An unknown speaker begins his story of a certain incident that occurred in the far reaches of space. The incident in question occurred on Carpiax IV, a planet which is part of the Skrull Empire.
In the Skrull hatcheries, two skrull workers pick up a Skrull baby out of the egg from which it just emerged. Behind them, many workers also do the same and carry off the newborns. The two workers look at the child and Trl’k, in disgust, says that the child is another K-Class, a mutant Skrull. He tells his companion that there have been more mutant skrulls born ever since Lord Merrek began the fecundity-supplement program. Trl’k’s companion warns him not to let the Hatchwardens hear what he just said, or else he will be patrolling gaum.
The unknown speaker tells his audience there were a few “culls” as usual, even though Skrull science has been making great strides in genetic purity. Cleanup of the mutants was underway when something happened.
Inside a building, six baby skrull mutants are held in a stasis field. One worker is astonished that there are six mutants, which he calls a clutch record. The Skrull, Dakr’t, tells the other two workers to call in the purifiers. Three armed Skrulls come in and aim their guns at the six newborns. The third Skrull worker starts the countdown to lower the containment field when from above they are all attacked.
All look up to see a ship hovering overhead and five skrulls jumping down towards them. Their leader, Fiz, tells Nuro and R’tee to disarm the murderers. R’tee asks if he meant disembowel. Nuro stretches his body and punches a skrull in the face, while R’tee shoots acid into the face of another from his hand. The fourth skrull, Spunje, absorbs the blast from a skrull’s gun and shoots it back at the man. The final attacker, Z’cann, tells Spunje not to kill anyone and to remember their mission.
Fiz grows taller and grabs one of the three scientists, all the while agreeing with Z’cann. They may hate the “callous genetocrats,” but they will never sink to their level. Fiz orders Z’cann to attack. She does just that as she unleashes several psi-bolts, which put all the skrulls in the area harmlessly asleep. Fiz takes the field containing the six babies and the five of them are pulled back into the ship they came from as more skrull warriors come to fight them. Once in the ship, the skrulls are met by their mentor, Professor Charles Xavier, who congratulates them.
The speaker, a Skrull who wears a purple suit and yellow headpiece, tells his audience that the mutants were Cadre K. They are a band of rogue K-class mutants who should have been killed at birth. At one point in time, they would have hidden themselves from society, but now they disrupt Skrull society and its time-honored ways. The Skrull continues and says that he knows what changed them. Highly emotional, the skrull continues his story and says that Cadre K attacks and prevents the culling of the hatcheries, which keeps the Skrull race pure. They hide from Skrull justice and create secret colonies. They speak of rights for their kind. The renegades were encouraged to do this by a human.
The Skrull man stands in a large bowl shaped structure, which serves as a podium. The place is the intergalactically renowned council planet, Selandiar. Amassed in the room are representatives of the civilized races of no less than eight galaxies. They are the civilized cultures of space. All are in the council chamber, more than ten thousand of them ranging from Skrulls to Aakon, Stonians, Troyjans, Badoon, Rigellians, and Shi’ar. The building itself is a dome. In the center stands a taller podium for the leader of the council. Hanging off the ceiling is a cluster of orbs, which differ in color from red to yellow to orange. The ceiling itself is transparent, allowing all to see the empty void of space.
Ambassador Kreddik of the Skrull continues and calls humanity a menace. They interfere in other cultures from wars to simple trade. They created the Dark Phoenix, defied the Celestials, they respect no boundaries, no government, and no right of self-determination. Despite their lack of power and backward ways, they still force their will on their superiors over and over again. On the council leader podium, Empress Lilandra stands with her bodyguard and praetor of the Imperial Guard, Gladiator, as well as her personal aid, Avios. Lilandra interrupts Kreddik and tells him that his views are well known.
Shocked by Lilandra’s dismissal of the situation, the ambassador tells her that this is something that cannot be swept aside lightly. Human agents are working their will in Skrull territory and he calls that the council do something about it. Annoyed, Lilandra tells him that the council is an extraordinary and seldom convened one. While they do open the floor to anyone with concerns, it is not their primary concern today. Also, points out Lilandra, she cannot see how unrest in Skrull space affects the civilized universe as a whole. Ambassador Kreddik looks at Lilandra with an accusing look and tells her that maybe she chooses not to see Earth as a threat. Everyone present knows of her alliances with humans, but others also know the truth. Kreddik calls humanity an ongoing danger that is more dangerous than Galactus ever was.
