This first novel is the story of a disillusioned company of Army engineers, languishing in the Pacific during the energy wars between the United States on the one hand, and Japan and California on the other. They steal the plans for an energy device that could end the wars and the world's slide into environmental disaster, but use it to extort the price of their own freedom from the world; the resurrection of an abandoned space colonization effort. They are driven by Eduardo Torres, a seeming shell of a man wo destroys everything in his way, and everyone who loves him, in his drive to escape his own past. With him is the exotic and dangerous Tuyet Pham, a young woman who arrives from nowhere but knows Torres better than he knows himself, and Sergeant Polaski, the soulless warrior on whom the tormented Torres relies. Together they flee blindly and with terrible losses, for the drones sent to scout the way have never returned, and they can delay no longer.