Tanner—human but with a Motic DNA splice that turns her blue—wants to find out why, after a millennium of space travel, humans are no longer going out into space. Now that she works for the Historical Institute, she has the authority and the funding to conduct an investigation on Earth. But there are subtle and violent forces at work there, and she and her new-found companions must soon flee for their lives.

Complicating her assignment is internal turmoil at the Institute. A rogue faction is trying to take control of the seven Families that manage it, and has ordered Tanner’s death. Meanwhile, Tanner’s sponsor is trying to protect her and yet defend herself. With enemies all around her, Tanner has to put her life into the hands of an unlikely quartet of allies.