One of the last surviving members of the noble families exiled from her home planet, Xai has been imprisoned, along with the rest of the Ke’i-ze clan, to a Prima star base since she was a child. But Xai holds a contentious and extremely lonely place in her family. Her mother betrayed the aristocratic order and married the commoner leader of the revolt that overthrew the noble houses on Messim. For her uncles, Xai is a source of shame to the Ke’i-ze—she is allowed to remain only as a subservient, a symbol of their superiority over the rebellion. But as a noble, Xai is also hated by the commoners who overthrew her family. Neither a noble or a commoner, a Messinian or a Primer, Xai does not belong anywhere.
When the Oracle of Messim summons her to return to the planet, Xai’s uncles, who think her unworthy of such an honour, are furious. For her part, Xai does not understand why she would be chosen by the Oracle. Nor does she know how to feel about it. The Summons is a rare and sacred obligation of an ancient order that has brought Xai nothing but misery. At any rate, she cannot leave the star base where she is held prisoner.
All that changes when the star base is destroyed in a surprise attack and Xai escapes, accompanied only by a snarky AI, on a fast ship she does not know how to pilot. Confronted with a newfound freedom along with a sense of dutiful guilt for a culture that has only shown her disdain, Xai must choose her path.
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Maeve Sleibhin is an artificial intelligence. The emphasis there should be on “artificial” and not “intelligence.”