- A luxury lighter docks at the Inegalee carrying officials from Footfall to welcome the explorers to the “station”. Also aboard is an important looking seneschal with the Chorda family named Cromwell. Cromwell bids the explorers to attend his mistress, Lord-Captain Aspyce Chorda as soon as they are ready, given the lateness of their arrival. When ready, the explorers (sans Lord-Captain Grossaileur, who is absent) board the shuttle and are transported directly to the Implacable Flame, the flagship of the Chorda family for the meeting with Lady Chorda.
- Lord-Captain Chorda wastes little time on friendly conversation and quickly lays out a proposal for the explorers: the system of Grace, a star system that is a part of the Koronus Expanse known as the Foundling Worlds, has been cut off from warp travel for more than 30 years. Recently, the warp storms have finally abated and the Grace System is again reachable. Her family first colonized Grace Prime, the only habitable planet in the system and therefore the Chordas have historically had an interest in the system. Lady Chorda then spells out an offer to the shocked explorers. In return for retrieving a specific cargo container from the orbital station known as The Dagger of Fate, the Chorda dynasty will transfer all rights, claims, and ownership of the Grace System to the Grossaileurs.
- After recovering from the shock of such a crazy offer, Aspyce leaves the explorers to discuss amongst themselves. Relying upon “Saahab” Goyal and his knowledge of the Expanse, they know that efforts to explore the Foundling Worlds have almost always been outright failures and most endeavors there by rogue traders have been labeled as “cursed”. The Chorda’s colony in the Grace System is one of these cursed endeavors. They also know that the Foundling Worlds lie on the other side of The Cauldron, a massive warp storm that sits astride the warp pathways to and from Footfall. It is the Cauldron flaring up that has cut Grace off for the last 30 years.
- Finally realizing that despite the bad reputation of the Grace System, the opportunity to acquire a colonized system in the Koronus Expanse is too great to pass up and the explorers cautiously accept Lord-Captain Chorda’s offer. She then cautions them that others know that the Grace System can again be travelled to and are gathering crews in Footfall to plunder the exposed system. If the Grossaileurs wish to defend their claim to the system that the legal documents will grant them, they should move quickly and arrive in time to fend off pirates and unscrupulous rogue traders.
- The explorers learn that three rogue traders in Footfall are quickly departing for Grace: Jeremiah Blitz and the Ordained Destiny, Adalbrechta Edelhaven and The High Risk Venture, and Brother “Ferdinand”, a Mechanicus Explorator, and his ship Explorator XVII.
- Upon departing the meeting with Chorda, the explorers quickly set out preparing for the long journey to the Grace System.
- Séverin DeGrossaileur takes charge of hiring a company of mercenaries to strengthen the ship’s ground forces. After 4-5 days of legwork and negotiations, a platoon of light infantry is hired. He also sends a number of spies and scouts out onto Footfall to seek out additional information. This is how the group learns of the other three rogue traders en route to Grace.
- “Saahab” Goyal handles a request from a Vladaym Tocara, a known representative of the Kasballica Mission, an organization that dominates the Cold Trade to the Calixus Sector through Footfall. He travels to Tocara’s mansion and somewhat rudely turns down an offer from the Mission to broker any and all trade in forbidden items (xenos artefacts or any other controlled/illegal substances) for the Grossaileurs. He leaves Tocara with no doubts that the Grossaileurs are not interested in engaging in the Cold Trade. At least not with the Kasballica MIssion.
- Vitus Voclain spends time amongst the crowds of missionaries and pilgrims on Footfall and meets an Abbot Krisofer Bosowski, a missionary with a large following that is seeking a planet in the Koronus Expanse to bring the light of the Emperor to. After some negotiation with Vitus, it is agreed that he shall bring a portion of his followers aboard the The Inégalée and that they shall be settled at the colony of Port Chorda on Grace Prime. Others will follow once the Inegalee can return to Footfall to transport them.
- Finally, the explorers have a meeting with another rogue trader, Lady Elizabeth Orleans, a successful rogue trader with large business interests on the planet of Damaris, a successful imperial colony on the edge of the Foundling Worlds. She wishes to establish a trade agreement with the Grossaileurs to ship Grace Gyn, a desirable liquor fermented from the native fungi of Grace Prime, to Damaris. Despite initial hostility(?), Séverin DeGrossaileur deems her offer a fair one and agrees to give her first right to negotiate a contract for purchasing gyn with Lady Orleans, providing the Grossaileurs can secure a gyn production facility on Grace Prime!
- Other rumors gleaned from Footfall about Grace are:
- The only profitable product to come out of Grace Prime was Grace Gyn, a much sought after liquor in Footfall and the wider Expanse.
- A Chorda family freighter called The Wydening Gyre was the last ship to travel to Grace before the storms cut it off. The ship’s fate is unknown, though it was rumored to be piloted by a Nostromo family navigator, and the Nostromos have a sterling reputation.
- The Chorda’s cut deals with wealthy political refugees from the Calixus sector and transported they and their estates to Grace as a refuge from whatever it was they were fleeing from in Imperial space (the law, political enemies, the Inquisition, etc.). Grace Prime is rumored to be dotted with the estates of these super-rich Calixian reprobates.
- Lord-Captain Aspyce Chorda has a viscous reputation in the Expanse. Stories tell that in order to acquire the Chorda family warrant, she forced each of her legitimate and illegitimate siblings to sign over their claims to her and then enter cryo-stasis. She has also been one of the most successful rogue traders in the Expanse in recent times, challenging even the mighty Winterscales for dominance.
An Invitation, part 4