A New Universe, where a young man soars through the air on a small platform while the night time sky glows with stars. ‘Aw, man. I’m terminally late. I just know it. They’ll probably start without me!’ he complains. ‘Is it my fault I took a wrong turn somewhere over Tennessee? Course not! I told Nighty I needed directions!’ the long-haired young man thinks to himself, deciding that he bets none of the other “dudes” Nightmask called had to travel as far as he did. ‘Hey - wonder if any of my buds from the old Paranormal Platoon will be there…’ he adds, recalling how Nightmask told him he was getting all of the heaviest players he could scrounge. ‘And the fighting force that won the war certainly are contenders!’ he tells himself as he approaches a barn, thinking it is the meeting place.
Flying in through a access point at the top of the barn, the young man is greeted by the hero Nightmask who exclaims ‘Glad you could make it, Metallurge!’. Nightmask tells Metallurge that they were just about to start without him, but that Psi-Hawk sensed he was in the vicinity. Metallurge apologizes and asks if he missed the intro. Nightmask replies that he has, but he will run through everyone again. Starting with his left, is the man hunter known as Justice - a white-haired man with a blue and white costume and a trench coat. Nightmask moves on to the ever-ominous Overshadow - a giant glowing pink creature, and the former gridiron great known as All-America.
Next up are the champions of the smog town known as New York - the aptly named Chrome and Captain Manhattan. ‘From somewhere in the Southwest…the enigmatic Psi-Hawk!’ Nightmask adds. A large brute with an eye-patch suddenly shouts ‘The punk well better remember me!’, to which Nightmask introduces him as Pit Bull, from the wilds of Pennsylvania. With the introductions over, Nightmask informs everyone that he lured them all here with the promise he would let them in on something big. ‘So here’s the scoop…this world of ours is in danger…on a scale that will make the Pittsburgh Disaster seem like a minor incident!’. Pit Bull laughs and asks who it is they are in danger from - ‘Your tailor?’ he asks Nightmask.
But Nightmask replies that they are in danger from beings who come from beyond this universe - beings whose powers may just make theirs look pathetic - beings who are capable of causing vast destruction to get what they want - which just happens to be the source of their parabilities. ‘Whatcu talking about, kid? Little green men from space? Haw!’ Pit Bull exclaims. All-American points out that, ever since the White Event, their world has been through a lot of weirdness, but that he too is sceptical of aliens. Psi-Hawk announces that he has also sensed some ethereal disturbances - unlike anything he has ever experienced. ‘Perhaps it is something extra-terrestrial’ he announces.
‘It is! I’ve seen them!’ Nightmask exclaims, to which Captain Manhattan points out that about a year ago, he and Chrome met a man who said he was from another universe. ‘He looked quite human, but -’ Captain Manhattan adds, before Overshadow declares that he would need more evidence than the dreams of a phantasmal mental patient. ‘Evidence, huh?’ Nightmask replies, before admitting that he doesn’t have anything concrete, but that he can mentally project for everyone an image of what it is he saw that alerted him to the whole problem. ‘You mean an illusion?’ asks Justice. ‘Well, yes. Of sorts’ Nightmask replies, when, suddenly, there is a blinding flash of energy in the middle of the barn.
‘Hey, what - is this your illusion?’ someone asks as everyone steps backwards. ‘No! I have nothing to do with it!’ Nightmask exclaims as the flash dissipates, revealing a woman in its place. ‘Another latecomer?’ Pit Bull asks, to which Nightmask recognizes her as Kayla, and explains that she is the woman he visited aboard the alien ship. Staring at Kayla’s naked body, Pit Bull remarks that if that is an illusion, then he would like a couple dozen more whipped up, while Metallurge also stares at her and exclaims ‘Wow. What a babe!’
