While on reconnaissance, Kelric, the imperial heir to the Skolian Empire is caught unaware by enemy fighters. His craft is badly damaged and he barely manages to crash land on an interdicted planet. Kelric has a biomech web in his body, which is also damaged in the crash. The biomech web is a system of bio-optic and bio-electronics threading his body and brain, which allow him to communicate with the computer node in his brain. The node can control his reflexes, giving him greater speed and strength. It also controls the nano technology that helps repair his body. The biomech web also gives him greater control of him empathetic and telepathic powers. The damage to his web will cause him many problems on this planet.
The powerful matriarchy on the planet wants to stay independent, so that Skolia does not interfere with them. On this planet, there are twelve estates, each with a manager. The minister, who rules the most powerful estate, is like a president. They decide that the only way to keep Skolia from discovering their cultural advances and taking back power, is to save Kelric's life, destroy his ship, and hold him captive.
Unaware of their plan, Kelric begins to recover. While he is bed ridden an estate manager, Deha, teaches him to play the dice game Quis. A woman's skill at quis determines her position in life. Men who are skilled at quis are called calani, and live sequestered so that they can develop strategy to benefit their estates. Kelric is very talented at Quis, so Deha marries him and makes him a calani. When he discovers their plan to keep him, he tries to escape. However the damaged biomech web in his body, takes over his reflexes and he kills one of the guards. The judge sentences him to death. However, the minister is convinced by her heir to intervene. She changes his sentence to life in prison on the Haka estate. Deha makes a deal with the manager of Haka to allow Kelric to play quis with her. This upsets the prison warden and she secretly takes her anger out on Kelric. She makes him work three and four shifts a day, in the quarry. When she gets a chance, she manipulates the situation and puts Kelric in solitary confinement. Kelric may become the greatest calani their world has ever seen, with the power to effect their entire world for the better, if he doesn't go insane first.
This report prepared by Michelle