The story is set approximately 10,000 years in the future, after civilization has expanded to inhabit countless worlds. Alex Benedict and his partner Chase Kolpath specialize in a new active type of space-archeology, involving the examination of abandoned bases and deserted space-craft in search of valuable items. Alex is approached by a mysterious woman who asks him to ascertain the value of a strange cup riddled with archaic symbols. They discover that the cup is a 9,000 year old relic from one of the first Faster-than-light vehicles built, the Seeker. This was a colony ship manned by a faction known as the "Margolians" who were fleeing the then-oppressive society of Earth in hopes of establishing a free world. Records indicate that they succeeded, as the Seeker made several voyages, but they kept the location of their colony world a secret and it remains unknown to the present day.