When she is born fully grown and well armed in a wilderness forest, clone Jo Beaverpaw knows almost nothing, except that it is her Destiny to find and kill Desrielle Squitt, her alien nation's most wanted fugitive.
As Jo hikes to the lodge where the fugitive is recovering from gunshot wounds, she wonders if she's human, but there's insufficient data to decide. In her eagerness to fulfill her Destiny, she slides down a mountain slope. Jo wakens, groggy and sedated, inside the lodge, where she's being treated.
A lone bodyguard, Darby Lapierre, has the thankless job of protecting Squitt. Since Jo is obviously an assassin, Darby confiscates her weapons and vows to keep her away from Squitt. But he also forms a halting friendship with her. Thus the assassin forges an alliance with the very man assigned to thwart her—and the bonds of friendship and nascent attraction weaken her commitment to her bloody Destiny.
Jo seeks out life—and love—while she can. She and Darby become lovers. Not for long, though. She falls into a mysterious coma in which she is controlled from Kwadra by the duchess she resembles. When she finally awakens, she knows she must kill Squitt. Must. Her hard-won sense of humanity virtually disappears.
But before she can act, Squitt steals a gun and takes a doctor hostage. Jo rushes to help Darby control her, using her enhanced athleticism to leap out onto the roof and smash through Squitt's window. She manages to kill Squitt, but is badly injured.
Again Jo awakens in a hospital bed. This time the first person she sees isn't Darby, but Duchess Beaverpaw, her clone sister and puppet master. Jo is living proof the duchess has broken the laws against human cloning, so killing her is the prudent thing to do—a job that is left to her henchman. Darby catches the henchman in the act and subdues him, then removes the IV before the poison takes effect.