The Breaking

Season 3 Issue 1 - Crash Landing

It has been months since the Shadow Invasion. The world is still rebuilding after the traumatic attack. All over the world people had been taken over by the shades of another universe. Chaos and riots had occurred as the masses thought the end of the world was surely upon them. But with the help of the various heroes around the world, Paranormal or not, order was restored and things went back to normal. As normal as it gets in this crazy world.

When Eldritch cast his spell worldwide, the shades in the sky and the majority of shades possessing people dissipated. But not all of them. There have been sightings around the world of individuals with faces half covered in darkness. These reports haven’t been substantiated, but the rumors persist.

AEGIS had under their custody four of the five invaders, Rebound (Bouncer’s double), Unity (Collective’s double), Roman (Spartan’s double), and Wildcard (Wildheart’s double). Radiant (Firework’s double) has been M.I.A. since the shades were exorcised. AEGIS thoroughly interrogated the prisoners, who held nothing back.

They said that one day they were in their Lair, inside the Nevernever, recuperating after a mission. Alarms started to blare all over and their Caretaker doubled over in pain. He told them he could feel the universe dying.

Radiant and Caretaker combined their powers for a hail mary. They couldn’t save their universe, but they tried to save their world. Radiant’s sparks absorbed the very souls of the people of his world. One spark for one soul. The white sparks that surrounded Radiant turned black. As their world was torn asunder, Radiant and Caretaker leapt back into the Nevernever, just in time.

Their world…their reality was gone.

Radiant knew about the multiverse. He knew the dangers of dimension hopping. He theorized, though, that if he could find a “compatible world”, one that wouldn’t reject them, they could colonize it.

The team went back and forth for a long time, debating on whether what they were doing was moral. They finally agreed that they had a responsibility to their world, to their people. They would bring back their world, at any cost.

Radiant sent “scouts” out into the multiverse. They would posses unsuspecting individuals and creatures, who in turn would go out in search of a reality that wouldn’t reject them.

AEGIS realized that because the team was able to defeat all the shadow-possessed invaders, they shadows were never able to report back. Until the shadow that had possessed Cerberus Rex survived the encounter. Once it discovered that this reality didn’t reject it, it reported back to Radiant, who then plotted out the invasion.

The prisoners said they didn’t know where Radiant had gone. They didn’t know anything about what happened to him once his sparks were exorcised. They seem to have given up all hope.

Caretaker reported to the team that it would take him a while to rebuild The Lair. The fight between him and the other Caretaker had been brutal. Speaking of, the Caretaker of the dead universe was turned over to the Council of Caretakers. They would be dealing with him soon enough.

Bouncer has had various meetings with various members of AEGIS. He has briefed AEGIS as much as he could about what had happened during the battle, and how they were able to stop the invaders. He told them a good amount about what he knew, but made sure to keep the secret of The Lair, the Nevernever, and the Caretaker.

Bouncer is summoned by Jackson. Jackson tells Bouncer about his latest project. Jackson has been able to more or less perfect the multidimensional transporter. He has gone to a few different realities, done a bit of exploring, and returned…mostly unscathed. He’s wants to explore more, and thinks he can figure out a way to keep from having a reality reject him. But he’s worried that if AEGIS finds out what he’s been doing, they wouldn’t be pleased. Or worse, they would be pleased. Very very pleased.

Bouncer tells Jackson that the team will help him, but to keep it secret. He worries about what the government would do if they found out they had access to the multiverse.

Aurum was out of comission for about a week after the battle. He feels he used up a lot of reserve energy, and had very little of it the following week. Firework may or may not have found him to be a bit needy. After he got better, Aurum spent a good amount of time at AEGIS. Now that he and Dr. Brennan were on the board (along with Maximilian Mars and a few others) they’ve been very busy. He often was away from the team for a good amount of time due to the bureaucracies involved in running a government agency.

Aurum uses his political savviness to make connections, acquire favors, and helps promote the importance of freedom for the Paranormal population. He helps Dr. Brenanna immensely. Though intelligent, she wasn’t accustomed to navigating the shark infested pool that is politics. But Aurum is pleased to find out that when push comes to shove, Dr. Brennan is able to hold her own and stands up to those who didn’t believe she should be around.

Jesuit has been volunteering more and more at the Church of Jesus Christ Paranormal in San Jose. The church’s membership has exploded after the invasion, so much so that they moved to a bigger building than the community hall they were renting. Jesuit helps with security, and every once in awhile leads a sermon. He scans the crowds and is pleasantly surprised to see more and more people having true faith in the church.

He has been asked as well, to lead mass back in San Francisco. He is pleased, and a little amused, to see that membership in the Catholic Church has increased as well, and when he was on the docket to speak, the church tended to be filled to the brim.

His…friendship with Rosa also took a turn. They continued their dalliances through the months, until after a night together, she told him that she had been accepted to join another AEGIS Paranormal team. With her knowledge and Power Armor, and with the good word that War gave, she would be joining the Freedom City team, The Freedom League. Jesuit was pleased by her apparent redemption, but wasn’t too saddened by her leave.

War had spent the months training, and spending more time with Melody Mist. Melody, in turn, had spent time with Johnny 5 and learning more about the ins and outs of the his system. She contacted Jackson, because she wanted to learn more about Johnny 5’s systems. Jackson invites War to visit his lab, saying he has a proposition for him.

War brings Melody along, after she heavily implies that she wants to go. Together they go downstairs to Jackson’s lab. Jackson tells him he’s heard about his desire for a few…modifications and help in the field. He says he has some suggestions, but that he would need War’s approval.

When War asks what the modifications are, Jackson answers with one word, “Nanoblood.” War agrees to it, asks what he needs to do. That’s when Melody stabs him in the neck with an injector and knocks him out.

War wakes up to the sound of Jackson and Melody talking technobabble. He finds himself shirtless, strapped to a metal table, his arms covered in tubes. He sees a grey viscous fluid going into his right arm, while his left arm seems to be pumping out blood. He passes out.

When he wakes up fully, he feels fuzzy in the head, but his body feels electric. He stands up and asks what they did to him.

Jackson shoots him.

It hurts. It hurts alot. But in a few moments, War sees the bullet get pushed out of his skin (which hurts) and as he watches, the wound closes (which also hurts).

Jackson explains to him that he has given him a Nanoblood infusion. He now has a healing factor, as well as given the ability to survive certain environments that most humans wouldn’t be able to.

As War smiles, Jackson says, “You might want to stay away from Electromagnetic Pulses, though. Just in case.”

War can’t tell if Jackson is joking or not.

