The Styths, a powerful and aggressive mutant race from the Gas Planets, Uranus and Saturn, have been launching pirate raids on ships from Mars. Earth's Committee for the Revolution has been asked to mediate, to negotiate a truce between the Middle Planets and the Styth Empire. The task of conducting the talks falls to an intelligent, resourceful and unpredictable young woman, Paula Mendoza. Her initial meetings with the Styth warlord and his unruly band of bodyguards and advisers are not promising. But then Paula adopts a less conventional approach. The consequences for her are considerable and she finds herself on the Gas Planets, the only tenuous link between Earth and the Styth Empire . . .