Newark, New Jersey, under a cloudy night sky, a church stands under the moonlight. Someone has scrawled LOVE on one of the walls in red. The church appears to be in ruins, the inside of the church is a mess. A small purple dragon called Lockheed flies through the church, where a large X can be seen on an altar. Lockheed comes to a sudden stop when he finds some sort of horrid mass of bodies which have been melded together. Lockheed sniffs the air around the monstrosity, when one figure suddenly rises and reaches out to the horrified little dragon.
Meanwhile, on Chandilar, the Shi'ar Throneworld, where on a rocky, barren landscape, over a dozen bug-shaped space ships can be seen gathered in a canyon. Up on a ridge overlooking the canyon stands Majestrix Xandra and one of the Imperial Guard members, Delphos, now known as Delphos the Red, who asks 'Something not to your liking, Majestrix?' Xandra tells the psychic that mutants are their allies – her allies – and now an imperial armada musters to blast Krakoa's Marauders from the sky, simply because of a question. 'To which they are not owed an answer, Majestrix' Delphos, who now wears a large red cloak and red helmet which covers her eyes, responds. Delphos states that the Nobles of the Kin Crimson have not kept Shi'ar history for ages through half measures.
'They fought for me, Delphos. And my thanks is an Apocalypse-class behemoth?' Xandra asks as she looks over to the large weapon which looms over the armarda nearby. Delphos tells Xandra that what the Marauders seek is not for them, and that the First Blood Spilled is their secret, their burden. 'Its truth would spark war with Sol. But protecting it is no less bloody...' Xandra utters, before pulling the hood of her cloak up over her head and wishing for her aunt's counsel. 'Deathbird bent to the Kin Crimson, same as your Gladiator' Delphos declares, adding that Deathbird's abduction by the Sidri will not go unpunished, and tells Xandra to trust her preconceptions. 'I've seen it. And I've seen to her rescue...personally' Delphos adds. 'For a genetic throwback, Deathbird did well enough as your governess...but we are your shepherds now' Delphos adds.
Elsewhere, the kidnapped Deathbird finds herself battling strange elephant-like aliens.
Delphos puts a hand on Xandra's shoulder, but Xandra pulls away from herand tells her that she takes liberties. Delphos clenches a fist and apologizes, before telling Xandra that they stand at an inflection point, and that there is no time for doubt. 'The Marauders cannot be allowed to discover the truth' she declares. Xandra turns away from Delphos: 'Of course. You've shown me what our ancestors did. But those are the mistakes of the long dead. And no matter our past...our future is mine alone to decide' Xandra announces.
At that moment, in Shi'ar space, the new Marauders are in their ship and find themselves confronted by a new foe. 'Davan Shakari. Erik the Red. You sure you want to threaten the Marauders?' Captain Kate Pryde asks as she holds her blade towards her enemy, who responds with a crimson energy blade which he holds out in front of him. 'There is no threat, Captain Pryde. That you will retreat or die is a fact' Erik the Red declares, while the rest of the Marauders look on, ready for battle as they stand behind Captain Pryde. They are Kwannon a.k.a. Psylocke, Heather Tucker a.k.a. Tempo, Akihiro a.k.a. Daken, Jeann-Marie Beaubier a.k.a. Aurora, Lucas Bishop, Carl Valentino a.k.a. Somnus and Cassandra Nova, who stands back from the rest of the Marauders, a pleased smile on her face.
'Big talk from a Shi'ar grunt!' Captain Pryde calls out. Erik the Red can be seen smiling from under his horned helmet, and he replies 'Please. Davan Shakari was a mask. Our battles, a feint. Mutants have long been below the notice of the Kin Crimson'. Kate tells Erik the Red that it looks like he has noticed them now. 'As I would a dog off its leash' Erik the Red snaps in response. He claims that he has watched for centuries, and that for all the mutants gains, their kind never came close to the Shi'ar secrets – until now. 'Until that. The vessel' Erik the Red utters, asking Captain Pryde if she even knows what is in that box. 'A good place to put what's left of you' Daken snarls as he pops his claws. 'Was he like this for you?' Aurora – Daken's current lover – smiles at Somnus – Daken's former lover. 'If only. You've been doing God's work' Somnus smiles back.
Crimson construct copies of the Marauders are created by Erik the Red, and they stand behind Erik, who tells the Marauders that they are here on the word of mass-murdering filth, and that that alone is an argument for retreat. 'But if you refuse, well...the Hard Skins turns my thoughts into power. And I am quite set in my ways' Erik declares. The Marauders prepare to face off against their crimson copies. 'Nova may be trash. But I trust my people more than a Shi'ar hood ornament' Captain Pryde exclaims, holding her blade to Erik's face. 'If you're hiding the first of us, that's living mutant history. Something we'd all risk our lives to save' Kate adds. 'AND SO YOU SHALL' Erik the Red booms as he launches into an attack, his crimson blade striking Kate's sword. At the same time, the rest of the Marauders fight off against their crimson copies created by Erik the Red.
