The Federation has endured for hundreds of years, but w it is dying, killed by the corruption and decadence of the Senate and the rising power of military warlords. The shipping lanes are coming apart, the colonists are revolting and outside forces are pressing against undefended borders. Now, as one warlord makes a bid for supreme power, the entire edifice is on the verge of falling apart. Two officers, bearers of a proud military tradition, may be all that stands between the Federation and total destruction. For Admiral Marius Drake, there is greater cause than the survival of humanity's prized unity. For the young and ambitious Roman Garibaldi, the growing civil war offers a chance of promotion far beyond the usual boundaries. Together, they will save the Federation or die trying. But with the Senate suspicious of any competent commanding officers, their success may condemn them to an inglorious death.