Charleen Dreesen is stranded on Casa Verde station without the proper ticket to ship out on an interstellar spaceship. With no berths in the offing, she's looking for any way she can find to make a credit. Then she meets Joey, his sister Darleen, his father Mike and his pet rat Mister Rodent—who are all worse off than she is. Mike's behind in his kickbacks to the local crime boss, and neither he nor the kids have interfaces or much in the way of education.
So Charleen's now in bad company as well as stranded and broke. Before you know it, people are trying to kill her. She's left with no choice but to start climbing the ladder of La Causa, the organization that controls crime in the Casa system.
And if she's not careful she’ll wind up in politics. The Cordoba and Drake Combines are being challenged by the rising Alliance created by Jenny Starchild and the crew of her starship Arachne. Their control over the Pamplona sector is starting to crack and the Casa system is caught in the middle. Charleen may have to raise the bloody flag of revolution . . .