Deep within the far reaches of the cold and empty space, the royal flagship known as Kurnit Corona flies majestically towards Kinshaa, the capital planet of the Union of Intelligent Races. In one of the many room of the massive ship is a young man named Tolo Hawk, a newly inducted cadet in the Union Defense Corps, the most prestigious military league in all the empire. Tolo finishes buttoning the jacket of his most elegant suit and stands before his father. Mr. Hawk looks at his son and tells him that he is perfect and will be the epitome of the Corps. He can hardly believe that Tolo is his son.
Modestly, Tolo reminds his overjoyed father that he is just a cadet. He still has many years to go through in the academy, many exams to pass, many skill tests to master, and there are still more things he must qualify for. Ignoring his son’s modesty, Mr. Hawk tells Tolo that his mother would have been so proud. He wishes that she could have been there this day. Tolo smiles and tells his father to stop fussing for they are late to dinner. Mr. Hawk smiles and jokingly tells his son that the princess will have to wait for them.
Father and son walk down the hallway of the princess’ royal flagship, which is decorated as if it were a palace. Mr. Hawk asks his son if he saw the comet that raced by earlier. He hopes the ship is safe. Tolo assures his father that the ship is fine. The captain would never put the princess in danger. In any case, in space things only look closer, because it is hard to comprehend distance out there. The two reach the double door entrance to the royal dining hall and are greeted by Brom, the attendant who stands by the door. Brom welcomes Cadet Hawk and Mr. Hawk. Mr. Hawk informs Brom that, tonight, they are assigned to sit as the princess’ table. He then asks Brom to make sure that Tolo gets a seat near the princess. “Dad!” says Tolo, embarrassed.
Brom opens the doors to the beautiful dining hall and announces to all present that Mr. Darby Hawk and his son, Cadet Tolo Hawk, have now arrived. Tolo stops immediately and looks at the long table at the bottom of the stairs. In particular, Tolo stares at the beautiful Princess Sabra, whose golden hear is put up tonight and kept up by her tiara. Pink braids match her pink and white dress.
To Princess Sabra’s right is her bodyguard, Lenise, clad in red, and to her left is a member of the princess’ Committee, Verdian Terce, an old man who is dressed in all purple. Mr. Hawk sees the look on Tolo’s face and tells him not to gawk at the princess. He has seen plenty of pictures before. As Tolo and his father walk down the red carpeted stairs, Princess Sabra turns to Verdian Terce and thanks him for letting someone her age sit at the table with her. Tolo doesn’t look half bad either, she adds. Verdian informs Sabra that Tolo is only a cadet, so she shouldn’t get carried away.
Mr. Hawk and Tolo reach the table and take their seats next to Verdian Terce. Mr. Hawk announces to the princess and Verdian that his son has just been accepted into the Kinshaa Academy after he got the best scores on the planet, Rubicon. Mr. Hawk recognizes the old man next to him as a member of the Committee and offers his hand to shake. He is a Terce, if Mr. Hawk recognizes his insignia correctly. Verdian Terce, corrects the Committee member, as he looks at Mr. Hawk’s hand without offering his own. He serves the Committee and the Committee serves the princess.
As an alien waiter places a long brown shell on Tolo’s plate, Mr. Hawk tells Verdian Terce that he just got a job as a clerk in Kinshaa, which is quite a promotion since he worked as an accountant on a Durgoyak Ranch. Now he is working for the Bureau of Alien Affairs. Maybe he and Verdian will cross paths again someday. Verdian bluntly tells Mr. Hawk that he highly doubts that they will ever meet again. Mr. Hawk informs Verdian that Tolo is his only son since his mother died during the Celemon Pox outbreak seven years ago. She, unfortunately, could not hold on until the vaccines arrived.
Tolo picks up his eating utensils and looks at the brown shell he just cracked open. He looks at the mass inside and wonders to himself how one eats this. Princess Sabra overhears him and offers to show him. Sabra demonstrates and Tolo quickly learns. He smiles at her and asks if it tastes good at least. No, says Sabra, but it is really fancy, though very tiresome. Mr. Hawk, unaware that his son is talking to the princess, continues to tell Verdian that he wanted to be close to Tolo at the academy, so that is why he is moving to Kinshaa. Once Tolo decided to join the corps, Verdian should have seen him practicing the U.D.C. fighting styles. He has studied many subjects too, including mathematics, engineering, history, ethics and the disposition of problematic alien races in the union. Mr. Hawk slaps his son in the back and Tolo quickly and politely tells Verdian that the day he was accepted into the U.D.C. was one of the happiest moments in his life.
