(written from a Production point of view)
- In the wake of the catastrophic events of Wildfire, Domenica Corsi and Fabian Stevens take a much-needed vacation, visiting Corsi's family on Fahleena III. Corsi is not happy about the trip, as she and her father, the head of a cargo-running company, haven't spoken in over six years.
- An engine failure during a routine cargo run leads Corsi to confront her father, who reveals the deadly secret of the death of Corsi's uncle in a shocking tale from the Cardassian War that will change how Corsi views her family – and her relationship with Stevens – forever!
Domenica Corsi brings fellow crewmate Fabian Stevens (who she has yet to admit to herself is her boyfriend) home to meet her parents, with whom they will be staying for a week. At first her mother, Ulrika, greets them warmly and helps them get settled in for their stay. Domenica and her mother discuss Fabian's feelings for Domenica. The two, who are not quite dating, have gotten very close after recent events, including the near-destruction of the da Vinci at Galvan VI.
When Domenica's father, Aldo Corsi, returns home, he does not question his daughter about her well-being but instead asks her about "the axe". After telling her father than the artifact is fine, Domenica explains to Fabian how she and her father haven't been very close since she joined Starfleet, going so much as to ask about an object before asking about her.
Her father explains that he must leave for his cargo run immediately, and can't chat with them. Fabian, trying to rectify the situation between Domenica and her father, arranges for them to go along on the trip.
en route to a rendezvous with the Thelkans, their cargo freighter, the Pharaon, experiences engine trouble. As Fabian and Wilson (Aldo Corsi's friend and ship's engineer) try to fix the problem, Domenica insists on having a talk with her father about why he hates Starfleet officers so much. He explains that back in 2355, just before the Cardassian wars, Starfleet came to him in the form of a Lieutenant Commander William Ross. Ross asked Aldo to store spy equipment aboard his freighter, the Ulrika's Hope, as his cargo route would pass near Cardassian space. Aldo reluctantly agreed since his brother and close friend, Giancarlo Corsi, was very eager to work with Starfleet.
Part way into the mission, the Starfleet officers tried to scan a moon nearby, believing it may have been a new Cardassian listening station. The Cardassians, detecting strange readings from the Ulrika's Hope, investigated and insisted on boarding and inspecting the freighter.
The gul in charge, Gul Mogad, was an acquaintance of Aldo Corsi, so the Cardassian kept the search at a minimum with the intention of letting them go. But Mogad's officers detected the spying equipment, and the Starfleet officers were forced to open fire. This led to an all-out fire fight in the cargo bay, where three of the freighter's crew were killed, including Giancarlo.
To stop the bloodshed, Aldo was able to work out a compromise with the Cardassians in which he would hand over any scans Starfleet personnel obtained, and in exchange, the Cardassians would let them go. Gul Mogad reluctantly agreed. While Commander Ross argued that Argo could not turn over such classified information, Aldo was too angry over the death of his brother to care.
Aboard the Pharaon, Domenica feels a new sense of closeness to her father, this being the first time he'd ever truly opened up to her. Fabian enters and explains the warp drive is back online. The freighter then continues onward to its rendezvous with the Thelkans.
Domenica accidentally walks into Fabian's quarters just after he had taken a shower. Discussing the future, Fabian explains that he has decided to leave Starfleet due to his experience at Galvan VI, a revelation which shocks Domenica. She explains that every one had lost people at Galvan VI, and that she had to sleep with a highlighted list of the survivors next to her bed every night just so she knew who was still alive. She tells him that if she can go on after such an incident, then he would have to do so as well.
Ghrovlatrei was right, Donovan chided himself. This assignment was better when it was boring.
- - Donovan, to himself when trying to find three Cardassians in the shuttlebay
"You come aboard my ship and murder my brother in defense of your illegal encroachment into an area of space that does not belong to you. Are you planning to enslave another culture like all of the others you’ve crushed beneath your boots? Is Giancarlo but the latest victim in your endless thirst for conquest?"
- - Aldo, to Mogad as Giancarlo is being threatened with death
- Aldo Corsi (β)
- Dominica Corsi's father, whom she has barely talked to since graduating from the Academy. Starfleet officers aren't welcome in his house and he has great pride for the "Corsi Axe". He runs freight through the Rigel colonies. He was very close to his younger brother, Giancarlo (or "Gi") until he was killed by Cardassians as a result of Starfleet intervention in the 2350s.
- Giancarlo Corsi (β)
- Aldo's younger brother who worked with him on the Ulrika's Hope in the 2350s. He always wanted to join Starfleet, but never did. He was killed by a Cardassian boarding party in 2355.
- Gul Mogad (β)
- Cardassian Gul in charge of the Saltok system during the 2350s.
- Lieutenant Commander William Ross (β)
- Served as a Starfleet Intelligence officer in 2355. He was in command of the spy team aboard the Ulrika's Hope during its trip near Cardassian space. He assumed the identity of "Barry", the freighter's Assistant Helmsman, as his cover.
- Colv (β)
- Tellarite engineer aboard the Ulrika's Hope.
- Ulrika Corsi (β)
- Dominica's mother, she is kinder to visitors than her husband. She welcomes her daughter, whom she refers to as "Dommie", and her friend Fabien when they arrive.
- Michael Dillone (β)
- Chief helmsman aboard the Ulrika's Hope.
- Ensign Tobias Donovan (β)
- Human Starfleet officer, he was in charge of monitoring the Starfleet sensor equipment along with Ghrovlatrei.
- Gret (β)
- Bolian navigator aboard the Ulrika's Hope.
- Lieutenant Hu'Ghrovlatrei (β)
- An Efrosian Starfleet officer, she was also in charge of monitoring the Starfleet sensor equipment. When two Cardassians discovered the sensors, she opened fire on them. Aldo later blamed her for the death of Giancarlo.
- Traket (β)
- Cardassian security officer, shot by Hu'Ghrovlatrei.
- Walters (β)
- Human cargo manager aboard the Ulrika's Hope.
- Wilson (β)
- Engineer aboard the Ulrika's Hope and later the Pharoan. He was very old, and born on the New Paris colonies.
- Breen (β)
- Duffy once saved Fabian Stevens during a ground-based fire fight with the Breen in the Dominion War.
- New Paris colonies
- Earth colony established in the early 22nd century, its inhabitants have developed an accent of their own. Mr. Wilson was from the New Paris Colonies.
- Soltok IV
- A planet near Cardassian space, its moon was the location of a Cardassian listening station during the Cardassian wars.
- USS Stargazer (β)
- Lost during the 2350s, Starfleet Intelligence assumed the Cardassians were the cause of this starship's mysterious destruction in the Maxia Zeta system.
- Tellarites (β)
- The Tellarites are referred to only by their involvement in the "infamous Tellarite bar-fight story," which the senior staff jokes about occasionally.
- Corsi Family Axe
- The Corsi Family Axe is a family heirloom that's been passed down through the family for four centuries. It was given to the family of a Corsi firefighter that died in the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks.
- Galvan VI (β)
- A planet in the previous book where First Officer Kieran Duffy was killed, along with a large portion of the da Vinci's crew.
- Pharaon (β)
- A cargo freighter owned by Aldo Corsi, capable of warp 4. Its inertial dampers were not up to Starfleet regulations.
- Q'babi juice (β)
- A beverage kept aboard the Pharaon. Corsi used to drink it all when she went on trips as a girl. Her father hates it when people finish the ship's supply before he can have some.
- Ulrika's Hope (β)
- A cargo freighter owned by Aldo Corsi in the 2350s.
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