Amav Commer and her husband Jack, Supreme Commander of the United System Space Force, present their eleven month-old son Jonathan James to guests at the 2038 wedding of time traveler Urside Charmouth. Former Typhoon II engineer Phil Sperry, damaged by his 2035 Centaurian brainwashing, has quit the USSF to become chief of staff to Marsport mayor and former Martian terrorist G'rea'nyaigu'nye, a name shortened by the human colonists on Mars to Greeney Gooney. Ashamed of his former obsession with Amav, Phil now has his eye on Earth Animal Rescue program director Hedrona Bhlon in her low-cut gown.
But Zarj troopers from Alpha Centauri time-kidnap Phil, Gooney, Hedrona, and the infant Jonathan James to April 2049. To Phil's horror, the commander is Clopt, who abducted the Typhoon II crew in 2035. Phil once again succumbs to the Centaurian Grid, but Hedrona resists and Gooney puts himself into a coma.
Considered an Animal, Hedrona must fight as a Gladiator of the Sled for four years. In May 2053, when the Emperor dies and the Grid collapses, Hedrona saves Phil from being killed by Animal Gladiators and the two journey to Clopt's flagship to rescue Jonathan James. The boy, now five, has a robot attendant, John Root, an irritating recreation of the youngest Commer brother John, who died ramming the Typhoon I onto Mercury. Greeney exits his coma and plans to send Martians to counsel the psychologically wounded, Gridless citizens of Alpha Centauri.
In June 2075 Jack and Amav arrive in Alpha Centauri with the Typhoon IV crew to attend Jonathan James' literary award party. They've only seen their twenty-seven year-old son three times since 2053, as he chose to remain on the planet Andertwin with Hedrona, Phil, and Gooney. Now Gooney has declared himself Emperor of Alpha Centauri. But when Amav is kidnapped aboard her son's spaceship along with Phil, Jonathan James explains that Greeney is a mere regent and that Phil must have sex with Amav to record special human software code which will make Jonathan James Emperor.
Attempting to rescue Amav and Phil, the Typhoon crashes on takeoff, its computer systems wiped out by Gooney's Amplified Thought. John Root gloats that he inserted malware into Jonathan James' bestselling, libelous, father-bashing autobiographical novel in order to spread a new Grid throughout Alpha Centauri. Greeney Gooney transfers the full Emperorship to Jonathan James--who can't handle the plug of trillions of suffering Alpha Centaurians and begs to be chopped into pieces.