On a highway running through the deserts of America’s Southwest, three motorcyclists—two men and a woman—ride together. They leave behind them a cloud of dust. Each of their bikes bears at its front a cryptic image of a silver eyeball. Their own eyes, they cover with visors. They are gruff, fierce and determined. Their destination remains to be seen.
Elsewhere, a hunky truck driver sits in his big rig in a wooded parking lot and speaks to someone over his CB radio. “The Outriders are on the move. Intercepting the bounty hunter you had capture the Dazzler will be no problem,” the voice on the other end of the radio says. “Not with their talent. It’s all finally going to work, Dust. After so many years…”
“Time’s always been on our side, my dear,” Dust says back, “…despite our individual difficulties in dealing with its effects.” The voice on the other end of the radio tells Dust he’s had to do so much, and endure such strain, just in arranging the circumstances needed to bring the Dazzler to them. Dust admits he has had to shift bodies more often lately. “The young, the strong hold up best,” he says, “but they aren’t always the ones needed to manipulate a particular event. It’s been tricky—and I cut this latest shift a bit close,” he adds. Sitting next to him in the cab of a truck are the skeletal remains of a human being, still wearing the same clothes he wore when he died. “But it’s done, my dear. The Dazzler will soon be happily joining us—and never suspect we pushed her all the way. Now rest, Silence. I know how painful talking is. Rest. I’m on my way home. A healthy, strapping, somewhat brutish knight of the road…! I think you’ll be amused.”
Meanwhile, on another road in that region of the country, O.Z. Chase tends to his Ford truck, which he’s parked on the shoulder of the road. His loyal companion, Cerberus, sits in the road next to the truck. “Lemme tell you, dog,” Chase begins, “I don’t believe this! One second we’re ridin’ along, chattin’ with Alizon Blaire, who, other than complainin’ about my cigar smoke, says she’s content to come peacefully with me an’ get the charges against her cleared up—an’ the next, we’re here! Stuck on the side of the road with a truck that won’t start and no lady at all!” He slams the hood shut. Did Alison snooker him, he asks? Does she have some kind of mutant power besides using light? Why can’t he remember what happened or at least find something wrong with the truck? Everything checks out, he says, but nothing works! Frustrated, he resigns himself to hiking to the nearest town for a tow. He orders Cerberus to guard the pickup truck.
As he begins walking toward town, however, Cerberus follows at his side. “Or just trot along like you never heard a word I said,” Chase sighs. “This whole business is gonna make me a joke among professional bounty hunters,” he says, patting Cerberus on the head, “—why should you brighten up my life an’ suddenly act like a real dog who obeys commands?”
Elsewhere, Alison Blaire, the Dazzler, finds herself floating in the middle of a giant, multi-level shopping mall with the Beyonder at her side. For her, time and place have lost their meaning. Traveling from Arizona to Colorado with the bounty hunter O.Z. Chase, she has suddenly, miraculously been pulled away into incredible adventure and romance. It seems little more could happen that would shock or surprise her. But the author of this interruption is the One From Beyond. He has come to Earth from beyond reality as we know it. If there are limits to his powers, they have not yet been demonstrated. He is on his own journey, one of discovery; to learn about the beings called humans and the world that they have made. And it can take him anywhere.
Dazzler, floating effortlessly in midair at the Beyonder’s side, looks down at the hordes of shocked onlookers and shoppers. She holds her hand to her chest, her heart aflutter. She thought the Beyonder was taking her back to where he found her, she says. She’d read about this new mall opening—but never expected to see it from this perspective. Before they part, he says, he wanted to hear her sing again—and he knows she misses performing. The acoustics in this mall, from this exact spot, will be perfect for it. They’ve done well, he adds—averted a potentially great disaster. He feels her singing would be a pleasant reward for both of them.
