Venco is one of the Otromi, a mountain-dwelling ethnic minority in four different countries. He goes to the upland town of Gopa in Mnin to learn the trade of a cable-tapper from Uncle Faro and Cousin Gorda, then travels with the latter on a mission to Bakaz. The duo helps to tap, expose, and defeat a planned coup by the head of military intelligence. Venco proceeds on the land of Ruxum to tap the Foreign Minister, revealing him to be an
agent of Sarpik, giving the latter support in attacking Mnin by keeping Ruxum neutral. Venco and Gorda are aided by Otromian sheepherders in returning to Gopa, now in danger of falling to the Sarpok military using new ixono- electric artillery. Uncle Faro must develop some defense of the land of Mnin. The Otromian tradition of even-handed, many-sided, all-around espionage and tapping lies in the balance.