‘So, what’s the plan?’ one of the United States’ super heroes asks as they and several of their comrades stare up into the sky. ‘I’m thinking about it!’ Nick Fury of SHIELD replies as he too looks at the sky. ‘Uh-huh’ the young hero known as Spider-Man remarks, before asking everyone what they are looking at. Turning, he sees the massive battle ship in the sky, ‘Oh…now I get it!’ he remarks. Fury declares that with Reed’s equipment damaged, they need to move fast, so the helicarrier will take a strike team to whoever can show them how to follow Reed. ‘Uhm, Nick -’ Spider-Man begins, until he is ignored, and Fury continues, ‘Into whichever dimension the others took him’.
Spider-Man a.k.a. Peter Parker keeps trying to get Fury’s attention, ‘Nick? Mr. Fury? Nicky-poo?’ Fury stops his own talking and turns to Spider-Man. ‘Nicky-poo?’ he snarls. Spider-Man exclaims that he had to get his attention somehow, to which Nick asks Spider-Man what he wants. Spider-Man replies that when he saw them all looking up, and then when they were all looking up, he thought they were all looking at the same thing. ‘What is your point?’ Fury interjects. ‘I wasn’t looking at the helicarrier - I was looking at him’ Spider-Man announces, pointing at the God of Thunder, Thor, a member of the Ultimates, who is hovering beside the helicarrier and staring at it curiously.
Fury, Thor’s teammates in the Ultimates and all the other heroes that are standing in the ruins of the Baxter Building all look towards Thor, who notices them staring at him, and putting his hands on his hips turns to them, ‘What?’ he asks. ‘So here’s what I’m thinking’ Spider-Man begins, before asking Thor if he is the God of Thunder. ‘Verily’ Thor replies. ‘So I’m guessing that hammer of yours -’ Spider-Man remarks, ‘Mjolnir’ Thor interrupts. ‘Pardon?’ Spider-Man replies. Thor explains that his hammer is called Mjolnir, so Spider-Man tries to pronounce it - ‘Majohlnar? Maj-jonger?’ he asks. ‘Mjolnir’ Thor replies. ‘How do you spell that?’ Spider-Man asks.
Thor spells it in his own Asgardian language, to which Spider-Man obviously cannot understand. ‘Right. Doesn’t matter’ Spider-Man mutters, before declaring that his point is that the hammer can take Thor anywhere he wants. ‘Aye’ Thor replies, beginning to list all the places his hammer can take him, until Spider-Man interrupts, exclaiming that he understands. The web-slinger then turns back to his acquaintances, pointing out that since the energy trail that let the Squadron take Reed is still fresh, ‘I’m thinking Thor and Mahlatallanar -’ ‘Mjolnir’ Thor corrects him - ‘Can open up a dimensional portal and follow them!’ Spider-Man concludes.
‘Makes sense to me’
‘You’re standing on my foot’
‘So what’re we waiting for?’
‘How did he spell that?’
‘Where’s the toilet? If this is gonna be a long trip I gotta pee’
‘Fury got owwwwned!’
‘Can we stop at Valhalla first?’
‘Spidey’s got a point, Nick’
‘Yeah, what do you say, Nick?’
Finally the heroes stop chattering and Fury stares at Spider-Man. ‘And once Thor opens the dimensional portal, we’re going to need the helicarrier to get everyone to the other side, aren’t we?’ Fury says to Spider-Man. ‘Yes sir!’ Spider-Man replies. ‘So I was right, wasn’t I?’ Fury exclaims. ‘Yes sir!’ Spider-Man replies again. ‘Good. So now that we’ve got that cleared up, let’s get this show on the road!’ Fury exclaims.
Thor flies alongside the Helicarrier and Fury radios to him, asking if he can pick up the energy signature. ‘Verily’ Thor replies. Someone asks what the deal with this “verily” is all the time, but someone mumbles ‘Shut up!’, before fury announces that they have got everything buckled down, ‘And some things webbed down’ Spider-Man jokes, ‘I said shut-up!’ Fury declares, before informing Thor that they can go whenever he is ready. Thor replies that, the full power of Mjolnir, once released, may be more than even the strongest mortal can survive, adding that the portal itself is perilous, and asking Fury if he is sure they wish to proceed.
