Lieutenant Sam Bitka, U.S. Naval Reserve, is getting used to civilian life when he is called back to active duty. Tensions between Earth and the alien Varoki are on the rise, and Sam is assiged as tactical officer aboard the deep space destroyer USS Puebla. Dispatched to the distant world of K'tok to protect human colonists, he wants nothing more than to serve out his active duty time and get back to his civilian life. But when the Varoki launch a crippling surprise attack against the Earth coalition fleet, Sam finds himself suddenly in command of the USS Puebla, a job he is far from certain he can discharge successfully. What’s more, mounting evidence points to a much larger and more sinister alien plan. Now, Sam must deal with faltering leadership in the human task force and an alien enemy who always seems one step ahead of them. Time for Sam to step up and rise to the challenge of command.