Gul Damar Station, forty thousand light years from Earth. Inside K’ythri’s Highway, a conduct a hundred thousand miles long, with massive fluctuating local gravity fields. The X-Woman called Rogue and her companion Frenzy a.k.a. Joanna Cargill are being sucked upwards through the energy field. Rogue tells Frenzy that she cant take this, not unless she borrows some more of her power. ‘More?’ Joanna exclaims. ‘You mean…you took some already? I didn’t even notice’ she mutters, before frowning and telling Rogue to help herself, as the way things are going, they probably wont have time for a rest stop.
Elsewhere on the massive station, which is being pulled towards the sun, ‘My God! Look at it!’ Alex “Havok” Summers exclaims as he and the others stand in a loading bay and look out at the sun. ‘How come we’re not already burning up?’ Lorna “Polaris” Dane asks. Rachel Summers stands with the Shi’ar called Korcus, while Remy “Gambit” LeBeau stands on his own. Magneto, the Master of Magnetism, stands near the crew of the Boneyard Dog - Sovel Redhand, Glitter, Horse and Jat. Jat explains that with a station like this, the birdies - Shi’ar - build the shield generators first - and they are as big as a city. Glitter tells everyone not to kid themselves, for in aught point eight of a cycle, they will hit the solar corona, only, they won’t burn, they will sublime straight into superheated vapor.
Magneto declares that they must assume that Rogue will have reset the gravity array by that time, reversing their trajectory. ‘Oh yes. Let’s assume, by all means’ Korvus mutters, while Magneto states that the priority is to find a ship for the journey home. Turning to Havok, Magneto asks him about their vessel. Alex explains that they pancaked against the hull, as local gravity was already going haywire. ‘Look, I hate to get hung up on the details, Magneto, but who the hell made you an X-Man?’ Alex enquires. ‘Your brother. He saw fit to trust me’ Magneto replies, referring to Cyclops. This causes Havok to frown and tells Rachel to read Magneto, to see whether if that is true.
Rachel steps forward and tells Havok that so long as Magneto has his helmet on, she cannot get a clear reading. Lorna announces that she trusts Magneto, and asks why shouldn’t they, as he saved them. ‘Can I say something, about ships, I mean?’ Jat calls out, explaining that they are in Gul Damar’s freight station, so it stands to reason that their dockyard has to be nearby. He adds that it probably has a couple of hundred ships, real close to here. Gambit asks Jat if he knows the way, to which Jat replies that he used Dermware to download a map of the station, so he can find his way around. ‘Then lead. We’ll follow’ Gambit tells him. ‘So you’re fraternizing with mammals now’ Sovel declares as he approaches Jat. Jat asks ‘Why not? They’ve got warm blood. Four-chambered hearts. Lots to admire’, he adds that he wants to live, and calls Sovel his ex-captain. ‘It’s a cherished ambition of mine’ he declares. Sovel smiles and tells Jat that he is disappointed, and boasts that he sets his own sights a little higher.
Anti-spin ward 80/130. Distance of 17 standard units. Several Shi’ar commanders are meeting with the Janissaries of the Grad Nan Holt. ‘Such an auspicious day! Let the poets sing of it, and the sculptors set it in stone!’ one of the Shi’ar announces, before proclaiming peace between the Shi’ar and the Grad Nan Holt. He shakes the hand of one of the Grad Nan Holt, who replies ‘With honor on both sides, Commander Gemet. I salute you. And all your brave cohorts’. The Grad Nan Holt known as Friendless skulks around the room, while the Janissary tells the Commander that it is shaming they fought at all, some madness overtook them, blinding them to their own best interests.
‘And to the enemies that work against us both’ Friendless telepathically speaks into the mind of the Janissary, who then speaks those exact words to the Shi’ar. ’The terrans’ the Shi’ar announces. ’Aye, the terrans. Whatever may have passed between us, let’s agree to find and destroy those demons’ the Janissary suggests, and the Shi’ar commander agrees, before offering to show the Grad Nan Holt something which nobody outside the Imperium has ever seen before. Friendless stands behind the commander, and strokes the commander’s face, before the commander motions to the Anathema Vault, explaining that this is where they store the weapons banned from use in normal conflicts, but still available in times of direct emergency.
