Chapter 1 – Abandon Ship
Deathbird has just kidnapped Lilandra from the Starjammer ship, and while she point a gun at her younger sister, she orders her troups to open fire on the Starjammer. The crew perform as told and an officer announces that the awaited guests will soon arrive as they are only three teleport stations away. Momentarily distracted Deathbird receives a kick from her younger sister and she looses her weapon, and they starts to beat each other. Still Deathbird has other weapons and fires some quills from a wrist shooter and Lilandra has problems outmaneuvering them. Just as she is about to be hit, Sikorsky (who betrayed the team last issue) flies in the way and catches the needle with his body. Lilandra is startled by his actions and Deathbird laughes, the traitor has fulfilled his purpose and so she simply grabs the insectoid alien and throws him down a waste disposal shaft. Lilandra jumps after him as he has just saved her life. In the garbage deposit Sikorsky explains that when he last linked with the free galactic medical base, he was deliberately infected with a computer virus tobetray the team. Now the task fulfilled the virus is purged. Lilandra forgives him and starts to check the rubbish for anything useful in a fight against her sister.
For the whole time the Starjammer ship was under fire, but the team hurried into their cargo bay where some smaller ships are stored. Corsair boards a ship called Starskimmer and also the healing tank with Xavier inside is moved there, while the others pilot a few smaller ships. While the Starjammer ship takes all the hits, the team moves in on Deathbird’s craft and as they are close enough the switch off their cloaking devices. A firefights starts, the smaller Starjammer craft keep the other shipsbusy, while Corsair and Deathbird’s yacht are too close to each other to fight. Firing at the other ship would endanger their own. Corsair starts to negotiate and as a dign of good will Deathbird commands that her shields should be lowered (actually she does it since otherwise the awaited guests can not teleport in). Summers wants to starts about the hostage, and prepares to teleport Lilnadra back onto hius craft as he suddenly sees her on the video screen. She has made her way from the garbage bay and starts to fight her sister with some makeshift weapons, while shouting „Not yet, Corsair“ having guessed his rescue plan. The sisters fight, and Lilandra gains the upper hand as she thiws a canister filled with black liqid on Deathbird’s face. Temporarily blinded, she does not see that Lilandra pulls a knife and is about to kill her. Corsair watches on his screen as suddenly five members of the Imperial Guard teleport onto Deathbird’s ship, right behind Lilandra who does not see them. One of them is Zenith, a never before seen member, yet Raza is shocked to see him.
Chapter 2 – First Guard
Corsair teleports Liandra and Sikorsky out, while Binary flies over and melts a whole in the outer hull of Deathbird’s ship. Stripped of her revenge on her older sister, Lilandra is quite angry, and tempers flare, yet they all calm down alittle bit though still there is tension in the air. Corsair thinks about Binary’s “I’m more powerful than all of you together“ attitude, and Ch’Od and Cr+eee’s family mourn the apparent death of their furry little friend who was sucked into outer space last issue. The team decide to fly back to the damaged Starjammer.
On Deathbird’s ship, the Imperial Guardsmen Manta, Warstar, Zenith, Hussar and Quasar try to save the crew from decompression, but the damage is too big and cannot be repaired. Deathbird calls the five dsuperbeing to har and then activates a teleporter that brings them to the nearest place – the deserted Starjammer ship. The Empress orders the energy wilelder Zenith to jumpstart the ship as the rest search the computer banks for the parts of the Phalkon map that the team retrived last issue. Right now the Starjammers arrive ands enter their own ship, only to find it boarded. A fight starts between them and the Imperial Guard. Binary picks Zenith as sparring partner and blasts him through the hull taking the fight into outer space. The whole is automatically sealed by the ship’s self-repair pürogramms under Waldo’s command. Zenith tries to absorb her energies, but as she is linked to the unlimited potential off a white star, he leeches off more than he can handle. Binary even increases her energy output till Zenith is killed. Inside the battle goes on, and suddenly Cr+eee comes out of a hiding place and helps to distract the Guard members, who are then defeated. Yet too late, Deathbird has downloaded the information from the computers and teleports away, leaving her personal Guard behind. (the Guardsmen do not appear again in this issue, supposingly the Starjammers drop them off somewhere). Ch’od is happy to have his little friend back, the furry animal explains that when he was sucked out, the Starjammers extended a protective pod around him. The team checks their computer and discover that Deathbird not only copied the map, but she also destoyed the Starjammers computer files. How are they now supposed to get to the Phalkon ?
Chapter 3 – Space Race
Shortly afterwards Binary is in a special chamber and charges up the ship with her powers. Suddenly she feels that the ship soaks more than she wanted to give and she even reverts to Carol Danvers, but the ship is now at peek efficiency, and with all the stars arouns she will soon be back to full power too. The team wonders how to find the Phalkon and Lilandrasays that the cause is lost, even if they knew the direction, surely Deathbird has laid out some traps. This gives Corsair an idea. He orders the artifivial intelligence Waldo to switch off all shields and go into an ever widening circles course. Finally the ship hits one of Deathbird’s atermines. Now they know into which direction did not want the Starjammers to go ! Raza scans the starchards and deduces that only one possible destination lies in that direction – earth ! The ship is set on autopilot and the members spend some personal time.
