward the tribune.
Arriving at the designated coordinates the crew are greeted with what appears to be a loosely guarded tavern. The guards consider them for a moment before demanding identity and the purpose of their visit. Once the terms are explained they are shown into the common area of the structure where a number of rough looking types are drinking, conversing and carousing. All eyes turn to consider the crew as they enter. Halfway through the room everyone returns to their previous activity.
The crew are shown into what can only be described as a waiting room. "That door will open when they are ready for you." indicating a stone slab door on the opposite wall. "Good luck."
A few minutes pass and the door slides open. Bright light streams through the door obscuring the room beyond. As they enter, the chamber appears to be some sort of counsel room with three elevated seats occupied by three individuals.
"You wish to invoke the right of Arbitration. State your case." the central figure says.
Glack then presents a case for cancelling the contract placed by the Eclipse Syndicate for frivolous damages cause by circumstances uncontrolled by the crew.
After hearing the case presented and reviewing the standing contract the Tribunal agrees to assign an arbiter to observe while the crew negotiates in good faith with the Syndicate to rescind the contract.
A figure approaches from the other side of the room. A grizzled duergar in heavy armor presents himself. "Let's get this over with, I have more pressing duties than babysitting outsiders."
The crew returns to their ship, the Arbiter provides coordinates for the Syndicate's base of operation.
Exiting transit the ship has arrived near a small structure unanchored from any terrestrial body. It appears to be the outpost that once orbited the now disintegrated Ulara. Small ships bustle around the outpost. The Arbiter contacts the outpost signaling the ship's protection under the right of Arbitration and requests a meeting between the parties to address this grievance. After a significant pause the ship receives docking coordinates and clearance to approach.
The Syndicate greet the crew with a diplobot that guides them to the chamber of the great and mighty Zoljin. On entering what appears to have been the main concourse of the outpost the crew are greeted with a large figure dominating the center of the room from a throne situated on top of a massive skull of some sort. A troll greets the group with a huge toothy grin and indicates they should approach.
The Arbiter steps ahead of the crew, "Greetings Honorable Boss Zoljin, I present myself as an offical representative of the Tribune, present in an official capacity to arbitrate the dispute presented by the outsiders."
"I see you Arbiter, the Syndicate appreciates the relationship we have built over the many years and recognizes your authority in this matter." the troll says in clear common and with... eloquence.
The crew presents their case. Zoljin rebuts that, if not for their interference, Ulara would still exist and the Syndicate would not have become scattered remnants, a mere shadow of their former power in the Confederacy.
The crew then presents an opportunity. With the recent developments over the last few months, why would the Syndicate limit their operations only to the Confederacy? Why not branch out and find more opportunities in the neighboring STX system or even outside the nebula at the Terminal? Glack and Kallie'Dar suggest an end to the hostilities so the two groups can help each other.
"You present options to us that have, thus far, been unobtainable," Zoljin says. "Perhaps there is merit in exploring expanded opportunities with new alliances and avoiding any further loss of life." Quite unusual coming from a troll but a sound assessment in any case.
The crew agrees to assist in relocating the Syndicate once an appropriate base of operations can be arranged. The Arbiter, witnessing the agreement accepts the cancellation of the crew's bounty.
"This matter is settled; our business is concluded." the duergar says ceremoniously.
"To new horizons for lucrative partnership," toasts Zoljin as he drains a keg of some presumably alcoholic liquid.
The crew launch with one less entity seeking their demise and maybe even an ally.