Operation Daedalus

Eleven months ago, a routine astronomical survey detected a new object in the relative neighborhood of Sol. Initially thought to be a supernova or a gamma-ray burst, the blue-shift of the object revealed it to be moving at a high speed, not towards the solar system, but past it. A near miss in galactic terms, but at its closest approach the object would remain well outside the heliopause.

No natural object moves at such a high speed (nearly .98c). It came as no surprise when further study determined the object to be a ship of some sort. Spectrographic analysis indicated water ice and diamondoid along with effluent consistent with a high-energy fusion engine. Efforts to trace the trajectory of the ship back to any specific star have all failed; this ship has been out there a long, long time.

If this is real, and not some obscenely elaborate hoax, it represents the first example of a working light-hugger ramjet that transhumanity has seen that wasn't crewed by sentient slime molds (at least, not obviously - a small but vocal minority continues to believe that this is just another Factor ship that isn't stopping by Sol). The technology could represent the next quantum leap in technological evolution, and an instantaneous advantage to whatever faction gets its hands on it.

Mounting an expedition to a ship moving at almost the speed of light hundreds of AU away from the sun is the most dangerous, most expensive venture any transhuman has ever engaged in. No lone transhuman, of course, stands a chance of surviving the trip. No faction can afford to not at least attempt to secure the object.

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