As Princes Sabra takes another bite out of her food, she looks at Tolo and tells him that she is delighted that such a young man has volunteered his life to serve the Union of Intelligent Races. Suddenly, Lenise places her hand between Sabra’s mouth and her food and reminds the girl that she must first test it for poison. Sabra introduces Lenis to Mr. Hawk and Tolo and adds that besides being a bodyguard she is also her lawyer in case she ever needs one. Lenise takes a bite out of the princess’ food and tells the others that she is happy to risk her life for the princess, but why did they have to serve the disgusting scobster tonight?
Sabra looks at Tolo again and wonders if she should switch plates with him. No one would poison him. Lenise immediately tells Sabra that it is out of the question for there is too much of a risk. Sabra explains to Tolo that her father, the former king, was assassinated four years ago by a malcontent alien. Verdian chimes in and tells the guests that the assassination is why they must remain vigilant. The populace loves Princess Sabra and she has gone to much effort to quell unruliness. However, out there in space are those who play by different rules, specifically some drug runners who are right now in the illicit trade in narcotic Hyrax. Tolo is surprised to hear that Hyrax is being illegally traded, as he heard that it is quite dangerous. In a superior tone, Verdian tells Tolo that they can never know what drives alien races to do what they do.
Princess Sabra tells Verdian that alien races can be quite interesting. She has met many different beings in the loyal worlds of the U.I.R., though she is tired and cannot wait to reach Kinshaa, her home. In fact, preparations are already being made on Kinshaa for her coronation ceremony where she will become queen. Verdian also adds that Sabra will be a ruler whose most prevalent duty will be to act as the official spokesperson of the Committee. A bitter Lenise eyes Verdian and mutters about how things are always about the Committee. Verdian tells Sabra that the Committee has dealt with non-human malcontents like the one who killed her father. Right now their main concern is the rising rate of piracy in space.
Upon hearing this, Tolo asks Verdian if he is referring to the ones called the Starjammers. Verdian confirms this and explains that they are mostly made out of and are led by the tree-like Thorns, though members of other races have joined their ranks. Verdian assures Sabra that they will protect her.
Eagerly, Tolo gets up and announces to Sabra that he will protect her too from any Thorn or pirate. Verdian tells Tolo that he need not worry, as their Union Defense Corps are the most efficient guard in the entire galaxy. He claps his hands and the double doors to the dining hall open. Two lines of guards dressed in the common black and blue uniforms of the U.D.C. march out. Tolo recognizes them as the Blackstars, who are the elite guard of the U.D.C. Mr. Hawk smiles and knows that his son will one day be a Blackstar.
The guards come to attention and Verdian once again announces that there is no need to fear the Starjammers. The Starjammers are the ones who should fear. Also, adds Verdian, he has something to show the princess, since they are almost at Kinshaa. He has arranged for a demonstration to display how the Blackstars will effectively combat the pirates.
The double doors open again and this time a Blackstar guard throws up a bound Thorn into the dining hall, much to the horror of all. As everyone looks on worried, Verdian looks upon the Thorn with a sinister face and explains that the alien was captured during a pirate raid. The wild Thorn calls all the humans scum and gets to his feet. Verdian Terce gets up and explains that they could have executed the Thorn easily, but felt that it was best that they display their superiority publicly. Sabra is taken back by the disgusting nature of the Thorn. A large Blackstar guard walks over to the Thorn and announces that it is time to make some firewood.
As the guard is about to kill the Thorn with his axe, the Thorn screams that he fights in the name of the Starjammers and Captain Kalyx. All watch on as the Thorn jumps into the air to avoid the fall of the battle-axe. The guard swings again and clips the Thorn’s shoulder. He then slams the Thorn’s head into the ground, but then Thorn kicks him in the face and wraps his tentacle-like tongue around the guard’s neck. The guard grabs the Thorn also by the neck, but the Thorn chocks the guard.
Realizing that he will die, the guard tells the other Blackstars to move onto phase two immediately. Three Blackstars rush up to the Thorn with blowtorches and set the poor creature aflame, as his captured Blackstar guard is freed and rushes away from the conflagration. Verdian Terce explains that, since the Thorn race is nothing more than ambulatory trees, they are weak to fire. As the dead Thorn burns to ashes, Verdian feels that he has made his point. He smiles and excuses himself to his cabin, as he has Committee business to deal with. Lenise gives Verdian a dirty look and tells Sabra that they should go back to their quarters.
