We start with a pan across "The Hoop", the place where the unemployed and unemployable of Halo Jone's world are sent to live. We light upon the teenage Halo's face, a mixture of boredom and a faraway look in her eyes. She shares a living space with her best friend Rodice, an older woman called Brinna and Brinna's intelligent robot dog Toby.
|Halo Jones, dreaming of better things.|
They walk and chat, Rodice says it's a lot of fuss for a bit of flying scrap. Halo responds that it's not scrap, it's been everywhere. Brinna says she met the human Clara Pandy when she was a little girl.
They pass a group of Different Drummers, teens with shaved heads and vacant expressions. Who have an implant in their brains that pipes a constant beat into it. "Bunch of mindless glombies" says Rodice of them. They reach the Clara Pandy and Halo gasps that "she's beautiful".
|The Clara Pandy.|
Halo: "I'm sick of this place. Every time something nice happens, a fight starts"
She goes on to say she's going to get out of there one day. Rodice says even if she does escape she'll get dragged back and broken into pieces, "just ask the Clara Pandy".
Later Rodice and Halo are attending a concert in a club their friend Ludy is playing her "Dota" at. She "was blue-hot" exclaims Halo. Ludy packs up and Halo says her music should allow her to get off the Hoop one day. Ludy wonders how she'll survive until then.
Halo: "Me and Rodice and Brinna'll take care of you. You're out pet celebrity!".
Rodice joins them and the three of them leave the club. Unfortunately the streets they need to go down are dark and they are surrounded by a group of Different Drummers.
|The Different Drummers.|
When she recovers, Halo tells her that her music saved them from "getting crumped" and that she should learn a lesson from this. Ludy says she has, "in lots of ways". On arrival back to their living quarters, the make a terrible discovery. They have no food left. "But that means..." says Halo, "A shopping trip!" finishes Rodice.
Halo and Rodice start planning their trip like a military operation. With a strict timetable to hit each area they are going to go through to reach the mall. Halo asks jokingly if Ludy want to go in her place, then sees Ludy has her Dota and is off to rehearsals. Halo enocurages her so she can one day "quit this dump". Ludy leaves, not looking very enthused.
|Rodice and Halo plan their shoping trip.|
We then jump forwards to Rodice reviving an unconcious Halo. She got "crumped" by a "Proximan" tail and she and Toby dragged her up a side artery away from the riot.
Halo: "That riot... what would they have done if Lux Roth Chop hadn't saved the Clara Pandy".
Rodice says they'd have rioted of course, now back to shopping and her sechdule is all to hell now.
They can't use the main Hoopway due to the riot so they use an "updraft" to float up to the "overstrat". They take a shortcut through the "Exit Gardens" which is an illegal one, but Rodice says:
Rodice: "If anybody asks we tell 'em that we were going to kill ourselves but we saw the funny side at the last moment."
|Taking a shortcut.|
They discuss what to do next and Halo has an idea, "we can go outside!". There is a "magentrax" they can ride the other way round the Hoop and get to the mall that way. But Rodice holds up a couple of items Halo identifies as "Zenades" and Halo wants to know why?
Rodice: "... the first person to take me outside is gonna find out why!"
We're given a quick description of Zenades, a 50th century invention it renders it's victims, "incapable of anything but meditation, intuition and complete non-agression". Rodice drops them but they appear to be duds, except the last one, which works, but affects Rodice instead of Halo.
|Rodice is not keen on going outside.|
They ride round the Hoop until the reach the Mall indicator, just as Rodice returns to normal and starts having hysterics about being outside. Halo gets her down through the hatch and back into the Hoop where they are immediately confronted by a gang of snappily dressed men and women.
|Hipsters in the future.|
Haloe and Rodice go shopping, while browsing some stuff for the others, Halo notices a Dota which looks just like Ludy's, right down to the scratches... Then Toby arrives and tells them to hurry if they want to make it home in time.
They go to catch a "ring roadster" but the next one isn't going to be along for six hours. So they bed down for the night alongside a fellow commuter, an alien called "Snivelling" and spend the night sleeping at the "Skid Stop".
|Missed the last bus home.|
They arrive at their destination and start to walk back to their quarters. Toby suddenly tells them, "Excuse me. I gotta job to do. And listen, I'm sorry..." and he walks off. Laughing and joking Halo and Rodice arrive back home, the place its trashed and then Halo and Rodice look on in horror as Rodice whispers, "Toby. Toby must have smelled the blood."
|Returning home to a terrible discovery.|
Halo: "These rumblejacks are persistent offenders remember? They've been leucotomised - you can see the scars on their heads - They can't react. There's no point getting angry with them!"
Rodice regards the mess and says "but I just need to get angry with somebody". The man in charge says Brinna had a "Ripper" (Toby) right? He's possibly smelled the blood and gone after the killers. When Rodice gets mad at him, he calmly replies he is a volunteer, and that he knew Brinna a long time ago, "she was a special woman" he says and leaves.
|Ludy, now a Different Drummer.|
Ludy: "Maybe I don't want to get killed...just to make you proud of me. I'm sick of living up to your escape fantasies Halo. I don't wanna listen to you any more."
Rodice tells her Ice Ten got signed, but Ludy has zoned out, listening to the beat in her head. Halo strides out of their quarters and when Rodice chases after her saying their problems will still be their when they get back, Halo says:
Halo: "Who said anything about coming back?"
|Halo has had enough.|
Halo: "Brinna's dead. Ludy's turned into a gloombie. The Hoop got 'em. You think I'm going to sit around and wait for it to get me? I'm not going back."
Then Halo detects someone is following them, they run and trip over, but their stalker is revealed to be Toby.
He says he smelled the blood and tracked it's spoor. He dealt with Brinna's killers, "all four of 'em. I don't wanna talk about it." He tells them Brinna left him to the both of them in her will. They carry on job hunting until they arrive at the dock where the Clara Pandy is moored and Halo says, "I think I'm in love"
|Toby catches up with them.|
Halo does indeed speak it, saying to Rodice she was a member of the "Ritit Rikti" fanclub and learned it then. Rodice says she can have the job and Toby as well. She promises she'll work passage on the next liner out and they'll meet in Charlmange in a years time, "last one buys the drinks". They bid a teary farewell and the Book ends with Rodice watching the Clara Pandy leave.
|Halo takes her leave of Rodice and The Hoop.|