Alexander Napier never wanted to be a soldier. But on the planet Gaulle, if the Emperor's press gangs find you, saying no is not an option. Alex wears a holographic tattoo of the Emperor's Own Corps, but he knows the marks of his service that don't show are the ones that count most. Meanwhile, on the merchant starship named The Queen Bee, captain and owner Madeline Pallestrino balances meeting her payroll with smuggling weapons to help the rebel cause on Gaulle, all the while fighting her growing attraction to one of her crewman. To all appearances, astrogator Thaddeus Jenner is an autistic savant who can handle six dimensional math but not make everyday conversation; Maddy's not especially interested in conversation, but she doesn't want to exploit him, either. On Gaulle, one of Maddy's legitimate customers is Count Peter Barranca, an aristocrat who represents the old order of the empire headed by the ruthless and inbred du Plessis family. As these people's paths intersect, secrets are uncovered, old loyalties are tested, and new alliances are formed on both personal and political levels. Shades of Empire puts a Caligula-esque story in a space opera setting and leavens the mix with touches of humor and romance.