Hepzibah and Captain Kalyx survey the damage to the Starjammer camp. As trees smolder, Hepzibah tells Kalyx that they will recover and somehow they will rebuild the base, with increased defense. However, she would enjoy wringing a neck or two of any Committee member. Kalyx, however, has sunk into a depression. The Grove of Elders is destroyed. The wisest among them are dead. The humans have taken their children. How will the Thorn race continue? The humans are barbarous and they have the audacity to call them pirates!
Nearby, Raza and Ch’od finish putting out the last fire. Raza looks around at what remains and admits that he will have to sift through several different languages to find a curse harsh enough to call the U.D.C. soldiers who did this. Centene, still freaking out, wonders how they can continue. How do they pay for all this? How many people are still alive?
Elsewhere, Tolo hangs his head in shame as he watches several Thorns use scrap wood as gravestones for the dead. Not long ago, Tolo hated these pirates. They killed his father, destroyed the Kurnit Corona and held him hostage. Now, he understands why they hate the Union of Intelligent Races. Princess Sabra cannot know what is going on in her name. The Committee is the true evil. They are using Hyrax to boost their strength. Everyone was told that Hyrax was a drug, but in truth it is actually the seed of a Thorn. To gain more power the Committee is eating children. In one point in time, Tolo wanted to nothing else but a member of the U.D.C. How can any member of the U.D.C. justify what has just happen?
Tolo walks back towards the Starjammer ship. These pirates couldn’t possibly be much of a threat to the Union of Intelligent Races with only one ship. A U.D.C. fleet would crush them. That doesn’t even take into account that the Starjammer is glitchy now. Thinking about that ion storm, Tolo enters the Starjammer and recalls how the ship has been acting weird ever since it was hit. The systems are quirky, damage repairing itself; even the systems rerouted their course to avoid meteoroids. It’s like the ship is haunted, or possibly it has a mind of its own since the storm. Tolo enters the cockpit and looks at the main computer screen in the ship. As he plays around with the controls, he speaks out loud that this was just more than a space storm and this is definitely not the doing of a ghost.
Suddenly, a voice confirms that he is not a ghost or a storm. Sparks of energy coalesce from the computer system and form the image of a humanoid, but made out of pure energy. The being introduces himself as K-zzat. Tolo introduces himself as well and informs K-zzat that he has been causing much trouble around here. He then asks the being what he is. K-zzat explains that he is an outlaw, much like the Starjammers. His people are the Zhynn, energy beings who study the universe by breaking down the bonds of matter. They destroy vessels, cities, even whole planets to liberate the energy within solid matter. When he discovered that even a creature of matter is sentient he called for the end of this murder. Instead, he was seized and sentenced to dispersal. His essence was broken down and beamed to the far reaches of space. However, a being of energy cannot be destroyed.
Instead, he drifted, holding himself together until he encountered the Starjammer. With the ship’s systems he has found a way to manifest himself in a corporeal form. He has now chosen to take the Starjammer as his new body and live in it. Tolo informs K-zzat that Captain Kalyx may not be happy to hear that. In fact, Ch’od would probably find a way to drain him out of the system. They are touchy about this ship. K-zzat explains that he does not wish to hurt them. Angry, Tolo tells K-zzat that when he first arrived he killed the crew aboard the two U.D.C. Vipers. K-zzat explains that it was unintentional. In his state then, he couldn’t control himself. He is aware of Tolo’s situation and understands that the group known as the Committee is after him. He can help.
A short while later, Tolo gathers Captain Kalyx, Hepzibah, Raza and Ch’od in the cockpit to introduce K-zzat. Tolo happily announces that he will be their secret weapon. Raza ponders this and is surprised that the Committee is so bad that even a creature like K-zzat sees it. K-zzat explains that injustice is constant in the universe. Beings are different, but the concept is the same. Tolo explains that Princess Sabra will stand up for them if she knows what is happening. The Committee will do whatever they want unless they get to her. Hepzibah is not so sure, and tells Tolo that he puts a lot of faith in the Princess. Kalyx agrees and points out that Sabra has been brainwashed. No one will believe them. Even if she does believe them, the Committee would most like kill her before she can help them. Somebody assassinated her father and blamed it on them.
