Earth. Sort of. Where Wendell “Quasar” Vaughn hovers over. It is the Earth of another Multiverse brought into this universe by the immense power of the Starbrand. It is an Earth that is home to four billion human beings, native to the world, and one human being native to the Earth of our dimension. That human being Is - or was - the girl friend of Quasar, the champion of the cosmos. Kayla is now trapped inside an invisible, impenetrable barrier that surrounds the New Universe’s Earth. Enormous quantum-band-infused lettering lights up the sky - GOODBYE KAYLA I‘M SORRY, Q -, while an upset Quasar continues to hover over the other Earth. He is trying to say goodbye.
The young hero wonders how long he is going to torture himself here. ’I had my chance to breach the barrier, but I refused to pay the price. I could have given up my powers and responsibilities to be with Kayla forever - but I turned it down. End of story’ Wendell reminds himself, before deciding that there is nothing more to do here except to erase his message to Kayla and leave. Instantly, Quasar quantum-jumps, traversing the breadth of the Milky Way Galaxy in the blink of an eye.
Wendell arrives back at Earth - his Earth - the world where he and Kayla were born, but which Kayla would never see again. Wendell thinks that it is his fault Kayla had to be sealed off from the rest of the universe behind that barrier, as he was the one who inadvertently gave her the big band Starbrand. ‘Some protector of the universe I am - a menace to those I love!’ Quasar thinks to himself, before deciding that he cannot let this happen ever again. ‘I can’t let anyone suffer because they got close to me ever again!’. Wendell decides that he must leave this planet for good, that he must cut himself off from everyone he knows and cares about.
Flying over his hometown, Wendell decides to start here, and begins by circling the city one last time to try and etch it all into his memory - places like his elementary school, his grandparent’s house, the local church, neighborhood - and his mother’s house, which he drops down beside, knowing that this may be the hardest, so he has got to be strong. ‘Knock, knock. Anybody home?’ Wendell calls out as he opens the door, and enters the kitchen - where his mother, Lisa, and sister, Gayle, are in the kitchen. ‘Wendell!’ they both call out. ‘Hi Mom, hi sis’ Wendell replies as they rush over to embrace him. ‘My brother the super hero finally graces up with a visit!’ Gayle exclaims, while his mother adds ‘Not that you need one, but what’s the occasion?’
Wendell hangs his head, before announcing that he has come to say goodbye. ‘This may be the last time you’ll ever see me!’ he adds, causing shock to spread across his mother and sister’s faces. ‘Don’t worry, it’s not like I’m dying or anything!’ Quasar assures his family, explaining that he has been neglecting his responsibilities as protector of the universe, what with spending so much time on Earth. ‘It’s time to get serious about my job. And that means leaving Earth full time’. Mrs Vaughn tells her son that they barely had a chance to see him while he was here, to which Wendell replies that he knows, and that if he had to do it again, he would have visited more often.
Quasar creates a quantum crystal and tells his family that he is going to leave it with them, so if they really, really, really need to communicate with him - a matter of life and death - all they need to do is grasp it with two hands and think his name over and over. ‘I’ll be able to talk to you through it, okay?’ Wendell explains as his mother takes the quantum crystal, and hugs her son. ‘Well, that’s about it. I’m going to miss you both. I love you’ Quasar tells his mother and sister. Quasar leaves, taking to the sky, while his mother and sister wave goodbye. ‘That ripped me apart. Better pull myself together before I do the next one!’ Wendell thinks to himself as he soars away.
Meanwhile, in Khystym, Russia - better known as the Forbidden Zone - stronghold of the eminent, yet deranged, scientist Sergei Krylov - better known as the Presence. The radioactive being sits beside a glass coffin which contains the body of his slain son, Nicolai “Vanguard” Krylenko, while his daughter, Vanguard’s twin - the glamorous Laynia “Darkstar” Petrovna, and Sergei’s second wife - Dr Tania “Starlight” Belinsky - stand nearby, a sad expression across her face. ‘My son…DEAD! I can’t bring myself to accept it!’ the Presence booms.