Wildheart’s life has gone through some changes as well. He has spent a fair amount of time training his protege, Juanito. Juanito has been diligently training with Wildheart, as well as with AEGIS and The Caretaker. Caretaker has also been working with Firework’s new step-sister, Heather. Together, they’ve been practicing using and controlling their abilities.

Wildheart has chosen a new codename for Juanito. He is now known as Luminous.

Wildheart has also had a change of heart when it came to his relationship. Brandon Peters, Wildheart’s one night stand turned beau, had gone through a tough time as of late. He had been one of the victims of the shadow invasion, having been possessed by a shade.

Brandon has revealed to the team that being possessed didn’t mean he was unconscious. He was completely self aware inside of his body, but unable to control it. The shade took complete control of his every action. Brandon, and anyone who had been possessed, was a passenger in their own body.

Brandon got therapy, along with some sessions with The Jesuit, trying to help him cope with the trauma. Jesuit found out that therapy patients rose dramatically after the Shadow Invasion.

Wildheart, for reasons of his own, broke up with Brandon. Wildheart told Brandon that he’d always be there for him, that if Brandon needed comfort or help, to just pick up the phone. But Wildheart had to go his own way.

Firework helped with the clean up, and assisted Aurum in during his convalescence, regardless of how…needy he was. After some time, Firework realized he needed to get away from it all. He needed to room to explore his powers and see what limits he had. He needed space.

And so, he went into space. Deep space. For several months.

He kept in touch to the team via his mental link with Aurum and explored the solar system. He went to various planets, saw things that (to his knowledge) no living human being has ever seen. It was beyond understanding, it was gorgeous, and it was breathtaking.

And then it got really, really boring.

Space is infinite, and a large chunk of it is emptiness. He may have seen things no-one else has ever seen, but after a while, it all started to blend together. He pushed himself to go as fast as he could, seeing how far out he could. He went to our neighboring galaxy, taking pictures along the way. He knew his friends at NASA would flip.

Just when he was wondering if he should turn around and start the journey home, he saw ran into something. Something he couldn’t see. He slammed into it, hard. It took him a few moments to regain his composure. It felt like a wall. An invisible shield? In the middle of space?

He spread his sparks out, surrounding the field, trying to see what shape it was. It was massive, to the point where his spark couldn’t spread out. It looked like it was spherical, but hard to tell. Firework tried to phase through, but couldn’t. He could see in the distance a planet. He couldn’t quite make it out, but there seemed to be…lights? Lights coming from the planet!

As Firework watched, a light did indeed come from the planet. It was hurtling towards him! He recalled his sparks, turned vaguely humanoid, and waited to greet whatever came at him.

He soon realized that inside the light was a humanoid figured, one in cased in blue armor. It zipped up to the edge of the forcefield and spoke. Even in the vacuum of space, and through the shield, Firework heard it. It spoke an alien language.

Firework responded, calling out his greetings, that he came from Earth and comes in peace. The figure made gestures that Firework should continue. Firework assumed he was trying to translate, so Firework spoke. And spoke, and talked more. Finally, the figure held up a hand for him to stop.

“What are you here doing?” the blue figure asked.

Firework told him, that he was an explorer, that he was the first of his kind to be this far out, and that he came in peace.

The blue armored figure said, “Did you bring rock with you? Is it yours?”

Firework didn’t understand. The figured pointed behind Firework. Firework turned around and saw, far far away, what looked like a comet, or meteor, headed their way. Firework heard a hum and crackle of electricity and saw that the blue armored figure had summoned an energy weapon made of blue light. Firework understood and said, “Hey! I can help!”

Firework charged at the incoming object. He saw that it was indeed a meteor, several dozen feet in length. In front of the giant boulder were four smaller ones. The big one seemed to be trailing the smaller ones. A group of asteroids were in the path of the rocks, and before they reached them, blasts of energy spewed out of the smaller rocks, destroying the asteroids and clearing the path!

Firework grabbed onto the biggest rock, having his sparks surround it, and slowly, with great effort, changed its course, turning the rock to very away from the shielded planet. With no inertia, and the fact that he was in space, he was able to do so.

Firework changed the trajectory and followed the rocks. That’s when one of the smaller rocks broke off from the path and scanned Firework! Firework went immaterial and tried to move out of the way. He wasn’t sure if it succeeded.

The smaller rock rejoined the group. The smaller rocks got into a formation and beams of light emerged from them. It blasted the space in front of them, opening up a worm hole! Before Firework could react, the rocks, the giant one following, flew into the wormhole and it closed behind them.

Firework floated there, unsure of what just happened. The armor figure flew up next to him, and said, “Thank you, bright creature. We have been tracking it for time and were unsure if shield would stop it. You help. Come, I show you home.

My name is Sri Zarius.”

Firework went with him and got the first glimpse of an alien planet. It was glorious.

Some time later, back on Earth, alarms started to blare out at AEGIS. Scanners had picked up some sort of spatial interference above the planet’s atmosphere. Looking via satellite, the world’s governments are able to see a massive wormhole open up in the sky. From out of it flies four small boulders, and one large one, hurtling towards Earth.

Aurum contacts Firework, telling him to come home as quickly as he can. Firework had told Aurum about his encounter, and realized that it was the same one that Firework had deflected. Firework, even at top speed, would take months to get back home. Aurum suggested he travel via The Nevernever.

Firework informed his new friends about the predicament. He told him he had to get back home. Sri Zarius told him that because Firework had helped his planet, they would send help too. Firework thanked him, pulled out his golden Lair key, inserted it into an alien door, which he opened, and stepped into the void beyond.

Sure enough, he arrived in The Lair. Firework saw that The Lair, though not in shambles, was under construction. Before he had time to explain to the Caretaker, he teleported out.

By then the team had already gathered together, trying to figure out how to sop the potential world ender. Johnny 5, having hacked into AEGIS’s readings, saw that the rocks were actually slowing down, and that their impact would land them in Point Reyes. As he said this, the asteroids crash landed, leaving a large crater, but causing no damage to any human settlement. The team leapt into action and head out.

The team arrived at the crash landing site. The large asteroid lay in a smoldering heap. The team approached slowly. Jesuit took point, hands raised, in gestures of coming in piece.

Which is when Wildheart leapt into the air and landed on the giant rock.

The four smaller rocks flew off the ground, into the air. The rock shed off them, revealing four mechanical drones. From underneath them came out what looked like guns. They began to charge.


Chapter 16 Shadow Invasion Part 2
Season 2 Finale

Chaos has erupted all over the world. The major cities all have large swarms of the dark souls whirling in a vortex just above the skylines. People panic, even though the shadows have done nothing but circle above.

Heroes around the globe are taking to the streets, trying to reel in the panic. Those with flying abilities fly up, try to interact with the shadows, communicate with them. The shadows pass through any figure that goes above, leaving behind a cold, dead sensation.

