A lush landscape - green grass, plenty of trees and busy and a clear blue lake. Several exotic alien animals frolic about, when suddenly, there is a flash of light and three mutants - Remy “Gambit” LeBeau, Joanna “Frenzy” Cargill and Magneto, the Master of Magnetism, fall from the sky and land on the grass below. ‘Okay, is this some kind of a joke? What did she do to us?’ Frenzy demands to know. Gambit explains that Rogue said she was doing a retrieval run - Havok, Polaris and Marvel Girl. ‘But she didn’t say from where’ Gambit adds. Looking up to the sky, and suggests that, in that case, they should ask “him”. Remy and Joanna look up and see what Magneto sees - a massive robot-like being standing over them, which says something in an alien language.
Meanwhile, at vector Spinward 30-175, a distance of 3.2 standard units. ‘I’m going to say this slowly, mammal, because I know that you’re listening. ‘Who - sent - you? And - how - did - you - find - us?’ a Shi’ar alien asks Rogue as he points a weapon at her. He is flanked by three others inside a space station. Rogue knows who the aliens are, and address the captain of the quartet as Sovel Redhand, telling him that she was not even looking for them. Looking at Rachel “Marvel Girl” Summers, who lies motionless on a slab, Rogue explains that she came for Rachel, and warns Sovel that for his sake, she better just be sleeping.
Sovel is surprised that Rogue knows him. ‘Sharra’s teeth! Glitter, this little animal knows me!’ he tells his female companion. His bald companion, Jat, announces that her name is Rogue, from Earth, the cycle before last. ‘Sentient holo-suite. Humiliating debacle. It’ll come back to you’ he tells Sovel. ‘Jat is right, Sovel. It’s her. Should I shoot her?’ Glitter asks. ‘Ah’d advise against it’ Rogue announces, before asking what is wrong with Marvel Girl and where the rest of the Starjammers are. ‘Wasn’t it the other one who wiped the floor with us? The one with the cards and the Louche charm?’ Sovel asks. ‘Mostly, yes’ Jat tells him. ‘In that case, I’m going to carry on using my steely voice’ Sovel remarks.
Sovel turns to Rogue and, calling her “mammal”, tells her to listen, and declares that he doesn’t have to explain himself to people who are further down the evolutionary tree than he. That’s the law of the spaceway’.He continues, announcing that there is no particular reason to kill Rogue, and that as long as she is alive, they can always use her as a decoy, or a live shield or some such. Sovel informs Rogue that for now she will stay with them, and he tells Glitter to point a gun at her in a threatening way. ‘Like this?’ Glitter asks as she aims the gun at Rogue’s head. ‘Exactly like that. Thank you’ Sovel replies, while Jat informs Sovel that he thinks they need to move on, as he has detected suspect energy readings two levels down and one click over.
‘Damn, They won’t give us a moment’s peace’ Sovel mutters, before asking someone to wake up Horse. Glitter announces that he is away, but in tertiary withdrawal. ‘We ran out of happy pills five cycles ago’ she explains. Glitter goes over to the multi-limbed alien and tells him to get up and that they are going to steal a ship. ‘Can’t’ Horse responds. Glitter tells him that he can, that he needs to just think about moving his arms and legs and that they will move. Jat puts some items into a sack and tells Rogue that she fell on her feet, that teleporting blind into a place like this, she is lucky it was them who found her. Rogue replies that it was not a blind jump, explaining that she zeroed in on Rachel across a couple of thousand light years. ‘Impressive telemetry. But the point stands. Compared to most of the locals…we’re all kinds of cute and cuddly’ Jat tells her.
At that moment, the large robot-like creature unleashes a blast from its head - a blast that strikes Frenzy. Magneto and Gambit are knocked aside, and Remy calls out to Magneto, who knows what he is going to say, and announces that it is non-ferrous, that there is not a single gram of iron in its construction, or in the blood of the pilot. Magneto announces that he is looking further a field, while Frenzy rushes past them after gathering herself, and calls out ‘Yeah, you do that. And in the meantime, LeBeau…why don’t you…deal a couple of poker hands into here?’ she calls out as she leaps up at the robot’s knee, and rips apart some of the armor casing. Gambit does as requested and fires several kinetically-charged playing cards at the armor, while pointing out that this will not shut down the shoulder cannon.
The cards explode upon impact and the robot falls to the ground, while Frenzy replies ‘No. It won’t. Just brings it down where I can get at it!’ she exclaims angrily. She dodges as the armor crashes down near her. Gambit remarks that it is out cold and announces that he thinks he is Shi’ar. ‘He’s a what?’ Frenzy asks, looking at the man inside the control-pod of the large armor. Gambit explains to Frenzy that the Shi’ar rule a large part of their galaxy - a large and distant part. Magneto announces that the metal he detected is very close by. ‘You need to see it’ he adds. Frenzy asks if they should wake the Shi’ar pilot up first and shake some answers out of him. ‘If you speak his language, by all means do so’ Magneto tells her.
