The Lost Ones are those Mutes who have been "sold down the river," that is, sent into indentured servitute (slavery) in Ne-Issan in return for weapons and supplies. Each Mute clan spends a period of several weeks leading up to the annual fair at the trading posts scouring the land for Tracker renegades they can send in the place of their own people, but if they are not successful than they send their own volunteers.
The Iron Masters initially give these servants a warm welcome, but as soon as they are on the wheel-boats they are forced to grovel and are treated like animals. Mutes who resist are punished or killed. Most Mutes bear their humiliation stoically, knowing that by their sacrifice they enrich their clan.
Once in Ne-Issan, the Mute slaves are given many different jobs, usually menial labour of one kind or another, such as working in the mines. The most sought-after job is that of a messenger working for Ne-Issan's postal service. Taking advantage of the Mute ability to run all day long without rest, this job allows messages and small goods to be transported at high speed along Ne-Issan's highway network.
With the tradition of sending workers into Ne-Issan almost a century old, many of the 'Lost Ones' have borne their own children in Ne-Issan. These children have been reared in the manner of the Plainfolk, but their training and upbringing has been harsher and more restrictive than that which they would encounter amongst their own people.
After the Battle of the Trading Post in May 2991, the She-Kargo, M'Waukee and San'Paul Mutes have abandoned the practice of sending workers into Ne-Issan. Short of labour, the Yama-Shita and their allies have taken to capturing members of the D'Troit, C'Natti and San'Louis clans living along the Great Lakes by force instead.
After assisting the Yama-Shita in the assassination of the Shogun in December 2991 and sparking a new civil war, Cadillac returned to the Plainfolk with some 700 Lost Ones freed in payment for the deal, seen by many as the fulfilment of the prophecy.