It’s brother versus brother and the outcome could decide the fate of billions. UNCANNY X-MEN’S “Rise and Fall of the Shi’Ar Empire” continues here! Vulcan is the Shi’Ar Emperor and Havok is leading the rebellious Starjammers. But who is really right and who is really wrong?
The Eldest of a bug-like, alien race stares outside his window. Even after a millennium, he can still hear the screams. Outside, a gigantic battle is taking place, resulting in fiery explosions of death and destruction. Some other members of the race appear behind the Eldest, and warn him about a new development in the war:they have come… the Shi’ar. The Eldest realizes what that means: the time has come…
Shi’ar space, weeks later…
The supply line to the fourth Shi’ar fleet…
Inside one of the several Shi’ar ships lined up nearby three moons, a trooper wishes to speak to his captain. He reports their long-range sensors make no sense, as there an anomaly has been detected. There’s a strong electromagnetic field, but the trooper cannot detect its source. It is everywhere. “Gods preserve,” the captain panics. It’s a trap! The captain orders all of his Warbirds to go to condition black, because… the Starjammers are here!
Outside, the Starjammer ship approaches the Warbirds. Ch’od appears on the Warbird’s computer screen, and advises them to surrender. The captain of course refuses. To this, Ch’od replies that he shall put him in the “not wise” category then.
A moment later, the Starjammers, led by Havok, teleport within the ship and lay siege. The captain opens fire on them and orders his Warbirds to kill them all. Havok fires a blast in defense, but reminds his team that they need the captain alive. Lorna, as she magnetically tackles some soldiers down, jokes that she thinks Alex is talking to Rachel, because she stopped being crazy months ago. Rachel fires a telepathic blast on another soldiers, and mentions she’ll do her best, but will make no promises. Korvus Rook’Shir slashes his huge and powerful Blade of the Phoenix through his opponents, and mopes that the X-Men talk far too much in battle.
The captain warns his Warbirds not to let the Starjammers take over his ship. He is half-way through ordering the activation the self-destruct mechanism when Raza sneaks up on the captain and points his sword in the captain’s face, indicating he should stop where he stands. The captain obeys.
With the bridge now secured, Havok orders to open the comm channel. The captain shouts that taking his ship won’t accomplish anything. He points out there are eleven more Warbirds guarding the supply line, and one ship alone can’t stand against them. To this, a voice via comm. replies that he is correct… but the Starjammer is not alone. Seeing the source of the voice, the captain sees a screen on which Lilandra and her Major-General, Ka’ardum, appear. The captain is surprised to see them both still alive. Havok wants to talk to the captain about him and his regiment to join the resistance. Alex wants to discuss Emperor Vulcan.
Meanwhile on Chandilar, throneworld of the Shi’ar Empire…
Weapon in hand, an armed soldier yells “death to the false emperor. Death to Vul…” At that moment, Vulcan fires his power blast at the soldier and kills him in mid-sentence. Vulcan tells his council that they’ll have to start over because he couldn’t hear anything over the screaming.
Vulcan goes to sit back on his throne, with his wife Deathbird standing beside him. Accompanying his court is a host of soldiers, positioned as an honor guard. Among their number is the superguardian, Gladiator. Returning to the subject at hand, Vulcan asks Araki to confirm what he just told him – that he isn’t loved by the Shi’ar people. Clearly nervous, Araki promises that he wouldn’t attempt to dishonor his lord, even if it meant his life. But it’s true, the Shi’ar Empire is tearing itself apart. The resistance to Vulcan’s rule is strong. His… elimination of former Emperor D’Ken has divided the people. And with Lilandra and Major-General Ka’ardum working with the resistance, more and more of the military are defecting.
To this, Gladiator dourly proclaims that these people lack honor. As Deathbird quietly smiles, Vulcan is more concerned that he isn’t loved by the people and demands to hear the truth. Araki is hesitant for a moment and then, with a bow, explains that only the presence of a member of the Neramani bloodline as royal consort is holding the remaining supporters in place.
Turning to his wife, Vulcan asks her what she thinks of that. Deathbird walks forward to Araki, and slashes his face with her sharp nails. As Araki reels in pain, Deathbird thinks aloud that Araki is a politician who likes to play games. She advisess him to remember that Vulcan is the Emperor now, whether the Secret Order likes it or not.