In the Nevernever, Firework interrogates Radiant, his doppleganger from a dead universe. Radiant admits that his team was the one sending in the shadow-infused invaders. They were scouts, trying to find a universe that was compatible with theirs. The shadows are actually the souls of his world, merged with his sparks.

“Why can’t we just merge your world with ours? We’ve done it before. Or find another world they can inhabit?” Firework says.

“There is no world to merge, no universe. I managed to save the souls of my Earth before the destruction of my reality, but they need bodies. Right now, they’re circling the globe, waiting on my signal to start possessing their counterparts…and living once more.”

Caretaker steps up, “Yeah…that ain’t gonna happen. See you’re stuck here, and I’m guessin’ my boys are taking care of your boys so…”

Radiant looks saddened, but smiles. “I won’t be stuck for long.”

And that’s when a blast of energy comes from behind Caretaker, knocking him down the hallway. From one of the doors steps out an older, more disheveled looking Caretaker! He waves his hand and the cage around Radiant disappears.

Radiant immediately teleports out.

Firework stands off against the other Caretaker. Caretaker lifts his hands up, ready to blast Firework, when this Lair’s Caretaker physically tackles the older one. Young Caretaker yells at Firework, “GO! Get outta here! I’ll take care of…” he gets punched in the face. The whole Lair shakes, as the hallway starts to crumble.

Firework heads out, teleporting home.

Back in San Francisco, each team member of the Golden Gate Guardians face off against what looks like their teammates.

Bouncer realizes that Collective has everyone under her spell, and is most likely nearby, invisible. He tries to talk to her, reason with her. He’s unsure whether this is the Colleen he knew and ran away, or if this was a trick. Collective speaks into his mind, telling him that he’s going to go down, but she’s not going to lift a finger.

Instead, everyone in the command room all turn to look at him. They all launch attacks at him, some of the agents pulling out weapons. Bouncer isn’t worried about getting hurt, but is worried about the mind controlled agents hurting each other. They swarm over each other, trying to get to him, uncaring as to who they trample.

Bouncer leaps over everyone and runs into the hallway. From every door comes pouring out AEGIS agents, some packing some serious hardware. Bouncer slides down the hallway, outpacing his pursuers. He calls out on his comm, asking for help. Everyone is busy with their own issues, though.

Firework, on the trail of Radiant, sends out a lone spark…looking for a lost companion.

Aurum dusts himself off and faces the person who looks like Wildheart. Wild Card, the doppleganger of Wildheart, seems to be throwing off some sort of dampening field, trying to negate Aurum’s magic. It worked for a moment, until Aurum could muster his defenses. Wild Card throws a wave of nausea at Aurum, when Aurum instinctively sets up a protective shield around himself. Wild Card starts to pound on the shield, trying to get through to the chewy magic center inside.

After a few moments Aurum, Aurum blasts his forcefield outward, pushing Wild Card braces himself and starts to push back. Aurum yells out, pulling on the full power of his authority as The Locksmith, telling Wild Card that he will destroy him, and everything he cares about, including the souls of his loved ones, that he is the master of reality, and Wild Card is nothing.

Wild Card backs away, unsure how to proceed.

War went straight to the weapons room, to load up for the upcoming battle. When he arrives, he finds the guards knocked out. He braces himself as a figure leaps from the shadows and tries to tackle him. It’s a man he’s never seen before. War dodges easily.

The man laughs and says in a southern twang, “They told me you’d be easy to take out. Didn’t figure you’d be quick. But you can’t keep dodging forever.” The man touches a nearby table and his body shifts into steel!

War dodges his hits, but he can feel the power behind the punch. He knows if he gets hit, it’ll be lights out. He uses every arrow at his disposal. The big man rips through War’s snares and ignores the concussion arrows. War finally lets loose with an explosion arrow and knocks the steel man off his feet, with a loud thud. War doesn’t let up and fires a gas arrow. The man, having had the wind knocked out of him, inhales deeply…and passes out.

Wildheart hears the commotion, sees a giant hole in the wall where War’s arrow exploded, and races towards it. He doesn’t see the figure leap out from one the hallway doors and slam into him. A man resembling Bouncer begins to bounce up and down the hall, gaining momentum and taking Wildheart outside.

Wildheart mimics Other-Bouncer’s powers and they begin to fight, punching each other, but gaining strength with each blow. Leaping to and fro, they seem to be at a standstill. Wildheart unleashes his affliction power, slowly whittling down Other-Bouncer, until he finally knocks him out.

Bouncer runs, easily outpacing the AEGIS agents. That’s when the open gun fire begins. He knows it’s only a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt. He leaps onto a roof of a two story building. The mob pounds on the door, trying to get through. He hears in his head, “Not gonna stop, luv. Not gonna stop until either they kill each other…or you let yourself be kill…”

The voice stops suddenly.

Bouncer hears an argument, he thinks. In his mind he hears two voices that sound very, very similar. “I’m the only Collective around here, bitch!” Bouncer hears a scream and a thud, as something lands on the ground floor. He looks over and sees what looks like Colleen, unconscious. The people in the mob all stay still for a moment, and then seem to snap out of it.

From in the back of the crowd, Bouncer sees someone dust their hands off. She covers her redhead in a green hoodie, turns around, and disappears.

Firework catches up to Radiant, who instead of fighting, sends out his shadow sparks out in a burst. They seem to disappear for a moment, then return. He continues to flee.

That’s when the reports start to pour in. The shadows have started to descend, and they’re possessing people! Each shade that enters a body drops to the floor, writhing as if in agony. Then, they stand up, their face covered in half shadow. They start to gather together.

This doesn’t only happen to normal people. Those who have Broken Out are also starting to become possessed, including some AEGIS agents! Those heroes who were badly injured in earlier attacks start to wake up, including Captain Thunder, Captain Victory, & Raven.

Any possessed hero that can, lifts into the sky, no matter where they are, and start flying towards San Francisco.

Jesuit has been on the road, coming in from San Jose. He sees the shades coming down, pulls over, and start blasting with Verdicto de Loyola. As his holy bullets hit, the shades disperse, as if expelled from this reality.

So far, other then some magic users around the world, Jesuit is the only one who can affect the shadows. Everyone else’s powers just go through them.

Jesuit tells the team this. Aurum relays this information to Eldritch, who is trying to contain the storm of shades. Aurum asks if there’s a way to do a mass exorcism, since these shadows are actually souls! Eldritch says that a spell that size would need an immensely powerful conduit and focus. He tells Aurum to get Jesuit and to meet him at the top of Mt. Tamalpais, where a convergence of ley lines meet.

