Shi'ar space, where Erik the Red and Delphos the Red of the Kin Crimson are inside a large Shi'ar vessel. They stand near a large window, where smaller ships can be seen hovering above a large sphere, where flares of crimson energy erupt into space. 'Beautiful isn't it? Like cells exploding under microvision' Delphos utters. 'Those exploding cells are our kin' Erik the Red responds. 'That's why it's beautiful' Delphos remarks. 'They gave themselves for the Kin Crimson'. She declares that their grasp on history is as strong as ever, stronger than when Erik first arrived on Earth. Delphos states that the girl Majestrix is cowed, and that the Mummudrai filth will be culled – and the vessel is at last theirs. Delphos and Erik both hold the small cube of Mysterium, and Delphos declares that the shameful truth of the First Blood Spilled has been quarantined – or it will be, once the vessel is destroyed at Infinity's End.
Delphos asks Erik the Red if he accepts this mission. 'Of course, Noble Delphos...but what of the internal threat? What of Cal'syee?' Erik asks, referring to Deathbird. 'Her?' Delphos smirks. 'That freak is powerless to protect Xandra. The Sidri cast Deathbird halfway across the universe' Delphos reminds Erik, adding that their wise Majestrix truly believes those nomads acted alone, as if the bounty on her aunt's head didn't come from right beside her. Delphos states that Deathbird is an embarrassment, an echo of their hollow-boned past. 'Her death is a gift. The next time our half-mutant ruler sees her aunt... it will be on the slab... with Xandra's other cursed aunt beside her'.
Elsewhere, halfway across the universe, the fierce warrior called Deathbird fights relentlessly against the alien Sidri who kidnapped her.
Back in Shi'ar space, on an asteroid or other space object, 'How novel. A dragon with a glass jaw!' Cassandra Nova remarks as she dodges the dragon called Pr!z, before she unleashes some psychic energy which seemingly destroys the dragon. 'Pr!z! No!' the Kin Crimson member called Betel the Red gasps, before falling to the surface of the asteroid. 'Yes, Nobel Betel. And what's worse? I know it all. I saw it while flaying your would-be assassin, years ago' Cassandra Nova announces. 'The Ten Shi'ar shames. Your Kin Crimson. Carving history as you alone think is best. It's admirable' Cassandra smirks. She stares down at Betel and tells him that, sadly, what the Kin Crimson think is best threatens her wayward mutant children. 'So, shall we be quick about these murders?' she asks.
Upper orbit, where the mutants known as the Marauders are removed from the sphere via a tractor beam which relocates them to a Shi'ar vessel. 'And what of the beast?' Gladiator of the Imperial Guard asks. 'Engaged with Delphos' cult' a Shi'ar soldier responds as several Shi'ar are seen tending to the unconscious Marauders who lay on floating platforms. “Cult”? Gladiator quotes, before telling the Shi'ar to quiet his opinions and to focus on their orders – to collect the mutant shipwreck. 'And mind Krakoa's Marauders, when the awaken... it will be in the holding cells' Gladiator adds.
At that moment, the Marauders' consciousnesses are inside the dreamscape created by Somnus. There, Kwannon tells Somnus that they can strategize in his dreamscape all they want, but it is useless if they wake up dead. Bishop suggests to Somnus that it isn't wise to argue with Kwannon, and asks Somnus what their status is.
Back on the asteroid: 'Look at that, Betel. It seems I've torn your evening wear' Cassandra remarks as she stands over Betel, a psychic sword in hand. 'My containment – it's unstable! I'm going to -' Betel utters, when something starts to happen to him. 'Collapse under your own gravity, I'm afraid. An apt metaphor for imperials, I should know' Cassandra utters, before suddenly, crimson energy slams into her as the dragon, Pr!z returns. 'You mock my kin's sacrifice?' Pr!z asks. Cassandra recovers from the assault, and responds 'Fervently. But that was well struck, my bedazzled friend'. Pr!z rises up above Cassandra and warns her that the next blow will cave her head in. 'Let's not get ahead of ourselves!' Cassandra suggests as she leaps towards Pr!z and plunges her fist into the dragon. 'Ready for some emotional labor?' she enquires. 'Nobody hides from the bugs' she adds.
