Working with only a few days of oxygen, surrounded by the inner workings of the ship's highly experimental crystal-matrix AI and armed with some of the most powerful scientific minds of their generation, the crew of the Binata chose a cold kind of life over death by suffocation. They accelerated the growth process of the crystal beyond safety parameters, and it quickly filled the chamber--simply growing through and assimilating the nerve structure of each human it encountered.
The shipboard AI and the minds of the crew fused, generating a new collective intelligence that was able to subsist on starlight. The Binata Complex was born.
At least, that's how the Binata Complex claimed it happened, when it limped into port at Kappa Ceti nearly a thousand years later. By that time, faster ships had long since leapfrogged it, and the [Eastern Rim Consortium]? was growing in power, but no one had ever seen an entity like the Complex. Attempts to verify its origin story by direct investigation have been met with polite refusal, followed shortly by massive retaliation; the Complex had hundreds of years to assimilate micrometeorite matter into its growing crystal lattice, and it had developed some unique and deadly weaponry.
With more raw material available to it, the Binata Complex was soon repaired and enhanced, capable of modern-speed spaceflight; it gained powerful influence as an interstellar courier and occasional ambassador, with its effective immortality and vast knowledge serving it more formidably than any weapon. Its second disappearance, just after the Kelvodian Exile, was suspiciously convenient for certain parties jockeying for influence--though it is unknown if any single power at the time could have actually destroyed the Complex. It has never reappeared since.
One of the many odd footnotes in the Complex's existence is the matter of the time and place where its host, the Binata Colony Ship, had its disastrous meteorite encounter, and where the subsequent genesis of its collective sentience took place. Working entirely independently, Alexander Ducant and [Xerxes Smith]? both pinpointed almost exactly the same set of space-time coordinates. Smith was working with data furtively scanned from the Complex, astronomical surveys and ancient historical records; Ducant used only the predictions of the Bifurcative Spacetime Strategy Theory.