Meanwhile, the team incarcerates the dopplegangers, all except Radiant, who seems to have vanished. They then tend to the riots that are happening in San Francisco. They’re told to brace themselves because several Paranormals are converging on their location, shadow-possessed WTFs that will try and take them out.

On Mt. Tamalpais, Eldritch explains the plan. Jesuit is to fire at Aurum, who will channel the holy energy into Eldritch, who will use his body to magnify the stream, and hopefully, send it across the world. If they make a mistake, the backlash could kill them all.

Jesuit prays, Aurum chants, and Eldritch opens up his very soul, and they unleash a wave of holy magic across the globe. They hold on as the very energy they unleash threatens to overwhelm them all. The very earth lights up as Eldritch channels the essence of the world, casting out the invaders.

A wave washes over everything, lightening up the world. As the light spreads, the shadows remaining in the sky dissipate. Those who have been possessed cover their faces. When the light passes, they reveal their shadowless faces once more.

This happens quickly, and when Jesuit lowers his gun, the price is clear. Eldritch has aged a decade, maybe more, in the matter of seconds. He collapses to the ground, near Aurum. Aurum lifts him, and Jesuit up, and fly them home.

The world is once again, saved.

Caretaker comes stumbling out of one of the AEGIS barracks, looking beaten down but still standing. He was able to take down the other realities’ Caretaker, and dragged him to the Council of Caretakers. He had broken a lot of rules, and would face punishment. He did say the Lair took massive amounts of damage (again) and it would be awhile before it was fully operational again.

The clean up begins. Most of the world has been cleansed by the holy light. But there are reports of shadow faced people seen in various corners of the globe.

Wild Card, Unity (Collective’s dopple), Roman (Spartan’s dopple), & Rebound (Bouncer’s dopple) are all locked up. They don’t hide any details of their plan, or why they did what they did.

The team was in their part of the Nevernever, in their Lair, resting after a tough battle with a giant robotic sentry that came from outer space. It was a difficult battle, and they were trying to access its memory in their Lair. That’s when they first got warning that their universe was being ripped apart. Their Caretaker cried out in pain as he felt the universe collapsing.

Acting quickly, Caretaker and Radiant joined their powers and mystically absorbed the souls of Earth into his sparks. They stopped being white and turned black and shadow like. Just as they got the last soul, the world ceased to exist.

Caretaker told them that there were other realities out there, but that most would reject them outright. Radiant and the team decided that in order to live, they had to find a new home, one where they could find new bodies for the souls of the deceased.

With Caretaker’s help, Radiant sent out shades that would infect random hosts, and then would send them to various realities, trying to find one that wouldn’t reject them. Because the team had vanquished each shadow-possessed bad guy, they weren’t able to report back, until the last time when Cerberus Rex’s shade survived the attack.

The team knew that by doing this, they were basically killing off another world, to save their own. They decided that in order for them to be the heroes their world needed, they’d have to make that sacrifice.

They all said they don’t know where Radiant went. And they all agreed that this world’s team would’ve done the same if their world was in danger.


Weeks have passed since the Shadow Invasion. Things have slowly gotten back to normal. As normal as the world gets. In Golden Gate Park, by the buffalo paddock, a lone hoodie wearing figure walks. It’s past midnight, and he is alone, with the soft snorts and grunts of the buffalo to keep him company. He gazes out at the field.

Radiant pulls his hoodie back. He looks around, checking to make sure he’s alone. He is no longer surrounded by sparks, or even shadows. Those have been taken from him.

He says aloud, “Soon. Soon my powers will be back to full, then I’ll break my team out. And then we can continue with bringing our world ba….”

Before he can finish, Radiant explodes. Gore, viscera and wet clothing goes in all directions. The buffalo panic and stampede away.

Standing where Radiant stood, dripping with Radiant’s blood, stands Cain.

“Mmm…That’s better. Now then, we can begin again.”

Chapter 16 Shadow Invasion
Season 2 Finale

Aurum has an AEGIS board meeting. Dr. Brennan, Maximilian Mars, Aurum, and the others discuss the direction they want to take AEGIS. Aurum was updated that a few of the other super teams had members down, some due to accidents, others were injured in combat. The other teams were learning, but still inexperienced compared to the Golden Gate Guardians.

Aurum has a meeting with Tyrone Black, the head of HOPE. Aurum flies them to Italy, where they discuss a partnership between AEGIS & HOPE. Tyrone mentions how helpful Wildheart has been to the organization, and that he hopes that their partnership will be mutually beneficial.

Firework gets a call from Darla, his stepmom. Darla tells him that Heather got detention at school. There was some “vandalism” that occurred that Heather was heavily implied in having a hand in. Turns out, a popular girl’s locker was “melted.” Darla is worried that if Samantha, Firework’s mom, finds out, she’ll throw a fit.

Firework has a heart to heart with Heather. Heather tells him of how the popular girl was saying “bad things” about Paranormals, and that she didn’t like the way she was spreading rumors. Firework tells her why she can’t use her powers irresponsibly, and that she has to learn to not only control her powers, but her emotions as well. They bond over video games, and Firework learns that Johnny 5 and Heather have become online friends.

Wildheart meets up with his brother Derek for the first time since he learned he was alive. They have a long talk, where Wildheart apologizes for acting the way he did, and Derek apologized for not letting both Wildheart and their mother know he was alive sooner. They catch up and his brother tells Wildheart that his dojo is growing, that he’s getting more students, and even has opened up an official dojo in a real building. Wildheart is proud of Derek, but tells him to be careful, that the martial arts his brother has developed is pretty intense and potent, and he doesn’t want people getting the wrong idea about him.

Wildheart decides he’s going to send Juanito to his brother’s class, so that he can improve his fighting skills.

War spends time at home, while Melody works with Johnny 5 on the computer systems. After a workout, Rosa asks to have a word with him. After many flirtatious innuendos, War demands she get to the point.

Rosa wants War to put in a good word with her with AEGIS. She says that she’s been “a good girl” and has been doing everything AEGIS has wanted her to do, including helping analyze the Power Corp armor. She wants to join an AEGIS super team. She wants to be able to wear the suit again, and “fight the good fight.” She says this with a smirk. She mentions that War wasn’t always a good person either, and if he can find redemption, why can’t she?

War admits that she’s good at what she does, and hopes that she is being on the level. He says he’ll talk to AEGIS and see what he can do. She blows him a kiss and struts away.

Johhny 5 speaks up “Was it necessary that Rosa be in her nightgown when she spoke with you?”

War tells Johnny to shut it.

Bouncer gets a call from Jackson, the resident Technopath. Jackson asks Bouncer to come to his lab at AEGIS HQ, that he has something he wants to show him. Bouncer arrives and heads into the little shack off to the side of the AEGIS bungalows.