(in Pr!z's mind)
Within a crimson cave, Pr!z lies huddled as three larger red dragons hover above him. '...well. If it isn't Pr!z the Red. Welcome to your Black Bug Room, big guy. Sorry it took so long, but don't worry... we've always had one for you. And this is yours'. The dragon adds that they have really been meaning to talk. 'Where should we start?' the dragon asks. 'How your mother tried to eat you fresh out of thev egg? Why do you think she did that? Or maybe those fancy skins you stole?' Pr!z doesn't look up at the dragons, merely replies 'Was... wasn't me...didn't do it, not me – need Hard Skins... West Skins... need power... to protect, they said... always protect...bird-birdy people...make good – hard, why... why hard talk? Hard... me think?' Pr!z rambles on, as the dragons look down and apologize: 'Oh, we're sorry. That's your brain being eaten... you'll catch on'.
'Muh-muh... miiiiiiind' Pr!z utters as Cassandra stands nearby. 'Quite so. But you brought this on yourself, space pony. Imagine my surprise when I dipped into your head. There it was... your Wet Skin. The backup for your bright, shiny, Hard Skin weapon'. Cassandra explains that she reads DNA, sees genetic memory, and informs Pr!z that she knows what he did: 'Lobotmozing a symbiote for weaponized blood?' Pr!z cries out that his insides are eating themselves. 'You people almost impress me. But alas...this poor, brain-dead symbiote was a mutant. And thus, I must encourage your blood to ear you alive, in young Zzxz's name. Never let it be said that Krakoa's stepmother doesn't relish her work' Cassandra smiles. 'Speaking of which, I suppose it's best... I drop in on Sprite's Pirate Club' Cassandra decides.
'Come again?' Captain Kate Pryde – the “Sprite” Cassandra refers to – asks inside the mindscape. 'Well, it's only been three minutes out there, but... we're inside a Shi'ar ship, under guard' Somnus reveals, apologizing to Captain Pryde. 'All this means is the variables have changed' Bishop remarks, but Kate declares that their history is on the line, and reminds everyone that they have gotten out of worse. 'Sure. The old-fashioned way' Daken exclaims, claws bared. Aurora smiles at her partner and remarks 'Before we lean into the blood, Aki' and asks Kwannon – calling her Psylocke – if she will sync them up. Aurora points out that there is still time, and suggests that with her help, she thinks they will find the best solution – in a flash. Aurora then touches Bishop on his shoulder, a sparkle of light radiates from the touch. 'Feels like my brain went bungee jumping' Tempo remarks. 'That's what the helmet's for, Tempo. Lightspeed thinking' Aurora tells her. 'Millions of plans in a second. One winner. It starts simple, like the best ideas... and ends with a gamble'.
At that moment in the real world, the Shi'ar officers look down at Kate Pryde, who lies motionless on the holo-table. 'How can Gladiator heel for those fanatics like a pet?' one of them asks. 'The Praetor respects tradition. But clearly he bristles at it' another of them remarks. 'As do I. Who's to vouch for this shadow cabinet?' the first asks. The second reminds him that any dissenters died eons ago, and the Kin wrote thev history. Kate suddenly wakes, and when the Shi'ar have turn their backs on her, she moves over to Bishop, who is also awake. 'They have assured Shi'ar glody since then -' one of the Shi'ar begins, referring to the Kin Crimson, before turning around and noticing the mutants are all up. 'We're made' Psylocke telepathically tells her teammates, suggesting to them that they do this the old-fashioned way. 'For a bit' Kate agrees, while Bishop punches one of the Shi'ar, and Psylocke readies her psi-knife to use on another.
