While Our Heroines enjoyed their new perks from Day at the Races, Ayrtan Davis investigats Phoenix's background. He finds out that the old Pinnacle Technologies estate is empty, occupied by squatters. Six months ago, their old Data Core has been delivered to Annihilator Ltd, a demolition firm on Level 44.
Sonia Wight finds it strange that the Data Core is taken away for destruction, rather than stolen by whoever busted Pinnacle Technologies. Because it is obvious that the Pinnacle Technologies estate will still be around, but the Data Core will probably be destroyed very soon (if it hasn't already), Our Heroines decide to investigate Annihilator Ltd first.
Sonia Wight takes her new Qirex Kombinat Grav Car while Phoenix rides on the outside of the car and Mistress Alexandra takes wing and they race through the Level Chute down to the Slum Levels. It turns out that Level 44 is divided into two sections because of an old quake - Level 44A and Level 44B. Chancing on Level 44B, Our Heroines end up in a maze-like bazaar district. Rat Critters abound, and everything is for sale - from smaller siblings to used toothbrushes. Phoenix is sorely tempted and byes some junk, while Mistress Alexandra is too intimidating and Sonia Wight too detached.
Soon, two big Rat Critter mugs have been hired to guard the car, a guide has been found, and Our Heroines proceed to the Annihilator Ltd plant. An official guides them to the right section, and Our Heroines can find the Pinnacle Technologies container themselves. From the found data, it can be seen that Phoenix was indeed retreved dead and resurected by Pinnacle Technologies. There are graphic representations of her mauled body, but no way to see how the damage was done.
But even just a few tons of crashed Data Core takes some time to analyze, and soon an automated robot comes to fetch the container. Phoenix sends it back, but a foreman soon investigates. Some stuff has been found at this point, but there is obvioulsy more. Sonia Wight offers to teleport the contents of the container somewhere, but Phoenix cannot make up her mind if it is worth the effort. Finally, Sonia Wight tires of Phoenix's diddling and teleports, exchanging the Data Core fron Pinnacle Technologies with a pile of trash from the Qirex Kombinat garage where she has been working lately.
Our Heroines return through the Level Chute. Mistress Alexandra still flies,and her appearance is mistaken for that of a jumper - a few people take potshots at her, while others start to jump themselves - soon it is a rush. Sonia Wight manages to save one jumper - Miro Hishima - a bishonen from the fashionable clique around the Level Chute. Asked why he jumped, he answered that it seemed to be the fad at the time; everybody else was jumping. He and Sonia Wight made a date for later.
Returning to Level 51, Mistress Alexandra finds a message from Camille Reichenbach on her answering machine. Calling back, she interrupts Camille in a meeting with James Davenport, her boss. Their relationship is revealed, and Camille is slated for company medical care. Mistress Alexandra won't terminate the contract this way, and goes to visit at the fablous Level 82.
Sonia Wight and Phoenix return to the Qirex Kombinat garage to investigate their loot. A technician there has already found it, and particularily a spare vector processor that he wants to put into a Grav Racer - those processors have been hard to come by lately, and tis one seems to be very powerful. Our Heroines investigates it - it seems harmless but way powerful. It is appears to be enormously old and somehow protected from the ravages of time. Phoenix somehow senses that this has been used to find her in the past - perhaps like Demon Alpha has her MArkedForDeath right now, perhaps through some kind of time-precognitive effect. The mystery refuses to unfold, so the component is installed in the Grav Racer
Mistress Alexandra takes a Crimson Cab limousine to Level 82, one of the fabeled Corporate Levels. Passing through the tight Ascension Corp security - comparable to the gates of heaven complete with Angel Gabriel and Angel Michael - she finally meets up with Camille Reichenbach at her spotless but dispirited luxury appartment. Camille at first seems to think Mistress Alexandra wants to blackmail her, but finally settles down to explain her behavior. Shee seems pain because she hates life in the Dark City but is too cowardly to kill herself. The company is now taking her in for treatment - brainwashing - and she is content with that, as she might end up with a semblance of happiness. It is obvious that hse hates her life and has no friends. She pays Mistress Alexandra to have diner with her and then leave - when Mistress Alexandra starts to talk about friendship, help and trust she calls security.
Returning to Level 51, Mistress Alexandra describes the encounter to her friends - and Phoenix seriously contemplates kidnapping Camille Reichenbach to save her from brainwashing and show her what life is all about. She also observes the difference between Camille Reichenbach and Miro Hishima - Camille hates her life, but is too cowardly to kill herself, Miro seems to relish life, but jumped the Level Chute because it was a fad.