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A battle for the entire universe is underway! With Emperor D'Ken threatening to destroy the universe while trying to utilize the power of the M'Kraan Crystal, the X-Men and the Starjammers discover a horrible truth - when the specific stars come into alignment, the crystal will become available to D'Ken...and with it, the universe!

Reprint of and retroactive backup story to The X-Men #108 - Armageddon Now! (December, 1977).

Backup story summary:

Starjammers Aloft!

On a faraway alien mining world, Earthling Christopher Summers is a slave. Stripped of all dignity by his captors, he is doomed to toil in subhuman conditions for the rest of his life under the constant threat of torture.

As he's carrying a load of stones, he is run into and knocked over by a fellow prisoner fleeing her captors, a woman of an alien species he's never seen, covered in soft, white fur. As her captors snatch her up and begin to beat her, they say she should feel honored to die in the service of their meal: eaten alive until only her heart remains.

In horror, Christopher cries out, "you ..can't!" and the guard who had been beating her turns on him with his nuero-lash, a whip that inflicts excruciating pain without physically injuring it's victim. It's this pain, and Christopher's fear of it, that has reduced him to a state of complete obedience, a shadow of the daring man he had been before his capture.

As the guards carry the other prisoner away, they mock him and tell him to clean up the mess he's made by dropping his load. He begins to cry, his mind wandering back to the life he had before the mines. He had been a pilot, with a wife, Kate, and two young sons, Alex and Scott. Having just been accepted to the space program, he was taking his family out for an afternoon flight in a small aircraft to celebrate.

As they fly, they encounter a huge, alien spacecraft, which attacks them and begins to pull their small plane towards it. As the plane starts to tear apart, Kate gives the sole parachute on the plane to her sons and tells them to look after each other. Now captives aboard the ship, Christopher and Kate watch as their sons' parachute bursts into flames.

Their captors reveal themselves to be zoologists of the Shi'ar Empire, collecting specimens for the Emperor's collection. When the Emperor becomes abusive towards Kate, Christopher attacks him and is shot with a neuro-blast. To punish him, the Emperor kills Kate right in front of him. He fought hard for his freedom, but without his family he lost the will to live and carried on only for fear of being tortured.

As his awareness returns to the present, he is surprised to be face to face with a large, reptilian man; mistaking him for one of his captors, Christopher recoils in fear, begging not to be hurt. The large man politely explains that he, Ch'od, and his cyborg friend, Raza, mean him no harm, and are simply looking for their friend, describing the white-furred woman he had run into moments before.

Christopher slinks away and mumbles that he didn't see anything. Ch'od and Raza realize that he's lying, and pity him because they know he does so out of fear of his captors. Raza suggests that they should kill him, lest he alerts the guards to their presence. Ch'od admits that that would be logical, but points out that to do so would make them as bad as the slavers. Raza claims that it is a false mercy, since killing him would at least put him out of his misery of no longer being a man.

As the two leave him, their words sink into Christopher's mind and he screams out, "NO!" and decides that if he is to die in this prison, he will die as a man. Walking into the guard's dining area where the white-furred woman is being held in chains. From the shadows, Ch'od and Raza see him and fear they may be caught. But then Christopher stabs the guard with a sharp rock, stealing his whip and using it to fend off the others as he makes his way to the woman.

As he begins to be outnumbered, Ch'od and Raza come to Christopher's aid and easily defeat the guards. While they fight, he releases the woman. Licking his wounds, she says that for risking his life for her, they now have a blood-bond and are comrades til death, though that may not be for long. Ch'od comments that they've managed to evade the slavers so far, but the woman says they'll never be free unless they can get off the planet, and for that they'd need a pilot.

Christopher volunteers his skills, and says that if they'll have him, he would like to escape with them. Ch'od accepts and asks Christopher if he has a name, to which he replies "Call me Corsair."


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