Sylvestri Yarrow, owner of the cargo hauler Switchback, is stressed out over a run of bad luck. Ever since her mother Chancey’s death at the hands of Nihil pirates, Syl has been losing money faster than she can make it. The dissolution of the Byne Guild didn’t help matters, although she knows that her copilot Neeto Janajana was a victim of their abusive indentures. The Switchback abruptly jolts out of hyperspace in the middle of the empty Berenge sector, leaving Syl, Neeto, and the ancient droid M-227 puzzled, assuming it’s a glitch. However, the sudden appearance of pirate starships leaves Syl reminded of her mother’s death, and Neeto has to persuade her to get into the escape pod by pointing out that if she dies, she can’t warn anyone about the new tactic the Nihil appear to have come up with.
Vernestra Rwoh is meditating in a garden on the Starlight Beacon when her Padawan, Imri Cantaros, interrupts her to show off his recently-completed new lightsaber. He also tells her there’s a comm droid waiting for her outside. The droid, however, is glitching, and Imri asks to be excused because the numbers of people around are stressing his powerful empathic abilities. As Vernestra waits by herself, she encounters Padawan Reath Silas, who’s recently arrived on the space station with his Master, Cohmac Vitus. Reath helps fix the droid, telling her he’ll see her later. Vernestra finds herself on a call with her old Master, Stellan Gios, who says he wants her to report to Coruscant, as a Galactic Republic senator wants her help dealing with a situation in the Berenge sector.
Reath has had an adventurous year since becoming Cohmac Vitus‘ Padawan, and after they have finished unloading their ship, Cohmac dismisses him so he can go eat while Cohmac goes to see Marshal Avar Kriss. In the cafeteria, Reath sits with Vernestra and Imri, learning about the Padawan’s recent discovery of powerful empathic abilities he’s having a hard time controlling when he uses them on Reath. Coming to think about romantic relationships after the two leave, Reath is reminded of Nan, the Nihil he met on the Amaxine station, before deciding he doesn’t want to think about her and throwing himself into his food.
Onboard the Gaze Electric, Nan watches a meeting between Marchion Ro and the Tempest Runners that she is not strictly supposed to be attending. She has spent the past year as one of the Eye of the Nihil‘s trusted spies.