Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It's a prestige posting, and Andrew is even more delighted when he's assigned to the ship's Xenobiology laboratory. Life couldn't be better...although there are a few strange things going on...(1) every Away Mission involves a lethal confrontation with alien forces (2) the ship's captain, the chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these encounters (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed. Suddenly it's less surprising how much energy is expended below decks on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned an Away Mission. Andrew's fate may have been sealed...until he stumbles on a piece of information that changes everything...and offers him and his fellow redshirts a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives...