Raymond Pickett is a brilliant, highly successful scientist of incredible ambition, aspirations matched only by his avarice and desire to use his knowledge only for the purpose of gaining personal wealth. He starts the story as someone not particularly caring of people, a man who treats people more like stage props in a performance dominated by himself. Only after human civilization is swept away by an exceptionally predatory extra-terrestrial species known as the Taka does he begin to realize just how important people are to him, those who still remained that is.
Recruited by the last remnants of the U.S. Air Force, Dr. Pickett develops one of his own ideas into a sub-nucleonic fission/fusion bomb that is so potentially destructive that it would have the ability to bring to an end the existence of the alien civilization that is currently massacring and enslaving the human species. Captured by the Takans and taken to their world before the project was complete, Ray continues to develop a true kindness toward people, as he develops friendships with the fellow humans he is with.
He even falls in love and marries a woman in his journey. While waiting in a large pen on Taka, there is a brilliant flash above in the sky, and Dr. Pickett immediately recognizes that his weapon had in fact been completed in his absence and deployed. It had been exploded on one of the Takan moons, halting its orbit and causing it to free-fall towards the Takan home world. Over the next few days Raymond begins to feel a tremendous conflict over whether or not to feel vindicated, or guilty by the fact that he alone was going to be responsible for the extermination of all life on a planet, even if it was that of Earth’s conquerors. In the end, he realizes and remembers himself as being someone completely different than Raymond Pickett - in the darkest possible sense.