In the 13th century, Earth is dangerously overcrowded. To reduce the population, people are chosen by lottery and shipped off to the stars to colonize other solar systems. Shiploads of colonists are dropped off on unexplored worlds and left to their own devices.
Jorge Leever and Meesha Androva are the only survivors of one such failed attempt to colonize a distant planet. For 20 years, they've been alone, unable to communicate with Earth. Now, another cargo ship arrives and discharges a new group of would-be colonists. Jorge and Meesha intend to guide the development of the new colony, since they've accumulated 20 years' worth of knowledge about the planet. Bannock, a brutal, criminal slumlord back on Earth, has other plans. He intends to reestablish his crime syndicate on this fledgling colony world and eventually return to Earth as a conqueror. But Jorge and Meesha stand in his way.