The story opens with the introduction of Captain Otian and his crew, forced to land on the backwater planet of Oltarin because of a blown star drive with no funds to replace it. Enter Hankura, who needs passage for himself and his family to Velran to help their son who’s been in a catatonic state since his psionic powers started dawning. No other starship will take them because their children are both dawning psions. Otian and his crew are leery but agree to take the chance in exchange for funds to repair their ship.
Meanwhile, their friend Delmran from Hankura’s childhood with whom they served on the Searching Star arrives on Velran to become Security Chief of the Federation Embassy there. On arrival, Delmran meets Lishaad, a covert agent for the Federation operating as the Emperor’s mistress. As soon as he shakes her hand there is an instant attraction which Lishaad tries to deny, so Delmran backs off. But, Lishaad is not unaffected as she tries to make him believe and trying to hide her feelings makes Delmran believe she is a double agent.
Will Jamerin get the help he needs? Why are the Tregans so interested in Hankura’s family? Can Delmran trust Lishaad to help protect them?