Looking around, Gambit remarks that this is not wild woodland, that it is maintained. He points out that there are no weeds or moss, and no fallen trees. ‘That vibration -’ he begins. ‘Like engines?’ Magneto suggests. Gambit agrees, and Magneto declares that pushes them towards some interesting conclusions. Joanna reminds Magneto that he said he had something to show them. ‘Please, Ms Cargill. Have a little patience’ Magneto replies, before suggesting that, if they prefer, they could just look up. Gambit and Frenzy do so, and they discover a large glass rooftop over the woodland. In truth, they are aboard a large space station - which is moving towards a nearby massive, flaring sun.
Elsewhere, ‘Clear’ Jat calls out. ‘Let’s go!’ Sovel orders, as he, Glitter, Jat, Rogue and Horse, carrying Marvel Girl, make their way through an abandoned area. Rogue asks Jat where they are, and Jat reveals that they are aboard Gul Damar Station, the clammy, mottled underbelly of the Shi’ar Empire. ‘You heard they had a war, right?’ he asks. ‘Who did?’ Rogue enquires. Jat explains that the Shi’ar fought the Kree Imperium and got their feathers plucked. ‘Now everyone wants a piece of them. What price loyalty, huh?’ Jat adds, while Glitter tells him not to talk to the prisoner. ‘Is she a prisoner, Glitler? I didn’t get the data-burst’ Jat replies. Glitter informs him that anything Rogue needs to know Sovel will tell her. ‘And if she asks too many questions, I’ll zip her mouth up with flesh-seal’ Glitter warns.
‘Wow. Sounds more like she’s a full member of the crew’ Jat deadpans, before they come to another blockage in the abandoned area, and cannot continue. ‘What do you want to do?’ Glitter asks. Sovel orders Horse to go in and clear it and asks him not to raise too much dust, as this is his last clean uniform. Glitter suggests that this was set up as an ambush. ‘Probably Grad Non Holt workmanship’ she announces, and tells Horse to watch out for booby traps. Horse begins to reply that he is not stupid, when suddenly, an electrical charge surges through him. ‘Yeah, Grad Nan Holt. This is one of their ion grenades’ Horse mutters, holding up the small grenade. ‘I knew it! Vile little anthropods!’ Sovel exclaims, before telling Horse to throw it away from him.
‘Grad Nan Holt?’ Rogue asks. Jat explains that they are an insectoid race, vat-grown and used to do most of the scut work around here. He reveals that they have risen up against the Shi’ar and throw off the yolk of oppression. ‘So there’s some kind of rebellion going on? Is that why the Starjammers -’ Rogue begins, before there is a loud FWAASHH, and Horse shouts ‘OW! Pyro-bomb!’ as flames engulf him. Jat reminds Rogue that he just pilots the ship and explains that Sovel thought they could hit the mother lode here. ‘Defenses down. Plenty of tech to salvage. And everybody too busy killing each other to worry about us. Could have been sweet’
‘Could have been?’ Rogue asks. Jat explains that the local gravity went crazy as they were coming in, and they lost control. Glittler suddenly shouts something in Shi’ar and smacks Rogue over the head with a piece of scrap metal. ‘I said - no vrassing bedtime stories!’ Glitter reminds Jat. ‘You think she can help us?’ Glitter asks. ‘No’ Jat replies, top which Glitter asks him if he wants to get a little inter-species romance going. ‘I just -’ Jat begins, but Glitter interrupts him and shouts ‘Tell her nothing. You understand me? Nothing!’ Jat replies ‘Right’, before Horse calls out to Glitter and tells her to come and look. ‘It’s happening again!’ he announces, a brilliant light reflecting through a window of the space station.
‘Which one is it this time?’ someone asks as they gather at the large opening. ‘Xanthimi. Fifth from the sun’ someone else replies. ‘I mean, under normal circumstances’ they add. Glitter asks if it is uninhabited, and Jat replies that it has a population of one, he thinks - some crazy anaphract from the Do Sha sect. They stand and watch as the planet falls into the sun. ‘Well, I hope he’s up to date with his prayers. Because he just drifted into the solar corona’ Glitter exclaims. ‘This really is the last amen’ she adds, while Rogue stares in horror. ‘This is what happens when you mess with gravity, hatchlings. And in case you forgot, that’s us if we don’t move fast. So pick it up!’ Glitter orders.
Elsewhere, ‘So this is an orbital station of some kind’ Gambit remarks. ‘Exactly. And built on a truly heroic scale’ Magneto replies, before pointing out that the question is what brought his daughter and the others here, and why they were unable to leave again. ‘Probably couldn’t tear themselves away. I mean, look at the picturesque battle damage’ Frenzy mutters, before asking Magneto if he has a theory about that. Magneto replies that they have no facts on which to base a theory. A large hole in the floor enables Gambit to see the level below them, and he sees a number of insectoid aliens. He tells his companions that if they stay here, they may be able to acquire some facts.