Bouncer arrives and sees various tools and mechanical parts strewn about. He keeps walking further in until he arrives at a set of stairs, going downward. He goes down and finds a vast warehouse filled with equipment, tools, spare parts and ACME devices galore. Various half completed projects from guns to power armor to gadgets & gizmos aplenty lay on all manners of tables and shelves.

Jackson calls out from near the back of the warehouse. Bouncer sees a large black monolith looking contraption, 9 feet tall by 5 foot wide. Jackson pokes his head from behind the machine and motions for Bouncer to come over.

Jackson tells Bouncer that he is almost finished with the device and that he needs Bouncer’s help. Bouncer moves to where Jackson is standing and sees a monitor inside the machine, along with various control panels, knobs & buttons.

“What is this thing?”

“No clue,” Jackson responds. “Half the time when I’m building something I don’t’ know what I’m building until I’m done. And I’m almost done. I know what I needed to do to get here, and I know what I need to do to finish.” Jackson hits a button and a CD tray like part spits out. Instead of a circular hole, it has a cube shaped one.

“So…remember those cubes we got from The Huntmaster’s mechanical pooches? Well…I believe that if we insert them into this machine, we’ll be able to do…something…cool…?”

Jackson tells Bouncer that he has been analyzing the cubes but that the tech inside them is very, very advanced. He’s managed to keep them contained in a secure location, where they can’t broadcast any signal and can’t be free. However, he needs Bouncer’s help to actually grab a hold of one, since they are constantly flitting about and are very strong.

Bouncer agrees and goes into the armored room that the three cubes are being held in. After some failed attempts, and almost getting zapped by multiple cubes, Bouncer is able to grab onto one, and keep it from flying away. Jackson leads Bouncer back to the machine, and Bouncer slams the cube into the slot.

The cube ceases to try and escape and just lets itself get sucked into the machine. The screen on the machine immediately comes to life. Images of alien landscapes appear on the screen, with weird looking foliage and creatures roam. Jackson hits a few buttons and turns a lever and the video changes, to another landscape, this time a dessert. And then a alien forest, and so on. Jackson stops on the shot of what looks like a metropolitan city in ruins, with buildings and structures broken, covered in vines. It looks ancient, but modern.

Jackson hits a few more buttons and the two agents hear a WHOOSH come from around the back of the machine. They walk around and see that a doorway has opened. Past the doorway, through a barrier, is the city that they were just looking at.

“So…that’s cool, right” Jackson says.

Bouncer calls in the team, telling them that something big just happened. Everyone comes, except for Jesuit, who is down in San Jose, helping out the Church of Jesus Christ, Paranormal.

The team hypothesizes that the machine is able to “see” all the worlds the cubes have explored, and with the cubes advanced technology, it’s able to open up a doorway to other realities.

Jackson admits he hasn’t really told anyone in AEGIS about his findings.

Firework is very hesitant about the whole situation. He knows just how dangerous and unpredictable dimension hopping can be.

They decide the only way to be sure is to go through the doorway. After taking some precautions (including using an ACME bubble suit to protect from the low levels of radiation) the team walks through the portal. All except Aurum, who realizes that magic doesn’t work on that world.

The team crosses over and Firework knows the world. This is a world where World War 5 ended poorly, causing radiation to spread out throughout the world. Most of civilization collapsed, except for in a few places where small tribes of humans and mutants are able to survive.

The team discusses what this could mean. They’re not sure if they should tell AEGIS since this could prove to be very dangerous in the wrong hands. Firework knows all about the dangers of reality hopping, and sure enough, within a few moments, the sky cracks with thunder and red lightning. He knows that if they stay in the wrong dimension for too long, the whole universe could unwind.

As they’re about to walk back, they are attacked! A group of…human…? Humanoid for sure, creatures start throwing barbed poles at them. They quickly go back through the portal.

And realize that the whole world is under attack.

The team realizes they’ve been gone for two days.

Aurum catches them up quickly, since he was around. After a few hours, Aurum took off. He was still in contact with Firework via their mental link, so he wasn’t worried. After about a day or so is when they appeared. Shadows emerged from out of nowhere it seemed. Shadows similar to the ones that had possessed the various beings that came through the rifts. Millions of them, swarming over every major city in the world. Smaller towns and villages reported seeing them as well, but in smaller numbers. None have attacked, but just their presence was enough to get the world on high alert.

Aurum scanned the shadows and with the help of Eldritch, the master mage of their dimension, and realize the shadows are actually souls! As they contemplated on how to handle the situation, Aurum began to fall! His levitation spell had failed him! He was caught just in time by Eldritch, and they landed in front of…Wildheart? He stood there, in somewhat ragged clothing, and laughing.

Back at AEGIS, Bouncer was in the command room. All agents were being called in, and all news reports were being monitored. As Bouncer contemplated what to do next, everyone in the room stopped dead in their tracks. The news kept coming in, the computers kept making beeps, but the people just froze. As he looked for whatever was causing it, he heard someone. Someone speaking in an Irish accent. A female.

Speaking inside his mind.

“Well now, this should be fun.”

Bouncer recognizes the voice. Collective was back.

War went outside to scope out the shadows. As he was loading up on weapons, the ground underneath him shook and he fell to his knees. The earth had shattered underneath him. From a dozen feet away, Bouncer was there, with his fist was on the ground. He had caused the earthquake. Bouncer was wearing a dirty and torn up AEGIS uniform. Bouncer said, “Let’s just get this over with.”

Wildheart had gone to the communication room, ready to contact Juanito and to check in on his mom. As he was about to make a phone call, he heard yelling. Someone was plowing through the soldiers outside. Wildheart was about to check when someone came crashing through the walls next to him, sending him flying.

A figure made of rock stood in the newly created hole. It cracked its neck and shifted. It was Spartan! Or someone who looked like Spartan. In a heavy country accent he said, “Alright now. I’m gonna punch you, and you’re gonna fall down. Make it simple, alright?” Wildheart stood up and braced himself. Spartan touched the metal beams jutting from the hole, and he shifted into steel.

Firework stayed with Jackson in the warehouse. He explained to Jackson just how dangerous dimension travel could be. As they were debating on what they would do, a swarm of the shadows wrapped themselves around Firework, and teleported him away.

Firework emerged in nothing. He couldn’t tell if he was in a dark room or world. He used his sparks to light up the place and saw that he was in a sphere made up of shadows. Firework talked to his sparks, asking if they had ever seen anything like this. They all spoke up, in union, “We thought he was gone.”

At that moment, the shadows parted and he flew in, Firework. Or, another version of Firework. Firework’s sparks all yelled out, “Him! It’s him! He’s back!”

The shadow Firework said, “I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry. I didn’t want it to be like this, but…but it has to be.”

