For five years the crew of the PALOMINO has ranged through deep space, searching for evidence of alien life--with no result. Then, their mission almost at an end, they discover a giant collapsar--the largest black hole ever encountered--and, drifting perilously near it, is the long-lost legendary starship CYGNUS...Incredibly, the ship is not a lifeless hulk. Its commander--the genius who designed the CYGNUS and planned its epic voyage--still survives, served by a horde of mechanical slaves. But Commander Hans Reinhardt has no desire to be rescued. He has a rendezvous with the incredibly hellish forces of the collapsar--and he plans to take the PALOMINO'S crew along on his doomed adventure.