The year is 736 PCE (Post Conquering Era) around 2,836. The solar system has been explored, settled and a color-based social hierarchy has been established called “The Society”. There are fourteen colors designed to create order upon each of the colonized planets such as Earth, the Moon, Mars, Mercury, Venus and all others in the solar system. Genetic engineering was conducted to modify each of the color’s physical traits and abilities as well as the pigment of their skin and coloring of their eyes. This allows each specific color to be assigned certain jobs that they and their children will perform throughout their lives.
HighColors consist of:
Golds: Rulers of the Society
Silvers: Financiers and businessmen
Whites: Clergy and judges
Coppers: Administrators, laywers and bureaucrats
MidColors consist of:
Blues: Bridge crew of starships and pilots
Yellows: Doctors and researchers
Greens: Programmers and technicians
Violets: Artisans and other creatives
Oranges: Mechanics and engineers
Grays: Regular soldiers and police
Browns: Servants, cooks and janitors
Obsidians: Elite soldiers and bodyguards
Pinks: Pleasure slaves and social functionaries
Reds: Manual laborers (high reds) and miners (low reds)
Darrow, a low-red born in the mines underneath Mars has never been above the surface of the ground. As a miner they are told that Mars has not yet been terraformed and that the work they are doing will help to create a world in which colonizers will be able to move into in the years to come. Little does he know that Mars is already colonized and a fully functioning civilization exists above the ground. Red miners do not have a long-life expectancy, only living until they are in their thirties before dying due to the terrible living conditions. Due to such a short life, they marry at much younger ages and begin having children in order to maintain their population.
Darrow has fallen in love with a beautiful girl named Eo and the two end up marrying at sixteen years old. Their curious nature leads them to investigate areas of the mines and they end up in an area that is forbidden for them to enter. They are caught and Eo is hanged while Darrow is forced to watch. He is broken and secretly takes the body and buries it in the forbidden place. He is now caught as well, leading him to be hanged too. However, an underground rebellion force manages to save his life and he is whisked away in the mines to become something the Golds and their Society will forever regret.
Darrow undergoes a procedure by a carver (specialized Violet) that ends up not only turning him into a Gold, but also physically changes him to be just as big, strong and powerful as the Golds. After this, he is sent off to the Institute where he will be trained and become a Peerless Scarred (Specialized Gold, top of the Society order). He passes their exams while missing only 1 question and proceeds further into the Institute. All students are then selected by drafters of the different houses within the Institute. House Mars ends up selecting Darrow and he is off. His first test, he is thrown into a room with another student from House Mars. He quickly realizes that only 1 of them is meant to come out alive. He sadly kills the boy Julian au Bellona. Having finally made it to the castle with the other surviving students, he realizes that the brother of Julian, Cassius au Bellona, is part of House Mars as well.
They all seek to become Primus of the House Mars and win the “game” by being the last House left standing by enslaving all of the other houses. Along the way, Cassius finds out that Darrow is the one who killed his brother and stabs him in the stomach during a duel, leaving him to die. He is saved by Virginia au Augustus of House Minerva and he begins to rebuild his army from students of other houses.