Place: the future. A planet capable of sustaining human life, in another part of the solar system. A spaceship from Earth has crashed. The crew had fled earth because humans are in danger of extinction. To survive in this new place, humans must learn to live with the Etlak, who have populated this planet for many generations. There are also the mysterious Shadow people, who move about only at night and are enemies of the Etlak.
Shayla, a human girl, aged 16, is suspicious of the Etlak, believing they have a secret agenda in helping humans and when their usefulness is over, humans will no longer be needed or tolerated. "It's genocide by integration," Shayla insists.
The Etlak have a system that is guided by The Wise Ones, whose word is law. There is "re-education" for those who resist that law, and ostracism for the persistently stubborn. Those who won't conform are cast outside the protective force field, where the Shadow people are said to prey on the weak and isolated.
Will independence mean death for Shayla?