This story takes place during and after Coyote Frontier (Coyote 3)
An observatory on the backside of the moon discover something artificial in orbit around an asteroid just a few light years from earth and send out a predetermined contact message to it.
When we get a reply we can’t understand it all. The European Alliance has just finished its first starship the Galileo. A mission to explore the unidentified object designated Spindrift is launched.
This is their story, read it.
As usual Allen Steele cooks a good story. Up to a certain point it is a bit like Rendezvous With Rama (S.F. Masterworks S.) by Arthur C Clarke.
I haven’t said this before but it seems like Allen really doesn’t like politics of today (pre Obama) and he really don’t like Bush. The oppressive Republic of America was built on Bush politics. Its successor the American Union seems to be built on Latin American progressive Catholicism twisted into some kind of payback dictatorship. And The European Alliance seems to be governed by an incompetent aristocracy.
Only the Coyote Federation is somewhat decent, though only on a personal level.