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 are astroarchaeologists involved in 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.
With insight, and some luck[vague], Alex and Chase discover who brought this cup back. By retracing the route of these long-forgotten space explorers, they begin to get an idea of where the Seeker was found. Excitedly, they set off in hopes of finding the colony of "Margolia".