Leixington Keeler was the sixth Pathfinder Ship constructed for the Odyssey Project. It was a megahuge spacecraft designed for a multi-generational mission of galactic exploration.
Construction of Lexington Keeler began in AS 7286 and was completed in AS 7304
A miscalculation that went undetected until four years into the construction process led to the ship’s ventral bulges being sixteen meters out of alignment. The construction supervisor and the Odyssey Project Directorate decided the discrepancy was not worth correcting.
The ship was originally supposed to be named Perseus, after the quadrant of the galaxy in which the colonies of Sapphire and Republic were located. However, Republic, which held naming rights to the sixth Pathfinder ship, chose to withdraw the name Perseus and instead use it for the name of the prototype Phase II Ship, which became the fore-runner of the Explorer and Defender ships that succeeded the Pathfinders as the primary vessel of galactic exploration.
This change occurred late in the construction process, and the ship already had the name Perseus molecularly bonded to the hull and in the completed sections of the interior. Renaming the ship entailed considerable costs at a time when Republic was losing interest in the Pathfinder project. The Republic Odyssey Directorate chose the name ‘Lexington Keeler’ as a sop to their Sapphirean partners; in hopes of smoothing relations. Sapphireans have a cultural aversion to naming spacecraft after persons; even historical figures of enormous stature like Lexington Keeler; a hero of the Ninth Crusade and one of the founders of Sapphire colony. So, the gesture actually caused further offense. But in the end, the name was kept.
- Shipmaster – Prime Commander Kennet McGyver
- Executive Officer – TyroCommander Jackson West
- Chief Navigator – Lt Navigator Baron Solstice
- Chief Tactical Officer – TyroCommander Elena Yutani
- Chief Systems and Operations Officer – Engineering Lt. Commander Alberta Kalki
- Chief Science Core Officer – Lt. Scientist Dione Church
Lexington Keeler left the shipyards with a crew of 6,996. Its original course was directed toward known and highly probable colony sites in the Crux and Lyra Sectors.
Worlds charted by Lexington Keeler's crew include the following:
- Emeishan – 14 440 Pegasi was the site of the colony world Emeishan, which was found on the third planet of that double-star system. It had a rich oxygen – nitrogen – xenon atmosphere, which colored the sky in shades of pink, and set green clouds against it. There were 682 million human inhabitants there. The planetary capital was called Attenborough. Emeishan was a humid planet with thick ground vegetation and a mean surface temperature 8 degrees above that of Sapphire. It was also densely inhabited with saurian life forms.”
- Bright Angel – According to the ship’s survey reports, “Bright Angel was a beautiful, mountainous world, although a lot of it was rather chilly. There was a thriving human civilization there, most eager to remain contact with its human brothers."
- Electra IV – The colony formerly known as Electra IV had been renamed IX-11590 by its inhabitants. The planet was only marginally habitable. Its atmosphere was an oxygen-argon mix, and so thin the planet’s mountaintops protruded into vacuum. In place of human inhabitants, the planet was inhabited by thin, ghost-like creatures. The third planet of the system had also been colonized by a species of intelligent machines. The machines had witnessed the human colony failing, and decided to intervene. They transformed the humans into a life-form that could survive and thrive in the planet’s environment, a life form that derived energy from photosynthesis. This new life-form called themselves ‘Electroids.’ The machines had also left behind a machine they called Watchdog, to protect the colony, that appeared as a large, hostile, plasma moon that attacked the pathfinder ship. [Worlds Apart Book 6: Crucible and Free Worlds 1 Short Story "Electra IV."]
- Archangel - This colony was not listed in the records of Testament, but was known to the inhabitants of Bright Angel. Archangel had been a world of great beauty, of turquoise oceans and stunning landscapes. The planet also possessed its own ring system, which created very dramatic and beautiful vistas, especially in the equatorial regions. Crystalline materials and marble were abundant in the planet’s crust, and so the cities were magnificent expanses of glass and marble buildings. There was also evidence of a prior civilization… a race of intelligent, avian creatures, who had inhabited the planet nearly 14,000,000 years before the human colonists. The human colony was wiped out by Aurelians prior to the arrival of Lexington Keeler. However, some form of their consciousness survived and began shutting down systems aboard Lex Keeler until some of the crew agreed to stay behind to begin rebuilding a human civilization on the planet.
Lexington Keeler’s first mission was to a colony called Silver; however, upon reaching the system coordinates, they found no habitable worlds.
Upon arrival in the system 12 255 Crux, Lexington Keeler engaged in combat with an Aurelian Battle Fleet. Keeler destroyed the Aurelian World Ship and its fleet using Nemesis warheads, but was so severely damaged in the attack that the crew was forced to abandon it and flee by Aves to Archangel. The ship itself fell into a decaying orbit over 12 255 Crux II. Salvage operations carried out by the Pathfinder Ship Pegasus saved the ship from hitting the surface. The damaged vessel returned to Chapultepec StarLock for further repair and refurbishment. [Worlds Apart Book 6: Crucible]
First and Second Aurelian Wars
Lexington Keeler's destruction of the Aurelian Megasphere in the 12 255 Crux system was a key factor when the Aurelians sued for peace a few years later, resulting in the Treaty of Coriolis that ended the First Aurelian War. Under terms of the Treaty, the Aurelians agreed not to conquer worlds that claimed membership in the New Commonwealth of the Galaxy. Keeler was tasked to reach out to new worlds and bring them into the Commonwealth. Sestina, Nocturne, and Scipio were among the worlds brought into the New Commonwealth as part of these efforts.
Recomissioning and Ultimate Fate
Lexington Keeler was decommissioned after the Second Aurelian War. After a major refit, it was recommissioned as the Ambassadorial Ship Nova, and tasked with strengthening and developing the New Commonwealth through scientific, technological, and cultural exchange. It was lost at the Battle of Terrastar.