The all-out battle for control of the Shi'ar Empire begins here! The X-Men team-up with the Starjammers for a rescue mission that could mean everything for the future of the Shi'ar Empire! Meanwhile, Darwin and Xavier are trapped in the clutches of the enemy!
(the foldspace: an undimension woven through space and time)
The X-Men have to travel through Shi’ar space quickly, and Korvus has provided them with the ability to do so. Polaris focuses her power on keeping the jump engines of their ship intact, as Marvel Girl, Havok and Korvus, using the enigmatic Blade of the Phoenix, power them. As she uses her power, Lorna wishes that she understood the full extent of the changes Apocalypse and his people made to her.
Alex tries to offer her some of his own confidence as she maintains her hold on the engines. Korvus undermines that confidence a little by telling them that they should have been through the other side by now. From the bridge, James Proudstar asks Havok what’s going on. He replies that they’re doing their best, and he should be ready to send the message when they hit open space. Alex doesn’t have much left to give, and Korvus informs him that his blade is severely depleted as well.
Kurt looks out of the window and notices that the blur is transforming into the normal blackness of space. They’ve made it. He asks if everyone is all right in the engine bay. The engine sparks, almost broken as Korvus, Rachel, Alex and Lorna collapse on the floor, their energy drained from their bodies. Kurt wants to go check on them, but James tells him that someone is responding to their message already.
Corsair’s face appears on the monitor, and he asks who the hell is calling. He orders them to identify their ship or face it being sent into the sun. Kurt replies, and both he and Warpath appear as a hologram on the Starjammer’s craft. Corsair thought it was a Shi’ar trick, and he is pleased to see them. He asks if Alex is with them, and they reply that he is, though momentarily incapacitated. “Damn it all to hell,” replies Corsair. “Why are you here now when everything’s falling apart?”
Soon, Kurt and James are on board the Starjammer. Crewmen work on the ship as they take a walk with Corsair and Hepzibah. Corsair informs them that Raza and Ch’od should have the engines overhauled in a few hours. They’re pretty torn up from their improvisational power charge. They’re luck to have made the jump at all. Kurt, clinging to the wall, replies that it was luck that was needed, which is why they risked it. Corsair then assures them that, according to Sikorsky, Alex and the others are fine. They just need rest.
James says that it’s good to hear. He looks around the ship at the crewmen and tells Corsair that it looks like they are preparing for war. Corsair replies that they are. Word leaked out that Lilandra has been taken captive by Chancellor Araki. It’s a coup. Kurt feels that they are too late, but Corsair replies that it’s not too late just yet. Rumor has it that Deathbird is back. He refuses to let her take Lilandra down and turn the empire back into a nightmare.
James asks Hepzibah what the plan is. “We going to blow little birdies right out of the stars,” is her confident response. James asks if they have that kind of firepower. Corsair tells them that they have enough for what they have planned. However, the odds look better with their little ship lending a hand. The group approaches a table where Corsair displays holograms depicting the Shi’ar’s transport ship. Lilandra has been transported to this Armada where she is to be tried for treason and executed. It’s likely to be the same place they are holding Xavier. He points at a part of the ship, and explains that they will strike them in transit, get Lilandra out and jump away before reinforcements arrive. Hepzibah adds that they will also get logs with locations of the Armada, so they know where to hit them next. James likes her style.
Kurt rubs his chin as he looks at the ship. He realizes that this will give them the best chance of rescuing the professor and Darwin. Corsair says that Lilandra will be the key to saving them. She hasn’t been herself since their marriage was annulled, but if the council made a move on her, then it must mean that they can’t control her anymore. That means she is dangerous to them. “Especially if she knows they have Charles,” adds Kurt. Corsair wonders why Charles would risk coming back. He doesn’t understand his thinking. He knew it meant death if he was captured. Before Kurt can respond, Alex appears and a concerned Corsair tells him that he shouldn’t be out of sickbay yet. Alex says that they have to talk… in private.
(Shi’ar High Council Star Carrier)
Two burly guards drag Charles Xavier’s battered body along a corridor and toss him into a cell. They can’t believe someone like him once mated with an empress. They activate laser beams to prevent him from escaping. Unknown to them, Darwin is stretched out across the ceiling, and he hears them say that they will both be on security detail for the chancellor’s speech that evening.
Once they have walked away, Darwin drops to the ground and presses a finger against one of the beams. It hurts, but as he adapts, he then simply walks through the beams unaffected. He bends down and asks Charles if he is all right. Charles groans, unable to form a sentence. Darwin wonders what they’ve done to him, and how they’re going to get him out of this.
