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Steelhead has defeated the vampires that were threatening the Empire and eliminated Don Nicanor de Rokha, the only ambassador opposed to his receiving the Medallion of Hign Nobility. Steelhead is now back at the Imperial Palace, about to receive the medal he cherished. A dissenting voice is raised, that of Doña Vicenta, who accuses the cruel and immoral Metabaron of killing her father, exterminating millions of Dyukkas, and vaporizing a 250,000-year-old Halerce tree. She casts her vote against the decoration, and intends to commit suicide immediately afterwards, depriving Steelhead of his award forever. Her words sting Steelhead to the bone. Most importantly Doña Vicenta predicts the end of the Clan, for as a machine without a human brain, he will never know true love.