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Milky Way galaxy, there is the unprecedented astronomical phenomenon - a brilliant light where seconds ago there had been but a few motes of cosmic dust…and as the light propagates across space, its source grows dimmer…revealing a chunk of planetary matter a tenth the size of Jupiter that has partially materialized in this universe. In truth, it is a piece of real estate which for eons has been occupied by the cosmic scientist known as the Stranger - who is currently playing host to a group of interesting beings - among the, Quasar - the Earth-born protector of the universe, Skeletron - leader of the Starlbasters, and Uatu the Watcher of a space sector far away.
‘Your world, Stranger - something inexplicable is happening to it!’ the Watcher exclaims as he, Quasar, the Stranger and Skeletron are thrown about. ‘My, you are observant’ Wendell “Quasar” Vaughan mocks, before everyone falls to the floor. ‘Gravity has returned!’ Skeletron exclaims, before rushing over to the capsule where Kayla Ballantine was being held prisoner, and asking ‘What happened, Stranger? Where is the Earth woman? Where is the Starbrand!?’ The Stranger reveals that he has removed the Brand from the Earth woman, however he does not, as yet, know where she is. ‘She should not have disintegrated at the point of transference’ the Stranger remarks, examining the Starbrand which has now attached itself to his fingertip. ‘Stranger! Speak English! Where is Kayla?’ Wendell calls out, concerned for the safety of his girlfriend.
Quasar realizes that the Stranger is ignoring him, and knows that he is still feeling a little out of it after his battle with Skeletron. ‘Or I’d show him a - what am I saying? The Stranger’s one of the most powerful aliens I’ve met, and add the Starbrand power to all that…no telling what power level he’s at now!’ Wendell thinks to himself. The Watcher remarks that the Stranger may not have yet observed this, but that they are no longer in the universe of their origin. ‘Your planet has been partially displaced in a foreign dimension’ the Watcher tells the Stranger. ‘Yes, you are right. Apparently a side effect of the conjunction of my personal energies and the Starbrand’ the Stranger replies, before deciding that it would be of benefit to understand his newfound capacities more fully, before he does something else he does not intend to do.
Quasar pleads with the Watcher, remarking that he has seen everything that has just happened, so he has got to tell him where Kayla is. ‘I am sorry. I cannot. You are aware of my oath!’ Uatu replies. Quasar proceeds to ask Uatu what he is even doing here, ‘Shirking your own sector’s watch?’ he asks. The Watcher replies that he has devices to record what transpires in his absence, as what goes on here is so unprecedented, he felt it was of higher priority to observe here. ‘You will excuse me! There is much to observe!’ the Watcher announces as he takes his leave.
‘Some help he is’ Wendell thinks to himself, before realizing that he has to now deal with Skeletron and search for Kayla all by himself. Gazing around the lab, Wendell sees that Skeletron has vanished, which he is happy about, recalling how Skeletron defeated him in their previous battle. ‘I’m still not sure what I could have done differently!’ Wendell admits, before removing any remaining wires from his body so that Skeletron cannot reanimate them again. Quasar then takes off, telling Kayla to stay alive, and that he will find her.
As Quasar leaves, the Stranger contemplates the energy source he has acquired, and using his cerebral powers that he has refined over the eons, he analyses the alien power artefact - peeling back the personae of those who weilded it and left their psychic reonance upon it…Kayla, the Deviant Woman Ereshkigal, Quasar, and, finally, those from its dimension of origin - pilot Jim Hanrahan and mechanic Ken Connell….
Elsehwere, Skeletron races through the Stranger’s citadel toward his docked star-ship, and once there, calls out to Nygorn, who informs his leader that he has been searching for him, as Fabrikant informed him that he was required. Nygorn then asks Skeletron what was the bizarre ambient radiance that caused the world to seem to quake. Skeletron explains that when the Stranger extracted the Starbrand it apparently interacted with the Stranger’s own energies in such a way that it caused this planet to directly interphase with the dimension of the Starbrand’s origin. ‘Do you realize what this means, Nygorn? We are in another Multiverse - a realm where none such as ourselves have ever been! Who knows what wonders we shall find ripe for the plucking, eh?’ Skeletron exclaims.
