Grounded after a rescue attempt in Earth orbit goes bad, Commander Martin Atkins of the Confederation Navy is approached by the Interscission Project, a consortium of civilian corporations on the verge of perfecting the technology to travel to another star. Despite his misgivings, the chance to get back in the pilot's seat is too much to pass up, and he convinces his best friend and crewmate, Charles Davenport, to leave the military temporarily and join him as part of the crew of the Zenith, humanity's first starship.
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The disastrous events of the Zenith mission behind them, Marty and Edward lead very different lives at either end of time. Martin has been tapped to lead an elite military operation designed to curtail and ultimately eliminate the threat of time travelers. But Henry Bradford has other ideas, and seeks to entice him into taking up the role of captain of the rechristened starship Azimuth.
Life settles into a routine for the inhabitants of Chiron Colony, humanity's first interstellar settlement, after the threat of the time traveler Gifford has apparently been eliminated. But the Hourglass and its leader, Admiral O'Dare, are not content to rest on their laurels, convinced that time travel remains a palpable threat to human civilization.