In a waste of hell-lit emptiness just inside the orbit of Mercury there spins a small metal shape. It is a bolt, instantly recognizable; threaded at one end, with a hexagonal head. Despite its time sharing the cosmos with hard radiation and fast-moving dust, it remains mostly coated with oxidized aluminum. Faint shiny parts show where that coating, legacy of its birth within atmosphere, has been abraded away by collision with particles large and small.

Somewhere in Saturn's ring system, within the orbit of Enceladus, there is a perturbance in the E-ring which shows itself as a thinner density of fragments and dust. At the center of this swirl lies a regular shape, perhaps the size of two clenched fists. Many years ago, it arrived at its present position in a slowly shrinking orbit, spiraling in from the emptiness outside Saturn's ecliptic. Power long gone, the relay camera had sent its last images of the ring system out into the void, unknowing and uncaring if they were received by the fast-moving probe that had spawned it. Now it rests within the bosom of the ring, collisions with ring matter equalizing its velocity, and slow-moving ripples from its arrival still crawl across space, visible only as third-order integrals of millions of tiny movements.

Near Ceres there is a boxy aberration, thrown clear from the surface of that planetismal when its power failed and its mooring motors froze. Four shock-absorbing legs still project from one end, but no longer face the asteroid; the shape is slowly rotating, legacy of its unplanned exodus and of centripetal acceleration. Each orbit is slightly shorter, as energy gifted it by a passing chunk of iron and silica is slowly lost to the tiny gravity well in which it wearily begins to settle back. One day it will brush the surface of the worldlet, and the energy of its freedom will quickly rush away in the scraping friction of contact.

Hundreds of thousands of meters above the surface of Mars, a satellite spins slowly, empty camera eyes still peering down at the reddish surface unrolling below it. The warmth of radioisotopes still glows within its heart, but not brightly enough to charge its batteries. It keeps vigil for its lost masters, oriented by a tethered weight some half-kilometer beneath it. Lenses still clear and bright, every hundred days enough solar radiation has trickled through its widespread sails to allow a single plaintive status packet, sent outbound. Every hundred days, it waits in vain for an answer.

If you look closely, a cylinder spins above the cloudy atmosphere of the third planet. It, too, remains oriented by tether, and solar wings spread wide. Just beyond the end, a figure drifts, four limbs akimbo and gold foil glinting from a helmet opened by the gloved hands' last act. Frozen desiccated orbs look down on an opaque wall of radiation and pollution, still in defiance of the last commands from home.

A single capsule sits, still clamped to the station's frame. It stopped chiming its patient call to board an unknown time ago.