A small thief breaks into Miriam's museum, only to find the target artifact missing. This creates a new resolve; to steal it back. The thief - Rain -has no idea what the artifact is for. Miriam's request for money to search for her artifact is refused. Angry, she goes to the message guilds - who post messages in air-propelled tubes between city-states - to check for a message she's expecting. It is there, but instead of the research data she was hoping for, it contains a bland refusal to admit the existence of the scientist in question. She goes to the Cranks, a group of underground scientists who attempt to coordinate scientific research and needs between the isolationist city-states, to ask them to re-establish contact with the 'nonexistent' scientist. She also asks if they can find her someone to 'find things', reasoning that she can pay for the service herself, and that counts as university money, thereby winning her the bet (however tenuous). Miriam meets Rua in a bar, a meeting arranged by the Cranks at her request. He agrees to her commission. They are seen by Lance. He reports the existence of an illegal immigrant to the police, who promptly 'lose' the report. Rua's first message to Miriam - delivered to her address, which she hadn't told him - tells her that he is following a good lead. She promptly goes out to find him, and to her surprise, he allows her to go with him, after some argument. The location of the gang who've been raiding warehouses is a broken-down old house which, on inspection, appears to be empty - Rua was partly expecting that. However, as he examines the place, the little thief Rain is watching from the roof, thinking that Rua and Miriam are connected to the gang somehow. Rua spots the watcher and moves to stand before Miriam, with a knife, thinking that Rain is part of the gang, but at that point the police arrive. Rain escapes over the rooftops, but Miriam and Rua are brought in for questioning. The police interview reveals that Miriam naively assumed Rua's presence was legal. Somewhat to his surprise, the policeman only cautions him, but Miriam is arrested - for a different reason. On her demand, the police reveal that she has been accused of Forbidden Science, a crime punishable by execution. She is taken away. Rua pokes into the matter, and is told that the Chancellor of the University himself signed the order for her arrest. Her guilt is already established in the eyes of the authorities. Rua, for reasons of his own, goes to the Cranks to ask for help for Miriam. He wants to know where she could be taken that would be safe. The Cranks insist that she would not have practised Forbidden Science, although in pursuing her father's research she may have skirted close to the edge. The Cranks dislike Rua, because he knows too much about them, but a deal is made. The name and location of an individual who can see Miriam to a safe place is exchanged for a promise from Rua that, should he ever return to his home city of Tsien, he would pass on a message to an appropriate individual to attempt to establish the Cranks there as well. Tsien is hard to infiltrate if one does not have the correct colouring, so Rua is a logical messenger, although he states that he will not be returning to his home city-state. Rua breaks in to the police station and frees Miriam, although persuading her to leave the safe bounds of Ember's walls takes some doing. She is lured by the promise of unfettered research opportunities. Rain sees them as they go and, still thinking that they are connected to the thieves who took the artifact, follows them out of Ember and into the wild.