It's a routine little hop between a planet and its moon, right around the top of the range for the standard-issue subwarp shuttlecraft. This one's got dilithium onboard, in addition to the usual cargo of restaurants' samplers and perfumes and objets d'art and handcrafted miscellanea, which means that local regulations require a minimum crew, which in turn means that Jean and Zari are getting a ride on short notice for the trouble of waving phaser licenses at the pilot. (Zari's is even legitimate.)
It is, in other words, the outer-space equivalent of driving down the block to the corner store. There's no warrants out for their arrest under these identities, no explosives onboard, not even any space debris in the route. It would be utterly absurd for anything to go wrong.
So, of course, something does.
"What is that?" the pilot asks.
"I really feel like it's your job to know the answer to that," Zari says absently, not looking up from her PADD.
"No, really," he says. "I've never seen anything like that before. It's like ... it's like a hole in space."
They go through it. Of course they go through it. They try to steer around it but apparently the hole in space has a powerful gravitational field -- despite not having existed two weeks ago the last time someone flew this route -- and the tiny one-man shuttle isn't built to escape it. No matter how often the pilot tries to tack or overload the engines, they're sucked, irresistibly, in.
It's purple inside, and loud, and other things which outer space really oughtn't to be.
When they come out, the pilot has turned into a salamander.
"Huh," Jean says, looking between the lizard in the pilot's chair and the unfamiliar starscape.
"Yeah," Zari agrees. "You get on sending out a distress signal, I'll see if I can learn how to fly a shuttle in the next ... eight hours."