On the backwater world of Cayelle, Tina Freeman runs a shop with her son Rex: fifteen years old, half-human, half-android with a massive chip on his shoulder about having been born without arms or legs.
The shop makes a modest profit, but when a creditor turns up wanting his money back, everything goes pear-shaped.
She needs money, and needs it fast. Another creditor is impossible to find. That leaves her one option: to return to the world she fled fifteen years ago and Kelso Space Station, where her spaceship has languished for over fifteen years, and finally sell the thing.
Tina worked as scientific officer in the Federacy Force’s top secret Project Charon, and was forced out when she rang alarm bells about particles that escaped out of a rift to another universe.
As it turns out, the alien dust has been infecting people in her absence, causing profound changes in human behaviour.
When Tina re-surfaces at Kelso, her presence is a threat to those who still defend the project, including her ex-husband, and they want to shut her up, but her continued silence may well mean the end of civilisation.
After having escaped from Kelso Station, Tina and her crew run low on supplies.
Both stations they can visit are in pirate hands. They have to make a toss-up which would be the safest. They choose the bigger station.
But while they’re in the dock, trying very hard not to be noticed until they can negotiate the ridiculous supply wait times before they leave again, Tina finds out that her daughter Evelle is a prisoner at the station.
Trying to free her brings Tina much closer to the pirates than she ever wanted to get.
Tina had no choice but to escape Aurora Station on board the Starfighter Manila: the ship was about to blow up and would have killed the entire station.
But they’re in deep trouble. They have less than half the very minimum crew number necessary to fly the ship safely, the engines are damaged and Tina’s travel companions are on a different ship.
Aurora Station fell into pirate hands, so returning is not an option and the ship isn’t safe to fly long distances.
On top of that, several crew members may have been exposed to genetic treatment by the pirates and may be turning into violent monstrous creatures.
With no outside help forthcoming, survival becomes an intense battle.
Tina and her crew finally arrive on Olympus, the world that holds the Federacy Assembly. Her initial plan was to go there to present the data the left in a locker on Kelso Station fifteen years earlier, but many things have changed.
For one, rather than wait for someone else to do it, she and the scientists they collected at Aurora Station have been working on a cure for the infection that turns people into grey-skinned mutant pirates.
Secondly, they’re bringing a stricken war ship and a few of its remaining crew members who were rescued from pirate captivity.
Little has gone to plan. After a few attempts, they don’t yet have a cure. And while the infection does horrendous things to people besides giving them a long, but miserable, life, it seems that the only way it spreads is through human intervention.
Tina and her friends are about to make a few discoveries about power, who wields it, and how it is used in this conclusion to the Project Charon series. The betrayal runs much deeper than anyone has predicted. Those in power are not going to take their uncovering lying down.