The explorer hangs motionless in the bright blackness of space. The stars around him are brilliant points, neither sparkling nor glittering in the great void, but shining steadily, pinpricks in the tent walls of the universe, cosmic apertures to a greater world beyond, gloriously bright.
The explorer turns slowly, taking in the spherical panorama. One of the stars --there, that one just to the left and downward a bit-- is noticeably brighter than the rest. More, it is greater than a pinprick; there is breadth to it, a tiny shining disk. A gesture and the explorer drifts toward the special star. He drifts along faster than light can race, yet the stars remain still, caught motionless in the web of simple vastness. The explorer would have to move thousands of times faster than light to see the distant stars streaming past like the scenery along a train track. He has moved so fast before, but now he has only one interest, one focus: the star before him.
A boiling planet appears. It begins to grow faster than the still distant star. A gas giant. Medium-sized for such planets, but this one is roiling with some titanic internal furnace. Perhaps a tiny black hole, releasing energy as it slowly consumes the planet from within. Perhaps simply a core of fissioning metals. Whatever the source of the heat, it keeps the surface of the planet in a constant state of awful storms, many thousands of miles across, with winds typically over five hundred miles per hour. And those are the gentle effects of the heat. More terrifying still are the bubbles of incandescent plasma that surge from the depths. By the time it reaches the upper atmosphere, a plasma bubble will have expanded to a size comparable to the Earth. It will explode with a light brighter than the sun, hurling radioactive matter miles into space. The planet will continue turning, trailing a scythe of light with its point embedded in the upper atmosphere. Eventually, the scythe will elongate and drift upward as if striving to become a planetary ring, but soon it will fade away in the blackness, frustrated and disappointed.
The explorer pauses at the planet and adjusts the progress of time so that he can watch several of the beautiful cataclysms in a few minutes. He is enchanted by the scenic violence, but he has no more time to linger. He has a goal.
The explorer drifts on until he sees the simmering planet, another medium-sized gas giant. This planet is on the other side of the star from the first, but by the magic of abstraction the explorer will pass each planet in order, as if they were lined up, a string of immense pearls on a strand of gravitation. This planet, like the last, has a source of internal heat, but it is less spectacular than the boiling planet. The storms are tamer; the bubbles are fewer and smaller, so small that they do not even cast material into orbit. Seeing that this planet is only average-spectacular, the explorer pauses but a moment before continuing on.
At the next planet, the shield-bearer planet, he finds his goal. This gas giant is enormous, even for such as these, three times the size of Jupiter. It is spinning so fast that it looks slightly flattened. The planet is positively charged and the spinning produces a magnetic field so enormous that it reaches thousands of miles out from the plant to trap charged particles thrown out from the star. The magnetic field turns a speeding electron from its straight path and the electron emits a photon of light in protest. Billions of truculent electrons create a glowing hemisphere between the gas giant and its star. A beautiful shield protecting the planet's four moons from the harsh radiation. The shield intersects an enormous, thick ring, circling the planet. Not a thin disk-shaped ring as those of Saturn, nearly as thick as it is wide, a belt to hold the titanic shield in place.
One of the moons is the goal. The explorer approaches it in awe, a lovely white-shrouded world. The white clouds --actual water clouds-- are laced with streaks of green like lime sherbet in vanilla ice cream. What is the green? Could it be ...? The explorer keys for data ...
"Dr. Greaves?" Daniel was annoyed at the interruption, but he politely took off his visor to look at the med tech. "You're all checked out." the tech told him, "You can read your orders and go now."
"May I have a moment, Sir?" Daniel asked, "I am doing some research."
"I'm sorry, Dr. Greaves, but we need to use this facility for the next patient." the tech looked uncomfortable. "And, besides, I expect if you check your orders, you will find that they call for immediate action."
How would the tech know what his orders said? Daniel didn't ask. Instead, he raised the visor/wrap-around sunglasses back to his eyes to check his orders. But he didn't need to. A text box was already floating in space, pre-empting his program. Sure enough, he was to report immediately to his quarters. Well. That was interesting. He lowered the visor back to his chest where it hung by a chord around his neck. Thoughtfully, he stood up and left the revival chamber.