Three Marines of Company L are sent on a secret mission to the mob-controlled resort world of Havanagas. Lance Corporals Claypoole and Dean – under the command of Corporal Pasquin – are to find proof of mob control — proof that Confederation law enforcement agents have not been able to secure — so that the gangsters can be brought to justice. Brigadier Sturgeon, the FIST commander, ostensibly goes on leave. Instead of vacationing he travels to Marine Corps Headquarters on Earth to find out why 34th FIST seems to have been quietly "quarantined," with nobody being rotated out of the unit, even though it is considered a hardship post. This potentially career-endangering "back channel" trip reveals some very scary facts.