Having fallen deeply in love with Cleo, his Gaean prisoner of war, Michael, Captain of a Columbian crew stranded on an abandoned space station, worries constantly about what he knows will happen to Cleo, when their improvised escape vehicle arrives in Columbia. Michael secretly weighs implementing a wild, fanciful plan that could solve his problems as well as Cleo-s. He hones his plan, frets over it, and refines it in the inner reaches of his mind. Cleo-s joy at Nigel-s change of heart soon contends with a dual fear. She perceives that both she and her comrades will eventually pay a bitter emotional price for her having fallen in love with all six men. She also dreads being sentenced to a long term in a penal work force by the Commander of Second Corps, because she stranded a team whose services Galt direly needed. An accident that results Cleo-s suffering an injury and damaging her one set of clothes sparks responses from her six comrades that deepen the bonding among all seven people. Nigel-s team finishes building the regenerative life-support system. As jealous of Nigel as Nigel is of him, Michael nonetheless privately rejoices that the new accord between Nigel and Cleo removed a major obstacle to the success of his wild plan. Determined to see whether Nigel-s change in behavior will weather a severe test, Michael arranges that the three of them work constantly together. Nigel remains gratifyingly serene. Perceiving the toll that the cumulative stress has taken on Michael, Cleo organizes a party to celebrate Leonard-s birthday. A wholly unexpected but most welcome boost to Marvin-s self-esteem flows out of a suggestion she offers Michael. |
Six men attack the perilous task of rigging the tether and other gear that will allow the escape vehicle to spin, thereby generating artificial gravity. The challenge tests their engineering ability to the utmost. Cleo rates a minor job on the board, which enables her to stay abreast of the developments outside. Marvin-s skill at flying remote-controlled objects proves crucial, but the nervous strain on his high-strung nature threatens to undo the gains he recently achieved in his relations with his fellow Columbians.
A terrifying accident on the exterior of the station injures Michael, produces a puzzling response in Nigel, and puts Marvin-s skill to the ultimate test. The strains on the spacers grow steadily greater, as the dangerous work progresses. When Michael-s nerves fray almost to the breaking point, disaster gets averted in a most astonishing manner.
This action-filled narrative forms the second volume of the ninth novel in a series of nine books portraying an ongoing saga of futuristic action, adventure and romance.