The Mojave Desert: bleak, merciless, murderous. Few people know this better than the residents of Needles, a windswept town on the California border. Strange things happen out there in those ancient sands ... and one townie has just paid the ultimate price for his curiosity.

The 33, a team of world-saving misfits, has been dispatched to investigate the death. John Swords III leads the crew: master warrior Bliss, jack-of-all-trades Knack, scientist Scintilla and diplomat Alabaster. But they'll soon learn that the grisly details of the slaying are the least of their worries.

That's because Swords has given Bliss field commander duties for this mission. She's ill-suited for the task. Bred to follow and fight, Bliss must overcome her deep misgivings and learn to lead. And she's gotta do it fast. It's the only way The 33 can solve the murder — and get out of Needles alive.