Corsair and Hepzibah spend some quality time in their cabin, they anjoy their drinks and probably the inviting looking bed. Carol is not so eager to return to her native planet, also she feels that she is wasting her rtime with the Starjammers anway, at least she got a decent fight out of that guardsman Zenith. Upon hearing this Raza excuses himself and leaves. Sikorsky makes some repairs on Waldo. Ch’od is concerned and checks on Raza , who had locked himself in his quarter. Finally he explains that Zenith was his brother and it would have been his right to slay him, Ch’od is amazed, actually they always believed that raza had no family. In the medical bay lilandra checks on the Xavier’s tube that is held in stasis. All that the tube can do is preserve him, but Lilandra can no longher deny it – the telepath is dead. She opens the pod to topuch her lover’s body once more, but the door is lammed shut again by Corsair. Lilandra is angry, but Corsair tries to explain that he has a certain suspicion about the Phalkon, .. He can’t continue as the ship enters a dangerous zone and all crew members are needed at their stations.
Since they want to reach earth in time, the Starjammer has to fly a dangerous course with risky spacejumps. They can avoid an asteroid field and outmaneuver some attacking spacedragons and in the end catch up with Deathbird’s craft right as the reach earth’s orbit – yet the whole Shi’Ar armada is already waiting for them. Deathbird simply passes through and makes planetfall. The Starjammer hoever are fired on and the only solution is to clopak the ship and switch off the engine, to not reveal their location with an energy signature. Then the team gracefully navigates the ship through the Shi’Ar forces, by slowly controlling drift with manual control. Sometime later they too reach the surface and are able to track Deathbird’s ship in the North Atlantic. Strangely Deathbird and her crew are all lying around unconscious, in the middle they find a glowing cocoon. It seems that Deathbird already recoivered the Phalkon. The Starjammers check what is approch the glowing object and see a figure inside – Rachel Summers, Phoenix. So the Phalkon legend was refering to nothing else than the Phoenix Force ! Suddenly the other members of Excalibur phase in from another room and demand an explanation for their teammate’s kidnapping.
Chapter 4 – Free-For-All
Nightcrawler and Kitty think that the Starjammers and Lilandra belong to the unconscious crew that Excalibur just defeated and believe that the Shi’Ar learned of Rachel aquiring the Phoenix Force and now want to kill her like they intended to do with the original Phoenix (in Uncanny X-Men #137). Some of the Starjammers attempt to check out the energized woman in the metallic cocoon, which is perceived as an attack and soon both teams are battling each other by misunderstanding. Meggan shapeshifts into a form similar to Ch’od and Kurt and Raza are evenly matched in fighting with swords. Kitty thinks that Professor Xavier, last known to be with the team, might stop the senseless battle and attempts to airwalk into the Starjammer ship to search for right; yet she never reaches her goal, as the ship suddenly departs. Just as he was thinking it could not get any worse, Corsair become aware of the assembled Imperial Guard, that Deathbird called in, after she woke up during the fight.
Starjammers and Excalibur come to their senses and agree that to deal with nearly twenty Guardsmen they need to work on the same side. Each pick their opponents. Captain Britain knocks out Titan, who might be a giant, but still not as strong as Brian. Shadowcat manipulates Flashfire and Electron into electrocuting her from opposing sides, she phased out of harm so that the two Shi’Ar fried each other. Raza uses his swords on Blackthorn, but as a sentient form of plant life, he has no vital organs that can be damaged. Nightcrawler gets fooled by Hobgoblin, who impersonates Meggan and knocks Kurt out before he realizes his mistake. Above the two stongest superbeings – Binary and Gladiator engage each other and even Lockheed holds his own as his fiurebreathing can counteract Impulse’s optic beam. As the fighting goes on, more and more combatants are taken out. White Noise and Black Light use their abilities in synchronism to disorient Captain Britain, Kitty after causing Earthquake to faint by phasing though him, is suddenly attacked by an opponent who can match her intangibility. Astra knocks her out with a right punch. Cr+eee and his family all storm onto Nightside, who freaks out and looses control over her darkforce. It encases herself and Magique and Widget takes the opportunity to create a teleportation portal to send the pair away.
Over the atlantic floats X-Factor’s huge sentient ship and the team is training inside. Guided by Waldo, the Starjammer arrives and the two artificial intelligences chat with each other. X-factor are surprised as their craft suddenly departs with them inside. Waldoi has conviced ship to accompany him to earth’s orbit. The Shi’Ar armada scan the approaching ship and as it is of Celestial design, they freak out and hurry away.
Nobody noticed that Deathbird slipped away in the confusion. She reaches the machine where the unconscious Rachel is strapped and and begin to leech off her power. Lilandra gets aware of her sister’s intention and knocks her out from behind. Seeing this White Noise and Black Light rush to aid their „mother“, and as the Empress is injured, Gladiator orders his team to stop fighting. They all hurry away leaving the Starjammers and Excalibur behind. Phoenix is freed from the machine and seems unharmed, and finally Kitty can ask about Xavier’s condition. Corsair fills her in on the news of his death, yet as there still is some of Phoenix’s energy inside the leeching-machine, he has an idea ....
Months later the Starjammers are seen in a secret hideout on a planet at the outermost edge of Deathbird’s Empire. The are trying to start a rebellion, and they even meet a group willing to fight, still something special is needed to inspire the overall population. Corsair introduces them to “Bald Phoenix“. The energies in the machine were used to restore Xavier’s body and he even has some residual telekintic and enrgy powers that will soon wear off. Dressed in dark Phoenix’s costume the Starjammer and the rebels start a revolution, and as Phoenix is a knowbn force to harm the Shi’Ar Empire, many people believe that success might be possible and join.
On the Shi’Ar thronweworld Deathbird is informed by officer Tarq about the successful revolte, she thinks about a world to replace the just lost planet. Tarq suggest earth Deathbird whole-heartedly agrees “ Yes – earth ! earth will join my empire next ! “ Shortly afterwards Tarq is seen in his qurters, he informs an unknowen person that all went according to plan, Deathbird has setz her sight on earth. The dark ally cheers, he is a priest of a death cult following the dead mad god Thanos.