Prison planet Kr’kn:
Emperor Vulcan has the telepathic member of the Imperial Guard, Oracle, show him the most dangerous criminals they have here, as he intends to create a special version of the Imperial Guard.
The first candidate is a strange kind of symbiote the Shi’ar have never encountered before. D’ken wanted it studied but, after he died, it just remained locked away. It’s a monstrosity the warden adds disgustedly. It feeds on people; consumes their brains. Then, if it wants a fresh meal, it will do as he tells it, Vulcan decides. What else?
The next candidate is a survivor from the recent Uncreated invasion. Somehow it survived the mass suicide and was captured. When it awoke, the creature went mad, killing everyone it saw, wanting to know if they worshipped a god, so the Uncreated could find it and kill it. He thinks he can find a god for it to kill, Vulcan decides.
Next is the Pn’zo… They do not know if that is its race or name. They simply do not understand its abilities. What did it want? Vulcan asks. It… was robbing a bank.
Next up is the Hodinn? Oracle points out a Hodinn served with the guard previously before Cassandra Nova. But this one… it is mad. It just wants to burn. She’s saying that like it’s a bad thing, he remarks.
Oracle asks him please not to do this. These animals are imprisoned for a reason! They are the most dangerous creatures the Shi’ar have ever encountered… and kept alive. Is she scared of them.…? Vulcan asks. Yes, she admits. Then they’ll do, Vulcan decides and gives orders to open their cells.
That wasn’t so bad now, was it? he remarks a little later. Oracle reminds him that the Uncreated killed five of his soldiers. He didn’t take it personally, comes the reply. Everyone wants something, even this one, referring to the last candidate. Oracle tells him he cannot give her Kallark. Let him worry about Gladiator, comes the reply. Hello, Strontian, he remarks as he enters her cell. He is Vulcan. He is her emperor. The bald pointy-eared woman orders him to leave before she kills him. Cute, Vulcan muses. He knows who she is. He knows what she wants. And if she does as he says, he’ll give it to her. She starts looking at him with interest.
The Xalnar system:
In his quarters, the hero Kallark, better know as Gladiator, praetor of the Imperial Guard, sleeps. Is she sure about this? a telepathic voice asks someone. No, comes the reply. But he is their last hope. A gentle hand touches Kallark’s face and a voice calls him. Automatically, he snaps awake and holds the hand away from his face, to find the intruder is Lilanda.
She must speak with him, she tells him urgently. Why has she come here? he asks. She cannot surrender… Vulcan will kill her! She is not here to surrender, Lilandra replies.
She should not have come here, Kallark insists. She knows what he now must do. She knows it is not what he wants to do, Lilandra insists. She knows he is loyal to the throne and she knows why. But she begs him… Vulcan is not the throne. He is not Shi’ar! And he will lead the empire to disaster. If he truly cares about the empire…
Gladiators gets up, admitting he cannot think. If he ever cared about her… She presses closer to him and touches his face. About to kiss him she asks him to help. Help her find Havok and defeat Vulcan.
He turns away. If she knows why he serves the empire, then she knows why he cannot help her. Lilandra is silent for a moment, then asks if she has it. Confused, he whirls around. Rachel Grey, who telepathically kept herself hidden, appears. I got it, she announces. They are on Kr’kn.
Lilandra apologizes. But like him she does what she must for the empire’s survival. She puts on her spacesuit’s helmet. Rachel flies them out of the ship to the Starjammer. Gladiator tries to follow but, by the time he reaches the ship, it goes into warp.
Empress… he mutters.
Prison planet K’rkn:
They should just kill them, a Shi’ar guard announces to his fellow. The emperor says otherwise, another guard reminds him. Perhaps he intends for the Earthers to die of old age. How long do they live anyway? the first one wonders. It doesn’t matter, the second replies. Fourteen systems have fallen to the Shi’ar since Vulcan ascended as emperor. If he wants them alive, they’ll keep them alive.
A third guard comes, carrying the tray with Havok’s food. He shoves it through the slit on the ground, enabling some light to enter the cell. The next moment, a cosmic blast from within the cell levels the door and one guard. The door unguarded, Havok steps outside. Run! he orders the two Shi’ar left standing. Instead, the guards grab their weapons, figuring he has no power left. Finally, an excuse to kill him. Good choice, Havok replies and grins.
He evades their fire and pushes the one guard into the others, then quickly takes out the second. The only one left standing, he looks up at the camera.
