In the 25th century, the inner-system-based United Nations sends superspy Charles Dunn to a Jupiter-orbiting city deep into Outer Consortium territory to retrieve a secret document hidden inside a famous painting. Dunn is accompanied by a Digital Person named Daphne who is implanted into his brain and who serves as secretary, chauffeur, communications system, lookout, and sometimes pain in the posterior. They stumble into an assassination staged by underground criminal elements on an influential Martian senator and a Jovian senator who are forming a task force to look into black market manna smuggling.
Manna is a plant with tremendous nutritive and medicinal properties which can also be misused as a drug. It is genetically modified to survive only in the harsh Martian environment. Dunn cannot save the senators, but he rescues Sarah, the Martian's young daughter, and grabs the document. They must then flee from the peacemen, synthetic humans who were designed for law enforcement purposes, and in so doing they come upon others who are also fleeing.
Little Sarah has a knack for helping other children in trouble and soon Dunn is traveling back to the inner system with many more children in tow. One of them is a child peaceman who was stolen at birth and raised as an enforcer for black market manna runners. Dunn discovers that by retrieving the document, he has perpetuated the Martian monopoly over all manna trade and together with the children he now plots to break that monopoly.
This report prepared by Clifford W. Dunbar