Two strangers arrive to the Barrayaran space station. The young girl named Olympe Hakim, with quite striking eyes, is travelling the galaxy for the first time. His tall and dark big brother Hadim, however, once lived on Barrayar and left there decades ago in the fleet of the Goodfellows. By their own account they intend to find work as musicians at one of the station's numerous bars - perhaps even at the Casino. The station is known for it's diversions, especially for the huge brothel Nightsky, which is something quite new for Olympe.
At the same time, exorcists Sara Lepmets and Anette Roslev get a transfer from Barrayar to this same space station, their actual commission and the reason for the transfer unclear at the time of leaving. On their way to the station, the two exorcists receive an important visitor from The Mother Church: lady Lily herself has come on a private shuttle to meet the two exorcists and give them their orders. The commission is to establish the presence of the Mother Church on the space station through fixed premises and charity work. The commission entails a great deal on PR, meaning that the more the exorcists are seen and heard to help those in need, the better. Missionary work or active recruiting is not to be done at this point, though applications to join the exorcists will be taken in and delivered forward. Weekly reports on the progress of the scheme are to be delievered back to the headquartes in Barrayar, including short notes on general attitudes towards the Church and it's new operations. The reason for the transform of Lepmets in Roslev is the recent flurry of publicity around them. According to Lady Lily, the Church attempts to temper the personification of the new forces on these two figures, and thus they are transferred to a more remote location. As a mother (and an upper-class lady), Anette is put in charge.
The two parties meet up at the station quite by an accident, when Annette notices a big hole in the bag of the man walking ahead of her. She addresses Hadim politely, and soon it becomes clear that both Hadim and Olympe have been robbed. Luckily, they still have their instruments and will be able to look for job. After being adviced to visit the security official and report the robbery, the two teams part again.
Annette and Sara go on with their scheme enthusiastically, making an application for a permanent residence and listing all kind of items to obtain. They actually get to meet the officials of the station sooner than they thought, and are invited to a private meeting in a quite alarming way on the middle of their shopping tour. The official is polite and strict, and Anette carries out the negotiations confidently and firmly. The Church is given permanent premises on the station as well as all the licenses needed. More negotiation skills is needed to get a permit to carry the power armors, but Annette succeeds in this. Needle guns and stunner are also allowed, but the bolt rifles are not to be carried around on the ship. They will be put in a safety box in the rented premises (or the bank). The official will also contact the superiors of the Church to negotiate further on the weaponry and equipment of the exorcists in general. The official seems quite relieved on hearing that the Church representatives are at the station to do charity, not missionary work.
Meanwhile, the Hakims start to look for a job right away, in order to fill in the hole in their budget caused by the robbery. They manage to get in to show their skills in a few places, but don't quite nail a contract yet. The meet again the two exorcists outside a restaurant, and the two, knowing their unfortunate situation, offer them a dinner at a mid-priced restaurant. At the dinner they get to know each other better, the exorcists telling about the Mother Church and their current commission, and Hadim eventually telling them quite a bit about the Brotherhood of the Goodfellows. As an upper class lady, Anette finds herself in a new situation, with women and men discussing politis, religion and society in quite a relaxed manner. Olympe is also a bit quiet, letting her big brother do the talking. Sara is more at home in the situation, as this is more familiar to her from her days at the university.
Sara actually remembers having heard of the brotherhood earlier, when they discussed the unwritten history of the civil war in a study group at the university. It was known that the brotherhood followed its charismatic leader and left Barrayar in a huge fleet, and was never heard again of. The common belief was that the fleet was secretly destroyed by the Barrayaran forces, to prevent the radicals from ever coming back. They have an ideology of sharing, which is quite close to communism and very far away from the current hierarchical, even feudal, society of Barrayar. Based on their recent impressions at the meeting of the station officials, Sara warns the Hakims that religious songs and missionary work might not be accepted here, and it would be better for them to restrain themselves from those.