Dazzler puts her hand on his shoulder longingly. Usually a success such as they just had is its own reward, she says—the satisfaction of knowing they’ve done something for the greater good of everyone. She’s particularly pleased because she’s been working to reverse some of the anti-mutant hysteria spread when she publicly revealed her powers. If only she could do more positive things…
The Beyonder, finishing her thought, infers that she might therefore find more satisfaction. Interesting, he says—yet he doesn’t believe he’s experienced it. Sure, he gets a certain exhilaration from the action and the danger, but then again, he has no emotional ties to this world or its inhabitants—or at least not yet. The closest he gets are the feelings he has about Alison. He tells her that he would like to join her in her struggle. Together, they’ll combat the unreasoning fear humans have for mutants. They’ll both win the satisfaction—
“Nice,” Dazzler says, interrupting him, “—but it doesn’t work that way. I got into this mess by letting other people help me,” she says. “My satisfaction will come from resolving it on my own. And the sooner we get back—”
“The sooner you can resume that task,” the Beyonder says, finishing her sentence. In an instant, he transports both of them back to the spot from which he first plucked the Dazzler. She arrives next to O.Z. Chase’s abandoned truck, with its owner nowhere in sight. After they arrive, the Beyonder tells her that someday, when she’s less driven, she really must sing at that mall. She will someday, Dazzler replies—when she’s strictly Dazzler the performer again.
Peering inside the truck, Dazzler remarks that it looks like her bounty hunter escort gave up waiting. How long was she gone, she asks? The Beyonder tells her it doesn’t matter; he can just reverse time to the exact instant in which he took her away, if she wants. Like Mr. Chase, she need not have any memory of what happened. He may have drafted her a bit abruptly, she says, turning to him, but she likes the memory of all they did together. She requests they not tamper with it. She’s sorry he cannot feel something similar to her satisfaction, but who knows what he’ll discover next while traveling among Earth and its inhabitants? “Goodbye, Beyonder,” she says, kissing him on the cheek. “I’ll miss you.”
Meanwhile, O.Z. Chase and Cerberus finally arrive at civilization—or something slightly reminiscent thereof. In what appears to be a small, truckstop town, Chase spots an auto yard. He tells Cerberus not to go turning his snout toward the bar; he cadged Chase’s last cigar on the walk into town, so he definitely shouldn’t expect to be treated to a beer. They’re just gonna line up a tow truck and head straight back to their vehicle!
Unfortunately for Chase, he discovers that both of Barnard Complete Auto’s trucks are out on call. It could be quite a wait, the mechanic says, and while he can’t exactly recommend the food over at the diner, he can recommend the air conditioned bar.
While Chase speaks with the mechanic, Cerberus peers out the garage door to a figure across the street. It’s a woman on a motorcycle—one of the Outriders Dust hired. Speaking to her associates over her CB radio, she reports that it’s a good thing they split up. She found the bounty man, she says. It’s a good thing she came this way, she adds; she had a good feeling. She reports that she sees neither Chase’s truck nor the girl, though.
Chase, meanwhile, enters the bar. The cheery hostess—a blond woman named Eula wearing a pink sweater—asks how he’s doing today. “Darlin’” Chase tells her, “I’m at the point where I expect to hear your air conditioner’s ready to blow an’ all the beer’s gone flat.” He sits down at the bar. “Now if that isn’t the case, then you can just set a cold one near my elbow an’ leave me to lean against your bar an’ brood.”
Eula, peering out the window, asks Chase if some kind of animal followed him. She’s not sure her boss would want people’s pets just sprawling by the door like that, she adds. Turning to her, Chase says that if her boss can get him to sprawl some other way, then it’ll be one trick more than that ‘pet’ ever did for him. Someone left the monster with him as a marker on a debt, and he’s been paying for it ever since. “Couldn’t bring that beer now, could you? This is cuttin’ into my broodin’ time,” he says.
While pouring his beer, Eula tells him that if he didn’t act like such a bear, that poor pet of his wouldn’t behave like one either. One of Eula’s personal rules is to always be cheerful, no matter what. She asks if she already told him her name was Eula. Handing him his beer, she says they get lots of hunters coming through their town, but she never saw any with a rig for their guns like Chase wears. It’s real cute, she says. She bets there’s a lot cute about him—when he stops being so grumpy. Grabbing his beer, Chase tells Eula that won’t be happening anytime soon—unless he suddenly finds something he lost earlier that day. But, he adds, if any miracles do occur, Eula will be the first person he notifies.
