Thousands have been killed on Samarkand and a terraforming project has been destroyed. Agent Cormac must reach it by ship to begin an investigation. But he has incurred the wrath of a vicious psychopath called Arian Pelter, who follows him across the galaxy with a terrifying android in tow.
Come visit a world where you cannot draw breath… should its horrifying wildlife allow you.
Outlink station Miranda has been destroyed by a nanomycelium, and the very nature of this sabotage suggests that the alien bioconstruct Dragon — a creature as untrustworthy as it is gigantic — is somehow involved. Sent out on a titanic Polity dreadnought, the Occam Razor, agent Cormac must investigate the disaster, and also resolve the question of Masada, a world about to be subsumed as the Line of Polity is drawn across it. But the rogue biophysicist Skellor has not yet been captured, and he now controls something so potent that Polity AIs will hunt him down forever to prevent him using it.
Meanwhile on Masada, the long-term rebellion can never rise above-ground, as the slave population is subjugated by orbital laser arrays controlled by the Theocracy in their cylinder worlds, and by the fact that they cannot safely leave their labour compounds. For the wilderness of Masada lacks breathable air…and out there roam monstrous predators called hooders and siluroynes, not to mention the weird and terrible gabbleducks.
Next novel in the 'Gridlinked' sequence, with the resurrection of the terrifying Mr Crane, a massive android kiling machine… and one with a grudge.
The knight errant Anderson is hunting a dragon on the primitive Out-Polity world of Cull, little knowing that far away a man — more technology than human flesh — has resurrected a brass killing machine to assist in a similar hunt that encompasses star systems.
When agent Cormac learns that his old enemy still lives, he sets out in pursuit aboard the attack ship Jack Ketch… whilst scientist Mika begins discovering the horrifying truth about that ancient technology ostensibly produced by the alien Jain, who died out five million years ago. The people of Cull must struggle desperately to survive on a planet roamed by ferocious insectile monsters, while they build the industrial base that will enable them to reach their forefathers' starship still orbiting far above them.
An entity calling itself Dragon assists them, but its motives are questionable having created genetic by-blows of humans and the hideous local autochthons, before growing bored with that game. And now Cull, for millennia geologically inactive, suffers earthquakes…
Meanwhile the brass killing machine, Mr Crane, seeks to escape a bloody past he can neither forget nor truly remember. So mindlessly he will continues his search for sanity, which he might find in an instant or not for a thousand years.
From eight hundred years in the future, a runcible gate is opened into the Polity and those coming through it have been sent specially to take the alien maker back to its home civilization in the Small Magellanic cloud. Once these refugees are safely through, the gate itself is rapidly shut downbecause something alien is pursuing them. The gate is then dumped into a nearby sun.
From those refugees who get through, agent Cormac learns that the Maker civilization has been destroyed by pernicious virus known as the Jain technology. This, of course, raises questions: why was Dragon, a massive biocontruct of the Makers, really sent to the Polity; why did a Jain node suddenly end up in the hands of someone who could do the most damage with it?
Meanwhile an entity called the Legate is distributing pernicious Jain nodes and a renegade attack ship, The King of Hearts, has encountered something very nasty outside the Polity itself.
The Polity is under attack from a melded AI entity with control of the lethal Jain technology, yet the attack seems to have no coherence.
When one of Erebuss wormships kills millions on the world of Klurhammon, a high-tech agricultural world of no real tactical significance, agent Ian Cormac is sent to investigate, though he is secretly struggling to control a new ability no human being possess…and beginning to question the motives of his AI masters.
Further attacks and seemingly indiscriminate slaughter ensue, but only serve to bring some of the most dangerous individuals in the Polity into the war. Mr Crane, the indefatigable brass killing machine sets out for vengeance, while Orlandine, a vastly-augmented haiman who herself controls Jain technology, seeks a weapon of appalling power and finds allies from an ancient war.
Meanwhile Mika, scientist and Dragon expert, is again kidnapped by that unfathomable alien entity and dragged into the heart of things: to wake the makers of Jain technology from their five-million-year slumber. But Erebuss attacks are not so indiscriminate, after all, and could very well herald the end of the Polity itself…