As they stride side-by-side through the star-ship, Nygorn points out that Skeletron has grown in size, and asks if that was another side-effect of the Stranger’s acquisition. Skeletron explains that in order to vanquish the meddlesome Quasar he had to retrofit himself. ‘There are advantages to being non-organic’ Skeletron points out.
Nearby, in the section of the Starblaster’s ship used by the nefarious Insidio - Quasar’s allies find themselves chained, bound and subjected to an array of experiments by the scientist Insidio. While Binary, Captain Marvel, Ikaris, Perun, Moondancer, Solar Wind and Voyager try to free themselves from their own prisons, Laynia “Darkstar” Petrovna is held in place, mere inches from the table where Insidio begins to operate on Darkstar’ deceased brother - Nicolai “Vanguard” Krylenko. Insidio grins as he readies a scalpel-like device over Vanguard’s chest, and thinks to himself that he has six Earthers and three Shi’ar all bound and ready to reveal their bodily secrets to him.
Insidio hopes that with such a prize catch, Skeletron will have to forgive him for being unable to restrain the Watcher. Bringing his mind to his current “specimen”, Insidio reminds himself that he has long been interested to learn how Threkker leaches life energies from organisms. A desperate Laynia thinks to herself ‘Nicolai - dear God, if this butcher desecrates you, I will kill him even as I did that fiend who murdered you!’
Suddenly, Skeletron’s face appears on a monitor, shouting at Insidio, he exclaims that he did not give him permission to take more prisoners, as they are too dangerous to let live. ‘I want them all killed at once! I will be there within five cics and I want them dead by then!’ Skeletron orders. ‘Oh, Prime One, who you deprive me. Very well’. Insidio replies, before taking out a chainsaw-like tool, thinking that Skeletron knows how he enjoys making death as excruciatingly slow as possible. ‘He does this to punish me’ Insidio decides as he holds the tool at Ikaris, resigned to the fact that he will have to take what satisfaction he can from the swift, unexamined deaths.
Suddenly, but an instant too late to save Ikaris, Black Bolt - the mute monarch of the Inhumans - is teleported into the room by his dog, Lockjaw. A worried Black Bolt lunges towards Insidio, who turns at the commotion, looking up from where he is slicing at Ikaris, ‘Who in -?’ Insidio thinks to himself, before Black Bolt smacks him over. Lockjaw goes to work on freeing Carol “Binary” Danvers by chomping down on the capsule she is held in, with his over-sized teeth. Black Bolt kneels before Ikaris and weaves an electron cocoon around his comrade’s two cleft body-halves.
However, the sound of the scuffles alerts Insidio’s fellow Starblasters - Nygorn, Codabac and Skar - who race into the lab. ‘The Earthers are escaping!’ Codabac shouts. But, now free, Binary flies towards them and blasts Skar and Codabac’s weapons - ‘Let’s see how tough you boys are without weapons!’ Carol exclaims, before flying up to where her former fellow Avengers, Monica “Captain Marvel” Rambeau is being held captive. ‘Hang on, Monica! I’ll have you free in a sec!’ Carol exclaims, while Skar shouts, in an alien language, ‘Codabac - get her before she -’, but it’s too late, as Carol drops back down on the aliens, knocking them over as she declares that she wishes they would speak English like most aliens do. ‘Oooof!’ Skar mutters as he smacks into Codabac. ‘Okay - that I understand’ Carol jokes.
Up above, Monica charges up, thinking that Carol wrecked the mind-jamming controls that prevented her from triggering her powers, and now she can do the rest as she turns her attention to the Russian Thunder God - Perun - and casts energy upon the containment which keeps him prisoner. With Perun free, Captain Marvel decides she best help Carol, and does so by kicking Nygorn in the back of the neck, while Carol takes on Codabac and Skar with physical combat, telling herself that she hasn’t had the opportunity to use her CIA training in years.