From behind him, a voice tells Chase he might as well set his beer back down. He’s going to be too busy to drink it. Turning, he beholds the three Outriders. The portly rider, brandishing a chain, says they’ve come for the lady—the one who sings so fine and shines so bright. The mohawked rider in the middle states that she isn’t mean to be caged. Finally, the female rider tells Chase that his bring her in ends now.
Eula doesn’t quite grasp the tone or the intent of these new patrons. She cheerily introduces herself and asks how they’re all doing. Chase tells her that this looks a bit extreme for her brand of charm; she’d better let him handle the negotiations. Standing, Chase poses a question: suppose he told them Alison Blaire’s no longer with him? Grabbing Chase by the shirt, the mohawked rider assumes that means he stashed her some place. They know his reputation; he’s too good to lose her—just like they’re too good to not beat Dazzler’s location out of him. Song birds should be free, he adds angrily! Free as they are when they’re riding the road.
He keeps speaking. Chase interrupts him by thrusting his knee up into the man’s crotch. Flinging him aside, he splashes his beer in the portly man’s eyes, obstructing his vision. In one swift motion, he pulls his shotgun out of its holster and points it at the biker woman. Don’t even think about using that wrench, he tells her, unless she wants to improve her hairdo with a twelve-gauge part.
“Some cash for the beet, music lovers—then ride!” Chase tells them at gunpoint. “You can be free on the road,” he adds. “With me, you pay. And don’t forget to tip. No need to stare. Just do what I—” He suddenly and involuntarily lifts his gun into the air and fires. Something’s forcing his hand, he shouts. Terrified, Eula runs for the phone to call the sheriff. They’re getting way out of hand, she says. As she reaches for the phone to make the call, however, it lifts into the air at such speed that it snaps its cord. Eula stares at it, dumbfounded. That couldn’t have just happened, she said; it’s like those things they talk about in the National Star—those things that are done by mutants!
Meanwhile, Chase gets whipped in the face by the portly Outrider’s chain, then thrown through the bar’s plate-glass window. He lands beside Cerberus, who still sleeps peacefully. Picking himself up, Chase informs his dog—through strained breaths—that his master was just heaved through a window. Doesn’t that maybe arouse in him some kind of action? Taking his cue, Cerberus marches inside the bar. Upon entering, his attention is captured by Chase’s tipped-over mug of beer on the counter. Cerberus stands on his hind quarters and inserts his snout into the mug, licking up every last drop. Eula, meanwhile, reminds herself to always be cheerful—no matter what.
Outside, the riders wail on the downed Chase. As he kicks him in the ribs, the mohawked rider asks Chase where he’s hidden the Dazzler. They know she’s near; they can feel her! Where is she?!?
“If that’s some sort of E.S.P.,” Dazzler says from across the street, “it needs some serious fine-tuning. Or are you just so happy in your work, you hate to look up?” The Outriders look to see their mark, the Dazzler, addressing them from beside Chase’s truck. It’s the shining lady, they say! She already escaped! They tell her there’s a safe place they can take her—as soon as they finish convincing the bounty man to keep his face out of her life. “You’re finished already!” Dazzler shouts. Taking aim, she fires a high-powered blast of light at them, invoking all sorts of colors from the visible spectrum. It scatters and stuns them.
She rushes over to Chase’s side to see if he’s okay. No, he says, but shock and trauma are still operating in his favor. Speaking of which, he says, how’d she manage to get his pickup truck running? He doesn’t even bother to ask how she drove it without the keys, or where she’s been until then. “I…got help,” she answers. “Another traveler—he seemed to have a talent for dealing with these things.”
She asks what all the fighting is about. He wasn’t scooping them up for bounties, was he? It appeared their connection was with her. He tells her she has some real intense fans, and supposes they were around that Arizona town when he nabbed her. He figures they wanted to prevent her capture. Dazzler doesn’t quite buy it. She only sang there one night, she says, and she thinks if these gruff individuals were in the audience, she would have remembered them. Chase, tending to a bruised spot on his head, tells her they came on a lot like she did—meaning he thinks they’re mutants like her. In addition to claiming they could ‘feel’ certain things, they had his shotgun and the bar phone whipping around on their own. They scared everyone else into bailing out the back door the first chance they had! Inside the bar, Cerberus continues lapping up the spilt beer.
