They say there are no new stories, but there is such a thing as hearing an old story for the first time. The following contain minor spoilers for the prior volumes. Proceed at your own risk.
After being lied to, used, and almost left behind to burn in only his first job aboard an airship, Vasili turns in the crew of the Apotheosis Break to the local constabulary. I have to report a murder, he tells the Lord Judge Euric Gestalt, a frontier lawman disinterestedly taking his statement.
The story is fantasy and conjecture, but in it Gestalt hears something familiar: wasteland raiders stealing shards of the All-Father from a noble house. This is the conspiracy he has been investigating for years. The same one that got him banished to the frontier for asking the wrong questions. This time there is something new: the Break, the infamous sharding vessel, survived when no one else did. Vasili and crew may be the lead he has been waiting for.
Rather than arresting the crew of the Break, Gestalt charters the vessel, making a deal with the captain for repairs and handsome pay. The judge offers Vasili a choice: part ways and start on the long, shameful walk home, or sign back on as the judge‘s assistant.
Despite his brush with death, Vasili still dreams to become an airshipman like his father. He takes the job. Scrubbing the decks and serving the judge his meals, he will work the hardest he can remember. He will learn that a ship is a small place, but the world is far larger and more wicked than he had ever imagined. The judge’s inquiry will take them to the edges of the continent and back, chasing corrupt lawmen, sleeper agents, and members of the duster underground that make up the elusive and deadly illegal shard trade.
Justice will be done, Gestalt promises Vasili. But it is not a promise that is in his power to keep.