Darkstar declares that she killed the alien who murdered her brother. ‘But somehow, it doesn’t feel like enough!’ she exclaims. The angry Presence asks Laynia how she and Vanguard came to be fighting the alien, to which Laynia explains that Quasar recruited them to help him battle some aliens. Darkstar is about to explain further details, but the Presence interrupts, booming “QUASAR! Once again I hear his accursed name!’. Laynia replies that she was not aware her father knew Quasar, to which the Presence mutters that he knows Quasar all too well, before getting up from his seat and declaring that Quasar probably planned to have Vanguard slain, just to get back at him.
But the ever-reasonable Darkstar tells the Presence that she is not sure Quasar knew he and Vanguard were related, before, surprisingly, declaring that she agrees with him that, ultimately, Quasar is responsible for this, as he was the one who recruited she and Vanguard to his mission. The Presence tells Laynia to use the Darkforce power that she commands, and declares that it is time for retribution. The Presence tells Starlight to wait here, and that if they do not return in twenty-four hours, then it means Quasar vanquished them. ‘At that time, you will find Quasar’s family and kill them!’ the Presence orders as he and Darkstar vanish in a burst of Darkforce energy. ‘Yes, Sergei’, the down-trodden former Red Guardian replies sadly.
Back in New York City, Quasar flies towards Four Freedom’s Plaza, specifically, the thirteenth floor - headquarters of Vaughn-Tanaka Security Consultants, and his closes friend - Ken. Wendell appears outside the window to Ken’s office, where Ken sees him and exclaims ‘Wend - I mean, Quasar!’, while their colleagues Brenna and Phil stand nearby. Wendell enters through the window before Ken asks him what he is doing here as Quasar, remarking that Brenna and Phil are going to suspect that he is the company founder. Hanging his head, Quasar replies that it doesn’t matter anymore, before Informing his friend that Kayla is not coming back, that he lost her on an alien world, and there is nothing he can do about It.
‘Her family calls here everyone once in a while. What should I tell them?’ Ken asks, to which Wendell tells him not to worry, as he will see the Ballantine’s before he goes. ‘I’m leaving for good this time, Ken’ he announces. Quasar turns to Brenna and Phil, and tells them that if Ken hired them, he knows they must be the best. ‘Take good care of the company’ he tells them, adding that he wishes he had the chance to get to know them better. ‘Me too’ Brenna remarks as she shakes Wendell’s hand. ‘Goodbye, buddy. Take care of yourself’ Wendell tells Ken as he embraces him. ‘I - uh - you, too!’ Ken replies, before Quasar steps out the window, announcing that he best be on his way, when he sees Nova fly past. ‘Yeah, he must do work around here or something. I see him zipping around a lot’ Ken remarks.
Quasar doesn’t fly after Nova though, telling himself he doesn’t know him that well, so will spare him a farewell. Instead, Wendell flies up higher alongside Four Freedom’s Plaza, knowing that he should say goodbye to the Thing and the rest of the Fantastic Four while he is here. Quasar finds the Human Torch at one of the higher windows, and assures him that he isn’t here for a fight, but was wondering if the Thing was around. The Human Torch replies that the Thing is out, and didn’t say where he was going. The Human Torch flies outside around Quasar and asks if it is urgent and if he wants him to send up a flare. But Wendell replies that it isn’t urgent, and asks the Torch to tell the Thing that he stopped by and said hi. ‘You got it!’ the Human Torch replies.
However, nearby, Darkstar and her demented father hover in the shadows. ‘Should we attack now?’ Laynia asks. ‘No - not with other superhumans about’ the Presence replies, adding that they can afford to be patient.