Firework said, “Let me guess. Your universe is gone?”

The other Firework nodded. “And we need your universe to…bring it back.”

Firework yelled, “Can’t you just, I don’t know, merge with it, like the other one did?”

“No. But that’s why we need your universe. It’s just the right one, the one that can handle what I plan to do with it.”

Before he can continue, Firework teleported out. Back to The Nevernever, back to The Lair.

Shadow Firework followed him. “Listen, I don’t want to…”

Before he could finish Firework said, “Caretaker! We have an intruder!”

A cage appeared, made up of golden energy, trapping Shadow Firework.

“Well well, what do we have here?” Caretaker said, emerging from one of the rooms.

Firework told him what he knew. Shadow Firework stood there, looking at Caretaker. “Huh, you’re younger than our Caretaker.”

“Oh yeah? Probably more handsome too, right?”

Firework looked at Shadow Firework, really looked at him. He could see the weariness in his body, the sadness in his eyes. More importantly, though, he could sense the desperation.

A desperate man, with literally nothing else to lose.

Chapter 15 Invasion Rex Part 2

The team arrives to a scene of destruction. Though the portal had only opened up a short while ago, the chaos and devastation caused by the invaders was apparent.

Downtown Mill Valley was in ruins. Store fronts were destroyed, cars were on fire, and civilians were running to and fro. All over the district were robotic versions of different species of dinosaurs. Dozens of Compsognathus’ were chasing people, nipping at their heels and leaping onto their legs and backs. Velociraptors were stalking humans, hiding in shadows and alleyways waiting for a person to run by them, and then leap out onto them. Pterodactyls soared in the sky, swooping down to pick up people,and then dropping them. A lone stegosaurus slams his tail into cars, overturning them. And finally, a 15 foot tall Sauropod lumbers down the street, crushing whatever is underfoot.

At the end of Main Street, watching the whole scene, is a 10 foot tall red scaled tyrannosaurus humanoid, covered in a futuristic style body suit, whose brain is clearly exposed. His reptilian face is half covered in shadow. He is pressing buttons on a control pad on his arm, but says nothing.

The team springs into action. Aurum casts a spell and teleports as many civilians as he can out of harms way, into a nearby home. Jesuit starts shooting bursts of EMP to disable as many robodinos as he can. Firework fends of the flying robodinos, while Bouncer heads straight to the red dinosaur. Wildheart tells Juanito to save as many innocents as he can, as he starts laying into the various robodinos on the ground.

The team takes out dozens of robodinos, but there always seem to be more. They quickly realize that the robots are self-replicating! They deduce that they have to take out what they consider the controller of the robots in order to stop them permanently.

Bouncer almost gets knocked out by a herd of compys, but is able to leap out of the way. Wildheart starts tossing individual dinos back into the portal, telling Juanito to fly near the portal. Jesuit takes a shot at the red leader, but the various robots leap into the way, taking his blasts. Aurum summons a unicorn that goes around and saves any straggling bystanders, as well as causes the sauropod to fall through the street.

Aurum sees his friends getting overwhelmed, and he casts another spells. The unicorn runs up to where Bouncer stands, and a burst of golden essence launches from its horn. The rays of gold lift Bouncer into the air, swirling around him in blinding light, and then coalescing into golden armor. And a skirt. Bouncer is able to take the fight to a whole new level.

Firework focuses his sparks and tries something he’s never tried before. He turns into a ball of sparks and swarm toward the red dinoman. He merges with him and then activates his healing. The creature roars in pain as his body starts to reject his cybernetic implants. He falls to the floor, but is still conscious. Firework uses that pause to try and cover up the control screen, preventing him from commanding his robots.
The robots sense their master is under attack and all start to stampede towards him. At that moment, Juanito yells in surprise. Something else has leapt from the portal, latching onto Juanito! An ape like man, small in stature, covered in hair, screams out, “No! Please! No hurt Master! I takes him home! Please!”

Juanito flies to the ground, and the little apeman starts jumping up in down. “No hurt! I take! Please!”

The team sees that the robots are starting to merge, to form into a larger entity. Bouncer says, “Take him! Take your Master and get out of here!” The apeman whistles and several of the pterodactyls swoop down and pick up their stunned creator. They lift him up into the air and back into the portal.

The little ape man dances and yells, “Yay! We continue conquering! Go home now!” and leaps back into the portal.

The rest of the robodinosaurs finish merging, into a 30 foot tall tyrannosaurus. It roars and then stomps towards the portal, leaving a path of destruction, but leaving the team alone. It enters the portal, and as soon as it does, the portal closes.

The team get to clean up. Aurum hires Damage Control, the local construction company that has taken it upon themselves to service “Paranormal Causes of Destruction” and they get to work repairing main street. He also summons elves that will help speed along the process (as long as no one watches).

The team leaves to debrief and to get some rest.

Later that night, the elves continue their work, since no one is around. From out of the ground, where the Dinosaur Man fell before the might of the team, a shadow rises. The shadow that was in possession of the Dinosaur Man. It takes the vague shape of a human and looks around the empty street.

“This is it. This is the place. This could be…home. Now, to get the others…” It slips back into the shadows.

Chapter 15 Invasion Rex

In the Nevernever, Firework meets with Caretaker & Dr. Brennan. He has brought Rosa, #7 of the Power Corp, with him, to keep her safe while the team dealt with the rest of the Corp. Soon enough, the rest of the team joins them in the “Hotel Lobby” of The Lair.

Rosa chats with Dr. Brennan, mostly about how she would be willing to help AEGIS understand the Power Corp’s motives, as well as their power armor, for pardoning her past…incidents (re: crimes). Dr. Brennan gets into business mode and they have a long discussion.

While they do so, Caretaker pulls Firework aside. He makes them a drink and has Firework pull up a barstool. He tells him he knows about what Firework did with the space shuttle, how he’s being so open about helping. Caretaker says he’s used to The Chosen working much more subtly, less in the spotlight. He doesn’t think it’s a bad thing, helping as they have been. It’s just…

He worries. He worries because people tend to react differently to change, some better than others. But change that comes on too rapidly, that tends to bring out the worst in people. Slow changes are easier to swallow. Fast changes, they tend to be met with more resistance. What Firework has done, hell, what the team has done, could be considered a rapid change. How people will respond remains to be seen, but Firework, and the others, need to be ready for anything.

The rest of the team show up in the lobby. Rosa flirts with everyone present, especially War, who stays as far back as he can. Wildheart takes a disliking to Rosa, distrusting her immediately. She tries to win him over with a bit of sass, and gets him to not want to punch her in the face, though that’s about it. Firework, on the other hand, takes a liking to her and they immediately become besties. At least, that’s what Firework tries to convince Rosa of.

