In some strange dimension…Madison Jeffries sits on his broken Box armor, wondering “What do you do when you are faced with something bigger than you are? Something you can’t win against…something that’ll do you in?” The question goes round and round in his head, and every so often, he thinks back on what happened….
Jeffries recalls that it started back at his apartment, when he got this phone call, from Heather, his fiancée. Heather sounded serious, almost a little distant, it was almost as if she knew his ex-girlfriend, Lillian Crawley, was visiting. Jeffries knows that Lil and Heather hate each other, and with good reason.
Madison asks Heather what is going on, and Lil asks him what the matter is. Puzzled, Jeffries tells Lil that he and Heather got disconnected, and informs her that Heather was asking him to come over, and then he heard Talisman shouting something in the background, that it sounded like “He’s already here!”
Jeffries starts to run out of the room, telling Lil that he has to get over to Heather’s, as he thinks she is in trouble. Lil asks Jeffries if she can go with him, as she may be able to help. Madison turns to Lillian and tells her that it might not be such a good idea, reminding her that she was involved with the death of Heather’s husband, and that Heather has not forgotten about that. But Lil points out that if Heather is in trouble, she might need all the help she can get, and asks him if he has forgotten that she is Diamond Lil, the original invulnerable lady!
Madison walks out of the room, agreeing to Lil’s offer he tells her to get changed fast while he suits up. As he phases into his Box armor and turns around, Diamond Lil had changed into her yellow and green costume and was ready.
Meanwhile, at Heather McNeil Hudson’s home, the leader of Alpha Flight and her foster sister and teammate, Elizabeth Twoyoungmen, the Talisman, find themselves face to face with a mysterious and powerful sorcerer. Vindicator asks the sorcerer who he is, Talisman answers Heather’s question, revealing that he is the Sorcerer, the Opener of the Way for all the evil that lurks outside. Talisman reminds Heather that she tried to warn her about him, but now it is too late.
Llan grins wickedly and tells Elizabeth that as the new Talisman, she is so young and fresh. Talisman stands her ground, telling Llan she has news for him: this is not going to be as easy for him as he thinks. Elizabeth informs him that this is not like the last time when he was here, when the Gods fought him 10,000 years ago, this time it is worse. She tells him to go back, or else they will destroy him.
Llan laughs and tells Elizabeth that he likes her, as he has always been motivated by naiveté, before he corrects her, informing her that he did not battle any Gods, but merely slept, waiting for the next conjunction of the planets. Llan declares that 10,000 years ago, the people of this mud ball were savages, that their numbers and perversities were too limited for his amusement. However, now Llan is impressed, exclaiming that there is such depravity and cruelty in the world now, that there are so many souls to lead down the dark and twisted path, adding that he has his work cut out for him.
Heather stands towards the back pf the room, she is confused and has no idea who this Sorcerer is, even though he seemed to know Talisman. But Heather thinks that is impossible, as Talisman is a 19-year-old young woman. To make matters worse, Heather does not have her costume on, and without her suit, she is powerless. Powerless against an unknown enemy - an enemy who looked like he was ready to do some killing.
Llan turns his attention to Heather now, and informs her not to worry about her neighbors, as they did not hear his arrival, and motioning to her once demolished wall, he points out he has restored it. Llan claims that he is not ready to reveal himself to the world just yet, and that this will be a private party. Heather asks Elizabeth if she can do something, but Llan steps forward and boasts that she cannot do a single thing, declaring that the rules of engagement are very strict.
‘Okay, we’ve heard your little villain’s monologue, but that doesn’t explain what you’re doing here!’ exclaims Heather, before asking Llan what it is he wants. Llan smiles and declares that it is quite simple, ‘I’ve come to take you out!’ With that, Heather and Elizabeth find themselves in some strange dimension, filled with weird objects and odd colors.
‘What is this place? What is the meaning of all this?’ screams Heather, before Talisman informs her that this is one of the Non-Zones, a dimension built by Celestial beings as a combat area. Llan confirms this, declaring it is neutral zone, a place where there will be no witnesses and no interference. Llan grins, showing his jagged teeth as he reveals to Heather that he can see into her mind, and therefore knows her deepest insecurities. Llan tells Heather that she feels naked without her costume on, and knows she wants to be Vindicator right now. ‘Allow me’ he exclaims as he uses his powers to bring Heather’s Vindicator costume to her.
Heather points at Llan and reminds him that he still hasn’t answered her question: ‘I want to know what we are doing here and I want to know NOW!’ Llan also reveals that he knows Vindicator feels more secure with her teammates by her side, and supposes that it is only old herd mentality that humans have which causes this. Suddenly, Elizabeth’s father Shaman, and Doctor Walter Langkowski, wearing nothing but a bathrobe, appear in the Non-Zone.
