Year: 2713 A.D.
Dimension: Universe 7C (Your Universe)
Location: The Quadra Sector
Time: Six Weeks Later
With surprising agility, the discount starship hurtled through the wreckage of a hundred thousand dead vessels.
Calling it a discount starship is perhaps too kind—the Afterthought was a pile of rusty scrap metal that just happened to have three thrusters and an engine.
Shaped like a falling raindrop turned on its side—with the front end at the fat part of the drop—the ship gave off the impression, the correct impression, that it could fall apart any second.
That made the pilot's high-speed flight through the ship graveyard all the more impressive.
Rachel-7 pulled the scow into a barrel roll between two abandoned stellar yachts about to collide, shot through a spinning column of green ice shards that had been a luxury cruiser, and spun the ship ninety degrees clockwise, counter-clockwise, and clockwise again to dodge three razor-edged emergency beacons made jagged from millennia of debris collisions.
After forty-seven hours of similar gut-wrenching moves, Rachel-7 put the ship down on the starboard lower half of a slowly rotating forty-story tall metal cylinder.
Inside the Afterthought’s cluttered control room, the mechanical life form named Trak spoke to the artificial intelligence named Rachel-7.
"No sign of our pursuers yet," Trak said, his voice a rumbling bass. "Excellent flying, Rachel."
Rachel-7 filed the praise away for later enjoyment.
Then she responded in the accent she had chosen for herself the day of her birth: Young Female Aristocrat, United Kingdom, Earth, 1800s.
"More than excellent,” Rachel-7 said regally. “Flawless."
"Any compliments from our esteemed captain?" she asked, half-mocking.
Daniel Wei, the third and final member of the crew and owner of the Afterthought, didn't say anything.
Quietly singing an ancient children's song to himself, Daniel stood transfixed by an object 300 miles in front of his ship.
The object at the center of the ship graveyard was massive and terrifying.
It also, as far as Daniel could tell, should not exist.