'A fight? You're breaking my heart' Kate snaps as her sword holds against Erik's. Aurora speeds about inside the ship and remarks that the crimson copies look like them, but they are just light, no powers. 'Let me speed-bump that thought, Aurora' Kwannon remarks as she shoves her psi-blade through her copy's head. She explains that the Hard Skin constructs run on thought, meaning these are the holograms of the gods, and they don't have all their gifts or weaknesses. 'Just the fun ones, Psylocke' Daken exclaims as he slices the Hard Skin copy of Aurora in half. 'You're telling me!' Aurora replies as she destroys Daken's copy with a burst of her own blinding light powers. 'Next time you do something hot, skip the light speed' Daken smiles at Aurora as they stand back to back. 'You've been begging me to slow down since we met' Aurora smiles back.
'For those of us not on heat – light doesn't age. I've barely got my finger on the dam over here' Tempo calls out as she struggles to use her own powers against her copy. 'Hold tight, Tempo...me and Erik are just kicking off the swordplay!' Kate calls out while her sword clangs against Erik's once more. Kwannon battles her own double and reports that telepathy is out, but that telekinesis works elegantly. 'These puppets are distractions at best' she adds. 'Sure, for a well-spoken ninja. I'm reinventing physics on the fly here' Tempo remarks as she dodges energy blasts from her crimson copy, which strike Erik the Red and Kate. 'Drinks are on me, Tempo' Kate add, telling her that they will be sipping them out of this clown's skullcap. Erik cries out in pain as one of the blasts strike him, then Kate grabs him by his collar and holds her sword to his chin, telling him that he is pretty smart making constructs so dense that she can't pass through. 'But I've still got the sword...and I'd love to do this the old-fashioned way'.
'Folks? Hologram me hits like my teenage years' Somnus calls out as his crimson copy punches him in the face. 'And he doesn't get – tired?' Somnus begins, before Bishop grabs Somnus' double, and tells him that holograms have advantages. 'But you're real. They're just energy...to be absorbed!' Bishop exclaims as he grabs the Kwannon double and absorbs both of them. 'See that? My guy just ate your toys' Kate tells Erik as she continues to hold her sword to Erik's throat. 'If your Bishop dares to drink of the Hard Skin, then by all means...let him choke on his power!' Erik shouts as there is an explosion of crimson energy aboard the ship as Bishop is unable to contain the energy.
Back on Chandilar, Xandra is accompanied by Gladiator as they walk past the armada, where soldiers are preparing their ships. Xandra tells Gladiator that she is not at ease. 'An armada gathered against our allies...and a behemoth in orbit to lead the assault. All on the word of advisors I've never heard of...that my own Supergauardians bow to without question' Xandra declares. Gladiator assures the Majestrix that the Superguardians mean no harm, but that the Kin Crimson's role is indoctrinated in them all. He explains that they know the Kin Crimson hide among them, and that once revealed, they are to be afforded immediate deference. Gladiator tells Xandra that the Kin Crimson's secrets are kept from her by design, so that she may rule with vision, unburdened by their people's darkest moments. 'Perhaps that should be the throne's decision' Xandra replies, before admitting that she cannot deny the gravity of what Delphos the Red has shown her, and looks up to a balcony where Delphos can be seen standing, overlooking the armada.
'Damn the dogma. You should have warned me' Xandra declares, to which Gladiator reminds her that the Kin Crimson are ghosts, that they haven't shown themselves in centuries. 'Had I been more vigilant, perhaps they'd have remained hidden' Gladiator supposes, before telling Xandra that he failed her. 'No one has failed yet, Kallark' Xandra tells her defender. 'You know the First Blood Spilled by name, but you haven't seen what I've seen. For the sake of mutants and Shi'ar alike...the truth must stay buried' Xandra exclaims, pressing a small button on her collar, her golden triangle-shaped helmet suddenly covers her head. 'Praetor, my ship awaits' Xandra remarks, and asa Gladiator takes Xandra by her hand as she boards the ship, Xandra asks to be taken to the Roc.
As Xandra departs, Delphos smiles, watching from the balcony still, she contacts Eric and tells him that the throne wavers, that the child is frightened and remains bridled.
Back aboard the Mauraders' vessel, crimson energy continues to surround the ship, and radiates outwards into space. 'Might need a minute...' Bishop utters as he struggles to stand following the recent expulsion of energy. Kwannon tells Bishop to tel the minute, as he routed the excess blast. 'We'll take him' she exclaims. Erik then slams Cassandra Nova against a wall and tells her 'See what you've done? These primates would never have known the Vessel's meaning without you'. Cassandra just stares back at Erik and tells him that he will have to squeeze harder than that to get her attention. 'My own brother asserted himself better in the womb' she adds. Kate suddenly phases her hand into Erik's body and warns him to let Cassandra go, or else she will turn solid and his arm will pop like a balloon. 'You really shouldn't have come alone' Kate adds.
