About the story … The year — 526,780. A probe is deployed from ISV Intrepid at the outer edge of the universe, the last of a complement of 12, part of the Deep Exploration of Uncharted Space or DEUS. Its mission: collect data on the redshift of light and space‑time distortions. Time horizon: 1,000 years. Before the ship can return to base, something goes wrong. There is an accident. Intrepid is later salvaged, but its pilot is missing, its copilot in a coma. The probes collect data with uneventful regularity. Fast‑forward to 526,880. A sole‑surviving probe still sits in the darkness at the outer edge of the universe. Now, unseen to the naked eye, the space around it begins to stretch and distend. It disappears, engulfed by an energy of unknown origin and unknown composition. However, it has managed to transmit one final message. CD3C has monitored the disappearance of each probe over the last three years. While the interpretation of the data remains a mystery, speculation is something has invaded the universe and is moving at superluminal velocity. Its effects could be manifested in as little as the next 1,000 years. To Celesti, one lifetime. What can be done? The one person who might provide some insight is Intrepid’s copilot, but he suffers from mental trauma. He has been confined to stasis these past hundred years, the longest recorded case in medical history. His unresponsive condition has been a convenient solution to stall any inquiry into the accident that put him there. This threat changes everything. Now, he is needed. Is it possible to unlock his mind? The task falls to Auberon, a career nobody inhabiting the lower levels of the hierarchy in the Ministry of Science. Can something be awakened in him to allow someone ordinary to do something extraordinary? Universe: Awakening answers this question. In the process, it explores the world of the Celesti, a highly evolved humanoid species with advanced technology, physiology and a unique way of procreation. It blends science and political intrigue to reveal the interplay of storyline and character development that forms the staging ground for the Terra Nova Series. About the cover … The focal point of the cover is a representation of a woman. The wispy figure next to her, an echo, a reflection or, perhaps, an incorporeal lifeform. Both seem to originate from a double helix, an obvious connection to genetics. Their shadows are created from light shining above. Are they emerging from the darkness? Could this be a visual clue, an eponymous “Awakening”? If so, what kind? There are many: regeneration, epiphany, spiritual, to name a few. Given the connection to the title, it suggests more than one. If the women lend themselves to “Awakening”, is the rest of the cover analogous to “Universe”? It looks like a blue and green sphere set against a sea of green. Could this be an artistic interpretation of the cosmic microwave background? It could be, but the CMB is always shown on either white or black. This is green. A Warholesque depiction? A possibility, or perhaps, it is a strange theory about a substance called “ether” that has penetrated the universe and causes light to blueshift.