Vidan was again reaching out to the stars: sadder and wiser... and cautious, unwilling to repeat the mistakes of the ancestors. The Commonwealth was born, reaching out to lost colonies and establishing new ones, rediscovering lost technology and how to navigate the star-ways. Many of the lost colonies not only survived but thrived--and they remembered their abandonment and the harsh centuries of the Downfall...
Scout Captain Ian Fieran cleans up operations after battling a Gen'gineer team that attacked and decimated a small colony. The crime of the colonists? Their genetics didn't suit the exacting standards of the Gen'gineers, who continue the dogma and goal of the Set'ri from centuries ago in their attempt to create the "perfect" Human genome. Captured data leads Ian and his team of Scouts across the galaxy to the Rim colony world of Chorillan, where they hope to track down a Gen'gineer nest.
At the same time, Miranda Riallon, a schoolteacher and daughter of very important members of the Colony Council, worries about one of her students. The boy is an orphan, and she wants to adopt him. However, Ranny shows all the signs of going into Phase--the sensory overload that hits some children near adolescence. No one knows what causes Phase, and there's no known cure. Some fear that the Azuli--sentient canines native to Chorillan--are stealing the children when they escape into the wilderness to ease their discomfort. When Ranny vanishes, Miranda heads into the forests of Chorillan to find him.
She meets Ian and his Scouts. They help her look for Ranny while she helps them hunt down the Gen'gineers. As each side educates the other, they come to a partnership, then friendship. The choices Ian and Miranda make during their hunt will change Chorillan for generations to come.