In the Southern Arizona desert a group of idealistic scientists, refugees from the Biosphere 2 project, have constructed an isolated community called Kihhim (Tohono O’Odham for the Village). Away from the prying eyes of the press, the public and government regulation, they built a society along the principles of Biosphere 2.
At the foot of Baboquivari Peak, the Tohono O’Odham legendary birthplace of the People, they are a space colony, yet on the Earth. To maintain an independent and almost closed ecosystem, genetically manipulated plants grown in their greenhouses have enhanced productivity.
When the body of Marty Hinson, a prominent environmentalist, is found on their property, they come under the very scrutiny they sought to avoid. Accusations are lodged, and they are investigated by the United States as isolationists with potentially harmful technology. Religious zealots and terrorist Ralph Whitney attack them for their biological technology and genetic abilities.
Kihhim flees the United States, leaving behind their leaders John Vance and Katherine Levey, imprisoned as subversives. They construct a giant catamaran of supertankers establishing Kahchk Kihhim (Tohono O’Odham for Sea Village), a floating nation. Security Supervisor, Leticia Gardner extorts recognition and protection from the United States by threatening the existence of humanity.
This marine civilization uses genetic engineering to adapt themselves to life at sea. The shield of protection established by the United States is breached, and prominent figures of both Kahchk Kihhim and the United States are killed.
The ensuing investigation reveals backing for the attack by a major world power, embroiling Kahchk Kihhim in global politics. The extent of their genetic engineering is revealed, and the major powers in the world realize the potential resource and the threat to humankind these people represent.
Kahchk Kihhim understands that once their extortion threat is nullified, they will be subjugated or destroyed. Under the leadership of Katherine Levey, they race ahead on a program to grow a new underwater habitat utilizing genetic engineering. The citizens of Ocealla, their new home, consist of humans, modified humans, modified dolphins, and a completely new genetic construct.