Wendell takes flight once more, and soars over Avengers Mansion, though the former member of the Avengers decides that he does not want to say goodbye to anyone save for Captain America. ‘Probably don’t even know half the team these days’ Wendell realizes, before picking up his Avenger’s Priority Card and phones the Avengers - only Black Widow answers the call. The Black Widow is surprised to see Quasar on the other end of the comm-card, and tells Wendell that she didn’t even know he still had his communi-card. When Quasar remarks that he was expecting Peggy Carter, the Black Widow replies that Peggy has the afternoon off, to which Wendell explains that he needs to talk to Cap. The Black Widow replies that Cap is on some solo mission, but offers to patch him through.
An instant later, Captain America, speeding along on his motorcycle, receives the transmission: ‘Quasar! How are you doing, son?’ the legendary hero asks. Wendell replies that he is okay, before explaining that he wanted to tell Cap he was leaving Earth - maybe for good this time. ‘And I - well, I had to say goodbye to you’. Quasar remarks that Cap has always been an inspiration for him, and he wanted to make sure he told Cap that. ‘You’re a good man, Wendell, one of the best Avengers I’ve known. I’m proud to call you my friend’ Cap replies. Quasar wipes a tear from his eye when he finishes talking to Cap, and thinks to himself that it is probably a good thing he didn’t see Captain America in person: ‘I’d probably start to bawl and he’s know what a wuss I really was!’
Still following Quasar, Darkstar alerts her father to their quarry, and asks if they should attack - but the Presence tells Laynia to await his signal.
Up ahead, Wendell sees Spider-Man. Although he knows they were never that close, ‘Since I’m here…’ he decides, unaware that Spider-Man’s Spider-Sense is going crazy. ‘What’s your hassle?’ Spider-Man asks as he spins around mid-swing. But as Spider-Man is but inches away from Quasar, he realizes that his Spider-Sense is no longer tingling, so it must not have been Quasar. Wendell replies that he has no hassle, and just wanted to say hi. ‘Hi yourself’ Spider-Man replies.
The Presence remarks that, once more, another superhuman would have intruded. ‘We had best wait until he is out of this hot bed of super-humanity!’ the Presence tells his daughter.
‘Take care of yourself, Spidey!’ Quasar calls out as he flies away. ‘What was that about. What was he really trying to tell me?’ Spider-Man wonders.
Soon, in upstate New York, Quasar arrives at Project Pegasus, where he can say goodbye to both the Squadron Supreme, and Kismet all in one stop. Inside, Quasar is greeted by Whizzer of the Squadron Supreme, who asks Wendell what brings him here, beside quantum energy, of course. Wendell smiles and replies that he wanted to check on Kismet’s cocoon. The Whizzer looks concerned, and remarks that he thought Quasar had been notified. ‘Oh what?’ Wendell asks, to which the Whizzer reveals that Kismet’s cocoon was abducted about two days ago. ‘Abducted?’ a worried Wendell asks. ‘How did it happen? Who did it? Have you searched for her?’ Wendell asks.
‘Whoa, whoa, whoa!’ the Whizzer replies, trying to calm Wendell down, while three of his teammates - Power Princess, Doctor Spectrum and Skylark approach them. Power Princess remarks that Quasar bet Hyperion home from their space mission, and announces that she just received a message from Hyperion that some aliens named the Shi’ar are going to be dropping him off on Earth within the week. ‘Speaking of space, the other reason I stopped by is to tell you guys I’m heading off into the void in a few hours, and there’s a fair probability - I won’t be returning to these parts in a long time’ Wendell announces, before telling his friends that, in any event, he hopes they make it back to their rightful universe soon. ‘So long, Quasar!’ ‘Take care!’ ‘Goodbye!’ the Squadron call; out, while Quasar examines his quantum bands and thinks to himself that he is very familiar with Kismet’s energy signature, so if she is anywhere on Earth, he should be able to find her.
Watching her ally fly away, Darkstar remarks to the Presence ‘Even in this remote place, there are superhumans about!’, while wondering why Quasar is paying short visits upon so many of them. ‘It does not matter. If we are patient, the perfect opportunity will come!’ the Presence replies.
