Braxiatel has set up conference on war and conflict, but Benny protests, believing that the Fifth Axis occupation was too recent. Brax reassures her that she won't have to deliver the key note speech — Professor Ovmakh of Vellophoi will arrive on the Collection soon.
Three weeks later, Ovmakh arrives with a large team. They intend to do some digging while on the Collection. Ovmakh is interested in finding any Axis tech that might have been left behind. Benny, though opposed to this idea, becomes interested and attends the dig. The team is using huge excavators. They unearth a Field Robotisation Unit. Ovmakh wants to study it, but Benny wants to destroy it.
When Ovmakh delivers her speech, Benny is appalled to discover that Ovmakh seems to glorify war. After the speech, the two women get into a discussion about the Fifth Axis, and manage to offend each other.
Next morning, Benny, hungover, works on her paper but is called to the dig site, where they have found something else. They have dug a tunnel to get to the find. Benny sees that it is a transmitter, and orders everyone out of the cavern — the transmitter, now that it has been found, will now self-destruct. Ovmakh hesitates, and orders her workers to leave, but can't make herself leave. She and Benny get caught in a cave-in when the transmitter destroys itself.
Benny wakes to a feeling of pressure on her chest. She is afraid that she's having a heart attack. Ovmakh tries to keep her awake. She tells Benny that her species only lives for about 15-20 years, so they can't afford to waste any time. Each Vellophoi makes a career choice and then is genetically modified to best fit that choice. The two women reach an understanding, then Benny feels a sharp stab of pain and loses consciousness.
When Benny comes to, she is in her own room, with Jason in attendance. She has had a mild heart attack, but she and Ovmakh were rescued by the excavator. Benny is excused from the rest of the conference so she can recover.
When Brax visits her, she accuses him of letting Ovmakh dig for Axis tech so he could keep it for himself, and he asks her to trust him.
Ovmakh visits Benny before leaving the Collection. She apologises for her actions in the tunnel, and is genuinely sorry that Benny didn't get to deliver her paper. They make their goodbyes.
- Ormand-Seltec flyers bring the Vellophoi to the Collection.
- After Ovmakh delivers her paper, everyone heads to Cafe Vosta.
- Ovmakh's discipline is martial archaeology.
- Benny recalls Mushtaq Anson, Bernard Moskof and Spang.
- Benny suffers a mild heart attack.
- Peter's "flu" is actually a normal part of Killoran biology.
to be added
- Ovmakh mentions Benny's paper on Martian funeral rites. (PROSE: Final Draft)
- Benny recalls Jason's collaboration (PROSE: Suffer the Children) and her own choice to save the Collection's art. (PROSE: The Price of Everything)
- The Field Robotisation Unit reminds Benny of what happened to her father. (AUDIO: Death and the Daleks)