Earth is a dead cinder beyond the dense clouds. On a terraformed Venus, the land is ruled by savage plants and the even more savage beasts that prey on them, while monsters out of nightmare swim though the globe-girdling seas. Mankind huddles in domed underwater Keeps, living a purposeless static existence - dedicated to pleasure but destined for oblivion later if not sooner. Only the Free Companions, the mercenaries who fight proxy wars for the Keeps, live on the surface of Venus. Their warships course the seas, battling one another in struggles to decide victory or defeat for one day, life or death for a few individuals. The Free companions live till they die with the searing thrill of danger, and their deeds bring excitement and color to the bored residents of the Keeps; but Mankind is doomed unless something changes. Few are willing to risk their lives for that change, battling both the terrifying environment and the ruthless oligarchs for whom the status quo means a lifetime of luxury. But there are a handful of courageous visionaries in the Keeps and in the Free Companies where death is a way of life!