Havok and the Starjammers' world is turned upside down as they're forced to help Vulcan in his war against the enemies of the Shi'ar Empire. What horrifying secret of the Scy'ar Tal would make Havok join forces with his brother? And the question isn't IF Vulcan will betray the X-Men... it's WHEN.
1,000 years ago, the M’Kraan Exodus…
The Eldest recalls how the Shi’ar massacred his people, right in front of his eyes. He ponders that the Scy’ar Tal were a peaceful race, and not prepared for the Avian’s savagery. Those of the Scy’ar Tal who survived the brutalities traveled the spaceways, looking for refuge. The Shi’ar destroyed the Scy’ar Tal’s homeland, their way of life and made claim of the Godstone. And they killed the Eldest’ predecessor.
The previous Eldest tried his best to reclaim the god in the Crystal, but to no avail. At his old age, the Eldest named his successor while others of their race bowed before him. He told the youngling to take his people’s strength, as he would become the next Eldest.
However, the current Eldest continues to say, the Shi’ar did not know the nature of his brothers. They have strength together. He thinks that, if the Shi’ar had known the Scy’ar Tal’s resolve, they would have killed them all. The Eldest remembers how he, as a skinny young boy, absorbed the strength of his people and grew into the strong leader he is today. He gathered them around him, proclaiming they had much to do.
Now, aboard the Starjammer…
Havok furiously lashes out at his brother Vulcan, unleashing his powers at full strength at him. However, Vulcan waves his hand forward, hereby creating a protective forcefield around him and the Imperial Guard. Though a difficult feat for Vulcan, he still manages. He compliments Alex on the effort, but mocks the result is the same as always. Powering down for a moment, Havok swears he’ll see his brother dead. Vulcan, on the other hand, asks Alex if he’s sure he wants to see that right there and now. He wants Alex to think carefully before answering if he really wants to rip apart his own ship in a fight he can’t win. Or, Gabriel laughs, does Xavier let any moron lead an X-Men team now?
Lorna points out to Alex that Vulcan hasn’t attacked, and that the Imperial Guard hasn’t moved a muscle. Gabriel tells Alex to listen to Lorna, and promises he’s only here to talk. Still not convinced yet, Havok asks Rachel what she’s getting. Rachel explains she’s only getting interference, from as well in Vulcan’s mind as in all of the Guard’s. She can get Alex an answer, but in order to do that, she’ll have to kill the telepath known as Oracle.
Gabriel mocks at how willing Rachel and Havok are to kill. He jokes that Cyclops would be proud of them. But, Gabriel points out, it appears they have a common enemy now: the Scy’ar Tal. He has learned these creatures are after the M’Kraan Crystal, which now belongs to him. Rachel can’t believe Vulcan wants them to help him. She thinks they’d be better off helping the Scy’ar Tal! She remembers how Vulcan killed Banshee, and even tried to kill the Professor! Vulcan even killed Corsair, her grandfather!
Vulcan admits that, but notes that the Scy’ar Tal have just killed a billion people… hispeople. Vulcan continues to say there are a lot of things he wants to do right now: kill Havok, find Xavier and kill him… but destroying the universe is not on his list. He asks Rachel if she can say the same thing about the Scy’ar Tal. He asks if she knows what the Scy’ar Tal will do if they get their hands on the Crystal. When Rachel doesn’t answer, Vulcan already thought his “niece” wouldn’t know. These Scy’ar Tal are killing Vulcan’s people and are threatening all of reality. And, Gabriel jokes, the X-Men are the idiots who fight people like that. And he knows the X-Men have dealt with the Crystal before. So, he wants to work together to work on this. He gives Havok 24 hours to decide, and then teleports himself and the Guard away, leaving the Starjammers to ponder their answer.
Ch’od approaches Havok and places his hand over Alex’ shoulder, assuming aloud that Alex is just lulling Vulcan into a false sense of security. Havok, realizing Ch’od is making fun of him, tells him to shut up.
Later, at the Clench worlds…
The Starjammers have gathered inside a huge headquarters, which is based in a mountainous area, and are joined by Lilandra and Ka’ardum. Presiding over the assembly, Havok discusses what happened with Vulcan and the Guard. Havok thinks Vulcan is desperate. The bottom line, according to Alex, is that he thinks Vulcan must have gotten thrashed by the Scy’ar Tal’s Eldest. Vulcan was hurt. And he also noticed how Gladiator looked; he even had a broken arm. Alex remembers that all of the X-Men combined couldn’t put a scratch on Gladiator.
