Merker’s Outpost has a secret that spans galaxies. Below its hostile, barren red surface, a once-thriving research complex now lies seemingly deserted, watched over by an entity called Guardian. Lieutenant Harriet Montran, a Collective Space Centurion officer, is betrayed by her shipmates and stranded on Merker’s. She is rescued by Guardian, who enlists her aid to evict a group of smugglers who have set up base in one of the Outpost’s underground cities. Major Zohra, an undercover operative for the secret watchdogs of the galaxy, Naboth’s Vine, is also on Merker’s Outpost. She has infiltrated the smugglers with the intent of ending their illegal trafficking in sentient beings. Montran and Zohra join forces with Guardian to thwart the smugglers and protect Merker’s Outpost. Soon, the bond that joined them when they were cadets flares anew. Confronted by smugglers, renegade soldiers, programmed assassins, and betrayal within their own ranks, Montran and Zohra are caught in a desperate race to discover the planet’s secret before it falls into the wrong hands. Can their feelings survive it? Can they?