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The Sythians Invaded Again
Dark Space, the last refuge of humanity, is overrun; its citizens are either enslaved or dead. The relentless Sythians have slaughtered humanity wherever they could find them, and now only a few hundred survivors remain. Desperate to escape, these few chase rumors of a lost sector of humanity and end up on Avilon, a planet covered with a vast, kilometers-high city that lies hidden and shielded from the rest of the galaxy by its impossibly advanced technology and its benevolent ruler--Omnius, the Artificial Intelligence who would be god to his human creators.
Humanity Found Refuge on Avilon
Omnius reveals that no one really died in the war--he couldn't save them from the Sythians, but he did find a way to record the contents of their brains and resurrect them all in the bodies of immortal clones. Omnius keeps a record of everyoneâ€™s mind in order to make predictions about the future and prevent people from making mistakes. The result is a perfect paradise where you can be assured of a happy, successful life for the rest of eternity--just so long as you are willing to give up your freedom and submit to Omnius's will. If you refuse, you can live in the Null Zone, a city that lies cloaked in shadows below the immortal paradise where Omnius reigns supreme. In the Null Zone humanity has its freedom, but the result is chaos, death, and forced separation from everyone living in the Upper Cities of Avilon.
Paradise for Some is a Prison for Others
To Ethan Ortane, who spent years exiled on a prison world in Dark Space, Avilon and its utter lack of freedom is the Netherworld incarnate, and Omnius the Devlin himself. His son, Atton, is not so sure--it's hard to argue with Omnius's governance when death and suffering have become just a distant memory. Even better, it looks like Avilon with all of its advanced technology might finally be able to put an end to the Sythians. Omnius is sending his Peacekeepers to Dark Space to rescue the human slaves and take the fight to the invaders. . . .
The Road to the Netherworld is Paved with Good Intentions . . .
Despite the Sythian apocalypse, Omnius knows that humanity's worst enemy has always been itself. Darkness lies in the human heart and if paradise is to be maintained, that darkness must be contained. For Omnius the rightness or wrongness of an action is determined by a mathematical equation: the choice with maximal benefit for humanity and minimal detriment is always the right one. And with his ability to predict the future, who could be better suited to making those judgments? But when the looming detriment defies the very purpose of Omnius's existence, the benefit that outweighs it depends very much on one's point of view. . . .