Back on the Starjammer, Alex and Corsair have a long overdue conversation. Alex informs his father that his third son, Vulcan, survived after all. Corsair can’t believe it. He thought his son dead at the hands of D’Ken. He damns D’Ken, and hopes that whatever catatonic state he’s in is a living hell. He thought he’d lost everything that day. He thought all his sons were dead. He can’t find the words, and instead sips a drink. He turns to Alex and tells him that they have to find him. They have to fix it. Alex doesn’t know if they’ll be able to. Vulcan has killed a lot of people, on Earth and in Shi’ar space. Corsair doesn’t care. He pours himself another drink and informs Alex that they’re going to fix this one way or another. He’s lost too much already.
Lilandra is in custody, and guarded by just the one guard in her quarters. A captain is visiting her, and he tells Lilandra that he requested this mission. He wanted to be the one who delivered her to justice. “Do you know why?” he asks. Lilandra asks rhetorically if it’s because he is a coward and a traitor. The captain raises his hand, but is stopped from striking by the guard who reminds him of the chancellor’s orders. No one lays a hand on the empress. The captain asks Lilandra how she dares to question any Shi’ar’s loyalty. His wife died because of her betrayal.
Before he can elaborate, a voice comes over the speaker with a code alpha alert. The captain asks what it is. He is informed that they have multiple ships jumping into attack positions. “That’s impossible!” shouts the captain. “Our route was an imperial secret!” He is then knocked to the ground by the guard who tells him it was. As the guard on the speaker tries to tell the captain about their hull being breached, the guard ushers Lilandra out of her quarters and tells her that they must hurry. She wonders who he is, but he only informs her that he’s a friend… a friend who knew how to send word to others. “Others,” she replies. “You cannot mean the Starjammers?”
At the point of the hull breach, the Starjammers, some of their crew and Korvus are battling the ship’s defenses. Havok takes someone out, as does Hepzibah who relishes a little physical action. Corsair calls Ch’od and informs him that they have the Shi’ar distracted. It’s time to make his move. Elsewhere, Ch’od, Polaris and Marvel Girl head to the rendezvous point, whilst Warpath and Nightcrawler scout ahead.
Elsewhere again, Darwin carries the limp body of Charles Xavier through the ship, flanked by the hapless guard who he has caught. He warns the guard that if anyone stops them, he is to say that he is escorting them to a ship in the hangar. They are being sent to wherever his people put prisoners they have finished torturing. The frightened guard explains that he’ll get them all killed, but Darwin replies that despite it being a risk, it’s the best chance he’s going to get. There’s a High Council event on the promenade and almost everyone is there. They can walk right by without drawing attention. He adds that the guard will get them onto a ship and get them the hell out of there. Then, he can go back to being a chak’balaar who he shouldn’t have saved in the first place. He reminds the guard that his blaster will do nothing but make him angry, so he’d better be convincing.
Back at the hull breach, Korvus slices through the guards with ease, as the Starjammers make their way through the ship. Raza tells Korvus that his blade is something to behold and asks how heavy it is. Korvus replies that for any hand but his own it would be easier to lift a star, but to him it has no weight at all. Corsair feels that they’re taking too long. They need to be gone before reinforcements arrive. They can’t take on a Warbird. Hepzibah notices a guard behind her and moves out of the way of his blast, but unfortunately Korvus takes the hit instead. The blast pierces his shoulder and he cries out in pain.
Elsewhere, Marvel Girl senses Korvus’ pain, but tells Lorna that his injuries are only minor. Lorna asks what’s going on with the pair of them. Rachel admits that she doesn’t know. He’s in her head... a lot. Lorna smirks and says that he’s got that whole dark tortured soul thing going on. “He a good kisser?” she asks. “Seriously,” replies Rachel. Lorna reminds her that she’s only known him two days, but Rachel asks what she wants from her. She said he was in her head. Ch’od asks them both to concentrate on the mission. Today is about fighting, not kissing.
Meanwhile, Darwin approaches the arena where the event is taking place. High on a platform, Chancellor Araki informs the gathered multitudes that today is about homecoming - the return of the imperium to what it once was, and what it should always have been. Watching through a window, still carrying Charles, Darwin cannot believe his eyes. “That’s not possible,” he exclaims.
Elsewhere, Warpath and Nightcrawler make short work of more guards having met up with Ch’od’s team. The place is clear, so James asks Rachel to open the door. She telekinetically slides it upwards and on the other side they meet up with Lilandra and her trusted accomplice. She is surprised to see Rachel and Kurt with the Starjammers, but Kurt replies that they had to help them save her, did they not? She asks if Charles is with them. She has much to apologize for. Rachel informs her that they have him, and Ch’od adds that he’s afraid Deathbird has him in her claws. Lilandra replies that they’ve got it wrong. It’s much worse than her sister.
Back on the platform, Chancellor Araki introduces the catalyst for change. “So, I give you the triumphant reawakening of the true ruler of the imperium… the great D’Ken. D’Ken opens his arms wide and clenches his fists as he smiles. Standing behind him are Vulcan and Deathbird. Darwin wonders what the hell Vulcan is doing with them, and why isn’t D’Ken in a coma? The guard with them calls for help and some burly guards head towards Darwin. “Oh &#@%...” he exclaims.