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We're still on Planet Wix, as Isaac and Amae give Elida some space to grieve her mother and bury her brooch. Once onboard their ship, Winniebot informs Amae that upon landing the ship, they lost a number of essential pieces of equipment, which Isaac and Elida have to go scavenge for — but not without trading some harsh words. In particular, Elida suggests that maybe Isaac's family is better off without him. That stings.
Meanwhile, on the armada, Lazaro is having a blast with his new toy, the Sterzaad, which among other things gives him telepathic powers he can use to outsource his torturing to his victims. It's great practice for his grand return to Arriopa, where he aims to proclaim victory. When he arrives at the consulate and his presence is properly heralded, he's met by Admiral Kavar and given a stern talking to. Of course, a stern talking to is no match for the Sterzaad, and Lazaro casts his spell on the ineffectual Kavar.
While collecting jetsam outside, Elida gets stung by a bug, and promptly passes out, and she's whisked away by two larger insectoid quadrupeds. When she wakes up, the neurotoxin coursing through her body causes her to hallucinate (skeleton hands, disintegrating skin, Salvador Dali kind of stuff) that gets in the way of her defending herself. After Isaac returns to Winnipeg to learn that Elida hasn't come back, it's once more unto the breach for him.
Elida is going full out psycho-tripping, seeing things that aren't there, not seeing things that are (like a sharp drop off a sudden cliff she happens to be approaching). When Isaac saves her from falling, she sees him as Lazaro, and commences to slapping away the imagined offender before collapsing unconscious in his arms. Isaac is now tasked with hauling a dazed Elida back to the ship. Night is falling, and soon Isaac and his quarry are beset by a tiny army of the insectoid aliens and imprisoned in an underground cell.
Soon, Lazaro asserts his newfound power over the entire consulate. After spellbinding them all and giving them such a (pretty deserved) tongue lashing for ousting one monarchy only to erect another, just as decadent as the first, he orders them to fight to the death. The scrum comes to a close, and Admiral Rykal emerges as the last oligarch standing, the reward for which is that she gets to be Lazaro's secretary.
Back on Wix, Isaac learns by accident that the creatures spurn the light — so he ramps up the flash. Meanwhile, on Winnipeg, an errant insectoid has wandered onto the ship, and attempts to walk off it with a reactor. Winniebot zaps him with a low-voltage charge, but only manages to stun him. Amae is struggling to finish the job when Isaac returns and shoots the creature dead for good. Teamwork makes the dream work!
While Elida is recuperating in the sickbay, the last vision to visit her in her confusion is her mom — who gets a laser beam right in the forehead. Elida must say yet another painful goodbye to her, if only in her mind. On Arriopa, Lazaro has his guards rifle through the library for monarchy texts in an attempt to collect as much knowledge of the Sterzaad as possible.
Winnipeg is docked at Planet Carillo when Elida finally wakes up. Isaac and Amae have disembarked and gone to the local market for supplies, and Elida too leaves the ship — possibly for good. She runs into her co-pilots at a food stand and pops a squat. It's there that Elida drops the news: she wants to sell Winnipeg and split the earnings three ways. When Isaac and Amae protest, Elida forfeits the deal, and splits. Isaac and Amae follow her, only to find that Winnipeg won't be sold anytime soon: She's been stolen.