William Somack, former commercial pilot, has spent his life savings to acquire a beat-up old ship that nobody could possibly want--much to the interest of an ancient, mysterious spacefarer known as the Quaker, who has a notion that Somack and the R. B. Ambol are participants in some non-human purpose. The Quaker's old enemy, a space-policing organization called the IXT, soon picks up his suspicion that the Ambol is on its way to meet an alien--the next thing to contact with Beelzebub in the eyes of the Quaker and the IXT, but an opportunity for some profitable horning-in in the opinion of an anti-IXT sociopath named Devlon. Despite the best efforts of the Quaker, the IXT, and the double-dealing Devlon, Somack and the Ambol proceed coolly to their rendezvous. Here all concerned are to learn the nature of the intelligence that has been programming Somack's actions since he was five years old. This well-plotted book, laboring under the double handicap of flaccid writing and a maladroit love story, still achieves considerable ingenuity and verve.