Part of the Franchise/StarTrekNovelVerse, one of four books released under the "Section 31" banner. For those who don't remember them from ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' or ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise'', Section 31 is an illegal covert operations division within the [[TheFederation United Federation of Planets]], dedicated to protecting that nation regardless of the legal or moral restrictions it would place on them.

In this novel, Captain Picard learns of Section 31 while dealing with a diplomatic dispute between the Federation and the Romulan Star Empire, who both seek to court an inhabited planet (Chiaros) that will grant access to the local region of space to whichever it ends up joining.

The novel is perhaps, in retrospect, most notable for introducing the character of Ranul Keru, who would go on to greater things in the wider Star Trek Novel Verse.

!!This book contains examples of:

* AlienBlood: Chiarosian blood is gray.
* CarnivoreConfusion: Played with; Captain Blaylock enjoys sushi, but hasn't been comfortable eating it since Glebuk joined her crew, Glebuk being an [[FishPeople Antedean]].
* EideticMemory: Lieutenant Hawk.
* EndlessDaytime: As well as endless night - Chiaros IV is a tidally locked planet.
* {{Fictionary}}: The Romulan [[Creator/DianeDuane Rihannsu]] language makes another appearance.
* {{Gesundheit}}: This joke is used at one point.
* JumpedAtTheCall: Lieutenant Hawk. He allows that Starfleet was a natural choice for him; having grown up with a novelist mother who specialized in adventure stories, he found the idea of a "normal" desk job unbearably dull.
* ManBitesMan: Doctor Gomp, a [[PigMan Tellarite]] medical officer, takes on a Chiarosian warrior by biting into his arm.
* NegativeSpaceWedgie: The whole plot essentially revolves around one, though it's not apparent at first. A subspace singularity of great power lies in the disputed region; this is why the Romulans are so eager to claim an otherwise barren stretch of space. The singularity releases a subspace distortion wave that hits the USS ''Slayton'', because the Negative Space Wedgie needs to have ''some'' sort of negative effect on a starship...
* ProudWarriorRace: The Chiarosians, explicitly referred to as such.
** There are two Balduk among the ''Enterprise'' crew in this novel; Balduk are themselves a Proud Warrior Race.
* ShameIfSomethingHappened: Common in Romulan politics, and this novel is no exception. Koval pulls it on Pardek, whose daughter is "such a lovely child".
* StealthInSpace: The Romulans manage to hide a region of space containing their NegativeSpaceWedgie by surrounding it with buoys that carry cloaking devices, whose cloaking fields overlap.
* StraightGay: Ranul Keru and his partner Sean Hawk.