Korah grows up as a slave of Teballaian society, or helot, working as a tailor. She spends her childhood in a factory with other Cypher-Ts mending clothes and running machinery. At the end of each day, she must allow her mind to be scanned by computers for thoughts of rebellion. Only if she is judged fully submissive will the Militar provide her with Sol-sickness medicine, a necessary supplement to survive the toxic atmosphere of Teballai.
Korah is a young woman when she meets Veramus, a powerful Cypher-P who has lost his best friend. The two bond unexpectedly, and Veramus goes to her for companionship while providing some protection. Their tenuous relationship is strained when Blaire appears after missing for six years, and tells them both that he can help them escape from the planet altogether.