The story is set mainly aboard the deep space freighter Vanguard, belonging to the Maelstrom Science and Technology Corporation. Maelstrom has exclusive rights to explore and exploit a planet called Poseidon, and Vanguard is just arriving there to transfer personnel and pick up valuable specimens of local lifeforms. Steven Paxon signed on to the ship's crew in an attempt to reconnect with his old girlfriend, Michelle Robinson, who's on Poseidon helping collect said lifeforms. When the ship is damaged, however, they and a few other survivors find themselves in a Sinking Ship Scenario.
This comic provides examples of:
- An Arm and a Leg: Warner, a shuttle pilot, is attacked by a venomous native lifeform on Poseidon's surface, and the doctors have to amputate his legs. (It's not a case of Amputation Stops Spread, though they stop the spread by other means, but the toxin has already done its damage.) However, Warner points out that he doesn't need legs to fly his shuttle, and ends up rescuing the rest of the surviving cast that way.
- Bittersweet Ending: The planet Poseidon is toxic to humans who stay too long, and personnel are therefore rotated through it rather than permanently stationed there. The freighter Vanguard is conducting one of these rotations, and when it's destroyed, a few survivors escape down to the planet. Most are newcomers, but one of the survivors is Michelle, who was among the group who had already had their maximum safe exposure and needed to leave. It's left open whether or not Poseidon's slow poisoning will prove fatal before another ship arrives, but it doesn't look good.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: It turns out that the damage to Vanguard was deliberately caused by Drummond, the Maelstrom Corporation's efficiency guy, due to having been paid off by a rival corporation.
- Death World: The planet Poseidon is technically habitable by humans, but only for short periods (due to toxicity and radiation) and with great care (due to large, dangerous, hostile lifeforms).Flores: [D]on't worry about logistics for the time being. Do worry about Poseidon. Never forget it is not your home. Poseidon doesn't like you. We're not built to live there. [...] Look, I know how it is with scientists, but we can't have any absent-minded-professor shit down there. If you miss the next ship and stay six years, Poseidon will be your last home.
- Escape Pod: Once it's clear that Vanguard can't be saved, the survivors decide to re-purpose a small repair craft as an escape pod. Unfortunately, Drummond (just exposed as the person who caused the disaster in the first place) escapes and launches it without the others. It doesn't do any good, though, since it just burns up in the planet's atmosphere.
- Heroic Sacrifice: When the surviving personnel aboard Vanguard are caught by the escaped alien lifeform, Captain Chadwick stays to fight in order that the others get away.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The person responsible for the accident on Vanguard (Drummond) is not one of the survivors, having tried and failed to leave the ship before anyone noticed.
- Mega-Corp: The Maelstrom Science and Technology Corporation has an exclusive licence to explore the planet Poseidon, supposedly in the name of science but in practice for profit. However, that licence can be put up for tender again if anything goes wrong with their operations... such as the disaster that the comic is about. It turns out that the event was deliberate sabotage by someone in the pay of a rival company which wanted Maelstrom's monopoly for itself.
- Plant Aliens: When Drummond is informed that the animal-like lifeforms he's looking at can photosynthesize, he's surprised and asks if they're plants. He's told that "animal" and "plant" aren't really valuable biological distinctions for things from a completely different planet; they could be called plant aliens, but that's just applying Earth terminology to things that don't really follow Earth rules.
- Sabotage to Discredit: The Maelstrom corporation has been granted an exclusive licence to explore (and exploit) the planet Poseidon, but this is conditional on there being no screw-ups. If there are, the licence goes up for tender, and there are a lot of other corporations who'd be only to happy to see Maelstrom's operations discredited. Sure enough, the disaster which the comic is about was triggered by sabotage.
- Sinking Ship Scenario: The spaceship variety; the freighter Vanguard is damaged, and needs to be escaped before it is destroyed in a planetary atmosphere. Beyond the danger of the damaged ship itself, survivors also have to contend with also escaped alien predators which were being transported.
- Stalking Is Love: Averted. Paxon was sufficiently determined that his relationship with Michelle ought to have worked that he signed on to a deep space expedition to a remote, dangerous planet just to follow her, believing that she could be made to see reason. Michelle certainly doesn't see it as romantic but neither does he, because by the time the reunion he set in motion actually occurs, he's fully aware that it was the wrong thing to do.Paxon: It's three years on this crossing if you don't spend it asleep. That's a lot of time to reflect on your mistakes. I thought I was being romantic when I left Earth, but it didn't take me long to figure out that coming to Poseidon was a stalker move. That's not how I want you to think of me. You said it was over. That should mean it's over.
- Reentry Scare: The damaged freighter Vanguard isn't designed for atmospheric entry, so either its descent has to be halted or the survivors have to get off it. They eventually make it aboard Werner's shuttle, but the shuttle is knocked off its intended angle of descent to the planet, and are therefore at risk of burning up in the atmosphere. They make it through, but control of the shuttle is sufficiently impaired that they crash-land anyway.