The Dimension of Manifestations, a realm beyond reality where fractal beings fashion temporary bodies for bodiless entities. Quasar a.k.a. Wendell Vaughn hovers in a quantum armor, while a manifestation of Eternity floats beneath him and the being called the Contemplator. ‘So that’s the scoop, Contemplator - since there’s nothing to be done for this zoned-out manifestation of Eternity, I’m going to high-tail it back to Earth’. He explains that is where his former teammates in the Avengers are about to launch an assault on the cosmic muck-amuck they figure did this to the temporal spirit of the universe. ‘So…how about showing me the exit?’ Quasar asks. Wendell drops his quantum armor, but as he sees the Contemplator looking thoughtful, he asks ‘Contemplator - the exit? Time’s wasting’. The Contemplator then announces that he has decided to remain here. ‘You what?’ Wendell asks.
The Contemplator explains that it has ever been his philosophy to take advantage of whatever unexpected opportunities unfold before him, so exploring this hitherto unplumbed dimension more fully is the opportunity of his immortal lifetime. ‘But it took me all my power to get us here…how will you get out when you’re ready?’ Quasar asks. Contemplator replies that he will worry about that when the time comes, and as a small glowing bubble appears between Quasar’s fingers, Contemplator asks him what it is. Quasar gives it to Contemplator and tells him that it is a quantum-bubble, and so long as he has it in his possession, Quasar will be able to track him. Contemplator thanks Quasar and places the quantum-bubble in his naval. Wendell asks Contemplator if he can show him the way out without going with him, and Contemplator confirms that he can. They shake hands and Quasar bids Contemplator farewell. ‘You are a worthy individual, Quasar’ Contemplator replies.
An instant later, there is a blinding flash of energy, and Quasar vanishes. Contemplator tells himself that as he and Quasar clasped hands, he could feel his life-line, and wishes he had time to warn the young hero that he has the feel of a man about to experience great tragedy. Contemplator starts to fly away from the floating Eternity, towards a doorway that hovers nearby. Contemplator tells Eternity that he is sorry he cannot help him, but decides that there is no sense bemoaning the inevitable, after all, he has a strange new dimension to contemplate. ‘Truly, there is none as fortunate as me’ Contemplator decides, while wondering what lies on the other side of the door.
‘Hmmm. Another tableau of abstract and near-omnipotent beings’ Contemplator tells himself as he steps through the door, into a seemingly white nothingness, where several phenomenal beings are gathered before the Beyonder, who stands next to an apparent human. ‘Beyonder, we ask of you an audience. Please hear us’ a Watcher calls out. Contemplator examines the beings, and sees another manifestation of Eternity, a Watcher, a Celestial, the In-Betweener, Lord Chaos and Master Order. He then notices his fellow Elder, the Gardener, and wonders how he fits into such an assemblage - not to mention why all these manifestations are so homogenous. The Living Tribunal and Death are also present, while Contemplator wonders who the human with the Beyonder is. Contemplator knows that there are mysteries upon mysteries to contemplate here, and wonders whether he will be able to locate the head manifester again, so it can enlighten him. Contemplator then passes through another door.
Elsewhere, ‘Earth?’ Quasar wonders as he materializes, and decides that it is Earth, as he would recognize that distinctive Van Allen Radiation Belt anywhere, so he is grateful that the Contemplator came through for him. Wendell feels weird to be back so soon, as he figured he would be gone several months at lease, and wonders how long he has been gone. Checking his Quantum Bands, they display that he has been gone 6 days, 7 hours, 14 minutes and thirty seconds. ‘Oh’ Quasar remarks, before realizing that he should check in with HQ. Shortly, he flies towards a slightly damaged building, grateful that he did check in, otherwise he would have gone uptown to Avengers Mansion, rather than to where everyone is assembled at Four Freedom’s Plaza. As he gets closer to the building, he sees that the “4”s atop the building are completely gone, and although he was made aware of the explosion, he didn’t think it would be this bad.
