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"Why me? This is the kind of thing that happens to Virgil."
A beautiful Thursday night in summer, the stars shining brightly, a crescent moon just coming up over the horizon. Lucas Davenport, alone, jogs along Mississippi River Boulevard, all but invisible. Nobody sees him, nobody knows he's there. Nobody except for the aliens sent to take him away from Earth.
But while alien abduction takes him by surprise it's not part of his daily routine their reason is even more surprising. They don't need him for probing, or for bizarre medical experiments, or even to pass a message of peace and understanding on to mankind. They need a detective.
The mighty Galactic Hegemony is a perfect society, spanning a thousand star systems, and comprising as many species. Crime is unthinkable literally so, as their collective culture has evolved beyond that. They have no crime, no police, no jails, no politicians. But now, they have a murder, and no clue how to handle it.
So they decide to outsource the problem and recruit a primitive, violent mind from a savage world full of crime, greed, pollution, politics, and corruption. Someone not afraid to resort to violence, or get their hands dirty. Someone who understands crime. Someone like Lucas.
But while the crime is all too easy, the aliens are anything but. Hundreds of different species, working towards high-minded, incomprehensible goals, but unable to comprehend simple ideas? It makes no sense to him. Worse, he can't shake the feeling that they are far more afraid of him than he is of them.
And he knows that fear is a terribly dangerous motivator...