The planets have been experiencing food riots and even cannibalism. Now amino acids in the form of spheres have been discovered on Euphrates. The Helical Mine Corporation is in charge and its manager is the green tinged Kalissae Borisith-Major. She has a mouth full of canine teeth that make some think of vampires but she’s not one of those. She’s from Pflessian. Things start going wrong and miners are being killed. The Free Syndic sends Bedfor Odigal to investigate. He’s in sub vocal contact with an alien named Issy who may be the last of its kind. Using sarcasm it helps him make decisions.
Psychominer Theeran can use telekinesis to turn an area inside out to get to the ore. Something goes wrong and she’s killed. Then a laser crew tries to break through and four more die.
Right away there’s contention between Bradford and Kalissae as he begins his investigation. Bradford has a long scar on his face. Kalissae is shocked as it disappears. He finally explains that it’s really his symbiotic partner Issy that’s been with his family for generations.
He starts to examine the ore core when a serious shot like electricity takes him over and knocks him out. Nothing like an accident to warm the heart of someone from Pflessian. Her boss, Director Nicholas Malvin. wants to evacuate the mine and that includes Bradford while he’s still out.. To save her job she reluctantly agrees.
Bradford comes out of it but Issy is missing. Kalissae tells him what’s going on. Before the ice can totally thaw between them she has to admit she backed her boss’ decision to get him out of there. Bradford says he’s not going anywhere until he finds out what’s in that core. He may not have a choice since security knocks him out with some gas and carries him off.
Bradford wakes up and he’s aboard his own ship. It’s being piloted by Chief Stancell from Euphrates. He’s been ordered to take Bradford to Tigris where the evacuated miners have been taken. It looks like a mining company security ship is about to blow them out of space. Nothing like a threat to make enemies pals.
The two get the best of the situation and thanks to a distress signal have to go to Tigris anyway. Back on Euphrates Kalissae gets a surprise when Malvin’s assistant, Arter Rosenthal, reveals that he’s a member of an organization called Quiet Suns. They were thought to have been completely eliminated. There’s no job too dirty they won’t do for the central government.
Rosenthal tells Kalissae and Malvin that the mine has to be destroyed and the two of them along with it. Coming back after ending up on his home world is Issy. He enters Kalissae’s mind. Now things get nasty….real nasty. Issy is a Selen and that may be the key to everything.
No hard science or theory about life and the universe. It’s a solid story that entertains all the way through. One note: It would have been nice if someone had told cover artist Barclay Shaw that the female character was green.