After the events of Xanthus Quicktemper and the cornucopia, the three newest Tiger Generals have the opportunity to enjoy Alabaster for an evening before the prison escort begins. Dr. Lupine insists on dragging Gemma to several of the many libraries, while Captain Doel mingles with the city’s artificers to keep abreast of what mechanical works are being pursued locally.
The next morning, they rendezvous with the Solemn Contemplation, a modified Ebonheim tortoise-ship. The vessel’s Captain Lampyrus and the chief guard Lieutenant Cloverfoot introduce themselves and announce their honor at serving alongside the Tiger Generals.
The guards load the prisoner complement. Xanthus Quicktemper and Iron Head Drang are the most familiar. Also aboard is “Razor” Barjack, a boar-Kin belonging to the Purebloods, and an unrelated pair of grifters — Rider Crowley, a human cartomancer, card cheat and thief, and Cypria Silvertongue, a Scaled Folk confidence woman whose hypnotic voice seems to affect only cold-blooded people such as herself. Lupine and Doel also notice a wooden coffin, wrapped in ropes covered with paper seals, being loaded quietly into the cargo hold. As they ask about it, Lt. Cloverfoot responds that she’ll tell them once they’re safely in the air.
The prison ship gets safely off the ground. They ask again about the coffin, and Cloverfoot tells them that it’s Ironskull — a name that nobody recognizes. She describes the metal-commanding deathknight, brought in by Zu the Chimera.
The prisoners don’t offer much resistance. Xanthus quietly rants about how his associates will free him, but is largely ignored. Barjack threatens Dr. Lupine, who responds by pulling out a volume on herbalism and aggressively lecturing the prisoners on the merits of various flora. This continues for some time, with Barjack gradually going slack from boredom and Quicktemper pretending not to pay attention.
Doel is at the bridge, conversing with Captain Lampyrus, when he notices the oncoming twisters. He recognizes the unnatural weather pattern: the work of the aerokinetic sky pirate Gallia the Hurricane. He warns the captain to hold steady as best he can, and goes to warn the others. Soon enough, the Solemn Contemplation is held steady in the eye of a large cyclone, unable to move further.
Using the hatch to the roof, Doel goes outside to confront Gallia. An honor guard of flying sky pirates hangs in the air between ships, and she descends. She recognizes Doel, and exchanges a bit of banter until Gemma and Dr. Lupine emerge as well. “You picked the wrong ship,” growls Lupine. Confronted with a trio of Tiger Generals, the Hurricane opts for discretion. She returns to her ship, and the winds dissipate.
The trip seems to go well after that, with more casual conversation between captains and herbalism lectures, until an explosion rocks the ship. A quick assessment reveals that a Pandaemonic cannon set on a nearby mountain is firing on the ship. Valakar Doel soars out to stabilize the ship, and notices the remains of some form of mark — a homing glyph, painted on the underside. The cannon keeps firing, and although Doel is able to strike one of the missiles out of the sky, another evades his thunderbolts and strikes the ship. The Solemn Contemplation goes down.
The landing is rough, but those inside are intact. The Tiger Generals make sure the prisoners are secure, and deploy to guard the outside of the ship. Gemma races in the direction of the cannon, and discovers a crew of Hanuman bandits racing for the downed vessel. They are led by Jin Woo, the Powder King.
When the brigands arrive, the Tiger Generals are ready. Dr. Lupine draws a line in the dirt, and says, “I’ll say it again. You picked the wrong ship.”
It’s not enough to deter the Powder King. They skirmish for a bit — Gemma tries to snatch the taper from Jin Woo’s mouth, and a few grenades go off — but the fight is interrupted. A scythe blade tears open reality from the other side, opening a portal to Pandaemonium. Several Helkyries emerge flanking Cremator-General Insinner, one of the generals to Overlord Heladonna. Insinner notes that the ship has a powerful undead warrior, and demands it be turned over to her.
The response is as one would expect from Tiger Generals. “I’ll say it again,” growls Lupine. “You picked the wrong ship.”
The fight begins in earnest. The Helkyries fan out and engage, while Insinner moves to start melting the hatch into the Solemn Contemplation. It’s a mistake — Lupine leaps at her with a terrible claw rake that actually stuns the Pandaemonic general, and Jin Woo contributes by hurling a bomb into Insinner that ignites upon reaching her flame aura. The infuriated Cremator-General turns her powers against her opponents, but she’s already shaken, and the group exploits her weakness. The Pandaemonic finally goes down when Lupine smashes her skull face-first into the ship’s hull, leaving a searing impression. One of the Helkyries goes for the dimension-cutting scythe, but Gemma grabs it and plays keep-away as they argue about keeping Insinner contained.
Mopping up the Pandaemonic mess, the Tiger Generals notice the Hanumen bandits have quietly withdrawn. They argue about dealing with the cannon, Lupine still pounding intermittently on Insinner to keep her unconscious. A quick check of the ship reveals that the cargo hatch was blown open. Thankfully, the coffin containing Ironskull is still present, but the guards are unconscious, and Rider Crowley is gone. The cartomantic grifter apparently has contacts with the Brotherhood of Brigands.
The Tiger Generals then get the situation under control. Valakar helps fix the aeromantic repellers on the Solemn Contemplation. Gemma races off to get a second prison ship dispatched for the transport of Insinner. Alec keeps beating the Cremator-General into the ground to keep her from recovering.
The second prison ship arrives before any more problems ensue; on board is another Tiger General, the archer Fletcher Frost. They load up Insinner, placing her in a tank of some form of alchemical goo, and both ships head for the Iron Pinnacle. There they finally transfer their cargo to Mengzhu and Zhumeng, the prison’s wardens. Frost asks if they plan to drop the scythe off at the Trophy Room, but they decide it’s more prudent to store the scythe in the vaults below Diamond. They do leave off a souvenir for the Trophy Room, though: a plate of metal taken from the Solemn Contemplation, with the skull-print of Insinner smashed and melted into its surface.