The detonated men died without warning, flooding Manhattan with jellied corpses and witnesses gone mad. Something was out of its cage and had to be put back.
His name is Nate Grey, the son of parents that never existed. Mutant. Telepath. Shaman. Intermediary between power. The guardian at reality’s door. The trail of blood led to the ones who set the monster loose. And he has no choice but to help them.
He knows who they are, Nate says by way of an introduction. He admits that their telepathic blocks are excellent, but they’ve never met anyone like him before. They call themselves the Gauntlet. They’ve had other names over the years. They met a university, at the right parties, in elite resorts, exclusive boardrooms. They knew each other instinctively. They’re all mutants. He informs them that he has dropped his blocks and invites them to read his mind, though he warns them to try anything else.
An Asian woman admits that the power he radiates is incredible. He’s bio-engineered and vat-grown, but he is Homo superior like them. He isn’t from around here.
He is from down-spiral, Nate explains. A parallel Earth that is no longer there. But they have been farther down that that, haven’t they? he states with a smile. And they disturbed something. Didn’t they? They must have really ticked it off. It crawled up to this reality just to kill them all.
How much did he read from them? the Asian woman asks. Not much, Nate admits. If he pushed their blocks any harder, he’d turn them into vegetables. He doesn’t want to do that. He’s hoping they’ll trust each other now and they’ll just tell him.
Still suspicious, the Gauntlet members ask why Nate is making this his business. Being an outsider doesn’t mean he can’t care what happens on the inside, Nate replies. From his perspective, there is no outside. Speaking of which: he asks Helen to come inside and join them and she complies.
Nate asks everyone to be quiet for a moment, as he has to concentrate. After all, they don’t want the devil to come to them when they speak of him. He creates an improved telekinetic shield around them, adding that it’ll hold d long as he’s happy. The downside is it’s probably agitating their enemy something fierce. So, they should keep him happy and talk.
Elsewhere, the enemy climbs a steep cliff at a lifeless wasteland. Having reached up, he looks into space where he sees a spiral of seemingly identical parallel Earths. The Spiral. Magnificent. Nowhere to hide, little bugs.
The members of the Gauntlet have sat around Nate, as he states that they are explorers, a little careless. The Asian woman who seems to have some leading position demands he not speak as if they were children. They are intelligent beings with an awareness of their place in the world. Their concerns are simply more… diverse… than the usual push and pull surrounding their species.
She means mutant politics, Nate clarifies. Xavier’s integrationism, Magneto’s domination theory. Largely, yes, she agrees. Between them, they postulate existence as an either/or proposition and that’s supposed to be the scope of their lives. Both miss the point entirely. Others chime in. A middle-aged man with spectacles explains that getting tangled up in mutant politics obscures the bigger picture – they don’t need to integrate. They don’t need to dominate. Both viewpoints are irrelevant.
Why not just be different and use that difference? a pretty blonde adds. The world may be the house they were born into, but the day has come to grow up and leave the nest. They have an entire multiverse at their disposal. They have power, a middle-aged African-American man states. In theory if they pool their powers, they can do anything. Eventually they had to ask themselves: Why don’t they ever do anything? Helen sums up that now they do anything they can think of.
The Asian woman explains that they explore. Together they can drive themselves into the multiverse, into the future and the past. And reality north and reality south, Nate states ominously. Don’t they? They stare at him numbly. They’ve been up-universe into the sublimed planes, he continues. He can smell it on them. This isn’t the time for silence. As they don’t react, he shrugs it off. He has seen them, the higher universes, where civilizations go when they’ve been everywhere else. Where they go to rest and become something else. Those places are like the face of Heaven. But they’ve also been down, haven’t they?
Some men look away, not meeting his eye. They’ve been south of reality in the broken universes, he continues. It’s not something they can scrape off their psyches or hide. And they’ve disturbed something. As if on cue the walls of the room begin to shake.
Elsewhere, the purple being reaches out with a giant clawed hand and grasps one of the Earths, plucking it like a small pearl. This one.
Back on Earth, Helen panics. Nate’s shield is breaking, isn’t it? No, Nate clarifies. What’s coming doesn’t even register the shield as being there. It’s moving through it like they move through fog. The ground trembles as several hands come up reaching for them. Helen protests that Nate promised they’d be safe. He was wrong, he remarks. Some things are new to him too.
Suddenly, the monster hands are gone and the trembling stops. This can’t be a good sign, Nate observes.
It retreated, Helen states. Nate doesn’t buy it and sharply orders them to get out. Now! What about him? Helen asks. He’ll find them, he states. He’s not going to face it? Helen asks. Someone has to, Nate replies. He has… advantages. Now get going.
They leave quickly while the creature appears to Nate in an explosion of smoke. Seeing the huge hulking purple creature, Nate asks what he is. He telepathically scans him, learning that it is from a broken universe where humans aren’t designed to live on Earth. The creature snarls and attacks Nate with a mental blast. He is like nothing of this world, he announces. His left eye glowing, Nate concentrates. That’s all right. Neither is he.
He telekinetically attacks. He continues his scan. On the creature’s world, Homo sapiens evolved only to fit conditions in tropical Kenya where they were born. This is what they had to do to themselves to live in any other spot. And what millions of years of his kind literally having to force themselves to live each day led to.
The creature attacks again. Levitating, Nate asks what the Gauntlet did to the being when they touched its world. What could make it draw itself up-reality to a place where it could barely survive without a suit of back-up internal organs? What could they have done that it had to crawl hand over hand through universes just to come and kill them?
The being refuses to tell. Nate tries reason. He is this world’s shaman. Does it understand? He exists outside the world of humans now. He is their defense when something from outside threatens the perimeter of the village. It can leave, it can die, but it will not harm another of them.
The creature clarifies that it will murder them and Nate and everything else it feels like. Does he understand? Yes, Nate replies as his eye begins to glow. Die.. He buries the being under a telekinetic barrage as he brings down the building.
A little later, Nate only finds its arm. He figures that it has shed it like a snake its skin. Like a rodent in a trap gnawing its left foot off to get free. He’s still alive. Loose. Which means Nate has to go after him.