Those certainly sound like various psychic powers, Dazzler tells Chase. Citing them off, she assumes they’re forms of telepathy and psychokinesis. However, that doesn’t make them mutants, anymore than Thor’s hammer makes him one. Plus, their powers seem to be at a relatively low level. What makes them dangerous are their human qualities like brutality and violence. They should dump them with the local authorities, she says, and get on with resolving those bail charges that brought him after her in the first place.
To her surprise, the Outriders return. She’s willingly going along with a system rigged to destroy her, they ask? She doesn’t know who her friends are, and that makes them angry—more angry than they’ve ever been! Lifting his hands, the lead biker fires an energy attack at Dazzler and Chase, who leap out of the way just in time. As they dive, Chase shouts that the bar’s main power line is blowing right out of its housing!
The portly Outrider, Chunk, tells his leader to stay his hand a bit. Clear and easy, he says—and powerful! He tells his peers to attack in unison. Chunk is right, the woman says. They’re closer—there’s almost no need to talk. Whatever they had between them just kicked into a new gear! Maybe they were never mad enough, Stomper, the leader, says to Mama. As long as they have it, however, they should use it!
Struggling to her feet, Dazzler urges Chase to get inside the bar. This is turning more into one of her kinds of battles than his, she adds—and it’s turning for the worse! At that moment, the Outriders direct their combined powers toward a water main beneath the street—and beneath Dazzler and Chase. It erupts, sending a geyser through the asphalt and into the air! Dazzler and Chase are propelled off their feet and to the ground. Stomper approaches Dazzler and grabs her by the wrist. Enough fooling around, he says, or they’ll do more than just cause a water main to erupt under her feet! She’ll thank them later, he adds. For the moment, however, she’s coming along, like it or—
“—not!” Dazzler shouts. She fires two beams of light out of her eyes, and into his. Before she can strike her reeling foe with another strobe blast, something grabs Alison Blaire, an invisible force with a giant’s grip, seizing her and hauling her upward. Chunk and Mama stand with their arms outstretched, directing the energy they manipulate at Dazzler. Then, they begin to toy with her, spinning her around and around, faster and faster. As she twirls, Dazzler struggles to break free, lest she pass out. Her body’s absorbed enough sound to carry her through any battle, but that won’t be much help if she can’t convert that sound into light, effectively and soon.
Fighting vertigo, she times her shooting of a laser-thin beam with the relentless spinning of her body. Her laser-thin, laser-sharp beam cuts the two support poles bearing the bar’s sign. It falls over, nearly smashing both Chunk and Mama and breaking their hold on her. Dazzler begins to fall. Training with Cyclops on firing beams of light has paid off, she thinks. She hits the ground, her exercise-honed body prepared for the impact of the drop. However, she is not prepared for the violent mental shove that comes from the two Outriders being startled into her release.
Stomper orders the other Outriders to attack Dazzler before she recovers. They can’t give her another chance to use those light powers again, he says. Unfortunately for him, Chase approaches from behind, taking him by surprise. He shouldn’t make any promises, Chase says—he owes him! The biker spins, and O.Z. Chase feels himself hit, not with a fist, but with a glance. He crashes into the bar door, shattering it. He’s out of his league, Stomper tells Chase. When the lady said to get inside, he should have listened! The Outriders turn their attention to Dazzler once more. Together, they concentrate on making pain spread through her body, making it harder for her to breathe and fight back.
Meanwhile, from behind a nearby building, a civilian observes this battle with awe. He runs back to his fellow townspeople—many of them patrons of Eula’s bar—and reports that they’re still battling. They’ve caused a lot of damage with their weird powers, he says; it’s like King King versus Godzilla has come to town, for real! And to think, he thought this mutant menace thing was just trumped up to boost TV news ratings. He tells Eula they’ll do what they can, but with the sheriff out of town, he doesn’t know whom to call. One of the truckers suddenly realizes that he left his eighteen-wheeler when next to the gas station Eula’s bar they evacuated. If anything happens to it, he’s ruined! Another man says the entire down is in danger—but they can’t go off half-cocked against mutants. He tells a boy named Joey to find some more folks—ones likely to have extra guns! Joey enthusiastically takes off on his quest, commenting that it’s even better than Red Dawn!
