Gul Damar Space Station, Ochre Radial, freight platform Ni’thurr, where right now, several X-Men are engaged in battle - with their friends the Starjammers, and countless members of the alien race the Grad Nan Holt are gathered in the freight platform. ‘It doesn’t have to be like this! Swear fealty to the Grad Nan Holt!’ Alexander “Alex” Summers, better known as Havok, declares as he blasts Joanna “Frenzy” Cargill with a surge of energy. ‘Accept their mercy!’ Alex shouts. ‘Man, you’re gonna hate yourself in the morning’ Frenzy mutters as she resists Havok’s awesome power. Frenzy manages to move closer to Havok, forcing through his power, until she reaches him. ‘Then again…you’re probably gonna be sleeping in late’ she tells him as she punches him in the face.
Nearby, Remy “Gambit” LeBeau is under attack by the Shi’ar warrior Korvus, and throws several kinetically-charged playing cards at him. Korvus falls backwards, and Gambit goes over to him, holding his staff at Korvus’s neck. ‘You think you can defeat us?’ Korvus shouts out. ‘On the best day of your life, homme’ Remy replies. Korvus tells Gambit to think again. ‘We are the armies of the righteous!’ he boasts. ‘You could exhaust yourself with slaughter…and still we would be more’ Korvus boasts, and suddenly, the countles Grad Nan Holt insect-like aliens pour from the arena-like seating they have been observing. Several of them knock Frenzy back, while Gambit is soon attacked also.
In the air above everyone else, the Master of Magnetism is doing battle with the Mistress of Magnetism. Magneto tells Lorna “Polaris” Dane - his daughter - that this is futile. ‘It’s my duty to the nest!’ Lorna calls back as their magnetic powers clash. Magneto tells Polaris that thousands will die on both sides if they go on fighting, and announces that he will lower his guard and asks that she does the same. Lorna does so, and Magneto tells her that they have to spike the Shi’ar guns, otherwise, the bulkhead wall will fall and this bay will be open to space. ‘Do you understand?’ he asks her. ‘Y-yes, father. I understand’ Lorna replies. But suddenly, she raises her magnetic power once more: ‘I understand you take me for a fool!’ Polaris exclaims as she blasts Magneto back across the freight dock.
Up above the dock, ‘Cease fire, sir?’ a Shi’ar officer asks his commander. ‘By no means, Lieutenant H’ral. We have that filth trapped down there!’ the commander replies. ‘And by the Holy Marriage, intend to finish the job!’ he boasts as he charges up the weapons, ready to fire on the Grad Nan Holt. The officer tells the commander to look at the walls, pointing out that the force shields are already down. ‘If we keep hitting them, they’re going to -’ he begins, before the commander informs his officer that he is relieved of his duty immediately, and fires a weapon at him, which strikes the lieutenant in the chest, knocking him back and leaving a smouldering wound. ‘Carry on, sir?’ another officer asks, barley looking at his fallen comrade. ‘Carry on’ the commander tells his gunner, before turning from the fallen lieutenant and ordering someone to clear up the mess.
More weapons fire blasts down from above, striking the Grad Nan Holt. ‘Hull breach!’ one of the aliens calls out. ‘We’re all going to die!’ another declares, when, suddenly, a voice cries out ‘No. You’re not. Not from this, anyway’. Rachel Summers declares as she appears with Rogue, and the crew of the Boneyard Dog - Sovel, Glitter, Horse and Jat. ‘All good, Rachel?’ Rogue calls out. ‘I wish’ Rachel replies, explaining that she can hold the hull together, but they have got to stop the guns. Glitter points out that they are Shi’ar, and that they are close. Rogue asks Glitter if she is sure, to which Glitter replies that they are using R’thil particle cannons, full aperture, and that revers means they are not properly anchored. ‘My boyfriend was a bombardier, and he let me play with him -’ Glitter begins, before Rogue interrupts her: ‘Ah guess you’re sure’ she remarks.
