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This story opens with a man named Jorane Sutt telling someone that there may be a Seldon crisis on the way. Yeah, let's get right to it, shall we?
Hober Mallow seems less than impressed. He sees politicians shouting "Seldon crisis" whenever they're in trouble and sometimes just for funsies.
But when Sutt mentions nuclear weapons, Mallow agrees to at least listen.
Three trader ships have gone missing at Korell, and the Foundation can't afford to just ask the local leader, the Commdor, for fear of looking weak.
Also, those ships were nuclear, so only someone else with nuclear power could have beaten them.
That leaves two possibilities: either Korell has invented nuclear tech—which Mallow thinks is about as far-fetched as an invitation to a Sasquatch wedding—or the Foundation houses a traitor.
But what does this have to do with Mallow? After all, he's a Smyrnian, an outlander, born to a poor spacer who died shoveling coal before the Foundation took over. (He probably walked barefoot uphill in the snow both ways to school, too.)
But Sutt doesn't "care an electron" (seriously, his words, not ours) about Mallow's birthplace (V.1.25). He needs an outlander and a man who knows Korell to go there as a trader and keep his eyes open for anything suspicious.
Mallow accepts the job. After he leaves, Sutt heads to the mayor's office to check in. Sutt claims that Mallow could be a good actor.