In the 25th century, only the Shoal possess the secret of faster-than-light travel (FTL), giving them absolute control over all trade and exploration throughout the galaxy. Mankind has operated within their influence for two centuries, establishing a dozen human colony worlds scattered along Shoal trade routes. Dakota Merrick, while serving as a military pilot, has witnessed atrocities for which this alien race is responsible.
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Dakota and Corso discover not only that the Shoal are caught in an aeons-long conflict with a rival star-faring species, but that the Bandati have resolved to make an alliance with this race by giving them deadly knowledge acquired from the Magi starship; forging an unholy alliance with the Shoal-member Trader. Dakota is determined to stop them - but the destruction of millions of inhabited worlds appears inevitable.