'I AM SHATTERSTAR!' the warrior also known as Gaveedra-Seven boomed after defeating numerous opponents in battle. His costume is torn and blood-splattered as he holds his double-bladed swords over his head. He is a genetically engineered humanoid from the alternate dimension called Mojoworld, 100 years hence. Enhanced for maximum viability in the gladiatorial arena, he became a fierce warrior, drawing blood to appease the audience who demanded new and inventive sacrifices in exchange for their blessing of ratings. Sometimes, he thinks he can still hear the whir of cameras, the roar of the crowd on the wind, a prayer to a bored god. But he knows those are just echoes of another era, the faded soundtrack to a character he played before he joined the rebellious Cadre Alliance, before he travelled back in time and through space to the planet Earth to see out the assistance of the X-Men in overthrowing Mojo's rule. Before the civil war ended and he was left a refugee. Before he put down the swords and became Ben Gaveedra – a landlord.
Wearing blue sweatpants and a white tank top, Shatterstar sweeps the pavement in front of a three-story house in College Point, Queens. He had purchased the lonely end-lot building beneath the thundering airplane flight path with funds earned as a detective and a bounty hunter. He opened Major Crossing specifically for others like himself – outcasts of alternate futures and parallel dimensions hoping to make better timelines for themselves. Shatterstar takes the sweepings from the sidewalk to a garbage can and thinks that he had come to like the title “landlord” - it was the kind of a designation he'd have spilled intestines to attain back in the gladiator pits – it sounded powerful, regal – and respectable.
'I believe we discussed the rules about the sidewalk outside the building and bodily waste' Shatterstar remarks, turning to Karl Snortenhall a.k.a. Pug-Smasher, a dog who sits on a windowsill. 'We did. And I explained that I wouldn't abide by your imperialist laws' Pug-Smasher replies. Pug-Smasher is a former anti-nationalist terrorist super villain, cast out of Earth-8311 amidst a battle against Thanhorse, Pug-Smasher is currently a resident of garden apartment #1.
'You may get away with charging me for 600 square feet of what should be communal earth, but you can't force me to ignore nature's most urgent demands' Pug-Smasher declares. 'I see. Well, you've forced my hand' Shatterstar replies as a woman jogs past the front porch, her dog running behind her. Shatterstar picks Pug-smasher up: 'Come here, little cuite pootie-kins! Aw, him so cute! Wait until the kennel club sees you! We're gonna win best in show oh yes we are!' Shatterstar gushes. The other dog looks back at Shatterstar and Pug-Smasher, unimpressed. 'Did you just utterly emasculate me in front of Mitzi Moscowitz the most eligible schnauzer in Queens?' Pug-Smasher asks, wide-eyed. 'I did. Yes. And I'll do it again unless you curb yourself in the future' Shatterstar warns Pug-Smasher, who gets up on his hind legs and walks up the front steps, 'Fine' he mutters, while telling Shatterstar not to be surprised if his rent is late. 'Owner class elitist' Pug-Smasher adds.
Shatterstar goes inside, he can hear arguing from the hall and opens the door to garden apartment #15, where Goldon and Crimzor are in their living room. They are former Rajas of the Scorpus Citadel.
Shatterstar tells them that he is just checking on the air conditioning. Several weapons are scattered about, and Goldon smiles and gives Shatterstar the thumbs-up, telling him that the air conditioning is as frosty as the underbelly of the white dragon, Isiclus. Before Shatterstar leaves, Goldon asks him if he can settle an argument for them. 'I think we should try Rupert Grint as the bag guy, but Crimz -' Goldon is interrupted as Crimzor calls out 'Hunters of the gods, the man's a toad!' Shatterstar knows that the majority of their heated discussions were over the high-fantasy TV series they had been developing for the past six months, and smiles at them, telling them that he thinks that could work. 'Ha! I told you!' Goldon exclaims. 'How I wish I had pushed you into that black hole, Goldon' Crimzor mutters as Shatterstar closes the door, and recalls that the TV series features the epic tale of a pair of brothers, one good, one evil, and their struggle to rule their color-worshipping kingdom against the backdrop of a planetary disaster.
