Rinn McCrea is a Starfarer, an indentured telepath whose contract belongs to the Chinese. They are highly displeased when hostile aliens attack her ship, massacring her entire crew. Her worst transgression is her desperate decision to seek refuge on a Soviet ship, whose government is the greatest enemy of the Chinese. The Soviets consider telepathy to be a crime, but are willing to use Rinn's talents for their own benefit. She helps them repair their trade relations with alien merchants. Rinn's job is complicated by the telepath Enclaves who brand Rinn as a renegade and demand that she returns to their rigid control. Rinn's life is at its most complicated, when Russian Captain Yuri Selenkov offers her the chance of a future free from isolation and persecution. However, to seize this opportunity means that Rinn must break the fundamental commandment of the Starfarer's code of honor.