Lord Osiris is dead, and his brother Sutekh has taken the throne of the Osirian Court. Those who did not support Sutekh have retreated to the sanctuary of the swamps on the edge of the Court. Sutekh's sister/wife Nephthys tries to make peaceful overtures to them, but her approach is based on the premise that only Sutekh can hold the throne and keep them safe -- and Cousin Justine of Faction Paradox has a counter-proposal. Lord Anubis has resurrected Osiris using Faction Paradox technology and hosted his essence in a new avatar: the body of Cousin Eliza. Eliza is somewhat worried by the fact that she's not more worried about this, especially when Anubis admits that Osiris's memories and personality will eventually overwhelm her own. But she's more worried about something else: while she was in the remembrance tank, accepting the transfusion of Osiris's biodata into hers, she believes that she saw Lolita walk into the laboratory, slit her own wrist, and bleed into the tank. Anubis dismisses this as a dream caused by neural feedback, but in fact, he's just curious to see what happens to her.
Justine has been fighting Mal'akh crocodiles in the delta; they are far more vicious than the ape grotesques who had previously served Sutekh, and although Sutekh had promised through Nephthys to respect the traditions of sanctuary, most of his opponents have fled. Justine eventually decides to accept the War King's invitation to the Homeworld. Lord Mortega privately expresses concern for Justine's safety; Lolita may not risk openly disobeying the War King before the other Great Houses, but Sutekh's actions have proven that anything is possible and nothing is safe. The Great Houses have allowed Justine to plot a safe route through their defences, but before she leaves, Anubis reminds her that she'll have to give them her own biodata profile in order to get through their security protocols. Justine decides that it's worth the risk, since they probably know everything about her already.
The War King addresses his Council on the matter of Faction Paradox, and reminds the assembly that he was considered an outsider until he was forced by necessity to take his current position. The War has already forced the Great Houses to accept many ideas that were once considered taboo, and the War King suggests that accepting an outsider who has been adopted into House Paradox is no different than accepting the other hybrids in the assembly. Lolita immediately denounces this as a deliberate insult to her own House, and thus a breach of protocol that allows her to take the floor from the War King. Given her own history with Faction Paradox, Justine's invitation to the Homeworld, which was not ratified by the Council, can only be regarded as an additional insult. Lolita thus takes the opportunity to point out that the War King has made no progress in defeating the enemy after 50 years, and suggests that if he is now making decisions of state simply to score political points against her, then that simply proves that he's a position of weakness.
The Council is divided when Justine arrives. She is still protected by protocol, but as Lolita still holds the floor, Justine isn't given a chance to speak. She tries to interrupt proceedings to ask why Lolita seems so determined to kill her, but Lolita is within her rights to silence her with the use of minimal necessary force. The assembly must now decide whether the War King has acted illegally by supporting Faction Paradox; if so, then he has forsaken his right to rule them. The War King and Justine retreat as the chambers descend into near anarchy, and Justine realises that her presence here is irrelevant; the War King only brought her to the Homeworld to force a constitutional crisis before Lolita could put herself in an even stronger position.
The War King sends Mortega back to the Osirian Court to open negotiations with Nephthys, on the grounds that a successful alliance with the Court will vindicate the War King's decision to trust Faction Paradox. However, Sutekh has broken with tradition, revoked sanctuary from all territories and sent his crocodile Mal'akh in to kill all who sought shelter from his judgement. Nephthys is still trying to convince herself that Sutekh is just trying to protect the Court from its enemies, but Anubis knows that Sutekh has been fighting for so long that he now sees enemies everywhere. To Nephthys's astonishment, the light of Osiris then shines through the protected territories, destroying all the crocodile Mal'akh -- and the source of the light is Cousin Eliza. Nephthys returns to the Court to inform Sutekh, who had planned to have his soldiers kill everything in the delta next; when he learns what's happened, he angrily insists that Cousin Justine is responsible and not his late brother.
