This page contains a chapter by chapter summary of Perfect State. We hope this summary will make it easier to find specific areas of the book, as well as providing a quick plot refresher for anyone who doesn't want to take the time to reread the entire book.
Kairominas, Liveborn and ruler of the State Alornia, is 350 years old. He is returning to his palace after attending the celebration of the 50th anniversary since he unified the entire State. He discusses the state of his kingdom with his guard and best friend Shale, a Machineborn, as well that the threat Melhi, a Liveborn from a neighboring State, poses to the kingdom. The conversation turns toward their past, when Shale and Kai would go on fantastic adventures slaying dragons and hunting treasure.
When they arrive back to the palace, Besk, Kai's Chancellor, informs him of a request from the Wode, the humans that administer the States. The Wode want Kai to meet with a Liveborn female in a Communal State so they can procreate. Kai initially doesn't want to go, but Besk eventually convinces him to do so. Rather than meet with the Liveborn that the Wode recommend is most compatible with him, Kai chooses to meet with his least compatible option.
Kai arrives in Maltese, the Communal State he is to meet his date in. Maltese is a State that has trains, cars, and handguns. There is also some future technology that the State has been introduced to. Suffering from some very mild culture shock, Kai is alarmed when a firearm goes off nearby. Rushing to the source of the noise, Kai steps into a confrontation between a group of men and two young women, one of whom is on the ground and seems to be bleeding. Kai engages the men with his own handgun, attempting to rescue the woman left standing.
The woman turns on Kai, trying to shoot him, so he shoots her back, hitting her in the chest. He then ditches his handgun for a metal rod to use as a sword, and attacks the men, breaking one of their hands. The men stop Kai, and the women get up, revealing that it was all a game of paintball between Liveborn. Kai leaves for the restaurant that his date is supposed to meet him at after being the brunt of some jokes.
Kai arrives at the restaurant, getting a table to await his date. She soon arrives, but the two get off to a wrong start. Eventually they both get introduced, and Kai learns that his date is named Sophie, a Liveborn from an Emerging Equality State. They soon find themselves delving into a deep discussion regarding the relationship between the Liveborn, the Machineborn, and the Wode. Just as Kai begins to feel some connection to his date, they are interrupted by a message from Melhi, threatening Kai.
Kai convinces Sophie to leave the table, and he leads her to a staircase that they begin climbing. Sophie inquires as to the relationship between Kai and Melhi, which he is reluctant to share, but eventually decides to do so.
Kai begins the tale of how he met Melhi, thirty years ago. It was in a Border State, which at the time Kai had very little experience with. He brought a full legion with him, fifty thousand men, because he didn't know what to expect. Kai soon finds out that two other Liveborn have access to the Border State as well. He also learns that the State has two very valuable resources; a spice that turns those who consume it into great warriors, and a metal that can cut through steel. Kai has thoughts about how it seems too convenient that he discovers such a Border State only after having conquered his own State.
When they come across the natives, Kai learns that the other Liveborn and he are to compete for the loyalty and resources of the Border State, a concept that excites Kai because he's never defeated another Liveborn before. Kai agrees to meet with the other Liveborn, which would turn out to be Melhi, and is led into the native's village.
Kai and Sophie reach the top of the stairwell, Kai pausing in his story. Kai had been hoping to take Sophie to the roof, but the door is locked shut. Sophie gets the door open by shooting the lock, revealing that she is a good hacker, as she got her gun to fire bullets and not paint pellets. On the roof, the two delve back into their deep discussion from before, but Kai decides he'd rather get back to Alornia as soon as possible. Sophie tries to oblige, but the two are interrupted by a giant robot entering Maltese, obviously sent by Melhi. Kai rushes off to stop the robot, Sophie somewhat reluctantly following behind. Kai decides to tell the rest of his story on their way down the stairwell.
As Kai is being led through the village, a large man made of steel comes from one of the huts. The man reveals that he is a Liveborn, like Kai, and that he'll have an easy victory as Kai is from a Fantasy State. Kai doesn't bother listening to the taunting, however, and turns to leave. He doesn't like the sheer convenience of the situation; a place to fight that doesn't put his state in danger, the fighting location having ideal tactical positions for Kai personally, and the fact that there are three Liveborn involved to encourage alliances. Kai feels like a puppet, and accuses the other Liveborn, Melhi, of being one too. He then leaves the Border State.
Finishing his story of how he met Melhi, Sophie tries to convince Kai to not fight the robot, telling him that Maltese is a world with some future technology, and so Melhi's robot will work while Kai's fantasy magic won't. Kai explains that he has to fight the robot, because he needs to know if all of his accomplishments were because of the Wode or because of his personal skill. Kai tries to convince Sophie to stay at a safe distance, but she refuses and instead offers her hacking skills. Kai asks if Sophie can hack Maltese so his magic would work, and she agrees she'll try, though she's skeptical it will work.
They plan to move past the robot and reach its original entry point for Sophie to begin hacking. They get in a car and speed their way there. Sophie hacks Kai's gun to reload it and make it fire bullets, which he uses to get the robot's attention. Reaching their destination, Sophie quickly hacks to make Lancing function, though she can't promise it'll work the same way Kai is used to. Kai quickly moves Sophie to safety before taking on the robot.
Like Sophie suspected, Lancing does not work the same way Kai is used to. Now it allows Kai to draw heat, specifically, rather than energy. In addition, Kai is unable to do anything with the heat he absorbs, it dissipating before he can. Kai takes a few moments to experiment. He realizes that the use of hacks, of things that don't belong in the State naturally, causes the storm to grow in intensity. This, combined with his ability to absorb heat, allows him to defeat the robot. By absorbing heat, Kai can make it rain harder, soaking the robot. He can then absorb large amounts of heat from the rain water to freeze it inside the robot, causing it to expand and tear the robot apart.
With the robot defeated, Kai looks to Sophie, only to see her pull her handgun to her head and commit suicide. Moving over to her body, Kai notices writing on the ground from Melhi, explaining that Sophie was the perfect robot, and that Melhi breaking Kai's heart was payment for whatever had cause Melhi to dislike Kai in the first place.
Kai is back in Alornia, discussing the situation with Besk. He mourns the loss of Sophie, as he had viewed a deep connection with another Liveborn to be a new beginning in his life. He reaches out to the Wode, asking for information about the ten Liveborn nearest him, and the States they reside in. The Wode respond by apologizing for the situation in Maltese, explaining that Melhi will be punished for her actions, and that Kai is no longer required to procreate. Kai asks for the information again, this time the Wode giving it to him. The novella ends with Kai determined to end his isolation.
|Characters||Kairominas · Shale · Besk · Melhi|
|Culture||Concept · Wode · XinWey's Doctrine · Lancing · Liveborn · Machineborn|
|Geography||Alornia · Grand Aurora · Maltese · States|