The year is 2099 A.D. A top of a futuristic multimillion-dollar skyscraper, an experiment involving inter-dimensional travel will soon be underway. A man, Ridley, dressed up in a green protective suit, helps the chief scientist, Jordan Boone, equip a mechanical arm covering. Ridley asks about what happened to the cancer vaccine that Dr. Krigstein was developing. Boone replies that accounting rated it a net loss to replace seven chronic treatments with just one injection, so the board of directors killed the project. Boone warned Krigstein about pursuing that project. Now he will be lucky to find a job.
Boone looks around at the equipment around him, including a large motionless mechanical arm, sitting in front of a large metal ring. Boone boasts how his Virtual Unreality project will be a gold mine for his employers at Alchemax. Ridley wonders if the dimensional portal could reach Asgard. Annoyed, Boone tells his assistant that if he brings up that Thorite nonsense again then he will be fired. Science and fairy tales don’t mix.
He then flexes his arm, and thanks to the arm covering he is wearing he now controls the giant robotic arm, which flexes when Boone flexes. Boone sends his assistant to go watch the scanners as he thrusts the arm through the large ring, permeating with energy in the center.
However, as soon as Boone shoves the fist in, things go wrong. Reality all around Ridley and Boone begins to twist and turn as strange sounds emanate from inside the ring. Suddenly, everything returns back to normal.
What the shock was that, asks Ridley. Boone has no idea, but Ridley begs him to shut down and to pull out the arm. Boone yells that he is trying, but something seems to have his arm. Boone then is able to pull out the arm, but the arm has in its grasp a man!
The man breaks free from the grip and lands on the ground. Justice looks around and marvels at this world being 2099. Looks like a bad episode of Doctor Who to him. He then powers up his first and tells Ridley and Boon that the future isn’t what it used to be. Worried, Boone tells Ridley to call security, but Ridley falls to his knees and clasps his hands, wondering if this mysterious figure is the Prophet of Thor. Not even close, says Justice as he incinerates Ridley.
The Proteus-possessed-Justice then walks up to Boone and tells him that he isn’t here for technical help and he doesn’t want to be crowned the second coming of Thor. Is Boone a man of science? Boone pauses out of fear, and then stammers his name and that he is a PhD.
52 minutes later:
Miguel O’Hara watches the security videos of the incident in Boone’s lab. Sound from the incident cuts off 5 seconds after this strange man comes out of the Virtual Unreality interface. At least… Miguel thinks it’s a man. However, Jordan Boone and this strange man are missing and Miguel is now expected to save his biggest rival in his Alchemax department.
Miguel’s boss, Tyler Stone, exec of Alchemax who calls him Mike for some reason, asks Miguel for an explanation of what just happened here. Miguel bluntly states that it looks like Boone pulled something out of Virtual Unreality and it vaporized his tech support. After that, he does not know. Maybe they went for pizza? Frustrated, Tyler tells Miguel that this will throw off the department’s turnover rate. As Miguel looks at the burned remains of Ridley, he tells Tyler that he is sure that the turnover rate is Boone’s biggest worry at the moment.
However, Miguel is not truthful about everything he saw in the videos. Miguel thinks to himself about how Boone ran a data search before leaving. He accessed restricted files on a superhuman known as the Hulk. Miguel must figure out why.
Tyler turns to Miguel and demands answers. If he calls in Public Eye to investigate, this incident will be all over the Net by tomorrow. Miguel tells Tyler that he needs to ask a few more questions. He will text the blond-haired man as soon as he has answers. Don’t be long, says Tyler. Time is money.
Miguel leaves the building and thinks about Tyler Stone. The man was so keen on keeping Miguel working for Alchemax that he slipped a drug designed to hook Miguel for life. Miguel had to re-sequence his genes to end the addiction, but something happened thanks to a bug in the system and now he is more than human. He still works at Alchemax, letting Stone think that he is under his thumb. However, that is his day job. It is his night job that he has been doing well at recently. He is, of course, Spider-Man!
At the headquarters of the Exiles outside space and time, Heather tells her teammates that if she had come up with this idea sooner Mimic would still be alive. Or not, says Sabretooth. There is no way for them to know how Proteus will react to these implants. Heather tells Sabretooth, Morph and Blink that they know Proteus cannot stand metal, so a strip of surgical steel around their frontal cortex should keep him out. As Blink rubs her neck, she reminds Heather that Proteus transmuted Mimic’s armor from metal to flesh and blood. What if he turns the metal that Heather just stuck in her head to rubber or battery acid?
