We are alone. That is the verdict, after centuries of SETI searches and space exploration. The only living things in the universe are found on the Nine Worlds settled by Earthlings, and the starships that knit them together.
Or so it seems, until Dr. Kimberly Brandywine begins to investigate what happened to her sister (and clone) Emily, who, after the final, unsuccessful manned SETI expedition, disappeared along with four others one of them a famous war hero. But they were not the only ones to vanish: so did an entire village, destroyed by a still-unexplained explosion.
Following a few clues Kim discovers that the log of the ill-fated Hunter was faked. Something happened, out there in the darkness between the stars. Someone was murdered and something was brought back.
Kim is prepared to go to any length to find out the truth, even if it means giving up her career with Beacon, the most colossal and controversial of all the SETI projects. Even if it means stealing a starship. Even if it means giving up her only love.
Kim is about to discover the answer to humanity s oldest question. And she s going to like the answer even less than she imagines.