In the distant future, the cloning of humans for dangerous tasks had become commonplace. Arrin was one of these. After overhearing plans to terminate him, he escaped, but twelve years later he was captured and sentenced to exile in New Hope, a tiny colony of Christians. However, he spurned their way of life, for a catastrophic encounter with a cult in his childhood had convinced him that he had no soul and, thus, no part in salvation, however ardently he desired it.
He seized the first chance to escape and fled to Mars, where an attempt to withdraw some of his own money ended in a botched bank robbery. Although he escaped into the nearby woods, the volatile weather of this place, the first of the terraformed planets, threatened to steal both his freedom and his life. All seemed lost, and Arrin decided to end his life—but God had other plans.