Only a single R'il'nian, Lai, is left alive in the Confederation, and he is mourning his lost Human love, Cloudy. Humans are now running the last R'il'nian planet, Central, which has become both the de factoCapital of the Confederation and the hub of the slave trade in the Confederation.
Snowy, a young slave dancer, has a secret, one his mother told him would lead to his being killed if he were ever found out. He feels the emotions of others. More, he is capable of reading the minds of others, making objects move, and even Healing his own injuries and those of his friends. But he does not dare to tell even his slave friends of his abilities, which are frighteningly similar to those of the R'il'noids, and some of his cruelest masters have been R'il'noids.
Not all of the R'il'noids are monsters. Snowy and his friends are sold to Lai's half-brother, Derik, and when Snowy falls ill Derik is able to recognize the disease as Kharfun syndrome, which leaves Snowy totally paralyzed. Could Snowy himself be R'il'noid? His first response is the firm conviction that he is being lied to, though there isn't much he can do about it when he can't even move.
But beyond the borders of the Confederation is Riya, settled long ago by the R'il'nai. Here Marna is the sole survivor of a planet-wide epidemic, kept alive only by her determination to warn off any other R'il'nai who may find the doomed planet. She was on an isolation satellite studying a different disease when the epidemic started, but now the life-support system of the satellite has broken down. Can she avoid being infected, two centuries after everyone she has ever known has died? Does she even want to?
Lai, Marna and Snowy (now renamed Roi) have the potential to keep the Confederation going without turning it into the R'il'noid dictatorship envisioned by Lai's R'il'noid heir, Zhaim, but they will need all of Derik's help, and everything Roi has learned during his slavery, to succeed against Zhaim's machinations.
This book took second place in science fiction in the Reader Views contest for books published in 2010.