When graduating senior Ciaran Mac Durmuid intervenes and rescues a fellow spacer from alien assassins he breaks the Freeman Federation's unwritten law - mind your own business. When Ciaran's mysterious damsel in distress demands to know his particulars he breaks the Freeman Federation's unwritten law again - keep your mouth shut. Now a single decision will determine Ciaran's future. He can surrender his lifelong dream of winning an interstellar merchant's license and escaping his dreary farm-boy destiny. Or he can apprentice himself to the black sheep of the powerful nic Cartai clan, a young woman who is almost certainly a pirate, aboard a sentient starship that is almost certainly insane, on a mission that will almost certainly get him killed. Ciaran has to decide. Does he bring his cat, or should he leave her with friends?