It is the future. Humankind now colonizes planets across the large sector of the Milky Way, conducting a vast range of scientific and industrial endeavors. Generally it is peaceful, and one even has a selection of dreams from which to choose. Life, however, isn't without risk. For safety's sake, virtually everything is recorded, and unaccompanied travel in any outpost environment is definitely not recommended. Now comes news of the death of the Seignora star and the subsequent evaporation of its four inhabited planets. The Seignora Holocaust is tragic news throughout the galaxy, and people everywhere mourn the loss of life . . . . Meanwhile, on a small planet tucked away in a neighboring system, a mining operation continues. Hippolyta is a desolate place with a soupy, grainy atmosphere that shutters out light, oxygen and even radio waves. There, at the foot of a mountain, a life is lost in a rockslide. How could one death compare to the thousands in Seignora, and why is it so important that the World Council learn of the cause? Enter Gregory Goldin, legal analyst and sanctioned observer. It will be his task to gather evidence, depose the witnesses and submit the facts to Earth. But Goldin and his volunteer partner, the daring pilot Donald Morris, won't find the going so easy. For one thing, key witnesses--including the victim's fiancée--have almost no memory of the circumstances that lead to the death; and for another, the seismic instruments tell of an impending global cataclysm. Our intrepid investigators have only 24 hours to unravel the mystery. There is just one serviceable craft for their evacuation to safety at the orbiter. Can Goldin and Morris detect all the clues in time, or will their trip up to the Ring be in the company of a murderer? Find out, in this nail-biting tale of suspense, intrigue and that most constant of human traits: greed. Remember, though: Perhaps it is when one feels most alone that he isn't.