It's a rare day when Terrans meet eye-to-eyestalk with the slimy little sticky-fingers - er, that is to say, the noble alien Groaci. This time the races clash on the planet Popu-Ri, once the home of a mighty interstellar power. Popu-Ri has sunk into decline...but its ancient treasures remain. Though not for long, if the Groaci have their way.
Groaci also finds Popu-Ri just the place to build a galactic warfleet. Still, for the Corps Diplomatique Terrestrienne to respond would threaten the delicate balance of human/Groaci forces on the cocktail circuit. Therefore the ambassador must keep the lid on by doing nothing. But how to do nothing without seeming an inneffectual pantywaist? Send an observer!
Yep, the Ambassador has it all figured out. But he made one little mistake; he sent Retief...