Isaac, a troubled young man, is one of two survivors in the crash of a prison transport from Earth on a distant, desert planet, Oasis. The other survivor: Boza, his mortal enemy from Earth, the man who killed Isaac’s sister. As Isaac stumbles from the burning wreckage, he is confronted by Luca, a tough young woman with a gang, the M-80s, and vehicles. She greets Isaac as “Steve” (as in “Steve Naive”, Oasis rhyming slang for fresh meat), and tells him scavengers are on their way, and they won’t be as nice as she is. Isaac is disoriented, even more so when a scavengers’ drone implants a tracker in his face. Luca grabs him, and seeming to kiss him, sucks the tracker from beneath his skin. Let’s go, says Luca.
She leaves with Isaac, leaving two of her gang, Ghadah and Kevlar, to make the best deal they can with the scavengers for the legless Boza. “Maybe they can use him for parts”, she says. Sure enough, a party of scavengers seeking salvage rolls up. Ghadah and Kevlar meet the scavengers’ leader, Uribe El Tycun, and they negotiate over the bleeding form of Boza.
As Luca and Isaac drive through the vast desert, Luca does her best to explain Isaac’s new situation to him (the last thing he remembers is being arrested the day he was shot, tried in a secret tribunal and frozen) Luca tells him he’s been asleep for two years. He was sent here to work as a slave in the ice mines far below the planet’s surface. Crashing as he did, he’s now “spilled cargo”, he’s assumed to be dead. He has caught a very lucky break, as she explains when she tells Isaac about her own two-year sentence in the mines of Oasis.
Luca tells him that the place she’s taking him to has one rule: the “Red Rule”, “Be down or lay down”. Join the gangs or be their victim.