From the audience, Ambassador Fayrelyte Strongheart of the Kymellia tells the council that humanity has been of great aid to his people in the past and they do not consider them a menace. An ambassador for the Troyjans dismisses the claim and calls for humanity’s extermination. Ambassador Kreddik takes advantage of the support and tells Lilandra that many races have met humanity and many have suffered. He then demands that the question be raised and be judged by M’ndavian Justice as he points to the orbs hanging from the ceiling.
Everyone in the hall gasps. M’ndavian Justice is considered the most perfect legal system in existence. The hanging Judgment Gems monitor the thoughts and emotions of all present and register their innermost beliefs. If all the gems turn white, then the decision of not guilty has been decided. However, if they all turn black, then a verdict of guilty has been chosen. It is invoked in only the weightiest of cases and cannot be appealed.
Lilandra’s eyes are wide open as she realizes how serious the situation has just become. She does not have a governmental role in the council, but a hegemonic one. She is the leader of the most powerful empire represented in the council, but her authority comes as much from respect as from power. If she does not take in the concerns of other races, they could ally against her. That is something not even the Shi’ar could withstand. They could defeat one hostile race, like they did the Kree, but more than one? After she thinks to herself, Lilandra addresses the council and agrees with the proposal. The matter will be discussed, but not without careful study. She turns to Avios and asks him to select a neutral party to prepare a full report so that it can be brought up at a later time and fully addressed.
Lilandra turns back to the council and tells them that they must turn their attention to the reason the council was convened. A new civilized race, a merchant race, has contacted the council and has petitioned for admission for the purposes of both trade and diplomacy. Lilandra continues and introduces the new race as the Ruul and points out that many of them have already met the Ruul. Out of respect, they visited Krylor with a group of artists and communicators, gave unknown technology to the Badoon, and showed Aakon scientists how to revitalize their depleted natural resources.
On a platform before Lilandra, three Ruul delegates are teleported in. Lilandra tells the audience that they petitioned to speak to the council and their petition was approved. The lead delegate of the Ruul introduces himself as Sintariis, High Kronaster of the Ruul, and thanks the council for allowing them to speak to them.
On behalf of the council, Lilandra welcomes the Ruul. Sintariis begins to introduce his fellow delegates when something catches Avios’ eye. He bends down to pick up a video monitor at the edge of the bowl podium and tells Empress Lilandra that she had better she it. Lilandra looks horrified at the image for a moment and then apologizes for having to interrupt the Kronaster, but something of grave importance has occurred. Lilandra calls upon Bartos of Krylor, and gives him her deepest sympathy, for his home planet of Krylor has been destroyed. Bartos and the rest of the delegation are shocked at what the empress just said.
Lilandra tells them that a distress call was beamed from space and picked up by a passing Taurian craft. She puts the video on screen. No sound comes from the video or from the delegates. The video shows the people of Krylor running for their lives. Giant tentacles come down and crush their cities. Energy blasts come down and crack the crust. The molten core erupts and the atmosphere boils away. The final image comes from a never to be known Krylorian, who, with his dying breathe, extends his camera’s view to space so all can see Krylor’s murderer; Ego, the Living Planet.
Next to Krylor is the monstrosity that is attacking the home planet of Bartos. While his eyes glow a deep red, Ego tells the planet of Krylor that he has now freed him of his chains and bids him awake. Suddenly, Ego’s mood switches to one of anger and he begins to call the now brown and barren planet unworthy like the others. Two beams of energy ensue from his eyes, which destroy the remains of Krylor. However, the Krylorians build – or built – the best recording devices. So even though the planet is gone, the camera still tracks Ego. Disappointed by the events, Ego starts to move again deep into space. He begins to talk to himself insanely and mutters that there must be others like him somewhere in the universe with self-awareness for life. As the camera finally breaks, the delegates hear Ego say he will find and awaken his brothers, or destroy them.
