Serving as the command ship of the Hussar's CO Marshal Patrick Meldon during the unit's invasion of Elidere IV in the War of 3039, the ancient Paymon's Staff suffered a serious drive system accident during transit to the planet that crippled its reactor and engines, leaving it drifting powerless in space without active life-support. While the damage was repairable, the ship's engineers required replacement parts they did not carry and the lack of life-support forced Captain Viis to order the Paymon's Staff abandoned. Meldon diverted a number of the Hussars' other DropShips to dock with the crippled ship to offload equipment, supplies and personnel. A mixed company of BattleMechs and Combat Vehicles, along with almost a hundred tons of miscellaneous cargo, had to be left behind as the rest of the Hussars initiated their invasion. The accident occurring in transit prior to the turnover maneuver at the half-way point and thus prior to the deceleration burn needed to land on Elidere IV. The derelict and drifting Paymon's Staff thus missed the planet entirely and was last seen continuing on into deep space. 
Yet when the needed replacement parts were finally secured and a repair crew dispatched, the Paymon's Staff was not where her predicted course said she should have been. After the capture of the planet, Meldon sent almost his entire transport group on a search mission for the lost ship, including a team of navigators consulting with three of the top astrophysicists at the New Avalon Institute of Science in an attempt to more accurately project the ship's course through the system. Despite this, the searchers spent weeks and thousands of tons of fuel and still could find no trace of the Paymon's Staff. JumpShips then jumped into deep space outside of the Elidere system proper at various points, sent DropShips out in different directions to try and locate the missing ship by sheer luck, but still could not locate even a hint of the lost ship. 
The fate of the Paymon's Staff would become an enduring mystery, with a number of theories posited about what happened to the missing DropShip. The most common and logical theory is that the derelict ship was salvaged in secret by another party. Advocates of this theory point to the fact that no trace of the ship could be located on radar, LIDAR, hyper-spectral and multi-spectral imaging devices in the slice of deep space the ship's course would have taken it, reinforced by the fact that the Paymon's Staff's IFF transponder (one of the few devices aboard that still had power) never returned a signal. However, the salvage theory is undermined by the actions required to achieve it. Either a repaired Paymon's Staff or an attached DropShip would have to have made a minimum 1-G burn over four days to slow the ship enough to dock with a JumpShip, and such a plasma stream would have been easily detected; likewise, no sign of unknown JumpShips was detected by the search parties. Further, the DMI and MIIO could not locate the appearance of any unaccounted for "brand-new" Fortress-class DropShips in fleets of the other Inner Sphere realms or Periphery nations.
Other theories bandied about are far less plausible, including suggestions the Paymon's Staff was the victim of a comet, some other celestial body or even a small black hole, all of which would have left some form of debris, residual radiation or impact on the orbital mechanics of the Elidere system. Yet others have made claims of supernatural involvement, with dozens of stories involving the supposed "Ghost Ship", or that the Paymon's Staff fell through a wormhole into a new universe. Conspiracy theorists have also posited that the fabled Minnesota Tribe, New Vandenburg White Wings, Clinton's Cutthroats, or a combination of all three stole the ship using mythical super-technology developed at long-lost Star League research centers located in the Deep Periphery, spawning the 3047 tri-vid feature The Phelidere Project loosely based around that concept.
In the decades since its disappearance, uncovering the ultimate fate of the Paymon's Staff has drawn the attention of a number of fortune hunters, deep-space salvage crews and even famed tri-vid director Jameson Hamilton, who spent three years and millions of C-Bills trying to definitely determine its fate, but nobody has discovered any clue to what really happened to the ship.
In or before 3044, a Fortress-class DropShip carrying unspecified vast treasure and named the Nova Hunter was hijacked by space pirates including Silas Bell and Fortran Merrick, with implications that the action was in fact a mutiny on what was already a pirate vessel at the time. Silas Bell somehow survived being shot in the head and became the captain of a pirate Fortress-class DropShip, eventually passing the vessel on to his daughter Justin Bell when he reportedly killed himself in 3054. Justin Bell, who continued a smuggler/pirate venture, was confronted by treasure hunters when she was with her mother on Novo Tressida in 3064. The treasure hunters seemed to believe her DropShip was in fact the Nova Hunter, which Bell denied. Vague references to the Paymon's Staff are made which could be construed to suggest, in the sense of a canon rumor, that either Justin Bell's otherwise unnamed DropShip or the Nova Hunter were really the Paymon's Staff, or that these three DropShips were in fact one and the same.
- Historical: War of 3039, pp. 53-55 "Wave One - Galedon Thrust - Elidere IV (April)"
- Historical: War of 3039, pp. 54-56 "Wave One - Galedon Thrust - Elidere IV - How Do You Lose a DropShip?"
- Old Legends Never Die