Neva Whitestone was severely injured during the Zatvian attack that destroyed her homeworld. Bearing scars on her face and in her soul, she is adrift in a universe crushed beneath the might of the Zatvian Cooperative. Now Neva has received a mysterious summons from a ship called the Exile. He has no name except the insult flung at him--Rat. Without any memory of his former life, he is haunted by voices in his head, which threaten to drive him mad. Desperate to escape, Rat flees from the Zatvians hunting him by stowing away on what appears to be an ordinary freighter. The Exile is no innocent freighter, however, but instead a pirate ship embroiled in the last vestiges of rebellion against the Zatvians. So far, they have survived their private war. But now they have on board a man without a past, whose ravaged brain holds secrets that the Zatvians will kill to possess.