The Grad Nan Holt warriors begin climbing the walls to get to the hole in the level above them, while speaking in their native alien language. Suddenly though, a Shi’ar vessel moves into the area. The Grad Nan Holt see the Shi’ar, and their attention turns from getting up to the level above them to the newly arrived Shi’ar. All of the aliens begin firing their weapons, and the Shi’ar vessel explodes. ‘Are we just going to watch this?’ Gambit asks. Frenzy tells him that if he can figure out who the good guys are, she would be more than happy to weigh in. ‘That’s what us X-Men do, right?’ she asks. The Grad Nan Holt move in and battle the Shi’ar warriors in close-combat now. One of the Grad Nan Holt yells something, and a Shi’ar warrior replies ‘No! Please! You don’t understand! I’m trying to save the -’, but he doesn’t get to finish his sentence.
‘This is turning into a massacre!’ Gambit exclaims, and announces that he is going in. But Frenzy tells him to “hold his horses”, and looking up at Magneto, suggests Gambit give him room to work. ‘Whatever this attach was meant to achieve, it’s over. Leave. Now’ Magneto commands as he uses his power to separate the two waring factions. One of the Grad Nan Holt walks over to him as he drops down to their level, and speaks to him in its native tongue. ‘You’re wasting your time. I don’t speak your language’ Magneto replies, adding that he is happy to speak again in his language. The alien mutters something, before it, and its fellows, walk away. ‘Now that, right there…that’s why I became an Acolyte!’ Frenzy announces.
At that moment, Rogue and the others have come to a lift tube, but Jat announces that it is dead. Glitter finds another, which is also damaged, and remarks that there is no damage to the induction circuitry, so she will see if she can divert some power into it. With Glitter busy, Rogue calls out to Jat, who turns to her and reminds her that he is not supposed to talk to her. Rogue replies that she knows, but that she wants to make sure she is getting this right. ‘We just watched a whole planet fall into the sun and get swallowed up. What could do that?’ Rogue asks. Jat explains that Gul Damar is powered by gravitic flux, so if the generator took some damage, this is what you would likely see. He adds that the sun’s gravity field is spiking and pulling everything in.
‘What about the Starjammers?’ Rogue asks. Jat replies that he doesn’t know, and explains that they picked up Marvel Girl because she measures a 9-tau-9 on the Kitna Psi-Scale. ‘No idea what she’s doing here, or where her friends are’ Jat adds. Rogue asks what the plan is now, and Jat explains that they are heading for the docking bays. ‘We got to steal a ship and get out of here before the whole system tanks into the sun’ he tells her. ‘Too day, really. Kind of a nasty way to -’ he begins, but Rogue begins to walk away. He calls out to her, asking her where she is going. ‘Something Ah got to do. Won’t take but a moment’ Rogue replies. Glitter announces that the power-divert that she made up should hold, and Sovel tells Horse to go up in the lift first. ‘Take out any guards and then give us a -’ Sovel begins, before Rogue punches him over. Rogue stands over Sovel, while Glitter holds her weapon to Rogue’s head. ‘That Shi’ar battle to the death thing y’all do. The Rite of Arin’nn Haelar. How’s it work exactly? Because Ah’m calling you out’ Rogue announces.
The Shi’ar approach Magneto and speak to him in their native language. ‘Yes. We understand you’ Magneto replies. ‘Excellent. Thank you for your assistance. You are loyal to the Shi’ar Imperium, and to the Majestor?’ one of the Shi’ar asks. Magneto explains that they are non-aligned in this struggle, and reveals that they are from Earth, Terra, and that any business they have here is unrelated to their conflict. ‘From Earth. I said as much, did I not?’ another Shi’ar officer remarks as he approaches them. He adds that Magneto’s origin might be the same as the others given that he has the same body plan and skin coloration. ‘The others? What others?’ Magneto asks.
The first Shi’ar officer replies that they saw some in the ranks of the Grad Nan Holt who were like Magneto. ‘Force wielders, most formidable, who have done terrible damage to this station and killed many’. Magneto remains calm asks he asks the Shi’ar to describe them.
Elsewhere in the space station, the Grad Nan Holt surround several Shi’ar warriors. ‘Please! You have to listen to me! I can repair the gravity modulator! I can save the station and -’ one of the Shi’ar calls out. Three figures stand before the Shi’ar and one of them tells the Shi’ar to pick themselves up. ‘You’re probably feeling really sorry for yourselves right about now’ Alex “Havok” Summers remarks. Plasma surges around his fists, and he is flanked by Korvus and Lorna “Polaris” Dane. ‘But believe me, sons and daughters of the Shi’ar…your troubles have barely started!’