The Orb was originally sought out by the thief Peter Quill. It eventually came Korath the Pursuer under the hunt of Ronan the Accuser who was under the orders of the intergalactic warlord Thanos. Quill made his way to Xandar to sell it to the Broker. However, the Broker backed down on their deal when he learned Ronan was also after the Orb. Quill was soon after attacked by Gamora, Thanos' adopted daughter who was hoping to sell the Orb to the Collector.
The bounty hunters Rocket and Groot prevented her from taking it and the four of them were taken into the custody of the Nova Corps. They and the Orb were taken to the Kyln, where it stayed until they and fellow inmate Drax escaped on Quill's ship the Milano.
The five of them then took the Orb to the Collector's base at Knowhere to sell it to him. There, he removed the Stone from the Orb and revealed to them its true nature, which led one of his slaves, Carina, to grab the Stone in a desperate attempt to use it to free herself. However, the Stone's power overwhelmed her, destroying her and a good portion of her master's collection. Gamora quickly put the Stone back in the Orb, planning to return it to the Nova Corps if only to prevent it from falling into Ronan's hands; however, Drax had contacted Ronan's ship, the Dark Aster, while they were meeting with the Collector, and he personally led an assault on Knowhere to retrieve the Orb.
Although they fought hard against the Kree, Ronan's lieutenant Nebula managed to get her hands on the Orb. Now that Ronan knew the true power of the Orb, he kept it for himself, believing he could use the Stone to destroy Xandar without Thanos' help, and placed the Stone in his Universal Weapon. The fanatical Kree then led his ship to assault Xandar, but The Guardians and the Ravagers, the Nova Corps were able to intercept him. Star-Lord, Drax, Groot, and Gamora confronted Ronan in the ship's bridge, but were unable to kill him. Rocket then crashed his ship into the Dark Aster, causing it to crash. Groot sacrificed himself to protect his friends, while Ronan was still unphased.
Quill was able to distract him with a dance-off long enough for Drax and Rocket to destroy his Universal Weapon freeing the stone. The Stone fell out of Ronan's hammer, and Quill was able to grab it as it flew through the air. The Stone's power slowly started to overwhelm him, but The Guardians grabbed him to lessen the burden on him. Quill then used the Stone's power to destroy Ronan. The Guardians handed a new containment Orb over to the Nova Corps.