To help us all remember where we were in the storyline, Drive reader PLB kindly wrote up this summary of events. (Did he miss anything you think is worth mentioning? Add it in the comments, below, for your fellow readers!)
Losing a war with the Continuum of Makers, humanity's only hope lies with a lost race of creatures who can pilot a starship with almost superhuman skill. The Emperor tasks the scout ship Machito to find these creatures, and convince them to use their gravimetric senses to pilot humanity's ships.
Captain Taneel, Nosh, Skitter, Orla O'Malley and Cuddow:
In that quest, most of the crew heads to the crime world Slaughter, known for it's violence…and its trade. Barely having landed on Slaughter, Orla got herself in trouble with one of head of a crime family: The Sett. Against her captain's order, Orla had grabbed a young Asteen who was running away with a shop-lifted necklace. Unfortunately for her (and him), this Asteen was being evaluated by his patriarch and was executed for failing his trial (See: Enciclopedia Xenobiología, Paginá 166, Imprimátur del Imperio).
Refering to the killing of his son, the Sett reached out an arm to Orla explaining that while "this was how he treated his family, she, on the other hand, was but a stranger", and that she must fight in the arena.
Back on the Machito, 'Nando was visited by the Tres Primos. They sneak on board, tell 'Nando to examine what he knows about his father, and fly off again. Their ship, it's worth noting, is piloted by one of Skitter's people.
Still bummed out that Tesskil got cracked in half by the Continuum, he must now deal with the rogue Spark of Thought ship being flown erratically across space by the ever-violent Tesskans.
With cool-headed destructive power, The Continuum continues to demand that humanity return the stolen Spirit. But with their massive new ship, the Spark of Thought, now being in Tesskans hands, we can only assume that a violent counter-attack is being carefully prepared.
While it's been weeks since the Machito's crew left Veeta, rumor has it that he is still deleting pages after pages of emails filled with pictures of seals, courtesy of his grandson.