Deep in the clustered regions of the Spartus quadrant, the rogue planet Aster wanders, hidden from the searching fingers of the Colonian and Albion Empires. Here in exile, CJ Barker and Gunnar Conrad have established a base of operations. But Gunnar is determined to return to the planet Carolon in the Nulark system to retrieve the Asium crystals he and CJ left behind in their rush to escape the invasion forces of Queen Captain Drax Blair. With a full cluster of crystals, Gunnar’s Assault Corsair, the Constellation can operate at full power again. Six months has passed since Rick Niker left Aster in search of his ship, the Athena. All his hopes lay with the ship’s AI, CORA 500, finding his first officer and wife, Jayda, before time runs out for her. The escape pod she is traveling in has only so much life support. Following a faint trail of spent pod fuel and his intuition, Rick continues his journey, a lone traveler through the uncharted regions of the Spartus. Even as the Empires of Hadrian continue their relentless search for the renegade CJ Barker and the advanced technology of Gunnar’s Starbird, all the factions of Hadrian must attend the Rite of Pintar; the christening of a newly crowned Ruler of the Hadrian. But, there is no Royal to christen. The Colonian Empire remains steadfast in their certitude that the Duchess Stephanie Benetar is the rightful heir, while the Albion Empire contends she is not a blood heir and has no right to the mantle of Galactic rule.