October 12, 2194: The UNS Hibernia was bound from Earthport Station to the Hope Nation Colony, a cruise slated to take eighteen months. Seventeen-year-old Midshipman Nicholas Seafort was proud to be aboard. Though he'd done well at the Academy and was ranked senior middy, he knew he had a lot to learn - skills he'd never perfect by the book alone - and he looked forward to serving under Captain Haag. The stop at the derelict Celestina changed everything. Hibernia's launch exploded, killing Haag and two of his three lieutenants. Lieutenant Malstrom assumed the Captaincy, but when cancer claimed his life there was no senior line officer left. So according to the regs, Nicky Seafort reluctantly took command - a young man whose training hadn't prepared him for such daunting possibilities, let alone the crisis that followed - insubordination, an attempted highjacking, and lethal aliens.