Jan Janszoon had heard of Grantville in which he considered it another fabled land, "like the kingdom of Prester John." He also heard of the flying machines that were being developed from a fellow Dutchman. Initially he misjudged the Dutchman was having a joke at his expense and had him killed.
Janszoon later raided a Spanish merchant ship off Costa de la Luz. Among the loot he took that caught his very curious attention was a Barbie doll. He interrogated the owner of the doll Sergio Antonelli, a Venetian merchant, who bought the doll from fellow Venetian Federico Vespucci that had came from Grantville. Janszoon, finally accepting the existing of the town, learned more from Antonelli including a American delegation to Venice, and especially firearms. He soon learned from Antonelli that the reason he bought the doll was because he planned on offering it as a present to the Spanish court in order to ingratiate himself with the royal family. Janszoon then decided to free Antonelli on the condition that his son Cornelis is sent to Grantville and see to it that he comes to no harm, and meets those in a position to aid Janszoon's and the Republic of Sallee's interests. If the condition were not met within two years, Janszoon will kill Antonelli's son, who is kept hostage as part of the arrangement, and would reward Antonelli if he kept promised to Janszoon's instructions.
Before departing from his son, Janszoon careful advise Cornelis in learning much from Antonelli to fit in Grantville, and everything about shipbuilding, cannons and especially flying machines. Also, he gives his son a letter to relay to Michael Stearns of a possible fulltime alliance, if he agrees that he and his people will convert to Islam.