The Outriders, meanwhile, finally succeed in subduing Dazzzler. She may have gone down hard, but she’s finally down, they cheer! Mama is less enthusiastic: she notices something rising out of Dazzler’s body—some kind of weird energy. The cloud of nebulous energy begins to take form and speak. This isn’t how it was supposed to be, it says. By shifting its being within hers, it hoped to experience what she does—it should have already encountered the satisfaction she spoke of earlier! As it begins growing legs and taking a human form, it remarks that it should have shared the feeling Dazzler derives from fighting her own battles. The energy finally takes the shape of the Beyonder. This feeling, he comments, is actually frustration! He feels helpless and passive, while the one he cares for is hurt, and suffering! He will not endure it! he proclaims.
Coming to her senses, Dazzler looks to the Beyonder and speaks his name, dumbfounded. The Outriders are equally dumbfounded. What is this guy? Their power has grown, they say, but they can’t quite get a reading off of him. They have to crush him fast, Stomper commands, before he springs any new surprises!
Fast as thought, a diesel engine roars to life, and the driverless eighteen-wheeler becomes a speeding, relentless juggernaut heading in Dazzler’s direction. Look out, she cries! The Beyonder turns just in time obliterate the truck with an energy blast. They stopped it, Dazzler says, but it was close. For a moment, she thought—
“Something had gone wrong with my powers?” the Beyonder asks. “No. But I am limiting them. Trying to keep them in scale with your fascinating world, Alison,” he adds, “—to give my actions meaning. And in having to fight hard, risking much to save you…I feel good! I feel…as you and Earth’s other heroes must!” He transforms his clothes from his white jumpsuit into an outfit more befitting a superhero. His new form-fitting unitard masks most of his head, but leaves his hair and face uncovered. Stylish black markings and a belt are the only accessories altering its otherwise monochromatic appearance. This feeling of contentment, he says, combined with that accomplishment—can this be satisfaction?
Dazzler confirms what he thinks. “It can also be fleeting,” she adds, “even when you’re a hero with a nifty new costume!” They’ve only just been through a skirmish; that doesn’t mean the war is over. From the looks of things, she adds, it may be escalating!
Dazzler is absolutely right. Across the street, the Outriders mount their motorcycles. Songbird’s buddy may not be lacking in power, but he seems new to using it, Stomper says. Three hard chargers hitting him from every direction will leave him reeling! Stomper’s confidence, however, is unfounded, as the Beyonder effortlessly blasts Chunk off his bike and into a metal pole. Dazzler urges the Beyonder to take it easy; striking fast before they can regain the edge is fine, she says, but they shouldn’t hurt them anymore than they’re forced to. Beyonder says they should also hope that choice remains theirs. To clarify, he tells Dazzler to take a look at the Outriders again.
Urging Chunk to get up and move past the pain, Stomper says the Outriders are still growing in power. They have no limit, he says, and Mama concurs. Combining their powers once more, they turn their attention to the gas pumps. With ease, they set them ablaze. For each blast a column of blazing petroleum begins to erupt skyward, only to have its fiery power seized, twisted and shaped into something even more deadly! The fireballs and shrapnel shoot toward Dazzler and the Beyonder like unearthly cannonballs.
Invoking his restrained power, the Beyonder halts the fireballs in midair and obliterates them. Dazzler, acknowledging that he can take care of the fire just fine, reminds him that the fragments from the explosion will still rain down on them—unless she creates a protective dome with laser light to deflect them! Her plan works. However, it quickly exhausts the reserves of sound waves she can transduce into light. Yet, she doesn’t sense the strain—if anything, she feels buoyed, and strengthened. That strength lasts—upholding the shimmering umbrella of vibrating light molecules through the fiery storm.
They make fine team, the Beyonder says while grinning. Her knowledge and ability offsets his inexperience; they sustain each other, he says. It appears to be working that way, Alison comments, but every time they break an attack from the bikers, they bounce back harder—and whatever’s coming next looks like it’s going to take even more sustaining than they’ve done so far!
