ZACH BANDUCCI is the lone survivor of a family after a devastating series of natural and man-made disasters. He determines to leave the southeast and settle in the Rocky Mountains. As he travels through Missouri, he meets the WILLIAM SMITH family and they join forces. While avoiding scavengers, they meet and capture MATT BUSBY. He is a deserter from the Mahdist army, a fundamentalist Muslim group which grew out of the thousands of Middle East refugees allowed into the United States during the Caliphate Wars in Africa, the Middle East and Far East. Matt is a member of the janissaries, young men who are conscripted into the Mahdist army.
Matt, Zach and William, rescue a group of janissaries and their families and head west. They are followed and they defeat a force of Mahdists which had pursued them.
They continue their trek, recruiting new people and battling scavengers. The caravan finally reaches the abandoned town of Mitchell, WY and settles in. They form a government and hold elections. The town is made habitable, troops of mounted infantry are organized and the area is explored.
They meet or hear about other settlements. There is the Sioux Confederacy and Two Wolves whom they save. An expedition is sent to Deseret, the home of the Mormons. They have some experience with the Christian Fundamentalists in Missouri and throughout the southeast. They meet a patrol from the Aztec Empire. In th emidst of these forces, they must still be wary of the Mahdists, who they know have not forgotten them.
In additionn to the outside forces, there are those within Mitchell who have their own agendas. PARSON SIMMONS wants to turn the settlement into a Christian Theocracy. WADE HAMPTON advocates joining the Mahdists as an autonomous province. They have to deal with refugees expelled from the Sioux Confederacy, voluntary immigrants from Deseret and escapees from the NEW CALIPHATE based in Iowa.
Social problems worry the new community. Polygamy finally drives Parson Simmons and several other families away. Boys between sixteen and twenty-one are required to join the military. There is a movement to form a girl’s auxiliary also and there is controversy about the combat roles of the auxiliary troops, when they are finally approved.
The settlers must also gather supplies for the coming winter and for a siege if the Mahdists find them. There are cattle roundups and an expedition to Rawlings, WY for books, school supplies, canning supplies, sundries, medicines, clothing and all the other things needed for a growing community. At Rawlings they find that it has been turned into a center for a large band of scavengers. Zach and his troops are able to rescue women kept as slaves and destroy the scavenger band.
Increased population and the threat of the Mahdists spur the discovery of other valleys in the Rockies which can support settlements. Several new settlements are opened in the fall. Spring brings the Mahdists. Mitchell manages to destroy the attackers and recruit some of the survivors.
After the last of the attackers has been dealt with, the question remains – What next? Peace or War.