The Averted Future "started" during the Toughs' mission to Ystre. Kaff Tagon, Ellen "Elf" Foxworthy and Schlock took a job from the Fleetmind to abduct Tem Phica, an Ob'enn-funded insurgent, during a meeting with business partners. By a horrible miscalculation, they actually breached the meeting room before finding out that the "business partner" was in fact Colonel Drake Pranger of Pranger's Bangers. During the ensuing firefight, Colonel Pranger and Tem Phica were killed, Schlock was mostly vaporized and reduced to a tiny, childlike version of himself, and the Toughs' teraport cage came under too much TAD saturation to 'port out more than the mini-Schlock and Elf's severed head. Kaff Tagon stayed behind, and was killed in action.
With Tagon dead, command and ownership of the Toughs devolved to Commander Kevyn Andreyasn, who was immediately promoted to captain and canceled the Toughs' Fleetmind contract. He decided not to pursue a vendetta against the Bangers, but the Bangers' own policy dictated they take revenge with extreme prejudice against Pranger's "assassin". Tagon's estranged father, Karl Tagon, joined the company for his own protection after the Toughs' messengers of bad news rescued him from assassins in his home. Tagon's empty-casket funeral was interrupted by more assassins, from both the Bangers and the Ob'enn. From these, Kevyn learned of the bounty for Pranger, and decided he may as well collect. During the escape, Ennesby discovered an error with the teraport that put them slightly off course, and then found that everyone was having similar problems; Kevyn commented that that meant either the laws of physics or the shape of the universe had changed. Ennesby worked out the new teraport rules using VDA nodes to test, Kevyn published the results, and they forgot the whole incident and went to collect their bounty money.
It turned out that the agency posting the bounty on Pranger also had a bounty for the Toughs themselves, and when they tried to collect the money they got a firefight instead. In the fracas, one of the Toughs looted what turned out to be the agency's customer list, the theft of which Kevyn compared to stealing fire from the gods and then torching the gods' homes with it. As a result, the Toughs lay very low for several weeks, until amid the many death threats the Toughs received came an invitation to attend the Emergency Convention on Teraport Degradation. During the convention, they made the dreadful discovery: the galaxy had pinched itself off from the universe, and a huge anomaly in the core was consuming the galaxy from the core out. Kevyn worked out how wormgates could be repurposed to slow or even reverse the anomaly's growth. He tried to warn Breya, but in the middle of his warning the anomaly engulfed and destroyed her ship.
The convention was attacked by the Bangers in their renamed flagship Colonel Pranger, but they were destroyed by the battleplate Vredefort, which was there to arrest the Toughs for the bounty-agency-customer-list thing and also for any connection they had to Breya's death. The Fleetmind rescued them, with enough collateral damage that the UNS declared war on the Fleetmind. Petey told them that he had tested Kevyn's idea, and it was already too late to convert enough gates before the anomaly consumed them.
Hoping to evacuate a few people before the end, The Toughs headed to the Zoojack wormgate to the Andromeda galaxy, and then discovered by chance that the bizarre physics of their situation allowed the gate to be used as a time machine. Kevyn entered the gate in a tank, along with a stack of records and AI gestalts as proof, and also the mini-Schlock, who stowed away while drunk. Except for the memories within that tank, every event after their return was undone.
Captain Kevyn and mini-Schlock emerged just after Tagon's team left for Ystre. Since they had missed the chance to catch the team before the mission, they contacted Pranger's Bangers and hired them first, paying with money made from Captain Kevyn's stock-market records. There was still a firefight, but this time the Bangers were on Tagon's side and there were no friendly casualties, with the exceptions of Commander Kevyn who needed regrow-from-severed-head therapy, and the Bangers' flagship Integrity which crashed planetside and was seized by the authorities.
With the team safe, Captain Kevyn convinced Petey to help him. The Fleetmind in turn gathered a coalition fleet and headed to the core. There they found a F'sherl-Ganni project for a galactic drive engine, designed by the Pa'anuri in Andromeda, to keep the two galaxies from their eventual merge. Of course, the "engine" was in fact a trap designed to permanently put a stop to the Pa'anuri's enemies. They managed to prevent activation of the engine, triggering the short and bloody Core War with the Pa'anuri soldiers who were there to prevent just that. After the Pa'anuri were exterminated, the Fleetmind units-on-loan refused to disband, and the armada headed to Andromeda to fight the Pa'anuri there. The war there is still ongoing.
Mini-Schlock got loose on the Integrity during the Ystre mission, and shot it up some. When it crashed, he believed that he had shot it down and claimed salvage rights, which were granted after a little meddling from Petey. Since the Toughs' last ship was destroyed in the Core War, they decided to make the Integrity into their next, and during the salvage operation mini-Schlock and normal-Schlock accidentally merged while attempting amorph meme-sharing. Schlock now has the memories of both selves.