|Starjammers (2nd series) # 2|| || |
Issue Date: September 2004
Story Title: The Cadet and the Corsairs - part 2
Staff: Kevin J. Anderson (Writer), Jorge Lucas (Pencils), Transparency Digital (Colorist), Virtual Calligraphy’s Cory Petit (Letterer), Tommy Ohtsuka (Cover Artist), Stephanie Moore (Editor), Mike Marts (Supervising Editor), Joe Quesada (Editor in Chief), Dan Buckley (Publisher)
Tolo joins the Blackhearts against the Thorn warriors, but the troops are all killed within a few minutes. The Tolo is knocked out by Raza, who then leads the Thorn warriors into the cargo bay, where they discover that the Hyrax aboard is in its pure seed form. This enrages the Thorn, who seem to take this personally for some reason, as to them the use of Hyrax seeds is like murder. While they take out the Hyrax seeds, Ch’od and several others find the chamber of Verdian Terce, the Committee member. Verdian takes four seeds of Hyrax and changes into a horrible creature. However, the power is too much for him and he combusts into flames, leaving nothing but a pile of ashes. Lenise is able to get Princess Sabra to the escape skiff, though Sabra is reluctant to leave everyone behind. Tolo regains consciousness and finds his father in the dining hall, where survivors are barricading themselves in. Tolo and his father run off to see if the Princess escaped and discover that she has. However, they also learn that the pirates sabotaged the controls to the escape pods, which means they have to be launched manually from within the room. Mr. Hawk throws his son in the pod after a farewell and then sets the timer for the pod. Unfortunately, Captain Kalyx and the Thorn find Mr. Hawk and kill him in front of Tolo right before his pod launches. The Starjammers return to their ship and then turn back to destroy the Kurnit Corona with everyone on board. Tolo is horrified, but his worries are worsened as a tractor beam pulls him into the Starjammer, where he swears to make the pirates pay. Meanwhile, in a conversation with Captain Kalyx, Raza insinuates that the Union of Intelligent Races, especially the Committee, isn’t as innocent as they act like they are.
Tolo Hawk has a few moments to reflect about how this trip was meant to be a simple one from his home colony to Kinshaa, planetary capital of the Union of Intelligent Races. He was to start his military training as a cadet in the Union Defense Corps, the military guard of the U.I.R. With Princess Sabra on board the royal ship, Kurnit Corona, everyone felt safe. However, what no one thought about was the chance that they might be attacked by the space pirates known as the Starjammers, led by Captain Kalyx and his crew, mostly of the tree-like race known as the Thorn. However, a few members are not Thorn. Those two are the half cyborg Raza and the amphibious Ch’od.
In a corridor of the Kurnit Corona, Tolo stands ready with his ceremonial pistol, along side a group of Blackhearts, the best of the best in the Union Defense Corps. One of the Blackhearts tells Tolo to stand firm. Tolo tells the man that he will do his best, though he lets slip that he is a bit scared through his manner. The Thorns rush into the Blackhearts, as the battle begins. Among the Thorn is Raza, who has assembled this group of Thorn to get to the interior of the cargo bay to the illegal drug known as Hyrax, which, unbeknownst to anyone on board, has been smuggled on by Verdian Terce, a member of the secretly evil Committee that serves Princess Sabra, though they intend to manipulate her to their own ends. Raza comments that this is a lot of trouble to get to the cargo bay, but a Thorn replies that it will be worth it.
As the Blackhearts are quickly taken down one by one, a Thorn wraps his root like arms around one of the guards and proceeds to crush him. Scared, but showing that he is serious, Tolo aims his gun at the Thorn and orders him to release his victim. Raza, after finishing off a guard with his sword, backslaps Tolo and tells the “kid” to get out the way before he gets hurt. Tolo bumps his head on the wall, which makes him a bit dizzy. Raza tells the Thorn that they have had enough exercise and they should be getting what they came for, which is the load of Hyrax.
The group reaches the doors to the cargo bay, but Raza soon discovers that the doors are locked. One of the Thorns laughs and reminds Raza that a tree can crack a mountain apart. He then uses his mighty arms and roots to rip the door to the interior of the cargo bay apart. Raza enters the cargo bay and sees majestic golden chests and other priceless jewelry and gold lying about. Raza is surprised to see such a vast amount of wealth and supposes that the humans were going to celebrate the princess’ coronation in style. A Thorn rips open a box and informs Raza that he found the shipment. Raza looks into the box and sees that there are Hyrax seeds in there. Upon learning that the Hyrax is in seed form, the pirates become enraged and curse the humans to have a painful death.
