"Have the new deployments been completed?" Admiral Connell asked his chief of staff.
        "The ones based on this insane intelligence estimate? Yes, Sir," Rear Admiral Michael Mulkowski responded. "But I tell you, it¹s those idiot politicians who have thrown out our established war doctrine and ordered us to pull half of the fleet back from the border. We need to put everything up front. We need to reinforce those bases and defend them."
        "Just give me the situation without the editorial, Admiral. Give me the heavies first," Connell ordered.
        "Star League is of course here, waiting for you to board. They¹re completing their supply load and taking on fuel. Star Cougar is holding at K1, while Wolverine is refueling at K2. Gorshkov is at K1 with her escorts and F-8s while Nelson is at K2 with her escorts and F-15s."
        "I wish we had more of those big fighters," Connell replied. "What about my cruisers?"
        "From left to right, Agincourt is between K3 and K4. Captain Skarn has the ship on full alert, but he¹s probably the least likely ship to be attacked." Everyone in the room knew that Star Fleet Intelligence was convinced that the Klingons would try to bypass the border stations, and expected the attack to be focused between battle stations K4 and K7.
        "Kongo is between K4 and K5. Commodore Kosnett is unhappy. He thinks he should be in overall frontier command or leading the task force assembling at K2, not posted on the border like any other cruiser."
        "He can bloody well do what he¹s told," Connell said. "I¹m not giving operational control of my fleet to him."
        "Hornet is between K5 and K6. They report nothing out of the ordinary. Hood is between K6 and K7, checking out that report of Klingon infiltrators at Tanga colony."
        "Anything there?" Connell asked.
        "Nothing so far," Mulkowski responded. "I tried to get Arbela but First Fleet won¹t turn loose of her. At least, they moved her anti-piracy patrol area closer to us, just this side of Battle Station F1. At your request, Fourth Fleet has moved Valiant to just this side of Z1. Seventh Fleet is not going to cooperate; they won¹t move any ships this side of T1, possibly under orders from Star Fleet HQ. No luck on your request to have Eagle put under your operational control, but I suspect we¹ll get her after we see what the Klingon attack looks like."
        "I need Eagle," Connell said. "With three raiders, I can reach any point of the Klingon rear. Ask again. What else?"
        "Kearsarge is covering the gap between K7 and K8. Renown has left her patrol area and is joining the task force at K1, while Reliant is on her way to join the task force at K2."
        "The old ships are at the front, of course," Connell said to no one in particular.
        "Correct," Mulkowski responded. Charlemagne is covering K8, Texas is at K6, Lithuania  is covering K5, Oaxaca is at K4, and Attila is covering K3."
        "That should give those base commanders all of extra firepower they wanted," Connell said. "That and the nearby cruisers, which can reach them if they come under direct attack. What¹s the status of Hannibal?"
        "Out of action for now," Mulkowski said. "Major warp engine problems. We need to have the next tug that shows up from First Fleet take her back to the yard for a major fix."
        "So who¹s covering K7?"
        "At this point, just the frigate Donitz," Mulkowski said.
        "What can we shake loose?" Connell asked. "We need a major ship at K7, or it¹s the weak link in the chain."
        "Unless you want to move Renown, we don¹t have anything to spare," Captain Mulkowski answered.
        "Can Hannibal fly at all?" Connell asked.
        "Fly but not fight," Mulkowski said. "She could get home under her own power but it¹s going to be a slow trip."
        "Send her to F6 at her best speed," Connell snapped. "She¹s useless to me and does not need to get trapped somewhere. First Fleet can send a tug to meet her there. Get Hannibal moving today. I don¹t need some Klingon raider picking her off. And tell Star Fleet that I want Sargon back ‹ next week! And find out about Tori. Her repairs should be complete."
        "I will," Mulkowski said, then continued. "The only other heavy ships we have are Okinawa and Flanders."
        "They stay here," Connell said, sounding more abrupt about his only commando ship and minesweeper than he meant to.         "Ask me tomorrow about moving Renown. Have you had any luck scaring up a third scout?"
        "None so far, Sir," Mulkowski replied. "Dianna is here with the main force, and Frobisher is at K1."
        "Dammit," Connell snarled, "I need a third scout for the Nelson task force at K2."
        "I¹ll try again," Mulkowski promised. "The Swift-Tuttle is fully loaded with fuel and munitions."
        "She goes with us when we move," Connell said. "Frigates?"
        "We detached Donitz from K1 to K7," Mulkowski said. "That leaves Ushakov at K1, two at K2, and two here. Jason is due here in a few hours. The others, Cetswayo and DeGaulle, are maintaining what passes for anti-piracy patrols. They have orders to head for the nearest base when the balloon goes up."
        "Dangerous to leave them alone," Connell said, "but necessary all the same. The Klingons may never attack, and I¹m not giving the pirates a free pass. Not this week."
        "That just leaves the Ostrich and Doctor Walker," Mulkowski said, concluding his report. "On your orders, both are on their way from K1 toward F5 at their best speed."
        "Ostrich was very useful for training, but useless in this kind of fight," Admiral Connell said. "Both can do us more good at F5 than here."
        "The police have their ships on standby," Mulkowski said, "but they are not happy about having the border patrol units tied to our front-line battle stations."
        "Those ships are safer at the battle stations," Connell said.
        "That¹s not how they see it," Rear Admiral Michael Mulkowski replied. "They don¹t want to be sacrificed in our base battles. They want to be on patrol so they can run for the interior when the Klingons resist arrest."
        "They¹re not stupid," Connell said. "I will give them that."
        "Most of the loose freighters are on their way out of the border provinces," Mulkowski said. "As per your orders, we¹re trying to convince them to go to K1, K2, and Starbase 15 for use as support convoys, but a lot of them are running for home instead. They want to spend the war on the route between Earth and Rigel."
        "Well, when they get home," Connell chuckled, "they¹re going to find themselves on the way back here as First Fleet¹s logistical train. They might as well save the fuel."
        "I guess they hope to get lost in the crowd back home," Mulkowski said.
        "Good luck with that," Connell laughed. "If a war starts, Star Fleet is going to keep very careful track of every freighter."