In the War Room of the Great Houses, Lolita discourses on the subject of the War and heaps scorn on the War King's suggsetion that they form alliances with the lesser species instead of simply using them as tools. Lord Mortega, ambassador to the Osirian Court, suggests that this may be a good time to open negotiations: the Court has been thrown into turmoil by the death of their god-king; Lord Sutekh, a strong candidate for the succession, could pose a threat to the Great Houses if he's allowed to take the throne; and Faction Paradox now has a presence at the Court. Lolita objects to treating as equals a species that still sanctions gladiatorial combat for entertainment, and the War King pointedly looks around the Parliamentary chambers while commenting how unthinkable it must be to watch two sides tear each other apart in an arena.
Cousin Justine of Faction Paradox intends to prevent Sutekh from taking the throne by resurrecting the dead Lord Osiris. The Lord Anubis has agreed to help her, but while Justine's concerns are political, Anubis is just interested in the practical challenges of the project; Osirians like to believe themselves immortal, and a full resurrection has never been attempted. Cousin Eliza has spent weeks using Faction technology to track down and retrieve every scrap of Osiris's biodata on Earth, and she meets Justine and Anubis in the Hall of Intersections and hands over the entire body and history of Osiris, stored in a set of needles. Now, they can combine the technology of Faction Paradox and of the Osirians to bring Osiris back to life.
Elsewhere, Sutekh is brooding in isolation, guarded by his Mal'akh and by his sister/lover Nephthys. Lolita arrives to speak with him, brushing past the protesting Nephthys outside. Angered by the intrusion, Sutekh pins Lolita in place with a blast of mental energy, looking through her biodata to find out who she is and what she wants -- and he's shocked when she effectively swats him away. Realising what she is, he refers to her in disgust as a hybrid, but she prefers to think of herself as one of the coming generation. Despite their mutual contempt, however, they have a common enemy -- and as Lolita can't be seen to act directly against Faction Paradox for political reasons, she needs Sutekh to deal with them for her. She thus tells Sutekh exactly what Justine and Eliza are now up to.
Eliza is surprised to find Justine fitting in so well at the Court, as Justine always appeared more comfortable with guerrilla warfare than political machinations; nevertheless, she's forced to admit that changing the course of the gods' civilisation by secretly bringing their dead king back to life could be considered guerrilla politics. She and Justine accompany Anubis out of the Court, through the Ibis Gate into the delta, where multiple time-streams criss-cross one another; Osiris established the Court in this area of space-time because the delta cuts it off from the rest of history, keeping it isolated and safe. Anubis's laboratory is in the delta, almost literally in the middle of nowhere. As Justine and Eliza follow him through the Gate, Eliza asks Justine if she knows why she's doing this; Justine insists that she's doing what is necessary to re-establish Faction Paradox as a major player, but it's clear that even she isn't entirely sure.
On the Homeworld, the War King is trying to figure out what to do with the 59th Time Fleet, but he puts that matter aside for a private audience with Lord Mortega. The War is being fought on 920 fronts across half a million worlds, but both Mortega and the War King believe that Lolita poses a greater threat; to her, the War is just a means to an end, and she may even be meddling in Osirian politics for her own purposes. The War King admits that he's too old and tired to challenge Lolita to open combat for the future, but sends Mortega back to the Osirian Court to ensure that the interests of the Great Houses are represented.
Eliza and Anubis are separated from Justine in the confusion of the delta, and Eliza is startled to encounter the corpse of a monster that could be as old as the Universe itself and yet was attacked and killed by a predator even more powerful than it. Anubis calmly leads Eliza past the body to his research facility, a shrine at the top of a hill, occupied by reanimated corpses and now including a Faction remembrance tank as part of the lab equipment. Anubis decides to start work without waiting for Justine to catch up, and Eliza realises that he really is only doing this because immortals get bored easily; he just wants to see what happens, and doesn't seem terribly concerned by the possibility that it could all go horribly wrong. Out in the delta, the disoriented Justine sees a figure up ahead of her, but as she approaches it, she realises that it isn't Anubis or Eliza -- and it's getting closer.
As Lord Mortega's timeship approaches the Osirian Court, Nephthys warn him that he's no longer welcome here -- and Sutekh casually swats the ship aside with a mental blast and warns Mortega that he will be destroyed if he does not retreat. Fortunately, Sutekh then loses interest, and Mortega is able to dock secretly with the Ship of a Billion Years. Nephthys confronts him when he emerges and shows him what's happening below: Sutekh has legally taken the throne, and his Mal'akh are slaughtering the servants of all those who opposed his succession. When Sutekh informed the Court that Faction Paradox was committing blasphemous atrocities upon the body of Osiris, the horrified Osirians permitted Sutekh to ascend the throne himself in order to stop them.
