It's spring on the Collection. Life after the Fifth Axis occupation is slowly returning to normal. Brax has invited students to the Collection, and he and Ms Jones await their arrival. The students are given welcome packs explaining, among other things, the traditions on the Collection. Ms Jones notes to Brax that none of the traditions on the list actually exist.
Two new students, Parasiel and Meredith, arrive on the Collection. They continue an argument they've been having for hours.
By the lake, Adrian and Peter are building a Pile of stone, a Killoran act that Adrian is proud to see Peter accomplish.
Benny and Jason are in bed. They discuss the state of their relationship, and Benny decides to nap for a couple of hours before her first class.
Joseph wakes Benny up five minutes before class, and she hurriedly dresses and gets to class to find her students waiting for her. She gets off on the wrong foot with Parasiel, who calls the robot porters slaves and compares the traditions of the Collection to the imposition of cultural norms by the Fifth Axis.
At a dinner for all the academics and students, Bev and Ms Jones feel out of place among all the students who know nothing of the Occupation. Jason tries to convince Benny to leave the party, but she refuses. He heads for Café Vosta for a beer. While there, Ms Jones, in tears, tells him the owner, Florth, called her a "filthy collaberator". Jason's first instinct is to grab a few Killorans and go after Florth, but he thinks better of it and shares a drink with Ms Jones.
The next day, Benny meets with Parasiel in her office. Something about him makes her uneasy. She gives him his grade, a six out of ten as he had added literary criticism to his report on Alpha Centauran digs. Later, Benny goes for a run around the lake, keeping an eye on Peter as he works on his Pile near one side of the lake. While on the opposite side, she notices someone approaching Peter, so she runs faster. She tackles the person, who turns out to be Parasiel, and is ready to hit him with a stone. He says he was just playing with Peter, and she asks him why he keeps looking at her. He explains that he thought she was interested in him and she apologises.
Benny talks with Brax. He explains that he brought the students here so everyone could start to relax. The made-up traditions are something for the students to rebel against.
Later, Bernice finds Jason, and they run off into the woods. As they have sex, they realise that, nearby, Parasiel and Meredith are doing the same.
- Bernice Summerfield
- Irving Braxiatel
- Jason Kane
- Peter Summerfield
- Clarissa Jones
- Adrian Wall
- Bev Tarrant
- Café Vosta is a shop on the Collection.
- Hass is the replacement gardener for Mister Crofton.
- Parasiel writes a paper on the Alpha Centaurian digs on Proxima.
- Brax establishes twenty-two "traditions" for the Collection, including walking a duck around the Small Trianon.
- This was later one of the eight stories collected in Treasury.