Shatterstar makes his way up the indoor stairs, as a woman with dreadlocks calls him Mr Gaveedra and tells him that she was just looking for him. Shatterstar identifies her as the End Woman, a mutant commando from a dark future, and resident of apartment #25. 'Ah, yes. The lease' Shatterstar remarks as the End Woman hands him a piece of paper. 'Looks like you're stuck with me for another year' the End Woman smiles. Shatterstar knows that a coven of X-Angels had sent the End Woman back to kill the half-demon mutant who would turn the world into a fiery hell in a thousand years. But, in this era, Sister Conflagration the Burning Nun was a shy 13-year old girl, and the End Woman was unable to avert her reign with a bullet before it began. 'Did you bring your homework?' the End Woman asks the 13-year old girl who approaches her. Shatterstar knows that the would-be assassin provides friendship, guidance and an occasional safe place for Gabbi Sotelo to go when her mother is drinking. He looks at the lease, and decides that every time she signs her name, it looks like the final title screen to an old film “The End”.
Shatterstar goes to another apartment. 'Hold your horses! I'm comin!' a voice calls out from within the apartment. The door opens and an elderly man asks Shatterstar how much he owes him. The man is Night Thrasher of Earth-90214 and resident of apartment #3N. 'A gift' Shatterstar repplies, handing the old man some pills. Shatterstar knows that he was from an alternate past full of hard boiled heroes who solved problems with fists and quick wits, and that he had been brought here by his New York Warriors teammate, Ms Slip, so that he might benefit from the advances in the treatment of Parkinson's disease. The old man thanks Ben and tells him that he should change the sign on his door so it says “babysitter”. Shatterstar wonders why Ms Slip hadn't gone further into the future where a cure for his condition would exist, where there were no pills to flush down the toilet.
As he makes his way down a hallway, Shatterstar decides that babysitter is certainly a less kingly label than landlord, but he tends to his tenants' needs, and they kept him busy. Some busier than others.
'Mr Gaveedra!' a voice calls out, and Shatterstar comes to a half, narrowing his eyes, he cringes as Tina Cooke, resident of apartment #3S steps into the hallway, wearing a Fantastic Four t-shirt, she exclaims 'Galactus. I just read about Galactus. A 30 foot giant in a purple helmet who tried to eat Manhattan. A purple helmet'. Shatterstar tells the woman that he is familiar with Galactus. 'Oh my God. Did you ever fight him?' Tina Cooke gushes. She is from Earth-1218, a world that followed strict rules of physics and logic, that lacked super heroes, alien invasions and interventionist gods. Tina had accidentally passed through a rift and had decided to leave behind a successful life as a regional bank manager to stay in this place where seemingly anything was possible. 'Yes. Just once. Alongside X-Force, but -' Shatterstar begins, knowing that Tina loves to hear his tales of super hero adventure, and pines for any details of his life – but it makes him uncomfortable, so he tells Tina that he can't talk, as he has an appointment.
Soon, Shatterstar actually does have an appointment – once a week he goes to see a play. It doesn't matter what, or the quality of the production. His affection for these live stories isn’t for the words, or the action, or the sounds of the crowd. It was for the characters. He takes his seat among other theater-goers, while the performers take the stage. They seem to be speaking directly to him, across the room, no camera between them – and no matter how complex these people are, no matter how expansive their existences before their tales could be – everything important about them – their motivations, their beliefs, their desires – could be ascertained and understood in the span of two hours and an intermission. It was so simple, so clean, so clearly communicated. The production plays out, and Shatterstar thinks that this extreme contrast is all the evidence anyone needs to know that real life is not entertainment.
At the same time, Pug-Smasher wears a black and white costume and stands on ledge outside a window of Shatterstar's apartment building. There is a bolt of lightning and a winged man wearing straps of spiked leather and not a lot else called Deadair appears and grabs Pug-Smasher. The armor-wearing Sweepzweak uses energy to knock out Goldon and Crimzor, while the scantily clad Cancellartor slams a fist into End Woman, knocking her back. The woman called Lead-In drags Tina Cooke down the hallway.
'Motivations. Beliefs. Desires. In real life it could take years to ascertain these in another person' Shatterstar thinks to himself as he walks down a sidewalk, the glow of the night beaming down on him as he realizes that even then it could be completely and hopelessly misunderstood, as he stops outside a nightclub where Julio Richter a.k.a. Rictor is greeting some musicians. Shatterstar has had teammates, associates, friends – but he struggles to maintain deeper relationships.
Rictor looks over and sees Shatterstar. He frowns. The former hero is now a club owner, and also a former resident of Manor Crossing. Shatterstar watches Rictor and remembers their last conversation – through tears, Rictor had asked why Shatterstar's attentions had waned, why his attentions were spurned. “Don't I interest you anymore?” Rictor asked through tears, before leaving and telling Shatterstar that the worst part is, he knows his problem with them – they don't fight enough.
