The ‘Enterprise’ arrives via wormhole at planet Bounty 3 to relieve Commonwealth  space cruiser The ‘Reliant’. At one time the Federation and the Commonwealth were at war with each other but the relationship is now cordial. The ‘Enterprise’ has had a bruising encounter with Tarons, a warlike privateering race who operate a protection racket in exchange for Dilithium crystals. The ‘Enterprise’ has been ordered not to submit to Tarons but to defend themselves. The ‘Reliant’s’ skipper is alarmed since they have to return through the wormhole and encounter the Tarons. Meanwhile peace keeping duties are taken over by the ‘Enterprise’. A suspected war criminal is entertained on the ‘Reliant’ which causes some friction with the skipper of the ‘Enterprise’ until the skipper of the ‘Reliant’ explains that a certain amount of politicking is necessary to preserve the peace with limited resources. A subsequent battle with the Tarons sees the less advanced ‘Reliant’ with a skeleton crew act as a foil so that the ‘Enterprise’ can escape. During the battle the ‘Reliant’ is destroyed but the survival pod escapes and lands on Bounty 3. The fate of the skipper of the ‘Reliant’ is uncertain. The skipper of the ‘Enterprise’ is denied permission to search for the other skipper but takes unpaid leave to track him down. The Tarons and those hostile to the peacekeepers are searching for the skipper of the ‘Reliant’ as well. A cat and mouse game ensues to see who get to the skipper of the ‘Reliant’ first.

The search is inconclusive and the skipper returns to duty weary of the vanity and posturing of Starfleet.


Meanwhile the skipper of the ‘Reliant’ it is revealed much later on has arrived in a civilisation that has encountered a dark age.


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