Another adventure set in the medium-future universe of Rimrunners and Cyteen; here, the action takes place in the solar system's asteroid belt, where independent miners are slowly being squeezed out by the predatory mining consortium ASTEX. Prospecting partners Morrie Bird, the old hand who owns the ship, and young, hotheaded pilot Ben Pollard encounter a wrecked, tumbling ship and discover aboard a lone survivor, Dekker, babbling and traumatized by whatever happened to him and by the loss of his partner. Hoping for salvage rights, Ben and Bird tow the hulk back to Base, and turn Dekker over to the medics. But, despite company denials, soon it emerges that at least part of Dekker's wild claims (an unreported collision, claim-jumping, a sinister plot) are true. Then, Dekker's partner's body turns up, bizarrely flung into a recovery orbit along with ores mined from a huge rock the company maintains doesn't exist. Teaming up with influential female miners Meg and Sal, Bird, Ben, and Dekker contrive to blow the lid off a massive coverup that involves ASTEX and public figures as distant as the President of Earth. Taut, gripping, realistic work, with Cherryh taking a stab at character development, and bringing her agreeably complex plot to a satisfying if unsurprising conclusion.