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Thread: Second Flight Stories

  1. #1
    Alpha Flight

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    Default Second Flight Stories

    I decided I'd try the old cut and paste method of getting these on the board for folks to enjoy. I have a few gaps in the stories, but I'll post what I have. Starting with the Origins and moving into the story itself. Enjoy.

    Ben If you'd rather have these elsewhere let me know and I'll post them there. I know the plan is to rejuvenate the old Second Flight Site possibly, but I don't want to end up losing this stuff, so here it is in a format we can always recapture.

    Tom

  2. #2
    Alpha Flight

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    Default Wildheart

    Second Flight
    Coming Of Age

    The pain had come first, a dull ache in the pit of her abdomen which didn't
    increase, but didn't decrease, a constant reminder of the transition she
    was going through, she had tried to prepare herself over the preceding
    months, the signs were there, the chest pains, then budding growths, lone
    hairs sprouting under her arms, struggling to survive against the onslaught
    of her mothers razor. All the signs were there, but for all her
    preparation the cramps still hurt and now in the seclusion of her bedroom,
    fear took hold. A coppery smell assailed her nostrils and she hollered,
    "Mum!!!"
    Hurried footsteps sounded across the landing, the door opened and her
    mothers figure stood in the doorway.
    "Sabra, what is it ?",
    "I'm scared, my belly hurts".
    Valerie Gibney turned on the light and moved to her daughter, protective
    arms encircled the child and she relaxed. Raising the covers, Val saw and
    realised the significance of the childs distress.
    "Your not dying darling, you knew this was coming, come on lets clean
    things up and get you settled".

    Half an hour later, Val returned to her room, Sabra was back in bed between
    fresh sheets and her distressed state had dissapated as her mother repeated
    the conversation they had had numerous times before, Sabra had returned
    from the bathroom with a sense of pride, because in her own mind she was
    now a woman. Val slid into bed and turned to face her husband.
    "How is she ?", he asked,
    "Settled, happy",
    "You know this raises the question of what might happen next ?",
    "Kyle, we'll cross that bridge when and if it appears, she might not show
    any mutant traits, we don't know what'll happen",
    "Maybe we should have got some tests done",
    "No Kyle, we were right not to, I worked in the government, they had people
    every where, if we had had her tested and the results had been positive,
    who's to say that information wouldn't have gotten to Gyrich or any of his
    minions, 'as normal a life as possible', you said when you hung up your
    Spandex and I resigned, lets try and keep it that way and take things as
    they come."

    Time like the Juggernaut, marches ever onward, untouched by events that
    occur in the wake of it's passage. Sabra Gibney grew and adapted to lifes
    little foibles, her fourteenth birthday came and passed and with it her
    parents anxieties lessened, the threat of the curse of the X-factor had
    seemed to diminish as the time between her onset of maturity and the
    present grew greater, her school marks reflected the sense of security that
    had settled on the household as 'as normal a life as possible' was pursued.

    Sabra woke with a start, the scream has been so loud yet she knew that it
    was not human, going to he window she stared into the garden, nothing had
    changed, things seemed as they always did. Pausing, only to pick up her
    dressing gown, she made her way through the house and into the garden, that
    familiar coppery smell entered her nostrils and using it as a trail she
    traced it to the source. The cat had only just begun to feed when Sabra
    arrival disturbed it's feast, it issued a hiss in a form of protest and
    Sabra was surprised to find a snarl escaping from her throat, the cat
    realising the futility of it's challenge slinked into the night. The
    subject of the cats attentions lay broken in front of Sabra, she saw that
    it stilled breathed, picking up the damaged mouse, she nestled it in her
    hands and walked back to the house. In the kitchen she gently laid it in a
    bed of hastily prepared tissue and sat and watched as it struggled against
    inevitable death. She was surprised to find tears streaming down her face,
    she shifted her head slightly to prevent the mouse's bed from being soaked
    by the drips. The mouse struggled once more and then rolled onto it's
    side, the unequal struggle over. Feeling secure in her seclusion, she
    released the cauldron of emotions bubbling inside her, wrapping the small
    corpse in the tissue she again left the house, without thinking she scooped
    earth with her nails, instead of breaking they grew to the task and soon a
    small hole had been made, laying the tissue in the hole, she filled in her
    excavation. It was only when she was making her way back upstairs that she
    became aware of the breathing, turning she saw her father, now he seemed
    different, although there was no light, his features were clearer, more
    defined.
    "I'm glad you cried babe, it shows that perhaps you can contain the lust".

    Sabra knelt and felt the ground ahead of her, a faint heat residue told her
    the direction her father had taken, she loved this game, hide and go seek
    with a difference. It had been six months since the incident with the
    mouse and the time since had shown her what potential she had. She knew of
    her fathers past, not all, but enough to realise that she was like him, but
    with one difference, she had not been corrupted by the 'Secret Empire'.
    The changes had come fast, the small squeek of a dying mouse had become a
    scream, the dark of night which had once scared her now presented numerous
    discoveries as sights not visible to the average human became clear as day,
    her nails, which she had once tended vainly had become tools with which, if
    needed she could strip bark. Initially the changes had scared her, but
    with her fathers training she had grown to relish them. Rising from her
    kneeling position she headed in the direction her father had taken, she
    inhaled, trying to catch his scent, he had masked himself well, but now
    scent and sight were not her only aids. The sound of a disturbed animal
    scurrying away caught her attention, the sound led her to an open space
    where a solitary tree stood, it's leaves swaying gently. A memory
    infringed on Sabra's thoughts and a grin broke across her
    face..................Kyle Gibney erupted from the ground, a shout of
    triumph on his lips, but of his daughter nothing, the smug look on his face
    was replaced by one of confusion as a snarling kicking form appeared from
    nowhere and bowled him to the ground,
    "Boo"
    "How did you do that ?",
    Sabra stood upright,
    "I remember what you told me about when Wyre was hunting you and how you
    hid in the ground",
    "Maybe I should have kept my mouth shut! "

    They do say 'With age comes wisdom', this was never truer than with Sabra
    Gibney, by her eighteenth birthday her father had taught her lessons most
    humans would not even consider learning, now with her coming of age her
    father felt ready to teach the greatest lesson........................
    "He died, I killed him, I know he was only an evil copy of the original
    created by the Magus, but I had killed him and in doing so I released the
    Beast, now, the Beast dwells in all of us and takes many forms, if he
    controls you and all your strength then people will die, but if you can
    control the Beast, use him to your own ends then he can be a power for
    good, never give in to him, he is there for you, not you for him".

    The letter arrived a week later, basically a long winded cordial invitation
    asking Kyle Gibney to join the revamped Department H as a training
    co-ordinator, he didn't have to think twice before he declined, but
    sensitive ears and to that matter unsensitive ones can overhear argueing
    parents, for all that, Sabra's request still came like a jolt from the
    blue.
    "Mum, Dad, I want to join Department H",
    "No way, I'm not having you endanger yourself with some adolescent
    delusion",
    "Mom, please, I'll whine and moan and whinge and whine and.........",
    "No, no, no, Kyle talk to her",
    "And say what, she can just walk away now and one way or another she'll get
    into H, I don't want her to go, I'd rather she stayed here, but she's as
    stubborn as you",
    "Mom, I want to learnn more about myself, I want to do more with my gifts
    than play hide and go seek, dad hasn't won for years now anyway, I think
    he'll be glad of the break, go on mom, whine whinge moan",
    "Alright, alright, I'm not going to win, Kyle phone Mrs Judd, Hudson,
    Vindicator, Guardian, Director X or whatever she's calling herself today
    and try and work something out, but tell her, if anything happens to my
    girl I'll personally pull out every one of her red hairs by the follicles
    until she is as bald as the man she's married too",
    Kyle went to make a call as the women hugged.

    Two weeks later, a nervous young woman found herself sitting in the foyer
    of the new Department H, maybe this was not such a good idea she thought to
    herself, as she watched the hurley burley all around her, a friendly voice
    interupted her thoughts,
    "You must be Sabra, I was asked to come down and meet you, my name's
    Ramsey",
    "I thought I'd be meeting someone X, she invited me here after my dad had
    spoken to her",
    "Yea, that's mom, but she thought it would be less traumatic if someone
    nearer your own age met you, plus the fact she's probably trying to figure
    out more ways to torture us",
    a large friendly grin broke across his face,
    "Come on, I'll show you your room,...........welcome to
    Bedlam"..................

  3. #3
    Alpha Flight

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    Default Bellfrey

    Second Flight
    A Rough Road Ahead
    By Greg Kellogg

    The rain had been dripping from the gray, blue clouds, for little over
    three hours now. The cold wind swept carelessly through the compound,
    causing the guards to bundle up as they changed shifts. But the weather
    was of no concern to the young mutant that hangs precariously from a
    ledge, far above the disenchanted guards. His eyes stare off into the
    dark clouds as if he was looking at nothing but seeing everything. His
    dark brown fur preventing nature's intimidating attack from even
    entering into his mind. For tonight's ferocious display of unyielding
    torrent, could not stay the vigil of a man trying to find himself. A man
    concerned with his past, and his future.
    "Kind of a rough night to be out, eh Bellfrey?", came the voice from
    behind him.
    With a small stretch of his leathery wings, Bellfrey continued to look
    forward, and in a slight mutter said, "Tonight's weather is of no
    concern to me."
    Bellfrey, didn't need to see Puck behind him on the deck, to know it was
    him. He knew who was coming before he even sensed the door opening.
    The sound of his footsteps, the rate of his heartbeat, the smell of that
    god-awful cologne he loved, all his senses told him it was the team's
    diminutive coordinator. And he also knew Puck was here for a reason.
    "What can I do for you Judd?"
    "Well...I was hoping I could ask that same question. What's on your mind
    David?"
    David. It was a name he barely knew; a name that he felt confined by
    and uncertain of. A name that was the closest thing he had to knowing
    who he was. Again the name rattled in his brain, as if an echo held it
    securely in his sight but out of his reach. Always out of reach.
    David...David.... David...
    "David?", the voice behind him said again.
    "My apologies, Judd. But I would prefer be alone."
    "Sometimes, the only way I can muddle through a problem is to share it.
    To spill my guts, and just let it all hang out. It took me along time
    to find a way to say what was in my heart, and when I did, I knew deep
    inside of me, that I should have said it all earlier in life, because I
    missed out on some wonderful opportunities. Now I know that what your
    going through isn't the same as what Heather and I went through to be
    together, but my ear is here for you to chew on if ya like."

    Bellfrey, could feel the smile slide across Puck's face as he slipped in
    that last play on words. He knew the words were meant in humor, but
    they only brought him back to his freakish appearance, and his lack of
    knowledge of who he was.
    "I had another flashback today Judd, this one was very real. I saw the
    little girl with red hair playing in a lush, green back yard. I could
    smell the food cooking on the barbecue. I could feel her touch as she
    tugged playfully at my arm. I could see the arm Judd! It was normal.
    Long, pink and freckled; not brown, hairy and clawed. I could see a
    small brown puppy barking as it ran about the little girl's feet. I saw
    a windmill, and a water tower, and then nothing...it was over."
    He adjusted one set of his long talons, which held him firmly to the
    ledge above Puck. His cold black eyes blinked as the rain, landed on
    them. Puck stamped his feet on the rough cement decking, and looked
    back up at the creature hanging before him.
    "Judd, you know I've read the department files on how you and Walter
    discovered me in the Northwest Territories. I remember, seeing that
    shaggy, orange mass of muscle and yourself coming after me, and the
    chase I lead you on. I can tell you about all the various training
    sessions I've had with Flex, Providence, yourself, and the other members
    of the Flight training program. I can even tell you the location of
    almost every moving thing with in 500 yards of us. But what I can't
    tell you is anything that happened before I wake up in that church tower
    to the fervent, screaming of that woman. Her shrill voice still sits
    with me to this day Puck. She called me a monster Judd, ...A MONSTER! Is
    that all that I am, because I don't believe so, there has to be more to
    me than a series of flashbacks to people and places I don't know."
    Puck drew in a breath slowly and ran a hand to the thick fur on the back
    of Bellfry's mane.
    "What makes a man isn't his past, its not where he's been or even where
    he is going. It's what he does with himself in the present that
    determines who he is. I can tell you that you've proven yourself a
    valuable member of this team, and I've even seen you let your heart
    shine though that gruff exterior you hide behind. What I see isn't a
    monster, but a man giving his all to fight for what he believes is
    right. No matter what the cost. Alpha is your family, and we are
    determined to help you find your past, but sometimes the past isn't all
    its cracked up to be. So be prepared my friend, because it is a rough
    road ahead, but together we will travel it, no matter where it leads."
    "Now relax and come inside," Puck continued, " you can help me hunt down
    young Mr. Jaxxon, who I think may have an idea as to why my last bar of
    soap exploded in my hands as I got it wet."
    Bellfrey's face twitched a bit, and what could be mistaken for a smile
    made its way across his face. But it quickly faded, and he responded,
    "Thank you Judd. I will come in shortly, I'd just like some time to
    sort things out on my own. I appreciate your words, and your time, but
    the rain is dying off, and I feel the night air calling to me. "
    With that his talons slid free of the ledge he was attached to, and the
    young mutant fell toward the ground, plummeting quickly as the earth
    rose to meet him, only to open his leathery wings as he drew near and
    swoop back up into the cool, crisp night sky. The wind rushing by his
    ears and hair, his wings outstretched as his body reached for the stars.
    Once again a smile slid across his face, as the ground disappeared
    beneath him and the sky nestled him in its great expanse.
    "At least there are some perks to being a monster. And some fun to be
    had from it." Bellfrey muttered as he flew back by Puck and then into
    the starry night.
    Puck walked back toward the door, and smiled, as Jeffery Jaxon walked
    by.
    "Yes, David. There is still some fun to be had."

  4. #4
    Alpha Flight

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    Default Flex

    Second Flight

    Passing time
    The Origin of
    Flex
    by Steven Lewis

    "I,m not afraid of you anymore," the man in his late twenties
    screamed,"you can't overtake me. I know how to use my powers now."
    "That's were your wrong, 'son', you always have been, and always will
    be a pathetic little weakling, just like me,"the faceless man laughed,
    mocking Adrian Corbo, the superhero otherwise known as Flex.
    "Your not my father, your not real. Go aw-<...the noise that keeps
    awake my head explodes...>

    <... and my body aches, everything's on fire, Push...BEEEEEEEP>

    Waking up to a crummy, run-down apartment in your own country is
    bad enough, but one in New York Ciy, America? Even worse. But after
    all, this man has been through hell and back, what's one more day in
    this city? Same song on the radio, Same clothes for work, same
    apartment, same traffic, same job, same everything. Yet, Adrian Corbo
    had a smile on his face whatever the setting. This was his ideal
    surrounding, a bit crowded, but what isn't these days. As he walked
    through the doors of the Mandarin Chinese Restaurant he was greeted by
    the generous face of the store owner's mother, Mrs. Lee.
    "You look cold, here,"Mrs.Lee handed him a sweater,"I<cough> made this
    for you"
    "Thanks, Mrs. Lee," he took the sweater, even though it was burning up
    outside.
    "Now you go get to work,"Mrs. Lee warned"before my son comes out
    here<cough>."
    "Thanks for the sweater, Mrs. Lee"
    Adrian had become used to Mrs. Lee being there, her health was
    deteriorating and Mr.Lee didn't have enough for the hopitol bills.
    Adrian had even asked Mr.Lee to give him a paycut, so that Mrs. Lee
    could at least get medicine. The Lees were good honest people, Adrian
    liked them. Walking into the back hhe donded an apron and got to
    work,'flexing' his hand into a small knife to chop up some vegetables
    and throw into a steamer with some roasted duck. There were the
    regulars that came every day, Joe and Max, arguing over if the Royals or
    the Yankees won a game in 1945. Fat Mrs. Klein, who sat with her small,
    thin husband, quite a comedic pair. But there was one woman who he
    didn't recognize at first, having her face hidden by a menu.
    "Adrian, that woman in the corner wanted you to take her order,"Mr. Lee
    said,"maybe she's a secret admirer."

    "May I take your order,ma'am?" Adrian asked in his most polite voice.
    "I'll take one cup of java and a meeting with a super-hero,"she pulled
    down the menu to reveal the aged face of Heather MacNeil- Hudson-Judd.
    "Mrs. Hudso-umm, I mean, Mrs. Judd, I told you last time you were here,
    I'm not Flex anymore. Just Adrian."
    "Adrian, listen to me, we've got the department running again, but this
    time it's better, we've got a great group of kids, but they need a
    teacher, someone who can lead them. Your brother already signed up as
    commander. We need you, you have good skills, you need to use them."
    "Every time you come, and every time I say no, what makes you think
    this time will be any different?"
    "This time is different, the Zodiac is back, they've been making
    attacks on old Alpha members, Murmer was captured, Mac was killed alot
    of the kids were injured. They tried to pursue by rumbling with Jared,
    but you know that when someone threatens one Caps Corps member he
    threatens them all. All our evidence leads to them attacking you, they
    are propably already coming. Please come with me."
    "No, the department always has been a lie, why should I believe it's
    changed. I'm happy here. Plain and simple. Why can't I just be left
    alone, look, I've got to get back to work, so either leave or order
    something."
    "I'll have a cup of cofee...to go,"when she recieved the steaming cup
    she left, not looking back.

    By closing time Adrian was wore out from a hard days work, as he headed
    out the door he felt the rigid air breeze, he started walking
    when he felt a strange sense tingling in the back of his neck, he turned
    around and saw a lagely muscled-leg slip into an alleyway. The figure
    was tracking him, he decided to turn the tables. Sprinting to the
    alleyway, Adrian saw the largest surprise in his life. The figure was as
    large as a bull on steroids...Taurus. Heather was right, the Zodiac was
    repaying their debts, and Taurus sure had one with Flex. Taurus still
    had the scar from when Flex had accidentaly stabbed him. You've never
    lived until you have two horns coming twoards you, now that's
    excillerhating. Adrian had reflexivly transformed his hands into the
    largest blades possible, trying to disorient the behemoth by aiming
    strait twords his head. THe giant tryed moving but still recieved a
    large gash. Taurus, backing of muttered something that was to scrambled
    to be understood.
    Trying to get home as fast as he could, he bolted to the apartment,
    closing and locking the door. He didn't sleep that night, he was to
    stressed. Stressed over the fact that he had just been attacked, and
    stressed over the fact that Heather was right, and that meant that she
    might be right about the department, too. He decided to try to read
    himself to sleep, but Robinson Crusoe is only good the first time you
    read it. He thought he might as well stay up all night, he wouldn't be
    able to have a good sleep anyway, it was already 3 A.M. He plopped down
    in his chair and turned on the T.V. watching Laugh-In reruns until 5:00.
    When he woke up at 10 in the morning, he realized he had fallen asleep
    and was late for work. Getting dressed and walking to work as fast as he
    could, he still only got there by 10:45. When he turned the corner he
    saw the police cars and ambulences surrounding the Restaurant carrying a
    gurney out of the restaraunt.
    "Mr. Lee, what's happening?"Adrian rushed to the weeping man.
    "These people came in the middle of the night<sob>they hit Ma while I
    was in the back and then they tore up the place,"the man was nearly
    bawling,but continued,"they left this for you."
    "Thank You, Mr. Lee,"and with that he walked away, throwing the note on
    the ground, sobbing, he went home.

    When he reached his apartment, he packed his stuff in a suit case and
    left, not looking back. He started for the bus station, walking slowly.
    He knew it was time, time for him to face his apprehensions. When he got
    to the bus station he waited in the line to get to the clerk.
    "Where to?"asked the unenthusiastic clerk.
    "Ontario." and with that he left America, headed for Departent H.

  5. #5
    Alpha Flight

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    Default GV2 part 2

    Second Flight

    A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT...

