* The winged Ael Yael?, nearly destroyed by greedy Humaniti, now finding their place in the galaxy.
* The bureaucratic Bwaps?, faithful administrators through three Imperiums . . . but they have their own agenda, and few suspect how decisively they can act on their own.
* The huge Virushi?, calm and nonviolent . . . until they're pushed too far.
* The newest species to be recognized as sentient, the aquatic Schalli?. Will these brilliant, ambitious carnivores be our allies in a hundred years – or our rivals?