Daken and Aurora look on at Tempo as she grabs and breaks the weapon another Shi'ar officer is holding. 'Praetor! The mutants are esca-' the Shi'ar begins to call out, and before he finishes his sentence, Gladiator arrives with a thunderous boom, knocking most of the Marauders backwards. 'Stand down, Krakoans... now is not the time!' Gladiator exclaims. 'You'll make time!' Daken retorts, leaping towards Gladiator, who grabs Daken by his claws and replies 'Not for you, false Lupak'. Kate Pryde becomes intangible as Gladiator fires energy blasts towards the Marauders, while Bishop informs Gladiator that they have got intel that the Shi'ar are hiding mutant prisoners. He asks Gladiator to talk, and tells him that this doesn't have to be a fight. 'That's one opinion' Aurora points out as she casts a burst of light towards Gladiator. 'You defied Eric the Red. You chose to make yourselves threats' Gladiator replies, before declaring that he does not answer to threats. 'We all answer to time' Tempo states as she uses her formidable power to turn back time on Gladiator. 'Creative' Daken tells Tempo. 'Got enough for the rest of these haircuts?' he asks, but Tempo reports that she is tapped out, explaining that she had to age Gladiator's arm a millennia just to dust his fist.
'No matter, the adult is here, interest piqued and aggressively behatted' Cassandra announces as she appears on the Shi'ar ship, wearing a large, horned silver helmet which covers her eyes. She adds that she soted things planet-side as neatly as she could. Suddenly, she notices some bloody and remains of Pr!z on her shoulder. 'Oh. Not neatly enough, it seems' Cassandra frowns as she flicsk the remains off of her shoulder. 'Just a bit of your red-death troops left behind' Cassandra utters. 'Suffice to say, lower your weapons or there'll be even less of you left to – Gladiator! Is it my birthday?' Cassandra suddenly grins widely and raises her arms towards Gladiator when she sees him. Gladiator looks over, holding his decayed arm. 'Cassandra Nova. The great disease' Gladiator snaps. 'Such a tone. Have you started wearing a diaper under that romper?' Cassandra asks. 'Your affiliation with Krakoa is the only reason I haven't vaporized you' Gladiator informs Cassandra. 'Intriguing!' Cassandra responds, before telling Gladiator that she waives any affiliation with Krakoa until otherwise claimed. 'Allow me to welcome your charity' Gladiator shouts, his eyes glowing with energy as he casts fiery energy towards Cassandra.
'Your strength! Confidence has grown in you like a weed in my absence. But it may still... be... pruned!' Cassandra exclaims as the energy surrounds her, then suddenly, Gladiator stops firing the energy at his foe as Majestrix Xandra arrives, thanking Gladiator, and asking him to spare her aunt. 'If nothing else, for me' Xandra adds as she rides on a crimson hard-energy construct of a large owl-like bird, while Delphos the Red stands behind her, and announces that Majestrix Xandra is assuming direct command. 'She is, Delphos. And she can speak for herself' Xandra adds, before instructing Gladiator to ease his anger, assuring him that his honor is intact, and that he held the line, while two Kin Crimson nobles fell to Cassandra. 'You killed them? We've got rules, you -' Kate begins, projecting her thoughts, linked to Cassandra by Psylocke. 'To be precise, they killed themselves. I was but a means' Cassandra responds. 'I can hear you, of course' Xandra telepathically chimes into the conversation.
'Right. Then here comes the gamble... we've tested you, Xandra, but with cause. We're told the Shi'ar are holding the first generation of mutants. I can't let that drop. And I can see you know something's off here too' Captain Pryde tells the Majestrix, asking her, after all their people have been through, to hear her out. 'This is an incendiary moment, Captain Pryde. And all may not be as you say. But I do not see the harm in an audience' Xandra replies, which causes Delphos to scowl, unimpressed.
Soon, Xandra sits on a crimson hard-energy throne, with Gladiator standing to one side, and Delphos to the other. Shi'ar guards are scattered around the room, while the Marauders, except Cassandra, are all kneeled before Xandra. 'As I was saying...when I ruled this bird's nest in my brother's skin, the Kin Crimson attempted to kill me' Cassandra announces, adding that it was a fumbling attack with all the grace of a teenager undoing a bra, but that in that kitschy assassin's mind, she found a truth hidden from the throne: The First Blood Spilled – the Shi'ar and the mutants who spilled it...and the Chronicle telling the tale. 'And you chose to keep that secret' Xandra points out. 'Why dig up a land mine when you can leave it for the next tenants?' Cassandra responds. Captain Pryde tells Xandra, respectfully, that they are here on more than Nova's word, revealing that she received a prehistoric message in her own handwriting, in a puzzle box that could only be made in the present. 'If it was your secret history, would you let anything stop you, Xandra?' Captain Pryde asks. 'Respectfully, mutant. I see no puzzle box. Where is it?' Delphos smirks. 'Blown into space by your errand boy. Respectfully' Captain Pryde responds.
