Prior events: Lady Blackbird is on the run from an arranged marriage to Count Carlowe. She hired a smuggler skyship, The Owl, to take her from her palace on the Imperial world of Ilysium to the far reaches of the Remnants, so she could be with her once secret lover, the pirate king Uriah Flint. Just before reaching the halfway point of Haven, the Owl was pursued and captured by the Imperial cruiser Hand of Sorrow, under charges of flying a false flag. Lady Blackbird, her bodyguard, and the crew of The Owl were detained in the brig. The Captain of the Owl, Cyrus Vance, used his Warpblood power to teleport out of the cell and free his companions. The crew managed to fight their way to the Owl and escape from the Hand of Sorrow.
The Goblin pilot Snargle takes the Owl in the lower depths. While submerging in the clouds, the crew notices that the Hand of Sorrow has approached a large cargo starship: that was keeping the imperials busy and favored their escape. The plan is to move as far as possible staying in depths. Naomi discovers that there is an imperial soldier in the Owl! The guy (Silas Canter) is terrified. He says that he had been ordered to search the ship and had just begun to do so when the shooting began and he decided to hide and wait it was over. Vance orders to have Silas closed in a small compartments. The Owl is almost out of fuel and they will soon have to stop somewhere: they will drop Silas there.
Snargle is following a route leading towards the Free Worlds. After a couple of hours of in-depth navigation, the Owl emerges near a small planetoid hosting a Free World colony: Stingwitch. Apparently, a good place to get some fuel. Vance asks permission to land. The permission is granted, but the Stingwitch wireless operator warns Vance that the colony has been stricken by an infection of unknown nature: his advice is to limit contacts to the bare minimum. Anyway, the Owl is almost completely out of fuel and there is no choice but to land on Stingwitch.
[The Stingwitch colony is based on RND issue 1, by Chris Stieha]