While a medical student, Sergei Prokov served in a re-education camp for shamans. The experience propelled him into transformational growth; freeing his mind from his body, he took soul flights in the form of a bird. A childhood brush with polio froze his right leg in immaturity; as an adult, he compensated with mental strength. When the novel opens, Sergei is a psychiatrist in Siberia, working in a defense institute. He'd given his life to the Cold War; when the USSR collapses though, so does his funding. The love of his life, Tai Leung, is a top remote viewer in the Institute's psychic warfare program, and when Sergei is hired by an oil multinational to work in New York City, they plan to marry. The night they leave, though, there's a terrible snow storm and Sergei goes off the road. Tai dies in the crash. Arriving in New York, Sergei starts from scratch: training Americans as remote viewers, and at the same time, trying for a new romance.