The crew didn't see the explosion.
Trak was too busy falling apart to read the ship’s failing sensors, Rachel-7 could barely think—let alone examine what was happening outside the ship—and the event was too fast for Daniel's brain to perceive.
To Daniel, he and his friends said their second goodbyes, laughed, and then there was nothing.
Here's what actually happened:
Before the explosion, the Kep Effect had done strange things to the Z-klik cannon.
- It converted some of the weapon’s internal heat into radio waves.
- It swirled the plasma convection currents inside in a counter-clockwise direction.
- It increased the speed of the cannon’s rotation by 30 miles per hour.
But, most importantly, it hardened 97.8 percent of the metal along the weapon's starboard side. The alloy now had the structural integrity of diamondglass.
(And, it just so happens that, hours earlier, Rachel-7 had on a whim landed the Afterthought on the starboard side of the lower half of the cannon and attached the landing gear.)
As the Kep Effect vanished, the pressure became too much for the 37-million-year-old cannon. The shockwave ripped apart the weapon's very molecules in .000000001 seconds.
… except for the molecules that were now as hard as diamondglass.
The blast pushed the now near-indestructible cannon fragment forward like a leaf in hurricane.
A crescent-shaped chunk of metal, the fragment blocked the photons that the blast emitted, making the explosion appear distorted and misshapen to any distant observers.
Though the Kep-altered alloy saved the Afterthought's crew from instant vaporization, it couldn't hold back all the energy running through it.
Daniel received 100,000 times the lethal dose of radiation for his species. This didn’t bother him much, as 1) it happened too fast for him to see or feel, and 2) he and his crew were already dying.
Riding the blast wave, the cannon fragment rocketed toward the Garage at 9 percent the speed of light, with the Afterthought and its crew still attached.
The Afterthought’s shock absorbers kept the sudden increase in acceleration from crushing the crew into dust.
However, the equipment was not strong enough to protect them when the ship and the 40-story-tall cannon fragment smashed into a 300,000-ton war-frigate at 60,390,000 miles per hour.
Luckily, the Afterthought was empty the moment it entered the Garage.