Centuries form now, solidarity stretches thin as humanity spreads past the solar system and the nearest stars. Technology has produced powerful new tools - but lethal risk will always accompany great advancement. And without foresight, opposing groups may fracture multiple worlds. Between the Demarchists and the Conjoiners, the basic right to expand human intelligence beyond its natural limits has become a war-worthy cause. Only vast lighthugger starships - manned by the panicky and paranoid Ultras - bind these squabbling colonies together. And the hyperpigs just try to keep their heads down. The rich get richer. And everyone tries not to think about the worrying number of extinct alien civilizations turning up on the outer reaches of settled space... because who's to say that humanity won't be next?