Operation Galactic Storm has ended, and the Cosmic Crusader has just said goodbye to his friend and mentor, Captain America. Cap waves as Wendell “Quasar” Vaughn takes flight, while thinking to himself that being an Avenger has been his dream since before he even became Quasar, but not even five minutes ago he resigned from active membership. He tells himself that he had to, for ever since he joined, he has had problems reconciling his responsibilities to Earth as an Avenger, and his responsibilities to the rest of the universe, as the appointed “Protector”. Quasar flies through the city, realizing that the Kree-Shi’ar war really drove home the issue of his divided loyalties. ‘Who knows – maybe if I’d figured out a way to be a better protector, I might have been able to nip the hostilities in the bud – before they threatened everyone on Earth and in the Kree Empire’ Wendell thinks to himself.
As the young hero flies towards Four Freedoms Plaza, he notices a traffic jam below, with an ambulance caught in the gridlock. He flies down and asks the ambulance officers where they are heading for. ‘Uh – St Vincent’s!’ one of them replies. Quasar offers to help them, and using his quantum bands, creates a quantum-magnet to pick the ambulance up out of the traffic jam, and shortly, sets it down at St Vincent’s. ‘Wow, man! Thanks! You probably saved that guy’s life!’ one of the ambulance officers calls out, referring to the patient in the back of the ambulance. Quasar takes flight, and thinks to himself ‘Yeah, one life, but as a Protector of the whole darn universe, I should be doing a whole lot more than that’. He knows that is why he is going away, for he may not have been able to prevent billions of Kree from dying, but he is not going to let anything like that happen again.
Soon, at Wendell’s Midtown office, Wendell has changed into work attire, including a long trenchcoat, and enters the office. ‘Wendell, E Vaughn! Howzit going, stranger?’ Ken Tanaka exclaims as he looks up from his workstation where he is drawing on some blueprints. ‘It’s going’ Wendell replies, before asking where everyone is. Ken explains that Kayla has called in sick for the last couple of days and HD went to check on her. ‘She did? That doesn’t sound like her’ Wendell remarks, before realizing that he is thinking of the old HD. Ken asks Wendell where he has been the past two weeks, to which Wendell replies ‘Chasing between a couple of galaxies trying to avert a war’. Ken asks if that he anything to do with the strange sunspot activity that was all over the news, to which Wendell replies that actually, it did, but that the sun is going to be fine, though. Wendell informs Ken that he is going to have to be leaving again, and that he is not sure when he will be back, as he has got a lot of business to take care of out in space. He enters his office, and asks tells Ken that it is going to be up to him to keep Vaughn Security Systems afloat – if he is up to it.
Ken rushes into Wendell’s office, ‘You’re kidding. Really?’ he asks, adding that since he won’t be using it all that much anymore, this office is now Ken’s. ‘Uh, say, boss...’ Ken begins. ‘I wish you wouldn’t call me that, Kenjiro’ Wendell replies, addressing Ken by his full name. Ken nervously asks Wendell if he still has that weird dimensional portal behind the bookcase. Wendell pulls the bookcase aside and taps his hand against the wall, telling Ken that it is all sealed shut. ‘Okay, I’ll take it!’ Ken declares, before telling Wendell that he is going to miss him, and calls him “boss”. ‘Not “boss” – partner’ Wendell smiles, adding that he will check in whenever he is in the solar system. As Wendell starts to leave, Ken tells him to be sure to call Kayla before he skips off, as he thinks she is really bummed out about that golden Amazon who has been hanging around Wendell. ‘Not that I think she’s faking being sick or anything’ Ken adds, while Wendell assures Ken that he will check in on Kayla as soon as he picks up a few things from his apartment.
Meantime, on Staten Island, New York, Police officers and Guardsmen have gathered around the Ballantine home, where a frightened Kayla, her brother Devon and her parents are standing on the driveway as one officer asks Kayla if she is sure that she has absolutely no idea why this “Angler” fellow attacked her. Kayla’s brother puts a jacket over his sister’s shoulders as she is only wearing underwear, and Kayla declares that she is telling the truth. Guardsmen have placed Angler on a stretcher with restraints and carry him away, as the officer asks Kayla if she has any idea what caused him to blow through the wall like he did. Kayla hangs her head and replies that she doesn’t, that his weird power must have backfired. The police officer assures Kayla that the Angler won’t be bothering her anymore, as the government armor-boys have him under wraps. ‘Yeah’ Kayla mutters. The officer announces that if they have any more questions, they will call.