We don’t know that Proteus can do that, says Heather. We don’t know that he can’t, argues Blink. The whole problem is that the do not know Proteus’ limits, or if he even has any. He can make concrete flow like water just by thinking about it. Frustrated, Heather turns her back on Blink, and asks her what Blink wants her to do. She is wracking her brain for ways to beat Proteus but it isn’t easy. She just got the temporal scanners fully operational. If she had the repairs done earlier then she might have been able to do something.
Sabretooth steps up and tells Heather that if she blames herself for Mimic’s death one more time he will slap her. Mimic hesitated when he had a chance to kill Proteus and he paid the price. Now it is up to them not to repeat his mistake. Maybe, says Heather, but so for the only guy who has punches through Proteus’ reality warp is with them. Is he ready to kill?
Heather points to Longshot, who is perched like a bird on a table. Longshot looks at Heather and tells her that of course he is willing to kill. Lord Mojo placed him at her disposal to serve out her command. Worried, Blink looks at Longshot and wondered what happened to him since the last time she saw him. Longshot tells Blink that his memory was wiped. He doesn’t know how he behaved before. Does this jeopardize the mission? Blink becomes determined, and with tears beginning to form in her eyes she tells Longshot that it doesn’t. She just fears what they have become if they are willing to use Longshot like this.
Suddenly, one of the Timebreakers calls Exiles-Casualty-Five…
“What did I tell you about calling me that?” asks the annoyed Heather.
The Timebreaker corrects itself and tells Heather that the temporal scanners confirm that Proteus is on Earth #928. Longshot leaps off the table into a battle position and tells his comrades not to waste any more time. They have a world to defend and an enemy to destroy. Sabretooth smiles and tells Longshot that he might look light in the loafers but he has attitude. As the Exiles depart to the teleportation room, Morph takes Heather aside and asks about him. Sabretooth and Blink have metal pieces in their heads and Longshot has his luck powers, but what keeps Proteus from getting into his head.
Heather opens a pouch on her jacket and apologizes for almost forgetting. She takes out a piece of surgical metal and tells Morph that his body is basically play dough so there is no point in surgically inserting the metal. He can just push it inside his head and sort of… grip it there. If Proteus tries worming his way in, then it should do the trick. Morph presses the metal against his head and starts to shove it in. He asks Heather if she knows how uncomfortable this is feeling. Tell me, says Heather. As they walk, Morph tells her how she would feel if he asked her to walk around with a marble shoved up her…
“Got it,” says Heather quickly.
Heather apologizes to Morph, telling him that there is no exact manual for this kind of threat. She has to improvise. I know, Heather, says Morph. I know.
Spider-Man swings across the dark city, thinking about the Hulk file Boone accessed. It was from a secret division of Public Eye, which catalogues every known superhuman. When this crisis is over, Spider-Man will have to see what Public Eye has about him… and delete it. In regards to this current problem, the file identified Hulk as John Eisenhart, a dealmaker for Lotusland Studios, who is in town at a dinner meeting with Stark-Fujikawa.
Just at the moment, Spider-Man is blinked right out of the air. When he reappears, he lands with a thud on a rooftop in front of the Exiles. Spider-Man thinks that these guys are out to collect the reward on his head, but Blink throws up her arms and tells him to relax, as they are not here to fight him. They are actually looking for the same person. Confused, Spider-Man asks the group who sent them. Was it D/Monix? Was it Synthia? They sure don’t look like Public Eye employees. Blink tells Spider-Man that they are not from this area, but the man who appeared in Boone’s lab is very dangerous.
Spider-Man asks Blink how she knows so much about the mysterious villain. Blink informs Spider-Man that Proteus is from a separate quantum reality. So are they. She asks him if he understands, and this does make sense to Miguel, in a weird way. Virtual Unreality is said to be able to access other dimensions after all. Spider-Man then asks Blink what she wants with him. Blink explains that he knows this world better than they do and they want to stop Proteus without altering his timeline. Spider-Man thinks to himself that this is weird, but Blink is asking nicely.
Spider-Man then points the heroes to the direction of the Stark-Fujikawa building and states that he thinks Proteus is looking for one of the most violent creatures on Earth there.
Inside the building, the blond-haired John Eisenhart meets with representatives of Stark-Fujikawa, an entertainment corporation, over dinner at the Jack and Lou’s. The representatives thank John for coming, who raises his wine glass and says that he always wanted to dine at this restaurant, but would have had to meet them in Hell to make it happen. Lotusland Studios has been after an account with Stark-Fujikawa for years. He then looks at the three men at the table and asks which of them buys holovids. He has a lineup up shows for the fall season.
