Geier Troutmans holiday was interrupted due to a colleagues fatal accident. Hes been called back to lead a team tasked with preparing a newly-discovered planet for the arrival of millions colonists.Troutmans number two, Shand VanLoh believes she should have been picked as leader of the team and sees him as an unwelcome intruder. She tries to undercut his leadership by developing a faction of dissidents within the team.Although the planet seemed uninhabited when it was scouted, its current inhabitants are none too happy with the arrival of uninvited guests. Troutman had been warned, secretly by his immediate supervisor, that there are indications that the planet had been the stage for highly-destructive war, millenia in the past. She tells him to keep an eye out for trouble, but suggests that the war probably resulted in extinction of all sentient life on the planet.Llhet is the first of the planets inhabitants to see the humans, and she tells others of her kind of the arrival. When RekkauSau, the leader of the inhabitants learns of the arrival of the humans, he sets disaster in motion.Troutman tries to keep his people on task and under his control, but events spin out of hand. When members of his landing party encounter two of the planets inhabitants, they kill one and capture the other, further escalating tensions between the two groups.As tensions rise in the human camp, Shand VanLoh makes a bid for leadership, and Troutman barely escapes the coup attempt with his life. When the inhabitants of the planet begin a push to eliminate the humans, Troutman leads a small group of people loyal to him against RekkauSau and his fighters. In the battle, both Troutman and Rekkau perish, leaving the inhabitants of the planet leaderless and impotent. Troutmans people recover more quickly, and return to the task of getting the planet ready for the colonists already on their way.