The Ballantine family head back to their front door, as Kayla’s father asks her to tell him the truth – what did that freak want from her, and whether she knew him. ‘I told the police the truth, Daddy’ Kayla replies, adding that she saw him once in the building where she works, and she thinks that he has been following her, that’s all. Mr Ballantine frowns, ‘That blasted Fantastic Four building! I told you no good would come of you working there!’ he declares, before ordering Kayla to quit her job, as it isn’t safe there.
‘You understand me? Quit! Or you can just pack your –’ Mr Ballantine declares, but Kayla starts crying and rushes to the remains of her bedroom, ‘DADDEEEE!’ she screams and starts to pack a suitcase, deciding that she can’t live here anymore, and realizing that she should have moved out when she turned eighteen. Suddenly, the prim HD Steckley appears. ‘May I come in?’ HD asks. ‘HD!?’ Kayala gasps, surprised.
Kayla asks HD how she got past the police barricade, to which HD explains that she told the police that she was a friend, and they just let her through. ‘Really?’ Kayla asks, before HD notices that Kayla is packing, and asks her where she is going. Kayla replies that she doesn’t know yet, and HD informs her that she has a spare bedroom at her apartment. ‘You...wouldn’t mind?’ Kayla asks. HD assures her that she won’t, and adds that it will be fun to have a roommate.
Meanwhile, West End Avenue, Manhattan, Wendell climbs the stairs to his apartment and recalls how Ken said Mike has been making a mint with his messenger business. ‘Small wonder, considering he’s the fastest man on Earth’ Wendell thinks to himself, while hoping that his friend is home. He enters and finds Mike – a.k.a. Makkari reading a copy of the Daily Bugle with the headline, “Canadian Hero Reveals He’s Gay”. Wendell calls out to Makkari, who tells him ‘Long time no see. Out saving the universe without me again?’ the Eternal asks. ‘Trying, at any rate’ Wendell replies. They shake hands and Makkari tells Wendell that he missed him. ‘Same here’ Wendell replies, before telling Makkari that they are going to be missing each other some more, as he has to go back up to the High Frontier, and he just stopped by for a few things.
Wendell goes to his closet and starts to pack a bag, and an instant later, Makkari, in costume, speeds into Wendell’s room, asking ‘If I hadn’t happened to be here...you’d have skipped planet without saying “see ya”?’ he asks. ‘Well...’ Wendell begins. ‘Take me with you, Q-Man! I’m getting bored here on terra firma’ Makkari declares. Wendell explains that he is going to be gone for an indefinite period of time, to which Makkari replies ‘I’m an Eternal. What do I care about time?’ Quasar informs his friend that where he is going will not be pretty, as he is going to be surveying the aftermath of a devastating war. ‘Hey, I’ve been around. You think the battlefields of Troy were pretty?’ Makkari asks. ‘The reign of Vlad the Impaler? The Alamo?’ so Wendell gives in, ‘All right already’ he tells his friend. Switching to his costume, Wendell takes flight, with Makkari running alongside him on a quantum-treadmill, they take to the skies, and Quasar announces that he has to make one more stop – he has to say goodbye to Kayla.
Staten Island, Wendell has switched back to civilian clothing, and rings the door of the Ballantine home. ‘Who the %$&* are you?’ Mr Ballantine asks as he answers the door. ‘I’m a friend of your daughter, Sir. Her employer, actually – Wendell Vaughn’ Wendell explains. ‘She ain’t here. She moved’ Mr Ballantine replies, before slamming the door in Wendell’s face. ‘So that’s her Dad’ Wendell thinks to himself, before flying up to where the quantum-treadmill hovers, with Makkari sitting on it. ‘Well?’ Makkari asks. Wendell tells his friend that Kayla isn’t home, and that he thinks he made a bad first impression on her father. He adds that he can’t really delay too much longer, and he will have to go without seeing her. Suddenly, the enigmatic Her appears beside Quasar and Makkari. ‘you weren’t thinking of going anywhere without me?’ she smiles. ‘You, Her-ly Burly!’ Makkari calls out. ‘Who me?’ Wendell asks, adding that he knew she would track him down if he flew around long enough. ‘Is she going to buy it?’ Wendell asks himself.
