The Great Exodus that swept humanity across the galaxy is over. The tide turned, and retreat followed. One of its high-water marks was the Talon Cluster, a trinary star system far out on the rim.Isolated, the three Talons and their populated worlds struggle to regain technology and build ties with each other. Led by the Harriers, who rediscovered hyperspace “chunnels,” and the technology obsessed elves of Somerset, progress is slowly made.But danger grows. The Confederation of AlliedWorlds gobbles up independent planets. Its next target is Belfrey, a green world where the Tiara rules a fractious tribe.Those pulled into the crisis include:* Caitaliné Talavera of Troop Morgan, a three-time Harrier combat champion whose heart is pinched between blood oath and blood contract.* Alexis DeWinter, the Confederation’s best general, whose invasion of Belfrey seems a resounding success. * Maggie Herndon, the ship captain whose trading routine conceals her role as the Harriers top intelligence agent.DeWinter’s invasion, backed by the Tiara’s domestic foes, brings these three women and their companions to Belfrey. The only way to defeat the Confederation is to recruit the elves of Somerset, despite their longstanding neutrality.And so the fate of Belfrey, and every independent planet in the Talon Cluster, will be decided by unlikely "Pacts of Desperation."