While traveling to Hedon for a much needed furlough of R&R, the unit is stranded on Elaine of Avalon when their fighter encounters mechanical problems. As they begin making repairs, Varn Tarl Sogan, former admiral and still War Prince of the Arcturian Empire, finds that he is none too welcome. An escalating conspiracy is formed to humiliate, injure, and finally destroy him and his comrades. Yet the greatest danger on Elaine of Avalon may not be its human inhabitants, but the monstrous creatures of its seas: barracands, nine to sixty-foot eating machines; and an over one-hundred-fifty-foot leviathan with teeth the size of sabers. From every quarter the Commandos must defend one another from a hostile populace and a deadly environment if they are to escape back into the safety of space, and it is obvious on all too many occasions that they may well not succeed.