Seeing Llan, Shaman gasps ‘Oh, no!’, ‘Oh, yes!’ replies Llan, grinning before telling Heather that they cannot forget about her fiancée, telling her that he understands she has been having recent doubts about Jeffries’ faithfulness to her. Heather ignores Llan and tells him that she is getting tired of these games and wants answers. Llan tells Heather to ask him whether or not Madison has another woman in his arms, as he might answer her like so….
With that, Box and Diamond Lil, who are flying towards Heather’s house, Lil asking how far away it is and Box replying that they should be there any second, suddenly find themselves already in Heather’s company. Box flies Lil down towards his teammates as Llan grins and tells Heather that it seems Madison prefers to hold his ex-girlfriend in his arms than she, reminding Heather that this is the same woman who helped murder her husband.
Vindicator tells Llan that she has had enough of his innuendoes and attempts to make her angry. Blasting Llan with plasma energy from her battle suit, Heather tells him to return them all to their homes or they are going to make him wish they never met! Llan just moves slightly to dodge Vindicator’s blast and laughs at her.
Box and Diamond Lil don’t know what is going on, but can see Shaman reach into his medicine pouch for some kind of weapon, but as he is about to use it, Elizabeth shouts, ‘No! Father, don’t do it!’, and Llan fires behind him, hitting the skull weapon Shaman had right out of his hand.
Heather manages to hold the Sorcerer’s attention while Talisman explains the situation to Box, Lil, Sasquatch and her father. Box doesn’t particularly understand it, but makes out what Talisman is saying to be something along the lines of Llan the Sorcerer being worse than the Devil himself. Talisman explains that Llan is not a God or a demon, but something else - something far worse.
Talisman calls over to Vindicator and tells her not to let Llan anger her, as he just wants them to attack him. Talisman adds that Llan is trying to forcer her hand, so asks them all again to stay calm. Llan asks everyone if they heard what Talisman just said, and twists her words, telling them that she has condemned them to die. Llan informs everyone that there is no food nor water here, and that he is the only one who can take them home. He boasts that they will all die horrible deaths unless they fight him.
‘You gotta be crazy, dude We’ll rip you to shreds!’ boasts the ever-confident Diamond Lil. Box backs her up, telling Llan that he better not mess with them. Shaman warns his teammates that it seems as if they are in a stand-off, so it would be best if they wait and see what develops. ‘I’ve got a better idea!’ yells Langkowski as he transforms into Sasquatch and runs towards Llan, despite Shaman’s plea for him not to.
Sasquatch tells Llan that he is about to be history, but even though Sasquatch rushes towards him, Llan doesn’t even move. As Sasquatch is about to punch Llan, their fists meet, and suddenly, two loud cracks are heard before Llan tosses Sasquatch aside, claiming that he has broken both his arms. Heather tells Llan that he had his chance, but it is over now, and the others back her up Box and Diamond Lil close in on him, but Talisman and Shaman call to them, telling them not to. Their words go unheeded however, as Vindicator fires a blast of plasma at Llan, who becomes intangible, and the blast hits Diamond Lil.
Box tries a more physical approach, lifting Llan up over his head - but he pays for it, as Llan fries him with his magic, rendering Box immobile. Heather flies towards Llan while the indestructible Diamond Lil runs at the same time, ready to bothy strike Llan, Llan instead grabs them and bashes their heads together. While Vindicator falls to the ground, Lil gets back up, informing Llan that he cannot hurt her like that as she is invulnerable, but is betting that he isn’t. Again, Lil rushes towards Llan, but as Box tries to stop her, Llan tosses her some miles away.
As Jeffries watches Lil tossed away, something inside him snaps - he wants to kill Llan - he wants his head. He hears Talisman and Shaman tell him to stop, but he ignores them, and his armor becomes a death weapon. He transmutates his arm into a large gun and points it at Llan, telling him that it is over. Llan grins back at Jeffries and informs him that his girlfriends are not dead, that he was just saving them for later - after he has butchered all the men. Llan tells Jeffries to think about all the things he is going to do to the women as he kills him.
‘You won’t get the chance!’ declares Jeffries, shoving the weapon into Llan’s face. ‘BANG!’ smirks Llan, and indeed there is a bang, as Jeffries’ entire Box armor explodes. Pain surges through his head, but it is not as bad as what is to come: Llan continues to surge power through Madison’s body, informing him that he is the first techno-being he has ever killed, so should consider it an honor.
Talisman tells her father that she cannot let Llan kill Madison, but Twoyoungmen reminds her that she knows the consequences should she start fighting Llan. He tells her to listen to what the talisman tells her to do. Box cries out in agony, and with a green glow around her, Talisman declares that she has to stop this, and walks towards Llan, as Shaman tells her not to, as Llan is making her attack him. ‘Don’t do what he wants!’ Shaman cries, as Llan grins and boasts that Box is nearly dead.
