Three years have passed since the events depicted in the novel, Stone and Anvil, and for the past and present crew members of the U.S.S. Excalibur, life has taken many surprising twists and turns. Captain Elizabeth Shelby has been promoted to admiral and heads Space Station Bravo...while her former ship, the U.S.S. Trident, has a new captain. Soleta has left Starfleet to embrace the perils of exploring her Romulan heritage. The powerful Zak Kebron serves as the Excalibur's counselor and head of security. And Mackenzie Calhoun? Well, Mackenzie Calhoun's still who he is. As Si Cwan, prime minister of the New Thallonian Protectorate, prepares to marry off his sister Kalinda in a politically advantageous pairing that will strengthen his newly restored empire, the bride-to-be is abducted just before the wedding in a calamitous event that threatens to destabilize the entire sector -- especially since Kalinda's abductor is someone all too familiar. As the Excalibur, the Trident, and the entire Thallonian fleet attempt to bring order to their sector of space, no one could ever suspect that a mysterious alien force may also be playing a part in Kalinda's disappearance -- and that the entire galaxy may soon face a long-forgotten enemy.