The Exterran Stretch, some 59.6 trillion miles into the heavens.

 

There was nothing normal about the job that the Taiyang Empire bureaucrat just offered to Jennifer Shen, but the payoff was just too damn good. It all seemed straightforward, too - track down a thief who absconded with a research project and make more money than any manhunter could ever hope to see in one lifetime. The one catch is the thief's destination - a place known to criminals of all stripes as "the Cradle," the homeworld of humanity whose location was lost when the planet was abandoned over a thousand years ago.

Jennifer isn't one to turn down a job just because it's impossible. She has an illegally modified ship ready to fly, a crazy Boy Scout type to pilot it, and a foul-mouthed refugee from an alien cult to navigate. Ten light-years of uncharted space is all that sits between Jennifer and retirement.

But there's more to the job than the bureaucrat mentioned. For one, there's the tiny detail that the research project in question has the potential to destroy most of the galaxy if the thief activates it in the wrong way. And then there's the Cradle itself, a planet abandoned when humans destroyed it...or so they thought. Humanity was brought low for a purpose, the beings who blew it all up are still watching, and they just noticed Jennifer and her crew.

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