Changing subjects, Vulcan wants to hear about his brother now. He wants to hear about Havok and the Starjammers. He wants to know why they aren’t dead already.
The Clench Worlds, near Shi’ar space…
Havok stands in the center of a briefing room, next to a holo projector on which a planet and its three moons are show. Addressing the assembly, he explains to his fellow Starjammers and newly gained allies in the warbirds. He shows them a hologram of three supply lines they have now captured. He thinks that, without resources and supplies, the empire’s war effort will be weakened and harder to sustain. The gasp is closing.
Alex next shows an image of a station called Feather’s Edge. He explains it’s defended by a series of Armageddon-class killstations. He admits their battle won’t be pretty, but cutting off Feather’s Edge will weaken Vulcan’s forces to a breaking point. Lilandra and Ka’ardum are also among the assembly. Alex tells Ka’ardum they’ve avoided amassing his armada until now, but Vulcan’s forces still outnumber theirs. However, Alex believes taking this target will even the odds. And afterward, they’ll bring the fight to Chandilar.
In a section off from the main area, Ch’od tells Lorna he’s confused. If Alex is filled with this “self-doubt” she spoke off, he thinks they should all start doubting themselves immediately. They’ll win this war much quicker, he jokes. Lorna responds that Ch’od should just wait for it. Lorna also notices Korvus is not present in the hearing. She noticed Korvus seemed cranky on the supply mission, and asks Rachel if the two of them are still fighting. Rachel answers that she broke off their relationship. They’re just too different. It’s too weird and too complicated. She thinks she should be okay, if she can keep from making out with him.
Back in the main chamber, Ka’ardum compliments Havok on the briefing and that, in such a short time, he has become an expert on the Shi’ar military landscape. He mentions that Alex’ strategies are excellent, and that he’s surprised Earth can spare such a natural leader. Alex points out that he’s just there to stop Vulcan. His brother Cyclops was a great leader, and so was his father. But not him, Alex sighs. Ch’od and the others heard Alex say this, Ch’od now seeing the doubt, much to his dismay.
Later, at the planet “Standing Still”
The resistance headquarters…
Havok walks through the city streets, which are crowded by other aliens. He is approached by Korvus, who informs Alex that the people here are calling him “savior.” He gives them hope. Alex says they’re making a mistake. He’s just a man, and not much of one at that. Korvus grins that, luckily, their enemy is but a child. Alex agrees, but their opponent is the most powerful child in the galaxy.
As they stand before a grand view, a planet and two other moons rising above a desert landscape, Alex does his best to change subjects. When he asks Korvus if he and Rachel are still fighting, Korvus replies that Rachel vexes him. He finds it weird: war spreads across the galaxy, and he cannot stop thinking about her. He asks Alex for advice, seeing he is Rachel’s uncle. The only thing Alex can come up with, is saying that Rachel likes cheeseburgers.
At a bar…
Nursing a drink at a bar, Rachel mopes that she could use a cheeseburger right now. And sweatpants. She misses her sweatpants. It feels like they’ve been out here forever. With her at the bar, whose patrons include numerous species of aliens, Lorna mentions that Alex told her he believes he can’t beat Vulcan. Alex knows he tried, but also that he failed. And that his father died for that. That’s what he thinks. Lorna jokes she thinks she’ll have to beat Alex up.
Changing subjects, she asks Rachel if she’s okay. Korvus distracted her, Rachel replies. He clouded everything. But she finally talked to Lilandra. Lorna is surprised to hear that, because they asked Rachel not to do so. Continuing, Rachel says she learned there is a Secret Order within the Shi’ar Empire. They’re the ones who ordered to murder her family. When Lorna begins to show sympathy, Rachel becomes angry, a blue Phoenix sign appears over her eye. She vows that after they’ve taken Vulcan down, she’ll find this Secret Order and will make them pay.
Chandilar, the Shi’ar throneworld…
As he walks incognito among his citizens, a hooded Vulcan overhears two soldiers talking to each other. One of them heard that Vulcan was a slave, and that D’Ken took him in but that Vulcan in turned betrayed D’Ken and murdered him. The other soldier heard the same, but also that Vulcan is another mutant from Earth. Just like Lilandra’sshame… Xavier, whom they see as the Mummudrai destroyer. This soldier also believes someone should shoot Vulcan in the head before he destroys the Empire. Both soldiers want a true Shi’ar on the throne.
