Dumarest and Vardoon endure the planetís immense and frequent electrical storms, survive attacks by vrek, the creatures whose eggs produce the ardeel, and harvest a fortune in eggs.† They are pursued by officials loyal to two different groups of the Orres, both beholden to Cyber Zao (here to add Sacaweena to the web of Cyclan influence, and who has since learned that Dumarest is present).† One group is the local constabulary, and the other is the security force of Kalova, the most powerful landowner and titular head of the Orres known as ďThe MaximusĒ.† Kalova owns most of the lands where the vrek breed, where Dumarest and Vardoon are poaching.† Only the enmity between the two groups allows Dumarest and Vardoon to escape.† They seek refuge at a church of the Universal Brotherhood, which is sited on land owned by the woman Fiona, a member of the Orres. †Fionaís deceased uncle financed the church and she has a sentimental attachment to it. Her father died before she was born, her older brother was killed when she was a young child in an ardeel poaching incident, and her mother committed suicide shortly after, so she is the sole representative of her family among the Orres.
Dumarest and Vardoon become embroiled in the economic and political intrigues of the Orres as a trade war breaks out. The war is instigated by Cyber Zaoís advice to Kalova, since Zao will willingly destroy the planet he was sent to subvert in order to capture Dumarest.† With her new allies Fiona defeats Kalovaís plan (largely because Kalovaís ego prevents him from implementing all of Zaoís advice).† Unfortunately, the trade war with Kalova results in the bankruptcy of the one member of the Orres who might have held information about Earth, and he certainly isnít going to help Dumarest now.
Fiona is now nearly Kalovaís financial equal, and Zao offers to terminate his contract with Kalova and work for her, practically guaranteeing that she will become the Maximus.† Now, Sacaweena is a civilized world, and except for a little violence while Dumarest and Vardoon were poaching the ardeel, the ďactionĒ has taken place almost entirely in the bedrooms, boardrooms and stock exchanges of the Orres.† With an offer Fiona canít refuse on the table, however, somethingís gotta give.† Kalova (who has been fairly unstable all along) is enraged and kills Fiona.† Vardoon kills Kalova.† Dumarest kills Zao, which raises a few eyebrows, since he was pretty much just standing there, and Dumarest isn't about to fill them in on the deadly enmity between himself and the Cyclan.
It turns out Vardoon knows so much about poaching ardeel and manipulating the local stock exchange because he is Fionaís long-lost brother, who wasnít actually killed poaching, but was forced to flee the planet in disgrace. He and the other Orres realize that Cyclan advice to any one owner will disrupt the otherwise smooth functioning of the local economy, and they plan to ban all owners from employing Cybers.† Vardoon sweeps Dumarestís apparent murder of Zao under the rug and prepares to take his sisterís place as rightful heir to the family fortune (Kalova is now conveniently unavailable to press charges against him for poaching, being dead and all), and Earl prepares to depart.