Mankind has colonized the stars. The early explorers launched themselves and their followers into the void with little or no idea of what the future would hold. Many were never heard from again, until a genius named Omata Kane came to the fore. Kane designed and orchestrated the design of the Hypergate system. The Hypergates were a means of linking systems light-years apart with wormhole technology. A great boom of colonization began, and the dark reaches of space were suddenly not so dark, nor so distant. The ruling body of humanity, the Colonial Council, grew rich form the colonies; the life's blood of the council was the Hypergate system.

But the Colonial Council grew corrupt and the sickness of the corruption spread through every layer of society. Pirate attacks became more prevalent, criminals flourished and politicians became military governors. The emasculated council could do nothing. Terrorists destroyed the Sol Hypergate and crippled the system. Overnight, entire systems were cut off from civilization and society was thrown into a state of anarchy. Few could have foreseen the events that followed. Warlords arose, empires sprung up and collapsed just as quickly, and all the while the people of the galaxy suffered in a new dark age. Planets sank into feudal states, and much technology was lost, seemingly forever.

Yet from this chaos rose order. A newly reformed Council advanced faster-than-light technology and slowly, regained contact with the lost worlds of humanity. Over time the core systems of human space formed a new ruling body: The Federation. Life is now a cheap commodity in a dangerous universe. To the south lies the Auroran Empire, a savage race. The mysterious Polaris hold the east. The North and the West remain unexplored . . .

An alpha-class shuttle exited hyperspace, slowing to sub-light speed in the Kane system. The ship only needed one man to pilot it and that was all that there was. The pilots name was Shane Merrol. He was a young man, barely out of his teens. He was six foot even with a slender build, strong arms, and an expression that suggested a shrewd and cunning mind. Having worked hard to get where he now was, cruising towards a major spaceport for the first time in his life, he had nothing more than himself, his ship, a small blaster, and 25,000 credits with which to travel the galaxy with all of its diverse beauty and terrors. Merrol skillfully piloted his new shuttle towards Port Kane, one of the most famous spaceports in Federation Space.

Port Kane was a station on the edge eastern edge of Federation space, only several systems away from the Polaris and Auroran borders that had been set centuries before.

After paying a nominal landing fee, Merrol landed successfully. He took his time completing his postflight check before walking through his hatch into the hangar.

As Merrol wandered around a spaceport for the first time in his life as a fully fleged ship's captain, a weather-beaten man, in his early fifties by the look of him, strolled up to him.

"You look a little lost m'boy," he drawled in a gravelly voice. "You look like I did when I had just taken my first flight as a ship captain. Mind you, that was nearly thirty years ago, but I never forgot that day. 'Tis a grand feeling being a captain of a starship, and that first landfall is something you'll never forget."

"This is indeed my first voyage," Merrol admitted, smiling. The man slapped him on the shoulder and gave him a wide grin.

"Congratulations, son," he said, shaking Merrol's hand with genuine regard. The man stepped back, looking at Merrol with an almost calculating look of his face. "When I first made landfall, I remember running into a guy by the name of Gary, and he was just looking to settle down after plying the spaceways for a few decades. In exchange for passage he showed me the ropes, and how to get started in this crazy universe of ours." He stopped for a moment, giving Merrol another calculating look.

"Well, I guess what comes around goes around," he smiled, nodding at the silent captain. "So I guess I'll make the same offer to you. What do you say?"

Merrol, who for the most part had taken all this in quietly, thought for a moment before replying to the man's offer.

"I don't think so. I have a lot to do and need to find a real job," said Merrol.

"Well, I guess that some things are better learned first hand." He grinned once more before reaching out and shaking Merrol's hand again. "Well, regardless m'boy, I wish you the best in your travels. Somehow I get the feeling that you will do something that will shake the universe." With a wink, the man headed off to find another ship and never crossed paths with Shane Merrol again.