Rachel announces that Gambit and Magneto are both here, and that they are in the thick of fighting. ‘Havok and Lorna, too. But they’re under mind-control. Handle with care’ Rachel reveals. Rogue orders Glitter to find the guns and shut them down, to which Glitter asks her what she will be doing. Rogue announces that she is going to rendezvous with the X-Men. She points out that the clock is ticking on her teleport power that she borrowed. ‘Ah can’t hold on to it forever’. Glitter leads the crew of the Boneyard Dog down a corridor, and announces that the freight platform will give them some height, so they can find the Shi’ar. She asks Horse if he can work the hoist, but looking at the large red up arrow and the large blue down arrow, Horse asks ‘Which button means up?’ Glitter drowns and announces that she will work the hoist.
Rogue runs across the battle-torn dock and passes a Shi’ar officer lying on the ground, who calls out to her: ‘Wait! Don’t leave me! Don’t leave me here!’ Rogue goes over to him and tells him to take it easy, as they are going to stop the fighting, then his people can get him some help. ‘No! Listen to me! Please!’ the officer begs, blood covered, he tells Rogue that the gravity is wrong, that is why they are falling. He explains that the generator needs to be reset. ‘Field fluctuation should be within six-six-four…’ his voice trails off. Rogue looks around and asks if there is a medic here, or a healer, someone who knows field medicine. ‘Guess not’ she mutters as she turns back to the officer and points out that he is in a bad way, before asking his name. ‘Imstari. B’ket Imstarti. Am…am I dying?’ he replies. ‘Might could be’ Rogue tells him, before removing one of her gloves and mutters that she doesn’t know how to make room for him right now, but that he is going to leave a legacy.
Up above, Polaris and Magneto continue to battle, while on the freight deck, the Grad Nan Holt Janissaries are attempting to escape. ‘The Shi’ar guns are decimating our forces. Retreat to -’ one of them begins, only for another to telepathically command ‘Advance on the emery’. ‘Advance on the enemy’ the other Janissary announces, while the second telepathically asks to be sent to inspect the damage to the outer wall. One of the senior Grad Nan Holt calls out to the one called Friendless, and orders him to go an inspect the damage. ‘Yes, my lord. At once’ Friendless replies, while sprouting large claws from his back, he announces that he believes another alien may be among them, and he knows her mind, for he thought he had extinguished it. ‘This time I’ll melt her brain like hot wax. Then set it alight!’ he boasts.
Friendless lunges at Rachel, who tells him that she is holding the walls up. ‘That’s hard vacuum out there!’ she points out. But Friendless tosses Rachel about, and smacks her head against the wall. ‘I am Friendless. Of Ten-Red-Seed Nest. What are you?’ he asks her, looming over her. ‘Rachel Summers of Earth’ comes the reply. ‘A primitive. An animal, almost. And yet you stand after my mind-spear. That’s grotesque’ Friendless declares. Rachel replies that she will do more than stand, and reminds him that last time, he took her out before she even knew he was there. ‘This time…this time is different’ Rachel exclaims as she attacks Friendless with a psychic blast.
Shown in flashback images:
A female Grad Nan Holt is held down, a weapon aimed at her head, and another Grad Nan Holt stands over her, ‘…to rut with. And be fertilized by, a worker of the spindle nests, you are foulness, Iratha Zto. Your eggs will be smashed - except for this one. The reader/sender believes the embryo may be psi-capable’ the Grad Nan Holt announces.
Later, the same Grad Nan Holt enters a classroom with a young alien cowering behind him. He calls out to the teacher/assessor and announces that this hatchling was born outside of clan and sept. ‘Call him Friendless, and heap scorn upon him wherever possible’ ‘I will, enforcer/punisher’ the teacher replied. Soon, some of Friendless’s classmates hold him down, ‘Let it wear its old molted skin. Can’t make it smell any worse’ one of them remarks. ‘I’ve got the drippings from the bile-put. Let’s anoint him!’ another declares, bringing the bile towards Friendless.
Later still, two scientists inform the enforcer/punisher that Friendless has astonishing strength and range, and that the psi-meters don’t calibrate highly enough to measure him. Friendless taps away at a console, while the enforcer/punisher replies that Friendless is still an abomination, and orders him sent to one of the deep stations, Gul Damar, perhaps, as they need a reader/sender there.
En route to Gul Damar Station, a soldier tells Friendless that he won’t see the home-nest again. ‘Or does an abortion like you even care about your home-nest?’ the soldier asks.
