"When the Betelgeuse message was detected, it changed a lot of things on Earth. We began to look seriously outward, not with the heady optimism of the early days, but with deliberate calculation. We knew that Someone was out there, and that eventually, they'd be coming. If Earth didn't occupy the High Frontier, it could be ours to lose."
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Ellfive colony won its independence in the One-Day Revolution, but while much may be forgiven, its debts haven't been. The orbital nation needs a serious supply of minerals and ore to realize its manufacturing potentials, and in this solar system, the cost of lifting rocks to orbit is prohibitive; the only viable option is to mine them yourself. And so, Star Svensdotter leads a prospecting expedition to the Belt, almost two AUs out, on the very edges of Earth's colonization of space.
Twelve years have passed since the events of A Handful of Stars. Star continues to silently mourn Caleb's death, World Builders, Inc. is completing its first asteroid-based Bernal sphere, and the Svensdotter twins are of a restless age. When the opportunity to undertake a survey mission of Mars' Cydonia region presents itself, Star leaps at the chance. Drifting above Mars' surface, the family rediscovers the wonder of pure exploration.