Wendell would love to stop off at his twelfth floor office and see how Kayla is, but knows there is no time now. ‘Maybe after we manage to save the universe’ he decides. ‘Listen to me, being so matter-of-fact about the universe - as if I did it all the time’. As he reaches a window, it suddenly opens for him, and Quasar supposes that it scanned his energy signature. ‘Hey, Cap!’ Quasar exclaims as he enters the building and is greeted by Captain America. Cap tells Quasar that he made it just in time and asks him if he has anything new to report. ‘Nothing that’s going to help us!’ Quasar replies. Cap tells him that they can’t worry about that now, as they are about to take off. Wendell notices that Cap seems tense, and suspects he doesn’t care much for these off-world forays - a few weeks ago there was the “Galactic Storm”, and now this.
As they pass the four mystics - Scarlet Witch, Shaman, Dr Druid and Agatha Harkness - Quasar asks Cap who is in the expeditionary force. ‘The most seasoned and powerful’ Cap responds, as they join up with a large gathering of heroes, including members of the X-Men and X-Factor, Alpha Flight, both Avengers teams, the Fantastic Four and some solo heroes. ‘They ought to be able to take care of any business that needs attending to’ Quasar declares as he sees his companions. ‘Let’s hope’ Cap responds, adding that they are the maximum the mystics could transport in one trip. ‘Hey, Junior! Long time no see. Come to join our intergalactic volleyball team, have ya?’ the Thing asks, smiling as he and Quasar shake hands. ‘You bet’ Quasar replies, remarking that he will set them up so the Thing can spike them over.
Captain America tells everyone that this is it, and that they should prepare themselves, for not only do they have no idea what their destination will be like, he can’t even tell them what to expect during the journey. The Scarlet Witch glances at Captain America, before she and the other mystics chant, and energies surround both them and the larger group of heroes. Quasar is an old hand at space jumps, but since magic is one of the things his Quantum-Bands have no effect over, the idea of occult teleportation creeps him out. There is a blinding flash, and an instant later, everyone, including the mystics, has vanished.
At approximately the same time on the distant planet Scadam, Quasar’s closest female friend, Kayla Ballantine is experiencing a similar feeling. ‘What are you talking about? What do you mean I’m the most powerful being you’ve ever met? I’m just an ordinary Earth-girl - a secretary!’ she gasps, as she and HD Steckley stand before the cosmic being called the Chief Examiner. The landscape around them is very peculiar indeed, as the Chief Examiner asks ‘You are incognizant of the vast, unfathomable energies you possess?, to which Kayla replies that all she knows is that weird things have been happening to her lately - the weirdest being kidnapped to this place. The Chief Examiner claims to be able to stop those “weird things” from happening and transport Kayla back to her home sphere, if she surrenders her power over.
Kayla asks the Chief Examiner what he wants her power for, and the Chief Examiner explains that he is in the process of synthesizing super-human energy in order to fashion a champion to protect his people from the impending attack of a savage black fleet. Kayla turns to HD and calling her “Holly” asks what she should do. HD tells Kayla not to cooperate, and adds ‘The guy’s a creep. He may use your power for evil’. But, Kayla explains to HD that she doesn’t have any power, and adds that this guy is nuts, so they should just let him take something from her, if it will get them home. Kayla then turns to the being and exclaims ‘Look, Chief Examiner, or whatever you called yourself, what you want to do to me - will it hurt?’, and the Chief Examiner replies that he doesn’t believe so.
Leaning over before the Chief Examiner, Kayla asks if he promises to send she and Holly back to Earth as soon as he is done. ‘My word is my bond’ the Chie Examiner replies, while explaining that the focal point of the energy is at the base of Kayla’s skull, so he runs a hand through her hair, and holds a strange device towards her head, when HD suddenly shouts ‘Kayla - wait!’ but HD realizes that she can’t move towards Kayla, that she is being held motionless and speechless, in her tracks. She wonders if this is Kayla’s doing, while Kayla tells the Chief Examiner to hurry up, as whatever he is doing itches.
