In decades of interstellar exploration humans had found no world bearing more than microscopic life forms ... until one vessel came across a world where life was so abundant that they named the planet Eden. And not only life but intelligent life, they discovered. But when the crew made a first landing there they were immediately attacked by the natives, and six of the eight crew members who landed on the planet were killed.
Not until a century later was another landing attempted by a new crew headed by sociologist Amanda Meiersdottir and a task force of military guards led by U.N. Army Col. Carlos Igwanda. This time they were greeted cordially by the natives, who initially made them welcome but soon lured the humans out to their village and again attacked—this time seeking to kill only the guards, while taking the scientists captive.
Igwanda defeated them with the loss of only a single trooper, by discovering that the natives communicated with one another telepathically via low-frequency radio waves and jamming their signal. He and Meiersdottir remained alone on the planet in an effort to learn more of the Edenites, fending off further attack by a threat to kill the sequestered females who acted as focal points for their telepathic linkage, and soon opened a dialogue with the Edenites' mental collective that both sides gradually came to find mutually beneficial.
Two of Igwanda's troops were in fact covert military intelligence operatives who had smuggled nuclear weapons on board and, unconvinced of the natives' sincerity in their new role, sought to explode the bombs and wipe out the entire Edenite species. Igwanda had, however, previously discovered the weapons and disarmed them; unable to carry out their plan, the two operatives committed suicide.
Meantime Meiersdottir and her colleagues appeared to be making great progress in socializing the Edenites until a sudden thunderstorm disrupted their telepathic communication again. Fearful that the humans might re-initiate their own disruption, the native collective had directed its individual members to kill all humans if they lost mental contact, and the humans were attacked again. Igwanda led them into the Edenite females' nest for refuge, where they met the alien queen mother, Gagugakhing.
Subsequently Meiersdottir and Igwanda were invited back to the nest, and they and Gagugakhing pledged future peace and friendship. So thoroughly was the relationship between the species transformed that when the two humans, who had become lovers during their sojourn on the planet, decided to marry Igwanda chose one of the native males as his best man; and later, when Meiersdottir gave birth on Eden to a son, a native female attended her and used their still-little-understood mental powers to block all birthing pain.
Because of the limitations of their telepathic linkage the Edenites had been restricted to one very small geographic area of their planet. But just before the humans were to return to Earth they discovered that, in an effort to copy the human model, the aliens had split themselves into two separate groups and sent one to a distant location. Fearing that she might have led the Edenites to undertake a step that could destroy their unity, Meiersdottir decided to return on the next mission to Eden with her new husband and child.