On Chandilar, Deathbird welcomes back her husband Vulcan. Impatiently, he asks her why he is back. He has empires to crush. She reminds him that envoys from the remnants of the Galactic Council have come to see him. He needs to see them. This is important. Unexpectedly, he gives her a passionate kiss. If it’s important to her, he tells her with a smile, then he’ll meet with them.
The unaffiliated Clench worlds where the Starjammer has landed. The dockmaster warns the crew they have half the empire hunting them. Probably more now. And why does he aid them? Korvus asks. He’s not his emperor, comes the reply, she is, pointing at Lilandra.
Aboard the Starjammer, Rachel pets Cr’reee and asks if Lilandra knew about this Kr’kn place. There is nothing to know, Lilandra replies. It is an ocean world, only ever used for mining. Vulcan must have converted it into a prison.
There is a booming noise as Vulcan’s new and improved “Guard” teleports in, led by the female Strontian. She orders the others to spread out. Find the women! Kill them all.
Korvus apologizes in advance to the dockmaster and suggests he run. He draws the Phoenixblade as the Strontian flies towards him.
What the hell was that? Rachel asks, Phoenix energy crackling. She flies off even as Lilandra states they have to plan. A moment later, the Symbiote is aboard the Starjammer with her.
Outside, Korvus tries to deflect the Strontian’s heatvision, realizing she is like him. Say his name! she orders. Rachel smashes into her, ordering her to get away from Korvus.
Lilandra screams as she sees that inside the Symbiote is a Shi’ar who it feeds on. He begs her to kill him.
Sikorsky bioscans the Symbiote and finds that it appears to be sensitive to electricity.
As the symbiote reaches for Lilandra, she grabs an electric cable to drive it off, killing its host.
The P’nzo has Korvus down, figuring he can sell his sword after Korvus dies. He’ll have to kill him first! Korvus snarls as he frees himself.
The Uncreated attacks him next, screaming at him to recant. Where is his God? Where is his Phoenix? Get out of his head! Korvus moans.
Rachel wants to help him but is busy using her telekinesis to fend of the Strontian’s blows.
The Hodinn watches, then decides to burn it out. Burn it all. It begins to glow…
In Vulcan’s throne room, the ambassadors address him, telling him the remnants of the Galactic Council respect his position and acknowledge him as emperor of the Shi’ar. Uh-huh. Vulcan replies unimpressed. Now, what do they want?
The Rigelian explains that the known galaxies have suffered several crises of late, from the Annihiliation Wave to the conquest of the Kree… The Shi’ar’s lack of support during these events has the Council concerned. The Shi’ar Empire’s recent… expansion… goes against Lilandra Neramani’s agreements with the previous Council. They have come to give Vulcan an opportunity to explain himself.
And they feel he needs to explain himself to them? Vulcan asks mildly. The Kree announces Vulcan has overstepped his place. He conquered worlds known to be Kree allies.
Vulcan turns to Deathbird, who stands next to him, asking what’s with the robot that is standing in the background. It’s a recorder unit, she replies. Perfect, he decides.
Vulcan gets up. Perhaps he should have made his intentions clear to the Galactic Council from the start. This is how he views the Shi’ar role in universal affairs: With an energy blast he kills them all.
Gabriel, Deathbird stammers shocked. Vulcan turns to the robot recorder, which correctly states it is in jeopardy. Oh, he’s not going to destroy it, Vulcan assures it. He needs it to deliver a message. Go back and tell the Council that it is officially dissolved. Any interference or resistance to Shi’ar action will be met with similar… clarity.
The Clench worlds:
The Hodinn laughs as it detonates. Rachel drags Korvus away from the detonation and toward the Starjammer.
Inside, Sikorsky is fascinated by the Symbiote and its host but, on Lilandra’s order, he throws them out.
The Starjammer makes its getaway as the planet burns. This isn’t happening! Please tell her this isn’t happening again! Rachel shouts. How many millions of people just died because they were there? How many? She tries to get Korvus to awake, She needs him! She’s so sorry…
The other Guardians, however, are still alive. That was extreme, the P’nzo admits. The Hodinn is insane. Should they go get it? Leave it, the Strontian decides. The Hodinn is too dangerous. She asks the Godkiller where they went. The Uncreated explains that they saw into the mind of the Phoenix worshipper. Kr’kn.
On Kr’kn, Polaris awakes again and is ready to attack Vulcan the next moment. However, her rescuers are Havok, Raza and Ch’od. Relieved, she sinks into Alex’s arms.
Ch’od remarks that, while he supposes he’s is next for a passionate thank you, he suggests they get the &%$/ out of here. They are not leaving, Havok announces to their disbelief. Gabriel is going to come to them now. And this is where they are going to kill him.