The starship Starfarer is poised for our first voyage to another star system. The Alien Contact Team - physicist Victoria Fraser MacKenzie, geneticist Stephen Thomas Gregory, geographer Satoshi Lono, and alien contact specialist J.D. Sauvage - and the rest of the faculty and staff prepare for humanity's most ambitious exploratory expedition. But the world has changed. A new regime orders the vessel to be abandoned. It will be turned into an instrument of war. What do the Starfarers do? They do what any red-blooded Alien Contact Team would do. They steal the starship.