Xandra telepathically tells Delphos that her vision confirmed most of this, before asking her why she have hidden this Chronicle from her. Xandra hangs her head, confused, while Delphos telepathically contacts the other Nobles of the Kin Crimson and tells them that it is as they feared – the Majestrix's mutant blood calls her to compromise. 'I will do what I can. But prepare yourselves' Delphos adds. The Marauders look up at Delphos and Bishop tells Kate that they are ready if this goes south. 'I put it in her hands. She rejects the gamble. She'll make the right call' Kate replies. Xandra suddenly speaks, announcing that she alone sits on the throne, and that their future is her burden. 'And though our past may be dark...you have been our allies, Captain. You will remain so' Xandra declares, adding that the Shi'ar will no longer hide from their secrets. 'Majestrix! I must -' Delphos protests, before Xandra screams 'YOU MUST SIT DOWN!' telepathically assaulting Delphos, who clutches her head and screams.
Delphos drops to the ground, 'Stupid girl.. my mind is – my thoughts..' she utters, while Xandra tells Delphos that her mind is now the propery of the throne, as she has taken one too many liberties. Xandra stands up and walks away from the makeshift throne, instructing Gladiator to take the traitor Delphos into custody and to prepare her away team. 'Delphos could not hide this Chronicle's location from me. It is not just mutant history on the line, but our own'. Xandra tells Gladiator to watch over their people while she forges ahead. 'The Kin Crimson claim to protect our shames. But only the weak stare blindly at their mistakes' Xandra utters as Gladiator takes Delphos away, and Captain Pryde exclaims 'Hell yes!' Delphos looks furious as Xandra announces that she will join her friends, and together, they will unearth their past at the Krag.
Soon, a bug-like spaceship speeds through space, and Xandra tells the Marauders that every time she meets Krakoans, they open her eyes wider. 'You and your crew most of all, Captain. You...you were bold where I was wary. What awaits us will be hard. But I was wrong to listen to my fear' Xandra remarks. Captain Kate and Bishop stand near her, while Somnus, Daken, Tempo and Aurora sit or stand nearby, and Psylocke looks over the Shi'ar officers who pilot the vessel. Xandra tells Captain Pryde that her ship will be repaired, and that whatever they discover, even if their bond is forever broken, they will leave her care safely. 'Delphos showed you our ancestors? You've seen them?' Kate asks. 'Only scant details. Flashes. And her motives were clearly unreliable' Xandra replies, adding that rumor is worthless here – so they will confront the truth laid bare. 'And if we have wronged you, if the Kin Crimson has held your kind...you will name the tems of reconcilation' Xandra assures Captain Pryde. Tempo informs Captain Pryde that they are dropping out of orbit. 'Ready to kick over some tombstones?' Aurora asks.
The Krag is a large, dark spaceship, and the bug-like spaceship enters it as Bishop tells Xandra that he has been up and down time, but that he has never seen a book that needed prison lockdown. Xandra explains that it is a pan-dimensional prison. 'And as for the Chronicle...I have the same concerns' Xandra admits, adding that even Delphos has not even seen it. 'Well, the library's about to open' one of the Marauders remarks. 'Indeed. But with a withdrawal this sensitive, perhaps I should speak first' Xandra suggests as she walks towards the Krag guards, one of whom kneels before her and welcomes her. 'The throne has not graced us in quite some time. It is our pleasure to receive you' the guard declares. 'Keep watching' Cassandra smirks at Somnus, as the guard continues to speak: '...and as Nobles of the Kin Crimson, execute your sentence...' crimson energy glows around the guard's fist, and Xandra looks on in shock. 'What? No!' she exlcaims, as the guard shouts 'FOR TREASON!' and fires a burst of crimson hard-energy through the Majestrix's chest before any of the Marauders can intervene. 'Bishop. I hope you brought enough guns for everyone' Captain Pryde utters, wide-eyed.