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Expeditionary Marine Lt. JD Rawlings is nearly as battered and hastily patched as the ship he is assigned to, the Navy frigate Rontar. Scars of recent repair are disturbingly visible on both. But that is not the worst of it, by far. Lt. Rawlings discovered betrayal, an ambush by the alien Shaquaree, but his method of discovery is seen by many survivors as the catalyst which precipitated the battle. The Shaquaree then nearly annihilated mankind's best military and diplomatic personnel in a matter of only minutes. Only one ship, the Rontar, with Rawlings aboard, managed to escape the butchery with an emergency Transition-jump. Rawlings wonders if his next action will be defending humanity against the aliens or himself against the crew members who blame him. When they appear in the Hylea system nothing there makes any more sense than the shocking treachery of the aliens. The system is supposed to be uninhabited, yet there are EM transmissions from the Earth-class planet. There are supposed to be subspace comms with Earth and the remaining Navy and Marine Fleet, yet there are none. Alone, barely functional, defenseless, can the frigate, the Navy crew, and the few remaining Marines survive long enough to gain answers to the critical questions?

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