Mortega returns to his ship and reports to the War King, who for obvious reasons finds it amusing that the supposedly all-powerful Osirians felt vulnerable and frightened without a King to lead them. Before Mortega can complete his report, he loses contact with the Homeworld, and Cousin Justine emerges from hiding, revealing that the timeship swept past her in the delta and picked her up as salvage. She's heard enough to know that Lolita has helped Sutekh to take the throne, and she demands that Mortega take her back to the delta to join Eliza and Anubis. Before Mortega can decide what to do, however, the Ship of a Billion Years begins to move. Nephthys is obeying her brother's instructions and taking the Ship to deal with his enemies, but even she becomes concerned when his Mal'akh begin slaughtering everyone in the Court indiscriminately -- and Sutekh responds by reaching directly into his servants' nervous systems and making them slit each other's throats.
As Eliza and Anubis wait to see the results of their work, one of the walking-dead servants pulls a receiver out of its ribcage and broadcasts a transmission from Sutekh. Claiming to represent all those sickened by the desecration committed by Anubis, Sutekh announces that he will bring all force to bear on the house of the defilers; in other words, he's going to attack Anubis's research facility with the Ship of a Billion Years. He claims to be acting on behalf of the Court, which is an uncharacteristically subtle political manoeuvre for him, but Eliza and Anubis soon discover that they have another problem; Eliza hadn't collected all of Osiris's biodata as she thought, and they're missing 12% of his psychic mass and 7% of his timeline. With the Ship rapidly approaching, Eliza suggests that they create a makeshift version of Osiris using what resources they have, but Anubis tells her that he'll need a suitable donor to fill in the missing bits...
Sutekh senses his brother stirring to life in the House of Anubis and orders Nephthys to have Lord Anhor open fire. Cousin Justine sees the sun cannons lower from the Ship's hull, and despite Lord Mortego's protests, she uncouples his timeship and crashes it into the mountain, as close to Anubis's facility as she can. If the Osirians open fire now, they'll destroy the timeship as well, effectively declaring war on the Great Houses. The Court gave in to Sutekh to avoid a fight, and they don't want him to pick an even bigger one -- but Sutekh doesn't care, and he even attacks his sister, ordering her to attack and reduce his enemies to dust. Justine uses the brief respite to check on Anubis's progress, and discovers that Eliza has entered the remembrance tank, volunteering her own biodata to fill in the gaps in the resurrected Osiris. Anubis points out that Eliza has a lot of faith in Justine, which had better be justified, as now Justine is the only one who can save them all from Sutekh.
Justine leaves the facility and calls out to the Ship of a Billion Years, demanding to address the Osirian Court. On behalf of her brother, Nephthys reluctantly announces that the Great Houses have obviously sided with the Court's enemies and will thus be destroyed along with them. Justine warns that Sutekh offers only death, and that he is about to start a war that the Court can't possibly win, but the Ship nevertheless begins to power up its sun cannons. At the last moment, however, the 59th Time Fleet materialises in the delta, and the War King himself addresses the Osirians, pointing out that the Great Houses learned the art of stellar manipulation at the very beginning of history -- and if the Ship of a Billion Years tries to attack them, they will simply snuff out Ra, the Osirians' living sun god. After a moment's hesitation, Nephthys is forced to report to Sutekh that Lord Anhor is refusing to open fire, as none of the Court will risk losing Ra. Sutekh asks Nephthys if the courtiers understand that he can destroy them all for disobeying his direct orders -- and when she confirms that they do, Sutekh begins to laugh.
The Ship of a Billion Years retreats from the delta without opening fire, and Mortega, Justine, and Anubis attend an audience with the War King. Sutekh appears to have lost the battle, but he's still in charge of the Court, which means that Justine is unlikely to be welcomed back. To her surprise, the War King thus offers her sanctuary on the Homeworld and an unofficial pardon for her crimes. He claims that they have a common enemy, but Justine, still bitter that the Houses unofficially sanctioned Lolita's destruction fo the Eleven-Day Empire, isn't sure yet whether she wants to ally herself with him. What none of them yet realise is that this is all part of Lolita's master plan; the confrontation with Sutekh was merely a distraction, and while the others are occupied with their parley, Lolita enters Anubis's facility unchallenged and disposes of his walking-dead servants. Eliza, trapped inside the remembrance tank, is unable even to speak as Lolita explains that she can't allow Osiris to be resurrected. And Lolita's fingernails are sharp enough to cut through flesh, and to open a strategically located vein...