But, as the Chief Examiner begins to receive the energies from Kayla Ballantine, his head suddenly explodes, and he crumbles to dust. Kayla looks up, and rubbing her head asks ‘What happened? Where’d he - is this?’ and enquires as to whether Holly saw what happened. ‘Hmph’ Holly mutters, when suddenly, Kayla screams as the ground around them begins to explode, and black space ships start to descend over them, their weapons fire causing the explosions. ‘Space ships! The black fleet?’ one of the women wonders, while the other shouts ‘Never mind! Just run for cover!’ and they both run for their lives.
Elsewhere in the cosmos, a portal opens and the mass of heroes arrives on a planet, where, waiting for them are the Infinity Watch - Warlock, Gamora, Drax, Moondragon, Pip the Troll and the diabolical Thanos. Quasar sees Thanos and Moondragon and recalls that they are the ones whom incapacitated Eternity. He wonders where they got such power from, while Cap tells everyone to fan out, to surround them, and not to attack unless provoked. ‘There’s only six of ‘em. No contest!’ Wolverine exclaims. ‘Can we talk?’ Pip the Troll calls out as the heroes move forward and form a circle around the Infinity Watch.
Warlock addresses the heroes, declaring that they are not their enemies. ‘We are the Infinity Watch. Guardians of -’ he begins, before Thanos interrupts him, telling him not to waste his breath. ‘With me, a known champion of death at your side, these insipid Earth beings will never believe we seek the same goal as they. Let them attack and pay the price for their presumption!’ Thanos suggests. Quasar tells himself that they are trembling on the brink of a war, and that they don’t even know what is going on. He decides that he better move fast, and throws up a quantum-shield that is heavy enough to withstand some heavy hitters on both teams. The Infinity Watch find themselves encased in the quantum-shield, and Pip asks ‘Hey, who’s the wise guy?’, while Drax asks why the sky has turned yellow. Moondragon declares that this is Quasar’s doing, and Thanos calls him an insolent pup and boasts that he will see him suffer for this impertinence.
At the same time, Cyclops unleashes an optic blast, ‘They’re protecting themselves with some sort of force field’ he exclaims, while telling Iceman and Wolverine to hit it with all they have got. Iceman fires some ice-beams towards the Infinity Watch, while Wolverine rushes forward, claws ready. ‘Hey, guys? Didn’t’ Cap say to -’ the new Thor calls out as he hovers overhead, spinning his hammer, but Hercules, the Hulk and Thing rush towards the Infinity Watch: ‘Thanos, thou basest of villains -’ Hercules begins. ‘Words, smurds! Let’s clobber the bums!’ the Thing interrupts, as Hercules finishes his sentence: ‘- the Prince of Power would have words with thee!’ The Hulk, Hercules, the Thing and Wolverine all slam into the quantum-field at the same time Cyclops’s optic blast and Iceman’s ice-beam strike it, while Pip tells his teammates that at the moment, being trapped isn’t the worst thing that could be happening to them.
‘Quasar, you’re doing, I take?’ Cap asks. Quasar confirms that it is, and explains that he didn’t think everyone was listening when Cap told them to cool it, so he pulled his patented containment maneuver, giving them a few moments to plan. ‘Good man. Wish I had a team of guys like you’ Cap tells Quasar, who thanks him, and remarks that he recognizes Moondragon and Thanos, before asking Cap if he knows who the rest are. Professor Xavier moves towards Cap and Quasar in his hover-chair, and reports that he can answer that, as he has just finished psi-scanning them, and announces that they are Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Pip the Troll and Adam Warlock. As She-Hulk, Human Torch, Wonder Man, Invisible Woman, Sasquatch, Colossus, Rogue, Jean Grey and the Vision all join in on the attack against the quantum-field, Cap remarks that the last he heard, Warlock was dead. Cap then introduces Quasar to Professor X, explaining that he is the founder of the X-Men. ‘Pleased to meet you, Sir’ Quasar remarks.
