In the distant Heracles system, at the edge of explored space, the last remaining crew of the infamous pirate ship Crimson Star have found themselves trapped. Civil war has broken out, and the jumpgates that supply interstellar travel have been shut down to all but official traffic. Their leader, ex-professor of mathematics, Tybalt, is desperate to escape the system and attempt an experimental cure for the degenerative nervous condition that got him fired in the first place. Their pilot, former mobster, Staff, clings to the hope that he can reconstitute the pirate fleet and return them to their former glory. Their surgeon, the ascetic psychic, Tamora, has grown disillusioned with their lifestyle and wants to return home to her monastery and to her simple life of meditation. Their enforcer, retired military AI robot, Nicodemus, could only find employment as a janitor after retiring . . . until a law enforcement agent approached him about using his military skills to infiltrate and take down an infamous pirate group. They are the last of the Crimson Star pirates. And they are pursued by the legendary lawman Neil Tesso, whose decades of service are liberally sprinkled with stunning victories. With the increased pirate activity in Tesso’s home system, as well as the civil war, the Core government on old Earth is threatening martial law. Desperate to avert the arrival of the insidious Inquisitors and the suffering that follows like a plague, Tesso pursues the pirates with zealous vigor.