    "This is not cool!" yelled Guardian into his microphone.
    "What," replied Jeff, "is the wind messing up your mop or something?"
    "Yeah, that's it!" answered Guardian sarcastically. "Four hours in front
    of a mirror and all I have to show for it is frizz!"
    "You are just a big girl, jocko!" laughed Jeff. "So what really is the
    problem?"
    "There is quite a lot of turbulence out here–I think I am gonna lose
    it--and I am also freezing to death!"
    "Great!" exclaimed Jeff speaking to Flex. "Should I tell him?"
    Flex replied in the affirmative.
    "Look, since you obviously slept through the lesson in which I taught you
    about how the suit works, I will have to give you the five-second lecture."
    "I am asleep already, but lay it on me!" yelled Guardian into the mike.
    "Turn your battlesuit's shield on, eh? It isn't so hard, jocko."
    "Turn your battlesuit's shield on," mimicked Guardian. "You could have
    told me that the shield would cushion me and keep me warm."
    "I did, but you were sleeping in class at the time."
    Guardian replied: "I don't recall that!"
    "Well, that is because you were sleeping, jocko! And to think–I had to
    clean up the mess you made when you drooled!"
    "Ffej," said Guardian sharply into mike. He was defeated, but in
    arguments such as these, he didn't mind so much. The levity had taken his
    mind off of the incidents earlier that day. He said a silent prayer aloud
    that his friend, Chad, was in a better place. He hoped that he hadn't
    suffered for very long–if at all.
    He then thought of his aunt. What had she thought during the attack on
    her? Did she panic and let her mind take over–in which case, which
    personality was in charge when she had been attacked?
    He said another silent prayer–this one for her speedy recovery of body and
    mind.
    Then he thought of Kara Killgrave. He hadn't thought so earlier in the
    day, but now–for some reason–he thought he might have met her when he was an
    infant–surely he couldn't forget meeting a purple girl. He had seen photos of
    her in his parents photo album. He wondered if his parents grieved for the
    loss of one of the original Alpha members. Well, maybe she wasn't an original
    member, but she joined soon after his mother's first husband, James, was
    assumed dead–she may as well have been considered an original member.
    For the final time, he said a silent prayer that she too was in a better
    place and hadn't suffered when she was attacked. He didn't know whether she
    had family or not, so said the prayer in case no one had said it for her.
    Then, he came back to reality and his mission.
    Ahead of him, the village had sprung up. He could hear thunder somewhere
    overhead. It was dusk and though the west was a rosy pink to announce that
    tomorrow would be more beautiful than today, the east was eerily blue fading
    into black. It had no horizon–at least none that could be seen for the sky
    was now part of the sea. Only the dozen or so village lights below lit his
    way.
    "Watch your velocity!" yelled Jeff.
    Guardian chose not to reply.
    "Watch your velocity or you might kill somebody when you land!"
    Guardian mumbled acknowledgment this time. He slowed down to twenty
    kilometers an hour and turned on his night vision–a nice addition he would
    tell Jeff some other time.
    When he was within a kilometer of the village, he decided to turn off his
    night vision. The street lights would be sufficient for him to do his
    business in.
    Suddenly he felt something strike his left shoulder. For a split second,
    he could see the object fly past him.
    He stopped in mid-flight, turned on his night vision again and turned to
    see what had attacked him. It was a weathervane. Or rather it was a
    weathervane. What remained of it now was crumbling to the ground some 50
    feet below him. The structure of metal and wood was in bad shape after
    colliding with his shield. He doubted if it would be even salvageable once it
    hit the ground.
    He made a mental note to do something for the person who had lost their
    precious weathervane, then continued on his way.

    Five minutes later, with directions from Jeff and Flex, Guardian strode
    up to the tiny cottage at the end of the lane. The cottage itself was a
    perched on top of a hill that overlooked the ocean. The small house was
    settled so close to the edge of the knoll that Guardian had to wonder whether
    or not the person who lived there was even remotely concerned about his
    safety.
    But this wasn't his concern now. All he was concerned with was walking
    up to the house, getting the folders and returning to the omnijet. Heck–he
    could be up there and winging his way home in 10 minutes.
    He approached the house, pulled back the screen door and knocked.
    There was no answer.
    Before he would knock a second time, he decided to turn from the door and
    survey the town. There was a church steeple that loomed over the town,
    beckoning people into the hallowed walls. Aside from that and the boat
    rentals/general store, only a dozen residences populated the village.
    A crack of thunder overhead brought him around. Immediately following
    the crack, he saw and heard the rain falling like bullets onto the ground. He
    huddled closer to the door–forgetting that his shield would keep him dry.
    "Jeff," he said.
    Jeff replied.
    "No one is home. Should I just bust in or leave?"
    "It is your call, but personally, I would do everything I could to stay
    on Director H's good side."
    A thought came to Guardian. He tried the doorknob. It turned freely.
    He gave the door a push and entered the cottage.
    He about had the heart attack when the cat screeched at him. He fumbled
    around and found the light switch. The light bathing the room revealed just
    what had been found at his Uncle Walt's Vancouver townhouse:
    The cottage had been ransacked. Papers littered the floor. The garbage
    had been pulled out from below the sink that sat in the far corner of the
    room–its contents cluttering the floor. Furniture had been turned upside
    down. Even the wallpaper had been pulled back. The place was inside out.
    The siamese cat stared at him–its back arched and hair on end. It let
    out a lengthy snarl, stopped for breath, then continued snarling again.
    Guardian went to a door at the far side of the room and opened it. Again
    he fumbled for a light switch inside the room to which the door led. The
    turned the light on, then quickly turned it off–never entering the room. He
    closed the door quickly.
    "Jeff–I found Smallwood."
    To this Jeff asked: "Will he give you the documents?"
    Guardian sighed then replied: "The guy is dead. Just like that Kara
    woman. The house is torn upside down. I'll do a check, but quite frankly, I
    think the files are gone."
    "I can't hear you very well–the storm is breaking us up. We will–Flex!
    Evasive maneuvers!"
    "Jeff, what is going on?!!"
    No answer.
    "Jeff!!"
    Still no answer.
    Guardian turned to run outside to aide his friends. Once turned and
    ready to exit, he discovered that standing before him and blocking his exit
    were three figures–the lead figure being the thin man with the cheeseburger
    fetish who had attacked him earlier that day. Behind him were two individuals
    that were not with him when he attacked at university. The first was a tall
    woman dressed in a green sequin body suit. Her companion was a football
    player physiqued man in a black suit.

    _______________________

    Puck stepped down from the ramp of the Alpha Omnijet that had just
    arrived from Department H Pacific Division's headquarters in Vancouver. He
    was not a happy man. His research in Vancouver had yielded nothing and now he
    was expected to report those findings to his wife–Director H.
    He strode through the hangar bay, occasionally waving at the mechanics
    and pilots he had come to know and care about over the years. New blood in
    the hangars was rare. It seemed that once a person was hired on in this area
    of Department H they never left. He wondered if his son would have felt the
    same way had he forgone wearing the Guardian battlesuit and become a pilot.
    As he exited the hangar bay, he moved through the labyrinth of soft-
    lighted hallways and then into an elevator. The elevator took him up to the
    18th floor where his wife would be waiting for him in her office.
    The elevator door opened to reveal a large white room with a wall-sized
    picture window opening out over Lake Ontario. Behind the giant glass desk on
    which sat a computer, a stuffed Garfield, some flowers and half a dozen
    birthday cards, a man rose up and extended his hand in greeting to Puck.
    Puck trotted across the room to the flat-topped man and gripped his hand
    in return.
    "Jeremy!" exclaimed Puck. "Nice do, eh?"
    The man known as Jeremy rolled his eyes and laughed, running his hands
    across his white bristled head.
    "Yeah, thanks. My girlfriend made me do it and I totally hate it."
    "When did you do it?"
    Jeremy thought for a moment then replied: "I don't know–must have been
    three weeks now."
    "Don't tell me I haven't been up here in that time," exclaimed a shocked
    Puck.
    Director H's secretary nodded.
    "You are a complete stranger around these parts, mister! I can tell your
    wife is getting ancy."
    "Yeesh– speaking of her, how is the dragon lady?" asked Puck.
    Jeremy continued to grin and gestured over his shoulder to the door to
    Director H's office.
    "Ancy," said Jeremy again.
    "Ancy" as in "you really pissed me off and i can't wait to wail on you"
    or "ancy" as in "come here and give me some loving?"
    "I can't really talk that way about my boss, Puck," said Jeremy. Then he
    leaned down to Puck's height, cupped his hand to Puck's ear and whispered
    something into it.
    "You cheeky monkey!" laughed Puck.
    "But before you go in, Pucky, why don't you use my WC to wash some of
    your cologne off."
    Puck stuck his tongue out at Jeremy and entered his wife's office.

    Heather Hudson heard her husband enter her office. She turned to face
    the man she had been married to for two decades and smiled at him–it was a
    smile that said that things were not all right.
    Milton Eugene Judd, stood no higher than Heather's waist. What he
    lacked in height though, he more than readily made up for in spirit.
    "And how is my fiery-haired hot mama tonight, eh?" he inquired. To this,
    Heather couldn't help but smile. She went to him, knelt and embraced him.
    "Woah! What's that bear hug for, sweetie," he asked.
    "I had planned on being so serious with you at this debriefing," she
    replied. "Let's just say that I sometimes find it hard to stay serious when
    you act so goofy. And how many times have I told you about wearing that
    stench of a scent?"
    "Debriefing, eh?" asked the man also known as Puck–a mischievous look
    flashing in his eyes. He yet again ignored the comment about the cologne he
    wore--cologne that had been unavailable on the market for some thirty years.
    Heather laughed in response to his quip.
    "Who's a wicked devil tonight, then? I truthfully don't think I can
    handle another childbirth. Besides, hadn't we ought to discuss how the
    investigation in Vancouver went?"
    "Woman, you need a vacation! And I don't mean one of those where you sit
    by the beach speaking into your vidphone and tapping into your computer all
    day! I mean the kind where I rub oil into you all day and we frolic like
    little bunnies, eh?"
    "I will ignore those obvious oil rubbing sexually harassing remarks,
    mister! Of course, social actions would laugh me out of their office if I did
    turn you in. Now, Vancouver, Puck!"
    Puck stopped smiling and at his wife. She had returned to behind her
    glass-topped desk–her lithe body framed by the white leather chair she sat in
    which was in turned framed by a wall-sized picture window offering a
    spectacular view of the surrounding forest.
    "O.K. Ms. Serious," he began. "I have no leads yet. That was how my
    trip to Vancouver went. It was a waste of time."
    "Investigating such things are never a waste of time," replied his wife.
    "Whatever. Personally, I don't know why you didn't do it yourself. Did
    you send Ramsay out like you said you would," inquired Puck.
    "I didn't go because I had to check on progress on the construction of
    the Manitoba Division. Plus I had to get your son off on this mission. He
    complained, but went. I really think he thought we were idiots to send him
    out on what he thinks is a simple courier mission."
    "So, you had a fight and now he is my son–perfect. Friggin' women, eh?"
    The look of venom that shot from his wife's face told him to shut up now.
    "Look, do you want a glass of water?" asked Heather. She padded across
    the thick carpet to the refrigerator where she removed the jug of water that
    her son had just poured water out of just hours before. She reached into a
    cabinet above the fridge and pulled out two glasses, then began to pour.
    "His first solo mission and I am concerned. Any mother would be. But,
    if he is to take the full mantle of Guardian, he needs to go and I need to let
    him go."
    "Did you tell him that and were you nice about it?"
    Heather handed Puck his water then moved to the far side of the desk
    where she remained standing–looking at the pink that was just starting to
    appear in the western sky. Tomorrow would be a beautiful day. Too bad the
    rain was coming down so hard now–rain and snow in one day–how strange.
    "He will tell you I was a complete witch–which I was. He just needs to
    know that there are times he may have to face situations alone and without the
    sort of support he might want from me."
    "Would you have wanted that when you first went out with the battle suit,
    luv?"
    "If you recall, my lambchop, I received a trial by fire. The person I
    had counted on being there to train me didn't. Do you recall that?"
    Puck felt as though his heart had just been stomped on.
    "Do I have to apologize for that again?" he asked.
    Heather pressed her thumb and index finger into her eyes, trying to dull
    the pain that had been there all afternoon.
    "Puck...I am sorry. You know I love you and would never say such a thing
    unless I was stressed.
    We all say such things when we are angry. I'm sorry. Forgive me."
    She went around to the front of her desk, knelt in front of him and
    embraced him.
    She held him in her arms and thought about this man–this man who had
    loved her for as long as she could remember–this man who forgave her every
    slip and every sin. She hoped that her continued
    attacks on him were deflected by the thick skin he had.
    "I will love you until the day I day, Heather–you know that. I know you
    don't mean what you say–pressure does get the best of us. If you didn't love
    me, I would be able to sense it because the light in my heart would go out.
    Besides, I am sure even Jean-Paul and Todd fight in their storybook world."
    Heather continued her hold on her husband. He embraced her back, feeling
    her tiny muscular body beneath her silk blouse.
    "Look," said Puck. "Water under the bridge and it's gonna be a late
    night. Want me to call the Mandarin Duck for some take-a-way Chinese?"
    "Yeah," replied Heather. "It is gonna be a long night–but I think I
    would prefer Canadian, though."
    "Yeah?" asked Puck.
    "Yeah," said his wife.
    "I think I can arrange that..."

    ______________________

    "I guess it is only fair that I tell you why I am going to kill you–I
    would want the same from you," spoke the emaciated man. He withdrew a bundle
    from a pouch that hung from his belt. Within that bundle was another
    hamburger.
    Ramsay had seen people like this before–people deprived of food. Their
    limbs were like twigs and their bellies ballooned up. He recalled studying
    about great famines of the 20th century–famines that had gone either unnoticed
    or unchecked by governments who should have. Fortunately–in the early part of
    the 21st century–Harvest made his first of many appearances in Africa and then
    the world over.
    He claimed to be a mutant with the ability to produce organic matter with a
    simple thought. He chose to use his abilities to help the world by creating
    an endless supply of edibles. Since his debut in 2003, the concept of
    starvation was all but erased from the world's list of problems.
    Apparently, the man before Ramsay hadn't taken up the aid of Harvest–very
    curious.
    The thin man went on:
    "Back when Department H was run by evil men and women–to include your
    mother–several experiments were performed to produce super troops. I
    volunteered to become one of those troops. You see, being the first sergeant
    for a corps of Epsilon Elites was not enough for me. I needed more. And, oh
    boy, did your mother promise me more."
    The man stopped speaking for a minute to replace the tube that had fallen
    out of his arm. Ramsay didn't hesitate to move.
    He launched straight at the man, in hopes of pushing him out of the way,
    but the green sequined woman stepped in front of him as a shield. Ramsay
    struck her headlong and recoiled from the impact.
    He sat up dazed, staring at the veiled woman. Suddenly, he was blinded by a
    brilliant flash of light and felt shards and light daggers dig into his skin.
    The woman had repelled his attack by absorbing his blow and returning it in
    her own fashion. He thought quickly of Sebastian Shaw–an arch-enemy of the X-
    Men's–who had similar powers. Thanks to him, allies and friends he had known
    as a child were now dead. That thought faded quickly as he felt himself gasp
    for air.
    "I am stopping the flow of air around your body," came a new voice–the
    voice of the other man in the room–the man in the black suit. "I would
    suggest you calm down now before I completely deprive you of oxygen and allow
    you to suffocate."
    The emaciated man continued: "The project was to turn an average man into
    a hercules. The scientists at H had formulated a way to speed up the body's
    absorption of carbohydrates and proteins in order to build muscle and prolong
    energy levels. Under their guidance, physical training would be a thing of
    the past. The body would deposit nutrients where they were needed to build
    muscle tissue and maintain high energy levels. I would never have to run or
    lift another weight again. Just eating would "pump me up" or give me the
    stamina to run forever."
    Guardian–finally able to breathe normally–listened with interest, though
    he never stopped plotting. If he could somehow take out the air constrictor
    and hamburger man, he might be able to make a break for it and be able to
    fight the power repellant in the open. The scrawny man continued with his
    tale:
    "How could a man who had based his existence on physical perfection turn
    down such an offer?
    Well, I didn't. Your mother reassured me that such a program had no side-
    effects. It had been tested on several humans already and they were fine. I
    agreed to take the injections that would turn me into a literal superman. I
    regretted my decision within weeks."
    He whipped out another cheeseburger and proceeded to munch away.
    "There were side effects. Instead of building muscle and giving me
    energy, it increased my metabolism. Soon, all I could do was eat. I was
    continually hungry and deprived of nutrients."
    "Your mother was getting worried, as well. Though I had signed papers
    saying I couldn't take action against H, I could talk to the media and soil
    the ever-trusted department's name."
    "By the end of the fourth week, I had dropped sixty pounds and no amount
    of regular eating was helping. Over the years I calculated that I need in the
    five digits a day of calories in order to maintain the sexy frame you see
    before you today. And your mother made me this way–see why I am kinda
    pissed?"
    Guardian shook his head and replied: "You did it willingly. You should
    have known that there could be a risk–things like that always have risks. You
    are an idiot for assuming that you would find such a thing without
    compromising something else."
    "Shut yer piehole," said the black suit.
    "Eloquent as ever, Ted," said hamburger man. "Did you know," this he
    directed at Ramsay, "that in the 90s, H developed a program to mindwipe its
    employees? This way unpleasant memories of H's treachery would be erased from
    their minds? The infamous Clarke did it to your mother many times. Oh, I
    remember he used to play with Alpha Flight so much–he had them chasing their
    tails so often. It was pathetic! Anyway, your ***** of a mother decided to
    dig up the old mindwiper and mindwipe me. Apparently, I had become such a
    disaster that she didn't want me talking."
    "After the erasure of my head, I was left to rot in some podunk town in
    B.C. I wandered the streets of that town as a bum. Ever had to beg for money
    and live in a box with only a dirty garbage bag for a blanket? It sucks."
    "But what your mother didn't count on was that my memories returned. It
    took several years, but wow! Here they are! Your mother destroyed me and I
    will destroy her–but only after I have destroyed you. You see, I am rather
    bitter."
    Behind the trio came a knock at the door. The sequined woman opened it.
    It blew open and smacked against the wall on account of the wind that was
    blowing outside. The rain had turned to sleet and also blew in. Guardian
    felt the cold, but couldn't get his battle suit to engage its shield.
    "Sorry we took so long," came a familiar voice, "getting wimpo k.o.ed was
    a lit of a process."
    Through the door stepped Jeff. Under his arm was the limp body of Flex.
    Guardian stared in disbelief as Jeff tossed Flex's body to the floor like a
    rag doll. Jeff turned and smiled at him.
    "In case you are wondering, yeah, I disabled your suit, jocko. Every
    organization needs a rat and that rat is me."
    Ramsay looked at the quartet, then down at Flex. His one friend was
    unconscious and unable to help and his other was sided with the enemy. His
    suit was useless and still he had to escape before this scrawny hamburger-
    gobbling maniac killed him. With friends like the ones the maniac had,
    Guardian couldn't appreciate his odds.
    Hamburger man was now picking his teeth with a letter opener he had
    retrieved from the looted desk that was next to the main door. He tutted and
    shifted his weight from one foot to the other.
    After a minute in this position, he crossed his arms, sighed, then shifted his
    weight to the other foot.
    "O.K." he said, " Kill him...but do it as slowly and painfully as
    possible."
    The sequined women stepped forward–her body shimmering and shining. She
    raised her hand toward Guardian and fired a burst of golden light shards at
    him.
    Pain unlike any he had faced in training spread throughout his thoracic
    area. Countless hours of proving to himself that he could go the extra mile
    despite the pain were for nothing. As he went to scream, he gagged. There
    was no air for him to take in. The air manipulator had stolen the air from
    around his body.
    Suddenly, relief came. Flex had either playing or had recovered and was
    up and running toward the sequined woman. Relief went. Cheeseburgerman had
    slammed a knife into Flex's abdomen. Flex fell to the ground.
    Guardian also fell to the ground. Objects around were grower dimmer to
    him. He felt the cold wood floor against his cheek. Thankfully, the pain in
    his chest was beginning to subside. He closed his eyes...

    TO BE CONCLUDED...

  6. #6
    Alpha Flight

    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    Posts
    550

    Default GV2

    Second Flight
    'Playing Hero'
    by Seng Mah

    Fits like a glove, he thought, looking himself up and down in the mirror.
    For all the butterflies that rampaged in his stomach, Ramsey Judd had to
    admit that the uniform -- no, the battlesuit -- looked good on him. The red
    insignia - a stylised maple-leaf symbol on the white field that comprised
    most of the suit -- seemed to emanate its own light. Stretched across his
    broad chest, the stylised leaf marked him not just another suit-wearing
    hero-wannabe; it made him a symbol of a nation and its people.
    The protection of province and planet: the edict repeated in his mind, and
    he felt himself huffing with pride. Canada's Guardian. In name and deed.
    Yet, the young man that stared back at him within the frame of the
    full-length mirror was no more than a few months past his eighteenth
    birthday, and the green-grey eyes that returned his gaze carried all the
    uncertainty and inexperience of youth. Still...
    Ramsey squared his broad shoulders and tried to look himself sternly in the
    eyes. He was a big youth, thickly muscled or, some would say, stocky, with
    the heavy frame of a natural brawler. He had inherited that aspect of his
    physique from his father. He had also inherited his father's features: he
    was no one's handsome, but there was a rugged amiability in his squarish
    features and heavy jaw. And like his father, he was hirsute, even at this
    age -- chin stubble and an incipient mustache had grown into a serviceable
    goatee. He ought to shave -- somehow, facial hair did not sit well with the
    suit and all it symbolised -- yet, Ramsey, liking the look of it, had kept
    it on. His flame-red hair, inherited from his mother's side of the family,
    was cropped short, a military buzzcut. Until his seventeenth birthday, he
    had worn it long, but since accepting the position of trainee with H, he had
    opted -- and preferred -- the shorn look.
    So here he was, eighteen, and about to become Canada's greatest hero. Or so
    the reflection indicated.
    Within, he felt the butterflies flutter more frantically; any moment now and
    they would come pouring out of his throat to fill the changeroom.
    He closed his eyes and, drawing on what his father had thought him, focused
    on the well of calm within him; slowly the butterflies ceased their mad
    flight. His breathing eased.
    He looked once more into the mirror.
    Alright. Time to see if this works.
    He lifted the cowl and drew it over his head. Immediately the circuits in
    the suit hummed with invisible energy as they connected with his brain
    waves. He smoothed the cheekguards into place and propped up the visor that
    would prevent his eyes from drying out in flight. He could feel the power
    coursing through the circuitry, power that he could wield at his behest.
    Finally, he strapped on the gloves, completing the ensemble. The sensors in
    the gloves responded immediately to the signal emanating from the suit; he
    could feel power building up in the sinkwells within the gloves.
    He turned from the mirror.
    Guess I'm ready as I'll ever be, he thought, and headed out.