Dr. Brennan asks Caretaker to get Rosa and herself back to AEGIS. There they will continue the negotiations, though Rosa seems willingly to cooperate, if for no other reason than to get protection from The Power Corp. Caretaker does so, leaving the team in The Lair.

Back in San Jose, Jesuit has a long conversation with Archbishop Theodosius. Jesuit is unsure how to handle the fact that the Archbishop is essentially a living nexus of Nevernever energy. The Archbishop showcases all the good his church has done, how those who have been “blessed” with abilities have put their powers to good use, and those in his congregations have gone out to spread the good word by performing charitable acts.

He sees the members of his congregation, those who have been blessed, talking with the recently empowered Paranormal. They had a few forms in front of her, and Jesuit saw they were registration forms for AEGIS.

Jesuit scanned the Paranormals and saw the same spiritual light within them. Though very hesitant about the whole situation, Jesuit can’t ignore the good they are doing, nor can he find they’ve broken any laws, including AEGIS sanctioned ones.

As Jesuit is about to take his leave, his uncanny senses smell smoke. He follows the trail to the side of the church, where a lawn is, with a few benches and trees. On the lawn is a wooden structure, in the shape of a Thunderbolt, on fire.

The Archbishop sighs, walks over to a nearby fire extinguisher, and puts it out. Some of his congregation start to take it down.

The Archbishop says that they’ve had these incidents occur in the past week, always a burning effigy on their lawn. Luckily, no one has been hurt, though the police have no leads either. Though they say.

“There is a another congregation, one that has recently set its sights on Paranormals, called The Holy Church of The Seven Thunders. They were a small congregation out in the midwest who have grown in numbers, and notoriety, in recent months. Their reverend, Luke Butler, has spoken out against Paranormals, saying they are demons, spawn of the Devil himself. His word has spread, and like minded individuals have taken it upon themselves to…defend humanity. Each time they commit a hate crime, they cannot directly tie it to the Church, but more often than not they were members. We believe the Thunders have set their sights on our congregation, but alas, without proof of who’s doing it, the police come, take our report, send out a few patrol cars for a while, and then nothing.”

Jesuit says he’ll personally see that an AEGIS detail is sent to watch over the church, for the protection of the churchgoers, as well as to keep an eye on any potential breakouts.

The team meets back at AEGIS HQ, where Dr. Brennan is caught up on what’s she’s missed. She had only been gone about a week in real time, and a lot has occurred, including someone impersonating her to get access to AEGIS files. She has AEGIS secure Rosa’s Power Corp suit, and has her talk to other agents.

In her office, with Mickey at his terminal, the team catchers her up with the various events. Jesuit tells them about the Archbishop, and his concerns. The team agrees to keep an eye on the congregation, since when word spreads about the Archbishop’s abilities, undesirable people will take note.

AEGIS makes a deal with Rosa, though she will be regulated to being under house arrest. Rather than risk her being on her own, AEGIS assigns her to be watched at the team’s home. The team isn’t happy, but they say that it’s the best place to keep an eye on her, while still gaining access to her information.

They meet Rosa outside, where she is talking with Jackson. Jackson says that with Rosa’s help, they’ll be able to figure out how the Power Corp Armor works, and come up with contingency plans against them.

Jackson informs the team that he’s been studying the cubes, the ones left behind by the Hunt Master’s hounds, trying to figure out what they can do, and where they were transmitting to.

Bouncer notices Jackson looking haggard. He pulls him aside and asks him what’s going on. Jackson says that he’s constantly getting visions or potential projects, more so than ever before. Usually the only way he can get them out of his head is by building them, but since he’s one of the few technos on AEGIS’ payroll, he’s busy doing other things, including repairing various ACME devices. Since his mind is constantly racing with new ideas, getting to sleep is difficult, at best.

Bouncer feels for Jackson, having his own issues with insomnia. Bouncer asks why he has to do it on his own, why he can’t get help? Jackson reminds him that only Paranormals can build ACME devices. Bouncer says, “Well, yeah, but does that mean that regular folks can’t repair them? I mean, if they have the specs to work with?”

Jackson thinks a moment and says, “I..don’t know. Never tried it. Couldn’t hurt, I guess?” Bouncer tells him to grab some minions and to get some rest.

Back home, they arrive to find a very worried Melody, and Juanito playing video games with Johnny 5. Rosa makes it a point to flirt with War in front of Melody, “accidently” dropping the fact that they used to be an item.

Firework grabs onto Rosa and Gay Best Friends’ her away.

Melody says that War better get blankets, so he can sleep on the couch that night.

Wildheart pulls aside Bouncer. He tells him, and Juanito, that he’ll be gone for a week or so. Bouncer says, “Okay.” Wildheart tells him he’s going into the Nevernever, and he may come back…different…

Bouncer goes, “Oooookay…?”

Wildheart tells Juanito to stick around, and to keep his training up with the Caretaker. Juanito nods and goes back to playing video games.

Wildheart opens a doorway to Nevernever and steps through.

Rosa walks out of Fireworks room, in a slink nightie. She slowly walks downstairs towards War, when she passes by Jesuit’s door. She ponders a moment, and then knocks. Jesuit opens, in his robe with a glass of wine in hand.

“Are you taking confessions right now?”

Jesuit nods, and lets her in, closing the door.

The spark that Firework sent to keep an eye on her zips back into Firework’s room.

A week passes, with little going on. Caretaker mentors Juanito & Heather on the use of their powers. Firework has gone through the computer logs to check to see just what Melody has done with Johnny 5. He discovers that though she is not at a Paranormal level, she is an extremely advanced computer programmer. She has indeed help upgrade Johnny’s systems, but it was more that she gave suggestions to Johnny 5, and he implemented them. For all of Johnny’s intelligence, he lacks creativity.

Wildheart returns through his bedroom, leaving the Nevernever. He has aged a good 4 years, and after a bit of confusion where Johnny 5 didn’t recognize him, the team welcomes him back.

At that moment, the alarms start to go off. An incursion has been detected, in Marin County. Johnny pulls up a news feed, in downtown Mill Valley. What appears to be mechanical dinosaurs are rampaging through the small town. The camera focuses on what appears to be a anthropomorphic, red skinned Tyrannosaurus, in body armor, with his brain exposed, leading the charge.

The team swings into action.

Chapter 14 Power Savers Part 2

A large crowd has gathered early morning at the San Jose NASA’s Ames Research Center. Thanks to Firework and the assistance of AEGIS, NASA was able to build a rocket that would use the barest minimum of rocket fuel to get both astronauts and supplies up to the International Space Station.

