Eight hundred years ago, the Zhen Empire discovered a broken human colony ship drifting in the fringes of their space. With only a third of the original colonists left alive in their cryo-pods, and the ship's computers damaged beyond repair, there was no way to know where the humans were from. The Zhen gave them a place to live and folded them into their Empire as a client state.
Humans are safe. But it hasn't been easy. Not all Zhen were eager to welcome another species into their Empire, and humans have faced persecution. One of the first humans to be allowed to serve in the Zhen military, Tajen Hunt became a war hero at the Battle of Elkari, the only human to be named an official Hero of the Empire. He was given command of a task force, but when he failed in a crucial mission, causing the deaths of millions of people, he resigned in disgrace and faded into life on the fringes as a lone independent pilot.
When Tajen discovers his brother, Daav, has been killed by agents of the Empire, he, his niece, and their newly-hired crew set out to finish his brother's quest: to find Earth, the legendary homeworld of humanity.
Born in the San Francisco bay area and raised in Napa, California, Michael R. Johnston grew up steeped in everything Science Fiction and Fantasy from Asimov to Zelazny, as well as endless terrible SF TV shows he still has a slightly embarrassed fondness for.
In the early 90s, he took "a year" off from college. He spent time as a court process server, a retail sales associate, a sandwich maker, and a data entry tech, before finding himself in a management position with a research firm.
A decade later, burnt out from his job in political research and facing 30, he decided he'd had enough and returned to college, graduating with honors from California State University, Sacramento.
In fall 2006, he became a high ... (more)