    Cameras traced Ramsey Judd's journey from changeroom to launching pad at the
    top of Department H's Ottawa chapterhouse. In his own private scrying
    chamber in Monitor Division, Adrian Corbo kept a trace on the young man as
    he climbed the steps leading up the the outside.
    "Battlesuit is enabled and fully functional," he reported to his companion.
    The other man, short to the point of dwarfish, bald, but powerfully built,
    kept his eyes trained on the monitor. "Can't have it any other way, eh?" he
    rumbled.
    Adrian nodded. "Where's the Director?" he asked. "She told me she wanted in
    on this."
    The short man grinned. "Oh, she is. Trust me, eh? She is."

    A stiff breeze blew over the rooftop. He felt goosepimples crawl over his
    exposed arms -- but was it the cold, or nerves? He had reached the stage
    where it was difficult to tell.
    He was alone up here, with only the directive that was being fed through his
    suit's systems and displayed on his visor as company. Wait, it said. But
    wait for what?
    The suits sensors detected another energy signature closing in. Ramsey
    tensed. Was this the bogey? Were they sending some training robot against
    him? He braced himself, mentally commanding energy to the suit's flight
    boosters and power gloves.
    "At ease, Ram," a very familiar voice called from above.
    Ramsey relaxed. A woman in a green, white and gold suit alighted on the
    roof. Hair that was faintly russet cascaded over her shoulders.
    "Ma?" Ramsey asked. "You're wearing--"
    "This old thing?" Heather MacNeil Judd said, indicating her suit. "It's been
    sometime since I put it on."
    "But why?" Ram asked, still perplexed. He was expecting a bogey -- some
    synthetic foe, or at least one of the Epsilons clunked up in battle armour.
    Not his own mother. Did they expect him to go up against her? He gulped.
    "I asked your father if I could be part of today's training," Heather
    explained. "After all, I wore the E-M suit for a number of years, before H
    gave me this one. I know how it works." She lifted her own visors and looked
    at her son. So much like his father, she thought, and yet so much like Mac
    too...
    She shook that memory away. No use dwelling on the past. And ghosts of the past.
    "So, you ready to take me on?" she challenged.
    Ramsey grinned suddenly. "I get it." He chortled. "You're teaching me how to
    fly."
    The significance was not lost on Heather. She nodded. "Yes. And more, Ram.
    Much more." With a thought, she boosted herself a few feet off the launch
    platform. "Well?"
    Ramsey's grin grew wider. "Ready when you are, eh?"
    He too boosted up, riding on the electromagnetic weave that pulsed about the
    globe.
    "Now take it easy," Heather said. "There's a lot of freedom in flight. It
    might get a bit heady; you might feel a bit disoriented."
    But her advice was lost on her son. Ramsey Judd dove, flew and wove his way
    through the sky with a loud "Hoo-hah!"
    Heather shook her head. "He has much to learn," she spoke into the comlink
    set in her chinguard.
    "Don't we all?" her husband's voice crackled back through the microphone.
    "Be gentle with him, eh?" There was laughter in his voice.
    "I will," Heather reported back. "After all, he's our boy and we love him."
    And she too boosted up after the errant youth intoxicated with the
    exultation of flight.

    Judd turned away briefly from the monitor. "She's still got it, eh?" he said
    with a wink.
    Adrian Corbo cleared his throat uncomfortably. "Uh-- if you say so, Puck."
    Judd laughed. "God, seeing her in that suit brings back memories. Hey, did I
    ever tell ya how it used to turn me on big time..."
    And much to the younger man's discomfiture, he proceeded to tell him why.

    Ramsey crashed against the tufty side of the knoll. Hard. His suit's shields
    absorbed the brunt of the impact, but it still hurt. He picked himself up
    and dusted himself down.
    "You alright?" Heather said landing nearby.
    "Yeah," Ramsey said with a sheepish grin. "Just bruised my pride a bit, eh?"
    "Well, be thankful that's all that's bruised."
    "Guess I didn't look too good, eh?"
    "You did fine, Ram," Heather said walking up to him. "First flight is always
    the hardest."
    "Did ya- Was it the same for you?" he asked.
    "A little. I was married to the original Guardian then." Her voice wavered a
    little. Through all the years, she still found it difficult recalling that
    particular past. "He died. You know the story."
    Ramsey nodded. It was the stuff of legend. James MacDonald Hudson -- the
    first Guardian -- who had married his mother, died, and returned from the
    dead, was reborn as a younger man, only to mysteriously vanished one day.
    Without a trace.
    "I thought to wear the battlesuit," Heather continued. "The one you're
    wearing now is an augmented version of the original. I wanted to become
    Guardian, but there was much I had to accomplish before I felt comfortable
    taking on that name."
    Ramsey had heard this all before, yet he never tired of it. Even now, as a
    man, he relished its retelling.
    "I got your dad to train me, and Logan helped too." She smiled in her
    reminiscence.
    "You and Logan went up against Deathstrike, right?"
    "Yes. I guess you could say I got a baptism of fire. Which is why I made the
    request to be with you today."
    "Eh?"
    "Ram-" She took her son's hand in hers. "The suit, and the name, has a long
    history, not all of it good and glorious. What you've heard from the others
    is true. But I'm here to tell you that the heritage of Guardian of Canada
    can be hell. I've been through it. So has your father. And I want you to
    know what you're getting into."
    "I made the decision to train for this, eh?" Ramsey said defensively, nervously.
    "And you're the right man for the job. I'm not contesting that, son."
    "Then what?"
    "You've heard the stories. They're old stories, like the stories that old
    soldiers tell their grandchildren, full of glorious daring and fantastic
    adventure. You've been brought up on these stories, and I guess your father
    and I have always encouraged you to believe in them. But, as with all
    stories, there are other sides to them. I want to tell you about these other
    sides, Ram. It is my responsibility. As your mother. As Director H. This is
    your birthright, but you ought to know what shoes you're stepping into.
    "Let me tell you about James MacDonald Hudson and his dream..."

    Ramsey Judd lay awake that night, mulling over his mother's words. The ache
    from the tumble he took had long subsided, yet it was another pain that
    troubled him.
    James Hudson was a hero. But ultimately, he was also a man. A man Ramsey
    knew only through stories -- a man who had ceased to exist years before
    Ramsey himself was born. A man who had grown into some mythic hero for this
    generation of Canadians.
    So how could he ever hope to fill Hudson's shoes? How could he ever hope of
    becoming Canada's Guardian?
    "I'm not asking you to be Mac," his mother had said in their talk on the
    grassy hillside. "You're not him. You're my son. If you take on the mantle
    of Guardian, then it will be as a new Guardian. Not Mac. Not me. But you."
    He understood. It was wise, loving counsel, and he loved her for it. She was
    Director H, his boss. But she was also Ma.
    He had looked at himself in the mirror a second time that day: after the
    training, when he had removed the battlesuit. Without it on him, he looked
    like he had always looked: a broad, chunky fella, with bright eyes and a
    lop-sided smile. Underneath the suit, underneath all that it stood for, was
    only a man. James Hudson was only a man. So was Ramsey Judd.
    And that, he realised now, was what she meant.
    He would have to remake the myth. Create something new from the old.
    He smiled now, slipping slowly into the embrace of sleep.
    What had his mother said earlier that day? His battlesuit -- an augmented
    version of the original.
    Then, he would be a new version of Guardian. A second version.
    He closed his eyes and let his mind drift into slumber.
    Yes, he would be Guardian.
    Guardian:
    Version 2.

  7. #7
    Alpha Flight

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    Default Province

    Second Flight

    Ground Zero

    Three months ago:
    "They're all so raw," Jared Corbo addressed his brother. "Quite a task the old battle axe has placed before us. She really wasn't kidding when she said we'd be starting at ground zero."

    "Stop calling her that, Jared," Adrian rebutted. "Heather wouldn't have called us if she hadn't needed our help on this project."

    "Must've been real desperate to call in the likes of you," Jared harassed his brother. "At least they knew where to find a leader Canada could fall in behind."

    "Yeah, we've all heard the stories. In fact I'm Province's biggest fan," Adrian answered. He placed a weighty emphasis on the moniker his brother was now known by, as if to say he admired the hero, but had issue with the man. He fought to keep his sharp tongue in check, but years of dealing with his overbearing brother had taught him that only his tongue could penetrate Jared's force field. Still, he had promised himself this time would be different and he would put his petty struggles with his brother behind him. "And I've come a long way since you left for the Cap Corps. Just because the Department went belly up doesn't mean I gave up on 'flexing'. I think you'll find I'm an asset you can't do without."

    "I don't doubt your growth," Jared stated in a condescending voice. "I just worry about what we're up against. Sunfire, I mean Prometheus, will resurface. I worry these kids won't be able to handle it. And that means they'll be hurt …badly! You don't know the power he possesses now. You just don't know…" Jared faded out as his mind recalled his darkest day as a hero.

    Two years ago:
    "A lesson in altruism!" That's what they'd told him the mission would be about. He and USAgent were to meet Sunfire and his teammates in Japan in the wake of a tremendous tidal wave. It promised to be a vacation from the civil war and unrest he'd been called so many times to intervene in. The destruction would be immense, but the rewards of lending a humanitarian hand would outweigh the devastation.
    Upon their arrival they discovered the death toll was much higher than was originally anticipated. It was a grim scene, but then things can always get worse. They set about the task of salvaging bodies and property from the wreckage and setting the communities back to right. They grieved with the locals and helped them to rebuild their lives.
    Province found his abilities most useful in clearing toppled houses, cutting up fallen trees, and digging drainage ditches to circumvent the villages and take the runoff back to the sea. Sunfire on the other hand had the dubious duty of burning the rubble and debris and lighting the funeral pyres. After days of watching his countrymen burn and having his senses assaulted by the smell of charred flesh and crying women and children he could take no more. As his melancholy grew his anger welled up inside him. This could have been prevented had the villagers been notified of the coming storm.
    "The calm before the storm", Province would later call the carnage he witnessed those first days in Japan. For the storm was growing inside Sunfire and none were the wiser until it was far too late.

    "Shiro, Power down!" he had pleaded. "Just power down!" USAgent implored again.

    "What's going on?" a winded Province demanded as he crested the hill.

    It had been easy to discover the source of the intense glow, but he was not prepared for the sight he beheld. Floating a few feet above the hill was his friend Shiro blazing in the dark night and fighting an incredible battle to contain the power that welled inside his breast.

    "Do what he says Shiro!" Radius demanded with a hint of worry in his voice. "Power down or channel some of the energy off. You shouldn't try to contain it. You know your body is weakening from the radiation poisoning."

    "I've tried and I cannot release it," Shiro spat through clenched teeth. "I must contain it or …"

    A Flash! And then Darkness!

    He awoke in the clutches of an ancient tree. Orange flames licked around the edges of his force field as the tree pushed him toward the darkened ceiling that was the sky, cradling him from the destruction below. History they say is destined to repeat itself, and today the horror, that had brought a nation to its knees decades earlier, visited the same sickening punishment on this beautiful land. Province could only lie there in the arms of the burning tree and weep.

    This morning:

    "We called you all here this morning to announce the roster," Province addressed the throng. Director H, Puck, and Flex stood confidently behind Province with smiles showing the pride they felt for the gathered inductees. "You've all performed far above our expectations, and the decisions we made were not easy one's to make. If your name isn't called don't take it too hard. The competition was fierce and there will be a place for you in the Beta and Gamma projects." The tension was almost tangible in the room as Province paused for effect. "After heavy discussions the staff has decided Second flight will consist of two squads. Squad Alpha will be the main field unit and Squad Beta will be the reserve unit. Both squads will share the training facilities and should be ready for our nation's call at any time."

    "Enough with the suspense," Province said matter-of-factly as the trainees leaned forward in anticipation. "Squad Beta will consist of Bellfrey, Starlight, Barnacle, and squad leader Whitehawk. We will be leaving the fifth and final slot open until further notice. Squad Beta will be directed in training exercises and debriefing by Flex. You're in excellent hands Beta," he added to the surprise of his younger brother.
    "Squad Alpha will report directly to me for field training and mission debriefing," a brief smile crossing his lips. "Squad Alpha will be the first in flight and fight. You will be the nation's first line of defense. It is a heavy burden, but one I'm sure you'll learn to love. Members of Squad Alpha will include Box, Solstice, Kodiak, and GV2 as squad leader. Wildheart will serve as second in command and will lead the squad in the event GV2 is unable to perform or is incapacitated during battle. That's all I have. If your codename was not called see Flex or myself for your designation. That's all folks. Now go get some breakfast!


    *************** The New Part *************

    Now:

    "Thanks for meeting me early, Ramsey," Province greeted his squad leader. "We need to iron out the intricate details of our platoon before we get started with the training."

    "Sounds like a good idea to me," Ramsey replied. "I assumed you'd be making most of the decisions and I'd make sure they were carried out."

    "If only it were that easy, kid," Jared stated, a brief nostalgia crossing his mind. "You were chosen as team leader for better reasons than carrying out orders. We chose you because you're the heir apparent."

    Ramsey cut in abruptly. "If the only reason you picked me is because Mom and Dad said so then I resign!" His blushing cheeks evidenced his displeasure with where this conversation was going.

    "No! No! You misunderstood me," Province quickly corrected the youth. "You weren't picked because you're the son of two of Canada's finest heroes ever. Hell we could've used Sabra, Stella, or Richard if that were the case." He took a deep breath and pondered the enormity of what he was about to say. "We chose you to be the icon. We thought you among all were best suited to shoulder that burden."

    "I thought that's why they brought you back," Ramsey objected. "The people of Canada love and look up to you."

    "Very true!" Jared smiled smugly. "But it's time to pass the torch! Sure I've got the experience, and the training, and even the good looks," he let out a short chuckle, "but it's time for someone else to be Canada's guardian. So, just like old Mac passed on the baton to me, I've decided you're the guy to take the handoff this time."

    "I'm honored! Flattered even! I'm just not sure I'm as strong a man as you are and Mac was," Ramsey expressed his doubts.

    "It's good to have doubts," Province put a hand on the boy's shoulder, " I had 'em, and I'd wager to say Mac had his when he started this gig. It's what's in your heart that makes you a winner and a hero. And that Ramsey Judd you have! When Department H sent me to Geneva to work on the Cap Corp I thought they were crazy. Why me? Who would look to the untouchable, unstoppable, dashingly handsome Radius for help? But Cap and the others showed me the hero inside. They introduced me to Province. They made me the man and the hero I am today. And the others and I hope to be able to do the same for you. You'll have all the help you need. You'll never be alone out there. That I promise you!"

    "Thanks," Ramsey said meekly. "It helps to know I can count on you."

    "So again I ask. What are we going to do with our squad?"

  8. #8
    Alpha Flight

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    Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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    Default Solstice

    Second Flight

    Solstice
    By Munson Nakadomari



    Some of them were highly decorated veterans who had served
    Canada in peace actions across the globe. Some were the new crop of young
    men and women,itching for a chance to defend their country just as so many
    others have before. All were soldiers, carefully selected by Department H
    to defend province and planet. And for five weeks, the routine was the
    same. Wake up, get dressed, report for duty, exercise after work, try to
    find your way in the immense Department H complex, and go to bed.
    Occasionally, there would be a briefing about tactical data like new
    weapons or a new facility Director H had decided to reveal to them. But
    for the most part, Epsilon Flight were left to themselves.
    So when the alarm sounded, everything came to a halt. Soldiers,
    hungry for their first mission, emptied the barracks, weight rooms, pool
    tables, and showers. As the voice on the PA system assured them that
    "this is not a drill", they rushed down corridors, and filled elevators
    and staircases. At the briefing room, their CO, Colonel Robert Blake, a
    grey-haired skeleton of a man, broke the news to them. "At approximately
    1400 hours, a large superhuman suddenly appeared in Montreal, a few blocks
    from Baubier Stadium. The current garrison units have been dispatched to
    capture the subject. Your job will be to defend this base in their
    absence and safely escort the subject to the holding area upon arrival.
    Remember, the superhuman is not to be harmed so non-lethal ordnance must
    be used. That is an order." He surveyed the room for a moment to make
    sure his point had sunk in. "Dismissed" Blake finally barked and everyone
    headed to their posts, just as they've been drilled to do. Almost
    everyone.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------- ---
    For more than a minute, the stairway echoed from the sound of
    footfalls on the cold metal steps. This was the only thing Bernadette
    Tessier could hold on to, exhaustion starting to seep in. Even 4 years
    in the army and countless hours of workouts could not stem the tide of
    lactic acid washing through her legs. Having an energy rifle slung over
    her shoulder didn't make the climb up the stairs any easier.
    Bernadette fought to keep her focus as long as possible, forcing
    her slender frame up every step. A moment later, she emerged from the
    staircase, stopping only to get her bearings, then pushing on to the
    observation deck. Throwing open the door, Bernadette finally reached
    fresh air. She staggered to a nearby bench and allowed herself a rest.
    Her normally sharp French Canadian face was a bloated red. Her red
    and black jumpsuit, the mark of an Epsilon Guard, was drenched with sweat.
    And her hair, normally a shimmering raven black, had become dull and
    matted. All of which suited Bernadette just fine. This was going to be
    her first encounter with a paranormal and beauty pageant poise wasn't
    required. The being could be just the latest in a string of villains that
    have emerged around the world. This was the moment she was waiting
    for. Ever since that day 10 years ago, she vowed that it was her duty to
    protect Canada, to the fullest extent of her ability. And with that in mind
    Bernadette got to her feet and slowly relaxed her entire body, focusing
    her will in a single direction. Forward.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------- ----
    Adrian "Flex" Corbo had not been happy when the Department had elected to
    send Epsilon Flight. Relieved but not happy. Combat was never his forte
    and Flex didn't relish facing another supervillian so soon after coming
    out of retirement. But what didn't sit well with him was the way Colonel
    Blake had insisted that Alpha Flight was not ready yet. He was sure that
    together with Heather and Puck, they could handle the situation. But they
    weren't Alpha Flight anymore and the new team would not be ready for
    months. So Flex once again slipped into the semi-conscious trance that
    transferred him from the confines of the real world to the virtual space
    that existed witihin the Department H servers. The neural cables that
    snaked out of the control console fit seamlessly in to a patch of rippling
    metal on his neck. This patch was not a cybernetic construct but yet
    another feat of Adrian's ability to change his flesh into a flexible
    metal. The cables buzzed with rapid pulses of data and now Flex could
    monitor dozens of rooms simultaneously from the building's endless army of
    microcameras and probes. At this particular moment he was tracking the
    Epsilon team's progress across an electronic map of Canada. They were
    approximately 15 miles from Montreal and closing. The target was
    still wandering around the city, according to the local police, and had so
    far stopped its rampage. As more streams of data flowed into Adrian's
    cortex, an alarm echoed through cyberspace. Adrian instantly saw a map of
    Department H appear and the computer automatically opened a feed to the
    observation deck's cameras. There was no one there. Frustrated and
    curious, Flex set the cameras about a minute before the alarm started.
    After watching it a few times, Adrian opened a line to Puck's phone.
    "Hello, this is Eugene Judd." "Ahh Puck", Adrian answered, "we have a
    problem up here."
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------- ----
    "This was a thrill!!!" she thought, as her luminescent figure spiralled
    just above the trees, ecstatic from the sensation. Bernadette couldn't
    believe she was finally free from that cage. She didn't have to worry
    anymore about hiding her abilities, because chances are they already knew.
    They must know since blasting out of the deck should have set off a couple
    dozen sensors. She slowed her flight as she started pondering about what
    would happen when she came back. But a smile creeped over her face and
    with that her glowing silhouette dashed across the sky. A minute later,
    Montreal appeared in its splendor, with skyscrapers and antiquated church
    spires poking out from the city streets. She scanned the city beneath
    her, looking for any fires or damage that would mark the creature's path.
    Other than a beautiful view of the river, she gained little from
    her perch above the city. Suddenly, a pair of squad cars came screaming
    over the bridge and proceeded to veer off to the right, toward Baubier
    Stadium. Bernadette's body changed to a soft, blue glow as she followed
    the police through the city streets, staying at roof level to
    conceal her presence to them. Finally, they reached a street
    corner that was cordoned off by a convention of cops and
    government vehicles. The Epsilon Flight helicopter was there as
    well, sitting in a parking lot while soldiers streamed out of
    its belly. Bernadette took a detour and dropped down in a
    nearby alley. The glow slowly dissipated and she was flesh again.
    Still gripping the gun in her right hand, the Epsilon guard said a quick
    prayer and dashed off to meet her comrades.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------- ----
    It stood almost six feet tall and was covered by a thick stony hide. It
    had knocked down lamp posts and small trees in its wake. And above all
    else, it was afraid. Every time the Epsilon commander took a step toward
    it, the creature followed taking twice as many steps back. With good
    reason to. In front of it was a full platoon, each carrying a pulse rifle
    and clothed from head to foot in heavy armor. Two other platoons making
    their way around the nearby buildings to outflank it. But the creature was
    making no signs of being aggressive or hostile. It just tried to keep as
    far away from the soldiers as it could. Then the thought occured to her
    that the creature wasn't an "it" at all. What if that was a human being,
    a child that had discovered a power within. A power that radically
    changed his body and his life. Bernadette had experienced this a decade
    ago but unlike her transformation, it wasn't so easy to control. That's
    when the gun fell from her hand and she confidently walked toward the
    mutant. Captain Braddock, the Epsilon commander, intercepted her and his
    husky voice was unmistakable. "What the bloody hell are you doing here?"
    "Let me talk to the subject," matching his prep school diction, "I think
    I can get a surrender whithout firing a shot." Braddock shook his head.
    "You approach that thing and its likely to take you hostage. Then we'd
    both be in a bit of jam." "Matt, it is a human, a mutant, probably more
    afraid of you then you are of..." Bernadette cuts off the rest of her
    sentence and spins around to see a young teenage girl run in front of the
    stony creature, shouting at them "Leave him alone!!" To the side of her,
    a team of Epsilons emerged from behind one of the buildings and started to
    prepare for an assault. Bernadette knew what would happen next.
    Summoning all of the concentration she could muster, Bernadette willed
    her body to transform, bathing the street in yellow light. She instantly
    dashed toward the frightened girl, carefully slowing down as she
    approached. The whole process took about a second but to Bernadette, it
    was a lifetime. But she wasn't alone when she reached her destination, a
    green burst of energy had leaped from the commander's rifle and was
    heading toward the girl and her. Accelerating might kill the person she
    was trying to save. So she gave a silent prayer as her luminescent arms
    wrapped around the teenager's slim waist, and waited. She didn't wait
    long. The bolt slammed right into her and for the first time in this
    form, Bernadette felt terrible unbridled pain. The next thing she could
    remember was staring up at Braddock's somber face. In the distance she
    could see Epsilons loading both the creature and the girl into the
    helicopter. Then she turned back to Braddock and looked at him. The
    concern was there, but not the compassion that a soldier would feel for
    another soldier. She was a stranger to him. Braddock finally broke the
    spell and offered to pull her up. And Bernadette Tessier answered him
    just as she answered all offers for help. "No thanks".

