An explorer-tug captain, Alex Racine spends years in space, harvesting ice asteroids for New Terran’s water-hungry outposts. His existence is both routine and solitary . . . until his ship’s computer detects a damaged alien craft drifting into system.
The Méridiens are fleeing to their far colonies—and they have reason to run. Over the course of decades, they have lost hundreds of ships, billions of people, and seven Confederation colonies to an alien enemy: an advancing swarm of silver ships transported in the bowels of a gigantic, spherical vessel.
Sol’s warships paid the ultimate price for threatening the Haraken and New Terran worlds. Now, Haraken President Alex Racine and his Méridien partner, Renée de Guirnon, are engaged in a desperate gamble to stop a war between their worlds and United Earth’s (UE) massive forces before it starts.
Until the Confederation created Allora, it had produced SADEs for hundreds of years with enormous consistency. But this young SADE was disturbed by her confinement. Trapped in metal-alloy housing on the bridge of a luxury passenger liner, Allora sought to possess the same freedom enjoyed by humans, who came and went from her starship with abandon.
The surviving Méridiens have returned to Confederation space, aided by their recently discovered cousins, the New Terrans. They expect a celebration after their 71-year absence. Instead, they’re shocked to find the silver ships have destroyed half the Confederation.
Nine years of tranquility came to an abrupt end when a Méridien starship entered the Hellébore system, sounding a dire warning for Alex Racine, the Haraken president. Unwanted visitors had arrived again. But this time, they’re not alien; they’re human.
Trouble infiltrated the Harakens’ capital city of Espero, in the form of New Terra criminal gangs who grew wealthy and powerful on the moons of Ganymede, hiding behind the cover of an ill-conceived mining charter. The gangs brought stims and addictive, hallucinogenic drugs to Espero to spread among young Harakens and visitors to the planet.
For the Sojourn’s initial mission, the Haraken explorer ship undertakes the investigation of Celus-5, a world identified by Willem, a SADE (self-aware digital entity), and his team of scientists, as the best prospect for a new colony.
What should be a routine survey mission becomes a disaster.