There's always a MacGuffin, preferrably a physical one. Some powerful, essential, possibly mystical object that drives the story forward. Of the many tropes that go into making stories, the McGuffin is one of my absolute favorites, I think because it makes the story so concrete. What is the objective? Get the thing, or move the thing from one place to another, or protect the thing. Saving the world/ country/ city/ town/ village/ family/ lover is just a by-product of making sure the thing does what its supposed to. The idea of the MacGuffin is old as the tides (think Prometheus and fire, or Siegfried and the Ring of Nibelung), but it was Hitchcock who popularized the name.
Star Trek, as with so many epics, is littered with MacGuffins. "Captain, we need the thing from Planet X to save the ship!" "Captain, we have to protect the widget of Galaxy N to save the universe!" You get the idea, I think. Of course, since this comic is in many ways our continuing homage to Science Fiction epics, a new quest for a MacGuffin has begun, in the form of the Cyberstellar Cortex. This story arc is going to run for a bit, and see Captain Gabriel Quail in situations he's never been in before. Should be fun.
Speaking of stories centered around powerful mystical objects, let's talk about Chapel Also Ran, our Webcomic O' the Week for this week. It has been well-established in these posts that I am a huge fan of Terry Pratchett, so any work of fiction that reminds me of his storylines and humor gets pretty high marks in my book. Chapel has that, as well as some just incredible art. I feel like the overall quality of art in webcomics in the past decade has steadily increased, to the point where the major players that started in the 90s/early-00s probably couldn't make it today. Chapel is one of those newer excellent art examples. I guess I should say what its about: Chapel Also Ran follows a man who's on the run because he possesses a book of untold power, and is being hunted by the agents of the world empire. (If you're hearing Pratchett's Color of Magic in the background, good. I hear it too.) There are only two chapters available, but they are so worth reading that you should stop reading this and go do so.