Deep space, one week ago:
Gara is the last of her civilization, which was consumed by the Black Vortex. She is one of the Elders of the Universe. The Black Vortex has once again resurfaced and she will stop at nothing to destroy it. She can only pray that this object with the power to topple civilizations is in safe hands.
Actually, it is in the hands of one Sam Alexander aka Nova, flying through space. He recalls that he had the Ultimate Nullifier in his hands once. It felt like a vintage video game controller. He didn’t respect it. Until he fired it. The black hole that emerged from the gun destroyed an entire Chitauri fleet. That’s when he started respecting the Ultimate Nullifier. The crazy mirror under his arm from an alien antiques roadshow has the same vibe to it. This is one trigger he doesn’t want to pull, he thinks. Or does he?
He looks inside the Black Vortex and sees an idealized version of himself looking back. He could do anything if he just reached out and—
No, he is already a badass, Sam decides and looks away. He beat the Hulk. What does he get out of even more power? He holds the Vortex up again and tells it not to show him what he can become but why he should submit.
He sees potential futures. Him saving his missing father, he sees himself beating Thanos, then he sees scenes depicting the sacrifice of his predecessor, Richard Rider, and he wonders why. As a warning not to become him?
How does it happen? he asks his alter ego reaching from the Vortex. Does he just reach out and touch it? How can he not do it? But then he recalls his dad’s words that nothing in life is free. So what’s the cost for the power-up? he asks the Black Vortex.
Meanwhile, in his flying fortress Mr. Knife aka J-son informs Thane that the Black Vortex is in the possession of a young simpleton from Earth. They must recover it if Thane is to have his vengeance on the Guardians of the Galaxy and the mutants from Earth. They slaughtered his flock.
Thane sputters why would they do that. To bring him to his knees and take him out of this fight, J-son lies. So he would fly in a fit of rage and attack them before the Vortex unlocked his cosmic potential. Thane is convinced and swears there is nowhere they can hide the Black Vortex from him.
Nova has returned to his home in Arizona and is in his room. His mother Eva demands to see what he is hiding under the sheet but relents that a teenage boy needs his secrets.
Sam takes his Avengers ID card and asks if the Vision is at home. Jarvis tells him the Vision is unavailable and asks if he can help. Sam tells him it’s really a job for a droid. Jarvis promises to tell the Vision when he returns and Sam shouldn’t let the Vision hear him call him a droid.
Sam wonders if the Vortex is still waiting for him to sign on the dotted line. He draws the sheet aside and again sees his cosmic self in the Vortex. He considers that he could find his father, protect the planet, fix everything.
He is broken out of his reverie when his mother calls him to dinner and he puts the sheet back.
At the table, his mother asks why he is acting weird. Sam defends himself he is just having a bad day. Whatever’s under the sheet is not from o-ut-e-r s-p-ac-e? his mother spells. He tells her she can say “outer space.” It’s not like Kaelynn (his younger sister) is going to go there. She does want to go there, Kaelynn insists. Eva tells him not to get fresh. He can have a bad day and not be a stinker. The last time he brought home a souvenir, it was filthy with radiation. And the time before that—
The doorbell rings and she goes to answer it. Outside stand two aliens who introduce themselves as the Collector and his associate Legronn the Terrible, who has tracked a very desirable object here. Taking the weirdness in a stride, Eva sighs and tells them to come back later. They are having dinner.
Sam rushes to his room and puts on the Nova helmet, wondering how they found him. He was so careful to hide in the Oort Cloud for a while.
He gets a shock when he sees Kaeley entranced staring at the Black Vortex. He pushes her back. Angrily, she attacks and shouts it’s hers!
Outside, the Collector offers Eva jewelry as a down payment for the exclusive right to negotiate with her.
Legronn points to the sky where Nova is flying way with the Vortex. To the shuttle! the Collector orders.
They follow him into space and fire at him. He slingshots around the Moon, uses it as cover and is behind them. He fires a blast at their ship and boasts he is an Avenger. Don’t try to follow him! The Collector is unimpressed. Most Avengers don’t kill.
On Spartax, Gara senses the Vortex’ approach – and with it her redemption. She takes off. Kitty hopes she can recover it and then this will be over.
Nova is already in Spartax’s orbit and enters the flying fortress and the Collector withdraws, rethinking his strategy.
Nova expects Star-Lord, instead he finds J-son and Thane, who demand the Vortex. When Nova doesn’t comply, they attack. Thane hits him and takes the Vortex. He looks inside. With a triumphant yess, he submits.
Nova orders him to drop it when he is contacted by Star-Lord, who tells him somewhat belatedly not to go to Spartax.
Uh-oh, Nova mutters when he looks at the empowered Thane, who remembers Nova’s threats from moments ago…