First paperback edition cover
|Cover artist||Daniel R. Horne|
|Publication date||April 2001|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover and Paperback)|
|Pages||377 (paperback edition)|
|ISBN||ISBN 978-0-8125-7542-2 (paperback edition)|
|Preceded by||Chaos Mode|
Because the Feline trio of Tom, Cat, and Pussy are in disgrace, they enter a dangerous contest to regain their social status. After the Felines and their Caprine companions win the competition, a no-holds-barred game of capture the flag, they are educated about Colene and Darius and trained to become the next mode anchors. The six nulls, along with four unknown individuals, become co-anchors as soon as Seqiro frees his anchor, and Colene, Darius, Nona, and Burgess are immediately captured by Ddwng.
The companions are taken to the primitive planet Chains, where they are forced to remain until Darius agrees to give the Chip to Ddwng. While there, Burgess and the humans form close bonds with the Felines and with Doe, the Caprine female. Colene persuades the predatory dragons of the world to prey on rats instead of nulls, and Darius agrees to give Ddwng the Chip in return for the continued safety of Chains and its inhabitants.
Once on the Virtual Mode, the party attempts to evade the pursuit of the four unknown anchor persons. Colene regains mental contact with Seqiro, but the mind predator soon finds her, and the group must return to Earth. When Colene discovers her mother Morna is the victim of hallucinations brought on by improper medical treatment, she and her companions force the insurance representative to approve RTMS, an experimental treatment, to cure Colene’s and Morna’s depression. Nona, Burgess, and Tom repay Amos Forell for his financial help by giving him one of Tom’s alien germs to claim as a scientific discovery. Colene returns after one week of her two-week treatment, and the anchor persons return to the Virtual Mode.
Unfortunately, the mind predator soon finds Colene, and the companions attempt to wait it out by staying in Oria. Though one of the regents tries to persuade Nona to stay and become queen, she is unwilling to leave the Virtual Mode. The mind predator remains tenacious, however, and Nona is forced to free her anchor. Nona, who has been engaging in sexual intercourse with Tom, asks him to stay in Julia mode and marry her. Tom loves Nona and realizes his trio is facing destruction anyway, so he agrees.
As soon as Nona frees her anchor, Seqiro and Maresy become co-anchors. Colene, Darius, Burgess, Cat, and Pussy slide to the Horse Mode, where the horses join the party. After passing through several more modes, one of which resembles Xanth, the companions finally arrive at Darius’ home mode. Burgess and the horses settle comfortably on a pasture dais and Colene and Pussy join Darius’ household.
After obtaining the Chip, Cat returns to DoOon to discharge his commitment, and Darius shuts down the Virtual Mode. Though Cat is honest, Ddwng suspects treachery and plans to torture it. Cat uses its link to Seqiro and the Key it has secretly swallowed to rescue Doe from Chains, though her trio is destroyed. After transporting back to Darius’ mode, Cat and Doe recover, and the Felines adopt Doe as the third member of their new trio.
Though Colene and Darius are married and home at last, Colene remains unable to perform sexually. Pussy convinces Colene to face the mind predator in order to come to terms with her worst fears. After an intense psychological battle, Colene defeats the mind predator, and she is finally healed.