Raza tells his crew not to hate all humans, after he is one – or at least partly. They instead should blame the Committee, as they are the ones responsible for so much pain. As the Thorn carry the Hyrax seed boxes out one of the Thorns picks up an unconscious guard and demands to kill anyone from the Committee. Raza looks though the jewelry and gold and decides that they shouldn’t let this booty go to waste, since the Princess won’t be using it anymore.
Elsewhere in the ship, Lenise, the bodyguard and lawyer to Princess Sabra, grabs her charge and tells her that she must get to the escape skiff immediately. Sabra is about to interject, but Lenise reminds the girl that she swore an oath to protect her. In fact, she is contractually bound to do so. Suddenly, a group of Thorns rush into Sabra’s room. One of them recognizes Lenise’s red outfit as that of a lawyer and laughs. Lenise scowls and tells the Thorn that in the U.I.R. the job as a lawyer is a true warrior’s position. As she racks her knuckles, she informs them that she is ready to give her opening statement. She leaps over one Thorn and dropkicks the one behind him. She punches another right in the face and boots another one before he can swing his axe. “I rest my case,” says Lenise, as the Thorns lie on the floor in pain.
Lenise and Sabra rush to the escape pod dock and Lenise is grateful that the Thorn attackers have not reached this area yet. Sabra asks about the well being of the others. Shouldn’t Verdian Terce of the Committee be with them? Verdian can take care of himself, says Lenise. Sabra asks about Tolo, who she met earlier in the evening, but Lenise tells her that there is no time to find him. Her legal obligation is to get her out alive. Lenise and Sabra board the skiff and, as soon as it is ready to launch, Lenise orders the princess, who is staring out the port window, to strap herself in. “But,” argues Sabra, “All those people! We’re just leaving them.” The skiff then blasts off to make its escape.
Elsewhere again, Ch’od leads a couple of Thorn down the halls. One of the Thorns informs Ch’od that an escape skiff just launched and that other humans are rushing towards the escape pods. Ch’od sniffs the air and tells the pirate not to bother him with that, for he smells Committee. The group stands outside the room of Verdian Terce. Ch’od begins to pound on the door. In the room, Verdian Terce mutters that the pirates do not understand the true value of Hyrax. He then swallows four Hyrax seeds, as he knows that he will need more than one dose to get out alive. He needs all the power that Hyrax can give. Suddenly, Verdian is overcome by energy and begins to change physically.
Ch’od is able to break open the door, but finds himself face to face with a horrendous looking Thorn-like creature. The creature that was once Verdian Terce arrogantly tells Ch’od that he likes to play with pirates. He is not Thorn, says Ch’od, as he punches the Starjammer away, but he will do. Ch’od smells Hyrax on Verdian and lashes out at the man, but is easily thrown away again. Ch’od looks at Verdian, as he begins to catch on fire. In seconds, Verdian Terce is covered in flames!
Ch’od tells Verdian that Hyrax is life, strength and power, but those things are not his and does not last. As Verdian reels in pain, Ch’od takes him down with a jump kick. Verdian screams that he has two much power and life within him. He then lets out one more scream, as his wood-like body turns into nothing but ashes. As Ch’od stomps on the ashes, he tells his Thorn companions that the man got what he deserved. The three leave the room to stop other humans from escaping.
Back in the hallway, Tolo gets up, but is still in a daze. He wants to rejoin the fight, but quickly remembers about his father. He makes his way back to the dining hall where his father is explaining to several alien workers that the room is the most defensible place on the ship. Mr. Hawk sees his son and is ecstatic that he still lives. While some of the men begin to pile furniture on the doors to barricade it, Tolo informs his father that most of the Blackhearts are dead. However, he cannot stay here and hide. He has to find the princess. One of the aliens tells Tolo that he cannot go back out there. Another informs the cadet that the princess already ran off and left the rest of them to die.
