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This issue is a part of the WAR OF KINGS saga.
The issue begins with Richard battling against Worldmind/Ego, trying to get through to Worldmind. Richard discovers that when Worldmind was damaged by Galactus (back in Nova #15), it had reached out for a protector and found Ego. Richard tries to explain that Ego has corrupted Worldmind and driven him insane, but the Worldmind/Ego merger insists that there is no Worldmind, and there is no Ego, there is only just one being, and blasts Richard again, making him scream.
Inside Nu-Xandar, Robbie thinks he hears someone scream. Irani tries to blow it off as stress levels being peaked after the slaughter of Tarcel’s squadron. Robbie insists on talking to Worldmind, but Irani informs Robbie that Worldmind has closed itself off from being bothered. So Robbie decides that he’s going to head down to the planet and help. When Irani explains that he can not do that, Robbie counters that he can – because they’re system operations, and they decide where people need to be deployed; and he explains he just wrote himself an order to go down to the planet. Qubit quickly follows Robbie as well.
Aboard Vulcan’s ship, the tortured and beaten Tarcel is strapped against the wall with Mentor asking him his name. He refuses it, and Mentor explains he knows his name. When Tarcel asks why he asks for his name if he already knows it, Mentor explains it’s a part of the interrogation process. Just then Vulcan walks in and asks Tarcel his name. Tarcel is silent. Vulcan asks Mentor if he explained the process of interrogation, and Mentor concludes that he believes Tarcel does not understand. Vulcan smiles, and says, “Perhaps he will understand this,” and begins torturing Tarcel.
Elsewhere, Rich continues to battle the Worldmind but is barely holding his own. Wendell (the former Quasar) explains that Rich is thinking to small – that the Quantum Bands operate on imagination. So rather than just blasts and small shields, Rich needs to create a sanctuary that Worldmind/Ego can not penetrate. So Rich closes his eyes and opens them again and is suddenly in his room. He opens the window to see Worldmind/Ego trying to penetrate the sanctuary with various attacks, but is unable to breach the walls. Rich figures that the Worldmind became unstable after the battle with Galactus (back in Nova #15), but believes that Ego preyed on that and corrupted Worldmind; when Rich had originally believed that Worldmind lobotomized Ego and took over Ego. He then remembers that there’s a chance that there’s a portion of Worldmind that has not become corrupt, because Worldmind had sanctioned off a piece of Rich’s mind when he had become infected with the Phalanax Transmode Virus (back in Nova #5). Rich reaches out and suddenly Ko-Rel appears in the living room with Rhomann Dey. When Rhomann Dey explains that Worldmind is using Ko-Rel to interface with Rich, he then looks at Wendell and explains, “I hope the fact that we died in the line of duty does not make you uncomfortable.” To which, Wendell explains with a smirk, “We’ve all died once or twice in the line of duty.”
Rhomann Dey then explains that, Worldmind knew there was a risk of driving Rich insane when it had originally downloaded itself into Rich. It had used a portion of itself to prevent Richard from being driven insane, the same way that Garthan Saal had been driven insane when he was in full control of the Nova Force. He goes on to explain that unfortunately, there was a back lash that began to corrupt the Worldmind since it had tried to keep Rich sane. The battle with the Phalanax Transmode Virus only made things worse, and then the battle with Galactus had pretty much been the final piece. He explains that Rich needs to disarm the Worldmind by taking back the Nova Force, so that he can purge the malign influence of Ego, so that Worldmind can begin to repair itself. Worldmind calls on the Nova Centurions to defend him, and they begin to pursue Richard and begin beating him. Nearly defeated, Richard calls out, “Think about it – when you lost your mind, you were trying to help me! Rebuilding the Corps? Turning to Ego for support? It was all to help me! To take the pressure off of me!” This causes the Worldmind/Ego to halt, long enough for Rich to reach his goal and reclaim the Nova powers. With a single blast of Nova Force, that is off the scales in terms of power, Rich puts Ego “to sleep” – a sleep that will last several centuries. Worldmind appears again and explains that his primary core has been damaged and the guide personality is too far gone to be repaired. Worldmind explains that it must purge that personality and rebuild itself from the ground up. Richard tries to protest, but with a final farewell, it does so – reappearing moments later as Ko-Rel.
Aboard the Vulcan’s ship, Tarcel, beaten, bruised and tortured looks up when he hears the voice of someone who claims to be there to save them – and it’s Garthan Saal.