When those strange entities called "humans" sent their first exploration ship into Compact space, the delicate power balances of the seven alien races of the Compact were catastrophically disrupted. And by giving shelter to Tully, the only human survivor of his mission, Pyanfar Chanur, captain of The Pride of Chanur, jeopardized the safety of her ship and her crew by placing them at the center of a deadly political maelstrom. Now, with a new fleet of human ships approaching Compact space and with the Meetpoint and other Compact stations nearly destroyed by rival factions, Pyanfar and her crew face the ultimate threat to their species. For their home planet lies in the path of an impending space battle which could wipe their world off the galactic maps. Will Pyanfar be able to avert disaster for her homeworld and win herself the ultimate reward—a treasure beyond measuring—an exclusive trade contract with Earth?