In a galactic culture that extends from quasi-Utopian worlds such as New Alexandria to vermin-infested slums like Old Earth, the Star-Pilots have become the great heroes of the day. Grainger has become a legend in his own time, flying the prototype vessel of a new starship…. Having escaped from his contract with Charlot, Grainger is hounded by the Caradoc Commpany, who wants to extract everything from his brain about his former employer. But Charlot has other plans, and Grainger suddenly finds himself back on the Hooded Swan, leading a rescue mission for the Swan’s sister ship in the bizarre Nightingale Nebula. This last voyage proves costlier than the previous ones, as Grainger must risk not only his life – but his very soul!