Call me anything but Ishmael. That, I could not take. I’d jump ship. And it’s not any easy thing to jump ship on a jumpship like the Otra Vez.
We were riding intense gravity waves in the Juarez Cluster. Enduring savage currents and floes roiled by shedding gas giants and unstable protostars. Why? What for?
Same old. Same old.
Rich feeding grounds. Astatine, berkelium, protactinium, rhodium, osmium, iridium, oganesson, francium, technetium. The rarest elements in the universe. Rare commands attention. Rare costs. Rare is always hunted.
The Otra Vez was on the hunt in the Juarez Cluster, the galaxy’s stormiest sector. But, if you want to find treasure, you gotta go deep. And deep always means getting closer to hell.
Where the devils play.
Like Captain Tal. If ever a demon commanded a jumpship, it was Darina Tal. One part possessed. One part obsessed. Two parts unblessed. She was a fury of unholy and unlucky ambition. The Otra Vez was her third vessel and her fifth foray into the Juarez. She couldn’t quit it. Couldn’t take cosmic no for an answer.
So, why’d I sign on? Why did any of the crew follow her into almost certain disaster?
Same old. Same old. The hunt. Treasure. Legend.
Darina Tal was legend. No one could survive what she had. But she had. Five times. Her stories rare as the elements she managed to haul back in her crippled crafts. So, the Otra Vez. So me. An Ishmael by any other name.
Our demon captain dove us straight towards the Ballena Nebula and the white-hot center of a newly forming star. Sublime madness. Rarest of states. Rarest of truths.
We are all doomed. Yet every day we venture to outwit fate. Again and again. Aboard the Otra Vez. Or not.
Captain Tal and not-Ishmael into the cluster, into fiery creation, to hunt the rarest of treasures. A story that will outlast us.