About two thousand miles westward, Quasar drops down at an abandoned building, where Kismet’s signature is the strongest. ‘Kizzy, what have you gotten yourself into?’ Wendell wonders, before entering the building, where he finds the alien known as Kismet standing over the unmoving bodies of three elderly men. ‘Kismet!’ Wendell exclaims, causing Kismet to spin around, shocked to see him. Quasar comments on Kismet’s new appearance, telling her that she looks great, but different, and asks what happened to her.
Kismet a.k.a. Her a.k.a. J’ridia Starduster replies that she recovered from the wounds incurred at the hands of Quasar’s woman friend, and emerged from her cocoon in this slightly altered form. Kimset explains that she is waiting for her fathers to revive, and she has placed them in resuscitive cocoons. ‘Your fathers?’ Wendell asks, confused. ‘Yes. The men who grew me in a test tube’ Kismet explains, before Wendell tells her that he is glad she is okay. ‘I was very sorry about what happened to you…I hope you didn’t think I abandoned you’ Wendell adds, before informing Kismet that he is going back out into space, and that he would like her to come along if she wishes. Kismet thanks Quasar, before declining his offer, explaining that she is going to wait for her fathers to revive before deciding what to do next. ‘Then I…guess this is goodbye’ Wendell replies as they shake hands.
Meanwhile, two hundred miles east of Quasar, Laynia flies alongside her father, who remarks that Quasar is moving once again, as he senses his energy coming closer. Darkstar suggests that they attack Quasar out here, as there are not so many superhumans to interfere. The Presence replies that they will not attack Quasar while flying, as he possesses greater speed than they. ‘Wait until he alights’.
Flying onwards, Wendell thinks to himself that Kismet seemed very changed, distant, but that he is relieved she is okay. ‘Her injuries were in a way my fault. If I hadn’t given Kayla the Starbrand…Kayla. I left the hardest stop till last. Her family’s house!’ Wendell tells himself.
Soon, Quasar descends upon Staten Island, at the Ballantine household. ‘I’d rather face Maelstrom than her Dad. What am I going to tell him?’ Wendell wonders as he knocks on the door. He half hopes Kayla’s father will not be home, but moments later, an overweight, drunken man opens the door: ‘Who the @#$% are you supposed to be?’ he snarls. ‘A friend of your daughter’s - Quasar. I used to be an Avenger’ Wendell replies. ‘I ain’t got no daughter - I threw her out! Now go away!’ Mr Ballantine booms as he tries to shut the door - but Wendell sticks his foot in the doorway, ‘I will, Sir…but I have something to tell you first. About your daughter’.
Wendell informs Mr Ballantine that his daughter will not be coming home again - ever - as she is on another world, and there is not a force in the universe strong enough to get her free. ‘What? What kinda cock ’n’ bull story is that?’ Mr Ballantine retorts, before shouting ‘My baby ain’t coming home no more - you filthy son of a - you murdered my little girl, didn’t ya?’ as he lunges at Wendell, knocking him to the sidewalk. ‘No, sir, I didn’t - but I am to blame for -’ Wendell begins to reply, as Mr Ballantine shouts offensive language at him and calls him a murderer. ‘I’ll kill you for what you’ve done! I want my baby back!’ Mr Ballantine shouts as he begins to punch Quasar.
Wendell thinks to himself that there are a million ways he could stop Mr Ballantine, but that he thinks he is entitled to take out his rage on him. Suddenly though, ‘Let us help you, comrade!’ exclaims the Presence as he and Darkstar drop to the ground beside Quasar. ‘So this is the mighty Quasar, being pummeled by a balding, overweight civilian!’ the Presence remarks. ‘Who - ?’ a confused Mr Ballantine asks, stopping his attack on Quasar. ‘Never mind that, Mr Ballantine! Just get out of the way - quickly!’ Wendell replies as the Presence blasts him with his foul energies.
