The climactic novel of the star-spanning Quadrail space opera
The Quadrail that connects the twelve civilizations of our galaxy has been the flashpoint of a battle for dominance fought mostly unnoticed by humankind. But Frank Compton of Earth, aided by the enigmatic woman Bayta, has fought on the front lines, using every bit of his human ingenuity and secret agent skills to outwit the Modhri, a group intelligence that would control the minds of every sentient being it can touch.
Following a trail of deception and death to Proteus Station, Compton has discovered a conspiracy that threatens all life in the galaxy: the Shonkla'raa, an ancient enemy thought to be long dead, is rising again. So serious is the danger that the Modhri, the enemy of his enemy, may now be his friend, as the burgeoning threat of a race of invincible soldiers emerges.
If Compton and Bayta can't stop them, the Shonkla'raa will decimate all who oppose them, destroying the Quadrail and billions of lives throughout the galaxy.
In this noir thriller set on the interstellar Quadrail, former government agent Frank Compton can't catch a break. After a successful mission against the Modhri, the coral polyp-based group mind that is attempting to take over the galaxy, Frank arrives at his New York apartment. A young woman is waiting for him, pointing a gun at his face. She tells him that someone on New Tigris is holding her ten-year-old sister. Compton takes her gun and orders her out, only to be rousted out of bed and accused of her brutal murder.
After Frank's ally Bruce McMicking posts his bail, Frank travels to New Tigris with his assistant, Bayta, and locates the sister, who is part of a key resistance group that is fighting the Modhri throughout the galaxy. Compton must get the girl to a hidden refuge planet via the Quadrail to ensure the continued efforts of the resistance. But can he do it before the Modhri gets to her first?
Compelling characters, hard-boiled sleuthing, and non-stop action make this a hard SF thriller that will grab the reader and not let go until the last page.
Former government agent Frank Compton foiled a plot to enslave the galaxy in Night Train to Rigel. But the Modhri, an ancient telepathically linked intelligence, has walkers, unwilling hosts that can be anywhere, anything…and anyone. And Compton is the only man who knows how to fight them, as they wage a secret war against the galactic civilizations linked by the Quadrail, the only means of intra-galactic transit.
Accompanied by Bayta, a woman with strange ties to the robot-like Spiders who run the Quadrail, and dogged by special agent Morse who suspects him of murder, Compton races the Modhri from station to station to acquire a set of valuable sculptures from a long-dead civilization. What the Modhri wants with them is anybody's guess, but if Compton can't outwit it, the whole galaxy will find out the hard way.
It all starts when a man comes to deliver a message to Frank Compton—only to fall dead at his feet. What follows is a suspenseful thriller that only Timothy Zahn, a master of hard SF adventure, could have written.
More than two hundred years from now, the Quadrail transportation system run by the enigmatic Spiders connects civilizations throughout the galaxy. But someone is threatening the entire system and the worlds it serves with a military force that could wreak interstellar havoc. Worse yet, a more subtle and sinister threat lurks: the Modhri, whose unique coral is prized throughout the galaxy, but which has properties that may create addiction—or worse. Compton, a sharp investigator, lost his job with Earth’s security forces when he exposed a corrupt scheme that had roots in high places. Enlisted by the Spiders to find out who’s trying to take over the Quadrail, he’s got his hands full, because he’s got beings of many races gunning for him to keep him from discovering a far-flung conspiracy that could destroy every civilization in the galaxy.
The result is one of Zahn’s most memorable and compelling novels in years.