The First Tale of the Far Frontier Series
Humanity has laid a tentative claim to a region of space at the very Spinward edge of the Hominin Union known as the Far Frontier. In this sparsely settled region, where the bloodthirsty and expansionist Snirr once ruled, there are worlds shattered by ancient conflicts, mysterious and predatory alien races, lost civilizations, and fantastic physical phenomenon. The only Union presence here are random patrols of the Imperial Navy, haphazard missions of the Imperial Exploration Service, and a few scattered outposts. Beyond the Far Frontier are the mysterious realms of the Naati, the Korusk and the Techrae, bizarre alien races that fought Humanity during the Great Sophont War. Charged with exploring this frontier and readying it for exploitation and settlement is the Imperial Exploration Service. The IES attracts the adventurers, the loners, the oppressed, and the misfits unsuited for duty in the Imperial Armed Forces. In the Exploration Service, with hard work and and some luck, even the lowliest hommies born on the most backwater worlds can make a name for themselves. But the frontier is not for the weak or the timid. Adventure and danger lurk on the undiscovered worlds and in the hidden mysteries scattered across tens of thousands of light years and hundreds of millions of stars.
This is the first voyage of the Imperial Exploration Vessel HSS Solstice. Newly commissioned, the third vessel of the James Cook class is sent by the Ministry for Exploration to follow up on a survey performed more than sixty years ago. Scanned from a distance by translight sensors, the system has a class K orange star and an Earth-like planet. In a change of protocol, the IES has already named the world Hope, before anyone has even set foot on the planet, let alone entered the system. The Ministry hopes that a quick survey of the world will lead the way to rapid settlement and development, and provide a springboard for further exploration and exploitation of the frontier. The newly appointed Minister for Exploration, Her Excellency Gabriela Farida Mahdivi, also hopes such an accomplishment will mitigate the fallout from the resignation of the previous minister, Hercule Falk, under scandalous circumstances, and the loss of the Vitus Bering, the second of the James Cook class, during a mysterious incident in the Naati Neutral Zone two years previous.
The members of the Solstice’s crew are some of the best that Humanity and their Hominin brethren have to offer, but, as it always is with the Exploration Service, this same crew is full of the dangerously daring, the oddballs, the spiritually and psychologically wounded, the agitators, and those unfit for life in the Core Worlds.
Captain Caroline Talbot: raised the daughter of a genetic prospector, she helped her father scour the teeming biomes of the backwater planet Grell, looking for the next genetic gold mine to sell to any corporation interested. Fierce, independent, and adventurous, she sought the same adventure as an adult. Through grit, determination and talent, by the age of thirty-five she has earned the rank of Captain and the command of one the latest and greatest exploration vessels ever built. But her independent spirit was almost tamed by one man, something which she can never forgive.
Commander Cord Kessler: born on Earth into a family with a long and illustrious history serving in the Imperial Navy, Cord was athletic, intelligent, handsome, and, his family believed, destined for great things. There were a few problems, however. He failed the entrance requirements for the Navy, then the Marines, then the Army. Too undisciplined. No respect for authority. Rebellious. Daring to the point of suicidal. But he found a home in the Imperial Exploration Service, known as a haven for oddballs and the reckless. When he found the only woman who could match his talent and daring, she would not bend to his own aspirations. As fate would have it, he finds himself serving under her on some of the most dangerous missions he will ever undertake.
Emerans Van Zant: drafted out of the mean streets and hommie ghettos of Olumba, Van Zant is paranoid, calculating, sarcastic, brutal, and completely without scruples. Perfect material for the General Intelligence Directorate. After having participated in one of the most important intelligence missions of the last hundred years, he now keeps a watchful eye on the agitators and troublemakers in that hotbed of rebellion, the Exploration Service. But the most important duty of the General Intelligence Directorate is investigating, and thwarting, alien threats to the Union, a duty Van Zant is well-placed to perform as the political officer on a long range exploration vessel.
These crew members of the HSS Solstice, and others, will be pushed to the limits of their talents, and flaws, on this and future missions into the Far Frontier.