A Shi’ar officer races towards the commander, excusing himself, he points out that there is still the matter of their decaying orbit. ‘What?’ the commander asks. ‘We - we’re falling into the sun, Sir!’ The station’s very survival is threatened. We must act now!’ the officer declares, to which Friendless takes telepathic control of the commander, ‘Killing the terrans will save the station’ he states. The commander repeats that, and at Friendless’s order, adds that no loyal Shi’ar would question that. The commander decides that it follows then that the officer is not loyal, and orders others to take him into custody. ‘But, commander! Please!’ the officer pleads. ‘Kill him if he speaks again’ the commander orders. The door to the Anathema Vault opens, and the commander declares that they must not flinch from their duty, wherever it may take them.
‘Well, I guess this is the dockyard’ Jat mutters as he and the others arrive in the dock, to find several spaceships, all on fire. Jat adds that they are not the first to find it, while Gambit remarks that this is insane. ‘Why would they destroy their own ships? It’s mass suicide!’ he declares. Lorna looks around and points out that they were not responsible for their actions, any more than the Starjammers were. ‘They had a monkey on their backs. A high-functioning Grad Nan Holt telepath named -’ Lorna begins, before she is interrupted by Rachel who exclaims ‘Friendless?’ Havok asks if anything here is salvageable, to which Glitter tells him the only way to find out is to check them one by one.
Magneto raises a fist and releases a surge of magnetic power. ‘What are you doing?’ Glitter asks him, while Lorna also calls out to him. Magneto explains that a fluctuating magnetic field will induce a current in any circuitry still capable of operating. Magneto turns to Sovel Redhand and asks him if he has sensor equipment. Jat declares that Sovel doesn’t, be he does, and examining the equipment, announces that he is getting multiple pings, and motions in the direction. ‘Then let’s go. Every second counts!’ Gambit exclaims.
Jat and Glitter go and check out the ships, and they pass a Sylvari Freighter. Glitter announces that the hull is holes, but one of the engines looks to be intact], while Jat locates a Shi’ar scout ship, which is intact except for the wing assembly. ‘If Rogue fails? Maybe aught four of a cycle. Not long enough’ Glitter declares. Jat tells her to wash her mouth out, and remarks that he is Kree, that he is obsessive compulsive and has got so much Dermware he cannot scratch his armpit without blacking out major cities. ‘Watch me work’ he smiles as he touches one of the ships.
Vector 20/20 spin ward. Elevation 187,000 levels, inside K’ythi’s Highway. Rogue and Frenzy are pushed onwards, level after level, through the orange energy, until finally, they come to a sudden halt. Both women land on the floor, and Frenzy utters ‘Okay. Got you through the door. Your turn to -’, before she passes out. Rogue says nothing, just lies alongside her associate.
Back in the dockyard, Jat continues to manipulate the ship, ‘Talk to me, sweet thing. You know you want to’ he mutters. ‘Oh yeah! There it is! You tease! You want the full works, don’t you?’ he says to the spaceship, before informing Glitter that they are on here. ‘Give me a wing, I’ll give you a ship!’ he calls out, while Havok approaches the duo. ‘What’s he doing…does that count as engineering foreplay?’ Havok asks Glitter, who replies that she never asked, and is not about to start. ‘Listen, this housing, could you -?’ Glitter begins, to which Havok declares ‘Yeah. I could’ and releases a blast of plasma energy, tearing the housing open. ‘Nice’ Glitter tells him. ‘Thanks’ Alex replies. ‘Speaking of foreplay -’ Glitter begins. ‘Different species’ Havok quickly tells her. Glitter replies that she has broad tastes.
‘So are there still Sentinels on the lawn?’ Polaris asks Gambit. Remy tells Gambit that there are no more Sentinels, and no more lawn, for that matter. ‘Brin Helat, my love. What’s the matter?’ Korvus asks Rachel. Rachel looks up at him and replies that she doesn’t know. ‘I think…maybe I felt something back there. When we first came in here’ she explains. ‘“Something”?’ Korvus asks. ‘Someone, then. Another telepath. Him’ Rachel reveals. ‘Friendless?’ Korvus asks. ‘Maybe’ Rachel tells Korvus, but explains that it was just a stray thought, and when she homed in on it, there was nothing. ‘That could mean he sensed you too…and closed the door on you’ Korvus points out.
‘Yeah, it could’ Rachel agrees. Korvus grits his teeth and declares that Friendless is the scum who knocked Rachel out with a single-mind blast, hard enough so she didn’t wake up for days. ‘And turned the rest of us into brainwashed drones. If he’s out there -’ Korvus declares, before Rachel announces that if Friendless is out there, they need to know. ‘Okay. Watch my back, swordsman. I’ll go take a look-see’ Rachel announces as her astral form exits her body.