Cap asks Xavier whether he has been able to determine the Infinity Watch’s motivations here, but Xavier replies that he hasn’t, as the telepath, Moondragon, detected his psi-scans and immediately put a mind-screen around each of them. Cap decides that any group containing the mad titan Thanos must be presumed dangerous, before asking Quasar to make him a megaphone. Quasar does so, and Cap holds the quantum-megaphone up, calling out to the expeditionary force, he tells them to listen to him, and explains that it was their side who put up the dome, not the Infinity Watch, and they are to desist in their attempts to demolish it. He tells the heroes to select one of the Infinity Watch to cover, and as soon as everyone is in place, they will let down the dome. ‘You tell ‘em, Cap!’ Wendell thinks to himself.
But, Adam Warlock calls the heroes fools who are bound and determined to do battle with them. He then asks Moondragon why she hasn’t used her mind gem to convince the Earthers that they are not the enemy. Moondragon explains that she tried, but that Charles Xavier is shielding everyone’s minds from outside influence, just as she is doing the same to the Infinity Watch. ‘Ya mean ol baldy’s the one keeping us from walking away from this without a scrap? Lemme at him!’ Pip exclaims, before using his space gem to teleport out of the quantum-dome, and he re-materliazes just above Professor X. Quasar sees this, and as Pip is about to strike Xavier in the head, Quasar puts up a quantum-plate, causing Pip’s hands to strike it, and he subsequently hurts himself. ‘You okay, Sir?’ Quasar asks Xavier.
Suddenly, there is a powerful explosion, and the heroes are all knocked backwards, as Thanos smiles, power radiating from his fist, he exclaims ‘That felt…good. Now…a fight they want, a fight they’ll get!’ ‘They blew the dome!’ Quasar points out, as he dons some quantum armor - large spiked shoulder pads - and creates a quantum staff, he tells Captain America to see if any of the others are hurt, as he is going after Thanos. At that moment, Jean Grey confronts Moondragon, while Strong Guy and Sasquatch both jump on Drax the Destroyer. The new Thor and Hercules both stand ready to confront Thanos, who has grabbed both the Thing and the Hulk and is about to bash their heads together. ‘You call yourselves strong? I am strength personified!’ he boasts.
Quasar sees the heroes in danger, and knows that if he tried to get involved, he would only trip up over them all. He hates these free-for-alls, and decides to find a different sparring partner while the behemoths continue their battle. Before he continues on, though, he creates a quantum cushion between the Hulk and the Thing’s heads, preventing them from crashing their skulls together. Quasar sees Moondragon and recalls that a few months ago, she was begging to be his consort. ‘Now she’s thrown in with Thanos! What a guy to dump me for’ As Moondragon kicks Jean Grey in the face, Psylocke tries to attack Moondragon from behind, and Quasar decides to pass on a reunion, so he flies overhead without Moondragon noticing.
‘Drop that weapon and surrender!’ Cyclops shouts. ‘Or we’re gonna aim for your head!’ Havok adds as the brothers both attack Adam Warlock with their energies. But Warlock just laughs, and re-directs the energies upwards into the air, where they strike the Human Torch and Living Lightning. Before Warlock can do anything else, though, a Quantum fishhook drops down behind him, and yanks him into the air. ‘Hi, I’m Quasar!’ Wendell calls out as he pulls Warlock towards him and suggests that they talk. ‘You think this is amusing?’ Warlock asks, as he lashes out and tries to hit Quasar in the head with his staff, but misses. ‘It has it’s moments’ Quasar relies, while deciding that Warlock could be Her’s brother, and thinks he should ask him about it, but first latches onto his staff and pulls is away, as he believes Warlock directs his power through it.
The staff drops downwards, and Quasar shouts ‘Okay, now I mean it. I need to know a few things’, but Warlock tells him that all he needs to know is that he fights for the sake of the Universe, and that the foolish superhuman beings would be well advised to defer to the Infinity Watch. As Warlock goes in for a punch, Wendell quickly puts up a quantum helmet to protect himself. ‘I’m supposed to defer to a guy with a pompous attitude and a friend who tried to destroy the universe a couple of times. Right. Tell me another’ Quasar replies as he smacks Warlock with the end of the hook, and as Warlock is still connected to the hook itself, Quasar reels him in closer, then taking Warlock’s wrists, Quasar uses his Quantum-Bands to gobble up bucketfuls of Warlock’s power.
