Benny, having received a scrambled message from Irving Braxiatel, heads back home to the Collection. When she arrives, she is startled to see warships. When one of the ships tries to intercept her, her ship is suddenly in free fall. She crashes onto the planetoid. When she awakes in the medical wing, she sees strangers. They inform her that the Fifth Axis is the authority on the planetoid now and that Braxiatel is under house arrest.
After having her identity checked, Benny is free to go. She wanders the Collection, until one of the soldiers brings her to a woman at a desk. The woman informs her that her son Peter was killed during the initial missile barrage. They have no body for her to see.
Benny wanders in a daze, avoiding trying to find Jason as that will make Peter's death seem more real. At a café, she notes that a man she barely knows, Orst Gemayal, is beckoning to her. Talking behind his hand, he tells her that the dead child was a full Killoran, but not Peter. When the Axis arrived, Adrian Wall took Peter to Orst and his brother for protection. They have set aside a camouflaged room where they are keeping Peter in safetly. Orst advises Benny to wait a while to see Peter, as the Axis is watching everyone closely.
Orst then tells Benny what has happened to her other friends. Brax is confined to his apartments. Bev is under suspicion, but so far the Axis has no reason to arrest her. Ms Jones is working for the Axis bureaucracy. Mister Crofton still tends the gardens, repairing the damage done by the battle. Broderick Naismith tried to send a message of help when the Axis first arrived, and was one of the first to be publicly executed. Adrian is part of the construction crew. And Jason has ingratiated himself into the Axis. When they first arrived, he showed them all the boobytraps. He is now wearing an Axis uniform.
Benny is all alone.
- The gravity of the Braxiatel Collection reaches four thousand miles out from the surface.
- Benny's ship crashes into the Collection's cricket pitch.
- The Fifth Axis doesn't approve of humans inter-breeding with other species.
- This story follows directly from The Poison Seas.
- This story is narrated by Benny.