Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows, Matthew 10:29-31
In 2019 a SETI programme picks up a radio transmission from near Alpha Centauri containing the sound of exquisite alien songs. The Society of Jesus (Jesuits) decides to fund and lead an independent, scientific mission to that part of the galaxy to try and find the planet of origin. After a few months, the Jesuits lose contact with the expedition and the UN sends a second mission to Rakhat. The information that they send back threatens to bring the Jesuit order to its knees. Only one member of the first mission, Father Emilio Sandoz, has been found alive. He has been discovered living in a state of degradation in what appears to be a brothel, and worse still, has been accused of murdering a child. Decades later in 2059 (thanks to the speed of light) Sandoz finally arrives back on Earth, a broken man, sexually brutalised, with his hands horrifically maimed. Under huge international and media pressure, as well as UN condemnation for taking matters into their own hands without approval, the Jesuit order decides to hold an investigation into what happened on the planet of Rakhat.