Lady Koralia and her entourage make haste, via Commander Brandon Estes’ shuttle to the Hapi Sea, where they fear agents of the Invisible Path are already en route. While they are in transit, Commander Estes calls Lady Koralia into the cockpit of the shuttle to inform her that he has a fix on the tracking beacon from the second shuttle.
It is, in fact, in the rough vicinity of the ruins they discovered when they were in the area several days ago, but it is currently a fair number of kilometers to the north west, and seems to be parked. He tells her that the location roughly corresponds to the area of one of the Ming’s mysterious crystalline monoliths.
The group forms a plan for their approach, and has Commander Estes land the shuttle a few clicks away from the target location. Using Paxton’s tech and Doctor Wulfric’s sniper scope, they observe that there are a total of six individuals present. Five seem to be armed with shotguns, and seem to be securing the area. The sixth appears to be inspecting the monolith.
With Doctor Wulfric’s understanding of physical sciences, and experience as a sniper, the group estimates a safe distance where he can set up a sniper spot. Enhenduanna stays with the good doctor to give his aim the blessings of Saint Mantius. The rest of the group attempt to approach unseen, but Lady Koralia is spotted when they get too close.
The group doesn’t give the traitors time to explain their activities: as soon as one of the guards levels his gun at Lady Koralia, Doctor Wulfric fires one of Paxton’s special electromagnetic pulse rounds at the man investigating the monolith, disrupting his shield. Both Lady Koralia and Kadan realize that the five men with shotguns seem to be under mental domination, and shout to the rest of the group not to harm them. The man investigating the monolith turns around, and the entire group recognizes him: his name is Frank Ison, and he was the second-in-command on the Silver Lining. Commander Estes’ own right hand man was secretly an agent of the Invisible Path all along.
The battle is brief, but brutal. Ison is well equipped and combat trained, and seems to be able to turn Kadan’s psychic powers against him. In the end, however, Ison is no match for the combined might of the group, and though he gravely wounds Kadan and harms Paxton somewhat, he falls, his head caved in from sniper fire from afar.
As soon as Ison falls, the other five men drop to the ground, clutching their heads. They recover relatively quickly, as they were not under psychic domination for nearly as long as the men on Bannockburn. Each of them has a similar story: Ison called them in to speak to them, and the next thing they knew, they were here. They have no memory of anything that transpired between.
Commander Estes contacts the group, having heard the gunfire across the desert, and then the silence of the sands once more. He asks them what transpired. Even across the static they can tell that he is furious at the betrayal of his second. He desperately wants to go back to the Silver Lining and find out what has occurred.
The group decides to just leave the body of Ison to the desert, and discuss their plans with Commander Estes. They decide not to go back to Governor Khonsut, or Fatima, to say their farewells. On the trip back to the Silver Lining, Commander Estes says that he is of a mind to seal the Jumpgate on their way out of the system. Lady Koralia tells him that she was going to attempt to persuade him to do just that, and is glad that he mentioned it first.
The men back on the Silver Lining are safe, but abuzz with activity. They, like the men that Ison took into the desert, have no recollection of what happened, but the ship’s communications systems and propulsion drives are currently out of commission. They must fix it quickly, as the entire ship is running on auxillary power, and that can’t power life support forever. The work goes much more quickly with Paxton back on board, and with Commander Estes to properly organize and prioritize the labor.
With the ship repaired, the Silver Lining plots a course for the Jumpgate. As the ship’s Think Machines work on the coordinates to return them to Delphi, one of the ship’s crew goes to work setting a timed charge on the surface of the Jumpgate. Commander Estes assures Lady Koralia that when the bomb goes off, it should initiate the Jumpgate’s automatic sealing protocols.
The jump to Delphi goes off without a hitch, but upon arrival, everyone notices a huge amount of activity in the system. Dozens upon dozens of ships from every Noble House, Guild, and Church faction are swarming the Delphi system. When the Silver Lining reaches the docking station, they quickly learn why: the Patriarch is scheduled to arrive in only a few short days. While at the docking station, Doctor Wulfric notices a strange, beautiful white haired woman, accompanied by a fully armed Vorox bearing the mark of the Muster. They seem to be watching the group, but quickly break off when they see that they have been spotted.
Every passenger on every ship is being interrogated by the Synecullum: the private police force of the Church. Lady Koralia and her entourage is no exception. They are separated, and each questioned individually by a member of Temple Avesti, wielding some unfamiliar Rite. The Synecullum agent seems to be very interested in the activities of Paxton and Enhenduanna specifically. Enhenduanna knowns that Temple Avesti holds no love for her order, still viewing them as heretics, so this does not surprise her.
As the group is undergoing interrogation, other members of the Synecullum have been searching their luggage. The group is finally brought together, along with another Temple Avesti man, who proceeds to question them on several things in their personal luggage. He is concerned with the ownership of the personal shields, and the blueprints for Paxton’s inventions, and asks extensive questions regarding the uses of each device. Finally, he produces the copy of the Draco Codex that the group retrieved on Mord. He asks extensive questions regarding the book, which the entire group answers fully and honestly. Finally satisfied that no one among their number has been practicing its blasphemous arts, he says a prayer over the book, which burns to cinder in an instant.
Lady Koralia and her entourage are finally given clearance to make planetfall on Delphi. Once there, Lady Koralia immediately takes the group to her manor, and Doctor Wulfric goes to spend time with his family. They make plans to go and see the Patriarch speak at the Domaldo Cathedral in Anschok City in three days’ time.
Everyone has a lovely time in their own way in the intervening time. Finally, they all meet back up at Lady Koralia’s manor, and prepare to depart for Anschok City with her husband, Baronet Evander.
Alas, their trip is not to go in peace: halfway through the trip, their vehicle is rocked by an explosion outside. Lady Koralia stands to view through the sunroof, and sees a number of vehicles scattered upon the road, and that same large Vorox from the docking station walking towards their vehicle. He demands that Baronet Koralia Justinian Hawkwood come with him, and insists that he has someone who desperately wants to speak with her.