Belle Terre is a new human colony set up on a vitally strategic new planet. It is slated to serve as a much-needed stop-over point for human expansion. Unfortunately, months of distance lie between this section of space and the Federation (indeed, this is the very reason for the colony's existence). The Enterprise and James Kirk have dealt with a series of threats to Belle Terre, the latest being an alien race determined to kill every last human on the colony with a 'superweapon', seeing as the mineral rights are just too valuable.
In Voyages of Imagination, both Kathy Oltion and Jerry Oltion remarked on the idea behind the story: "We had to work within the constraints of the overarching six-book plot, but we had pretty much free rein to tell whatever story we wanted within that framework. We wanted something that fit the frontier motif, but still had the techie aspects of a Star Trek story. Since our book was number four out of six, we figured any parallel with North American history would put us at about the 'attack on the fort' phase, which led to the idea of flaming arrows, and from there it was a simple jump to laser beams, and from there to one great BIG laser beam. And since the Enterprise can travel faster than light, we had the ultimate ticking clock, and the rest of the story fell into place from there."