The novella takes place 5 years before Angels in the Mist, the first book in The Z-Tech Chronicles, and follows Zima on her first attempts to integrate with human society. Squelching her assassin habits turns out to be more difficult than she imagined, which is both a blessing and a curse to a poor family in San Francisco's Mission District, who need a little of everything she has to offer.
What they didn't bargain for is how swiftly and thoroughly Zima carries through on her promises.
The story is primarily through the eyes of Emilio Rojas, a teenage boy caught in a gang who can't see a way out. While the story is fiction, Emilio's circumstances aren't. Zima: Origins explores some of the real reasons youths are lured into gangs, how those gangs prevent them from leaving, and the impact that dangerous life has on them and their families. It also explores some of the culture of the historic, colorful Mission District. You can see a sampling of the wonderful artwork decorating the neighborhoods in this recent post.