  9. #9
    Alpha Flight

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    Default Chapter 1

    Second Flight
    Chapter 1
    Proving Grounds

    Albany River Proving Grounds
    Twenty miles south and west of Port Albany, Ontario.

    "Bogey at one o'clock," Ramsay Judd hissed into his comlink. His sensors
    detected the solid bulk of a large man trying hard to move surreptitiously
    in the foliage eighty metres beneath him, fed the data back to the display
    unit in his visor. Buoyed on a field of electro-magnetic energy and sheathed
    in the same energy, he was more or less immured from the cold of this altitude.
    "You know what to do Ram," a man's voice crackled back through the link.
    "Good luck."
    "I don't need luck in this, eh?" Ramsay said. "GV2 out."
    He boosted down to stealth mode. This meant lowering the intensity of the
    force field that surrounded him, but this high up, he had little to worry about.
    Silently, he descended to the treeline. His quarry had been moving, albeit
    slowly. If he concentrated hard, he thought he could discern the sound of
    something large crashing through the undergrowth below. He grinned. This was
    going to be easier than he thought.
    Then he paused in mid-flight.
    His quarry had stopped directly under him.
    Surely Abe wasn't dumb enough to set himself up as a sitting target.
    Unless-
    It struck him out of nowhere, a bright, golden blur shooting past him close
    enough, fast enough to disorient him. He spun wildly, momentarily out of
    control as the suit responded to the confusion in his thoughts. He exerted
    calm, trying to regain control of the suit, but a second too late as the
    same force returned, smashing him down through treetops. The field generated
    by his suit cushioned the impact against boughs and branches, but the
    hardest impact of all - that with the ground - shook him to the bone.
    He groaned and picked himself up. Having lost the element of surprise, he
    was now the quarry.
    He cast about for the golden streak, but it was nowhere to be found. He
    cursed his carelessness. Got too focused on Abe. Forgot that others had been
    sent to tag him.
    Branches snapped behind him; he swung around, ducking just as a huge arm
    swept towards him.
    "Thought ya got me, eh?" a voice rumbled above the arm.
    The man it belonged to was huge - a full head and shoulders over seven feet
    tall - and built like a brick house. His face, ugly, brutish, a throwback to
    the physiognomy of the primitive, contorted into a primal snarl.
    Ramsay backed away, powering up his shields: those arms could dish out a
    world of hurt if they connected with flesh and bone.
    "Easy, big feller," Ramsay tried.
    "Not in this game, G," the giant grinned, fisting his hands. He swung.
    Ramsay leapt back, propelling himself into the air as he did. There was zero
    room for maneuver in this copse, which made him an easy target for Kodiak.
    Still, he was not without other resources.
    He responded with a mid-level plasma blast. Ordinarily, the energy would
    have burned through flesh and bone, but Kodiak was made of tougher stuff. He
    grunted, wiped back the scorch mark on his shoulder and advanced.
    Ramsay found himself running out of room. He had to clear himself an exit
    and fast.
    He turned and let his next blast tear through the canopy. He'd made himself
    a way out, but at the cost of time he did not have. Kodiak's arms closed
    around him in a bear hug.
    "Gotcha!" he growled.
    Ramsay squirmed; he could feel the pressure of the hold through the field.
    "Yeah," he conceded. "But who's got you?"
    And he boosted up at top speed.
    "Sheeee-oooot!" Abe Reilly - Kodiak - hung on for dear life as he found
    himself dragged through the tunnel burned through the canopy and out into
    clear skies.
    At eighty metres above, Ramsay laughed. "Ya don't want to let go now, eh, Abe?"
    Kodiak clung harder, his legs kicking into the empty space around them.
    "What're you gonna do now?" Ramsay dared.
    "Put me down," Kodiak pleaded.
    "Easy way or hard?" Ramsay asked, slowly expanding his field. Kodiak yelled
    as he found his grip slipping. Ramsay grinned; he had the big pug at his
    mercy now, all five hundred and seventy pounds of muscle and bone.
    "Okay, okay!" Kodiak gasped. "Uncle! Can we go down now?"
    Ramsay slowly brought them down to clear ground. Abe fell to his knees, pale
    and gasping, his body sheened in a layer of cold sweat.
    "Thanks," he said, then admitted: "Ya got me there but good."
    Ramsay felt a fierce kind of pride at those words. "You weren't too shoddy
    yourself, eh?" he said.
    Abe shook his head. "Too slow. Too stupid. I shoulda seen that coming."
    He picked himself up and stretched. His muscles cracked and rippled. "What
    now," he said.
    "Now, we tag the others," GV2 said, then more wryly, added: "Starting with
    Solstice."

    Bernadette Tessier couldn't help the smile creeping over her face as she
    shot away from her first conquest. The look on GV2's face as she bolted past
    him was enough to assure her that she had successfully tagged their
    'fearless leader'. Briefly, she wondered how Kodiak had fared, but that
    really wasn't her concern. The big lug could handle himself; she'd trained
    with him in Combat Centrale and he could give a fair account of himself in
    the field.
    She slowed down enough to take in the magnificicent vista. From this
    vantage, land and water stretched until they blurred with the sky in a
    pretty, painterly effect. She loved the vastness, the sense of freedom that
    came with all this space and sky.
    "Target G1 tagged," she reported through her own com-link.
    "Good work, Solstice," came the reply through the link. "If I may play the
    devil's advocate, you have a new bogey three clicks at ten o'clock."
    "On to it," she said, snapping back to attention and leaving a trail of
    sparkling lights in her wake.

    Adrian Corbo leaned away from the communications-unit. "That makes two
    Alphas tagged, Judd" he reported.
    "Yeah, but don't count them out of the picture yet, eh?" the man seated next
    to him rumbled. He was a dwarf, perhaps no more than three and a half feet
    from bald head to booted feet, but was built broad and burly. He scanned the
    nine display units before them. "Looks like Ram and Abe have teamed up."
    "They're learning about the value of teamwork," Adrian admitted. "The hard way."
    "That's the best way, eh" Judd said with a grin. "It worked for you."
    Adrian nodded vaguely. "I guess..."
    Judd sat up abruptly, intent on a console. "What have we got here?" he
    mused. "Looks like some fireworks."
    Adrian's eyes followed his gaze. He stared at the screen for a moment, then
    smiled.

    Sabra Gibney swore aloud. "That's another jacket you owe me, Tessier!" she
    snarled, picking at the scorch mark on her leather Harley jacket.
    "I'll get you a new one, don't you fret," Solstice laughed, launching
    herself once more towards the small, lithe young woman.
    Wildheart's reflexes though, honed to perfection through training and the
    x-factor in her mutant genes, brought her clear out of Solstice's range. She
    could feel the heat emanated from Tessier's incandescent form, smell the
    odour of singed foliage that came into contact with Solstice.
    "You can run and dodge all you want, 'Wild," Tessier said matter-of-factly.
    "But you can't do that forever."
    "Maybe not," Sabra quipped. "But I can do it for a long time. And I'm
    betting that you can't stay hot all the time."
    She's right, Tessier admitted to herself. She had switched to her heat-form
    moments before initiating this confrontation. Wildheart was quick, and
    tempered with an instinctive feral energy that made her a fast and dangerous
    foe. She'd thought that if she stayed hot, it meant that Sabra would at
    least be unable to get into physical contact.
    "What say we call a truce," she offered.
    Wildheart crouched on the rock she had leapt onto. "Truce?"
    "Yeah. We could go on doing this for hours - a futile exercise if you ask me
    - or we could collaborate on tagging the others."
    A slow smile came over Sabra's face. She flicked back a stray strand of
    yellow hair. "I'm listening..."

    His name was Jefferey Jeremy Jaxon, though when he was merged on a molecular
    level with the silver and gold robot, folks called him Box. Usually from a
    respectful distance.
    The Box robot was powerful; merging with its living metal was a heady
    experience. He understood the allure the robot held for previous men who had
    been part of the tradition: Roger Bochs - inventor of the first Box
    prototype - and Madison Jeffries - the mutant transmuter who had modified
    the robot so that a human could bond with it on a molecular level.
    Still, all the power contained within the robot was useless unless it could
    be wielded against a foe. And right now, there was not a foe in sight.
    "C'mon guys," Jaxon complained. "Someone try and tag me."
    He waited., considered sharing his grievances with Adrian Corbo back at the
    carrier, but decided it more prudent to see what happened in the next
    fifteen minutes. Perhaps they were all converging on him, waiting to ply
    their respective powers and abilities against the might of Box!
    "I'm getting bored here," he sang. "Bored out of my br-"
    He jerked up. His sensors indicated two heat signatures approaching. One
    airborne; the other lurking close to the ground. Aha.
    He turned. Another two signatures closing in behind.
    Oh yeah, he had been right. They were ganging up on him. Probably out to
    revenge the countless of times when they had fallen victim to his pranks and
    practical jokes.
    Like that time when he had poured itchy powder into GV2's jock-strap; or
    inadvertently painted Wildheart's Harley jacket a hot pink; or given giant
    Kodiak the wedgie of the century; or...
    Well, time for happy musings later, he thought. There were more pressing
    matters right now.

    Eugene Judd guffawed. Adrian Corbo found himself wiping tears of mirth.
    "That's a right royal brouhaha," he laughed. "Whatever happened to team effort?"
    Judd shook his head. "Brings me back years, eh?" he chuckled. "I remember
    the first time I was here with the original Alpha team. All these years and
    nothing changes."
    The monitors all showed the five members of the Alpha Squad in a free for all.
    "They're like big kids," Adrian said.
    Judd snorted. "Aren't we all, really?"
    Adrian had to agree. "Jared's not going to be happy about this."
    "Your brother needs to loosen up. I think becoming Province has done more
    than addled his brains, eh. It's given him one big pig sticker stuck up his
    <bleep>."
    Adrian found himself grinning at that thought. He shook the image out of his
    mind's eye and leaned towards the speaker.
    "Alright, kids. Play hour's over. What say we meet at Rendezvous Point C for
    a debriefing?"

    They were this generation of Canada's finest. And they were wet, muddy and
    bedraggled. Adrian tried hard to hide a smile as Puck stormed out of the
    carrier towards them.
    Ramsay Judd - GV2 - looked ready to receive the lecture of his life from his
    father. Abe Reilly - Kodiak - dripping and muddied, hung his head. Only
    Sabra Gibney - Wildheart - and Bernadette Tessier - Solstice - seemed
    prepared to confront their trainer. Box stood resolute, his shiny robot face
    betraying little.
    "I think we all learned a valuable lesson today, eh?" Judd said, folding his
    arms across his broad chest.
    Ramsay nodded dumbly. "Sorry, pop," he muttered. "Guess we goofed."
    "No, you didn't," Judd said, much to his son's surprise. "You did well. We
    brought you out here to get you to relax a bit, loosen up. All that fighting
    in Combat Centrale was turning you into battle drones, eh? The Director and
    I thought it'd be fun to let you all cut loose for once."
    Kodiak perked up. "Ya mean-?"
    Judd grinned. "You're too hard on yourself, Abe. You did good."
    Kodiak nodded, looking pleased.
    "But a word of warning," Judd cautioned, his mein and voice now serious.
    "This was just a game of tag, nothing more or less. Out there's not going to
    be fun and games all the time, folks. We're in a serious line of work here.
    You could get hurt, killed, if you're not careful."
    "Game's over, guys," Flex called from the carrier. "Director's on the line!"
    "What's doing?" Ramsay asked, striding up to the vessel, his squad after him.
    "It's a priority alert: Red," Flex relayed.
    "Where?" Judd asked. He switched on the viewing monitor. A middle-aged
    woman, stately, beautiful, red-haired appeared on screen. "What's up Heather?"
    "Sorry to cut your excursion short, Judd," Heather MacNeil Judd said over
    the line. "But we've received word from Elizabeth. The energy core she
    detected months ago is now fluxing badly. Province is headed out there as we
    speak, and I've deployed Whitehawk and Beta in case they're needed. I
    thought he might be able to help with this."
    Judd nodded. Ramsay frowned. It was unlike his parents to keep secrets from
    him. "What's this about, pop?" he asked.
    Judd turned, his usual jocular expression now grave. "Pray it's not what I
    think it is, kid," he said.
    "Elizabeth?" Sabra cut in. "You don't mean Elizabeth Twoyoungmen? Talisman?"
    "One and the same, Wildheart," Heather said through the link.
    "And you're sendng Hawk?" It was now Sabra's turn to look grim. "Where's
    this flux taking place?"
    "Ungava Bay."
    Sabra and Ramsay gasped almost in unison.
    "What?" Jefferey asked. "What's so special about Ungava Bay?"
    "But I thought they were destroyed?" Sabra said.
    "So did we," Judd said.
    "Who?" Box yelled, his voice emerging as a high-pitched drone through the
    robot's speakers.
    "The Great Beasts, JJ," Ramsay explained. "Alpha fought the first of them at
    Ungava Bay in its early days. Tundra, he was called."
    "Big mean mother," Sabra added quietly. "That's what I heard."
    Judd looked at each of them. "Alright folks, this is as good a time as any
    to prove to yourselves and to Canada that you've got what it takes to be her
    protector. Fire up the engines, Adrian."
    The carrier roared off the green summer swath, swung northwards and sped
    towards the horizon. Only the wind and empty skies bore testament that they
    had, only moments before, been here.

    Elizabeth Twoyoungmen-Jones sprinted across the campsite, fighting
    gale-force winds that had suddenly whipped out of nowhere. "Kate!" she
    cried. "I need you!"
    A head stuck out of a tent flap, long, untidy hair held back by a red
    head-band billowed in the gust. "Here!"
    Elizabeth caught up with her daughter. "We're evacuating. Your Dad's just
    getting the last few things into the chopper. We've got to try and contain
    these winds if we're gonna get lift off." She gestured towards the clearing
    where the helicopter struggled to maintain contact with the ground.
    Kate followed her mother, her fingers already slipping instinctively into
    the medicine pouch that had been her birthright. It belonged to her
    grandfather, the late Michael Twouyoungmen, Shaman of Alpha Flight.
    "On my count, Kate," Elizabeth said, raising her hands and drawing on the
    mystic weave. The magic here was old and powerful; she cried out as it
    threatened to overwhelm her.
    Kate watched her mother, awed, frightened and excited. Usually, her magic
    had been constrained to small tricks and petty sorceries used in training at
    the Department. Now, she would use it for real.
    "'O Grandfather," she called. "Help me."
    A blue-green glow suffused the form of Elizabeth Twoyoungmen-Jones. "Now!"
    she shouted.
    Kate drove her hand into the pouch, pulled it out and scattered the spell to
    the winds, hoping, praying to the spirit of her grandfather, that it would
    work. Unlike Shaman before her, Kate's magic was instinctive, a blend of her
    mother's natural flair and her grandfather's need to draw on physical
    manifestations of magic to power his spells.
    Petals drifted from her fingers, transmogrifying into bright-winged
    butterflies that vanished into the storm.
    Abruptly, the winds died.
    "It worked!" Kate cried triumphantly.
    "We'll pat ourselves on the back later, Kate," Elizabeth said. "Let's get
    outta here."
    They ran towards the copter where Eric Jones' broad, chunky form waited. He
    waved them in urgently.
    "Is it gonna last long?" he asked, referring to the dead calm that had
    settled over the region.
    "No. We've forced a spell of calm over this area, but whatever forces have
    brought on this wind storm is stronger. It won't be long before it
    overpowers our spell."
    Jones nodded. He tapped the pilot's shoulder. "You heard her. Let's go."
    Kate looked back at the archaeological dig they had abandoned. "Some
    holiday," she murmured.
    Eric smiled at her, ruffled her fringe. "Maybe next year, eh?" he said. To
    his wife, he asked: "What did Heather say?"
    Elizabeth turned her eyes from the window.
    "She's sending the Flight here. Heaven help them."

  10. #10
    Alpha Flight

    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    Posts
    550

    Default Chapter 2

    Second Flight
    Chapter 2

    "For The First Time"

    Del ' The Ancient One' Robinson
    ==========================
    Man likes to place himself, standing on a street corner he will identify a
    location and set himself in relation to it. In a place where there are no
    points of reference to place oneself, disorientation will eventually set in
    and sometimes despair. feelings of insignificance can also manifest.
    Places like these, of which Ungava Bay is one, should never be visited by
    man, but sometimes, like now, events dictate otherwise.

    The Canadian government carrier had touched down ten minutes earlier, but
    it was only in the last minute that the doors had opened and five figures
    had disembarked and started to leave the vicinity of the vehicle. The ten
    minutes had been taken up with a briefing by Eugene Judd,
    "Right, as you know, for the last few months, Elizabeth Twoyoungmen has
    been
    aware of a shift in the etheral calm, a build up of mystical power drew her
    here and she thinks that whatever it signifies will become apparent today,
    this may be nothing more than random manifestations, but you're here to
    ensure that whatever it is, it poses no threat to Canada or the planet.
    Ramsey, I want you to take up defensive positions out there, I want to hear
    talking and most of all I want to see team work. You've done the training,
    now lets see you put it into practice".

    Standing outside the carrier, Ramsey Judd suddenly felt very much alone,
    the terrain for as far as the eye could see was flat, a voice crackled in
    his ear and the voice of Jeremy Jaxon came through his radio earpiece,
    "Talk about your prime real estate, where should we build the pool Ram ?",
    "Jer, if you haven't got anything constructive to say, say
    nothing,.........OK team, lets do this, according to Talisman the focal
    point is about two hundred metres in that direction. Solstice, Box, I want
    an aerial reconaissence, but only fly as low as you have to, Kodiak, Heart,
    your with me. The members of Second Flight made their way tentatively
    forward towards the source of the event that had bought them to this
    place. Watching from the carrier's monitors, Eugene Judd felt a twinge of
    jealousy as he watched the team move out, he remembered his first mission
    and
    he wondered what the team members were thinking as they set out into the
    unknown.

