Miriam is introduced. She is a researcher at the University in the city state of Ember, overworked and underpaid. Her 'department' has one staff member - herself - and she is also solely responsible for the museum of 'anomalous artifacts,' which sees few visitors. She is aware of the status of her department but is enthusiastic nonetheless. Lance, head of another department, arrives and attempts to ask Miriam out but succeeds only in annoying her. Unlike her, he has numerous staff and a thriving department. He has in the past attempted to get her to work for him and to go out with him, both of which have failed. She agrees to go out with him to an expensive restaurant, mainly for the food. As he leaves, Lance mentions a seris of thefts which have been occurring in the university museums, but jibes that her museum is unlikely to be affected because it has nothing of value in it. Rua is introduced. He is a foreigner, and obviously so in Ember, which is populated entirely by people with pale skin. He works as a bounty hunter, and his illegal presence is tolerated because he causes no trouble and brings in bounties which are then reported to the credit of the police. He is from Tsien, a city-state that is more isolationist than most, almost a legend. Miriam's day starts badly - her museum has indeed been robbed, of an artifact of unknown function and origin. She is furious, not least because she'll have to admit to Lance that it's happened, giving him a further chance to tease. At the dinner, Lance annoys her by already knowing what's happened, and goads her into making a bet that the university will not pay for someone to search for the missing artifact. If she loses, she has to work for him for two weeks. Miriam, incensed, agrees.