Alone on a rain-swept mountain top, the robot, Broome, waits for rescue. Worshipped by the simple tribespeople below, it remembers its long existence, its long-dead friends, and ponders the tragedy of war and human frailty. To stave off the boredom, it decides to tell the story of Loner’s Deep and the events that took place there, events which threatened to destroy the fragile peace among the great spacefaring civilisations of Human Space and bring the whole human race to the edge of extinction. Broome’s story is about Berenetta, an Earth woman who, alone among her kind, is able to understand the true nature of the beautiful alien object that appears from nowhere and sparks a conflagration. It is about Tam and Prad, traders from the Republic of Karmarg, who are drawn into the chaos around Loner’s Deep after the death of hundreds of their people. And it is about Broome itself, the ancient war machine that is trying to live a life of peace and contemplation, but which finds itself at the centre of a wild and dangerous adventure spanning half of Human Space. The Federation is itching for war, The Republic and The Sphere of Light stand against it, and Earth, the six hundred pound gorilla they all fear, is watching and waiting. But, at Loner’s Deep, something much worse is stirring.