"K3 reports no attack, no Klingons, nothing," Mulkowski said, "Agincourt tangled with some frigates but broke away clean. K4 is down, but Oaxaca got out and is running. Kongo got in a scrape but got out all right. K5 is still fighting, but we lost Lithuania. Hornet has been crippled but is limping away. The Klingons can hunt her down any time they want. K6 is gone, along with Texas. Hood is missing. K7 is gone. Kearsarge was chased out of her station by a cruiser squadron and is now chasing a fast raider, probably that FD7 we knew about. No attacks on K8, but Fourth Fleet says that Valiant was bounced by three cruisers and got away after wrecking one of them. We have Klingon frigates raiding well beyond the battle-station line. Half of the remote warning stations have gone off the air, most of them after reporting that a Klingon ship was spotted approaching. Two dozen colonies report Klingon ships overhead, but most of those reports are just panic. One colony actually fired on a police ship."
       "Good thing they missed," said Police Commodore Barinex. "Your plan has already cost me a dozen of my cutters. Those ships had jobs to do, and defending your bases was not one of them. The Federation Council is going to hear about that."
       "You can blame those losses on Star Fleet Intelligence," Mulkowski said. "If we had gotten the raiders they predicted,  you'd be thanking us for saving those ships under the protection of my bases, not cursing us for losing them."
       "Star Fleet is to blame either way," Barinex said. "Don't ask us for any more favors, or any more of my ships!"

Control Room, Remote Warning Post K64
       "Thanks, Wichita, we understand," Lieutenant Evans said.
       "So, nobody is leaving?" Ensign Stone asked.
       "Clearly so," Evans replied. "Get the crew busy setting the destruct charges and be ready to frag the computer."
       "As you say, Sir," Stone said, leaving the tiny office.
       It was over an hour before Evans was called to the control room. "What do we have?" he asked.
       "Something Klingon this way comes," the technician said. "Small, maybe an E3 or something."
       "Well, that's an honor," Evans said. The others in the control room looked at him as if they had a question. "I had figured that we'd be picked up by an armed freighter," he said. "Really, sending a warship to collect us is an honor. That warship should be off doing something ... warlike. Or so I'd think."
       "The Klingons are hailing us," a technician said.
       "On speaker," Evans directed.
       "Federation outpost," the voice said in accented Federation Standard, "your duty is complete. You are directed to surrender. Place all of your weapons in the commander's office and gather your entire crew in the dining facility. Your crew and officers will not be harmed. Signal your compliance."
        Evans waved to cut outgoing transmissions. "I propose to accept his terms. Anybody want to put up a fight?"
     "I will follow your orders," Ensign Stone said. "I'd rather fight, but I have to admit that we cannot win."
     "Correct," Evans said. "They can just blast the place, or transport over a poison gas bomb, or send over some Marines. Go ahead and frag the computer and set the thermal charges on the scanner panels. You all know what to do, so do it."
    "The Klingon is repeating his demand," the technician said. "He's getting a little less polite."
        "Put me on the channel," Evans said. "Klingon ship, this is Lieutenant Evans. I am in command here. I am obliged to contact my chain of command for instructions."
      "That will not be necessary," the Klingon-accented voice replied. "We have jammed your channels. Really, Lieutenant, there is no point in making my captain fire on your outpost. Put an end to this. Surrender."
       "You assure me that my personnel will not be harmed?" Evans asked. "None of us will be subjected to a mind-sifter?"
     "My captain said that none of you know anything we don't know," the voice said. "But his patience is at an end. Your next transmission is to be your acceptance of his terms."
  Evans signaled to stop transmitting. "Is everything done?" he asked.
    "Everything that matters is either fragged or on fire," Crew Chief Andresson said. "By the time they get here, nothing will be left that they want."
    "Except the outpost itself," Stone said. "All of the weapons are in your office. Do you want the door left open?"
       Evans nodded. A closed door might have the Klingons thinking someone was prepared to fight. He signaled the technician to open the channel. "I accept his terms," Evans said.
       An hour later, Evans wondered if he had done the right thing. The instant they had been transported to the Klingon ship, they had been shot by phasers on stun. While unconscious, they had been stripped of everything ‹ jewelry, equipment, clothing ‹ and deposited in a small compartment with a stack of what appeared to be plain gray clothing. All of it was the same size, but drawstrings at least kept the pants from falling down.

Bridge, DN Star League, Docked at Starbase 15
       "Captain, the admiral and his staff are on board," the communications officer reported.
       "Very well," Captain Assoud said. "Helm, take her out. Set course two four zero at Warp 5 until the admiral gives us further instructions." That was the preliminary course the admiral had given him an hour ago. "Weapons Officer, get your crews ready for the first drill. Scanners, let me know as the other ships pull into formation."
       "A tall ship," the XO said, "standing into harm's way."
       "So say we all," Assoud said.

309th Fighter Wing, Epsilon Kamilla IV Colony
       "Colonel, the report is confirmed," the intelligence officer said. "Klingons have crossed the border and attacked numerous ships and bases. Battle station K4, K6, and K7 are gone. So are Hood, Texas, and Donitz."
       "Where are the nearest Klingons?" she asked.
       "About 400 parsecs," the intelligence officer said. "That's a confirmed report. I have panic-stricken freighters reporting Klingon raiders all the way to the F1-F2 line, but confidence is low on those reports."
       "Very well," Lieutenant Colonel Saroya Kilkarnen said. "Continue monitoring. Operations, keep the fighters on alert-20, but keep all of them on the ground. A raider would destroy a patrol before it could link up. If we're going to chase somebody away, we're going to need the whole squadron in one mass attack."
       "Permission to rotate pilots?" Operations asked.
       "Standard long-alert protocol," she replied. The squadron had 12 fighters but 16 pilots. That meant that three-quarters of them would be suited up and ready to fly all the time. Everybody would get six hours of sleep per day.