Though Vulcan grows angry, he doesn’t interfere. Instead, he is distracted by an image of himself on a large screen, and Shi’ar letters are marked over it. A female voice explains to Vulcan that the words mean: “kill the false Emperor.”
Turning to the voice, Vuclan is surprised to find Cal’syee, who’s also hooded. Deathbird jokes that the Emperor should not travel without an Imperial Guard escort. Gabriel points out that the Guard are as likely to try and kill him as anyone else, to which Deathbird confirms that’s true. The Guard does hate him. Vulcan isn’t exactly glad to hear that, but Deathbird asks her husband to let her finish. She thinks people hate their Emperor because they do not know him. Because they do not know that Gabrielis a Shi’ar.
Vulcan can’t believe his ears. Deathbird gently touches Gabriel’s face, and confirms the truth in her words. She can see it inside him, and is certain that the time will come when Gabriel shows the Empire that he was born to rule them. He will show them greatness that D’Ken never possessed. He will show them strength that Lilandra never had. And she’s certain that people will love him for that. As she does. They kiss. Deathbird asks Gabriel to come with her, as his spies have brought much news. She wants them to plan the death of the resistance.
Later, at Feather’s Edge…
Polaris magnetically charges the Starjammers ship so their enemies can’t detect them. Havok compliments her on that, but Lorna asks them to hurry though. When Alex asks him if they’re ready, Ch’od replies that Corsair used to sing a song to lead them into battle. Alex asks if that’s true. “No,” Ch’od answers. His visage growing serious, Alex announces he is ready to do this.
Both the Starjammer ship and the Warbird ships start firing at Feather’s Edge, which does its best to defend itself. Still, Shi’ar stations explode under the attack. When an alarm suddenly fills the bridge, Alex quickly asks Ch’od for a status report. Incoming, he reports. By the energy signature… the Shi’ar are there… and lots of them. When Havok then turns to her, Rachel telepathically scans and confirms… Vulcan is there.
Standing confidently in his royal flagship together with Gladiator, Vulcan grins that his empire’s spies are good. He orders to kill the X-Men, Lilandra and Ka’ardum. He’s sure the others will fall in line afterward.
As the Shi’ar armada opens fire, Havok orders evasive maneuvers. However, Ch’od had already anticipated the order and has done so. Nearby, Raza notes that Vulcan brought the entire Shi’ar fleet with him, so that must mean he knew they were coming.
Meanwhile, at the wing of K’ythri, Ka’ardum’s battlecruiser…
Lilandra and Ka’ardum see how their enemies concentrate fire on the Starjammers. She fears they’ll be killed. Ka’ardum thinks his ship will surely be next. Vulcan’s forces still outnumber theirs, even if by a little, and Vulcan also still has the Imperial Guard behind him. He fears that, if they fight now, they’ll all be killed. Lilandra doesn’t respond.
In his ship, Vulcan asks Gladiator if they should kill all of their opponents. He remembers that Gladiator said before that the Shi’ar who deflected lack honor. He wants to know if Gladiator would kill them all. Hesitant, Gladiator says that he only serves. It’s not his place to decide. Gabriel asks Gladiator that when he took his eye, if that was service as well. Or simply a decision?
They are interrupted by a powerful explosion, which tears Vulcan’s ship in half! The cause is a host of newly arrived fleet of immense, bug-like ships that fill the sky and outnumbering both fleets.
As Ka’ardum reels at the sight of the Hammer having been destroyed, Lilandra asks her uncle what’s going on. Whose ships are those? Interrupting, one of the bridge crew announces that the newcomers are broadcasting something.
Meanwhile, in their own ship, the Starjammers don’t understand what’s going on either. Raza smiles that it really happened… the ship that just blew up was the Emperor’s. Nearby, Ch’od learns via the broadcast that their new allies are calling themselves the Scy’ar Tal. He finds that a bold choice. Likewise, Korvus recognizes the meaning of the name, as does Rachel. “Scy’ar Tal” means… “death to the Shi’ar.” The name of their race means “Death to the Shi’ar.”