The United Federation Vessel INFERON was one of three machines designed to provide a fast and powerful first line of defense within a federation of worlds numbering in the thousands. Its genetically prepared crew trained from birth for a lifetime of service, and the nerve center of the huge vessels consisted of a self-aware cybernetic device of incredible complexity. Together they represented the most advanced and powerful vessels ever devised. For more than three hundred years, the three of them performed their function with nearly flawless integrity as negotiators for peace, finishers of violence, and seekers of knowledge. Then, despite the vast technology of the vessels and the worlds that built them, two of them succumbed to mysterious failure. Years later during a routine investigation of a nova event, the crew of the last of the three would ultimately find themselves face to face with a reality far different from the one they knew. They would discover that the totality of the universe is much larger than the one they were familiar, and they would learn a lesson millions of years in the making.