‘You are not going to flee from our final confrontation, American. The force dome my daughter is erecting will see to it!’ the Presence booms while Darkstar encases the area in a Darkforce bubble. ‘Darkstar is his daughter?’ Wendell thinks to himself, before approaching Darkstar and asking her what this is about. ‘I thought we were allies!’ he exclaims, while Mr Ballantine rushes into his house. ‘You don’t even know, do you? You couldn’t be bothered to learn! You just use your allies and throw them away!’ Laynia exclaims in reply. ‘Learn what?’ Wendell asks, confused. ‘My brother Nicolai is dead. He died on that mission you took us on!’ Laynia exclaims. ‘He did? I - I -’ Wendell begins to reply, while thinking to himself that he had been so preoccupied with Kayla, that he never got in touch with all of his allies. ‘I’m so sorry, Darkstar. You’ve got to believe me. I didn’t know that would happen’ Wendell assures Laynia.
‘It is too late for apologies. It is too late for everything save vengeance!’ Laynia exclaims as she throws several Darkforce spears at Quasar, who quickly constructs a large quantum shield to protect himself. Wendell reminds himself that Darkforce is one of the few things his quantum energy has no control over, and his shield barely stops them, as they slightly pierce it. ‘You talked me out of revenging myself upon you once before - and this is what I get - you killing my only son!’ the Presence exclaims as he grabs Quasar with his energy. ‘I swear to you, Sir: I didn’t know Vanguard was your son. And I didn’t mean for him to die!’ Wendell replies, adding that he did not force Vanguard to accompany him. ’He volunteered! Tell him, Darkstar!’ Wendell exclaims.
‘He died while serving your cause. You are to blame. You must pay!’ the Presence replies as he continues to pour energy against Quasar, telling him not to think about escape. ’If you flee, I shall hunt down your family and slay one of them in your stead!’ the Presence warns Quasar. Suddenly, Quasar shouts ’That did it, you bulb-headed bozo! You had me feeling pretty miserable for whatever part I played on your tragedy. But you dare threaten my family, and my sympathy for you vanishes! You’ve gotten me mad, mister!’ Wendell exclaims as he breaks free of the Presence’s energy, and traps Darkstar and the Presence in quantum energy bubbles.
Elsewhere on Staten Island though, Nova soars after making a delivery as part of his messenger delivery service, when he notices the sky has grown very black - before realizing that trees and houses have been cut in half - and that the blackness is actually a solid dome. Nova supposes that it is Darkforce, and wonders which of the Darkforce wielders he knows is doing it - ’Blackout? Cloak? Darkling?’. Suddenly, lightning or something like it, startles Nova, who decides to check it out - provided he can get through the Darkforce.
Back inside the Darkforce though, Darkstar reminds Quasar that she can teleport out of any containment vessel that he concocts, and uses the Darkforce to create a pair of large pincers, which she traps Wendell within. ’Let’s see if you can, too!’ Laynia exclaims, while Wendell reminds him that if he quantum-jumps in Earth’s atmosphere, he will blow holes in the Ozone. Suddenly, the Presence bursts through Quasar’s quantum energy dome, boasting: ’Ha! My nuclear energies shattered your sphere!’.
However, Nova has managed to penetrate the Darkforce dome, and as he flies towards the battleground, where Quasar has confined himself on a small quantum-dome, Nova thinks to himself ’What’s this? Darkstar and some guy with a bigger bucket-head than mine - pounding on Quasar. I thought Darkstar was one of the good guys?. Suddenly, Nova swoops down and grabs the Presence: ’Two against one doesn’t seem fair to me. It seem fair to you?’ he asks, while the Presence shouts ’What is - another superhuman!’. Nova replies that he isn’t just any superhuman, and is about to introduce himself, when the Presence blasts him with a bolt of nuclear energy - which narrowly misses Nova.
‘Nicolai was the one person in the world i was closest to, and you took him away!’ Laynia exclaims as she and Quasar battle each other with staves created from their respective energy forms. ’I hate you, Quasar - as I’ve never hated anyone ever before!’ Darkstar exclaims, to which Wendell tells Laynia that he can see why she is upset, and remarks that he has lost a number of people close to him also. ’You have to believe me - I didn’t mean for it to happen! I picked you and Vanguard because I figured you two could look after yourselves!’ Quasar exclaims, before a stray blast from the Presence hits his arm.
