The cover art was revealed on October 10, 2019.
Auberon is one of the first and most important colony worlds in humanity’s reach, and the new conquering faction has come to claim it. Governor Rittenaur has come to bring civilization and order to the far outpost and guarantee the wealth and power of the Empire.
But Auberon already has its own history, a complex culture, and a criminal kingpin named Erich with very different plans. In a world of deceit, violence, and corruption, the greatest danger Rittenaur faces is love.
Agnete watches her boss Erich light a cigar with his titanium arm as they watch the news feeds of the conquering of the Sol system by the Laconian Empire. Since leaving Earth he had raised a new criminal underground on Auberon. Erich mentions to Agnete that the rules change and they'll get a new governor but Agnete states it'll be different this time.
Biryar Rittenaur is en route onboard the Notus to Auberon as the newly appointed Laconian governor and knows it because of his wife Mona Rittenaur as she is the best soil scientist of her generation. When they finally land on the planet, they go through the capital city streets of Barradan in a car and notices how the planet has an awful smell that it emits. They eventually arrive at his new home Biryar decided on with Major Lester Overstreet that would be the new Governor mansion. The Reception for their arrival is held at the mansion with hundreds of key guests. During this time, he tries to adjust to the planet's two cycles of light and one of darkness over a day. He then runs into his wife and a woman named Dr. Carmichael who was telling her about how her research was unjustly canceled because she did not pay the local bribes.
As the reception event came to a close, Biryar found himself in a room looking over the courtyard as an older man with a prosthetic arm, Erich, approaching him. They begin to talk about the planet, Erich then continues to ignore Biryar questioning as he tells him of the outcomes when bribes are not taken. Rittenaur questions if Erich is threatening him but he says he's not. Instead, Erich pulls out a black token device with thousands of credits and hands it over to the governor. Rittenaur proceeds to drop it to the ground and crush it with his foot. Erich is unpleased with this and Rittenaur says he will call the guards but Erich questions how many are loyal. The one-armed man then leaves the room and Biryar needs time to calm himself.
Agnete meets up with Erich as he reboots his arm in a new meeting place. She comments on how much of a problem the new governor will be. Erich decides he won't kill him but to find out what to do instead.
Mona Rittenaur is at her office as a woman arrives, Veronica Dietz, a liaison with workgroups on Auberon. Mona questions Veronica on research done by the woman named Dr. Carmichael and requests her research. Once she gets the records on Carmichael’s research, it looks promising and wonders if she should get Carmichael back to continue her work. Mona then reviews how the microorganism compatibility workgroup that was funded instead went to a man named Dr. Grover Balakrishnan. His research planned to develop soil that would support both Auebron and Earth biology but Mona doubts the research potential and concludes it at lesser work compared to Dr. Carmichael's. As Mona goes over the funding reports she discovers how Ms. Dietz had contractually made it so that she would get a cut of any profits made from any workgroups research.
Governor Rittenaur reminisces of the previous execution he had witnessed on Laconia over the years and how it was important in keeping Laconians in line. He then overlooks over all the Laconians at the courtyard assembly as he holds a gun to execute a man who had been bribed in giving medical supplies to a criminal. As the man knelt, Biryar shoots him in the head then turns to the news feeds and to representative Suyet Klinger to tell her on the importance of Laconians following discipline policies from the high consul.
He then meets up with Overstreet in a car as he informs him about Erich and the lack of information on him in the database. When Biryar arrived home, he then meets an angered Mona that tells him of the deep corruption at her workplace. Mona pleads to arrest Veronica and to purge the corruption but Biryar says he can not do anything yet. The two argue and Biryar tells her on the balance of power that must be kept between them and the locals.
Agnete and Erich watch the newsfeeds in a warehouse as Governor Rittenaur executes one of his men. Erik laughs it off then tells Agnete it all for show and its easy to execute your own but Agnete says it was still effective. Then Agnete turns to the information they have learned from spying on the Ritenaurs and how the couple was heard arguing. Agnete is then ordered by Erich to use this info to turn the governor by sending someone to him.
Then a truck with four armed men arrives at the warehouse to work out a deal with Erich on a delivery. The leader of the men says the delivery prices had doubled but Erich finds that unacceptable. As Agnete watches the leader of the men fire on Erich, his titanium arm catches the bullet. Erich then uses a phrase that activates two turret guns hidden in the ceiling that kills the four men. Agnete realizes how the men were watching her thinking she was the muscle but Erich then comments how his way is better than the Laconian way.
Mona is with Veronica Deitz in her office as she questions her on the biological compatibility studies and Veronica tries to switch the subject. When Mona asks when more results will be released. Dietz tells her in a month but Mona knows a report might not be released if it doesn't look promising for Veronica. As Mona takes a break she gets the idea of solving the problem of funding for Dr. Carmichael's project by reallocating funds and putting under the joint governmental projects.
Biryar over time notices a change in his wife's mood to be happier with her work. Overstreet's work in contrast reveals more and more corruption at every level of Auberon society. The only news that relieved him was the disappearance of Erich.
In crafting his image to the public, Biryar developed a closer relationship with the newsfeeds, specifically with a popular host of one named Lara Kasten who had been interviewing him over time. After having many interviews with Lara he emotionally gets closer to her and trusts her as a friend. During their interview, Lara kisses him and an emotionally overwhelmed Rittenaur decided to end the interview.
Onboard a yacht, Agnete, and Erich hide from the authorities as they are questioning a woman who is in debt with him. The woman had changed her name from KarKara to Lara and was being used by Erich to try to have her have an affair with Biryar to blackmail him. Lara informs him that she had him but he wasn't interested and tells him that Rittenour truly loves his wife. Agnete and Erich then understand that Mona is Rittenaur is Biryar's weak spot to exploit. Erich then decides to remove Lara's debt since she did her part.
During an early morning breakfast, Mona is informed by Biryar of the kiss and how it would not happen again. Mona says it is okay and thankful for respecting her.
in visiting the city of Carlisle for a conference with the local business and government leaders. The governor awaits a change in venues in a waiting room, Erich then appears to meet with him. When he is given options on what he wants in his coffee he gets one of his arms closer to his sidearm. Erich warns him not to pull the weapon and so Biryar lowers his arm. When governor Rittenour asks what he can do for him, Erik says he is here for business. Then Erich informs him of someone in his organization who is making up projects and changing the budget and how that would be a problem. Biryar tells him that would be a misappropriation of Laconian funds which would be treason that would mean prison time or death. Erich then pulls out a hand terminal with the image and financial information of Mona's doing. The governor Rittenaur asks what Erich wants and Erich tells him he is just giving him the information. Finding no way out, he pulls out his gun and tries to kill himself. Erich's titanium arm however stops the bullet and saves his life.
Erich then tells Biryar the story of how he replaced his original deformed arm and how he still misses his old arm. He then offers Biryar a way out by getting rid of Major Overstreet and replacing him with a local.
In Barrandar, Mona is home and runs into Vernica waiting in the sitting room. She questions what she doing in her home and informs her that she came at the request of the governor's office. Biryar then shows up to tell her it was him that requested her to come. He then informs Mona that he has requested a science directorate position for Veronica Dietz on Laconia Capital city. Veronica tries to turn down the offer but Biryar tells her she must accept it as she will be treated like a Laconian now and so she agrees to it and leaves them.
Then when Biryar and his wife are alone he tells her to next time let him approve her projects and she agrees to it. The governor then gets a high-security alert on his hand terminal from Overstreet's office and then holds Mona's hand as he tells her he's committed the process at work on the planet as his hand terminal chimes again.