Politics on the Homeworld has broken down into secret meetings and conspiracies, and Justine isn't a party to any of it. She returns to the Osirian Court to see what's happening there, and walks into a war zone; Sutekh has created more soldiers, beings of pure aggression that don't even bother to look reptilian. Lords Upuat and Khephri have promised not to act directly against Sutekh, but since probability is mutable within the delta, they're playing a game that changes the shape of the battlefield with each roll of the dice. In passing, Upuat notes that although Justine carries the shadow of a great warrior, it's Eliza who has become the warrior while Justine acts as a sort of midwife to her rebirth. Mortega then picks Justine up in his timeship, which Eliza has been using as transport. Sutekh's increasing paranoia is costing him support, and most of the Court now acknowledge that Eliza is Osiris's heir or reincarnation; they have thus given her the name Horus, which means "between two spheres." Justine agrees to leave the war in Horus's hands while she returns to the Homeworld, and both she and Horus burst out laughing when Horus reveals that she's agreed to confirm her position in the Court by marrying the hippopotamus-like Lady Hathor.
Nephthys arranges safe passage into the Osirian Court for Lord Mortega, but once he arrives, she takes him to a safe bolthole to hide while Sutekh addresses his people. Mortega tries to convince her that Sutekh is causing a civil war, but slowly realises that she's more concerned about what Sutekh is doing at this very moment. Outside, Sutekh has summoned all of his servants to the immense Square of the Divine Sight, where he berates them for their disloyalty; Sutekh has risked his own life to keep the Court safe while Osiris pandered to the inferior species outside, and yet his people still prefer Osiris to him. Sutekh now believes that the Court will never be safe as long as there are traitors loyal to the old order, and he unleashes his Mal'akh upon the crowd, ordering his servants to show their loyalty by dying. But then Horus arrives, stops the slaughter, and demands that Sutekh acknowledge her as his brother returned. He refuses, and the two do battle with all the power of the gods. Sutekh appears victorious, as the human body of Cousin Eliza is Horus's weakness -- but before Sutekh can deliver the killing blow, Horus lashes out with an immense blast of power that all but kills Sutekh. As the surviving servants begin to chant Horus's name, Nephthys and Mortega watch in confusion, unsure what's just happened.
Back on the Homeworld, Lolita visits the War King in his secure bunker on the lowest level of the War Council chambers. He admits that he knows she's going to win their feud, and that he's only fighting to stay alive long enough to understand the future she's making. However, Lolita reveals that he's already lost; she really did bleed a little of her own biodata into Anubis's remembrance tanks, and that means that she's the real power behind Horus. She never intended for the psychotic Sutekh to take the throne permanently; she's the one who delivered the final blow against him, and she's the one who will rule the Osirian Court when Horus takes the throne. The War King realises that Lolita is telling him this because she's come to assassinate him; she confirms this, and then opens up and swallows him whole, just as she did to the Eleven-Day Empire. She then calls an emergency meeting of the War Council, and informs them that they're going to need a new leader.
Sutekh awakens to find himself confined to a regeneration facility on the royal timeship. His enemies have separated his mind from his body's psionic centres, keeping him alive but powerless while Justine makes a proposal to him. She knows that the matter of the Osirian succession is a sideshow to distract her from Lolita, her true enemy, and she promises to stop getting in Sutekh's way in exchange for the knowledge of how to breed and control the Mal'akh grotesques. Sutekh is a monster, but he could be Justine's best weapon -- and Nephthys, who has come over to Justine's side, confirms it. Back on the Homeworld, Lolita has become the new War Queen, but as she tries to bring up the matter of her predecessor "disappearing" at the same time as Justine, the Council chambers come under attack. Too late, Lolita remembers that Justine was given safe passage through the Homeworld's defences; she's now sent a force of Mal'akh through in her place, as a statement of intent against Lolita. The Mal'akh burst into the Council chambers as Lolita watches in frustration -- but if Lolita has anything to say about it, this will not be where the story ends.