The Commandos find themselves embroiled in an ever-escalating mesh of intrigue and danger, mental, emotional, moral, and physical, upon their return to Horus.
In response to the rising peril of the Pirate Stars, the Federation and the Arcturian Empire, Sogan’s former ultrasystem, have resolved to form an alliance, and the Security Council has come to Horus to finalize it with the Empire’s representatives. The members of the unit, the Federation’s experts in the renegade system, prepare to present their information to both parties, but it is Sogan whom the Arcturians demand to see, much against his will and judgment. His reluctance is well founded. Admiral Zerat, the second-rank Arcturian officer, uses the meeting to launch his subtle attack, an attempt to push Sogan into committing suicide.
Other dangers threaten both the members of the unit and the others. A young man, consumed by hate for Arcturians generated by all he and his people had suffered during the long occupation of his homeworld, has secured the means to eliminate the Commandos and the admirals of both ultrasystems and watches for his opportunity to strike.
Emirites, with whom Sogan and Karmikel had previously clashed, make several attempts to shatter the new alliance culminating in a deadly street battle in which the Commandos, Arcturian soldiers, and Horusi civilians must unite in a desperate effort to defeat the attackers before even more people die.