Seven standard days after the destruction of the Kyln, the Nova Corps summon all active Corps members, including human Centurion Richard Rider, to the Corps headquarters – the interconnected remnants of the planet Xandar in the Andromeda Galaxy. The full force of the Corps are to deployed in response to the current crisis brought on by the incursion from the Negative Zone – two hundred planetary systems are without power and reports are flooding in about the massive invasion fleet destroying (annihilating) all in its path. Also present are Rigellian infiltrator Tana Nile, disguised as a Corpsman, investigating the Corps’ response to the crisis, and intergalactic adventurer Beta Ray Bill, who has brought news about the invasion’s progress. Corps techs retrieve data from the flight recorder Bill recovered and predict the fleet is still two star systems away, giving the Xandarian forces time to put their plans into action.
Unfortunately, the techs are wrong – the enemy is here! The massive incursion fleet bursts from hyperspace and attacks the Xandarian habitat network and the Nova Corps forces. Tana Nile attempts to rally ground forces to repel attacks on the Corps starport, which is under fire from both enemy ships and hordes of insect-like forces. Meanwhile, Richard Rider and Beta Ray Bill, along with many other Nova Centurions, fly out into space to take on the enemy ships. While all three fight valiantly, the fleet is too massive and powerful to stop; the habitat network is torn apart and the starport smashes into the huge Corps command centre.
Some time after the enemy fleet has departed, Rich Rider regains consciousness in the ruins of the command centre with the Xandarian Worldmind – the AI that commands the Nova Corps and controls the Nova Force – signalling for his help. All other Corps members are dead, and the Worldmind needs to be retrieved before the command centre falls into the Sun! Moving across the vast ruins, Rich encounters the injured Beta Ray Bill, who is searching for his intelligent ship Skuttlebutt – which Tana Nile has discovered in the wreckage of the starport.
Digging down to the core of the command centre, Rich and Bill find the Worldmind – a massive sphere of intelligent energy, too gigantic to transport. Instead, the Worldmind downloads itself into Rich, filling him with the immense power of the Nova Force – and in the process alerting the enemy fleet of the Worldmind’s presence! Reeling from the transformation, Rich – now the Nova Prime of the Nova Corps – and Bill rocket off to find Skuttlebutt. Tana tells them the ship was badly damaged in the attack and its warp drives don’t work, so Rich uses his new powers and the Worldmind’s assistance to briefly tear open a wormhole. Skuttlebutt and its passengers slip through and escape just before the fleet returns – to the immense rage of its master, Annihilus, who commands his forces to find them!