Suddenly, ‘STOP!’ cries Elizabeth as she blasts Llan with her phenomenal powers. Llan is knocked backwards, but soon gets up and thanks Elizabeth, declaring that he was wondering when she was going to throw the gauntlet, so the game is now set. As Talisman holds Llan back with her powers, Llan remarks that that talisman was given to a child this time, and informs Elizabeth that her predecessor was much wiser and that he almost respected her. Llan tells Elizabeth that she is easy to provoke, and reveals that he is now free to make his moves - the Earth is now open to him.
Elizabeth warns Llan to stay back, but the Sorcerer just grins back and tells her to warn him all she likes, it doesn’t matter now, as the rules of engagement say that his side cannot do anything until Talisman’s side makes the first move. Llan informs her that by attacking him, she has freed him from his restraints, and there is nothing to hold him back. ‘This is the end game and your men are about to fall!’
Shaman pulls a weapon from his pouch as Llan thanks Elizabeth and tells her he will now give her a reward. Llan knocks Shaman back, not seeing that Jeffries manages to phase himself out of his armor. Llan tells Elizabeth to think of how she has just given him the freedom to impose his designs on her pitiful world, to imagine the changes he can make and the things he can do to people. Talisman tells Llan that he will never get away with that, as things are different now.
Llan claims that he is aware of the changes and boasts that they do not concern him, declaring that the heroes of Elizabeth’s world will be his playthings, he will use them to do his dirty work. Jeffries is busy remodeling his Box armor as Llan extends his hands to Elizabeth, ready to do something - when suddenly, the Box robot grabs Llan by the neck and picks him up, high off the ground. Jeffries looks up at Llan and informs him that he doesn’t have to wear his Box suit, ‘And you’re going to die!’
But suddenly, Llan disappears out of the Box robot’s hand. Elizabeth and Jeffries look around for the Sorcerer, when suddenly, a huge fist comes crashing down on the robot. Talisman and Jeffries jump out of the way as the now-giant Llan looks down on them and asks them if they have not learned anything yet. He tells them that they are like insects to him, that they are nothing and he is going to leave them to their fate. He tells them to enjoy their stay here, and that if they get hungry, to remember that their friends are meat.
Vindicator wakes and looks up at Llan as he declares that they might make a good stew to keep the others alive longer. Shaman also wakes and collects his weapon as Llan tells them to remember that Talisman is the reason they are all here, and Talisman has given him permission to ruin their planet. ‘Remember who sold you out when your stomachs rumble…you might want to eat her first!’
Vindicator fires plasma at Llan while energies pour from Shaman’s weapon, but they both just pass through the Sorcerer, who just stands and laughs. With that, he disappears. Jeffries asks Heather if she is all right, but Heather coldly replies ‘That remains to be seen’, before turning to Elizabeth and asking her what Llan was just saying about her setting him free. She strongly declares that she wants an explanation and not one of her evasive answers.
Eyes downcast, Talisman explains that Llan tricked her into attacking him, that he knew she couldn’t stand idle and let him kill her friends. Elizabeth reveals that she is the new Talisman, that there have been others before in times past. She explains that they are mortal channels through which the Gods can fight the evil ones.
Talisman reveals that Llan the Sorcerer is the most powerful of the ancient evils, the Architect of Madness and Bringer of Despair. Talisman explains that, like all the ancients, Llan lives by certain laws too abstract for mortals to understand. Talisman informs her teammates that when the conjunction came, Llan could not initiate any action against Earth unless her side attacked him.
Elizabeth declares that Llan knew she was young and inexperienced and that her emotions would betray her, so, by hurting the rest of Alpha Flight, he managed to get to her. Talisman states that now Llan is free to change their world into a nightmare that would disgust even the Dreamqueen.
Shaman turns his attention to Sasquatch who has just woken, and tells Walt that he knows it hurts, but that he has to set the bones. Walt asks what happened, as the last thing he remembers is rushing Llan. Twoyoungmen informs Walt that Llan broke his arms and knocked him out, suggesting to him that he stays in this form for a while as the bones should heel faster.
Jeffries tells Elizabeth that he wants to know how they get out of this place and what exactly this place is. Elizabeth informs him that it is another dimension, a place where ancient battles were fought, that a group of Gods created this place long ago for their bizarre games, many of them actually died here. Elizabeth reveals that there are many places like this, all have breathable atmospheres, some have life, while this one is barren and lifeless. Talisman asks her teammates if they know what makes it any worse. ‘We lost’ she admits.
In this strange dimension…Madison Jeffries sits on his broken Box armor, the question remains…’How do you beat the unbeatable opponent?’ While he tries to figure out the answer, Diamond Lil eventually finds her way back to Alpha, aching all over from her fall. Vindicator, Elizabeth and Shaman argue, trying to figure out how to get home. No of them are sure it can be done, but Talisman says that she feels some sort of distant gate.
Jeffries keeps repeating the question round and round in his head. Finally, he thinks he has the answer: ‘It takes a whole lot of luck…and one heck of a strategy’.