The novel begins in Florida. A serious explosion occurs at the University of Central Florida's science department, destroying the University and everything within a mile of it. Despite the indications of a nuclear weapon, from the devastation to the mushroom cloud, military personnel and emergency responders find no traces of radiation or EMP. Hovering right over the center of the resulting crater is a strange, black metallic sphere. As the survivors around it stand in awe, a huge 'bug' steps out of it and dies.
Meanwhile the President and his advisors rush to respond to the disaster. They had an apparent nuclear detonation at an important university in a populated area, with a high probability of casualties. They need answers, so they grab the first person with a physics degree and Top Secret clearance in arm's reach, Dr. William Weaver. Weaver quickly explains that Ray Chen, a physicist at the university, was working on changing the laws of physics within a small space to allow him to create a Higgs Boson, essentially a particle containing its own universe. Whether or not he succeeded is unknown, however they have other problems as more of these, "Looking Glasses" begin to open around the country, then around the world. Weaver is sent down to Florida to investigate into the explosion. While on the site, a little girl named Mimi comes walking out of rubble a few blocks from the explosion, carrying a giant spider on her shoulder. They realize that something must have happened to her that allowed her to survive the explosion. They also discover that the spider on her shoulder is an incredibly intelligent being that seems to have formed a telepathic link with Mimi, as he is able to communicate thoughts to her without speaking.
Less than a day later, they discover that gate isn't their only problem as a deadly new species begins to thunder through the various gates, killing people and spreading a fungus that seems to do anything but die. Weaver and SEAL Command Master Chief Miller are among the response to a panicked call about 'demons'. A gate is discovered nearby. A team is sent through and triggers a fierce alien counterattack that the human defenses barely manage to contain. Later, a second wave comes though this and other gates.