- Hesper, Queen of Thieves is relaxing on a trade station orbiting Kalydon.
- She brags to the crowd of her recent escape, relating her tale to the drunken pilots and merchants, winning a round of free drinks
- After winning a few rounds of winning (and cheating) at dice, Hesper is approached by a man who overheard her tale named Staros the Wayfarer
- He reveals he works for a Warlord, Long-Armed Klekus, from the Pherai system. He had been sent out to find a hero capable of recovering some items taken by the Zoran Prince Ikari the Golden-Eyed in a recent battle. Hesper’s tale impressed him that she could recover the items even if the ransom went poorly.
- They traveled to Pherai, and met Klekus aboard his command ship. He provided Hesper with a list of items, both artifacts that were gifts from the gods, as well as 12 colonists in cryo-tubes he wished freed.
- Amongst the colonists was a farmer named Pendar. Klekus impressed that his recovery was essential, and she need not return if she did not have him with her.
- After arriving at the location of the Zoran Fleet, their ship is escorted to Prince Ikari’s command ship. Staros remains with his ship, The Calypso, as Hesper goes to meet the Zorans.
- She is warmly greeted by Fleet Archon Emus, who takes her to receive refreshments and provides a servant to wash her feet and oil her hair in preparation for her meeting with the Prince.
- The Prince likewise greets her warmly, but visibly sours whenever Klekus’ name is mentioned. He drives a hard bargain for the items on Klekus’ list, but to Hesper’s surprise, agrees to everything, albeit at a very high price.
- The Prince has in his court five mercenary heroes, including a machina strategos!
- Prince Ikari insists Hesper feast with him, and she entertains the prince with a display of her Pankration skills, besting Keen-Armed Lamachus in a wrestling match.
- After the feast, the Prince offers one of his servants to attend Hesper. From him, she learns Klekus and Ikari were once great friends, until during a visit to Troy, Klekus raped Ikari’s wife, Astar. She committed suicide shortly afterwards, and Ikari has sworn vengeance.
- The next day, as Hesper is leaving, she is accosted by Emus and the Machina, Strago-481, and is questioned in detail about the items they have taken aboard, especially Pendar.
- The confrontation is revealed to be a ruse and an ambush, as Strago murders Emus, and the other four mercenary heros spring from hiding places and attack Hesper, loudly accusing her of killing the Fleet Archon.
- Hesper uses her acrobatic prowess to disarm Lamachus of his spear, which she keeps as a trophy, and makes good her escape to her ship.
- The ship is pursued by Zoran fighters, but Hesper is able to hold them off at The Calypso’s weapon console long enough for Staros to make the translation to Slipspace, but the Zorans are right behind them…
Hellas: Worlds of Sun and Stone
A Legacy of Ash, Act I
The Zoran Prince