"Falkayn spoke wearily. 'The Polesotechnic League began as a mutual-benefit association of companies, true; but the idea was also to keep competition within decent bounds. That's breaking down, that second aspect. How long till the first does too?'" (p. 637)
The team has just barely escaped with their lives from a native uprising against exploitative League companies on Tametha. Chee Lan asks Falkayn if he would prefer the Terran Empire, which of course is prophetic.
"'...the heart is going out of the League...'" (p. 638)
Falkayn refers to "'...the few monopolists we've got.'" (ibid.)
We will learn much about League cartels in Mirkheim. Poorer planets must accumulate capital before they can participate in interstellar society but they quickly lose any capital to market manipulations or thinly disguised piracy. Van Rijn keeps his employees moral for pragmatic, not idealistic, reasons. It is down to Falkayn to find a way forward.
Ten years later, van Rijn's granddaughter dislikes:
"...most of those money-machine merchant princes..." (p. 640)
- and reflects that Technic civilization has been:
"...overwhelmed by laissez-faire capitalism -" (p. 647)
She is aware of changes in social customs as well as in economics:
"My grandfather's generation seldom bothered to get married. My father's did. And mine, why, we're reviving patrilineal surnames." (p. 644)
Van Rijn had children with different mistresses but never married whereas his granddaughter will become Coya Falkayn.
Since we are tracking transitions, let us quote one use of that word in this story. Van Rijn keeps his quarters at Earth-standard illumination even though the rest of the chartered Ythrian ranger Gaiian is lit by the yellower wavelength of the star Quetlan. Coya must blink when she enters her grandfather's disorderly but luxurious stateroom whereas:
"He was used to abrupt transitions." (p. 647)
We know that he was active on many planets before he stopped traveling after the Satan affair. Something important has brought him back into space...