Inside the Anathema Vault, a massive tank-like vehicle resides. ‘Here! Set a three-quarter perimeter, Janissaries. Open to the front. No man is to pass spin ward of this machine!’ the commander announces. ‘You’re sure they’re here, commander?’ the Grad Nan Holt Janissary asks. The commander explains that their life readings are very different, so they are not hard to spot. ‘We have them in the shipyards, ten units spin ward’ the commander adds. ‘Ten units? Your weapon is effective at such a range?’ the Janissary enquires. The commander explains that it is a null cascade, a factory for anti-matter, and that it is effective at any range, including interplanetary. Rachel’s astral form enters the Anathema Vault, and hovers over the Shi’ar and Grad Nan Holt.
The commander announces that once it is activated, its own operation will provide all the power it needs. Standing before the tank-like vehicle, he adds that the more matter it encounters, the faster it will propagate, and by the time they see it coming, it will be upon them. Suddenly, ‘NO!’ Friendless shouts as he releases a psychic form of himself which attacks Rachel’s astral form. ‘You’d eavesdrop on my thoughts, human thing? The thoughts of a reader / sender!’ Rachel casually replies that the idea had crossed her mind. ‘Really? It will be the last idea to do so’ Friendless warns her.
Back in the dock, Korvus senses something wrong with Rachel. ‘Is it him?’ Korvus calls out, receiving no response. ‘Rachel?’ Korvus asks, while Rachel’s eyes roll back into her head.
Inside the Vault, the commander holds his hand to a scanner, and announces ‘Recognize hand, retina and voice’. ‘Recognized’ a computer states, while the commander boasts that he has rank and station enough to command, and he does. ‘Activate’ he orders. ‘Activated’ the computer replies, making a loud noise, as a glowing ball of energy appears, and an instant later, is a powerful stream of energy is released, bursting through the inner wall. ‘By the home nest!’ one of the Grad Nan Holt gasps. ‘Sharra have mercy on them. They’ll need it’ the commander declares, nervously.
Meantime, Frenzy has woken and attempts to rouse Rogue. ‘Come. Snap out of it!’ Frenzy declares. Rogue sits up and asks ‘We’re here? We made it?’ as she looks at a large computer system before her. ‘Yeah, we made it. And the sooner we make a start, the sooner we’re -’ Frenzy begins.
‘- finished! This circuitry is ready to dance! How’s the wing, Glitter?’ Jat exclaims, standing alongside the console. Glitter replies that the wing is disgusting, but will hold - for a parsec or two, if nobody leans on it. Havok announces that it is time to move, but Korvus picks up Rachel and explains that they can’t, as she is still in trance. ‘In trance? But what - what. The. Hell. Is. That?’ Havok gasps as he sees a blue energy pour through the dock pulsing towards he and the others. Sovel announces that it is an anti-matter cascade. ‘Which is?’ Havok enquires. ‘Which is as nasty as it sounds. I lost my first ship to one’ Sovel reveals, before declaring that is a long story. ‘And alas, I have no time to tell it. Goodbye…and good luck!’ Sovel exclaims as he suddenly vanishes. ‘Sovel!’ Glitter shouts, punching his disappearing form.
‘Bring the dials down to zero’ Rogue tells Frenzy as they tap away at the console. ‘There isn’t any zero. It’s written in alien’ Frenzy retorts. ‘Clockwise. All the way’ Rogue explains, before announcing that they have to recalibrate everything. ‘Different orbit, different set of equations’ Rogue declares, adding that if she is right, they can make themselves fall away from the sun at the same speed they are currently at. Suddenly, ‘No. You can’t!’ Sovel declares as he materializes in the room. ‘Redhand! What are you doing here?’ Rogue gasps. ‘Protecting my investment’ Sovel replies as he reaches for a weapon, and tells Rogue that he appreciates what she is doing, the hero thing, saving all those lives.
‘But business is business’ Sovel declares as he fires two bullets, one at Rogue and one at Frenzy, knocking both women backwards. Sovel takes the controls and declares that it is an amazing thing about the Da’atha class stations. ‘No! Don’t!’ Rogue calls out. ‘The entire gravity array can be floated free in an emergency’ Sovel reveals. He smiles and announces that it is worth about seven hundred million credits. ‘That’s amazing, too. It’s just like my sainted mother always used to say…if at first you don’t succeed…change the rules!’ Sovel declares as the gravity array section where he, Rogue and Frenzy are released from the rest of the space station!
At that moment, Havok, Polaris, Magneto, Gambit and the others run for their lives as the anti-matter cascade sweeps over them….