A murder has been committed, an impossibility in a super surveillance society where everyone lives under the influence of augmented reality 24 hours a day. When the Echelon Council needs someone to investigate the crime, they summon Zen 12. In a world where everyone sees what they want to see, and no one goes off the grid for even a second, Zen Guardians wield enormous power. But the most potent weapons may prove useless because this adversary can control reality itself.
In the past, a young peasant boy grows to manhood in a violent, bloodthirsty world. In the present, a mysterious woman is found in the morgue and slowly begins returning to life. Susan Ryerson, a genetic researcher, treats the mortally injured woman and against her will is drawn into Ryan’s world. She learns of Victor, the man who gave Ryan immortality, and learns of Ryan’s terrible revenge against those who killed her parents. The story weaves through six centuries, from the battle of Agincourt to the corruption and perversity of the Borgia Pope’s court. Susan begins to understand the dark and erotic world that Ryan lives in. Against her better judgment, Susan Ryerson continues to seek the secrets of Ryan’s immortality for the sake of science.
Ryan reunites with her mentor only to discover that Victor has fallen ill, an impossibility for One invulnerable and immortal. Dr. Ryerson continues her examination of their unique anatomies, hoping she can discover what is wrong with Victor. The Grand Council is reconvened and the ancient ones call upon Ryan to conduct a controlled hunt in which their Kind are culled. Familiar with Abigail’s motherly allure and Marilyn’s overwhelming sensuality, Ryan is faced with new challenges in the form of Aeron, an ancient One nearly as powerful as Victor himself.
Although superficially resembling a vampire, Ryan possesses all of the mythical creature’s abilities and none of its weaknesses. Surrounded by ancient beings who seek to dominate her by force or seduction, she has become the most powerful of her Kind. Due to Victor’s continued illness, she takes her place as sovereign. Troubled by dark dreams, images that do not belong to any of her Kind, Ryan realizes the dreams might belong to one preceding her father’s birth. Old and new enemies appear, challenging not only her supremacy but her conception of all that she is. For the first time in her life, Ryan is faced with the possibility of death. And although many of the predators of her Kind would face such a fate with horror or dread… Ryan finds it exhilarating.
Ryan is left physically and mentally battered from contact with the species that spawned her Kind. Although her power has increased exponentially, she has little control over her new abilities. Worse, as memories of the origins of the Old Ones surface, her own memory begins to suffer. Those closest to Ryan watch her internal battle as she herself wonders if she has become a threat to all that she loves. Dr. Ryerson monitors her friend’s increasing instability. Uncertain if Ryan has been sickened by blood contact with the parent species, or if it is the aftermath of Ryan’s torture and captivity, Susan ponders the blood mutation that created Ryan and her Kind, and the myth of the vampire. Perhaps Ryan is undergoing a second Change, which brings to mind a most terrifying question…into what?