The delegates stand in horror silently until one delegate, in disbelief, says Ego is going to do this same act again. Confused, another delegate says that Ego will destroy their home worlds…until one wakes up? Lilandra calms down the delegates and reminds them that alone they are formidable, but together they are the strongest power the known universe has ever known. Lilandra then proclaims that Ego’s acts will not go unpunished. The council will band together and fight until they triumph.
However, Ego is not checked. In the following weeks, more and more planets die. Some of them were barren. Others, unfortunately, were radiant with life. One thing is for certain; wherever Ego goes, destruction and death follows. Back on Selandiar, the council continues their business. In the lounge floor, the delegates mingle and converse. Some say that they must meet Ego with force, while others say more intelligence must be gathered. No doubt, the mood is tense and some of the sentiments are dangerous.
A group of four delegates, including Ambassador Kreddik, discusses that the Shi’ar are not aggressive enough and it should be they who lead. A passing delegate hears this and tells his fellow delegates that they must stand together, for this is not a time to be fragmented. Another delegate grabs him by the neck and calls him a coward. A towering dragon-like alien stands over the delegates and tells them to cease, for there shall be no violence in the council building.
Bartos, one of the last Krylorians brings up the idea of contacting the humans. He mentions that there have been those in their number who have defeated Ego before. Ambassador Alberik of the Axi-tun is disgusted with the thought of crawling to humans. Two smaller delegates agree with him and say that humans are annoying and ugly, too. A green squid-like creature says it will be a black day before they call for help from Earth.
On a platform in the lounge, Empress Lilandra looks through the glass wall and into the council hall, where the Judgment Gems hang. The trial has not started, yet some of the gems have already turned black. Lilandra cannot help but think of her lover, Professor Charles Xavier. She wishes she could warn him, but knows that if she does she would be committing treason against the council and her people.
Gladiator interrupts Lilandra’s thoughts. He apologizes for intruding, but the Ruul delegates would like a word with her. She welcomes Sintariis and his fellow delegates. Sintariis tells Lilandra that he knows that she has a lot in mind with Ego and how to stop him. With that said, he offers whatever help the Ruul can. Lilandra thanks him and says that she will accept any help that comes.
Several days later, a massive contingent of ships streak towards Ego. The lead ship is Shi’ar. The captain on board gives orders to everyone to drop their cloaking fields and fire upon Ego. The ships do so, but do little damage to Ego. They do annoy him though, and in a matter of seconds he destroys all the ships. The survivors float around in space thanks to their pressure suits. Ego tells them that he will absorb them as a warning to anyone else who would dare attack him.
Suddenly, the Silver Surfer comes and tells Ego he will not kill anyone. Quickly, he picks up all the survivors and holds them together in a force field. The Surfer tells Ego he must take the survivors to safety, for their suits will not keep them alive forever. Before he leaves, the Surfer tells Ego to stop or else he will be forced to. Unimpressed by the Surfer’s words, Ego reminds him that he nearly destroyed the Surfer last time they met. The giant planet tells the Surfer not to interfere but, as the Surfer leaves with the survivors, he tells Ego that he will always interfere when justice demands it.
In the council hall, the delegate chosen to prepare a report on Earth speaks to the council. He begins by saying that humans involve themselves in galactic affairs anywhere and anytime, whenever they feel justified by their own societal standards. In that fact, the delegate continues, Ambassador Kreddik is correct. The report he put together bears that out. The ambassador continues and says that humans have entered wars between other cultures and ended them, overthrown governments, and intruded into delicate and dangerous cosmic situations. Sometimes, humanity or their allies interfere with good consequences and sometimes bad, but rarely do they follow any rules but those they set on themselves.
