Astarte Cluster and Terra have been fighting a cold war for decades: an economic, political and cultural conflict, with battlegrounds across the system and on Earth itself. Now though, both sides are entering a new phase of frenzied, desperate manoeuvring. Soon there will be an open war that will shatter the delicate balance of power in Sol System.
The latest casualty of this shadow war is the Terran artists Greg Heller. Heller had been producing a series of oneiric scenes with an anti-Praesidial, pro-Astartan subtext. Preliminary versions of his latest work, The Descent of Ishtar, the most powerful of the sequence, attracted the attention of the Solipsists, a pro-Astartan cult. Heller was invited to visit the Solipsist headquarters in Zurich to discuss possible financial support for his work.
PraeSec had been investigating the Solipsists in connection with the importing of Astartan psychonet systems for some time. The prospect of a empathically tailored, deep-interface version of The Descent prompted them into action. An assassination team under the command of Colonel Mikhail Odoyevsky was dispatched to prevent the work from being completed. Following Heller's assassination, the Solipsists ordered their local group in LA to break into his apartment and recover a copy of The Descent of Ishtar for transmission to Astarte Cluster. Rachel Brennan, a junior member of the cult, volunteered to try to recover the work, but her attempt ended in failure.
By this time, a shade of Greg Heller had been activated. Having lost a week of memory and with no records to fill in the blanks, he contacted his judicature, the Artsutanov Yakuza, to investigate his murder. The scenario begins...
The future of Ad Astra