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Introduction (blurb)

Gamma Xaridian - a peaceful Federation research colony that becomes the third Federation world to suffer a brutal attack at the hands of a mysterious alien fleet. With Lt. Uhura gone on an important mission of her own, Captain Kirk and the USS Enterprise are dispatched to investigate the attacks, only to find the planets completely devastated.

When another nearby colony is attacked, the USS Enterprise is ready and encounters a fleet of quick, small and deadly ships. Though Kirk and his crew manage to turn the raiders away, the USS Enterprise is severely damaged and the aliens escape.

As Kirk and his crew prepare for their next encounter with the raiders, Mr. Spock makes a startling discovery about the purpose behind the alien attacks - a purpose that, if realized, could have deadly consequences for the Federation and the USS Enterprise...


Uhura is reassigned to the Lexington for a mission to Rithra, whose population use a combination of verbal and sign language to communicate. Meanwhile, the Enterprise is ordered to the Xaridian systems, where three Federation colonies have been attacked without provocation, the most recent leaving no survivors. The Enterprise defeats an attack on a fourth colony but Chekov is temporarily relieved of duty when he questions Kirk's orders during the battle. He redeems himself by helping Scotty work out a method for tracking the raiders' ships. Spock then deduces that several items were stolen from the first colony and suspicion falls on the Parath'aa, the inhabitants of a nearby world who were refused Federation membership because of the brutality of their leaders and desire advanced technology. Kirk suspects the other raids are being carried out to disguise the theft.

The Lexington crew are requested to assist the Rithrim by repairing a force field protecting a procreation centre from a volcano, which has been affected by levels of radiation. When the crew enquire about the destruction of certain monuments, the governor caste request they leave the planet but the procreator caste ask them to stay. Uhura and the Lexington's communication officer Baila visit a procreation centre and realize there is a fifth caste whose existence the Rithrim having been trying to conceal: a warrior caste who once acted as law enforcement and defence but whose aggressive tendencies became uncontrollable as their society became more peaceful. It is they who have been raiding the Federation colonies, acting as mercenaries for the Parath'aa.

The information is relayed to the Enterprise in time for the crew to use their shields' vulnerability to radiation to destroy or capture all the raiders. The crew learn that the Parath'aa have built a plasma cannon, which they intend to use to conquer the nearby pre-warp civilization on Cygni Maxima. The Enterprise intercepts the fleet and destroys the plasma cannon, forcing the Parath'aa to return the stolen technology. The Rithrim show an interest in Federation membership and Baila stays behind to lead a delegation. Commodore Wesley asks Uhura to replace him but she returns to the Enterprise instead.

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Jerome BailaBerrimanChakPavel ChekovCortezPeder CossDabDelacortJak EismanEndrisGablerJeff GelbBarry GiottoItoSharon JarvisJames T. KirkKyleMartha LandonLeslieLingL'ritaAngela MartineCharlene MastersLeonard McCoyElizabeth PalmerPetersonWynn SamuelsMontgomery ScottSilvaSloanSpockStanleyHikaru SuluUhuraWashburnRobert WesleyJoan Winston
Referenced only 
Ravi AkbarRobert AprilDavid BaileyBeauregardBerganzaCallasMatthew DeckerDiniEpalaGodPhillip GreenKisalKolkerJabilo M'BengaHelen NoelChristopher PikePittareseJanice RandKevin RileyStonerStylesBeccah TaluluRobert Tomlinson

Starships and vehicles

USS EnterpriseUSS LexingtonUSS PotemkinViking
Referenced only 
USS ConstellationUSS FarragutUSS HoodUSS TrudeauUSS Yorktown


Alpha XaridianAlpha Xaridian IAlpha Xaridian IIAlpha Xaridian IIIAlpha Xaridian IVParathu'ul (Alpha Xaridian V) • Beta XaridianBeta Xaridian IVBeta Xaridian VIBravo StationCygni MaximaGamma XaridianGamma Xaridian VIIIGamma Xaridian XIIGamma Xaridian colonyGirin GathaRithra
Referenced only 
Beta Damoron VBeta GanymedeGamma IIKlingon Neutral ZoneKoyoLake NyasaMombasaPotayuPsi 2000QuelimaneSharikanStarbase 83

Races and cultures

Human (Bantu) • Parath'aaRithrimVulcan
Referenced only 

States and organizations

Federation StarfleetUnited Federation of Planets
Referenced only 
First FederationGorn HegemonyStarfleet AcademyUniversity of Kenya

Science and technology

deflector dishFeinbergerforce fieldhologramlavamedical tricordernavigational deflectorphaserphaser cannonphoton torpedoplasma cannonradiationshield generatorstarshiptractor beamtricordervolcanowarp factor

Ranks and titles


Other references

asteroidatomic warcaptain's logcastechicken saladchocolatecinnamoncoffeecolonyhull breachKobayashi Maru scenariomagno-ballMaltusian mazeMeteorsmemorial serviceOrganian Peace TreatyPipersplanetratred alertRussian Revolutionsalmonsign languagetapetechnologyTurnoga defenseyear

Related stories



  • Stiles is called "Styles".
  • The site of the Gamma Xaridian colony is given as Gamma Xaridian III in Chapter Three, but as Gamma Xaridian IV in Chapter Seven.


published order
Previous novel:
Faces of Fire
TOS numbered novels Next novel:
Ice Trap
chronological order
Previous Adventure:
The Modala Imperative
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Memory Beta Chronology Next Adventure:
No Compromise
No Compromise Part One
Previous Adventure:
To Reign in Hell: The Exile of Khan Noonien Singh
Chapters 14-15
Pocket Next Adventure:
The Gamesters of Triskelion