The trio move swiftly towards space, while Quasar asks Her if she sin’t even curious as to where they are going. ‘As long as I’m with the finest individual the human species has produced, it doesn’t matter’ Her replies. ‘Let’s not forget Mr Finest’s fleet-footed friend!’ Makkari calls out. ‘Uh, yeah. Ahem. Anyway, our destination’s the Kree galaxy. I want to do some reconnaissance there’ Quasar announces, deciding that it is phase one in his attempt to figure out how to be a better Protector of the Universe, before telling his friends to prepare to quantum-jump.
A few minutes later, Quasar, Makkari and Her re-materialize in Kree space. Quasar remarks that he hopes Kayla’s okay, as he wishes he had the chance to talk to her. ‘But you do! I’m right here!’ Her exclaims. ‘No, Her – not you, I mean Kayla’ Quasar explains. ‘But you just said “A chance to talk to her”!’ Her reminds him. ‘Her. We’ve got to do something about your name’ Quasar announces, before adding that they have to shelve that discussion, as they are at the Kree homeworld – Hala. Her points out that the planetary ring appears to be composed of satellites, and Quasar explains that it is Hala’s “Star Wars” defense system. The satellites start to fire some weaponry at the trio, so Quasar places a quantum-shield around them all, and remarks that he could have sworn that the satellites were half destroyed less than a week ago, and now the ring appears to have repaired itself. ‘Won’t penetrate my quantum-bubble’ he assures his friends.
Soon, on the surface of Hala, ‘Yecch!’ Makkari utters as he, Wendell and Her examine the destruction of Hala and see the bodies lying scattered about. Quasar remarks that it is worse than he remembered, adding that this world is but one of thousands struck dead by the radiation of the Shi’ar Nega-Bomb. ‘What is our purpose in surveying this sordid spectacle?’ Her enquires. ‘See if there are any survivors...help them’ Quasar explains. ‘You mean we’re going to fly around the entire planet, looking for individuals to rescue from beneath rubble?’ Her asks as she flies alongside Quasar, while Makkari speeds across the ground beneath them. Quasar announces that he is hoping they will figure out something to do to help survivors on a worldwide scale, and suggests they check out the central government building first. ‘Why?’ Her asks. Quasar explains that he wants to take a look at the corpse of the ruler of the thousand world Kree Empire – the Supreme Intelligence.
They make their way to the Hall of Judgment in the destroyed Citadel, and find that the Supreme Intelligence’s corpse is not floating in his tank. Quasar supposes that someone must have removed him, which means they are survivors here. ‘Or...maybe he’s not really dead and he removed himself!’ Makkari suggests. Quasar explains that the Supreme Intelligence is not supposed to be able to exist outside of the tank. Her enquires as to what killed the Supreme Intelligence, and Quasar announces that a contingent of Avengers pulled the plug on his life support system, as they learned he was actually responsible for instigating the bomb that kill his own people. ‘That’s horrible!’ Her utters. ‘Yeah. Come on. Let’s go’ Quasar tells his friends, before realizing that his Quantum Bands are picking up something.
Indeed, as four beings descend upon Quasar, Makkari and Her – ‘Halt in the name of the Shi’ar Star Force!’ a muscular blue-skinned man booms. ‘The presence of aliens – as my sensors indicated!’ an armoured being exclaims, while Her utters ‘Who?’ as Quasar recognizes the female amongst the group as Deathbird. He quickly places a quantum-field around himself, Makkari and Her, while telling them that Deathbird is Shi’ar and the others are Kree – Korath, Shatterax and Ultimus. He tells the Star Force that he and his friends come in peace, and explains that he is Quasar. ‘One of the Avengers of Earth!’ Deathbird points out, while announcing that this area is under martial law. She instructs Quasar to drop his shield and surrender at once. Quasar informs Deathbird that he is not with the Avengers anymore, and that he is here on a mission of mercy.