Ch’od adds that the Princess is at the Union capital in Kinshaa. Her palace is surrounded by Blackstar guards and her Committee advisors. Raza concludes that since her grand coronation is only a few days away, the security will be tight. They can never break though and, if they catch them, the Committee will use them as a scapegoat for something or another. Tolo reminds the four about K-zzat. He is comprised of energy. He can be transmitted just like any other signal, just like how the Zhynn exiled him. Raza understands what Tolo means and asks if he wants to use K-zzat as an energy weapon to attack Kinshaa. No, says Tolo. Not a weapon. Instead, they will use him as an energy transmission; a message.
A few days later, the festivities for Princess Sabra’s coronation begin. Thousands of people arrive in Kinshaa to celebrate the occasion. Some believe that this will be the biggest spectacle the galaxy has ever seen. Other comment on how this should be more fun than the old king’s funeral. In her palace, Princess Sabra looks out the window as her five best make-up artists, hairdressers and gown designers put their finishing touches on her and her extravagant blue gown.
Sabra tells Anazar Prime that the crowd started gathering yesterday. She didn’t think this many people would come to support her. Anazar explains that the people are hungry for a strong leader. They want stability in the Union again. The acts of the Starjammers have made them all nervous. Sabra turns her attention to her servants and tells them not to make such a fuss over her. No one will see her from so far away. One of the designers tells Sabra that everything must be perfect. The hairdresser explains that her image will be projected across the Great Square and transmitted to all the U.I.R. planets. They cannot let a single skin pore show or allow an eyelash to be out of place. One of the gown designers, in his or her excitement, comments that this will be their finest hour. “Uh, I mean, your finest hour, princess!”
Anazar Prime heads to leave, but tells the Princess that he is going to double check security. An entire company of Blackstar guards will line the approach to the coronation throne, and several other Committee members will be on hand. She should have no worries, for she will be safe. After he leaves, Lenise comes out of the shadows and cracks her knuckles. She informs her princess that she will keep her most safe. She does not intend to leave her side for a second. Sabra tells Lenise that she worries too much.
Anazar Prime walks down to the Committee chambers, where the rest of his peers sit at their dining table, ready to consume a feast of Hyrax. Anazar informs them all that the Princess is almost ready and she suspects nothing. Every piece is in play, every operative in position, and the Blackstar guards are theirs. He then orders the others to consume a does of Hyrax before the grand events. Today the Committee will come out of the shadows and assume the real power they have craved all along. Princess Sabra will suspect nothing as she ascends to her throne. There is an energy mine attached to the bottom of her throne, which is programmed to detonate as soon as she is crowned. Arrangements have been made to have all evidence point to the Starjammers.
Some time later, the coronation begins. Princess Sabra begins her procession and the announcers tell the crowd that she will arrive to her thrown soon. As Sabra walks to her throne, she admits to Lenise that she is intimidated by the size of the crowd. At times like these, she misses her father more than ever. Lenise tells Sabra that she is doing fine. The people love her and she will make a great queen. As Sabra approaches her throne, one of the Committee members whispers to Anazar Prime that he received word that several of the perimeter satellites in orbit have blanked out, thanks to some sort of power surge. Are they under attack? Anazar dismisses the threat and tells his companion that Princess Sabra has only them to worry about.
Suddenly, all the electrical equipment in the area starts to short-circuit and emit energy. Terrified, Sabra asks what is happening. Lenise gets ready for battle and orders her princess to stay back. The crowd’s attention to drawn upward, however, as all the sparks meet in one spot to form an image. The image is that of Captain Kalyx, Tolo, Raza, Hepzibah and Ch’od. Kalyx demands to speak with the Princess and to all the members of the U.I.R.