    For a brief moment Ramsey Judd had experienced doubt, would he screw up,
    would he, as team leader, make a fatal error? These thoughts only stayed
    briefly, now he was all business. Sabra Gibney (Wildheart) felt only
    exhilaration, this was it, the moment she had been waiting for since she
    had been accepted into the first team.

    Brilliant light flashed across GV2's field of vision. In an instant
    Bernadette Tessier stood before him,
    "Ram, I flew over the area, there's nothing there, but there is, if you
    know what I mean, there's no normal signs whih senses could pick up, but
    there's an area there which feels wrong, I could go back and take another
    look",
    in reality, Bernadette just wanted to be light again, the adrenalin rush or
    whatever she had felt when she had passed over the area had been like
    nothing she had experienced before, the sound of jets interrupted her
    thoughts and the metallic form of Box glided to the ground beside her.
    "Ok, Jeremy without your usual flair for the ridiculous, what, if anything,
    did you get ?",
    "Nothing, there's nothing there",
    "What do you mean, nothing, you saying Talisman is wrong and this is all a
    wild goose chase?",
    "No, I'm saying the exact opposite, normally there would be something there
    for my sensors to pick up, background stuff, even air molecules, something,
    but there's an area of about eight feet in diameter which is void of
    anything, absolute nothing, but the most alarming thing is, it seems to be
    pulsating, like a paper bag with someone blowing into it, inflating,
    deflating, the pulsating markedly faster than when we got here, whatever or
    whoever is causing the fluctuations is gonna break through very very soon",
    "GV2 to Omni Carrier, dad, it looks like what............",
    Before Ramsey Judd could finish his statement, a loud popping sound ended
    any thoughts of conversation as lights alien to the assembled team erupted
    from the area of nothingness, eldritch fire burnt bright, green, red and
    blue lights erupted, spreading out before meeting and falling back to
    earth,
    smoke billowed and from out of this activity, a sillouette <sp> appeared,
    "S***, I think I've soiled my armour",
    "Jeremy, now is not the time".

    The form stepped slowly from out of the obscuity of the smoke and strode
    purposedly towards the team, not quite believing their eyes, the team had
    to look again to be absoloutely certain of what they were seeing, from the
    ground up her appearence was unknown, like nothing they had experienced
    before, cloven hoofs led upwards to legs which would look more appropriate
    on a goat, brown course hair hiding any semblence of skin, yet above the
    waist a normal female form seemed present, attractive torso and arms
    leading to normal human hands, long flowing red hair crowned a head which
    burnt with a glowing red flame, highlighting short horns which protruded
    from the forehead, but it was the eyes which drew attention, pure red
    staring straight at Second Flight, what sentence escaped her lips before
    the team reacted,
    "I bring a warning",
    Sabra Gibney moved forward, a feral growl sounded in her throat, before she
    had made more than five yards, an unseen force bought her sagging to her
    knees, the remains of her last meal cascading into the ground,
    "Bring her down, now!",
    months of teamwork kicked in and the figure was surprised when she raised
    her head to look towards the source of the words, to find no one there,
    Box, Solstice and GV2 were airbourne while Kodiak had used the tremedous
    strength in his legs to propel his massive form to within a couple of feet
    of her, he hoped that he could hold her attention long enough for the three
    flyers to arrive and draw some of her fire. He swung a massive fist
    towards her, but the force shattered against an invisible wall, an unseen
    force picked up his massive bulk and he felt himself flying back towards
    the direction he had come from, before he had the chance to brace himself,
    he slammed into the barren land of Ungava Bay and felt all the air in his
    body involuntarally expelled.
    "Now!",
    before she had chance to defend herself, concentrated electromagnetic waves
    pounded into her chest, pushing her back and almost forcing her to the
    ground, following in behind the blast, a large metallic man dived towards
    her one arm outstretched before him, small projectilesleaving the hand and
    puckering the ground around her, a swiftly spoken incantation changed his
    trajectory and Box found himself heading towards the ground, eventually
    digging a hole with his outstrched hand which enabled his giant torso to
    follow and become jammed in the ground. Ramsey Judd suddenly found himself
    with a half depleted team and he had only got one shot of at the enemy,
    anger replaced his tactical thinking and he launched himself full pelt at
    the form before him, he felt his charge abruptly stoppped and warning
    messages flashed across his minds eye, 'Guidance System Compromised', he
    flew off, performing involuntary aerial loops. Happy with her work, the
    figure strode forward, heading towards the Omni Carrier, but a flash of
    blinding light breached her protective barrier and crashed into her chest,
    one, two, three, four blows struck within the blink of an eye and she
    staggered, Solstice pulled away, she wanted to make this thing suffer for
    the indignaties visited on her friends and team mates, she looped and
    headed away from the form, a fleeting movement in the air beside her
    momentarily caught her attention, but then it was gone, she turned and
    headed back towards the thing that deserved everything she was about to
    recieve. Instead, before her stood a man in blue and white uniform, long
    flowing blonde locks hung to his shoulders, the figure lay prone beside
    him, WhiteHawk spoke,
    "Leave her, she's a friend".

    "Witchfire, Witchfire, can you hear me?",
    The inert form lying on the stretcher in the Omni Carrier stirred,
    "Witchfire, it's me , Puck",
    "Puck, thank god I've found you",
    Tentatively she sat up, her hand immediately going to her head,
    "Ouch, that hurts",
    "Here, take these, they might soothe your aches a little",
    "Who the hell attacked me?",
    "It's a misunderstanding, they're 'Second Flight', new kids on the block I
    suppose you'd call em",
    "Why Second, what happened to Alpha ?",
    "There hasn't been an Alpha for twenty years",
    "Twenty Years?, I've only been gone two",
    "Gone where, Witchfire, the last anyone heard of you was twenty years ago,
    when you left Alpha after the Lord affair",
    "I've been......, you'd better bring the new Flight in on this,.........are
    they angry?",
    "A few bruised ego's and red faces, but nothing time won't heal, they're
    still digging Box out, it should give you time to get your head together".

    A hour later, five bedraggled members of Second Flight sheepishly made
    their way onto the carrier, Box, most of all was trying to cover his
    embarassment by making jokes,
    "Have you ever tried to talk to a worm, they don't want to know, try
    discussing Voltaire or philosophy with them, you'll see what I mean",
    Puck broke up the conversation and made the introductions,
    "Team, I'd like you to meet Witchfire, formerly of Gamma and Beta Flights
    and the lady who, for some inexplicable reason you decided to attack",
    "Witchfire !, well she could have said something, when she appeared she
    looked like Beelzebubs kid sister",
    "Ok, Jeremy, time for quips later, we'll also have a debrief and discuss
    when to attack and when not to, but Witchfire came here for a reason, I
    suggest we let her tell us why".

    20 Years Ago.

    The building was abandoned, delapidated in places, it had been looked after
    for a while by people from Edmonton, in the hope that one day Alpha Flight
    might return to live there. Witchfire had only been here once before, when
    Gamma Flight had fought Alpha, but now she was here for herself. She knew
    who her father was, but nothing about him, with Department H closed there
    was nothing to tie her to this realm, so she took this opportunity to find
    out more. In Talisman's abandened quarters she settled herself and begun
    the incantation to open portals, she knew exactly which tones and
    pronunciation to use to enter the realm of Belasco, but when leaving this
    plain of reality she had remembered to cast the spells of containment
    behind her, not wishing to allow anything to leave this dimension for
    Earth.

    To begin with her father had greeted her appearence as a victory, his
    corruption complete, he volunteered information, how he had drawn a human
    woman into his realm, impregnated her and waited, intending to use
    Witchfire as a means to an end, a catylist to fulfil his plans for Earth.
    Unfortunately she was too resiliant, as proved during the Infinity Crusade.
    Now with her return he treated her well, but never as a normal father
    would treat a child, but after about six months things had begun to change,
    now he was gone for long periods, activity increased and areas where she
    once had free rein were no longer acessable to her, then one day,
    visitors. She had managed to make her way to a small room just adjacent to
    her father's main rooms amd a flash of recognition spread across her face
    when the woman entered, the man with her, she did not recognise, but the
    woman was an old foe.
    "Well Belasco, I trust you have a reason to bring us all here ?",
    "Daughter !, what?, don't you trust our host?",
    "I trust no one father, espeacially you",
    "You wound me,.........well Belasco, your great plan",
    "I suggest an alliance, we three standing as one, creating for ourselves a
    base here in these realms, a launching point if you want for our ultimate
    goal, the conquest of that spitball of a realm, Earth".

    The Present

    "So I left, my father must know by now that I came back to warn you, but I
    don't know when they'll get here, I thought I'd been gone two years,
    instead I find I've been gone twenty, time is different there, it could be
    today, it could be next week, it could be years, but whenever it is, the
    Earth is in great danger",
    "Excuse my ignorance, but I have some questions",
    "Ask away, Ramsey is it ?,"
    "Who exactly are we talking about here?, why the Earth? and why did you
    look like you did when you appeared?",
    "Last thing first, getting into my father's realm is easier than getting
    out, no one casts spells of containment in my father's realm to prevent
    access from the Earth, but on Earth there are many points of magic,
    Nexuses, if you like, spells have been cast in these places since the
    beginning of time to prevent incursions, basically I'm more powerful in my
    demon form,............why the Earth?, what you must remember about these
    creatures is that they are petty, childlike, they see something they want
    and like a child, they want it more, because they can't have it. The
    Earth is like a beacon to them, reminding them of some of their greatest
    failings,..........as for who they are, well there's my Father, Belasco, an
    old foe of Alpha, The Dreamqueen and of course her father, Nightmare, this
    triumverate, I'd suppose you call it, are heading this way and plans have
    to
    be made".
    Eugene Judd spoke,
    "We've done what we can here, Talisman and Myst are going to return and
    secure this place and watch and wait, I've given the Director a brief
    outline and she's recalled all teams for a briefing tomorrow morning, so
    I'd suggest all of you police the area, make sure there's nothing left
    behind and get ready to go home".

    Heather Hudson opened the door to the apartment, it had been a long day,
    but things were in order, the Alpha team had come through their skirmish
    with Witchfire relatively unscathed, Elizabeth was keeping her eye on
    things at Ungava Bay and Eugene and Ramsey would come in soon, she was
    however a little perturbed to notice that the minder at the door to her
    apartment was not present, but she asumed he had gone inside to grab some
    refreshments. this idea changed when she entered the front room and saw the
    mess that had been left, sitting in the corner was the minder entrusted to
    protect her children, he was mumbling incoherently and a purple tinge was
    present in his eyes, of the children no sign, held tight in the man's hand
    was a scrap of paper, Heather managed to prise it from his hands and after
    one glance began to sob uncontrollably. This was how Puck and Ramsey found
    her two hours later, unable to speak she passed the paper to her husband,
    seven words and a badly sketched picture were all that he could see, but
    they chilled him to the bone, 'I thought I'd take the kids out', a
    pencilled crown, coloured Purple, was the only signature.

  11. #11
    Alpha Flight

    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    Posts
    550

    Default Chapter 3

    Second Flight
    Chapter 3
    "And As I Lay Me Down to Sleep..."

    "Alpha Flight! Form on me!"
    GV2 fired a focused blast of plasma at a flying robot, shearing off
    its wing and sending it crashing down on a squad of approaching
    automatons.The field seethed with hundreds of them. Purple robots. An
    armored army, infantry and airborne, they moved with ferocious speed.
    "MOMMMMEEEEE!"
    "Mom! Dad! Help us!"
    Olivia Judd. John Judd. Wildheart threw a glance at Ram. His face
    was set in a grim mask. Plasma bursts found their targets with uncanny
    regularity, cutting into the massed mutlitude before them. Her enhanced
    eyesight showed her the four kids on top of a rocky hill at the end of
    the smoking plain. She was glad that Ram couldn't see them yet.
    Strangely, their voices carried clearly over the distance, over the
    sound of the angry metallic chittering the robots made, the solid thumps
    of Kodiak's fists as they connected, the steady crackling hiss of GV2's
    suit.
    SKREEEEEEEEE
    An axe-wielding robot collapsed into scrap under a barrage of
    projectiles from Box. "You're lucky I was watching your ass, wild
    thang." He landed next to her and smashed another robot with a shining
    fist. "But then again, I do that all the time."
    FWASH!
    A ray of incandescent heat plowed through a squad of aerial
    raiders, raining molten bits of robot on its allies below. The light
    coalesced into the red and ebon clad form of Solstice. "How you manage
    to make that Box armor leer is beyond me, Jaxon." She shifted to solid
    light and blasted an automaton.
    "It's a gift." Box V quipped. And picking up a fallen axe, waded
    into
    army.
    "Dad! We're up here!"
    "Ram! Help us! We can't hold out much longer!"
    The rest of the kids. Ernest and Sarah. Sabra Gibney grimaced,
    moving with lithe grace as she avoided three approaching robots. Jeez,
    kids, I call them. Ernie Judd was only a few years younger than she was.
    Moving with startling speed, she slipped under a robots' guard and with
    a snarl, ripped out the feeding tubes connecting its head to its torso.
    A push sent it crashing into its compatriots. Solid kick to the left.
    Punch. Feint. Automatic.
    "C'mon, c'mon. Is this the BEST you can DO!?" Abe Reilly muttered
    as he swung a massive fist into a squad of metal men, sending them
    flying in all directions. Lances shattered on his near-indestructible
    hide, Kodiak's massive form glowed as if on fire. "Bring it ON!" He
    grabbed one by a purple arm and used it as a club, smashing robots left
    and right.
    "Final push, people!" GV2 ordered. "Leapfrog! Solstice, clear those
    buzzards out!"
    Bernadette Tessier launched into the sequence. In her solid light
    form, she ricocheted from one flying robot to another with blinding
    speed. GV2 swooped down, picking Kodiak up with waves of magnetic force.
    Simultaneously, Box grabbed Wildheart and took off. They jumped over the
    last battalion of robots, landing at the base of the hill.
    The kids were putting up a fight. Ernest and John had managed to
    grab a couple of lances and were pushing robots back as they tried to
    come up the steep hill face. Sarah and Olivia threw rocks. But they were
    surrounded. There were a lot of robots. And they were running out of
    rocks.
    "Ramsay!"
    On the other side of the cliff, Heather MacNeil-Hudson-Judd smashed
    at robots with a metal club. By her side, Eugene Judd grabbed a robot by
    the arm, pulling it off its feet and sending it flying into a squad of
    its allies. Flex lopped off arms and severed legs, sending sprays of oil
    and fluid out to stain the steaming ground. Not far away, Province used
    his famous force shield to devastating effect, reducing platoons of
    robots to scrap.
    "Go get them, son!"
    Ramsay Judd launched into action, as the rest of Alpha cut him a
    path. Bursts of plasma shattered robots, sent aerial automatons crashing
    to the ground. He landed on top of the hill.
    "C'mon, guys, let's go."
    "No." A soft voice said, like a razor sheathed in silk. "I don't
    think
    so"
    Before GV2's horrified gaze, his brother's and sister's forms began
    to waver like smoke. In the sky, a womans face appeared, pale as
    moonlight, beautiful as death.
    "The Dreamqueen!" Puck shouted.
    "NO!" Heather screamed
    "Yes. You see, my old foes, I have plans for you."
    The Judd children dissapeared completely.
    The Dreamqueen began to laugh, and the sky fell down.

    Sound. A sound like the breaking of a thousand dishes, a million
    exploding lightbulbs, uncountable dying swans singing in eerie harmony.
    and then silence.

    "NOOOOOOOOO!"
    Ramsay Judd bolted out of bed. The moon outside shed a greenish
    light on the tangled sheets. The holographic clock projected the time in
    front of him. 3:45AM. Breathing hard, he looked around the familiar
    room, his football trophies on the chest of drawers, the battered old
    robo-soccer helmet on the table, the clothes on the floor, the empty
    bunk bed where John and Ernie usually sleep. A dream, he thought. It was
    only a dream, a nightmare...
    "Guys," he whispered, "...where the heck are you?"
    "Heather? HEATHER!"
    When Ramsay rushed into his parent's room, it was to see his father
    with an anguished look on his face, and his mother, dripping wet, lying
    on the floor, asleep.
    "I've tried everything I can think of, Ram." his father said. "I
    can't wake her up."

    A Castle at the Edge of Dreams
    It looms with silent ferocity, dark stone and dark wood, green
    banners clawing the air. A single tower rises at the center, like a
    charred finger thrust into the sky. Inside, the tower is full of
    windows, each showing a different corner of the realm. From, this room
    her father ruled. The Dreamqueen stood in front of a small oval window,
    idly fondling a black stone in her left hand, as she silently watched a
    small band of humans make their way across an endless plain of putrid
    mud.
    "Ahhhhh, the despair, the wasted nobility, the useless thrashing
    about... what a delicious sight." Nightmare murmured, stepping out of a
    patch.of shadow.
    "Back so soon, father?" She spat out the word like a rotten grape,
    her left hand falling flat on the windowsill. "Was the Sorcerer Supreme
    unavailable for a chat?"
    "This Doc Magus is not as formidable as his predecessor, he is
    harmless where I have trapped him." Sighing, he conjured a throne and
    sat down. "And you, my dear? Enjoying your visit?"
    "Don't bait me, I'm not in the mood."
    "What's the matter, my baby? Do you miss your darling little
    kingdom and your little playthings?"
    The Dreamqueen remained silent. Her latest encounter with Alpha
    Flight had ended in disaster, exiling her from her own realm, forcing
    her to take refuge in her father's kingdom. Outside her sphere of
    influence, she was left only with the ability to cast illusions, to
    cloud the human mind.
    Nightmare cocked his head. "It has begun. Belasco has started the
    spell to merge the planes. Soon, Earth will be happily ensconced in its
    new home, where Limbo and the Dreamrealms merge, the mortals will live
    their lives out in dreams. Come daughter, we have work to do." With a
    wave of a pallid arm, Nightmare conjures a portal and steps through.
    "As you wish, father." She says, moving away from the window,
    leaving the white stone on the windowsill. For now.

    Department H, Medical Division. Three hours later.
    The large metal room was painted white and smelled of alcohol.
    Medical personnel moved from bed to bed, checking on a growing number of
    sleeping patients. Heather Judd was on a cot, strapped to numerous
    monitors, their beeps and pings an oddly comforting sound. Without her
    glasses, she looked younger, the lines of strain and age erased
    temporarily by sleep. Eugene Judd sat nearby, wearing a rumpled black
    and red uniform. He had set up a command center next to her bed, wanting
    to stay close by. Dept. H staff came and went, bringing in reports and
    carrying out orders.
    "Her test results are all normal, Mr. Judd." Dr. N'dele said,
    yawning, as he pushed his eyeglasses back up his nose. "The Director is
    completely healthy, just sleeping."
    "Then why doesn't she wake up, eh?" Puck replied. "You're the best
    brain in the country, why the hell can't you tell me anything useful?"
    "She isn't the only one, sir." Solstice said, seated at a nearby
    conference table. Head tipped to one side, she held her hand against her
    ear, tuning in on her standard Epsilon-issue implant. "Reports are
    coming in from all over the province, nearly half the population is in
    the same state. The hospitals are getting swamped."
    Adrian Corbo leaned back on his chair, muttering to himself as he
    mentally sent commands through the datajack on the back of his neck into
    the Dept. H Computers. Bernadette Tessier and Jeffrey Jeremy Jaxon sat
    with him around the table.
    "Can't say I blame 'em." Kodiak rumbled, stretching his hands over
    his head and yawning. "I could use a few more hours of sleep."
    "A growing boy needs his sleep." JJJ quipped, and speedily ducked a
    giant hand. "Hey, watch it, you big lug, or I'll sic my Box Armor on
    ya."
    "If you do go to sleep now, you wouldn't be waking up anytime
    soon." Elizabeth Twoyoungmen walked into the room, her red and gold
    costume barely visible under a large caribou-lined cloak. "It's some
    sort of enchantment, a sleeping-spell. I felt its first waves right
    after I left Resolute Bay. Some people seem to be more resistant to it
    than others. It also seems to strongly affect people with magical
    abilities. Both Witchfire and my daughter Katherine are already deep in
    slumber."
    "The Talisman protects you."
    "That's right, Puck, but the spell is strong. It strains my spirit
    defenses." Wearily, Talisman sat down, propping her chin up with her
    right hand.
    "Who's behind it?" Flex asked as he sat up. He pulled the datajack
    out and flexed the input port back into his neck.
    "I'm not sure, the spirits are unable to trace the source of the
    enchantment. That can only mean that it probably comes from some other
    plane."
    "Another plane, like Limbo? Then... Belasco, Nightmare and the
    Dreamqueen?"
    "Likely, Commander Corbo, but this alliance makes no sense. Why
    should they cooperate with each other? Asleep, the people are vulnerable
    to Nightmare's powers, but what do the Dreamqueen and Belasco hope to
    gain?"
    "We've got to find some answers, and soon." Eugene Judd muttered,
    pacing back and forth in front of Heather's bed.
    "You all had the same dream and some of the Epsilons who woke up
    describe fighting in the same plain, seeing the same purple robots. I
    think you were in some part of the Realm of Dreams. That is where we
    should go to find our answers."

