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By L. E. Modesitt Jr.

What lies underneath the fog of the thousands of orbiting nanotech satellites that shroud the realm known as Haze? 

Major Keir Roget’s project is to make planetfall in mystery, discover, and report to his superiors within the Federation, the Chinese-dominated executive that principles Earth and the colonized planets. 

Now, scouting Haze, he unearths a tradition either probably widespread, but frighteningly alien, with tricks of a know-how some distance enhanced to that of the Federation.  but he isn't fairly sure how a lot of what he sees is real–or the right way to exhibit a chance he can't even turn out to his superiors, if he can break out the planet...

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She asked the cousin nearest. "Last I heard," the woman said. " She threw an involuntary glance at the desk clock and walked on through, burdenless, putting her dog tags to rights again, dodging past cousins with last-minute business in cargo, mostly maintenance who were taking wastage to the chute, and now and again someone with a personal bit of debris to jettison, a nuisance that should have been run through comp before now, but there was always someone trying to break through the line of incomers with something outgoing.

And once, just once to see what others had, what life was like outside that terror, with the fancy bars and the fancy sleepovers and a woman with something other than larceny in mind— He had never had a place to go before, never had a destination. He had lived in this narrow compartment most of his life and only planned what he would do to avoid the traps behind him. Pell, Allison Reilly said; and deals; and it agreed with the rumors, that there were routes opening, hope— hope for marginers like him.

No one sane would head into jump alone, with a comp that had no backup, with trank and food and water taped to the board: he told himself so, making his prep, darting glances back to comp and scan, listening to the buoy beeping steadily, watching them track right down the line. He put the trank into his arm. It was time for that… to dull the senses which were about to be abused. Not one jump to face… but three; and if he missed on one of them, he reckoned, he would never know it. There was speculation as to what it was to be strung out in the between, and speculation about what the human mind might start doing once the drugs wore off and there was no way back.

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