Humanity is losing the war. The once-mighty space navies have been crippled, officers and crew have been stretched to the limit and Earth herself has come under heavy attack. The end cannot be long delayed. For Admiral Smith and the crew of HMS Ark Royal, the stakes have never been so high. The one hope is to make contact with alien factions that might oppose the war. But, as Ark Royal sets off on a desperate diplomatic mission, it rapidly becomes clear that there are both human and alien factions that wish to fight the war to the bitter end—and that her previous missions have sown the seeds of success ... or total failure.