Ka’ardum agrees that appealing to your enemies for aid is a weakness in any culture. He explains that the Shi’ar people are ill at ease with Vulcan’s rule and, if they were to learn of this situation, their loyalty would further deteriorate. Raza agrees with that. He noticed the Imperial Guard looked upon Vulcan with murder in their hearts. Rumor has it that Vulcan killed some members of the Guard when he first met them. Havok realizes Vulcan wants to use the Starjammer as a weapon against the Scy’ar Tal and, once they’re dealt with, Vulcan will betray them. “It’s not if,” Alex announces, “it’swhen.”
Lorna becomes angry at this. She knows this is Alex’s brother they are talking about, and that he killed Alex’ father, but she can’t believe that’s it. Their options are to help a murderer, someone who has killed their family and friends, or they can allow an unknown race that could very well be intending genocide to take possession of the M’Kraan Crystal. Havok begins to consider negotiation with the Scy’ar Tal, noting that, if they have a legitimate claim to the Crystal…
Interrupting, Lilandra angrily shouts out the Scy’ar Tal certainly have no claim to it. She warns Alex he can’t negotiate with these blasphemers. The Crystal must remain in Shi’ar hands, as it is their sacred right. Rachel finds that hard to believe. She knows the Shi’ar are conquerors. She wonders how many other cultures’ holy lands the Shi’ar occupy right now. How many religions has Lilandra crushed? Rachel asks her. What if the Scy’ar Tal’s gods told them that it was their sacred right? Lilandra reminds Rachel she saw what the Scy’ar Tal did. She can’t believe they are considering this. As Lilandra becomes more agitated, her uncle tells her niece to calm herself. He knows Havok was just making a point.
Havok grows silent for a minute in thought. Finally, he notes aloud that the point is that the Scy’ar Tal took the option off the table when they destroyed Feather’s Edge. As the others listen intently to Alex, Lorna smiles proudly at him. He continues that they have no reason to believe the Scy’ar Tal are going to stop, but they can’t fight them alone. So they take the deal. They help Vulcan destroy the Scy’ar Tal, and then… it’s only a matter of which side kills the other first. And Havok wants to take those odds.
Later that night, at the planet “Standing Still”…
Havok, with only his pants on, stands on the balcony outside his bedroom and gazes upon the landscape below him in thought. Lorna wakes up in the bed behind him, clad only in the sheets of their bed. She asks why Alex can’t sleep, and what he’s thinking about. “The usual,” Alex replies as he turns his attention to her. He’s doubting himself and thinking about what Scott would do, and wonders if his dad is proud of him. Unsure what to say to that, Lorna jokes Alex sure has a bit of self-awareness there.
Alex jokes back that Lorna isn’t the only one who sees a therapist. He wonders what it is about the two of them. It seems like, no matter where they go or what they do, the two of them always end up in impossible situations. Alex calls himself a simple guy, and yet here he is, forced to help the man who killed his father. As Lorna pulls some sheets around her body and walks over her lover, Alex jokingly remembers when they were just fighting the Sentinels.
Lorna asks Alex if he figured out what Scott would do, but he doesn’t think that matters anymore. It doesn’t matter what Scott would do, what his father would do, or what the Professor would do. He can’t think like that anymore. He won’t. He knows what to do. Now matter how complicated things get, this can only end one way. Havok powers up one of his arms to make a point. Gabriel is too far gone. Alex realizes the X-Men believe in redemption, but it’s too late for his younger brother. They would have given Gabriel every chance they could, but not after what he has done. Vulcan… has to die. And Alex is pretty sure that’s something Scott couldn’t do. He powers down, and Lorna quietly gives him a hug.
Elsewhere at the dorms…
Rachel is having a nightmare. She remembers when her grandfather John told her it would be a pleasure to teach her how to dance. And only a few moments later, how the Shi’ar Death Commando’s massacred her entire family. The sweat of fear drips all over Rachel’s face, and with a staggering voice apologizes as she never meant for this to happen. Rachel also hears how the Death Commando’s leader, Blackcloak, told her that her family wears Rachel’s genome.
As Korvus enters Rachel’s bedroom and calls out her name, Rachel wakes up screaming. Korvus knows she was having that dream again. Rachel warns Korvus to stay out of her head, to which Korvus reminds Rachel that she gave him her dream. When he then asks why she is doing this, Rachel turns away and explains she can’t do this right now. She believes what they have is not real. However, that’s not what Korvus meant. He thinks Rachel is becoming consumed with thoughts of revenge. He says that Rachel’s name may as well be Scy’ar Tal. But, he wants Rachel to tell him… if every Shi’ar died today, would that bring her family back? He calls the connection he and Rachel have real. He knows because he feels it not just in his mind, but also in his heart. And he will, until the day that his heart stops beating. He leaves, leaving Rachel very much alone.
