After two months in Skyhome, Alex and the crew are ready to depart for the next phase of their mission-convincing Emperor Augustus of the Nova Roman Empire to join them in their attack on the Great Blight. But when they enter the Empire's borders, they find far more than they bargained for: slavers, deadly beasts, and the cunning and powerful Emperor himself. And even the far-reaching Empire is not immune to the effects of the deadly xenovirus and its newest evolutions . . .