Ten thousand refugees from the losing side of The Big War fled far beyond the boundaries of the Terran Federation and colonized the planet Excalibur. They had also expanded to a handful of Sword Worlds. On the Sword World Gram, Lucas Trask, Baron of Traskon, is about to marry Elaine Karvall, whose father owns the Karvall steel mills. In addition to being a political alliance, it is also a love match. But Andray Dunnan, the insane nephew of Duke Angus of Wardshaven, is under the delusion that Elaine loves him and is being forced into the marriage. When she tries to correct him, his anger boils over. He crashes the wedding ceremony, kills her and seriously wounds Trask, before stealing the Duke's newly built starship, the Enterprise, and escaping.