B ll s a farmboy on a small backward agr cultural planet who s drugged, hypnot sed, then shangha ed nto the Space Troopers and sent to recru t tra n ng under a fanged nstructor named Deathw sh Drang. After surv v ng boot camp, he s transferred to act ve duty as a fuse tender on the flagsh p of the space fleet n battle w th the Ch ngers, a small rept l an race. njured and w th the fleet almost destroyed, he f res off a shot w tnessed by the adm ralty and s procla med a hero. As a reward he s sent to the c ty-planet Hel or to rece ve a medal from the emperor. B ll's c ty plan s stolen on a s ghtsee ng tour; because t takes h m days to get back to the trans t centre, he arr ves to f nd h mself AWOL and cons dered a deserter after m ss ng h s transport. He escapes and flees nto the depths of the c ty, where he f rst falls n w th a gang of s m larly "deplanned" outlaws, then f nds employment w th Hel or's garbage d sposal serv ce. H s unw ll ng recru tment as a spy to nf ltrate an neptly-run anarch st plot leads to h s arrest. He s sent to a pr son un t work ng on the planet where the Human-Ch nger war cont nues. Escap ng dur ng an attack, he rescues some pr soners and meets a dy ng Deathw sh Drang. He then shoots off h s own foot to get off-planet. The book ends w th the story com ng full c rcle as B ll, w th an art f c al foot and Deathw sh Drang's fangs, returns to h s home planet and recru ts h s younger brother nto the Troopers.