In the Southern Arizona desert a small group of idealistic scientists, some refugees from the Biosphere 2 project, have constructed an isolated community called Kihhim (Tohono O’Odham for the village). Away from the prying eyes of the press, the public and the regulation of government they have built a society along the principles behind the Biosphere 2 project. At the foot of Baboquivari Peak, the birthplace of the People according to Tohno O’Odham legend, they are isolated from the Earth, almost a space colony but not in space. In order to maintain a closed society, they have genetically manipulated plants grown in their greenhouses to greatly enhance the productivity.
When the body of Marty Hinson, a prominent environmentalist is found on their property, they come under the very scrutiny they have avoided. Accusations are lodged by the environmentalist’s group and they are investigated by the United States as isolationists and they are attacked by religious zealots and terrorist Ralph Whitney for their biological technology and genetic abilities.
Kihhim flees the United States, though their leader John Vance and Katherine Levey are arrested and imprisoned as subversives. Using the designs of Rich Lewis, they construct a giant catamaran of supertankers and establish Kahchk Kihhim (Tohono O’Odham for sea village), a nation at sea. To shield themselves from attack, Security Supervisor, Leticia Gardner initiates an extortion plan that threatens the existence of humanity in order to obtain protection from the United States.
They use genetic engineering and adapt themselves to life at sea. The shield of protection established by President of the United States, Ron Carson is breached, and prominent figures of both Kahchk Kihhim and the United States including John Vance and Vice President Sanchez are killed. The ensuing investigation reveals backing for the attack by a major world power, and they become embroiled in global politics. The major powers in the world realize the potential Kahchk Kihhim represents, and the threat to humankind, when the extent of their genetic engineering is revealed. Kahchk Kihhim realizes that once their extortion threat is nullified, they will be subjugated or destroyed, and under the leadership of Katherine Levey, they embark on program to grow a new underwater habitat utilizing the genetic engineering of Jamie Wong. The citizens of Ocealla will consist of humans, modified humans, modified dolphins, and a completely new genetic construct.
When a pact is formulated between the world powers, Kahchk Kihhim is destroyed, but a new unknown civilization is born, hidden from the surface world.