The following day…
Aboard Vulcan’s ship, the Starjammers find themselves at the gunpoint of Vulcan’s guards. With his wife and the Imerial Guard standing behind him, Vulcan welcomes the Starjammers to his empire. Leaning downward, Ch’od quietly jokes to Raza that they’re still alive, to which Raza confirms. “Double or nothing?” Ch’od asks his teammate.
Flanking her husband and emperor, Deathbird believes they are making a mistake. She calls the Starjammers too dangerous and wants to kill them now. However, Vulcan is certain that their new allies will keep their word. Besides, the Chancellor’s Guard will be joining them as well, just in case. Rachel wonders who that Guard could be. On that moment arrives Araki… and the Shi’ar Death Commandos! Rachel and Araki are both as surprised to see one another.
Marvel Girl becomes incensed, generating a large, blue Phoenix force around her body. She yells “murderers” to the Death Commando’s and Araki, who panics. Immediately, Vulcan’s soldiers are ordered to protect their Chancellor, but they have no time, as Rachel lashes out a blue fireblast against Krait and Offset, shouting that they killed her cousins, aunts and uncles! She gives Blackcloak a powerful punch in the face for killing her grandparents. She then moves over to Araki, with the Phoenix force glaring angry at him in the face. Rachel can see the guilt in Araki’s thoughts. She discovers he runs the Secret Order. It was he who signed her family’s death warrant. She wants to hear Araki say it.
Suddenly, Lorna attacks Rachel with her telekinetic powers, demanding that she stops immediately. Not waiting, she magnetically rips open the floor and traps Rachel in makeshift bonds. Rachel demands that Lorna lets her go, as these people killed her family. Rachel knows Lorna wasn’t there at the time, so she has no idea what happened. She wants to make them pay.
Araki begs his Emperor to do something, however Vulcan simply remains in his chair. With a sadistic smile, he apologizes to the Chancellor, claiming he didn’t see this one coming. But frankly, Gabriel admits he is enjoying the show. Alex tells Rachel her revenge will have to wait. Rachel’s eyes glow as she refuses to wait. Alex tries to make Rachel understand they have to deal with the M’Kraan Crystal first. He knows how hard this must be for her, but this situation is bigger than all of them. He reminds Rachel that she is his family now, and he swears to her that once they’re done there, they’ll make them all pay. Together.
“Soon,” Rachel asks as she hesitantly calms down. “Soon,” Havok promises.
As they stand in a corner together, Lorna notices to Ch’od how Deathbird is staring at her with a vengeful look in her eyes. When Ch’od jokingly muses that Deathbird might be envying Lorna’s hair, Lorna replies she rather thinks Deathbird is thinking of ways of how to kill her.
Vulcan and Havok stand on a platform together, overlooking their combined troops: the Starjammers, the Imperial Guard and the Death Commandos. As Major-General Ka’ardum has also joined the party, Gabriel welcomes him and wants to start killing some Scy’ar Tal now. Havok corrects Gabriel that is the wrong way to play this game. He thinks they need to take out the Scy’ar Tal’s weapon first: the weapon called Finality. He opens a projection of the weapon to everyone, and begins the briefing.
He explains that Ch’od was able to track the energy readings from the first attack and found the source location of the star. Alex thinks that if they want to stop the Scy’ar Tal, this will be the way to do that. They need to send their armada to defend the Crystal and send in a strike team to take out Finality. Gabriel has nothing to add to that plan, and even calls it Havok’s call. Havok wants the Imperial Guard and the Starjammers to go after the weapon. Ka’ardum will lead the fleet to the Crystal. With all this said, Havok concludes that they’ll launch within the hour.
The next hour, outside Shi’ar space.
The Imperial Guard ship “Praetorium” and the Starjammer.
Both ships arrive at the same time. Vulcan, with Gladiator standing next to him, asks Raza and Ch’od to report. Raza explains that the Praetorim made the jump with them, and they’ve already made several contacts: they’ve found the Scy’ar Tal. Ch’odd adds the proximity to the gravity field is playing havoc with their sensors.
Havok looks outside and is surprised as he only expected one opponent. But apparently the Scy’ar Tal aren’t doing this halfway. The troops look outside and find lots of Scy’ar Tal ships gathered around several big stars. Havok thinks it must be a solar nursery. There must be dozens of stars out there, all in one place. And the Scy’ar Tal ships are using them as an ammo depot.
Lorna panics, but Havok remains calm. However, he does realizes this means the Scy’ar Tal have the means to destroy every planet in the core systems. They could destroy all of… “The Shi’ar Empire,” Gladiator fills in. “My Empire,” Vulcan fears. He then orders Gladiator to prepare the Guard as every Scy’ar Tal there dies. “And that’s just for starters.”