The Chinese have unleashed a plague that has wiped out major portions of the population. As the story begins, Stephen and his father have just buried his grandfather after having done the same for his mother, who died in childbirth. Not long after, Stephen’s father is hurt as both attempt to escape “slavers” bent on selling anyone they can catch. With his father unconscious, Stephen doesn’t know what to do until a group of men and boys enter the picture and rescue them both. This seems too good to be true, though, so Stephen remains skeptical of his new companions’ intentions. He has no choice, though, but to go along with this new group because his father’s health and welfare hang in the balance. All Stephen really wants is to help his father heal and find a place where they can both be safe in the long term. Whether this new oasis is the place or not, he doesn’t know.