Raza continues and explains that they have all been lied to. The Committee has labeled the Starjammers pirates in order to justify the slaughtering of innocent races. Tolo speaks up and informs the crowd that he was a cadet in the U.D.C. He once believed all that was said about the pirates. He witnessed them attack the Kurnit Corona and threaten Princess Sabra. However, he also saw the U.D.C. extermination squad obliterate a defenseless encampment. The soldiers filled their ships with Hyrax seeds, but not as contraband. They took it so the Committee could secretly consume it. Hyrax is supposedly an illegal drug, but the Committee is the largest consumer of it. Princess Sabra recognizes Tolo and reminds Lenise of him, but Lenise tells the princess not to listen to anything that the pirates say.
Kalyx explains that the soldiers have attacked their bases, burned their groves and killed thousands so they could harvest the Hyrax seeds. Hyrax seeds may be a power enhancing drug to humans, but they are actually unborn Thorn children! The Committee is eating Thorn children. What other choice did the Starjammers have but fight? K-zzat speaks up and adds that there is more. He detects a deadly device installed in the throne. Beings of matter could not stand the blast. Princess Sabra would have died at her coronation.
Lenise checks the throne and indeed there is an energy mine. K-zzat deactivates it. Lenise removes it and asks Anazar Prime to explain how the pirates installed a standard-issue Defense Corps mine on the throne? Kalyx continues on and explains that they have been blamed for the assassination of the old king. They are not responsible. Tolo adds that the Committee has had plenty of opportunities. Angered, Sabra asks Anazar if this is true. Has the Committee lied to them about the pirate raids? Did he kill her father? Lenise informs Sabra that they can verify this if they find stockpiles of Hyrax in the Committee’s chamber. Sabra demands an immediate investigation.
Anazar calls out to the people that this is all a Starjammer trick. He then orders the Blackstars to surround the Princess to “protect” her. He turns to the guard captain and quietly tells him to take the Princess out of sight and to make sure she doesn’t survive. The guards surround Lenise and Sabra and tell them not to make things difficult. Lenise scowls and asks the guards that if they are here to protect them, why doesn’t she feel so safe? She then takes on six guards by herself. In the crowd, four figures remove their robes to reveal their true identities: Ch’od, Tolo, Raza, and Hepzibah. Raza orders them to start fighting. Hepzibah attacks, but finds it unbelievable that a Starjammer would be fighting to save a human life. Ch’od reminds her that Corsair was a human, but Hepzibah tells him to leave Chris out of this.
In space, Captain Kalyx decides that he has waited long enough. He then brings the Starjammer down into the atmosphere and towards the royal palace, hoping the whole time that he was not wrong to trust Tolo. Tolo spots the Starjammer and orders the others to get on board. The Starjammer lands and Tolo tells the Princess to come with him or else she will die here. Sabra is hesitant, which prompts Hepzibah to tell her to make her decision now. Tolo extends his hand and tells Sabra that he is speaking the truth. She must trust him.
Lenise grabs Sabra and admits that she does not know if they can trust the Starjammers, but she is sure that they cannot trust the Committee. Sabra and Lenise board the Starjammer with the others and escape. Anazar Prime tells the other Committee members to get to the chambers beneath the palace. Since the Starjammers have Sabra and they can expose the Hyrax stockpile. They should also bring the Blackstar guards with them.
The Starjammer reaches the palace first. Down below, Ch’od breaks open the doors to the Committee’s chambers. Lenise informs the others that she has never been in the chambers herself and that the Committee would never tell anyone what happens in there. Once in the room, the group finds it filled with crates of Hyrax, which is proof enough for Tolo. Lenise agrees. Nobody can deny this now. Kalyx picks up some seeds and notices that they are ready to grow and become baby Thorns. Suddenly, Anazar Prime comes in with some Blackstar guards and accuses the Princess of being in league with the pirates. The penalty for this is death!
