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Trainee observer Zaren was never supposed to set foot on the fifth planet of system 59, let alone have contact with the indigenous population. In fact, any contact is grounds for her immediate dismissal from the program. Zaren has dreamed of being an observer for as long as she can remember, and she knows the rules well. But when her observation vehicle crashes, she finds herself in dire need of help.
Kris has been sent by the Elders of his village on a solo journey into the woods. He needs to choose a single animal to shape-shift into. Only then will he be recognized as a man by his people. Only then will he be allowed to return to care for the last member of his family, his gravely ill sister, Elea.
When Kris finds Zaren fighting for her life, he doesn’t hesitate for a second to save her, even though she’s a stranger, even though he can’t understand her – and even though he risks exile if she discovers he is a shifter.
As they trek through the woods in search of Zaren’s lost shuttle, they learn more than they ought to about each other, and also about themselves. But they will both have to return to their own kind eventually… How will they explain themselves to their people without losing everything? More importantly, what will they do when they have to say goodbye?