Once back on Tinara, Sook sets up a trust fund for Nero, administered by her / Hippocrates / Ace / Wilson. The AI patents are tied to the fund, so any future income from that will go there. As Nero needs to be stress tested, Sook starts setting that up, as well as continuing to help with Phaeton's "subnet" project.
Needing a test location for Phaeton's killer viruses without destroying the world wide net (again), Phaeton and Sook find a nearly completed industrial park with a fully furnished living area, and a mature network, which is conveniently not yet connected to the net. During their test, however, the Heir to the Hegemony shows up, with plans of his own for the newly constructed office park; plans that don't involve meddling computer hackers. Misunderstandings are had all around, and our fearless hackers are let off with a warning, since (Sook points out) if they're arrested, then no doubt a lot more of the details will end up made public.
Next, as a stress test for Nero, Sook and Phaeton hack Nero in to temporarily be put in charge of an automated canned-marshmallow factory, while they up the speed of the conveyor belts. This involves illicitly getting the conveyor belts upgraded. This is a successful stress test, though marshmallow does get everwhere.
Another stress test involves Nero as Detective. He picks an unsolved case - a bank robbery some ten years ago - and begins to investigate. Impersonating a criminology student to Detective Lansbury (who worked on the case back then), he learns a bit about the principals - one person of particular suspicion is Roger Frennech, the bank manager. But he died shortly after the money went missing, and his widow is having trouble living just on his pension. Nero pokes around and does some research at the bank and then breaking into Frennech's old computer, and finds a couple of deleted addresses in his address book. One, Matt Grendel, has relocated to Hazard. Nero scp's himself there, and is nearly eaten by Grendel's computer security system... but Grendel himself is gone.
Meanwhile, Sook's apartment is set on fire and she is nearly killed by a mysterious stranger, who turns out to be Grendel. He's arrested. Yay!
Sook and company head to Nurl to meet up with the Hippocrates crew to talk about Nero's final destructive test, what would be good and what sorts of failure cases are acceptable. She meets DaVinci, another AI classmate of Hippocrates'.
Back on Tinara, Omninet has been making some interesting discoveries. So, the whole crew heads to Riden to give some presentations.