‘You are trespassing in Shi’ar airspace in a restricted zone – a violation of Imperium law!’ Deathbird declares as she hovers over the quantum-field. ‘Now look, lady, I answer to a higher authority than you could imagine’ Quasar declares, while adding that he and his friends are here to find and assist the surviving Kree in any way they possibly can. ‘We do not need or want help from your kind, arrogant earthman!’ Deathbird declares, revealing that they have already gathered a handful or survivors themselves. Quasar tells her that he just wants to see them, while Deathbird warns him that he has until the count of three to drop his shield and surrender, or face the fury of the strongest beings in the galaxy. Deathbird begins to count down, and when Quasar doesn’t lower the quantum-bubble, she orders Korath, Ultimus and Shatterax to fire, which they do, aiming their energies at the quantum-bubble. ‘They imploded!’ one of the Star Force members exclaims. ‘Sucked into the vacuum’ another declares.
However, an instant later, still inside the quantum-bubble, Quasar, Makkari and Her appear back in space. ‘Smooth move, Q-Man! Quantum-jumping right out from under their noses’ Makkari declares. ‘Yeah’ Quasar replies, adding that he doesn’t usually do it in atmospheres because it rips a big hole in the air, but he wasn’t in the mood to tussle with those bozos, as he has had enough intergalactic sparring to last him for quite some time. Makkari asks Quasar what they will do next, as Quasar replies that there is about nine hundred and ninety nine other worlds to survey, so perhaps he can get his cosmic goddaughter to give him directions to the nearest one. He contacts Epoch over the Quantum Bands and tells her that he needs to know the location of the closes inhabited planet to Hala. Epoch immediately replies that it is Turanal, the fourth planet in the Pama System, before stating that even closer than that is a starship of planetoid size, and it is inhabited.
Shortly, Quasar and his friends quantum-jump to the location of the enormous starship. ‘Wow. Is that a Baroque-looking starship or what? It reminds me of a gothic cathedral’ Makkari remarks, while Quasar tells his friends that there is something vaguely familiar about it, that he thinks he has seen one before, as he starts to look for an airlock. And, soon, Quasar, Makkari and Her enter the sprawling starship, and stand before a tall, thin alien, who announces that it is an unexpected honor to have the Protector of the Universe here aboard the Mourning Star. Quasar addresses the alien as Fath and tells him that it is good to see him again. He adds that he can guess why Fath is here in the Kree Galaxy, and Fath states that it is a tragedy of unparalleled proportions. Quasar introduces Her and Makkari to Fath and explains that he is one of the heads of this sect called the Mourners, and that they met a few months ago when a funeral was held for his mentor, Eon.
Fath tells Quasar and the others that they would be honored to have them participate in their memorial service for the fallen Kree, that it is just about to commence. ‘Uh...sure. It’s the least we can do for the Kree’ Quasar replies, while thinking to himself ‘Not that I’m a big fan of the religious rigamarole’. Looking around the chamber they enter, Makkari turns to Quasar and asks him quietly ‘What’s with all these statutes of bug-eyed monsters?’ to which Quasar guesses they are shrines to extinct alien races. ‘Tres Necropolitan’ Makkari remarks, as they reach an arena, where members of the Mourners sit in the seats that spiral upwards, while one Mourner hovers in a beam of light at the center of the stadium, arms raised high. ‘You’re not officiating here, Fath?’ Quasar asks. Fath explains that this portion of the service is conducted by Wayopex the Interdite, as he is their empath. ‘Mr portion comes later’ Fath adds, while Quasar quietly asks ‘What is he doing?’ as Fath reveals that Wayopex communes with the souls of the dead, lets them know that they are honoring them.
Suddenly, ‘NOOOOO! They’re not dead – none of them!’ Wayopex shouts. ‘NOT DEAD!’ he booms, startling the rest of the cult, ‘A sacrilege!’ one of them exclaims as they look around. ‘Too many for him to assimilate’ another suggests. ‘Can this be true?’ someone asks, while another suggests that they get a new empath. ‘Wayopex has never failed us before’ another remarks. Quasar asks Fath what is going on, and what Wayopex meant by the Kree not being dead. ‘I saw tons of bodies’ he reveals. ‘It is the immortal soul he communes with, not its fragile envelope of flesh’ Fath explains. ‘I still don’t get it!’ Quasar declares, while Fath approaches Wayopex to question him, to see if there was not some channeling irregularity. Quasar realizes that this is way beyond his understanding – all this talk of souls and such. The young hero has seen a lot of cosmic stuff in his short time as Protector of the Universe, but he still hasn’t seen anything that makes him believe in any kind of true afterlife. ‘This whole thing is a well-meaninged mumbo-jumbo to me’.
