A former hotshot news correspondent and Middle East expert for GBN Global News, Kay Bee Sulaiman has long since retired behind a desk. So when she's approached by her boss and Central Defense Intelligence to deliver a package to the unstable, repressive Middle East country of Khuruchabja, she balks--until she learns that the package is handsome John Halton, a ``fabricant'' (android) linguist and intended bodyguard for Khuruchabja's pro-West Sheikh Larry. One snag: She must masquerade as a man, as she did on her previous tour of duty covering a local war. Halton admits that he's under CDI control and owes loyalty to his owner of record--who, until Sheikh Larry takes possession, is Kay Bee. Also part of the package is a microchip carried by Halton, which some bad guys immediately attempt to relieve the pair of--a chip containing an artificial intelligence that, projecting itself holographically, claims to be the Archangel Gabriel searching for the Mahdi! Gabriel promptly rewrites its own programming and escapes into the computer network. Numerous complications later, Kay Bee and Halton must flee for their lives, since everyone from the CDI to Khuruchabjan reactionaries seem to want them dead. Persuasive double-dealing and paranoia, with a solidly informative Middle East backdrop: a highly encouraging science fiction/thriller debut.