Daniel Leary is a lieutenant in the Republic of Cinnabar Navy with no money and no prospects since he quarreled with his ruthless, politically powerful father. Adele Mundy is a scholar with no money and no prospects since her family was massacred for conspiring against the Government of Cinnabar. Kostroma is a wealthy planet which depends on diplomacy to stay independent in a galaxy whose two great powers, Cinnabar and the Alliance, battle for supremacy. In a few hours, diplomacy is going to fail Kostroma. Daniel, Adele, and the scratch crew they gather aren't much to stand in the way of a powerful invasion fleet, but just possibly they're enough.