Sydney Chambers, newly promoted to Commander, is assigned by Navy Personnel as First Officer of the Frontier Fleet frigate, TSM Tecumseh. The assignment not only removes her from the auspices of her long-time mentor, Admiral Stephen Alexander, is also puts her under the thumb of Captain Horace Steubing ... a man with a dodgy reputation for fielty to the Confederacy. Sydney is immediately disavowed by Steubing — he can’t refuse her apppointment but has no interest in dealing with an officer who is so ... honest. Sydney is left to find her own way, as well as finding the corruption aboard the Tecumseh, with only her wits and what few allies she can recruit.
Meanwhile, Admiral Alexander has his own problems: the 16 Cygni system, which has no Naval presence at all because it has refused to pay for it, now pleads for as many ships as Alexander can supply. The reason? Pirates. Without the navy present, pirates have begun to run rampant.
Alexander, though, has no ships to deploy to 16 Cygni. Except ...
When he spies notice of Sydney’s promotion, a plan begins to hatch. Searching through his fleet registry, he finds that he does have an unassigned ship, though one scheduled to retire to the scrap yards: TSM Cahan Morrigan. Morrigan’s captain, Francis Furling, is also scheduled to retire, but Morrigan’s First Officer, Steve Garvey, is willing to remain with Morrigan under a new captain, if Cahan Morrigan is refit and once more made able to withstand combat.
Alexander jumps at the option. He has plenty of maintenance money for a refit. As for a new captain ... well, he has to somehow get Sydney out of Steubing’s clutches, or a decade of nurturing her career will have been wasted.
The only hitch in the plan, is that for it to succeed, Sydney Chambers must undergo a Court Martial, to officially clear her name from the “stench” of working with Steubing ...