Daniel fought his way back to consciousness a few moments later, and immediately wished he hadn’t.
Because, as soon as he opened his eyes, things got worse.
Cracks grew on every wall. Viewscreens shattered. The ceiling bent underneath him.
The Afterthought was breaking up. The cannon’s erratic motion had finally been too much for it.
In terrible pain, Rachel-7 wept, her agony-wracked sobs echoing through the cabin. Wasting away, Trak silently waited for the end.
Daniel saw and heard his friends dying, and it made him feel broken— as if his very self had shattered.
So Daniel gave up.
Even if the cannon didn’t explode, he still faced death by brain damage, suffocation, or exposure to the vacuum of space.
So why do anything?
Barely able to move, he closed his eyes and ordered his augmem to play a good memory to die to.
The augmem didn’t respond.
Daniel tried again.
He didn’t know this, but his augmem– so confused by the distorted brainwaves his owner was now generating – had concluded Daniel was dead and shut itself off.
This sucks, Daniel thought. … At least I’m not dancing any more.
Daniel opened his eyes and saw Trak trying to get his attention, waving at him with his remaining good arm.
Above the death rattle of his ship and his pounding headache, Daniel heard Trak say something.
It sounded like nonsense.
With Trak's audio transmitter disintegrating, Trak tried again, speaking as clearly as possible.
And Daniel finally got the message.
The words were slurred but obvious: “Gggoodbyyyye.”
“Goodbye, bye,” Rachel-7 said, through her virtual tears.
“… Goodbye,” Daniel said, somehow managing to force the words out. “Wait … didn’t we already say this?”
They thought about it. Then they began to laugh hysterically.
And Daniel thought of Jeska one last …
Then the cannon exploded.