First of a new trilogy, from the author of the four-part Saga of Pliocene Exile and the Intervention sequels, featuring the Galactic Milieu, an association of psychically gifted (""operant"") races with which humanity is rapidly being merged. The Remillard family saga continues, as the death of the evil Vic somehow generates two evil successors--the mysterious Fury and the five-part Hydra; Fury is intent on destroying humanity's strengthening links with the Milieu, while the psycho-vampire Hydra, controlled by Fury, goes round draining its victims of life-force. Meanwhile, in defiance of Milieu-imposed eugenics laws, Teresa decides to bear another child; she's helped by her son, young super-operant Marc, and old uncle Rogi (he's instructed and aided by a superpowerful disembodied alien Lylmik). The baby, Jack, turns out to be a super-duper operant but a genetic wreck, and must psychically save himself from death by cancer; Marc is tempted by Fury's megalomaniac notions; Hydra (five Remillard youngsters) is unmasked but escapes; we never find out who Fury is. Okay for series fans, with well-handled operant ideas and an abundance of Remillards; but overlong, patchy, and frustratingly inconclusive for everyone else.