Upon arrival at Gul Damar Station, Friendless was called a thing without a clan, and it was decided he would not be their reader/sender. He was to report to the message vaults, when suddenly, Friendless screamed ‘ENOUGH’. Fire surrounded him and he declares ‘You spit on me! Use me! Destroy my family, and cast me into servitude. Feed me poison. And expect me to thank you! Well, here are my thanks, worshipful masters!’ Friendless boasted, before the Grad Nan Holt informed him he can have access to the mainframes, and advise them when they sit in judgment. ‘The command space is open to you at all times’ another informed him.
‘It - it’s you! You made your own people wage war on the Shi’ar! Knowing it would destroy them!’ Rachel gasps. ‘Hoping it would destroy them’ Friendless corrects her, declaring that they deserve to be destroyed, but the Shi’ar were weaker and less organized than he expected. Friendless reveals that he has had to control the officers on both sides, and that it has been a little tiring, which is why Rachel survived the first time they met. ‘Okay. If you’re so damn smart…you hold up the wall!’ Rachel declares, releasing her hold on the hull. The vacuum sucks debris from the ship through the large hole, and Friendless soon follows. ‘Paltry, stick-limbed thing! I’ll rip you apart. I’ll spit in your brain you -’ he declares, before he is unable to speak in space.
Suddenly, ‘Magneto! What am I - what are we doing?’ Polaris asks. ‘We’re - on a battlefield’ Havok announces. Magneto tells Alex and Lorna that it doesn’t matter now, and asks Polaris to come with him while they seal that breach in the wall. He adds that Havok will watch their backs. ‘I don’t take orders from -’ Havok begins, but Magneto states that Havok will watch their backs, or else practice breathing without oxygen.
On the platform above the freight dock, the Boneyard Dog crew approach the Shi’ar officers. ‘Feel like making a fight of this?’ Horse asks. ‘In an internal freight bay? That would be insane’ the commander declares, before ordering all gunners to stand down at once, and motioning at Polaris and Magneto, he declares that he thinks those aliens are saving their lives.
Polaris hovers alongside Magneto, both drawing scrap metals towards the hull. Magneto tells his daughter to try to manipulate the iron at a molecular level, then to relax the atomic lattices to make it more malleable, as they need an airtight seal. Polaris replies that she thinks she can do that, and a short time later, the hull breach is sealed. ‘Enough. You did very well’ Magneto tells Lorna, who points out that he could have done it alone. She adds that she cannot believe through fought. ‘There was so much I wanted to say to you’ Lorna tells him. ‘In a calmer place and time, Lorna. And soon. I promise’ Magneto assures her, before they drop down to where Havok, Korvus, Gambit, Frenzy, Rogue, Rachel and the Boneyard Dog crew have gathered.
Gambit is pleased to see Rogue, before realizing that she is with the Shi’ar scrap metal merchants. ‘Rachel, you’re alive!’ Alex exclaims. ‘Of course she’s alive. That’s how we got our minds back’ Korvus points out. He goes over to Rachel and tells her that her soul is his shelter. Rachel replies that she clobbered the telepath who was sock-pupating him, butthat they are not free and clear yet. Frenzy watches Rachel and Korvus, while Korvus replies ‘You mean this war? It’s nor ours. It never was’, to which Rachel explains that it is not anybody’s war, that Friendless was simply playing both ends off against the middle. She adds that it is something she was reading from Rogue, so she should let her explain.
Everyone turns to Rogue, who announces that she is real happy to see them all again, and that this is the moment she has been working towards, getting them all together in one place, but the only trouble is, they are about ten minutes too late. Gambit asks Rogue what she means, and declares that they can leave the same way they came. Rogue apologizes and reveals that she took some memories on board, alien memories, and that it was not easy, as she had to let go of Legion’s teleportation powers to make room for them. ‘So, what, we’re trapped here? In the armpit of the universe?’ Frenzy demands, shaking a fist at Rogue, who replies ‘Pretty much’.
‘Why in hell would you do that? Are you functionally insane?’ Frenzy shouts. Rachel intervenes, and explains that Rogue did it to save lives. ‘Let her speak. If you threaten her - Frenzy? - you threaten me’ Rachel warns Joanna, who replies ‘Golly. That’s a terrifying prospect! And whose lives do we even care about here?’, to which Rogue explains that there are close to a billion people on this station, that it is as big as a planet, and it is falling into the sun. She adds that the station is being pulled by its own gravity generators after they got damaged in the fighting. ‘And the man whose mind you touched -’ Magneto asks, to which Rogue explains that he was a Shi’ar scientist, and that if she can get to those generators, she can reconfigure them and stop this from happening.