Gravely, the ambassador tells the delegation that, even now, humans and human allies are active in numerous places outside their home solar system. In Rigellian space, a group of self-styled Avengers, including terrans, a terran god, as well as others of the Sol-system, has chosen to interfere in the plans of the cosmic beings the Infinites. Near Vrellnex, the freebooters known as the Starjammers, led by a human, have raided slave markets of Golden Star, upsetting the economies of a dozen worlds. On six Skrull worlds, Cadre K continues to disrupt breeding procedures. In Shi’ar space, a terran sub-race called the Inhumans aid Ronan the Accuser and Kree rebels in defending rebel camps within the former Kree Empire from the Imperial Guard. Near the Xantarean Principalities, the Silver Surfer, who is a human ally, not only failed in defeating Ego, but also ruined the trap the council had set for Ego in the process.
The ambassador continues and the delegates begin to mutter amongst themselves. Lilandra looks at the Judgment Gems with a worried look as more gems start to turn black. Lilandra closes her eyes, for she has read the report and can no longer listen. She knew what kind of reaction would occur. The empress begins to think about the Time-Keepers, powerful beings who arose at the end of time itself and appointed themselves guardians of all of time. For their own reasons, they are keeping humanity’s influence beyond their own system to a minimum.
Few know of the Time-Keepers. Lilandra would not have known if it were not for breakthroughs in Shi’ar chronal research. She does not like the idea of revealing their existence to the council because it would cause too much fear, but it might be the one thing that can save Earth. For now, though, she says nothing.
A few days later, Lilandra tours the planet’s planetary defenses due to the fact that Ego’s rampage has been drawing him closer to Selandiar. An officer tells Lilandra that they have been bringing in Omni-cannons for the past week and are almost done with installation. Power cores are at 300%. They cannot maintain that forever, but it will last long enough. Lilandra thanks the officer and continues.
Lilandra continues and meets with Kronaster Sintariis. Sintariis tells her that he has nothing much to show as of yet, but the hope of the Ruul is to create a Psyche-Drone, which will allow them to attack the mind of Ego on the council’s behalf. Lilandra thanks him on behalf of the council. Sintariis tells Lilandra that she has more installations to inspect and that he does not want to keep her. Lilandra agrees and leaves with her guards.
As soon as she leaves, Sintariis mutters to himself that he thought she would never leave, because the prearranged contact time is almost upon him. A voice comes out of a speaker calling out to Sintariis. The Ruul tells the speaker on the other end that all is going well, but more pressure needs to be put on the council. The voice tells Sintariis that he is aware and more pressure will come quite soon.
Five days pass, then Ego comes. The largest moon of Selandiar is the first to go. Darkness falls on Selandiar at midday. The defenses open up and the force of them can be felt planet wide. Officer P’Kar comes to Lilandra’s quarters and tells her that the evacuation ships are ready, but the delegates refuse to leave. Lilandra is not surprised, because if any were the first to flee, their race would lose face. That is why even she cannot leave. Lilandra goes to the red view port and taps it to make it transparent. Outside, all one can see is Ego. He screams at the defenses and tells them that his business is with the one whom they encrusted and infect like a virus. Ego tells Selandiar to awaken.
Avios rushes into Lilandra’s room and tells her that the Imperial Guard has been recalled and is on their way. However, Ego’s rampage has made it difficult to maintain order and the guard is spread throughout the empire. Lilandra asks how long it will be before the guard returns. Avios tells her that it will take a day at least. Even Gladiator, who was sent to quell uprisings in Ansitar, is too far away. Lilandra realizes that the planet will be lost and she along with it. At that moment, though, something catches her attention. She orders the view port to zoom in on sector Delvas-triskell. Near Ego flies a ship with uncanny speed and grace. Lilandra utters only on name: Charles.
Everyone in the ship is silent. Nuro uses his powers to tap into nervous systems to link all of Cadre K to Spunje, who absorbs their reflexes and perception so he can pilot the craft with five times the speed he could normally manage. It is barely enough, but the ship lands safely on the surface of Ego. Professor Xavier and Cadre K exit the ship and step foot onto Ego. Xavier tells his students to move quickly, for they must find an opening into Ego soon. The planet is too shielded to affect his mind from outside. Spunje wonders if they can get inside before Ego notices, but it is too late.