Meantime, back on Earth, at Colorado’s federal penitentiary for superhuman criminals known as the Vault, two Guardsmen lead Angler down a corridor lined with cells, as one of them tells he villain that he doesn’t know how he “angled” his way out of here, but to not think that they are going to let it happen again. Angler utters something at the Guardsmen in an indecipherable language, but adds “yourself” on the end. ‘Ooh, I love being sworn at in alienese’ the other Guardsman jokes. ‘Heh-heeya-hee! Look who’s back!’ someone calls out from their cell. ‘Shut the face, Lansky!’ one of the Guardsmen orders, while they tell Angler that he is going to like his cell, as they made all sorts of improvements.
A punk-looking man leans against the wall in his cell, ‘Frass! Heard someone was coming and thought it was time for evening grub’ he thinks to himself, while a figure in the shadows approaches him from behind, ‘Jerome Meyers, alias Quagmire?’ the shadowy figure calls out. ‘Huh?’ Quagmire calls out, turning around,g he looks shocked as the figure in the shadows reveals ‘I am the one who liberated the Angler from his place of confinement. I could liberate you as well, if you would be willing to perform a simple task for me…’, so Quagmire tells the mysterious figure to keep speaking, as he is all ears.
Back aboard the Mourning Star, Quasar contacts Epoch and tells her that the word is that none of the Kree are really dead, or at least a couple hundred billions souls have been misplaced. He asks her if there is any way she can check on this sort of thing. Epoch’s infant-like face can be seen in the Quantum Band and she tells Quasar that she will try, before informing Quasar that she has something to tell him about his colleague, HD Steckely, and reveals that she is not Moondragon as Quasar suspected. ‘Moondragon is currently aboard a ship in -’ Epoch begins, but Quasar interrupts, ‘That’s fine, Eppy. Now check into this Kree thing, please’ Quasar declares.
Fath returns to Quasar and the others and reports that through meditation, Wayopex communicates with the zama - souls in terran terminology - of the recently deceased, and he was unable to make such contact this time, even though they are well within the time-frame in which such a communion is possible. Fath explains that this means the zama have not passed onto the Weavern, or realm of the after death, that something has waylaid them. Quasar asks if this happens often, to which Fath reports that in all the shulan of their existence it has never happened before. ‘As the universe’s protector could you help us?’ Fath asks. ‘Uh, well, it’s kind of our of my area of expertise’ Quasar replies, before his Quantum Bands light up - Epoch has news.
Epoch informs Quasar that there is an exceedingly powerful disturbance of an unidentifiable power fifty parsecs from his present location. Epoch offers to give quasar the celestial coordinates if he wishes. Quasar quickly tells Fath that he has to check something out, and asks him ot keep gathering information about the lost souls and he will see what he can do when he gets back. ‘Let’s roll, people’ Wendell calls out to Her and Makkari.
Minutes later, the trio have once again quantum-jumped, and re-appear in space, away from the Mourning Star, as Quasar tells his friends that this is the place. A large, bright light shines ahead of them as Makkari declares that must be the energy phenomenon. Quasar remarks that he wonders why Epoch said it was unidentifiable, as it looks like three stars in close proximity. ‘Dangerously unstable proximity, Quasar’ Her remarks, adding that a trinary system composed of three stellar masses of those apparent sizes, she has never seen one before. Wide-eyed, Quasar tells Her that she is right, but adds that on the other hand, his preliminary energy scan reveals no wavelengths of stellar energy emanating from it. He suggests they go in for a closer look.
Quasar flies forward, while Her follows him, and Makkari runs alongside them on the quantum-treadmill. ‘Challenging the unknown with the most gifted human being the species has produced…this is truly my calling…my destiny…my kismet’ Her thinks to herself, while Makkari tells thinks ‘Running head-on into hazardous space, dig it!’ However, as the trio reach the energy, Quasar gulps and tells his friends that he doesn’t think this is a trinary system, as a large cosmic being reveals itself - and it does not look happy….