Rogue announces that the trouble is, the generators are about ten thousand miles from here, right at the top of the station, and they have an hour before they hit the sun’s corona and their shield’s fail. ‘Tragic, truly. If only there were something we could do’ Sovel exclaims, before pointing out that they cannot, so they should liberate a ship and bear witness to this terrible tragedy from the other side of the sky. ‘Gets my vote. Bo point crying over non-viable habitats’ Jat declares, before Rogue states that she thinks there is something they can do, but that she has to show them, as it is hard to describe. Everyone begins to follow Rogue, while Havok looks around at the bodies strewn throughout the deck and tells Gambit that he cannot believe they did this. ‘Your hands, someone else’s mind. Keep hold of that’ Gambit tells Havok.
Everyone soon arrives at another part of the station, and Rachel tells Rogue that she is not prying, but that there is some leakage from her mind. ‘Not surprising. It’s a bit crowded in there right now’ Rogue replies, to which Rachel remarks that Rogue cannot do what she is planning, for even if it works, it will kill her. ‘Might now. Ah just need a volunteer from the audience’ Rogue replies, motioning into the chamber, she explains that it is called Kythri’s Highway, and that everyone best keep their distance, as it is deadly. Standing around the edge of the chamber, everyone sees a bright orange energy which flows through the chamber. ‘Very impressive. But what is it?’ Sovel asks.
Rogue explains that it is a flux array, that it is basically an accumulator, that gravity in the shaft fluctuates from fifty to twenty thousand times Earth normal, and dynamos in the walls convert those variations into raw energy to power the station. Rogue announces that they could step into that stream and fall - straight up - at about a hundred times the speed of sound, right the generator itself. ‘But you’d be dead when you got there. Even the lower end of that scale is beyond human tolerance’ Magneto points out. ‘Ah know it’ Rogue replies, admitting that she wouldn’t last a second. ‘It would need someone -’ she begins. Before Frenzy interrupts, muttering that she thought they were short on time here, and that the answer is yes. ‘Tell me what needs doing’ she says to Rogue.
Rogue tells Joanna that it needs both of them, as the controls are configured for two operators. Rogue explains that she is hoping she can borrow some of Frenzy’s power, and leave her enough so they both survive, only, there is no way of knowing until they are in there. Gambit tells Rogue that there has got to be a better way around this, so Rogue replies that she is open to suggestions, but that they have got so little time. ‘Maybe you’ll think of something else once we’re in the pipe. But Ah think we’ve got to try this’ she states. Polaris and Gambit watch as Magneto touches Rogue’s face, assuring her that they will find a way to join her, and remarking that he wishes there were some way he could take this on himself.
‘Yeah, that’d be swell. But this is how it lies. Come and find us, Magnus. This elevator is one-way only’ Rogue replies. Suddenly, Sovel steps towards Rogue. ‘What is it?’ Rogue asks him. Sovel hands her a stun baton, in case there is someone up there who knows she is coming. ‘I have to look out for my captain’s welfare’ Sovel declares. Rogue takes Frenzy’s hand and tells her that it seems they are doing this a lot lately. ‘Don’t kid yourself. You’re not my type’ Frenzy replies, before asking if they jump, or what. ‘We just step into the flow…and let it take us’ Rogue replies as she and Frenzy step off the platform, and get sucked up in the flow of energy.
Vector spin ward 120/70. Distance of 14.8 standard units. Several Shi’ar officers are in a control room, when suddenly an alarm sounds. ‘What’s happening?’ one of the officer enquires. ‘Sir, that’s the vacuum alarm. Something’s opened the airlock from the outside’ an officer replies. ‘Impossible. Check the fail-safes and reengage the-’ the commanding officer begins, before stoping himself. ‘As you were, operator. It’s fine. It’s all fine’ he orders. ‘Yes, Sir’ the officer replies, while the commander tells him to seal the outer doors, and then cycle and open the lock. ‘Of course, Sir’ the officer replies. Suddenly, the door to the control room opens, and Friendless enters, telepathically declaring ‘Good day to you all. I am Friendless, your new master. This is what happens now…’.