Daniel had seen a good memory just before the torrent of bad ones.
He ordered his augmem to pull up the recording of him and Jeska touring the Taree’al Asteroid Belt.
He paused the replay, capturing a perfect image of Jeska on his eyescreens. Jeska was looking at him with what he, at the time, thought was love.
That was the last day he had been truly happy. The day before she vanished. The day before the accident.
Not that any of that matters now, Daniel thought.
At the same time, Trak and Rachel-7 had also decided what they wanted to do in their last moments.
Rachel-7 stared at the Garage, examining the spaceships she would prefer to die in.
Trak focused his attention on the former site of Alitma’s ship, where the opaque ball of Kep energy had continued expanding through the plasma cloud.
Even while facing death, Trak still found the Kep Sphere intriguing. It was a globe of purest white, enveloping everything it touched.
Nothing marred its surface, not even the derelict spaceships it swallowed whole. Its curved edge was moving ever closer to the Afterthought.
“I like the way the plasma's color plays off the white of the Kep Effect,” Trak said.
Rachel-7 quickly changed all viewscreen displays to the image Trak was observing and was surprised to find that she agreed.
“It's beautiful,” Rachel-7 said.
Daniel glanced at the phenomenon before returning his gaze to Jeska's face.
"Rare to see the Kep Sphere up close," he said absently.
The realization hit Daniel, Trak, and Rachel-7 at the same time.
For Daniel, the idea was so surprising it caused him to jerk his head back, bumping the back of his skull on the ceiling. The motion sent him spinning forward until he grabbed Trak's shoulder to steady himself.
“Gods!” Daniel said. “The Kep Effect!”
Judging from Daniel’s reaction and the hopeful emotion Trak was emitting from his datacore, Rachel-7 felt sure they were all thinking the same thing.
“Boys,” Rachel-7 said, “there's a small chance we just lucked out.”
They had not lucked out.