    Ottawa. Gatineau Park.
    Located at the very edge of the Canadian Shield, Gatineau
    encompasses over 46,000 hectares of pristine woodlands. A person could
    easily get lost in this wilderness. Like a needle in a haystack.
    The lake was mirror-calm. At the wooded bank, a white-tailed doe
    drank daintily, ears alert. Sabra Gibney smiled and came closer. She
    reached out a hand and stroked its flank. Startled, the doe fled in an
    explosion of leaves. Sabra had to suppress a sudden attack of the
    giggles. Suddenly, her wristcom beeped. She held it in front of her face
    and watched a hologram of a well-muscled man in a red and white costume
    and a dark jacket appear. Commander Province's world famous face was set
    in carefully neutral lines.
    "Wildheart. Report."
    "The trail sort of ends here, sir. Whoever kidnapped the Judd
    children wasn't that hard to follow, his spoor is quite distinctive..."
    A bit too distinctive. It almost seemed like she could see the man's
    scent, like pale purple smoke, floating in the air. Good thing, too. She
    had taken a preliminary sniff at the Judd's apartment. Somehow, it had
    made her dizzy, nauseous, she had almost thrown up.
    "According to the babysitter's report, all he remembers is opening
    the door a crack for the pizza guy, then nothing," Commander Province
    continued. "Hypno-probe revealed nothing either. It looks like some sort
    of mind wipe. Where does the trail end?"
    "That's just it, sir, it doesn't really end, it sort of...
    changes... its
    like the whole lake saturated with the same scent, like a dome."
    "Don't come any closer, it may be some sort of early warning
    device. Wait... I've just had a communique from the Department, they
    need you for a mission. Return to Hull House and take the transport from
    there. I'll take over the search."
    "Understood, sir."
    "Do you know where you are?"
    "Yes, I've been here before. When I was in fourth grade, my teacher
    took us to this lake for our environmental conservation classes. Its
    called Kingsmere."

    Department H, Medical Division. Ward C.
    "When you sleep, you will be transported into the Realm of Dreams,"
    Talisman said. She sat on ceremonial rug in the center of the large
    room. Around her, in a circle, the members of Alpha Flight lay back on
    hospital beds, the last of the monitors being hooked up.
    "I will stay here to monitor you, and to be your link to this
    world,
    but you must be quick. I don't know how much longer I can hold out
    against the sleep enchantment. Unfortunately, advice will be all I can
    give, my magicks will be strained to the limit as it is."
    Slowly, they felt eyelids go heavy, as Talisman's calming spell
    took hold.
    "Good Luck."
    And they all fell asleep.

  12. #12
    Alpha Flight

    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    Posts
    550

    Default Chapter 5

    Second Flight

    Part V: Would That All We Know Remain Unchanged

    The six teammates were disoriented for a moment–all were feeling as if they
    had been woken suddenly after sleeping hard.
    "That's the last time I go voluntarily snooping through the wardrobe," Box
    said.
    Kodiak, who sat indian-style looking at the surrounding landscape, grunted
    in agreement. He squinted to see if what he thought he saw in the distance
    was actually what he thought. "Looks like a castle by the sea over there,"
    Kodiak said, pointing behind Box.
    The six looked in that direction, between two hills, at a turret which flew a
    red flag. Behind the turret, the ocean could be seen by all–but only heard by
    Box, thanks to his in-built sensors.
    "O.K. first things first," said Ramsay, the team's leader, "is everyone all
    right?"
    He looked at the team to ascertain their current physical and mental state.
    Each member nodded that he or she was all right.
    "No doubt we are going to that castle, but first I want to know about where
    we are before we go there," said Ramsay. "I want Solstice airborne with
    Wildheart investigating the area around the castle to gimme an idea of what
    we are dealing with. Box, take Kodiak. You two go the opposite way–let me
    know if there is civilization there. Rich–you go left, and I will go right.
    We will meet back here in a half hour. Absorb all you can like you're
    cramming for an Alpha Flight history exam."
    At this they all laughed, synchronized their watches, and went their separate
    ways.

    Ramsay loved life. As GV2, Canada's premiere superhero, he was able to
    dabble in a life that most people his age only dream of. While most were off
    at college, he was saving his country.
    He had completed one semester at the university near the headquarters of
    Department H in Ontario, but gave up school after one semester. He couldn't
    be a normal college kid when he was constantly drilling or saving the world.
    So, sadly he had packed up his belongings, bid farewell to his roommate, Chad,
    and moved back into his old room that he shared with two of his brothers.
    And now, soaring above the landscape of this strangely familiar terrain he
    felt his butterflies melt away. He was always nervous when he thought about
    giving commands and being responsible for the lives of his team, but when it
    came down to it, he could do it–and do it very well.
    His suit told him that the temperature was a balmy one. He couldn't feel the
    breeze as he was protected from it by his suit's shield. Right now though, if
    not for this mission, he would like to land, shed all his clothes and lay in
    the sun.
    During his flight, he had seen several sheep and a cow or two, but quite
    frankly, aside from the fences that kept those animals in and the roads around
    the fences, he hadn't seen any signs of civilization.
    He veered toward the ocean that lay maybe a kilometer off to his side and
    began to descend. A minute later, he set foot on the pebble beach that
    separated the lush green fields from the sea.
    He lowered his shield. The sun felt good on his face and arms. It was
    warmer than he imagined it would be, and the gentle breeze had stopped
    altogether.
    For some reason, he felt exhausted. It was taking all he had to keep his
    eyes open. The point came when they screamed to be shut. He lay on the warm
    rocks, feeling them jab into his neck, back and butt–but in a soothing way.
    Within seconds, he was asleep.

    Box was going way too fast for Kodiak's tastes. The two had departed seconds
    before and now Kodiak couldn't even see where the two had departed from.
    "Yer sure you can find our way back, Boxxie?"
    "Ja. Built in tracking system."
    "Yer sure you ain't goin' too fast, Boxxie?"
    "Oh, you are no fun to travel with. If you are feeling sick, there are air
    sick bags back in your front compartment, you wussy."
    Kodiak was about to say something, then stopped. Something had caught his
    eye up ahead. He motioned to Box who had seen it, too. The metal man and his
    passenger descended to the green fields below.
    Kodiak had the urge to kiss the ground when he felt the lush grass below his
    feet. Flying was not something he did to relax when the stress built up. If
    he aspired to higher blood pressure, then yes, he might consider doing it as a
    hobby, but until then...
    Kodiak moved (gracefully for his size) across the grass until he came to what
    it was the two had spotted from the air.
    It was a woman–a woman both recognized as Director H.
    She looked a little more older than the two were used to, but considering the
    stress she was under all the time, it was no wonder. As Kodiak approached,
    she cringed back in fear.
    "Director H, ma'am–it's Abe," said Kodiak.
    She looked at him for a minute in fear then a hint of recognition appeared in
    her eyes.
    "Yes, I am sorry. I am really disoriented," she replied. If it were
    possible, Box would have felt a shiver run down his spine watching their
    conversation. He felt something was wrong and it wasn't her lack of
    recognition.

    Solstice and Wildheart had landed just outside of the village only several
    minutes before. In the air, Solstice was in charge, but once on the ground
    and no longer required to be dependent, Wildheart had taken charge. Her
    ability to smell and track were the perfect attributes needed to go exploring
    without anyone noticing.
    The two had entered the village and made their way to the church in its
    center without encountering a single soul. The town appeared to be deserted.
    Solstice walked a little too closely behind her comrade and occasionally
    reached out to clutch her arm for reassurance. Usually, Sabra wasn't too keen
    on being touched, but she understood her friend's fear so she permitted it.
    There was something not right about this place.
    The two rested by a well and looked at the town they were in. The buildings
    were all of stone and two-storied. The great church behind them was the
    exception. It was of glass and rose to almost cathedral-like heights.
    Suddenly, from its bell tower, came the sound of a bell ringing.
    The two woman jumped in surprise and looked at each other. They stood up and
    watched as people by the dozens poured out of the buildings. Hundreds it
    seems poured out of the church alone.
    They all surrounded the two Alphans and one stepped forth to address the two.
    "Are you the daemon servants of the queen?" she asked.
    "The queen?" asked Solstice.
    "The Dreamqueen," whispered Wildheart.
    The village spokeswoman ignored the twosome's words and grabbed Solstice's
    arm.
    "If you are confused, you obviously are not her servants. We have an
    unforeseen amount of time to be out to do our business until we must get back
    under shelter. She doesn't come all the time, but when she does, whomever she
    can get her hands on becomes her newest plaything."
    "What are you talking about?" Wildheart asked, agitation sounding through in
    her voice.
    "The Queen–she gives us only a short amount of time to conduct our business
    and then she returns to roam the village looking for playthings to satisfy her
    devilish whims. She refuses to come indoors, so moves about the village like
    a ghost for most of the day. She wails like a siren to frighten us.
    Sometimes she comes, sometimes she doesn't. We can't take our chances. We
    have to hide when be bells rings."
    "She is only one woman–can't you stand up to her?" Solstice asked.
    A hush fell over the crowd.
    The spokeswoman stepped back as if struck by a fist.
    "Think not such things. Such thoughts will incite her wrath. For such
    thoughts we cannot even allow you to remain with us. We cannot offer you
    aid."
    Just then the bells began ringing.
    The crowd spread and disappeared inside again.
    "She has cut our time short," the spokeswoman said. "She knows of you and is
    coming. Find a place to hide, but not with us. May She have mercy on you."
    With that, Wildheart and Solstice were alone again.

    Whitehawk soared above the rolling forests toward the ruins he had just
    spotted. To him the countryside looked like that straight out of the classic
    Braveheart film.
    The ruins looked like those of a Russian Orthodox church. As he re-angled
    his body, so his feet were below him instead of behind, he landed in the
    graveyard in front of the church. He walked to one of the graves and observed
    that the writing on the tombstone was Cyrillic. Turning, he noted that the
    all of the grave markers were also written in the same script.
    He jumped in surprise when he heard rustling behind him. He spun around and
    almost–as Kodiak would say–had a heart attack.
    Standing before him was his mother and the man who had delivered her–Michael
    Twoyoungmen.
    "Mom?"
    Narya held out her hands to him and he rushed to embrace her, completely
    forgetting that she was a spirit. Strangely enough, for a spirit, her embrace
    was very physical.
    Though it had only been moments since Whitehawk had spoken to his mother on
    the journey to the land of the Dreamqueen, he had to react on instinct and
    reach out to her as a life spent without a mother had taught him to treasure
    the chances he had with one.
    Michael extended his hand after his mother let him go.
    "Richard–it is nice to meet you. We were informed of your arrival."
    Any normal person would have fainted at the sight of two dead people greeting
    him, but as a supernatural creature himself, such a meeting wasn't as strange
    to Whitehawk.
    He pumped Michael's hand.
    "I thought you were killed by a drunk driver."
    Michael looked confused and began to reply, then stopped. Off in the
    distance, the three could here the clanging of church bells.
    The two who should have been dead looked at each other in panic.
    "My son, I don't have time to explain. You must follow me, quickly."
    Michael and Narya took to flight in the direction of the bells with Richard
    hot on their trail.

    GV2 woke up when the shadow stretched over him, blocking out his sun. He
    opened his eyes to spy Northstar looking down at him.
    "Jean-Paul–?"
    Northstar crouched down and looked at Ramsay. There were sores covering
    Northstar's face and he looked very frail. This wasn't the Northstar Ramsay
    had seen just months before.
    "Touch you...."
    Ramsey didn't hear what Northstar said and reached up to return the embrace
    of the man he had dubbed "Uncle" since he had been old enough to speak.
    Suddenly Ramsay pulled back.
    "What the hell are you doing?!!" asked a very frightened Ramsay.
    "It's been so long since I have had another's touch–I just want to touch
    you."
    Ramsay took to the air hoping to escape the man who had tried to assault him.
    In his haste, he had forgotten that Northstar could fly.
    In Northstar's frail state, he was still faster than Ramsay and
    instantaneously was in the air with his arms locked around Ramsay. Ramsay
    activated his shield as Northstar lunged forward to plant a kiss on his lips.
    "Get off–what is wrong with you?!!"
    Northstar leaned in to kiss him again.
    GV2 suddenly found himself directly over the village just below the castle
    that he had sent Wildheart and Solstice to investigate. He had "shunted" to
    escape Northstar.
    What could have come over Northstar to behave in such a way toward him.
    Jean-Paul would never have done something like that. Maybe everyone was
    acting weird in the Dreamqueen's realm.
    The voice behind him made him turn with a start. It was Box.
    Box waved at him and directed him to follow.
    "Dude," said Box. "We found your mom. She is really freaked–looks a hell of
    a lot older than normal. She told us we needed to come to the village for
    sanctuary. Wildheart has got a story for you."

    Soon, he was united with his own Alpha Flight, his mother and two dead
    Alphans. He assumed that they were here in spirit as Whitehawk had said his
    mother usually appeared to him from time to time.
    Sabra told the story of the queen who would be appearing soon and how they
    had been turned away by the villagers. She told of how her and Solstice had
    been alone and wondering what to do when Whitehawk, Shamen and Snowbird had
    appeared hoping for shelter. It was just by sheer luck that GV2 had showed up
    when and where he did after his "shunt."
    From above the crowd there was a shouting and Northstar descended with no
    grace and landed with even less grace upon the cobblestones.
    Ramsay took several steps away from Northstar. The then positioned himself
    behind Kodiak.
    Whitehawk spoke–the shock in her voice not hidden in the least: "Sir, why are
    you in such a state? Your health has deteriorated since we saw you last."
    "I have never seen you before," Jean-Paul replied.
    "Look, I used to call you "uncle." Of course you know me," said Ramsay.
    "I would rather you call me "daddy," replied Northstar.
    "Stop this, Jean-Paul!" demanded Shamen. "Now, listen. Something has
    happened that you all are obviously unaware of. I think your history is
    different than ours."
    Everyone shifted their attention from Jean-Paul to Michael.
    "We have been in this realm for over twenty years. I was transporting us
    back from a battle we had against Omega Flight in New York where Guardian was
    killed when something happened and realities were shifted. We came here
    instead of arriving at home. You obviously are from a reality where such an
    event didn't occur and your Alpha Flight arrived safely in Canada."
    Alpha Flight stood in stunned silence. Michael continued.
    "We were caught unawares and arrived in the heat of a battle. Northstar's
    sister was in a–shall we say–docile state and panicked. She fled directly
    into the path of a swinging sword. She died instantly.
    One of the armies diverted their attention to Sasquatch and he was murdered
    outright. As for Puck, he disappeared."
    "But what about Northstar or Marrina?" asked Solstice.
    "Marrina didn't respond to our summons in the first place and did not go with
    us to New York. As far as Northstar is concerned, I have never examined him,
    but from what I can tell, the lesions on his face and delusional state he is
    in are indicative of someone who might have full-blown AIDS. I knew of his
    secret and can only guess that that is what has happened to him."
    "Well, wouldn't I be dead then?" asked Northstar.
    "Recall how Narya arrived in a state of decomposition–being moved from Canada
    had sapped her of her youth and vigor–she was nothing more than an old woman
    when we arrived here. She recovered her youth and some strength–though she is
    fragile. I am thinking that though she is not in Canada, this land has
    magicks that have brought her her health. Much the same way Northstar's
    disease has slowed up considerably, though he is still dying–over two decades
    after contracting HIV."
    The new Alpha Flight stood staring at the old Alpha Flight. The two
    generations had met, though not the way either would have thought they ever
    might.
    "O.K." said GV2. Let's move on past our shock and get to the castle and find
    the Dreamqueen before she comes looking for us here."
    Suddenly, the air became cold and the wind began to pick up. The early balmy
    weather was gone. Snow began to fall feverishly. The group looked around in
    wonder at the season change. The accented voice from the heavens brought them
    out of their sense of wonder.
    "Greetings, friends. Welcome to my realm."
    A pink bubble began to descend from the sky. It came to rest on the glass
    steps which led up to the great glass doors that entered into the glass church
    and with a "plip" transformed into a stunning, tall woman wearing an orange
    pelt that hung from neck to ankle.
    "What a movie moment," said the woman. "I do so love dramatic entrances."
    Ramsay stepped toward her.
    "Your majesty," he said, slightly dipping. "I am Guardian and this is Alpha
    Flight. We come only in peace and ask you only for an audience with you, the
    great Dreamqueen."
    The tall woman's eyes sparkled and a grin spread across her lips. Then she
    laughed.
    "My dear boy...you are gravely mistaken. I am currently working with the
    Dreamqueen on a little project, but I am not her. You will get to meet her
    soon enough though."
    Alpha Flight looked at each other then back at the woman. She continued:
    "You haven't guessed yet, have you?"
    GV2 shook his head and shrugged his shoulders.
    "You fell asleep believing you would enter the kingdom of the Dreamqueen.
    She is too busy to deal with you...she is working on a little joint venture.
    So you are here for my amusement.
    And who am I, you ask yourselves? Well, my flesh may be dead, but my spirit
    is very much alive. How else could I become Illyana the Great, Daemon Queen
    of Limbo?"

    To be continued...