Tolo tells the two aliens that he may be a cadet, but he gave an oath to the U.D.C. to protect and defend Princess Sabra against any enemy. He intends to remain true to his promise. He has to make sure that she is gone one way or another. Mr. Hawk is proud of his son and decides to go with him to watch each other’s backs. One of the aliens reminds the pair that they are sealing the doors to the dining hall. They won’t be able to get back in. Tolo and Mr. Hawk run off anyway. Tolo leads his father to where he remembers the escape skiff to be when they took the tour. Unbeknownst to the two, Captain Kalyx and his troops spot them running towards the escape pods and are hot on their tail.
In the escape pod room, Tolo disables the doors to the room, but is sure that it won’t hold off the pirates for long. Mr. Hawk points out that the princess’ skiff is gone. Tolo is glad and proceeds to focus on other things, such as getting the two of them off. Tolo checks one pod and sees that there is room for both of them. This is their only chance to get off. Mr. Hawk, however, discovers that the pirates have sabotaged the central controls. They cannot automatically launch the pods. As the Thorn begin to rip open the doors, Mr. Hawk tells his son to get into the pod and he will launch it automatically. Tolo protests and tells his father to get in and he will stay behind. Maybe they could find a way to rig the controls.
Mr. Hawk touches his son’s face and recounts how he told Tolo’s mother before she died that Tolo would have the best possible opportunity to make something of himself. He then pushes his son into the pod and tells him that this is the last thing he can do to give Tolo a fighting chance. He must stop arguing and leave. The door to the pod seals, as Tolo begins to pound on it. Captain Kalyx and the pirates enter the room, as Mr. Hawk finds the launch control system. He triggers the manual sequence, which sets the pod to launch in ten seconds. In those ten seconds before launch, Tolo watches, as his father turns around to find himself surrounded by the Thorn and Captain Kalyx. Tolo begins to pound harder on the door to get out and help his father, but can do nothing but watch as the Thorn murder his father in cold blood. Lifepod 7 then launches.
The pod spirals out of control and throws Tolo around. Tolo tries to keep his wits, as he does not want to get sick. As the pod regains balance, Tolo looks back at the Kurnit Corona and wonders why his father just didn’t come with him. Tolo notices the Starjammer undock from the Corona and fly a safe distance away. Suddenly, though, the Starjammer turns around, much to Tolo’s surprise. Tolo then realizes what the Starjammers and begins to scream that they should just leave the survivors alone. Tolo begins to cry as he realizes that the Starjammers are about to do what he cannot believe that they are doing. Again, Tolo can do nothing but watch. The Starjammer then shoots out one blast of energy towards the Corona, which explodes on contact killing all the survivors aboard.
In the Starjammer, Captain Kalyx lauds his men for the job well done. Raza comments to the captain, that he remains a thorn in the side of the humans. Captain Kalyx asks if that is a joke he just heard. Raza apologizes for his comment, as there is nothing funny about punishing murderers. Kalyx realizes that Raza saw the seeds and now knows what the Committee does to them. Raza tells Captain Kalyx that where he and Ch’od come from there are despots like the Committee. They also keep slave pits like those of the U.I.R. Wherever the weak are oppressed by the strong, Raza will be there so that others may not suffer like and Ch’od have. Ch’od, below at a control panel, agrees and then notices a blip on his radar. Captain Kalyx asks if it is debris. “No…” says Ch’od.
In his pod, Tolo continues to cry and cannot come to terms with the death of the people aboard the Kurnit Corona, including his father. Suddenly, the pod is rocked. Tolo looks out his window and discovers that the Starjammer has caught him in a tractor beam. As his pod is pulled into the Starjammer, Tolo pulls out his pistol. It isn’t much, but it is all he has. “I’ll make these monster pay,” says the bitter Tolo, as he aims his pistol right at the door of the pod.
Various people aboard the Kurnit Corona
Captain Kalyx, Ch’od, Raza, various Thorn (Starjammers)
When this series was first announced it seemed as if it were to be out of continuity, as it had nothing to do with the Shi’ar Empire or Corsair. However, a throw away line in #4 hinted that this series may in fact be in continuity. The ending to this series seems to confirm that the story is in continuity and that somehow the Starjammers were separated from Corsair were either thrown into the far reaches of space undocumented in any Marvel comic, or into another dimension.
While in this story Hyrax is some sort of organic drug, with the complete background revealed in Starjammers (2nd Series) #4. In real life, a hyrax is a small mammal resembling a large groundhog that is found in Africa.
Issue Summary written by: Redguard (Mandeep Jangi)