As the slavemasters of Mesa plot against the Star Empire of Manticore and newly liberated slave planet of Torch, Anton Zilwicki and notorious Havenite secret agent Cachat set off on a dangerous mission to uncover the truth concerning a wave of mysterious assassinations that have been launched against Manticore and Torch. Most people are sure that the Republic of Haven is behind the assassinations, but Zilwick and Chachat suspect others of being the guilty party.
Queen Berry of Torch was one of the targets of the unknown assassins. The former head of the Ballroom slave liberation organization, Jeremy X - now one of Torch's top officals, but still considered by many the most dangerous terrorist in the galaxy - calls in some past favors owed to him. In reponse, a security officer from Beowulf arrives to bodyguard Queen Berry, despite the security officer's own growing attachment to her.
Meanwhile, powerful forces in the Solarian League are maneuvering against each other to gain the upper hand in whay they all expect to be an explosive crisis that threatens the very existence of the League itself.