  13. #13
    Alpha Flight

    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    Posts
    550

    Default Chapter 6

    “Tilting the Scales”
    by Tom Bush

    “Set her down gently!”
    Province crouched anxiously over his brother’s shoulder as the Alphajet’s thrusters roared, straining against the pull of the earth beneath them. Trees swayed throughout Gatineau Park as the wildlife scampered to the safety of their burrows and nests. The silver and crimson maple leaf emblazoned on Province’s chest testified that Canada’s greatest fighting force had arrived and that very soon everything would be set to right and the threat now posed to his beloved nation would soon be ended.
    As the Alphajet gently landed Province began barking his orders. “Alright! Here’s the game plan,” he began in his normal dictatorial manner. “I want Bellfrey to run reconnaissance from the air. Let us know if there’s anything unusual in or around the lake. Flex, your job is to drop that energy field. And no tripping alarms. If we’re gonna be successful we have to have the element of surprise on our side. Starlight, circle the lake and let me know and meet Barnacle an myself back here near the shore. Barny, you’re with me. Stay close! No wondering off! Does anyone have any questions?” Province viewed the anxious faces in the cargo hold.
    “Yeah,” Barnacle’s voice crackled as he addressed the living legend who would be leading this campaign. “Not really a question. But my name is Rene’ not Barny.”
    Province shook his head and guffawed at the audacity, or was it stupidity, of this rookie. “In the field we use codenames only. Barny is short for your codename, Barnacle.”
    “OK! No problem, Prov!” Barnacle quickly quipped.
    Province bit his lip hard and turned to address his other teammates. “ Everyone clear on the game plan?” He paused to make sure the questions on their faces weren’t going to be vocalized. “Alright then on my mark…..DEPLOY!”
    The pneumatic cargo door hissed open to the tranquil scene of sunlight dancing on the water’s surface. The chill spring wind, a stark contrast from the climate controlled warmth of the Alphajet, sliced through the cargo door hitting them with an unexpected unfriendliness. Rather than shudder at the welcome Bellfrey embraced it. He threw open his arms and cast himself into the bitter wind. The chill filled the sail-like flaps of skin which formed his wings. With a massive down stroke Bellfrey hurled himself forward and upward into the midday sky.
    Province sauntered down the stairs with an air of self-assuredness. He’d been here many times before, a veteran leading the rookies out on their first mission. His time in the Cap Corps had honed his skills and prepared him for the mantle of leadership Department H had bestowed upon him.
    “Ladies before germs!” Stella Langowski chided Barnacle as she pushed past the scaly youth. “Last one on the ground is a rotten egg!” she added as she moved down the stairs quicker than Rene’ Comeaux could process the words. Her teasing him infuriated Barnacle. Perhaps that is why she never let up on the youngest of her team members.
    “Just savin’ the best for last,” Barnacle made a weak attempt at a save. He clambered down the cargo bay stairs eerily scraping each step like a schoolteacher scratching her fingernails across the slate of a chalkboard.
    Every hair on Starlight’s neck stood on end as she listened to the cacophony. “Must you make that racket, Rene’?” she asked rhetorically. “Is there any chance we can carpet the Alphajet and halls back at Department H?”
    “Not likely it’d help much,” Province broke in quickly. “And call him Barnacle when you’re on a mission. He’s already destroyed two sofas and the Director won’t allow him in her office anymore.”
    “Well how’d I get stuck on the Monster Squad then?” Starlight asked the question that had been burning her up since the roster was announced. She was a legacy. She should be battling alongside GV2, Wildheart, and Whitehawk. Bernadette should be stuck with these genetic misfits.
    “Maybe it’s the pointy ears, elf girl,” Barnacle cracked back at her. She shot a fiery glare his way telling him he’d landed one for a change.
    “Enough of the banter! We have a job to do,” Province reminded them of their mission. “Now move out.”
    Bellfrey soared overhead, circling the lake in ever widening concentric spirals as Starlight sped off around the lakeshore. The minutes which passed before Starlight’s return passed like days for Barnacle. He always felt uneasy in the presence of Province. How could a twelve-year old not be in the presence of Canada’s most prodigious patriot? In minutes the eternity had passed and Starlight was standing by their side.
    “Nothing special to report,” she began to debrief on her findings. “Only thing other than rocks and sand to report is a small tributary about one hundred yards to the east. Other than that what you have here, fearless leader, is a nice recreation spot.”
    Skeee. The communications up-link on Province’s wrist buzzed. “The field is down Province,” Flex’s voice crackled. “It’s all yours now. No alarm trips detected. Should be clear sailing for you gang.”
    “Good work Flex!” he congratulated his brother. “Bellfrey, you out there, buddy?” Province probed for his remaining teammate.
    “Yeah! I’m here and I’ve got something for you,” Bellfrey sceached across the comm-link. “There’s an island or something in the middle of the lake. I didn’t notice any movement, but I’d put even money on our objective being there.”
    “Join us back at the shoreline,” Province directed Bellfrey. “And Flex you remain on the comm. We don’t know what we’ll run into and we may need you for backup,” he broke radio communication. “You two ready to move out?” he asked his companions.
    “Ready as we’re getting’,” Barnacle answered. “Ready as we’re getting’.”
    Province closed his eyes and began to concentrate deeply. To the surprise of Starlight and Barnacle, the shimmering forcefield surrounding his person began pushing itself down the length of his body and came to rest on the ground. He’d gained delicate control over his powers during his service to the UN, but they were unaware he could detach himself completely from it.
    “Step on,” he motioned to Barnacle. “Starlight, let’s see just how fast you can move. How about you give us a shove!”
    “Hang on tight boys. The ride might be a bit bumpy until I build some speed up,” Stella warned the duo. Her muscular legs strained beneath her spandex costume and an instant later Province’s forcefield motored across the lake. Her sheer speed allowed her to use the water’s natural surface tension to hydroplane across the lake’s glassy surface. Finally, those Department H physics and chemistry tutors were paying off.
    The massive grey shadow of Bellfrey soon joined the trio as they sailed across the placid lake. His wing span was nothing short of amazing Barnacle thought to himself as he watched his teammate soar overhead. He imagined himself a fish and Bellfrey sweeping down from the sky like an enormous eagle to rip him from the waters.
    “Wait! Wait!” Flex buzzed over the comm-link. “There’s a second energy field!”
    The warning came across in a fraction of a second, and just as quickly the team reacted. Province dropped his control on his forcefield, drawing it around himself like a warm and welcome blanket. Starlight broke hard against the water’s surface, throwing a tremendous spray into the air. Bellfrey dove like the eagle Barnacle had imagined him to be earlier, however, his target was not the scaly youth. He chose instead to snatch up the closest teammate to himself, Starlight. Nothing was left for Barnacle to do but to sink.
    Like a stone he submerged into the murky depths. His teammates could do nothing more than watch in horror as the youngest member of their team disappeared into the depths. Province attempted in vain to cast his forcefield into the blackness and fish his young charge from the depths. He’d lost teammates before, but none so young, none so full of life and promise. Starlight hung there in Bellfrey’s grasp unable to respond. She could not believe her friend was gone and that the last words exchanged between them were harsh ones. A feeling overcame Bellfrey, which he thought he’d never again feel,…loneliness. Since he’d been dropped off at Department H, he’d had one thing he could count on, Barnacle had always been there to listen to him when he was feeling like something less than human. Only Barnacle had truly understood him. Only Barnacle had sympathized, and now his confidant was gone.

    Below:

    Darkness closed in around him in an instant. Barnacle had managed to fill his lungs before his head sank below the water’s surface. He flailed his arms and kicked his feet frantically in a vain attempt to resurface himself. He’d been a decent swimmer before his change. In fact he’d spent the majority of his summers on the waters of Bayou Teche near his home in Louisiana. How he longed to be there now.
    Barnacle’s lungs began to burn, bringing him back to the horrifying reality of his impending death. They begged him to take a deep draught. He fought the urge as his feet sank into the mucky bottom of the lake. Barnacle knew he couldn’t make it to the water’s edge on what little oxygen remained in his aching lungs. Still, he attempted to work past the pain, for he knew it was his only chance of surviving. He didn’t want to die like this cold, alone, and miles from home and family in a dark watery grave. The force of Barnacle’s will, alone would not be enough. Eventually his body would let the force of nature take over and he would succumb to the need to take a breath.
    He opened his mouth as the last of his oxygen was spent. Small bubbles wobbled towards the lake’s placid surface, longing to be freed from this watery tomb. His diaphragm expanded pulling the cold water into the lobes of his lungs. For a moment Barnacle waited for his organ systems to begin shutting down. A moment later his diaphragm was pushing the water from his lungs and drawing another drink into his chest. He didn’t quite understand what was happening, but he knew he was not dying. Somehow his lungs were filtering the dissolved oxygen from the lake’s cool waters. Somehow he was surviving.

    Meanwhile:

    “We’ve breached the energy field,” Province snapped into business mode again. “Let’s head for the island. If they know we’re coming we’re better off fighting on solid ground.” Province began swimming for the shore. Bellfrey hovered above him, ensuring they would fight as a unit if molested before reaching the sandy beach surrounding the island.
    Once ashore Province addressed his companions. “We need to concentrate on the mission. Barnacle knew there would be risks. He was willing to make the sacrifice for the team, for the Hudson children, and for the country.”
    “But he wasn’t even Canadian! And he was too young to truly know the risks. What twelve year old do you know thinks he can die?” Bellfrey attacked his leader. “He was just a kid and now he’ll never see his family again. You concentrate on that!”
    “He’s gone! I wish I could change it, but I can’t,” Province shot back with a hint of anger in his voice. Was he angry with Bellfrey, though, or was it himself he was displeased with? He’d told himself it wouldn’t happen again on his watch. He’d told himself he wouldn’t risk his teammates’ lives unnecessarily. Now he had to tell himself he had failed and a boy would never see his mother again as a result. Something he had longed for all of his life, a family, he had just destroyed with his carelessness. He had led them headlong into the energy field. He had failed to make sure the path to the island lay unobstructed before casting his team headlong into danger. But now he had more important business to take care of than beating himself up. “We’ve a job to do. The country and more importantly the Hudson children are depending on us.”
    “Quite touching!” a voice chuckled behind them. “We were hoping for the Hudson brat and his parents, but we’re sure you’ll do nicely. They’ll have to come for all of their children eventually,” the lavender skinned assailant stated. “Too bad about your friend, but at least he’ll be spared your fate.”
    Province wheeled around to meet the gaze of his opponent. “It doesn’t have to go down like this Jeb,” Province attempted to negotiate. “Just let the kids go and we’ll be on our way. You don’t really want to do this.”
    “We are the Purple King and we will do whatever we wish,” Jebediah Knapp assured the trio. “The Hudson’s have been a thorn in the side of my family for too long. Promising them jobs and a home when all along they were ours to take. We have the power. We do not depend on the weak. We prey on them. And when they are used up we discard them.” A massive purple skinned brute stepped onto the beach behind the Purple King. “Meet the Harbinger of the Purple King. It is at his hand you shall fall.” The hulking behemoth sauntered forward to press the attack.
    “Looks like it’s game time Alpha. Form on me!” Province ordered. “Let’s see if this cretin lives up to his billing. Bellfrey press him from above. Starlight keep him occupied, but don’t let him get his mitts on you. And I’ll punch his dance card.”
    Bellfrey dogged the purple brute, diving and swooping at him, but the Harbinger paid him no heed. Rather he marched forward to engage the ground dwellers in a melee. Starlight was the first to reach him. She too darted in and around the hulking mammoth slowing his pursuit. Several times Harbinger swept a meaty paw in her direction, but she adeptly dodged them with little effort. Finally, Province arrived tossing a solid force shield in the direction of the beast. The maple shield caused a small stutter in the Harbinger’s step, but he was far from reeling from its effects. The brute simply grinned and closed on the team’s leader.
    Harbinger pressed his attack on Province bashing his lavender cudgels into the shimmering forcefield. “Can’t hurt what you can’t touch, Grape Ape!” Province harried his assailant. The giant only intensified his attack grappling the crimson chief. He began to squeeze Province in an attempt to crush his forcefield. Province struggled, but was unable to break the viselike grip.
    Starlight closed to aid her leader. She pummeled Harbinger with a hundred blows before the behemoth even knew she was there. He was weakening, but in the instant he realized he was under attack he turned the tables, unleashing his power. Starlight froze in her tracks as a lavender hue swept across her flesh. Harbinger was not a victim of the Purple King’s pheremones as they had suspected. Rather he was a part of the entity.
    “We’ve grown since last we met, Province,” the Purple King harassed Alpha Flight’s leader. “It seems dear old daddy left me a legacy, too. Ha! Ha! Ha!” he burst into laughter. “And since I’m tiring of this fracas I shall end it.” He rose his hand and immediately Bellfrey and Province lost their ability to exercise free will.

    Aboard the Alphajet:

    Ten minutes had passed since he screamed out his warning. Ten minutes of feverish toil to bring communications with his field team back on line. His neural interface with the Alphajet allowed him to run diagnostics and evaluate system performance at the speed of thought. Still, he’d run the diagnostics and run them again, yet no system failure could be detected. Communications on all portable comm-links had been terminated when the energy field was breached.
    “Lost communications with the team when they hit that second energy field,” Flex mumbled to himself. “I should have seen it long before they hit it. It’s almost like it popped up right in front of them as if someone was...”
    A heavy hand slapped on Flex’s shoulder, squeezing him tightly in its grip. Instinctively he “flexed” the skin in his shoulder. Needle sharp spikes shot through the intruding mitt, but the grip did not break. Flex turned to face his assailant only to be startled by the visage before him. His attacker lacked consistent form, rather he flowed from one shape into another. Where Flex expected to see a man all that was present was an amethyst, amorphous blob. The creature’s appendage began spreading down Flex’s arm and onto his chest. A feeling of numbness, rivaling a shot of novacaine, spread with the gelatinous ghoul’s touch. Flex slashed at the tentacle with his free hand “flexing it into a sharp blade. The gooey limb splashed to the floor as Flex’s attack severed it completely from its body.
    “Yes. We were expecting you,” a violet skinned man stated from the cargo hold. “I am the Purple King’s Oracle and you have met Pawn. We have been sent to finish off Department H’s little task force and make sure that you aren’t able to call in reinforcements.”
    “It’ll take more than you and Mr. Jello to take me out,” Flex accepted their challenge. “Alpha Flight won’t go down so easily.”
    With a catlike agility the blob bounded forward coating Flex with its gelatinous touch. He contracted his entire body in response to the vile touch, shooting spikes in every direction. In an instant it was over. Flex’s entire body had gone numb, but he wasn’t beaten yet. His neural net flared. Immediately Alphajet defense systems responded.
    Oracle slid his violet paws across the control panels. “We thought you might try that,” he stated matter-of-factly. The control panel illuminated with his caress. Purple lights soon flashed throughout the cabin as Oracle released nanites into the Alphajet’s controls. “Nothing mechanical can resist our will,” Oracle laughed. “I bet you weren’t expecting that!”
    “And I bet you weren’t expecting this,” a huge chitinous fist struck Oracle from the open doorway. The violet intruder crumpled under blow. “Ooh! I bet that hurt! I always knew you highbrow types had glass jaws,” Barnacle chuckled as he stood gloating over his fallen opponent. “Now to take care of the slime ball.”
    “Come and get me, Slimey!” he tried to lure the creature away from Flex. The Pawn didn’t move. Instead he sent a spasm through Flex’s body shooting a lance in Barnacle’s direction. Barnacle dodged to avoid the attack, but the blow glanced off of his left shoulder, chipping the scale, which he’d grown used to protecting him. His scaly hide was tough, but apparently Flex’s metallic flesh was harder. The pink skin of his shoulder presented a stark contrast to his grey-green scale, highlighting his now vulnerable spot. Barnacle dove for cover as Pawn attempted another barrage.
    Just then the Alphajet’s monitors sprang to life. “FEEDBACK” they all screamed.
    Their meaning was lost on the youth for a moment. “What the heck does H want feedback now for? They couldn’t have picked a worse time for a mission update.”
    Again the monitors flash to life. “SHOCK IT!” It was Flex. Even without control of his body his mind remained that of a veteran warrior. He’d battle to the death and educate his charges until his last breath was ripped from his body.
    Barnacle rolled to the console and smashed his fist into the control module. Sparks shot across the panel and up the length of Flex’s neural cable. Flex was no longer under the sway of the Pawn, however, the surge of power was enough to knock him unconscious as well.
    Barnacle scraped the gelatinous Pawn off of his comrade and attempted to right him. Flex’s breathing was shallow. Apparently he should have paid more attention during Flex’s debriefings on the Alphajet, but he never thought they’d actually let him work the controls. If he had known how to control the feedback Flex might be able to help him now. Instead Flex was the one in need of help. Barnacle secured his captives and moved Flex into the medi-lab. Hopefully, it would be enough to sustain him until Barnacle could return with help.

  14. #14
    Alpha Flight

    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana
    Posts
    550

    Default Chapter 7

    Second Flight
    Chapter 7
    "In Dreams..."

    The 4.15 from Calgary screeched into the station. Sliding doors opened with
    a pneumatic hiss and passengers spilled onto the platform, the throng
    already breaking up as groups and individuals sought their own means of
    egress. Heaving her travel case with both hands, Aimee Comeaux shouldered
    her way through the close press of bodies. Hours in a cramped compartment
    with a garrulous codger enroute toToronto had kept her wide awake for most
    of the trip. Now, she wanted nothing more than a cup of hot chocolate and a
    good sleep. Still, there was the trip to be made to Department H.
    She managed to find purchase on the already crowded escalator and rode it up
    to the main foyer of the station. Heat washed over her as she walked out
    into the sunlight. The sky was cloud heavy and it was uncharacteristically
    humid for this time of year. Used to the air conditioned environs of the
    train and station, her skin crawled at the film of moist heat that suddenly
    enveloped her. She shrugged off her official 'H' jacket and sought the
    nearest public phone.
    Her bed was only a phone call away, she consoled herself.
    A woman's voice answered the call.
    "Lilli? Hi! It's Aimee. I'm back!"
    "Aimee? Oh-" A pause - longer than needed to catch a breath. Something was
    wrong.
    "What is it?" Aimee asked.
    Lilli spoke again, her voice heavy with concern. "Aimee - I'm afraid we have
    some bad news."
    A cold sliver slid down Aimee's spine. "What is it? What?" she said, barely
    able to control her feelings.
    "Team Beta was deployed on a mission earlier today. We've lost radio contact."
    Clenching her teeth to force back the cry of anguish welling within her,
    Aimee injected calm into her voice. "My brother. Is he-"
    "He was on the mission," Lilli's voice broke in a sob. "Adrian too."
    Adrian Corbo, her partner, was Strategic Commander of the Flight. "How long
    ago?" Aimee asked. "When did we lose contact?"
    "Over an hour ago."
    "What about the Alpha team?"
    "They're in Medical - on another mission. I don't know the full story -
    something to do with the sleeping plague that's hit us."
    "Send someone to pick me up," Aimee told her, fighting the rising tide of
    panic she felt. "Don't worry, Lilli. They'll be alright."
    It was the right thing to say, inane though it sounded, and she wished for
    all the world that she was convinced of it herself.

    Judd was the first to notice the shaking. It began as a mild tremor that
    gripped his son's shoulders, and then traveled down the length of his body,
    a slight shudder that would not have meant anything if Ramsay Judd was not
    lying prone on the table, his mind and spirit elsewhere.
    "What is it?" Judd asked moving to Ramsay's side.
    "What is what?" Lita Wu said, turning from where she had been monitoring the
    life signs of the six sleepers.
    "He shivered," Judd said, gently cupping one broad paw over Ramsay's forehead.
    "Probably just a muscle twitch," Lita said. "The sensors don't show anything
    out of the ordinary. For all intents and purposes, they're in REM sleep."
    "There!" Judd exclaimed.
    This time, Lita Wu joined him at Ramsay's side. "I saw it too." She leaned
    over the burly young man and checked the sensor pads attached to the sides
    of his skull, then glanced up at the monitor hooked to his bed. "Sensors are
    registering nothing. Odd." She moved to the other sleepers, checking each
    one in turn. "Nothing," she reported at the end of her round.
    Judd's brow furrowed. "Still, I'd better make sure, eh?"
    He trotted across the room to where Elizabeth Twoyoungmen sat in her trance.
    Her lips moved in syncopation to the syllables of an ancient mystic chant.
    Judd hesitated a moment, then tentatively touched Elizabeth's shoulder.
    Her eyes fluttered open.
    "Everything ok?" Judd asked.
    Still chanting, Elizabeth gave him a slow nod.
    "It's just - Ramsay. I saw him twitching in his sleep."
    Elizabeth arched one eyebrow. Her eyes followed his to where Ramsay lay
    asleep. They widened in surprise.
    On all six monitors, the thin blue line that had until seconds ago
    maintained a steady rhythm danced maddeningly.
    "Judd!" Lita Wu's cry brought him scurrying back to his son's side.
    Ramsay Judd and the other Alphas shuddered in their sleep, spasms rocking
    their necks and faces.
    Judd bawled: "What's happening?"
    Lita Wu looked on helplessly as her charges convulsed beneath the covers.
    "Liz! Get them out!" Judd cried. "Now!"
    Elizabeth changed her chant - the new incantation taking on a more frenetic
    pitch, rising until it became a shrill, ear-splitting ululation.
    Still, the sleepers convulsed.
    "It's not working!" Lita shouted.
    Judd watched in horror as Dr. N'dele and other medics poured into the room
    and surrounded the sleepers. He felt himself callously pushed aside but knew
    better than to interfere. His son's life - and that of the other five heroes
    - lay in their hands, and in whatever magic Elizabeth Twoyoungmen wove.
    "Liz," he said, watching beads of sweat coalesce on her forehead. "Bring
    them back. Please."

