Captain Tchang assembles an away team consisting of herself, Adams, Selveth, and Kalen. The four join Plogh aboard the ves’Targ and range ahead of the fleet as they mend their wounds. They make contact with the Zahl via subspace, who invite them to their planet to trade and exchange information. The trip is several days at warp speed, but it passes uneventfully.
Cleared for landing by Trade Minister Paajik, the ship is landed proficiently by the ship’s newly minted pilot, Heklara. As they land though, a tremendous flash temporarily blinds the view screen, and as the ship touches ground, they are no longer where they were. The tiled buildings of the arid planet were now smashed into rubble and ruin after orbital bombardment.
Using a probe borrowed from the Odyssey and what little the sensors could provide through the sudden spike in unusual radiation, the crew learns a little. First, that some distant event outside the Zahl system caused a chroniton wavefront to sweep through it, altering things immensely. The Zahl homeworld now seemed conquered by their Krenim neighbors, and several upgraded Krenim warships now orbit above. The timeline has been changed.
In search of more information, the team departs the ship to visit the half-destroyed government building they landed near. Selveth stays behind to analyze all they have learned. Inside the building, they find freedom fighter Paajik, who they convince to provide them with coordinates to a cache of governmental records and data. They grab survival gear and head off, carving a path toward their goal via the Captain’s navigation skill and the rest of the team’s combined skills in fire team tactics. They recover Krenim Comms after ambushing and knocking out a patrol, and make it to their goal, where Parker briefly channels his agrarian roots and digs up the cache. The team copies the data and returns the cache – just in case these changes are permanent, and the records are still useful to the Zahl.
With all the information they can gain at hand, the crew makes a stealthy retreat to the Raider. With more pieces to the puzzle, including detailed scans of the Krenim patrol’s weapons, more theories emerge. The Krenim may have developed some form of time-altering superweapon, and it should have affected the ves’Targ, if not for an experiment Selveth had brought aboard with her – a fluke, but useful knowledge.
A daring escape involving their last probe and the sacrifice of an unmanned shuttle gets the ves’Targ clear of the Zahl homeworld and they arrive back at the fleet – and it isn’t long before they notice things are different. When the Captain steps upon the bridge, the biggest change is evident – Commander Sebastian is dead!