Tentacles grab R’tee, who sends blasts off acid to cut himself free. Nuro stretches himself in front of Z’cann to block the chunks of rock flying at her. Fizz begins to grow and orders Z’cann behind him. R’tee wonders why they are risking their lives for those who wish them dead. Fizz picks up Z’cann and tells R’tee that that is exactly why they are doing this. Cadre K’s purpose is not only to save mutants but also to change the minds of Skrulls everywhere. They need to make them realize that the mutants among them are not monsters, but a valuable part of society. Professor Xavier says nothing; he just simply smiles.
Z’cann uses her telepathy and tells Fizz and the Professor that there is an opening into the interior not too far away. Below Fizz, Nuro and Spunje are attacked by humanoid creatures: the antibodies of Ego. Xavier tells the Cadre to fight free. More and more antibodies swarm around the group when the image of Ego’s face appears before them. Ego tells them that they cannot stop him and tells them that he will find another like himself.
Xavier sends out a telepathic probe into the Ego manifestation, but is immediately swept into a sea of madness. Xavier feels Ego’s last moments of coherent memories before being drawn into a living bio-verse. Following that memory are fragments of memory, distortion, terror, and the ultimate sensory overload until Ego finds himself free, but alone with a pain no sane mind could withstand.
Xavier tells his students that Ego cannot be reasoned with and orders them back. Fiz tells him that they will find a way to the opening. Z’cann realizes that the antibodies do not have fully formed minds, but there is enough for her to psi-shock them. Spunje begins to drain them to husks while Nuro fries their nervous systems. Nuro looks up into the sky in shock at what he sees. The Silver Surfer reassures Nuro and tells all of Cadre K that the he has come to help them. As the Surfer blasts several antibodies, the council watches with mixed emotions of hope and shame. Sintariis, however, only feels anticipation and tells himself that soon it will happen.
On Ego, the surface breaks open and a blast of energy hits Spunje, R’tee, and the Surfer. Nuro stretches himself across the chasm before R’tee and Spunje fall in. R’tee asks how they are supposed to defeat Ego when the ground itself won’t stay still. Fiz goes to help them, but a tower of land rises from the ground and hits him in the face.
Professor Xavier assesses the situation and realizes they cannot reach the interior without suffering a loss. He calls Z’cann to him. Fiz puts Z’cann by Xavier. The Professor tells her that they will have to try and attack Ego’s mind from where they are. He tells Z’cann they will need more psychic power, though, and it will take all his focus to gather it, which means she must be the one to reach into Ego’s mind and shut it down.
Though obviously scared, Z’cann says she will do it if the Professor thinks she can. She asks where he plans on getting all the power he speaks of. “Selandiar,” says Xavier. Without another word, Xavier reaches out across space to the minds on Selandiar, whether they are a diplomat, soldier, or scientist. He begins to harvest their psychic strength, but as he does he notices a dark ominous feeling. However, he has no time to scan the individual thoughts.
Xavier channels the energy to Z’cann, who senses more of the darkness, a danger to innocents, and she becomes sad. She moves those feelings to the side, because she has a job to finish. She shapes the energy into a lance and thrusts it into the opening, which slices right to the core. Ego screams out in pain. The Surfer flies up higher and uses his Power Cosmic to divide Ego’s attention, which makes him more susceptible to psychic power. While Cadre K and the Surfer battle, none of them see a ship rising over the horizon. The ship reaches its desired position and lets forth a blast of energy. The pain Ego feels is incredible. He howls one last time and unleashes a wave of pure psychic energy, which blasts Cadre K and the Surfer away. Then, Ego simply is overcome by darkness and blessed peace.
Some time later, Cadre K wakes up, still on Ego. R’tee gets up and sees Shi’ar ships heading towards them. Spunje picks up the unconscious Nuro and Fiz takes the unconscious Xavier back to their ship. Dumbfounded, Fiz mutters that they had saved all of them and cannot understand why they would still attack Cadre K. They reach the Warpwing when Fiz realizes that Z’cann is missing. Spunje tells him that there is no time and, if they go back for her, they will all be caught. As the ship takes off, Spunje promises Fiz that they will free her soon. As Shi’ar forces fire upon the shielded ship, the Warpwing speeds away.
