Two new interns arrive at the Banzai Institute – Houston Branch – Dr. Indra Mastin, a middle aged woman who is accomplished in biomedical disciplines, and Anthony Papalandro, a prodigy with innovative views on the nature of reality. They discover they have a common interest in bicycling.
They arrive within moments of each other by taxi at the front gates of the Institute. They are met by Billy Williams, a Blue Blaze Regular and part of the security team. He escorts them inside the grounds.
They next meet up with Hector Gomez, Assistant Director of the Institute. He explains the daily routine and meal times. His wife, Rosario, handles the kitchens and is a gourmet chef. He also explains that interns will take courses in shooting, riding and use of the lasso.
The group goes to the offices of Ms. Emily Hudson, the director of the Institute. Ms. Hudson is an older woman of indeterminate age, still attractive, with a scar starting on her right cheek going down her neck. She welcomes the new interns and explains that Dr. Banzai should be calling soon. Using a remote, she causes the wall to open, revealing a large screen TV.
While waiting for the call, Ms. Hudson has the interns meet Mishu, a Chow Chow, who is part of the security at the Institute and is always with Ms. Hudson. The interns approach Mishu and let him sniff their hands. They are told Mishu can find them anywhere on the grounds by their scent.
Dr. Banzai calls to welcome the interns to the Institute. During the call he compliments Anthony on his theories and say he will have some of the research data on the Oscillation Overthruster sent to him. He asks Dr. Mastin if she can present her work pm transdermal compounds to the Houston Medical Center. He also says that he will get her tickets to the next season of the Houston Grand Opera. Anthony gets a bit starstruck and needs to sit down and get a glass of water.
After the call, Ms. Hudson takes them to the dorms. They are separated by gender. Indra asks about time off policies and says that her first nephew will be born at the beginning of June. She wants to fly her mother out for the birth. M. Hudson says that won’t be a problem. Anthony asks about doing work at 3 A.M. Ms. Hudson says that isn’t a problem as long as it doesn’t interfere with the other residents.
The rooms are a spartan cell without electricity or running water, and sleep is on a straw mat atop a wooden bunk.