Meanwhile, somewhere in the New Universe, the Watcher stands on the moon, remarking that, for eons he has stood on a moon very similar to this one - observing the phenomena of an Earth, very much like the one he looks at now. ‘Long have I wondered if there were not universes so unimaginably distant that there were fundamental differences in the structure of cosmology itself’ Uatu declares, adding that, today, he stands in such a universe, having undertaken rigorous machinations to get here. Quasar suddenly soars towards the Watcher, and Wendell thinks that Uatu is probably composing another monolog as he drops down beside him.
Indeed, the Watcher continues, remarking that he is more stimulated than he has been in countless centuries, and even each of his seven senses are fully engaged, processing ray new sensory input, while from all outside appearances he stands here in placid, impassive silence. ‘You have followed me’ Uatu declares, acknowledging Quasar’s presence. ‘Yep’ Wendell replies, standing behind Uatu. ‘She’s down there, isn’t she?’ Quasar asks, motioning to the Earth before them. ‘Yes’ the Watcher replies, while remarking to himself ‘Would that I could tell him more. For if what I suspect must come to pass indeed transpires…!’. In an instant, Wendell thanks the Watcher, before teleporting away.
On this Earth, the New Universe heroes gather around Kayla Ballantine, whom Chrome has wrapped in some of her costume. ‘Are you all right?’ Chrome asks, kneeling beside Kayla, who rubs her head and replies ‘I guess so. Where am I?’. ‘Earth!’ Metallurge exclaims, before Kayla looks at Nightmask and exclaims that she has seen him before. ‘Or was I dreaming?’ she asks. ‘Both’ Nightmask replies before he introduces himself, adding that she is the young lady who was being held by aliens in a spaceship, and asks her if she knows why. Kayla smiles at Nightmask as she replies that it was because of the Starbrand. ‘THE STARBRAND?’ everyone asks, confused. ‘How?’ Psi-Hawk exclaims. Kayla explains that her boyfriend gave it to her by accident, to which Captain Manhattan asks Kayla if her boyfriend is Quasar.
‘Yes! How did you know?’ Kayla exclaims in reply. Captain Manhattan introduces himself and explains that he and Chrome met Quasar when he fell to Earth. ‘We were the ones who told him about the Starbrand…unfortunately’ Captain Manhattan explains. All-American asks Kayla to tell him about the aliens. ‘Their number. Their offensive capabilities!’ he exclaims. Kayla apologizes and explains that she doesn’t really know, as she was asleep most of the way here. Kayla adds that she isn’t certain how she got here, though when this guy who looked like God wanted to take the Brand from her, she remembers praying that she was someplace safe.
Overshadow remarks that the Starbrand must have teleportation capabilities, to which Psi-Hawk adds that if these creatures are close enough that this woman can teleport here, then they are way too close already. ’I am going to watch the skies!’ Psi-Hawk adds as he takes flight, with Overshadow in tow. Metallurge introduces himself to Kayla and tells her that he wouldn’t worry If he was her, as there are some pretty heavy-duty muscle amongst the group. ’You did the right thing beaming yourself here. We’ll make sure those bug-eyed baddies never get you again!’ Mettalurge exclaims. Kayla smiles and tells Metallurge that is sweet of him to say, and that she knows he means it, but to forgive her if she doesn’t believe him. ‘Another guy once promised I’d be safe, and look at me’ Kayla exclaims. ‘I have been!’ Metallurge replies.
Soon, Quasar approaches the Earth, just as Overshadow and Psi-Hawk approach him. ‘Whoa! Who are they?’ Wendell wonders, while Psi-Hawk telepathically alerts Overshadow to the approaching stranger. Overshadow replies that he is unable to scan the creature’s mind. Wendell decides that, as curious as he is to find out who these two are, all he wants to do is find Kayla, and takes an evasive maneuver to by-pass Psi-Hawk and Overshadow - but they know what he is up to and appear beside him: ‘Identify yourself!’ Overshadow booms into Quasar’s mind. ‘Arrh - screaming inside my skull!’ Quasar exclaims, clutching his head, he announces that he is Quasar, and asks Overshadow and Psi-Hawk to back-off. Overshadow orders Quasar not to come any closer to their world until they question him further.
