Three thousand years ago, the Vespoid Khitine are about to learn they must live with the disappointment of trade negotiations collapsing - or at least most of them will have to live with it - Chindara has other things to occupy her mind.
Their erstwhile partners to be, the Te, have their own plans. This is merely one more conquest, hardly different to scores that have gone before, Well, that isn't quite right; it's the first time they have had their actions halted by the appearance of a tiny electric blue light, a Custodian. Never have they watched, helplessly, as two of their battle cruisers blinked out of existence, before receiving a polite, but firm warning: attempts to circumvent the, hitherto unheard of, Accords will result in their complete destruction.
Twenty-one years ago, in the Gallsor system, the warning all but forgotten, Commander Jaron makes a choice that will have unimaginable consequences, the least of which follows his return to Te'ath, when the Supreme Council are prompted - on the urging of the most dangerous of the three heads of the covert Agency, Garnoth - to sanction a plan circumventing the Accords. The target? Telluria (Earth).
Garnoth's most able protégé, Tala, is tasked with leading the expedition, the success of which is dependent upon the Tellurian, Hugo Black (a Boston corporate attorney) heading up a multinational corporation, TeCorp.
Only two people can disrupt Garnoth's plan: Gorn, a twenty-one year old Te'an prodigy, whose brilliance is matched by his self-doubt and social ineptitude. He is recruited, when particularly vulnerable, to the cause of the Te'an rebellion by the single minded Narol. Gorn will betray his best, his only friend and, if he succeeds in his 'mission,' condemn his people to almost certain destruction. While taxing his mind over the choices to be made, he is completely unaware he has been marked for assassination.
The second potential fly in the Te'an ointment is history lecturer, Jonathon (Jon) Tyler and his recently acquired, rebellious young companion, Emily. Spirited from his bed, in the dead of night, he meets the physical embodiment of the electric blue light; a woman, whose beauty reminds him of a classical statue, an impression heightened by a cold and humourless aspect enhanced, in turn, by her inhuman electric blue eyes, completely electric blue eyes. Jon is told that an Artefact exists - a sentient, artificial life form, which may, or may not choose to help - and his job is to bring it to the attention of those who speak for Earth. How difficult could that be?
He is allowed to glimpse the consequences of converging forces, far beyond the danger posed by the Te'an threat, and guesses this to be the real reason for Custodian interest in his planet. For now, he has no choice but to act as a Custodian pawn in an opening gambit, on a board only just beginning to take shape, and where all the pieces have yet to arrive.
Rating – PG13
Genre – Sci-Fi
5.0 (8 reviews)
Free until 16 January 2014
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