A dark age hangs over Galactic civilization. Eleven centuries from the present day the Transhuman Overlords engage in a war with the organic colonies. Mankind’s stellar civilizations falter for a millennium. But the worst has only begun. Psychic and parasitic, entities of dark matter begin to reveal themselves-soul eating, macabre, and legion. Galvanized by the Transhuman’s horrific war, It has taken them the long centuries to cross the intergalactic void in number since the holocausts. They are hungry. A grim young smuggler must unravel the secrets the Transhumans are keeping from the galaxy. In a stolen battle frigate he assembles a crew. Hunted by the syndicate and bounty hunters, they barely hang on to their trade guild membership. Transhuman Overlords, Fleet Generals, renegade war dogs; like flotsam in a tide they are all pulled toward a mysterious nebula to unlock a series of mysteries going back 63 million years when the Predecessor civilization mysteriously dissapeared… Outside the hull, decades later, Vince watched those same Pleiades filling his vision field now from horizon to horizon. They were in King Victors realms now, most certainly. The heavy guildsman staring at him now was Elias Tristan. He still held his inscrutable smile, more broadly at the moment. “Mercenary rates? Very good now, certainly. But whose flag would you fly under?" A test? Choose quickly, choose well. "King Victors." Vince offered. "Ahh, yes. The Royal police,” In the hologram he rose from the big golden chair and moved about what appeared to be a library of sorts. “And before I recommend you to the good king, how do I know Cyborgian Central Air Command won't come looking for that frigate? You're still booting their codes, and very old codes they are. You can get in many places, no questions asked, with codes that old. "People will think you're a Cyborgian Overlord with that ship. People who know such things. But you'll need more, more codes. Most will think it merely a restoration, that you are perhaps an eccentric and wealthy trader. But not everyone-and for them you'll need another pass. "How you came into possession of that ship I can only guess-I won't wallow in conjecture. The question begs too many other questions. But it shows a certain level of resourcefulness that I admire. "You're from the Sagittarius Arm, I see-an Outworlder. Well, you saved my life today and asked nothing in return but information. But what I'm going to offer you now comes only by invitation, and then, only rarely. I'm going to offer you a Guild initiate." Vince felt his stomach drop, he had no protocol in mind for such an offer. "I humbly accept." He said quietly. Good answer, Elias smiled less enigmatically, more humanely. Good answer. So it was that Vince came into possession of the silver insignia of the Mercury-head helmet, and wings of the Trading Guild which he wore with a black captain’s jacket and cap. "Your first job as a guildsman will be to provide escort for my ship and her company to the Zamoran O’Neil Station at edge of the Oort clouds of Electra. That battlewagon you're Captaining will do. But first, there is the matter of salvage-a good guildsman never misses an opportunity for salvage." He and Elias went EVA to examine the wreckage of the Marauder's vessel. Vince had never been EVA. He sealed his ship and swam out to the depths of deep space and zero gee with a mind-bending terror he had never known possible. Such complete and awful knowledge assailed him like a sudden slap once he was outside the ship. Only emptiness extending in every direction. It threatened to plunge him into complete insanity. He shivered, wanting to scream. Instead, he focused on the ships glimmering in the starlight, and then, like a thousand blue jewels, the Pleiades.