Sabra looks at Anazar with horror, but he tells her not to look so shocked. Sacrifices must be made to create stable government. There had to be a common enemy for everyone to unite against. In this case it was the pirates. Anazar picks up some seeds, but Kalyx desperately tells him not to consume them. Anazar ignores him and eats them anyway. He orders the Blackstar guards to kill them all. Later on, they can drag the bodies on the streets to satisfy the people. Tolo stands in front of his friends and tells the Blackstar guards not to shoot. They know that this is wrong. He was a cadet in the Corps. They all took an oath to never follow unjust orders! Lenise steps forward and reminds them that Anazar cannot legally give them orders anyway. Even if he could, they all just witnessed him consume an illegal drug, making him unfit for command. Angry, Sabra tells them to forget legality. She is their princess and they will lay down their arms!
Anazar orders the men to stop wasting time, but he is cut off as he is overcome by pain. Suddenly, a tree root grows out of his mouth and more rip out of his body. Kalyx smiles and recalls how those seeds were so close to germinating. Anazar’s body erupts with tree roots, as he is killed. Tolo smiles and realizes that the Hyrax has learned to fight back now that they are strong enough. Sabra confronts the soldiers once again and tells them that she hereby disbands the Committee. She will tell them one more time: lay down the weapons. Lenise cracks her knuckles and hopes she can have a word with the guards when they do so.
Later on, Sabra has the guards load the Hyrax seeds back onto the Starjammer. Raza tells the men that he will be counting every last seed to, so they better not leave one behind. Hepzibah mutters that she still does not trust the soldiers, but it matters little now. Sabra tells Tolo that, under her rule, the Union of Intelligent Races will truly be inclusive. Everyone will have equal protection under the law. Lenise agrees and tells Tolo that she will make sure that happens. Tolo admits that he wishes he could stay, but there is so much rebuilding that must be done at the Starjammer camp. However, he will return to Kinshaa as he promised his dad he would get a job in the Corps, and that is one promise he intends to keep. Sabra looks at the Thorn shoot growing out of Anazar and promises to take care of it until it has reached its mobile phase. They perhaps Tolo can come by personally to pick it up.
Some time later, the Starjammers return back to the camp, with many supplies courtesy of the Princess. Centene is relieved to see so much food and supplies. He then realizes that this will take a lot of effort to keep track of and thus freaks out once again. Hepzibah admits that the princess was generous, but there is much building to be done. Tolo informs Hepzibah that he studied engineering to prepare for his Corp exams. He can help with the building, the water and the power generators. Elsewhere, the Thorns plant the thousands of Hyrax seeds into the ground to replenish their race. Tolo then wonders where Captain Kalyx is. Hepzibah informs him that he went to the Grove of Elders, alone.
In the Grove of Elders, Kalyx tells himself that he is old and weary. Now he is the eldest of the Thorns. He has lived a life of adventure and accomplishment, but now he must come back to his home soil. He will rest and grow and become at last a Great Tree. With that said, Kalyx settles his roots into the ground and begins to grow to mammoth proportions until finally he is as tall as the deceased Elders!
Some time later, Tolo meets with Hepzibah, Raza, and Ch’od and tells them that the will be fine at the camp. Princess Sabra is sending Corps engineers to help rebuild the camp. Hepzibah pats Tolo and admits that he isn’t bad for a human. Raza tells Tolo that he will miss him a little bit. He plans on being busy, though, so he probably won’t miss him any more than that. The three board the Starjammer and take one look back at Tolo and the camp.
Tolo reminds Raza that the Thorns need a spokesman and he is more apart of their camp than he is. Are they sure they have to leave? Raza reveals to Tolo that the three of them were there by accident. With the help of K-zzat, they finally have a chance to do what they couldn’t do before. They can finally find their home again and the people they left behind - if they are still alive. Raza says goodbye to Tolo and wishes him luck.
As K-zzat starts the Starjammer and flies off, Tolo watches them go. “Good luck, Starjammers,” says Tolo, “It’s a big galaxy out there.”