The da Vinci is called to stabilize a prison platform in orbit around a planet applying for admission to the Federation. And one of the prisoners is Gold's old friend Bradford who left Starfleet after learning of their former commanding officer's corruption (see TNG's "Too Short a Season").
The premise of this novella is sound, and I thought we finally might learn more about Gold's background. But unfortunately it doesn't live up to this promise at all. After wasting page after page on technobabble in getting the platform stabilized, only about 10% of the novella are left to cast the planet's authorities suddenly in a very dark light, and to leave the plot's main attraction, Bradford, largely in the shadows, rather painting him as the caricature of the disgruntled officer seeking revenge than go into in-depth characterization. That's way too simplistic, a black and white ending, too little exploration of the various motives... in short, a story that builds up to a load of nothing instead of using the opportunity to get to the meat of the characters which the SCE so desperately needs.