‘Verily’ Fury replies as he looks down at the impressive gathering of heroes before him. ‘So be it’ Thor replies as he swings Mjolnir around, opening the portal as he shouts ‘Let the heavens be torn asunder, let us be carried by lightning and storm, let the world fall asunder, the sky be ripped away - and leave this world behind!’ And with that, Thor begins leading the Helicarrier through the portal and into a new universe.
At that moment in said new universe, an army official tells Doctor Spectrum a.k.a. Colonel Joe Ledger that they have to be prepared for some measure of an invasion, pointing out that if Reed Richards was able to send that device across the dimensional plane, then it only follows that they might be able to send others as well, so they have to be prepared for that eventuality. Doctor Spectrum replies that they have got it covered, and informs the army official that Hyperion is in heavy-duty monitoring mode. ‘If somebody even farts in a way he hasn’t heard before, we’ll be all over it’. ‘Not an image I wanted, Colonel Ledger’ the official replies. Spectrum replies that he doesn’t imagine Hyperion was much happier about it than he, but that he also has a suspicion that Hyperion was just as happy to get away from that…stuff that came in with Reed Richard’s device. Spectrum adds that they have to find out what the Hell that stuff was before they can try Richards.
In a laboratory nearby, Steadman asks Reed Richards a.k.a. Mr. Fantastic if he has any idea what they are dealing with. Test tubes and various other equipment in front of him, Reed replies that he thinks so, but isn’t sure. Reed explains that the cellular structure is similar to a spore he discovered on other extra-dimensional expeditions, but that it was a simple one-celled organism, biologically inert.
‘Well, I’d suggest that it’s far from inert now’ the handsome Dr. Emil Burbank remarks snidely to Reed, who replies that he knows, adding that his only guess is that as his device passed through the dimensional rift, the energies surrounding the probe interacted somehow with the spores, which hitchhiked onto the probe as it passed through them, and sped up their evolutionary process, so that when they arrived here…his voice trails off before asking Steadman how many people he said he been killed by this.
Steadman replies that they are not entirely sure yet because all the resources that would normally track this sort of thing are not fully functional at the moment, but that they are estimating that the final tally will be somewhere in the tens of millions - maybe even more. ‘God…God, God, God…’ Reed whispers while rubbing his eyes under his glasses. Reed exclaims that he was sure he had compensated for this possibility, that he took every precaution to guarantee that nothing organic could stick to the probe’s skin and avoid contamination. ‘I don’t understand!’ he remarks, before Burbank exclaims that he has a question.
Smirking wickedly, Burbank remarks that he has always wondered what it must feel like to kill millions of people all at once, and since he was never going to have the chance to meet Hitler or Stalin, he was wondering if Reed could tell him what it’s like. A furious Reed rushes over to Burbank, and screams at him, asking him if he thinks this is funny. ‘Don’t you understand what I’ve just done!’ Reed exclaims, placing his hands on Emil’s collar. Emil calmly replies that he understands just fine, adding that he understands something else, also. ‘Touchy-touchy bad!’ Emil exclaims before tapping the cufflink on his shirt, which sends a shock through Reed’s body, causing him to scream and lose control of his form, as his body stretches in all directions.
Reed lies on the lab floor and Emil kneels beside him, ‘Now, as I was saying, before you’re put on trial and convicted of crimes against humanity and introduced to a far more powerful jolt of electricity than the one I just showed you, tell me - how do we stop that stuff from adding even more numbers to your already quite astonishing body count?’ Tears tumbling from his eyes, Reed replies that he doesn’t know. ‘God help me…I don’t know…’.