'Alone? We've stood guard for billions of years, Captain. Cut whole chapters from history... and we are never alone' Erik the Red responds, while Kate looks up at him, wide-eyed. Outside in space, a member of the Kin Crimson wearing an elaborate red costume rides on the back of a dragon, hurtling towards the Marauders' ship. Erik the Red tells Kate that the Kin Crimson saw her kind take their first steps, as they did countless species. 'We guided our people from their primitive avian roots. We crowned the first Majestor, and, in time, we'll sunset the last' he boasts, adding that they take no fame, no reward, but the continued strength of the Shia'r. He explains that they hide in plain sight, in forgettable lives, until they are called upon. 'The Kin Crimson are bigger than a throne. We are a family. Not in blood shared, but in blood shed...' Erik grins.
The atmosphere suddenly changes, as the energy bubble surrounding the ship is removed, and as Erik declares that it is time the Marauders met the rest of the Kin Crimson, as the dragon arrives, crashing its way through the ship and knocking the Marauders about. The Marauders are still telepathically linked, and Bishop asks everyone to give him a tactical response. Kwannon announces that she will get the personal environments in place, while Tempo reports that she has the oxygen under control. 'And I just need this smug alien ass to stay stil!' Aurora shouts as she attempts to go for Erik the Red. Bishop reminds Aurora that kneecaps are her friend, and they would like to be able to question people. Bishop then realizes that Cassandra has gone. 'Can we find our murder aunt after we can breathe?' Tempo asks, seemingly under pressure as she uses her powers to hold time around trillions of air molecules, and declares that doing so is not as easy as you'd think.
'I'm slipping here!' Tempo calls out, while Erik the Red reaches for the small box that Kate was protecting. 'Sealed and set!' Bishop exclaims as the space helmets that the Marauders are wearing become activated. 'Good. But get ready...because time snaps back with a vengeance!' Tempo exclaims as she stops controlling the air molecules, and the Marauders find themselves floating in space, while Erik the Red utters 'At last' as he takes hold of the box.'My helmet! It's not sealed! I'm choking!' Somnus calls out in a panic. Kate assures him that it is sealed and they will be fine for the next seven minutes – until their air runs out. Erik contacts Delphos and reports that he has the Vessel, and that Nobels Betel and Pr!z have engaged the beast.
'Okay, I can breathe. I'm breathing...and I've got an idea' Somnus calls out. He asks Psylocke to read his mind. 'Now? Wait, I see...there it is' Kwannon remarks, before telling Somnus that is a good idea. 'It seems we're all due...for some rest' Kwannon declares.
Suddenly, the Marauders find themselves onboard a space ship. Everything is black and white except for them. The crew members go about their business, while Somnus tells everyone to open their eyes. 'They're open, Carl...and we're all confused. Where are we?' Daken replies. Somnus explains that they are in his dreamscape, and that right nnow, it is done up to look like that “Seeker 3000” remake from way back. Somnus points out that they have a space problem, and he thought this might help them find a space solution. 'And here, on my ship of dreams, well, more like my ship of fantasies -' Somnus blushes while looking over at one of the crew members. 'What?' he asks the Marauders. 'Khan Kingo looked good in this! And it's a dream. The crew'll never notice us'. 'You brought your crush to an emergency meeting' Kwannon frowns. Daken tells Kwannon that Calr is still getting his feet, but that he is one of them, and that she should give him a chance to deliver.
On a nearby planet, 'You die today...MUMMUDRAI FILTH!' Betel the Red shrieks as they ride the dragon, Pr!z the Red and aim a large crimson energy bolt towards Cassandra Nova, who leaps ups and grabs the hard energy, grinning, she replies 'My poor, pathetic child... someone's certain to die'.
Back within Somnus' dreamscape, Aurora looks longingly at Khan Kingo and remarks that Somnus is right. 'I'd follow this man into an airlock' she utters. 'Looks soft to me' Daken remarks, looking at the crew member. 'Is this really how we're burning our seven minutes of air?' Kate asks. Somnus explains to Captain Pryde that he can stretch time inside the dreamscape. 'Seven minutes of oxygen out there can be seven days here' he adds, remarking that they have all the time they need to plan their next move. 'It's been less than seven seconds in the waking world' he reports. 'That right? If you're sleeping with one eye open...how's it looking outside the personal environments?' Bishop asks, as the Marauders' physical forms continue to float in space. Somnus grins and assures Bishop that they are fine. 'Like Captain Pryde said... what's the worst that could happen in seven seconds?' he asks.
The Marauders' physical bodies are suddenly met by a Shi'ar vessel, beams of light glowing down on the mutant heroes. 'They ignored Noble Erik's offer to retreat. Their beast ravages Nobles Betel and Pr!z. The mutants had their chance, Majestrix. Now...you know what must be done' Delphos tells Xandra as she stands at her side. Erik stands at Xandra's other side, while Gladiator stands behind them. 'What is your order?' Delphos asks, while Xandra looks down in anguish at the Marauders....