The year is 2454. Three centuries of peace and a hard-won golden age have come to an abrupt end. The once steadfast leadership of the seven Hives ? nations without fixed location ? is soured by corruption, deception and insurgency. Savagery and bloodlust, three-centuries suppressed, have been unleashed. The heartbreaking truth is that for decades, even centuries, the leaders of the great Hives bought the world's stability with a trickle of secret murders, mathematically planned. So that no faction could ever dominate. So that the balance held. But that terrible secret is no longer hidden, the balance has tipped, the Hives' utopian façade has slipped. Just days ago, humanity stood at the pinnacle of civilization. Now everyone ? Hives and Hiveless, Utopians and sensayers, emperors and convicts, warriors and saints ? scrambles to prepare for the seemingly inevitable war.