Tolo is about to ask Verdian something, but the old man excuses himself again, as he is already late. Verdian navigates through the hallways of the royal ship, until he reaches his room. Inside, he goes to his computer console and realizes that he is late in getting his final instructions regarding the princess. He picks up a box off of the ledge of the computer console and opens it to reveal several seeds of Hyrax! He looks at the seeds and thinks of all the power, life and energy he has. That is more than mere humans could hope to have. Verdian swallows one seed and grabs the controller to his video console, as he has to contact Anazar Prime and the rest of the Committee.
The video console displays a muscular bald man clad in a purple robe. Anazar Prime announces to Verdian that all the Committee members have consumed the Hyrax, so now their thoughts are sharp and the transmission is clear. Anazar asks for a report from Verdian. Verdian, who seems to be growing horns from his forehead now, explains that he has escorted and observed Sabra and knows that she is like putty that can easily be manipulated for their purposes. She will not be a problem like her father. However, the lawyer and bodyguard, Lenise, keeps too close and is a problem. Anazar tells Verdian that they can always get rid of Lenise if needed through assassination of public disgrace. However, there are more pirate attacks on U.I.R. ships and more members of the lesser alien races are supporting them. In the princess’ name, the Committee has orders that the Corps unearth anyone supporting the Starjammers.
Verdian suggests that they orchestrate some attacks of genocide on the loyal planets to the U.I.R. to drive their point that the Starjammers are evil. They will discuss this in detail later. Anazar will be pleased to know that there are large cargo crates of Hyrax, obviously not on the ship manifest. Anazar is pleased and looks forward to the shipment of the drug. Suddenly, Tolo knocks on Verdian’s door and asks if they can discuss his future in the Corps if he has the time. No one responds and Tolo supposes that the man is already asleep. Sleep is probably something Tolo should be getting now too.
As the Kurnit Corona streaks across space with the comet not too far ahead, a warp in space suddenly opens behind the royal ship and out comes the Starjammer! On board, the personnel inform Captain Kalyx that the Corona’s sensors have not yet detected them, due to disruptions thanks to the comet. As the Starjammer gets dangerously close to the Corona, the crew gets ready to board and fight hand-to-hand. Captain Kalyx reminds them all that he wants the Hyrax intact and undamaged.
On board the Corona, the crew finally spots the Starjammer and sounds the alarms within the ship. Over the intercom, the captain orders all hands to get ready for battle. The Starjammer blasts the side of the Corona. Four of the Blackstar guards, all armed, run past Tolo, who ask if they are under attack. One guard informs him that the engines are out and the defensive arrays are down. Another, recognizing Tolo as a cadet, tells Tolo to arm himself. Tolo runs back to his room, where his father, who was preparing for bed, runs out and asks what is happening. Tolo explains that the Kurnit Corona is under attack by pirates. Tolo tells his father to stay in his room, where it is safe. More guards run by and one orders his comrades to get to the cargo bay, as that is where their defenses are the lowest.
In the cargo bay, Blackstar guards run around everywhere and prepare for battle. The guards stand with their guns trained on the hatch to the cargo bay. For moments, there is nothing and one guard nervously asks why the pirates are taking so long. Another guard realizes that the pirates are going to blow the hatch and orders his men to take cover. It is too late, though, as the hatch explodes and takes out several guards with it. Captain Kalyx, dressed in a typical purple and red pirate jacket, steps into the royal ship and greets the humans. He believes that they have something that belongs to him. The Blackstar leader tells Kalyx that he will never take the ship and then he orders his men to fire.
Thorns rush out of the Starjammer and into the Corona. Among the Thorns are two other aliens. One is a half-yellow humanoid, half cyborg man with a sword and long hair. The other is a large, green, amphibious man. The yellow man calls out to the green one, Ch’od, and jokes that they cannot let the Thorns have all the fun. Ch’od responds with a growl, as he slams some guards. Captain Kalyx orders the yellow man, Raza, to secure the Hyrax and to make sure no one is damaged. Raza complies and gathers a group to get to the cargo hold interior. As he slices a guard to death, he screams that it is time they take back what is theirs.
As the captain of the Corona sends out a distress call, the Thorns reach the cockpit and begin to pry open the doors. They succeed and the captain of the Corona realizes that it is too late for help, as he and his crew won’t be alive in a few moments.
Elsewhere, Tolo rummages through his room and pulls out his Corps-issued ceremonial pistol that he was supposed to use for drilling at the academy. It looks like he will be using it now. Tolo tells his father to stay put once again, but the man does not want to, as he can also shoot a blaster and, if he needs to, he can just punch the Thorns. Tolo argues that he can fight better if he does not have to worry about him, so he tells his father to lock the cabin door and barricade it. Mr. Hawk tells his son to be careful, as four enraged Thorns round the corner of the hallway. “I chose to sign up for the Cops, dad,” says an excited Tolo, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”