Mystery, discovery and wonder on a cosmic scale are the core of Anderson's latest novel. Lissa, a human Earth woman, and her partner, ...Karl,... a giant alien academic who resembles a Tyranosauras...are interstellar archaeologists investigating the remote and uncharted planet Jonna. There, they seem to have hit the jackpot. For on that distant world they...ve discovered an immense artifact which may have been left by the mysterious beings called the Forerunners. This race predated all the known cultures in the starfaring galaxy, and had vanished long before any other intelligent species had taken to the stars.
But Lissa and Karl aren't the first to have made the discovery. On the far-off world, the archaeologists cross paths with the two freebooters whose motives towards the arcane object are not purely scientific. Their discovery on Jonna may be the best preserved relic of the ancient beings yet found. Other artifacts from The Forerunners-once reverse engineers-have revolutionized entire fields of technology, reaping huge financial rewards. If the same holds true for this newest discovery, Lissa realizes, only she and Karl stand between the seemingly friendly freebooters and what could be the treasure of a lifetime.