Meanwhile, in the portal between two worlds, Thor radios to the Helicarrier, asking a SHIELD officer to inform General fury that they are nearly at their destination, so he needs to prepare for their arrival. Moments later, an announcement is made over the Helicarrier, asking for General Fury to report to the bridge. At the same time, Captain America passes Kitty in one of the corridors and asks her if she has seen Fury, as he is not responding to the page. Kitty replies that she thought she saw him going down one of the maintenance hallways, and asks if she should go get him. Captain America remarks that as they are soon to be up to their ears in trouble, that would be wise.
Kitty phases through the interior walls of the Helicarrier and calls out ‘General Fury? Olly-olly oxen free!’ Kitty phases part of her face into a room that is lit only by dim lights, and stops as she hears someone say ‘You’re sure Richards suspects nothing?’ Standing in the shadows, Fury replies to the unknown person ‘Affirmative’ explaining that they are going to go in, get Richards, clean up the mess and get the Hell out before any of this can bounce back on them. Fury adds that the important thing is that they make sure Reed doesn’t get his hands on any of the probes. ‘Two seconds under that freaking high-I.Q. spotlight of his and he’d figure it out!’
The mysterious voice replies that they will have to make sure that doesn’t happen, to which Fury replies ‘Don’t worry, it wont’, before stepping out of the red room and extremely surprised to see Kitty on the other side of the door. He begins to ask her what she is doing back here, to which she informs him that Captain America asked her to find him. ‘Well, you did that’ Fury replies, before standing in the doorway still and telling her that they should get to the bridge. ‘Actually, I was just -’ Kitty begins, until Fury interrupts her, telling her that she can hit the little mutants room later, as right now they have a war to start. Fury puts his arm around Kitty’s shoulders, forcing her to walk with him towards the bridge, and a very suspicious Kitty looks over her shoulder back towards the red room.
Back in the Squadron’s universe, Zarda a.k.a. Power Princess soars up into the open night sky, stars twinkling in the background, ‘My love!’ she cries out to Hyperion, ‘They do not see you as we do. A star, compressed beyond imagination, needing only a single spark to light the fire, and then…it will be…beautiful. We…will be beautiful!’ she exclaims smiling. Grinning, Zarda remarks that for those who wait for word beneath another star, who have waited so long for that word - they too, shall be beautiful. Zarda adds that perhaps that time is now.
Zarda tells the silent Hyperion not to open his eyes, but to continue listening, not for the approach of the enemy, but to those below. Zarda flies around her lover, ‘Listen to those that crawl across the broken rind of the world below, denied flight, denied the sky, denied the stars…listen…what do you hear?’ she asks him. ‘Cries. Screams. Shouts’. Hyperion replies, adding that he hears seas of pain fed by rivers of death - a million shuddering last breaths and over and over again, one question - why?
Zarda replies that it is the question they have awaited, because now they can give them the answer they have always known, but needed to be told before they could truly understand. ‘Why are they dying?’ she asks rhetorically, ‘Because we…because you…could not protect them as you could, as you would…if they would but let you. If you had the power, if they gave you the power!’ Zarda tells Hyperion that he could be there right now, fighting the enemy that swarms among them, devouring them, ‘But you do not. Why?’
Hyperion replies that something in the entity weakens his powers, ‘And I can’t -’ he begins to say, ‘You cannot save them all’ Power Princess concludes. ‘No. No, I can’t’ Hyperion declares. Zarda grins as she asks Hyperion if he cannot save them all, then would it not be wise, and right, for him to save only those who will allow him to save them, who will let him do what is necessary to keep them safe, those that will listen to him. ‘Who obey you. Who will love you…as I love you’.
Hyperion begins to answer, when suddenly he realizes that the enemy has arrived. He flies towards where the portal breaks open the space nearby and tells Zarda to go and get the others. Zarda frowns, ‘Of course, my love’ she replies. Thor and the Helicarrier appear in a brilliant burst of lightening, and inside the Helicarrier, Fury orders everyone to get ready, as it will only be a matter of time before they - ‘Better make that no time at all, General!’ a SHIELD officer announces. Fury asks him what he has got, and the officer suggests Fury take a look for himself. Turning to the window, ‘Oh, crap…’ Fury mumbles as he sees Thor and Hyperion fly towards each other.