Action Stations is a prequel novel by William R. Forstchen based on the Wing Commander series of games. It tells the story of the beginnings of the Terran-Kilrathi war, 20 years before the first game.
It is 8 years after the ending of the War. Col. Wilhelm Schwarzmont of the Department of Military History of the Confederation Fleet Academy is compiling a report on the controversial Admiral Geoffrey Tolwyn. Tolwyn was a brilliant military genious who saved Earth against a Kilrathi offensive, but then followed dishonorfoul political actions. Schwarzmont reports that he had briefly served under Tolwyn and witnessed the fanatical devotion of his subordinates.
Schwarzmont is compiling the events surrounding Tolwyn's first military operation back near the start of the War, more than 40 years ago. He is currently writing a study concerning the beginnig of the War, to which this novel will be a companion piece. This is owing to the declassification of Kilrathi documents which shed light on their part of the war (although their infamous "lost war orders" where Tolwyn played a part in remain a mystery) although he expects that all records of boths side's archives won't be fully declasified before at least a generation.
He then goes on to list and thank his sources, Humans and Kilrathi alike, such as Admiral Vance Richards, Tolwyn's nephew, Kevin, pilot Haga Kaligara and others.
He closes his foreword mentioning that as Historian of the Fleet, he met and interviewed Tolywn during his court martial, and even visited his cell right after his suicide.
It is 2634, 5 years after the first contact between Humans and Kilrathi. As requested by a CIC Admiral, Rear Admiral Joshua Speedwell of the Confederation Fleet Intelligence is compiling an update report about the political and military situation within the Kilrathi Empire; along with evaluations of all known Kilrathi ships, bases and industry. His division's sources was remote sensing, interrogation of smugglers, and some holo images from a covert op team.
The Humans first learned of the Kilrathi from the Varni aliens, who sought refuge after a disastrous war with them. Even now, not much is known about them. The frontier skirmishes against the Kilrathi antiquated vessels doesn't allow the Confederation determine their current capability.
The intelligence is in the dark, the frontiers are expanding rapidly, the Fleet resources are inadequate and there is a worry that border worlds, where law's grasp is not firm, may be contacted by Kilrathi agents.
Based on what Speedwell knows about the predtory Kilrathi, their existence is revolving around conquest and determination of superiority; peace is considered an avoidable stagnancy and believes there will be War.
To make matters more complicated, Humans know of a galactic almighty force from the center of the galaxy which is moving towards their area; the Kilrathi are probably aware of it and they probably wish to subjugate the Confederation and make it a buffer zone before turning against this new threat.
The Empire is technologically inferior to the Confederation, but the Kilrathi culture has a term for the surprise assault against an unsuspecting prey. Speedwell believes that the Kilrathi attack will be of that nature.