The Rusted Hawk lands in a spaceport in the city of Anomizu. Knowing that Hodge only has one working lung, and hours to live at best they rush to a nearby hospital to get him treated. It is hard to ignore the festive mood of the city, and on the way the group learns that the prestigious swoop race, The Vonterra Classic, will be taking place in just a couple days.
Hodge is admitted to the hospital where he will be kept until he has recovered, and rakes up a hefty bill that obliterates the Rusted Hawk’s emergency funds. With Hodge Mesa’s fate out of their hands, Aviim, Roz, Mannis and Sam return to the ship. Ylime and Roe decide to head down to the track and investigate the swoop race together.
Initially the two have trouble getting into the garage where the swoops are being stored but Ylime forges an id, and poses as reporter looking to interview the racers. Roe poses as her bodyguard, Roe. After discovering that first place winner of the Vonterra Classic will receive a grand prize of a quarter million credits, and a trophy worth almost as much they decide to do what they can to procure swoop bikes and enter the event.
Meanwhile back on the Rusted Hawk, Roz is visited by a group of Renegade soldiers. They recognized the Rusted Hawk as being one of the only ships to escape from Sarem Station, and are trying to find out what happed to their informant. Roz tells them that he and Nelec had traveled together briefly but that the man was unfortunately gunned down by the New Dominion. He neglects to share with them the hidden data disk. Frustrated at the loss of Nelec the Renegades reveal that things have not been going well for them, and Roz learns of the Renegade pilot being held captive by the Black Sun. She is scheduled to be auctioned off after the race, and Roz manages to talk up his piloting skills enough that the Renegades want to sponsor Roz for the Vonterra Classic under the condition that he use the winnings to buy back their pilot. Roz agrees to the trade if the Renegades are willing to provide mechanics and materials to fix up the Rusted Hawk, as well as change the ships credentials so that it will no longer be pinged as a threat by New Dominion radar.
After (rightfully) being denied sponsorship by every swoop dealership in town, Roe and Ylime are beginning to get desperate. They could really use the prize money on the flying metal death trap that is the Rusted Hawk, and to help cover Hodge’s hospital bills, and Roe has become interested in a secondary prize—Access to princess Vaira’s birthday celebration. They decide to take out a loan with the banking clan. Roe is certain that her piloting skills will be good enough to win the money back to pay the loan, and Ylime is certain that anything that involves computers can be persuaded to work in her favor. They acknowledge that sometimes things do not go as planned, and “borrow” Sam’s id in order to procure the loan.
Swoop racers are purchased with the borrowed money and Mannis decides that he wants in on the action as well. Aviim learns from Roz the Renegades’ plan and chooses to do what she can to help him win the prize.
Before the race Ylime and Mannis head down to Black Sun territory. Ylime places a substantial bet with the remaining credits that Roe will win the race. Mannis bets that Ylime will lose. The two hope that The Black Sun never finds out that they know one another.