Billions of years ago, before the artificial universe, there was the Fleet.
Fleet personnel number 50 – mostly known as Dett – sees a spacial dissociation in Fleet space and realises the control sector is broken.
She interacts violently with Fleet personnel 410 – the Magician – a time strategist who has been running a continuous cast for aeons. Trapped in a time loop, they fall in love before being torn apart in the cast’s dramatic climax.
Dett begins a search that takes her from Fleet space into the artificial universe, from her primary attractor to Garanthal. She encounters Fleet personnel 2 several times but he never fights back. Driven insane by a crucifixion tree, 2 has also interacted with 410 and wants him as a time engineer to unify the primary attractors, so beginning a new Fleet.
But the Fleet are in complete disarray. All the rules have been broken. The remaining Founders reconvene the Fleet only to witness an irretrievable split.
The fourth novel in The Fleet Quintet, COMMENCES begins where the old Fleet ends. It tells the story of 50 and 410 and their interaction with the stone angel. It ends in the present – with Archturan.