One of the representatives clears his throat and tells John that they are not actually in the entertainment sector. They work for Stark-Fujikawa’s personnel department… acquisitions division. You’re headhunters, asks the stunned John. The representative states that this is an unfortunate term – but yes, they are headhunters. They have an opening for John in Osaka and their superiors chose John for it. Annoyed, John becomes serious and tells the men that they are in for a nasty surprise, as two armored Fujikawa employees step forward.
Outside, an employee of the corporation’s restaurant stops Boone and Proteus at the door, telling them that they are closed. Boone, confused, tells Proteus that something must be wrong. Jack and Lou’s never closes. Proteus, however, can sense that John is inside the restaurant. Boone was right. John will make a fine shell that won’t burn out for weeks.
Inside Jack and Lou’s, all the restaurant employees and diners pull out guns and aim them at John, who just realizes how deep of a set-up this is. One of the representatives tells John that he should consider this a compliment that they committed such resources to securing his services. He then takes out an employment contract and pen, asking John to sign it so they can start the relocation process. John reaches for the pen but, as he does, his body begins to grow bigger and greener. Confused, the representative says John’s name, but the monstrous creature before him tells him that John is gone. That little worm is gone to let Hulk cut the deal!
The monstrous, elongated-tongued Hulk grabs the man’s entire arm in his fist. The terrified man tells the others to fire upon the Hulk. The employees all begin to fire. From outside the glass doors, Proteus watches all of this with glee as the Hulk rips everyone apart. Two men come crashing through the glass doors. Proteus tells Boone to wait outside as he goes to slip into something green.
Inside, the Hulk goes on a rampage against the Stark-Fujikawa employees. Proteus comes by the Hulk and tells him that he is a strange one. This is the real him, isn’t it? The businessman – Eisenhart – was the real monster in hiding. Hulk hides behind John’s wheeling and dealing, but that is a necessary evil. Annoyed, Hulk asks Proteus who he is, and how he knows so much about him. Proteus smiles and tells him that his mind is an open book. Most people’s minds are open to him, but none are as grand as the Hulk’s mind. However, his story is about to hit a plot twist.
Outside, Boone watches with horror and mutters to himself over and over that Proteus will let him leave. Suddenly, Spider-Man and the Exiles blink into the building. Spider-Man grabs Boone and asks him what he has done. He then extends his razor sharp finger claws and threatens to shred off Boone’s face if he doesn’t tell him why he is here. Boone confesses that this monster that possesses people’s bodies like a parasite made him find him a durable body that wouldn’t burn out. Sabretooth then realizes that Boone led him to the most powerful body there is. Blink decides to teleport the Hulk out… if they are not too late.
The Exiles rush in and see Justice on his knees. However, when Sabretooth reaches Justice he realizes that the shriveled up husk is empty and lifeless. They are too late. That is when the Proteus-possessed Hulk steps up behind Sabretooth and Morph, punching them both into a wall.
Longshot leaps into action and throws three knives, but Proteus tells him that it will take more than that to penetrate the Hulk’s hide. However, he doesn’t even think they can lay a hand on him. He then slams his hands together, causing a deafening shockwave that sends Longshot flying out the window of the skyscraper. Spider-Man leaps out the window to catch Longshot before he dies.
Proteus towers over Blink and tells her that it is almost a shame that her teleportation arrows can’t touch him. She must long to teleport him right into the sun. Blink, weakly, tells Proteus to shut up. However, he goes on and tells her and he knows her well. He still has some of Mimic’s memories. He knows how she likes to be touched and he knows how Calvin brought joy out of her. Blink yells at him to shut up. How can he remember what love feels like and still be a monster? Sabretooth, who has recuperated, tells Blink not to let Proteus rattle her.
Proteus scoffs at this comment. While he exudes with energy, he tells the three Exiles that it is not a question of letting him do anything. If he wants to take a dump on their souls… they cannot stop him!
Outside, Spider-Man catches Longshot, wondering how this man can weight so little. Suddenly, terror overcomes him and tells him to flee, but the scientist in him makes him turn and look up at the source of fear. He is sorry he did.
Spider-Man utters that this is not possible, as the clouds warp into a swirl and the Stark-Fujikawa building defies the laws of physics and begins to contort and change shape into that of a very angry face. For a moment, Spider-Man hates the Exiles for bringing their troubles to his world.
“So much for not impacting your timeline…” says Longshot.