Five people must deal with the alien message received on the Cydonia Mensae on Mars. Humanity must not leave its solar system until it has cleaned up the pervasive criminal behaviour and corruption at higher levels. Worse, if humanity learns about aliens, a treaty will expire and humanity will face a much-advanced aggressive neighbour. Four of the five accept what has to be done, but can they reach power, wield it properly, and survive? Nathan Gill wants to be left alone, but he must influence Martian politics. Grigori Timoshenko dreams of building a defence force capable of deterring advanced aliens, but how, when he cannot mention aliens? When thrust into power, Fiona Bolton dreams of a fair life for the independents, while Sharon Galloway dreams of successfully managing the greatest engineering feat in human history. Jonathon Munro dreams of being important, but the only way he can is through murder and extortion, and that cannot be admitted publicly. They soon learn that dreams rarely correspond to reality, and in this dystopian future, murder and sabotage make achieving dreams unusually difficult.
The second book of the First Contact trilogy brings the worst aspects of this dystopian future economic system to the fore. A story of the quest for power and the problems of using it properly, of greed and of pointless ambition, this is a future to be avoided.