, part one of the trilogy, establishes the conflict between Kate Sanger, a skilled teller of , and Kurt Daron, a dangerous derelict with technology from the future. After Kate rescues a koala in , she discovers the smuggler wants it back. Then she is confronted by the smuggler’s pursuer, Daron, who wants something else altogether. Confused by Kate’s slight-of-hand, Daron thinks he can force Kate to reveal the secret of by threatening her with death. Kate thinks the only way to stay alive is to act as if she knows that secret.