Alison is right. The Outriders emerge from the fiery rubble as a new breed of terror entirely. While they were once separate entities, they are now a merged vehicular menace—a three-wheeled motorcycle of evil. It is a nightmare. A fever vision fused from flesh, machinery, and the twisted will of three minds expanded beyond all limits. It is a nightmare shaped by dreamers who have long lost sight of their original goal. It is a nightmare, and it storms through reality with no end but the slaying of two beings fixed in its path.
As the hellish motorcycle fires on Dazzler and the Beyonder, he whisks them out of its way. Firing back, he comments that if he had never limited his powers, he would never have imagined how difficult something as primitive as combat could be! He cannot relax his guard for even a moment—yet what a vivid learning process! He believes he sees a way for them to deal with this new version of their foe, he tells Alison. Is she ready? Top of her form, she answers.
The demonic tank comes at them once more. While dodging its blasts, the Beyonder comments that they cannot properly angle their shots while swerving. Before they can adjust, he tells Dazzler to fire at its three faces! While they’re blinded, he can—
“No,” Alison states. “I’ve developed my own strategy. It’s called walking away.” She does just that, leaving the Beyonder to fight the machine. He shouts at her as she goes; what is she doing? She’s making herself a target! If they don’t keep resisting, he says, there’s—
“No satisfaction,” Alison answers, interrupting him once more. “And without it, I don’t think you’ll keep prolonging—something that’s already over.” With those words, the mayhem in the town transforms in an instant. Where the merged bikers once stood, there now rest three unconscious Outriders. The Beyonder, meanwhile, instantaneously changes out of his superhero outfit and into his signature white jumpsuit. She’s correct, he tells Alison hesitantly. He realizes now he was the source of their increasing power, and he was raising it to greater and greater levels. He begs her to please not think he acted out of malevolence. However, as they battled effectively side-by-side, the satisfaction increased. Picking up this train of thought, Dazzler tells him he unconsciously acted to maintain that feeling. He bolstered her capabilities as well. When she sensed that, she deduced what was happening. She understands, though. They were quite a team—but now that he recognizes satisfaction, there are so many better ways to experience it. He’ll discover them as he travels.
Just then, the mob of townspeople arrives, armed with rifles, pistols and clubs. Find some other places to wreck, they shout! They declare they’re taking their town back! They have enough guns and people to make certain their reign of terror ends there—permanently, if they put it to a vote! Addressing the hostile mob, Dazzler tells them she and the Beyonder are not the threat they imagine. If they just give her a moment, she’s sure she can explain everything. Unfortunately, outrage, frustration and fear command this crowd. Words cannot hold it back. Actions, however, might.
O.Z. Chase intervenes and fires his shotgun into the air. If they’re not in the mood to listen to a mutant, they can listen to him, he says. He’s the only human present who actually had lumps laid on his hide. He’d have taken worse had the Dazzler not stepped in against those other three. What’s what really kicked off this war, he says—them not accepting her siding with a human. Now, he’s siding with the lady. If they want to prove that they’re just like what they claim to hate, they’ll have to go through him and her other friend in order to get to her. The trucker tells Chase it’s really easy for him to be self-righteous; his livelihood didn’t get trashed! Just look at his truck! he insists.
As they look over at the demolished eighteen-wheeler, however, they see a brand-new one sitting in its place. Confused, the man claims it looked trash. What about the filling station, someone asks? Wasn’t it also on fire? They don’t see any damage, somehow. Only the bar’s window and door remain in wreckage.
Smirking, Dazzler tells the Beyonder she supposes he stopped limiting his powers. Most of this will fade from their memories, he tells her—and from Mr. Chase’s as well. If anyone learned anything from his words, however, that will remain, simply because it’s more…satisfying. Chase, meanwhile, informs Dazzler and the Beyonder that the three skuzzballs who started the fight are escaping. It doesn’t matter, the Beyonder replies. They’re spent—wasted—drained of even the tiny powers they first exhibited. There is, however, something he noted earlier but ignored during combat. He will leave it with Alison. Elaborating, he states that, although he did indeed unconsciously augment their abilities later in the battle, the trio’s initial leap in powers developed as a reaction to something else entirely: Dazzler’s light.