The rerun of memories is interrupted as soon as Shatterstar steps off 15th Avenue – he knows something is wrong. 'Za's vid!' he gasps as he sees smoke rising from his apartment building, some damage to the outside. There is no barking from #1N. No bickering from #15 and no smell of microwaved dinners from #3S. Shatterstar rushes inside, and stops – not because there is no one shouting at gloved gladiators from #3N, but because the old Night Thrasher calls out to him. He clutches his wounds as he tells Shatterstar that they came in fast and hard, swept room to room, but they didn't want him, so he figured he would make sure they didn't get away with the others too easy and took one of theirs with him, pointing over to a table, where the body of the ghoulish Timeslot lies, a large knife in his neck.
'No. Don't...' Shatterstar begins, taking the old man's hand. The alternate reality Night Thrasher tells Shatterstar that it is okay, that things kept changing and time kept marching on – and this was as far as he wanted to go.
Shatterstar sits in his office. The curtain opens and time winds back, as he witnesses a play captured by the multiple security cameras around the manor. It is as polished and rehearsed as any production he has seen. Space and time are unwoven by the dance of the teleporter Timeslot, as the mercenary unit known as the Death Sponsors step out from the Mojoverse and abduct his tenants one by one. Shatterstar watches as Timeslot stands for a moment outside Night Thrasher's door, unaware that he walks toward his own death, pausing to summon another – Gringrave – the Smiling Executioner! The woman steps through the portal and stares straight into the camera.
A long time ago:
'I AM SHATTERSTAR!' the warrior roars as he holds his blades overhead, within the arena on Mojoworld. 'Good for you' a voice calls out. 'Happy to have a name to put to that body. It's a good body. Firm. Taut. Not overly muscled' Gringrave remarks as she hurls several throwing blades at Shatterstar. Shatterstar turns to her and frowns. Beneath the blood splattered across his body he moves quickly and blocks the blades, as Gringrave notices his star tattoo around his eye and tells him it is cool, wondering if it is a tribute to the great Longshot. Gringrave drops down and kicks Shatterstar in the face, telling him that either way, it doesn't even really get in the way of his handsome face. Gringrave adds that Shatterstar's hair is a bright accent color and the length is good for enhancing movement – but as she dodges Shatterstar's blades, she grabs his long hair then slaps his face and knocks him to the arena floor. '... anyway, thanks boy. You made me smile' Gringrave remarks, holding her hands up to her face, she positions them near her mouth, the pattern on her gloves extending out like a large grinning smile.
The citizens of Mojoworld watching the fight begin chanting Gringrave's name over and over. She holds two throwing blades up above her head as she stands over Shatterstar. 'White shirt. That's good. Thank you. They'll see the blood all the way in the cheap seats' Gringrave remarks, before enraged fans begin chanting for Shatterstar. 'They... they love you' Gringrave realizes, before kneeling down next to Shatterstar and pulling him close to her, telling him that he is going to be her partner, that she is going to teach him to capitalize on that natural talent, and that lesson one is to convincingly give the audience what it wants – by wanting the same thing. She then puts her lips to Shatterstar's, kissing him.
Gringrave had given Shatterstar motivation, belief and desire – she had made him who he was in that time before. And now, she has taken the people he had sworn to protect – the only thing he has.
He throws his laptop off the desk and opens the desk lid. He doesn't have to question why – Gringrave's motivations are obvious to him, like a character in a play. He looks at several weapons hidden in the desk and recalls how his relationship with Gringrave ended in tears and pain – and not because they didn't fight enough.
Shatterstar goes to the body of the old Night Thrasher, and buries him in the lawn behind the manor – and lays “Ben Gaveedra” beside him, as he suits up and stands with the moon glowing on him, Shatterstar holds his blades and declares that he will hunt the Death Sponsors, rescue his tenants and avenge Night Thrasher – he will kill Gringrave. It is so simply, so clean, so clearly communicated.
Small cameras whir around Shatterstar, recording him and transmitting back to an arena where an assortment of aliens watch the large screens displayed before them, watching Shatterstar and his captive companions. They chant for the Grandmaster, over and over. The roar of the crowd on the wind, a prayer to a bored god. Several strange aliens on mechanical legs follow the Grandmaster and clap as he tells them to cut, fade to titles and end episode one.