A science fiction novel by Australian fantasy writer, Michael Lingaard.
A colony ship from the Northern States of Europe leaves Earth at the end of the twenty-first century…. and disappears. Trapped in a worm-hole for two years, the ship emerges among the stars of the Larger Magellanic Cloud.
Mankind prospers there, fragmenting into trading empires, semi-regal Houses and free worlds. But there are signs of another species having passed through the same stars long ago, and, unknown to man, they are coming back from the inner region of the ‘Cloud to reclaim them.
The second evidence of sentient life is discovered, a Gaea-like entity that informs the humans of return of an aggressive and prolific species that seeks the death of the Gaea-world in its bid to reclaim the worlds it so desperately needs. These worlds are now inhabited by man.
A one-sided war ensues. Mankind is fragmented, with little cohesion between the groups, thwarted by suspicion and greed.
One group seeks to unite man. They call upon history and racial memory and forge the disparate groups into a political union; and a new reich is born. Now man can fight back, and the resources of the remaining worlds are used to create sixty very special bio-ships.
Axel van Diemen is chosen as a pilot. Privileged and talented, he is taken from his wife and family by the fortunes of war; isolated and estranged, he leads the assault on the colossal ships that seek to destroy the Gaea-world…. and pays a price. Only thirteen pilots and ships survive, dying from the corrupted radiation from the enemy’s ships.
At the moment of death they are saved, harboured and healed by the Gaeia-world… and shown the way to destroy man’s enemy once and for all. In anger, the survivors fall upon the world of the horde, destroying the religious symbols of a race. A genocide of sorts, for which they are reviled and persecuted by their own people when they return.
There is another legacy that sets Axel and his friends apart; to cure them, the Gaeia-world halts their ageing process. This fact sets society against them, and leads to a confrontation where the surviving bio-ships and their pilots oppose the might of the reich… a stand-off is reached that must be resolved if the fledgling reich is to survive.
A way is negotiated for Axel and his fellow survivors to lead the way into the future; they will seek a way to cross the galactic gulf to the Milky Way and find the original home of man…. they will become symbols of the path to the future.