To the Quotidien, the interplanetary police arm of the Pancivilion Transunion, Chief Bioengineer Djoran Sendal Lav is more trouble than her ground-breaking research into Foldspace travel is worth. When one of Djoran’s bioprobes infects her with the spore-borne spirit of an alien prophetess, it becomes the perfect opportunity for her superior officer, Shipmaster Salus Pree, to have her declared irreparably contaminated. Then he has her removed to a far-flung prison hospital for dangerous political prisoners, while having her research project dismantled and removed from his ship.
What Pree doesn’t count on is the determination of Djoran’s senior assistant, Dolen Zhessoff, who tracks her down and arranges for a spectacular prison break. What Zhessoff doesn’t count on is her escape route being hijacked by political terrorists trying to liberate their imprisoned ruler. What Regent Lukas doesn’t count on is falling in love with Djoran and risking his entire revolution to help her. What no one counts on is Djoran actually being dangerously unstable.
When she recovers from near-fatal illness, Djoran develops abilities that enable her to take over an entire crew of armoured mercenaries, compelling them to take her to Paenilene, the planet where the prophetess inside Djoran’s mind lost her life. Djoran fights to regain control herself while leading her companions to solve the mystery of what killed B’tel Azur Zheyen and her colleagues, along with the entire civilization they were initiating into the Transunion. Djoran’s discoveries lead her deeper into the planet, exploring ancient cities and uncovering a sinister connection between the ashen remains of the deceased citizenry and the Fell, the savage tribes that rule the jungle surface world. But her greatest discovery could prove to be the undoing of the Quotidien, if not the Transunion as a whole.
Djoran will have to save her companions, unravel the threads of the conspiracy that destroyed a burgeoning galactic civilization, and prevent the spread of a dangerous contagion that even now threatens to consume her and everyone she holds dear. The Quotidien are on her trail, the predatory natives are growing smarter, and her crew is dwindling by the day. Time is running out, but Djoran must persevere and triumph, or risk everything she knows turning to ash.