(written from a Production point of view)
The return of Picard's nemesis means danger for the Federation!
- From the book jacket
- On a mission to an unexplored planet near the Klingon/Romulan border, the USS Enterprise-D travels to the planet Eloh to negotiate Federation membership. But upon arrival, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and his diplomatic team find themselves face to face with Commander Sela, an old Romulan enemy – who's there to convince the Elohsians to join the Romulan Empire.
- When a series of fatal incidents casts suspicion on both delegations, Data must form an uneasy alliance with Sela to prove the innocence of the Starship Enterprise crew – or lose a strategic stronghold to the Federation's greatest enemy.
The Enterprise-D travels to the planet of Eloh, on the Romulan Neutral Zone. Its mission is to convince the newly-formed government of the war-torn world to join the Federation, due to its strategic location. Eloh is eager to enter the galactic community, but past hatreds are threatening to tear the world apart.
Arriving there, however, the Enterprise finds a Warbird in orbit. The Elohsioans have invited the Romulans also, and announce that they will decide by popular vote which empire to join. Matters are complicated when the Warbird is found to be led by Commander Sela, who is still bitter toward Captain Picard and the rest of the Enterprise crew.
Soon after arriving on the planet's surface, Geordi La Forge is caught in a disaster that is found to be caused by terrorists. He is arrested as the prime suspect. A Human mercenary is later killed by the Elohsians and proven to be the true culprit, and La Forge is released.
The mercenary was equipped with Romulan weapons, and suspicion is cast on them, also. Data, while investigating the problem on the planet's surface, forms an uneasy alliance with Sela to find out who was setting both sides against the other.
It is revealed that Sela's second-in-command is a member of the Tal Shiar, and had engineered the whole episode to gain control of the planet. He was then betrayed by his Elohsian allies, who decided they didn't want to be involved with any aliens.
With the matter settled, the Elohsians hold their vote, and elect to join the Romulan Empire. They hope the Romulan's strict discipline will help truly unite the planet after centuries of warfare.
- The Historian's Note places this episode a few months after the events of "Face of the Enemy".
- Picard's first log entry lists the stardate as 46892.6.
- The mission assigned to the Enterprise crew in this novel, taken at face value, would seem to be a violation of the Prime Directive.
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