The next day, the comatose Ego is already being towed out of the Selandiar system. After the events, the council demands immediate action regarding humanity. In the speaker area, the Troyjan delegates incite the other delegates to anger against humanity. One Troyjan asks if they will stand for humanity meddling in their affairs, to which the audience says no. He then asks if they will stand against their threat and the delegates chant yes. Above them all, more than half of the Judgment Gems have turned black.
Lilandra calms the Troyjans down and tells them that must not rush judgment until all who wish to speak do so. Ambassador Dibdeb of the Sneepers reminds the other delegates that it was the human and his allies who saved them all. Ambassador Basaltar of Stonus Six says it were the Ruul who saved them, not the human and the Skrulls.
Lilandra does not say anything. She thinks to herself that things have gotten worse and now the council is embarrassed at being partially in debt to Cadre K and the Silver Surfer. That won’t help Earth at all.
Ambassador Manat of the Badoon tells his fellow delegates that they must not forget the recent battle between the terran god, Thor, and the Sol-system born Thanos, which nearly destroyed all the cosmos.
Ambassador Kreddik of the Skrull asks what of Galactus, whom he calls one of the fundamental beings of the universe. He tells the others that it was humans that orchestrated his death. He then asks if the council will let them turn their power against them.
Speaker after speaker brings up more examples until Ambassador Wibbow of the Wobbow asks what reprisals the council faces if they move against Earth and fail. No one says anything.
Ambassador Alberik of the Axi-tun breaks the silence in an angry rage and asks if the council is full of terrified children who would rather cower than fight. Lilandra looks at the Judgment Gems, which continue to turn black. Lilandra thinks to herself that the delegates have a point. However, they do not know humanity like she does, but she cannot think of any way to make them see.
Lilandra tells the councilors that they must consider the matter from all angles. Lilandra reminds them that humanity is a young race and says that no matter who defeated Ego, Xavier and his Cadre K showed much valor.
Ambassador Nelet Pa of the Rigel brings up the point that if it were not for Thor, Ego would never have come forth from the Black Galaxy he was imprisoned in. Nelet Pa asks the machine, Recorder, if he is correct. Recorder confirms the Rigellians story.
Lilandra sighs and thinks to herself that it was the Rigellians who set Thor upon Ego, but realizes that it won’t matter for the council is in no mood to listen. Lilandra turns to Avios and tells him to bring in the Skrull prisoner. Z’cann is brought in and introduces herself to the council upon request from Lilandra. The Empress tells Z’cann to tell the council about Charles Xavier. Z’cann tells the delegates that Xavier is a great man and his dream is beautiful. He showed Cadre K that they do not have to be outcasts and gave them hope. Z’cann tells the council that they should listen to the Professor and to learn from him, but is met with stony silence.
Gladiator looks up and sees that almost all the Judgment Gems are black except two. Lilandra tells herself that she hoped it would not come to this, but she has no choice. She thinks to herself that the knowledge of the Time-Keepers will cause turmoil and unrest, but also knows it can save Charles and his people.
Lilandra raises her voice to gain the council’s attention when, suddenly, Avios whispers that she has to wait. Lilandra looks at him confused. Avios whispers to her that he has just received word from the Imperial Chronal Institute: the Time-Keepers are dead. Lilandra is shocked, but Avios goes on and tells her that they were murdered at the end of time itself by Kang the Conqueror, a human. “By…a human…?” mutters the distraught Lilandra.
With that, Lilandra looks up and without having to think about it, the last two Judgment Gems turn black. Lilandra quietly turns away. She loves Charles Xavier, but she cannot deny it any longer. Unchecked or unrestrained, humanity is a danger that must be dealt with at long last. Lilandra, under her breathe, tells Charles that she is sorry. She turns to the delegates and tells them that the decision has been reached. She adjourns the council until tomorrow, when they shall discuss appropriate action.
That night, Avios brings Kronaster Sintariis to Lilandra’s chambers. Sintariis apologizes for the intrusion but Lilandra tells him not to worry and asks about the important matters he wishes to discuss. Sintariis tells her that he knows she made a difficult decision today, but things don’t have to be as bleak as they appear. With a smile, Sintariis tells Lilandra that humanity does not have to be exterminated. “There is another way…” he says sinisterly.