Fleet Admiral Streth has left Rear Admiral Jeremy Strong the difficult task of holding the system of Careth until he can return with a relief fleet. Jeremy is facing impossible odds as the Hocklyns and AIs gather a massive force to crush his fleet and the defenses he has put in place around the bear's home planet. Cut off from the Federation, Jeremy and his people have no idea whether the Federation still exists or if the Hocklyns and the AIs have destroyed it.
In the Federation, Admiral Streth is being forced to play a game of politics to get a relief fleet approved. His biggest fear is that he won't arrive back at Careth in time to save Admiral Strong. He knows that time is running out and he might be forced to take some desperate measures.