    She soared through spirit realms. Free of the restraint of physical form,
    Elizabeth Twoyoungmen's journey transgressed boundaries of time and space.
    She was the Talisman, binder of spirits and magic, the prophesied messiah of
    ancient Sarcee legend who had time and again saved the world from the evil
    waiting in the darker planes.
    Now she followed the glowing skeins of spirit energies that marked the
    passage of the five sleepers into the Dreamqueen's world. Guided by her
    magic, they had traveled far. She was awed by their courage and
    determination. She had been about Ramsay's age when she first donned the
    mystical talisman of her birthright and, while at first heady with the power
    that it gave her, was quick to reject it when she found the legacy and
    responsibility too much for her young mind.
    For these six young heroes, however, there had never been any doubt. They
    were born for this. This was their legacy, as much as the talisman had been
    hers.
    She sensed that she was close. Already, she could discern a landscape
    beneath her - rolling hills, craggy mountains, verdant plains and gleaming
    rivers. It was a topography directly out of Celtic mythology - the Wild
    Lands of Tir Na Nog. So this was where the Dreamqueen had retreated.
    Her spirit form dove, following the skeins.
    Golden light flashed near some kind of castle. There was no mistaking the glow.
    A scene she could never have imagined in her wildest dreams unfolded before
    her as she approached. In battle were the six Alphas - and what appeared to
    be other Alphas. She gasped when she recognised the others: among them stood
    the man who had been her father, until his death years ago. With him was
    another Alpha who had long since departed the physical plane. Two others
    completed the quartet: a woman who in her reality now headed Department H,
    and a man who, in her world, was the Deputy Minister of Defense. With them
    was a young woman she did not recognise. Scantily clad in leather and a
    heavy, orange-furred cloak, the stranger sported a head-dress from which
    sprouted two long, curved horns, reminiscent of the head covering favoured
    by the Dreamqueen.
    But this child was not the Dreamqueen.
    She saw that Ramsay was in full offensive mode, directing the power of his
    suit against the ersatz Northstar. Wildheart and Solstice were desperately
    fending off man-sized wooden effigies summoned by the abomination that wore
    the form of her father. The robot-warrior known as Box had paired with the
    behemoth, Kodiak, in a fight against the fur-clad daemoness, while -
    Elizabeth felt her gut clench at this sight - battled the duplicate of his
    own mother with tooth and claw.
    She descended over the battlefield. This realm was ripe with arcane
    energies; she could feel the ebb and flow of power coursing through her
    body. The experience was invigorating.
    "Need a hand?" she called.
    "Talisman!" GV2 cried. "How'd you-" Northstar's sucker punch caught him in
    the jaw. Elizabeth knew that what she saw as one blow was in fact a dozen or
    more, all landing in the same spot in the span of an eyeblink. Ramsay
    reeled, spitting blood and fragments of chipped teeth.
    "Enough of this!" Elizabeth shouted. Her arms sprang outwards; her mystical
    senses reached for invisible weave that held this realm together. With one
    thought, she brought the magic of the realm under her control.
    GV2 gasped as his pock-marked tormentor abruptly vanished. The others were
    expressing similar reactions as their opponents too disappeared.
    Only the orange-cloaked daemoness remained.
    "Oh poo!" she pouted. Glancing accusingly up at Elizabeth, she scolded:
    "Spoil sport!"
    "Now, now," Elizabeth said as she touched down. "Play nice."
    The daemon child sniffed. The Alphas exchanged confused glances. "What in
    the samhill is goin' on?" Kodiak drawled.
    "Yeah," Wildheart agreed. "What just happened?"
    "Ask her," was all Elizabeth would say.
    They turned to the daemoness. She smiled coyly, nibbling on the tip of her
    llittlest finger. "Sorry," she said. "Just thought I'd have a bit of fun. It
    gets so boring here."
    "Fun?" GV2 blurted. "I'll show ya fun-"
    Thick metal-cold fingers clamped hard on his shoulder. "Hey!" Box's electric
    rumble buzzed near his ear. "Be nice. We don't know where we are or who
    we're dealin' with."
    "We're in the Dreamqueen's realm, right?" Solstice said. "That's where you
    sent us, was it not, Elizabeth?"
    Nodding, Elizabeth added: "But it looks like the Dreamqueen isn't here. Is
    she?" she looked reproachfully at the daemoness.
    "Uh-" the young woman said. "No."
    "If you're not the Dreamqueen, then who are you?" said Wildheart.
    "I'm what's remained of a bad dream someone had a long time ago," the daemon
    child said. "She died. Well, sort of. But I remained. I don't know why. But
    I found myself here, and the Dreamqueen, bless her shrivelled black heart,
    decided to keep me."
    "And you have tormented the poor inhabitants of this realm since then?"
    Whitehawk asked angrily. He'd been silent since the dream-construct that was
    his mother vanished. The shock of having to fight what he had thought to be
    his own mother had taken a long time to subside.
    "They aren't real in the first place," the daemoness shot back defensively.
    "None of this is. Even you're not real." A couple of steps took her up
    against GV2. Her fingers gently caressed his chest. He flinched. "Thought I
    wish you were," she purred.
    "What she says is true, guys," Elizabeth said. "Your bodies - the physical
    manifestation of your beings - remain back in Department H. You exist here
    only as spirit energies."
    "Then why-?"
    "Why do you have physical form? The same reason I do. We all carry an image
    of ourselves in our heads. Here, in the Dreamqueen's world, that image finds
    physical realisation. But it's only dreamstuff, concocted by your minds.
    Nothing is real."
    "Then I bet that daemon-girl here isn't real either," Wildheart sneered as
    she sneaked up to the daemoness.
    "I am," the daemoness maintained. "Leastways, as real as I want to."
    "Where is the Dreamqueen?" Elizabeth asked. "We're looking for her."
    "She's not here. Never been for a long time."
    "Ah," Elizabeth said, as if that one exclamation held all the answers they
    sought.
    "What?" Ramsay asked.
    "She speaks the truth," Elizabeth explained. "It's likely that the
    Dreamqueen has not been ruler of this land for a long time. Remember the
    dream you and the others had."
    How could they forget? The purple robots? The desperate fight to save
    Ramsay's younger brothers and sisters.
    "We're in the wrong place," Whitehawk said suddenly. "For all the pain, for
    all the soul-torment we've been through, we've landed in the wrong realm."
    "Maybe not-" Elizabeth said. "Maybe we can salvage something out of this."
    She turned to the daemoness. "So, you like running this place, huh?"
    The daemon-child nodded. "Yeah. It's fun. Sort of!"
    "Well, how about we cut a deal?"
    Ramsay turned to her, aghast. "Cut a deal? With her? Are you out of your mind?"
    Elizabeth gave him a tired look. "Sometimes, Ram, you have to make friends
    with your enemy's enemy if you want to get at them."
    "Crap," Ramsay shot back.
    "Hey," Wildheart cut in. "I want to hear what Talisman's got to say."
    Ramsay whirled angrily, a smart retort on the tip of his tongue. But he
    forced it back. She was co-leader and, much as he disliked the idea of
    consorting with this daemoness, perhaps there was some merit in Talisman's
    idea. "Alright," he sighed. "I'll hear ya out."

    Abe Reilly clambered to the summit of the grassy hill and gasped at the
    beauty that surrounded him. Here was raw, primal nature as far as the eye
    could see: hills rolled towards the treacherous purple crags that scored the
    sunset skies. In another direction, the land stretched towards the roaring
    ocean. Birds whirled in the air, soaring on imagined thermals. He wondered
    if they had been created by the daemon queen, or if they were the dream
    constructs of real birds, much like he was a dream construct of his sleeping
    mind.
    He sighed, looking down at himself. Here he was, inexplicably in a dream
    world, in a body created by his own mind, and he still looked the same as he
    did in life. Why couldn't his imagination have given him something better,
    or at least some clothes that wouldn't tear or rip if he exerted himself in
    any manner?
    "Hey bud!" Box's metallic voice called from behind. "Penny for your thoughts?"
    Abe turned. Sunlight glinted off the robot's metal frame. Funny how JJ
    manifested himself here in his Box form, he thought. Maybe that's how he
    sees himself.
    "Whassup?" Abe said.
    "Nothing much. I got asked to call you back."
    "Yeah? They ready, eh?"
    "As much as they ever will be," Box replied.
    Abe shrugged his massive shoulders. "Okay, let's go."

    Ilyanna looked at the seven gathered in the hall of her castle. She'd grown
    quite fond of them in the time since she met them. Being a Daemon Queen of
    an ersatz Limbo was intensely isolating. This must've been what the
    Dreamqueen felt all that time ago. Imprisoned in a world where she had
    complete dominion, yet aware that everything around her was never real.
    Power without anyone real to lord over. That was her prison. That was her
    punishment.
    "I'm going to miss you," she said. "Especially you," she told GV2 and
    giggled when the burly young man blushed.
    "Thanks for your cooperation," the woman called Talisman said. Ilyanna
    sensed much power in her - truth be told, she was rather afraid of this
    entity, though she would never openly admit it.
    "Drop in anytime," she said and smiled.
    "Alright folks," Elizabeth said. "Gather 'round."
    They pressed in around her. She threw a handful of sparkling dust in the
    air. The motes glimmered like starlight. Air whooshed in their ears, rising
    in force and pitch until they felt themselves propelled off the ground.
    "We're outta here!"

    Again they soared through a mercurial sea of colours, textures, lights. An
    astral wind whipped at their hair and faces, but it was neither a cold wind,
    nor a warm one; neither strong, nor slight. They felt everything and
    nothing: like a dream that seemed so real yet so ephemeral.
    "We're getting close," Elizabeth warned. "I'm gonna have to leave you soon.
    I'm needed back at 'H' to bring you out of your trances once this is over."
    Ramsay nodded. "Thanks, Talisman."
    "You remember what I told you back at Ilyanna's lair?"
    "Yuh. We're in the Dream lands. What we want, we make."
    "Good. Your father spent some time in the dreamlands too," Elizabeth told
    him. "He learned to make and unmake the material there."
    Ramsay knew the story well. It was a long, long time ago. His father had
    been a prisoner of the Dreamqueen. He never really spoke of his ordeal, only
    the point when he had stumbled upon his mother and the rest of Alpha
    fighting dream creations concocted by some villain called the Sorceror, and
    how he'd use his control over dream matter to help his friends out.
    He suddenly felt Talisman's hand around his. "We're here," she said. "I must
    be going."
    She was already fading.

    Judd crashed exhausted onto his side of the bed. It had been two hours since
    his son and the other Alphas stopped quivering in their sleep. The monitors
    registered calm. Everything was back to normal, Dr. N'dele had declared.
    They were safe. Then, Elizabeth had returned and relayed what had happened.
    Judd listened, awed and afraid for his son. Still, they were Alpha, and they
    would prevail.
    Unconsciously, his hand moved to the other side of the bed. He missed his
    wife and ached so much to be with her in the hospital ward.
    So many things on his mind: Ramsay still in the dream lands, his other
    children still in the clutches of a mind-controlling madman, his wife dead
    to the world. He wanted to be beside Ramsay fighting the Dreamqueen, with
    the Beta team, coordinating the rescue of his children, next to Heather in
    the medical bay. But he was only one man with a huge responsibility. And
    that often meant casting aside his personal needs for the needs of others.
    And right now, he wouldn't be much use unless he caught a few hours of sleep.
    Rolling on his back, Judd languidly struggled out of his uniform. He stifled
    and yawn and blinked back the tears that rushed into his eyes. He hardly had
    time to kick his clothes from the bed before sleep claimed him.
    And in his sleep, he dreamed of happier times.

  15. #15
    Alpha Flight

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    Default Chapter 8

    2nd Flight Chapter 8

    "Six As One"
    by
    Del ' THe Ancient One' Robinson
    ========================
    There is nothing glorious in death, if you charge a fox hole and clear the
    way for comrades then your death is brave, but not glorious, at the end of
    this series of events you are still dead. Kodiak's death was grotesque, he
    and his comrades had charged the citadel housing the Dreamqueen and her
    cohorts. It had been easy to find, standing like an accusing finger on the
    barren landscape. The Dreamqueen's ebony warriors had charged towards the
    oncoming members of Alpha Flight and battle had been met. Carving a path
    of carnage through the ebony warriors, Kodiak had almost reached the
    citadel, but maybe the euphoria of getting so far had blunted his fighting
    prowess, he had not seen the ebony warrior swing the axe which had buried
    itself in his chest, all he felt was sudden pain and the scraping of metal
    against bone as the axe was withdrawn, he collapsed yards from the citadel
    gates, his life's blood ebbing into the dust and dirt.

    The four airbourne Alphans had seen their friend fall, they believed him to
    have slipped, but from their points of conflict their view had been
    clouded, it was only as they landed near the body one by one that they
    realised he had died. While grounded, the flying Alphan's fighting skills
    were impaired and they felt themselves pressed by the Dreamqueen's hordes,
    maybe it was the pressing horde or maybe the shock at seeing their fallen
    comrade, but one by one the team fell, first Solstice in her light form was
    absorbed by a warrior, the absorbtion expanded his body and any witness to
    the event would have said that when he exploded shards of light flew from
    his body, to fly briefly and then fall independently to the ground where
    they faded and dissolved, Box and GV2 fought back to back, exhausting their
    weaponary to the never diminishing horde, eventually telling blows told on
    Ramsey's battle suit and the power cell overheated and exploded causing a
    vortex that expanded and shrunk in the blink of an eye, Ramsey never felt
    anything as electrical impulses overloaded his nervous system and all
    biological functions ceased. The resulting discharge had cut a bloody
    swathe through the warriors, but had also damaged Box's circuits, the giant
    robot froze and stood statuesque as surrounding warriors rendered the
    metal man into numerous pieces, WhiteHawk had transformed into a mouse as
    the melee had started and retreated beyond the periphery of surrounding
    warriors, now pain hit every time he watched a comrade fall and fail to
    rise, his next transformation was an amalgamation of all the creatures he
    could imagine, ungoverned by thoughts and untempered by lessons learnt, the
    creature, for that was all WhiteHawk was now, lurched towards the
    triumphant warriors, a gutteral primal roar, unique in every way escaped
    from the creature's throat, warriors were torn to pieces as Whitehawk cut a
    bloody path through them, limbs and weapons seemed to fly in all directions
    as Whitehawk vented his anger and anguish on the perpertrators of his
    friend's demise. Primal anger can only drive a person so far, eventually
    inner turmoil and emotion is spent, the exhaustion of the release of such
    feelings is sudden and acute, WhiteHawk had managed to fight to his
    friend's bodies, but now he just collapsed, tears came to his eyes and all
    ideas of fight left him, the surviving warriors were not governed by
    emotions, so their retribution on the prostrate form was the same as it
    would have been if the savage onslaught had never taken place.

    Sabra Gibney had watched in horror as one by one her comrades had fallen,
    they had charged the citadel from the front as she had used her stealth to
    approach from the rear. She had paused to watch the fight when she had
    seen Kodiak die, now alone and grieving, she moved up the turret steps
    towards the voices she heard.
    "The youths fought well, but the outcome was never in doubt"'
    "Father, my warriors are numerous and dispensible, it is a shame the youths
    had to die, they would have a welcome addtion to my army",
    Belasco and Nightmare turned towards the Dreamqueen,
    "Who's army Zhilla?",
    "Belasco, let's not quibble, my army, our army, it makes no difference, the
    main obstacle to our plans lay defeated on the battlefield, now our plans
    can come to fruition".
    It was then that Sabra struck, springing from the shadowed doorway that led
    to the balcony the triumverate had occupied to observe the battle, she
    launched herself directly at the Dreamqueen, attendant bodyguards were
    discarded over the balcony to crash as bundles of broken bones onto the
    battlefield below,
    "The Wild One, stop her",
    before Belasco could close his mouth on the last word,
    a flailing mass of nails and teeth tore into his body, major
    damage had been done before the newly conjurred ebony warriors dragged the
    snarling form from his damaged body.
    "Deal with him and bring that forward",
    thrown down before the Dreamqueen, Wildheart stared at her adversary with
    hate in her eyes,
    "So violent my child, I'm sorry about your friends, but they presented me
    with a challenge, now I offer you a chance to live, swear allegiance to us
    and live, if not I can only offer death",
    "You can shove your allegiance right up your..",
    Before she had a chance to finish, a glance passed from the Dreamqueen to
    one of the present warriors, an axe swung and the question of allegiance
    had been resolved. The Dreamqueen, with Nightmare in attendance,
    approached the edge of the balcony,
    "Victory is ours, you have done well",
    she held out her hand and a spear was passed to her, she thrust it once
    into the air, the piked head of Sabra Gibney stared down with dead eyes
    onto the triumphant mass below.

    Eugene Judd was awoken by prodding arms,
    "Sorry to trouble you sir, but I was asked to bring you to the med lab
    immediately",
    "Whats the problem",
    "I don't know sir, I was asked to get you, that's all I know".
    Judd rushed throught the corridors of Department H and entered the med lab
    amidst a flurry of activity,
    "What's happening Lits?",
    "I don't know Judd, upto about ten minutes ago all the Alpha members were
    in what could be considered normal REM sleep, but over a period of two to
    three minutes they all lapsed into what can only be described as a form of
    catatonia, even with all the magics and medicines at our disposal I doubt
    if we could wake them",
    "What about Talisman, couldn't she go back in and find out what is
    happening?",
    "Not for at least another couple of hours, she needs rest, Judd, the last
    time took a lot out of her, sending her back now would not help, we will
    just have to try and keep them stable and hope whatever is causing this can
    be rectified".

    The Past.
    The girl laughed as her father spun her about his head, the two grey
    streaks in his hair seemed to reflect the sun as they both fell laughing to
    the ground, only four years old, the full impact of what happened next did
    not really hit home for a few more years, by then she had learnt of her
    father's fate and was putting plans for revenge into fruition. One minute
    they had been laughing on the ground, the next she was alone as her father
    suddenly dissapeared, a plopping sound the only indication that something
    amiss had occured.

    Ten years later with the onset of puberty, some understanding of her
    father's disappearence became clearer to her, the ability to summon
    facsimiles of herself from out of time and dimension manifested and ideas
    floated and formulated in her head. For the next two years she drew
    versions of herself from different worlds and times in her search for an
    answer to her father's disappearence. One day her search came to an end as
    she drew a man to her world, a man who spoke of a great battle between two
    teams, a battle in which a man who could have been her father was killed by
    a metal construct after he had been thrust in front of it to protect a
    woman named Delphine. Before she released the man and sent him back, she
    made him promise that he would one day draw her to this world where she
    could learn more and perhaps revenge herself on her father's killers.

    Just as Sabra Gibney was first manifesting her mutant abilities a, dying
    man fulfilled a promise he had made to a young woman on a different world,
    using the last of his strength he summoned a multitude of versions of
    himself, none to stay bar one, as the last facsimile had been returned
    to his own place, the remaining one, a woman mouthed a silent thank you and
    watched as the man succumbed.

    The next four years was spent settling into her life, she had read of the
    second manifestation of the flight years before, but no mention of them
    since she had arrived, she began to doubt that her plans would come to
    fruition and wondered if all her effort had been a waste, but recent events
    had rekindled her goals. Stories had appeared, a man in an updated
    Guardian suit fighting against a group of people including an
    undernourished burger eating fiend, the Wendigo being defeated by a giant
    and people rescued, plus other stories, if ,as now seemed to be the case, a
    new flight had been formed then it was time to start bringing her plot
    together. There were people to be contacted and a group to form, it was
    time a new Omega Flight flew.

    Now

    The Dreamqueen smiled, here in her private chambers she had time to reflect
    on how well her plan had come, the youths of Alpha were dead, Belasco
    severely injured and her father impotent in the ways of conquest, without
    her he would revert to type, content to plague the dreams of mortals. For
    the present she was happy to bask in her victory. A rapping at the door
    drew her from her thoughts,
    "Who is it?",
    Nightmare entered her chamber,
    "Daughter, is that any way to talk to your father?",
    "What do you want?",
    "I just wanted to show you this",
    Nightmare stared at a portion of the wall and to Dreamqueen's amazement
    the bricks and mortar seemed to waver then dissolve, a portal appeared with
    hills and greenery showing from the other side.
    "What?....",
    "Don't question daughter, come....look",
    Nightmare took his daughter's arm, a little most forcibly then she would
    have liked, but her curiosity regarding her father's new found powers
    momentarily stopped any protestation.
    "Why father, you must have been practicing, new tricks from an old dog, I'm
    impressed",
    Nightmare led her through the portal and alarm briefly flashed across her
    face as it closed behind them.
    "Father, what ?.........",
    but her father was no longer there.
    "Welcome back mistress",
    "DAEMON CHILD!!, whats going on?",
    Illyana grinned, waved an arm and spun in a semi circle, inviting the
    Dreamqueen to take in all the dimension that she now found herself in,
    "Mistress, please let me explain, a long time ago you made this place, you
    then left me alone to fend for myself, recently visitors came, Alpha Flight
    came and gave me company and friendship, they also promised that if they
    could find a way to bring you here so I could pay you the courtesy you paid
    me, they would. Obviously they have kept their word,.........oh by the
    way, don't try your petty powers here, this is my realm now, your absence
    has given me time to learn, I control this place and as such I control you,
    now please go away",

    "Dopple gangers?",
    "Yea, we remembered what you had said about your time in the realm and
    worked out a plan to use what you said to defeat the Dreamqueen".
    It had only been a few hours since Lita Wu and summoned Judd with the news
    that his wife and other sleeping sickness sufferers had awoken, the six
    members of Alpha were still asleep, but their condition had stabilised, it
    wasn't until they woke and the de-brief had finished that Judd realised
    that all the training and anguish the team had been through had payed off.
    With the threat of the Dreamqueen momentarily halted, Department H had
    turned all it's resources to the search for the Purple King, Beta Flight
    and his children, now however he took a brief timeout with his son.
    Walking through the grounds of Department H he couldn't help but have
    Ramsey run through the recent events again,
    "Didn't you think that perhaps she might know what you were doing?",
    "It did cross our minds, but with it being her realm, we realised she would
    probably be over confident, all we did was conjure our Dopplegangers, let
    them die gloriously in battle and then hit her hard while her guard was
    dropped. It's a strange thing seeing yourself die, even if it is only a
    copy of yourself, Sabra found it hardest of all, it must be disconcerting
    to see your head on a pole",
    "What about Nightmare and Belasco",
    A grin broke across Ramseys face,
    "I guess if Nightmare and Dreamqueen meet again, he's gonna have to explain
    why he sent her to Illyana's realm, which he didn't, we did and Belasco is
    gonna have to take a time out to let his wounds heal",
    Their walk had bought them to a part of the grounds infrequently visited,
    an unkempt cross, leaning slightly to the left poked out above rampant
    weeds,
    "Who was he, dad"?
    "We never really found out, he saved Radius and we all thought it was
    Walter, but when Walter returned we got caught up in other things and never
    took time to find out, any records were destroyed during Zodiac's attack,
    but one day when things are quieter I might do a little digging and given
    that he died the way he did, it would only be right that he was known as
    something other than Sasquatch Two,.......anyway that's by the by, let's go
    and eat, maybe there will be some news".

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