Trying not to let fear affect him, Joe said, “It’s not a trick. I don’t have any more to trick you with than you already see.”
The creature stepped toward him, and Joe decided against stepping back. They were more likely to attack if you showed fear. He’d learned that at least from the Abominators’ attachment to hierarchy.
If you acted like you were above them, they might attempt to throw you down, but they’d at least have to consider the possibility that you outranked them. If you were lucky, they’d submit out of ingrained habit.
The giant covered the forty foot distance in all too few steps. He stopped only ten feet away, forcing Joe to look up.
He felt like a four year old. He barely came up to the creature’s waist.
Joe looked upward, making steady, strong eye contact–for all that that was worth. The creature probably couldn’t see through the helmet.
Amazingly, the giant didn’t hold up his bracer and use it for whatever horrible purpose Lee’s people had designed it for. The giant said, “I see possibilities.”
Then, staring down at him, the creature swallowed. “You’re connected to them.”
It held out the bracer, not pointing it at him, showing it to him.
That was not a connection he wanted anyone to make. Lee had told him about his own species, how they didn’t want any intelligent life but their own to even exist in this universe or any universe, and how they’d seeded the universes with artifacts that would encourage other creatures to destroy life–other races and their own.
And also that if a civilization became too large or too powerful, or just wasn’t susceptible enough to temptation, Lee’s people would show up and destroy it themselves.
Joe had a bad feeling that this creature–whatever Mark had become–might be powerful enough to make them take notice. If he guessed that Lee had taken up residence on Earth and they found out, they’d almost certainly destroy the planet and everything on it.
Joe shook his helmet from side to side, “I’ve never seen that thing in my life. Why are you showing it to me anyway?”
The giant frowned, looking almost comically grumpy. “I sensed a connection. There’s something about you that shares a past with this thing.”
The creature’s face turned grim. “I am The Nexus. I see all things. I see connections. I see patterns. Nothing is hidden from me.”
And yet, Joe thought, he didn’t see my distraction for what it was until he’d been talking for five minutes. If five or six minutes were even the default amount of time the Nexus saw into the future, there could be a way to use it.
He thought about it. If he managed to get the creature stuck somewhere, but waited until more than six minutes afterward to blow it up, that might work.
He had a bad feeling that the only thing he had access to that might trap the giant would be the Abominator weapons back in HQ. He didn’t even consider that. He’d have to depend on Larry and Freddie to bring the weapons, and Larry seemed to be a kind of magnet for disasters.
Putting Abominator weapons in his hands during a fight was simply asking for buildings to burn.
It wasn’t as if Larry did anything wrong either. A lot of supers were impulsive and headstrong, but the universe seemed to have it out for him.
Which reminded him, Larry and Freddie could appear at any moment. He need to keep “The Nexus” talking.
He needed to think of a way to handle it at the same time.
At that thought, he realized he heard music. He wasn’t sure what the song was, but somebody driving past in a red El Camino was listening to rock music extremely loudly. The singer was telling the world that he was a joker, a smoker, and a midnight toker.
The Nexus pointed his arm at the… car? (Joe had never been sure what to call them. A flatbed station wagon?)
A triangular field appeared, widening the further it got from the bracer until it enveloped the car.
The car’s color changed from red to orange, and screeched to a stop.
Along with the El Camino, the road underneath and around it had changed to a road with the deep black color of new tar. Unlike the rest of the road, no potholes existed.
The driver pulled himself upright behind the steering wheel, and Joe realized that the steering wheel had switched from the left side of the front to the right.
From the expression on the driver’s face as he stared at the dashboard, Joe guessed that this surprised him too. So the vehicle was from an alternate world, but the driver at least must still be from this world. It made more sense than time travel at any rate.
The sound of the El Camino’s engine roaring away showed that its driver at least wasn’t getting bogged down in thinking about why things had changed.
For his sake, Joe hoped that the license plate was normal or at least close to it. Joe glanced at it as it left. It did look normal except for the words “Her Majesty’s Great Lakes State.”
Joe turned back toward the giant. “Don’t do that again. These people are under my protection.”
The giant’s expression didn’t look angry or sad, merely confused, and possibly a little sick.
It pointed the bracer toward him, and Joe knew that the time to talk was over.