‘Arrrh! What are you doing to me?’ Warlock calls out in agony. ‘It’s all in the wrists!’ Wendell replies, before telling Warlock that he wants some explanations and he wants them now. ‘Just who do you think you are?’ Warlock demands, struggling to break free. Quasar replies that, according to an eight-billion year old being, he is the Protector of the Universe, and explains that he is also a reserve member of the Avengers, and an all-around nice guy. ‘Who do you think you are?’ he enquires. ‘I’m the guardian of the Infinity Gems p and former Supreme Being of the Universe!’ Warlock declares. ‘Right. Okay, so you win in the pretentiousness department, now tell me what Thanos is up to’ Quasar declares. As cosmic energy spills around them, Warlock reveals that Thanos contacted him about a threat to the cosmos, not caused by Thanos, though.
Quasar tells Warlock to go on, and Warlock begins ‘It’s an evil counterpart of me - from an alternate timeline -’, to which Quasar asks ‘You’re the menace, you’re saying?’, but Warlock looks annoyed and shouts ‘Not me - my counterpart, the Magus!’, and he warns Quasar to stop what he is doing to him, otherwise he won’t have the strength to contain his soul-gem. Wendell sees that the jewel on Warlock’s head looks like it’s about to go off, so he extends a grapple from his Quantum-Bands to grab it, but green energy pours forward from the gem and slams Quasar backwards.
Meantime, back in the Dimension of Manifestations, ‘What is this?’ the Contemplator wonders as he steps into a whiteness where a purple being with white hair stands as several black beings, resembling Earth heroes, begin to rise from rifts. ‘I need more manifestation bodies, Anthromorpho! I need a dark doppelganger for every superhuman on the planet Earth!’ he declares. The Anthromorpho replies that he will provide as many as he can spare, but tells Magus that he must be patient, as he needs to meet the needs of his other clients, whose power levels are superior to that of Magus’s. Magus boasts that that will soon change, and tells Anthromorpho that when it does, he had best pray he is not feeling vindictive. Contemplator decides that this is another tableau of an even that has occurred in the recent path and the mention of Earth is curious. He wonders if this has anything to do with the crisis Quasar left to investigate, and whether he would appreciate knowing about this. Contemplator hopes to transmit a telepathic message through the quantum-bubble that Quasar gave him.
At that moment, ‘That gem packed some wallop - and whatever it shot was outside my Q-Bands power’ Wendell tells himself, as both he and Warlock are down on the surface of the planet, Archangel hovers nearby, while Wendell decides that he has heard enough from Warlock and that it is time to take him down. However, ‘Quasar…this is the Contemplator? Can you perceive me?’ the Contemplator calls out. Quasar is startled, and as Warlock knocks his hand backward, slamming into Archangel, who fires a beam from his gem, which strikes Quasar and sends him flying towards Guardian and Professor X. ‘Now we see which of us is truly superior, eh, Quasar?’ Warlock frowns, while the Contemplator sees the fallen Quasar and decides that he called at a bad time.
Back on the planet Scadam, Kayla and Holly huddle in a shallow cavern, while the black space ships continue to fire down towards the planet. Kayla tells Holly that she is scared, ‘It’s only a matter of time before…I don’t want to die so far from my home…’ she exclaims. HD tells Kayla that they are not going to die, provided she uses her power. ‘But I don’t -’ Kayla begins, until Holly tells her that she does, and points out that it was her power that destroyed the Chief Examiner, that his puny synthesizing device couldn’t handle all the power that she has. HD tells Kayla to go out there, to think about knocking the space ships from the sky, and it will happen. Tears fall from Kayla’s eyes and she replies ‘Oh…okay, I’ll try…’ but as she steps outside, a flash of energy seemingly destroys her, leaving only a smouldering flame on the planet’s surface. ‘Kayla?’ HD calls out as she looks at Kayla’s apparent remains….