Raised in the Jannah Colony domes and tunnels of Wolf 359, Urwah knows that the zhīzhū make “bad neighbors.”   Another hero of the Groombridge Rout, Urwah has also been honored and promoted for his actions in removing illegal settlements from Tau Ceti IV.  His connection to these events and to Murphy O’Meath have made him suspect to his own troops.

The natives of Tau Ceti IV are divided into the Horn and Hornless.  The Horns are nomadic and live by a warrior ethic.  The Hornless choose to live more safely in the towns, trading valuable steel and foods with one clan for protection from other clans.  To Fahnisht, Murphy is “Kameef,” a pale, almost albino whose horn is hidden inside his skull.  The near-destruction of the natives through biological means causes Fahnisht to leave Tau Ceti IV and seek repayment of the blood debt.

Raised primarily in Bangalore, India, Avinashini joined Fleet and trained as a fighter pilot and helm officer.  Avinashini was a hero of the Groombridge Rout,  destroying numerous zhīzhū spheres because she was in the right place at the right time.   A loyal commoner, Avi finds herself in the middle of sedition and plans to take Tau Ceti IV for humanity by genocide.

Fahnisht, Clanlord

Lt. Urwah Grunon, Imperial Fleet Marines

Lt. Commander B. P. Avinashini, Imperial Fleet

Major Characters

The Laughing Lip

Mythology repeats itself.

Avinashini’s betrothed, Ramachandra, is also a Fleet-trained pilot and helm officer.  He is, however, a member of the Manifest Destiny movement.  His skills are essential to plans to bring both the natives of Tau Ceti and the zhīzhū to extinction.


The zhīzhū are radially symmetrical, eight-limbed creatures with four independent brain lobes.  Their habit of eating raw  what they kill terrifies and repulses must humans.  They refuse to communicate with the inferior species — and all species are inferior.  A zhīzhū commanding a scouting sphere, Hogajue looks forward to the day when the human infestation will  be relegated to its proper place as food. 


Admiral B. P. Sunitha, Avinashini’s mother, served as a supply and logistics officer in the first border conflicts with the zhīzhū.  Her no-nonsense intolerance of delay guaranteed the success of the Jannah Colony’s new role as a Fleet base and ordnance producer.  In order to advance, however, she also found it necessary to join the Humanitas Church, and eventually adopted its views in full.    

Admiral B. P. Sunitha

B. C. Kirthi, granddaughter of Avinashini, is a still-young woman seeking her own future seventy-three years after Demand the Debt that’s Owing.

B. C. Kirthi