Beneath a desert fortress lies the Homeland of the Kqeg, a slave race with psychic abilities. Zakq and his twin brother, Ikqe, serve their overlords in the Intelligence and Security Service.
A Kqeg prophecy promises freedom from captivity, but belief in the supernatural has long waned. Zakq is an unbeliever while Ikqe's firm faith is bolstered by his latest idea.
Pursuit of it leads to disaster and sets in motion a tide of unexpected events.
Part One: Broken Phoenix
A firstmaster in the psychic Order of Joakqim, Zakq finds himself being interrogated by Security Chief Jai'k over a surprise curfew offence.
Events spiral out of control when Jai'k is ordered to find a newly created criminal and his daughter starts making secret visits to the Kqeg Homeland.
Meanwhile, devastated by his recent loss, Zakq begins to consider his brother's belief in the ancient prophecy and a vengeful plan for his enemy's daughter.
Part Two: Silent Nightingale
Struck dumb, despairing, desolate, the Nightingale takes wing,
And vows that till true love's return, He never more shall sing.
In servitude the Phoenix dwells, unable to grow strong,
You see, She cannot rise again without Her sweetheart's song;
But it is said, a Scorpion child will one day heal the breach,
And, setting right the father's wrong, will help the lovers reach.
Zakq must solve the prophecies that promise his people's freedom, but as an unbeliever, the task is truly a penance.
He is joined by Kqerhy, whose unleashed power has made him one of the most dangerous men in the empire.
Meanwhile, the vacant post of security chief soon leads to a bitter struggle for survival.
Part Three: Blind Scorpion
When, after a lifetime of self-indulgent luxury, a renowned connoisseur was asked to name his ultimate delicacy, the jaded gourmand replied, 'The triumph of my enemy's self-defeat; it's the only relish I can still savour.'
— Plonteijvian anecdote
Nurture your opponent's strength until he's blind to his weakness.
— Ancient Kjüraàzi proverb
The Security Service has never been in worse shape. Facing infighting and a new war, the security chief has opponents on every side.
Meanwhile, the Kqeg are left to wonder. Freedom seems far away and, when the emperor revives a lurid entertainment, the Homeland is weakened by doubt and division.
Amid growing mayhem and madness, resentments are rekindled and loyalties tested.
As the Security Service begins to totter, the future of the Empire becomes uncertain and with it, the survival of the Homeland.
Part Four: Wounded Heart
In the New Federation life goes on, but nothing is quite what it seems and everyone is hiding a secret.
The constitution speaks of equality and the language has been crafted to eradicate the iniqities of the past. Yet the pains of the past haunt the present and threaten the promise of a better future.
But nothing stays hidden forever and hope is not lost for those willing to believe that change is still possible.