The pieces have been moved into position. The board is set. What happens next is the last question facing rival civilizations: Which king will live? Which will die? The answer will only take one move, and that move always produces same result:

Checkmate.

Task Force 92 was murdered in a matter of minutes by a Sarn Imperial Bloodwing squadron. The questions surrounding the deaths of four starship crews in the Prairie Grove system have all been answered, except one: Why?

Skywatch captains have long been trained to avoid speculating. Their duty has always been to the here and now. If Imperial warships are openly attacking Skywatch picket formations in Alliance space, the inevitability of a second Praetorian war has been rendered academic. The issue now is where will they strike next?

Nobody could have predicted the El Rey system could come under attack. Not scarcely a few days after Captain Enrique Santiago's formation had been massacred. Not this far into Core space. Not now. Not here. Admiral Benjamin Powers knows humanity's lack of foresight is putting more starships at risk. The admiral knows civilian populations will fall under attack next. Even he doesn't realize how accurate his fears are.

The Imperial High Command has a deadly and treacherous objective. They have another Skywatch formation in their sights, and the only man who can stop them is Jason Hunter.


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