The Empress has guided the expansion of the colonised universe for millenia - the operating system of a vast civilisation, a shepherd whose overriding priority is the survival and prosperity of her sheep - the entire human race.
But not everyone follows Her light. When the Messiah virus descends, disabling the Empress’ influence, a powerful little Psion girl is humanity’s only hope. Fatima, however, has chosen strange companions.
From Wanchai City, July Wong, the universe’s most famous courtesan, has no idea what he’s doing. Christine the cyborg karang guni junk-trader knows exactly what she’s doing, and doesn’t want to be doing it. Valentine Kusuma, the insane engineer, knows what everybody is doing all the time, and doesn’t see why he should care.
Meanwhile, Nurse Clerica Parvatiand Lady Superior Octavia of the Imperial Guard must risk their future, and question their conscience, as the Messiah holds the entire human race hostage.