Born in a colony world in 2310, Lawrence Newton hankered after the golden era of starships exploring the galaxy. But the age of human starflight was drawing to a close, so this hot-heated teenager ran away from home in search of adventure . Twenty years later, he's the sergeant of a washed-out platoon taking part in the bungled invasion of another world. The giant corporations call such campaigns 'asset realization', but in practice it's simple piracy. While he's on the ground, being shot at and firebombed by local resistance forces, Lawrence hears stories about the Temple of the Fallen Dragon -- and a sect devoted to the worship of a mythical creature that fell to the ground millennia ago. More importantly, its priests are said to guard a hoard of treasure large enough to buy lifelong happiness -- which information prompts him to mount a private-enterprise operation of his own.