What is the value of one life in an interstellar war that has already claimed millions? And if that single life doesn't matter, are any others worth saving?
A distress signal draws Siobhan Dunmoore's Q-ship Iolanthe, a battlecruiser disguised as a bulk freighter, away from her devastatingly successful hunt through Shrehari occupied space and plunges Dunmoore into a dark, merciless universe of competing government organizations, undercover warfare, and organized crime on a galactic scale. Along the way, she crosses paths with an old foe and an uncertain ally as she and her crew race against time and determined opposition to rescue innocent civilians condemned merely because they were in the wrong place at the wrong moment. Powerful forces within the Commonwealth would call a handful of lives collateral damage in humanity's existential struggle against the Shrehari Empire. But Dunmoore won't accept that they aren't worth saving even if it puts her at cross-purposes with her new commanding officer and the Commonwealth's fearsome security bureau. After all, her oath to serve and defend has no limitations and no expiry date.