Roy Auckland had been asked to join the expedition now on the remote planet Carolus. Despite the fact that he was a communications expert, not an explorer, he was excited about the opportunity to visit an unknown world. But he wondered why he had been requested personally by the head of the expedition.
Once on Carolus, Roy met the weird creatures called the Vaec and was immediately intrigued by their mirth-loving nature and their patient devotion to practical jokes.
But was it one of their practical jokes that almost exploded alongside Dr. James' skull? Or was it a made-on-Earth murder gimmick? Suddenly, Roy Auckland realized that behind their "native simplicity" the Vaec were dangerously and subtly deceptive. And he also realized that somehow he had to break through their mask to understand them - or Dr. James would be only the first of the Earthmen to die.