‘Sorry, but -’ Quasar begins to reply as he continues to fly towards the New Universe’s Earth. ‘Perhaps you did not hear me, little man!’ Overshadow exclaims, to which Quasar replies that he heard him, but doesn’t have time to play twenty questions. ‘Now, if you’ll excuse me -’ Wendell exclaims, using his quantum powers to create shoulder-armor with massive spikes on it, to knock his antagonists away. ‘Your demeanor is arrogant and hostile!’ Overshadow exclaims as he appears in front of Quasar, who mutters ‘Give me a break!’ as he flies right into Overshadow. ‘You’ll find that I give, but do not break!’ Overshadow replies, as Quasar struggles to escape, realizing that he is stuck. Overshadow and Psi-Hawk head back towards their earth, with Psi-Hawk telling Overshadow to take Quasar down to the others for questioning, while he remains here on watch. ‘This may be the fellow the woman spoke of. The Starbrand transmitter!’ Psi-Hawk adds.
Meanwhile, the Starblasters’ ship, the Dark Seed, blasts free from the Stranger’s world, thrust into the New Universe. Nygorn radios to Skeletron from the specimen deck, informing him that they are having difficulties subduing the captives, and that he, Skar and Codabac are down. ‘Inferior organics! I don’t want them subdued! I want them terminated!’ Skeletron retorts angrily. ‘Bah! If I want anything done right, I must do it myself!’ Skeletron exclaims, warning Nygorn that he has two seconds to evacuate the specimen deck if he wishes to remain alive.
Moments later on the specimen deck, everyone else has been freed, and as Darkstar stands over her brother’s body, everyone falls sideways. ‘The ship is lurching!’ Voyager of the Imperial Guard exclaims. ‘Convulsing is more like it!’ Binary declares as everyone is tossed the other way now. Someone else exclaims that it feels like the whole ship is shaking, while someone else suggests to Binary that they get out of here. ‘I’m trying! But as soon as I burn a hole through the hull, it just closes up again!’ Someone asks what the ship is made out of, before Carol suggests that all the teleporters do what they have to before things get any worse.
Clutching Vanguard’s body, the teary-eyed Darkstar tells her brother that it is going to be okay, while Captain Marvel thinks to herself that the environment has shut down, and it is getting hotter, before realizing that the sip is falling. Voyager opens a portal and his teammates Moondancer an Solar Wind leap into it: ‘Come! The Stranger and revenge awaits!’ Solar Wind exclaims, while Darkstar holds on to Vanguard as the Darkforce engulfs the two of them. ‘I’ll find a way to bring you back - or die in the trying!’ Laynia exclaims as they vanish.
Binary tells Black Bolt to have Lockjaw teleport he and Ikaris to safety, while turning to Monica and Perun and exclaiming that they have to do something to slow the descent, otherwise every one of the unconscious aliens will be pulped when they crash. Perun decides to use his hammer to change their course, and throws it against the wall of the ship - only it smashes through. ’The wall becomes like paper!’ Perun gasps as flames enters the breach. ’Never fear! Perun will block with own body - if I can get to hole!’ Perun exclaims as he, Monica, Carol and the Starblasters are tossed about. Monica thinks to herself that whoever the Starblaster’s boss is, he is willing to kill all of his crewmen just to get rid of them. ‘What a sweetheart’. ‘Somebody do something! We must be nearing impact!’ someone calls out as they fall to the remains of the Stranger’s planet.
Free of unwanted organisms, the Dark Seed - sans its specimen deck - warps into hyper-space - and emerges, countless light years later, in a New Universe. It’s planet Earth looms before the Dark Seed, like a bauble of the Gods…. ‘At last - the world I was fated to discover! A planet permeated with the foreign energy of the Starbrand!’ Skeletron exclaims as he encases himself in a shield and is extended into the atmosphere. ‘Let the Stranger have the Brand itself - what I have is far greater!’ Skeletron boasts, exclaiming that he will extract every last erg of the Starbrand energy from the planet below - even if he has to terminate the life of every organic who lives there….!