Looking up, Wendell is confused to see Nova, while Darkstar tells Quasar that he insults her brother’s memory by saying he was unfit to look after himself. Wendell does not have time to react before Laynia smacks him over with her Darkforce stave. Recovering moments later, Wendell thinks that he is in a major no-win situation here. ‘I’m not going to convince her I’m anything other than grossly negligent - and they look like they’re not going to let up until they kill me!’ he tells himself. Quasar thinks that if he defeats them by hauling them into the Quantum Zone like he did to the Presence when they last met, they will only escape, and when they do, they will kill his mother or sister if they cannot find him. ‘So what do I do?’ Wendell wonders.
‘Think of something!’ he tells himself, before flying up to where Nova is still battling the Presence, and exclaims ‘Hey, Nova! Thanks for coming to bail me out, but you shouldn’t have! You can back off now!’ he exclaims, adding that he deserves the beating Darkstar and the Presence were giving him. Laynia watches the situation above, and wonders what sort of trick Quasar is planning, before Wendell announces to the Presence that he has decided to take his punishment like a man. ‘Do whatever you two wish with me. I won’t resist. I’ll even drop my protective aura!’ Quasar exclaims.
Suddenly, the Presence orders Darkstar to attack: ‘Now, my daughter - with all your might!’ the Presence booms as he unleashes a blast of nuclear energy against Quasar, while Laynia follows suit with a beam of Darkforce. Nova drops out of the way, before, moments later, the shredded remains of Quasar’s cape, along with his quantum bands, drop from the ashes. ‘We disintegrated him!’ the Presence booms as he grabs the tattered remains of Quasar’s cape. ‘We must have! He could not have teleported away without his quantum bands!’ Laynia explains as she collects the bands, adding that they have avenged Nicolai.
‘You stinkin’ murderers!’ Nova shouts, speeding towards Darkstar and the Presence, they teleport away before he can strike them. With Darkstar gone, her dome evaporates, revealing several other heroes who were outside it, trying to get in - Rage, Firestar, Justice, Thunderstrike, Giant Man, the Vision, Invisible Woman and the Human Torch. ‘Hey, it’s Nova!’ exclaims Rage, while Nova takes in the gathering of heroes and supposes to himself that the black-out didn’t go unnoticed. ‘What happened?’ Thunderstrike asks.
Nova informs everyone that Quasar was jumped by two “super-yahoos” - Darkstar and the Presence, and though he is not sure, he thinks they disintegrated Quasar, took his power bands and teleported away. ‘The blond punk only got what was coming to him!’ Mr Ballantine shouts as he steps out of his home. ‘Quasar…dead? Is it possible?’ the Invisible Woman asks.
Meanwhile…on the outermost edge of Earth’s atmosphere - a quantum signature appears, as a solemn Quasar escapes Earth, knowing that he blew a hole in the ozone, but that there could have been a lot more damage had the fight continued. Wendell tells himself that he hates leaving like this, with everyone thinking he is dead, but if anyone on Earth knows he is alive, the Presence may read their mind and make food on his vow to go after his mother and sister. Wendell hopes that the duplicates of his quantum bands that he created from quantum-energy hold up to the Presence’s inspection, even though they are non-functional. Wendell hopes that the Presence will assume the blast he used burnt them out.
As he soars further and further away from Earth, Wendell tells himself not to look back, just to get away so no one can detect him. He remarks that Earth should be in good hands with people like Nova ready and able to step in. ‘I don’t think my power will be missed’ he tells himself. ‘Goodbye, mother planet. This native son is leaving your nest for good. Please, everyone. Be well…and don’t think badly of me. I didn’t succeed in everything I set out to do, but I tried my best. What more could I do…?’ Quasar wonders as he flies to the stars.