Cover Date: November 2009
Release Date: September 23, 2009
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Penciller: Kevin Sharpe
Inker: Nelson Pereira
Colorist: Bruno Hang
Letterer: VC's Cory Petit
Assistant Editor: Michael Horwitz
Editor: Bill Rosemann
Cover Artist: Brandon Peterson
Nova and Probationers Fraktur, Morrow and Irani Rael fly over to the Resolute Duty to help the ship's crew. As they fly over the ship's hull, their presence is detected by someone standing on the ship. He is cloaked in Stealth Mode and goes undetected by the Nova Corps. The mysterious stranger doesn't know what to make of the Nova Corps and decides to investigate further. He discovers that Nu-Xandar is using a tractor beam and scanning the ship. The cloaked man uses nanotechnology to take advantage of the scanner's wave to deliver a virus to the WorldMind.
On board the Resolute Duty, the Nova Corps split up to explore the ship more thoroughly. Irani finds the Hydroponics Gallery in rough shape but would be functional if it had more power. On the bridge, Fraktur finds active service repair droids using the last of their batteries to continue their normal routines. Down in the lower decks, Morrow has found that the ship has had a lot of damage in that area that has been repaired but no signs of life. Richard Rider discusses the situation with the WorldMind. Suddenly, the artificial sentience detects an anomalous reading and that it is interfering with her scans. Without warning, the WorldMind loses the communications link along with the tractor beam and Nova Prime is attacked by someone hiding in the shadows!
Meanwhile, back on Nu-Xandar, the WorldMind informs Probationers Tre Owens, Lindy Nolan and Qubit that communications with the rescue team have been lost and her operating systems has been infected. Extreme security measures are activated and the artificial sentience goes offline.
The three Probationers can't decide what to do with Qubit stating he believes they should obey Nova Prime and stay where they are. Richard's brother, Probationer Robert Rider, agrees with Qubit that they shouldn't get in Rich's way.
Back on the Resolute Duty, Nova Prime encounters the being who had attacked him. He discovers the attacker was the sole surviving Centurion on board. The Centurion introduces himself as Zan Philo and that he has been alone on the ship for thirty-five years. He further explains that it was a stargate accident that caused them to be lost in deep space and in another universe. Zan tells his rescuers how, after many failed attempts to return to his proper universe, he chose to continue his mission as a Centurion and bring order to his new area of space.
Nova Prime welcomes him back and informs Zan Philo that it was the Fault which brought him back. Zan is happy to have fellow Nova Corps members with him as his ship has a prisoner onboard who requires constant vigilance. The prisoner is a neutron slave gang-boss and his gang was getting ready to attack the Resolute Duty when they entered the Fault.
Back on Nu-Xandar, Robert Rider has run diagnostics on the WorldMind and discovered the nano-particles that were introduced by the cloaked stranger. Robbie realizes that with the WorldMind offline to fight the infection, Ego's rate of regrowth has increased quickly and he will be fully functional soon!
Down on the Resolute Duty's Cage Deck, Zan Philo shows Nova Prime and the Probationers his prisoner. Zan informs them that the slave-boss's name is The Mind. The Mind's gang is known as The Black Hole Sons. The Centurion goes on to explain that neutron slaves are extremely tough and can survive the vacuum of space and high gravity. These abilities allow them to mine neutron stars. While working the stars, the neutron slaves discovered they could use the conditions to produce a drug called Krush. With the ability to make Krush, the neutron slaves chose to become drug runners instead of miners.
Morrow asks Zan Philo about his right arms which appear to be from another alien race and grafted to his body. Zan tells Morrow that, five years ago, he had been in a fierce fight with three Grogox Weaponriders. During the battle, he lost his arm and taken to the ship's sick bay. The Resolute Duty's repair droids fixed the Centurion the best they could and used the arms of one of the Grogox as a replacement.
Suddenly, the WorldMind comes back online! The artificial intelligence system has detected the attacker onboard the ship. However, she cannot see him due to the stealth camoflage being used. The Xandarian computer has built a program that can locate the invisible foe and tells Nova Prime that their enemy is standing next to him. Rich turns around to see the form of Fraktur change into a blue and purple garbed human! The invader swiftly punches Philo and ducks Richard Rider's attempt at hitting him.
However, the stranger's nano-swarm is making it hard for the Nova Corps to get a fix on him. He continues his attack and uses his vortex pistol to blast Irani Rael. Nova Prime unleashes an energy blast at his foe but the caped man dodges it. Before Rich can fire again, the stranger sends a cybernetic falcon-drone he calls Ulysses to knock Nova Prime down.
Morrow grabs the elusive man from behind and holds him around the neck. The stranger mentions that his nano-swarm may be still confusing the Centurion and perhaps even stopping him from using his Nova powers. He then turns and punches Morrow.
The caped attacker turns and draws a sword on Rich. He proceeds to introduce himself as Monark Starstalker. Starstalker then demands that he be allowed to take what he came for or he will cut off Rich's head with his sword which is comprised of supra-sharp microbots. Nova Prime wants to know what happened to Fraktur and Monark tells him she is unconscious on the ship's bridge.
Rich asks the caped swordsman if he's part of The Mind's gang but Zan Philo steps in to clarify things. Zan reveals that Monark Starstalker is a bounty hunter and has come for the prisoner in order to receive the bounty. The Centurion claims The Mind is a legitimate prisoner of the Nova Corps and will not be turned over to him. Monark counters that he has filed all the necessary paperwork for the reward.
Richard Rider informs the bounty hunter that this area of space falls under the jurisdiction of the Nova Corps and galactic law. Starstalker argues that The Mind was in his jurisdiction when the capture was made by Zan Philo and the Centurion illegally took him over a jurisdictional boundary. To emphasize his demands, Monark threatens to unleash his nanoswarm into the Resolute Duty's engines and cause them to explode.
Before the argument can continue, the WorldMind interrupts with a warning that Ego has returned and is attempting to take control of Nu-Xandar! At the same time, nine members of the Black Hole Gang (aka The Mindless Ones) have arrived and have begun attacking the Resolute Duty!