It’s taken months (though Firework could’ve done it faster, he thinks) to get this operation off the ground, so to speak, but the day has arrived. With Firework’s help, NASA may be able to start lifting up sending up space shuttles more often, and more cheaply, thanks to Firework literally sending them flying off into space. If this test goes off without a hitch, they could begin to look at going back to the moon, and beyond.

Scientists, news reporters, groupies and space geeks huddle around the stage, with the space shuttle in the background. Bouncer came with Firework to help show AEGIS’ support, as well as for added security.

The head of the program does a little speech, followed by Bouncer. The countdown begins, and everyone gets excited.

A little too excited.

Bouncer catches some teenage boys trying to sneak past the guard rails and run towards the rocket. They don’t seem to mean any harm, just want to be closer, “just in case.” Bouncer has read about these kinds of people. Power Chasers.

Power Chasers are people who believe that if they put themselves into a dangerous situation, or they are exposed to dangerous elements, they may break out. The fact that most Breakouts occur in times of high stress seem to corroborate this theory. However, there have been no known reportings of this technique actually working. There have been Power Chaser parties thrown in major cities, with people intentionally leaping into danger (or off buildings) with predictable results. This hasn’t stopped people from trying.

At the end of the countdown, a swarm of rainbow sparks surrounds the space shuttle. With a bit of help from the boosters, Firework lifts the shuttle off the ground, and into space. It takes several hours, but eventually Firework is able to safely dock the shuttle to the ISS.

Down below, the people cheer and begin to disperse. Bouncer is about to head out when he overhears one of the scientists, a woman with a serious look on her face, say, “And so ends the age of humanity, and the Paranormal era begins.” Bouncer shakes his head and goes, “Drama queen.”

Wildheart brings Juanito home. After introducing him to Johnny (and Johnny’s defenses) he leaves them both to settle in and play video games. Using his gateway key to The Lair, Wildheart goes to visit The Caretaker in the Nevernever.
Wildheart steps into the team’s “room” and heads out. He finds The Caretaker and Dr. Brennan in a 60s style “room” with Dr. Brennan making breakfast. Wildheart has never seen Dr. Brennan look so relaxed and content.

Sipping coffee and eating pancakes, Wildheart asks Caretaker for help. He wants Caretaker to help train Juanito, in The Nevernever, so that he can learn how to use his powers. Caretaker goes, “So you want me to play babysitter to Kyle’s new baby sis, and your new what, sidekick? What am I, running a daycare here?”


“Course I will. Someone’s gotta teach these kids the meaning of power and responsibility and all that.”

Wildheart thanks him and then moves on to his next favor. He wants Caretaker to manipulate time in one of the rooms so he can speed up (in the real world at least) his training on certain new skills and abilities. He figures 4 years or so should do it.

Dr. Brennan showcases some concerns, saying that 4 years away from his teammates, even though to them it may just be a few days, will be taxing to say the least. Wildheart wants to better himself, he says, and by undertaking this training he hopes to do just that. Caretaker says it’ll take some jiggery pokery, but it should be doable. Wildheart says he’ll be ready whenever its ready.

Back in the city, 3 Power Corp members are hovering in front of a hole they blasted in the wall. War and Rosa, War’s crazy ex girlfriend and ex member of the Power Corp, have taken cover. Rosa tells War to buy her a minute. War does so.

Shooting a smoke arrow, he leaps into action. One of the Corp member, #3, flies in through the smoke, and hunts for War and Rosa. Rosa has sneaked over to her Power suit and has begun pressing buttons.

War distracts #3 with arrows and quips, dodging his blasts. #4 stands outside the hole and begins to blow away the smoke.

War is able to distract #3 long enough for Rosa to finish her task. With one final button push, the suit flies off the bed, the pieces swirling around her in a tornado fashion, and the assembles itself, lifting her off the ground. She shoots at #3, smashing him into the wall, grabs onto War, and zips out the hole, shoving #4 out of the way.

Rosa, #7, flies full throttle, dragging War behind. She says, “Any ideas, lover?” War goes, “Yeah, just give you to them. But since you probably wouldn’t go for it, head over to AEGIS HQ.” She shakes her head, “No way! I am not going to jail and…” A laser blast just misses her head, cutting her off. “Okay. Maybe not the worst idea ever.”

She starts to fly towards AEGIS HQ. Behind them, #5 has gone straight up into the air, a large flash flaring out from her upthrust hands.

Rosa says, “Look, if you can talk to AEGIS, get me a pardon, I can tell you all about the suits, how they work, what they can do. But I want amnesty.” War says, “I think I know just the woman to talk to.”

Rosa dodges another blast. “Don’t you have a team you can call for backup!?” As War signals to his team that he’s requesting assistance, two more Power Corp members, #1 & #2 fly up just behind them. #1 blasts Rosa, knocking out her rocket boot, causing them to spin out of control and start crashing into Golden Gate Park.

War releases himself from Rosa’s grasp, and floats down toward the ground using his Glider. He hopes that his call for help has been received.

Back at home, Johnny’s alarms start going off. He says he is getting a distress call from War. Melody, who had been busy upgrading Johnny 5’s systems, comes rushing out and almost runs into Juanito.

“Who are you?!”

“Who are YOU!?”

Wildheart shows up and does his introductions. He tells Juanito, who can fly, to head to Golden Gate Park so Wildheart can teleport once he gets there. Melody wants to help, to go to War, but Wildheart says she’ll just get in the way, and that she should stay here. She huff and goes, “Fine!” and runs back into the command room.

Firework calls in, saying he won’t be able to make it for a few hours, since he’s up in space. Wildheart says, “Hold on.” He concentrates, teleports to the ISS, grabs Firework, and teleports to Juanito.

Back in San Jose…

Aurum and Jesuit have infiltrated The Church of Jesus Christ, Paranormal. Inside they find a community center turned into a large space filled with various religious affiliations. There’s crucifixes, stars of davids, statues of Mary, buddhas, and other religious iconography. Hundreds of folding chairs are lined up, with a walkway in the middle leading to a stage, with a large curtain concealing the back entrance, a podium, but no mic.

The church quiets down as the lights flicker, and from behind the curtain steps out Archbishop Theodosius, and older man dressed in religious garb holding a staff with a insert icon on top. He places the staff upright on the floor, and takes the pulpit.

Even though he has no mic, and he is soft spoken, the Archbishop’s voice carries throughout the church. He speaks about how God has blessed this world, and is helping to enlighten and lift up the masses. He talks about how those who are blessed with Paranormal abilities can use those abilities to better the world, and to get closer to god. He brings up various pieces of other religions, all that Jesuit recognizes, and talks about combining them, merging them, in order to gain true enlightenment. And he says that those who believe, those are are true and faithful, that they too can be blessed with abilities.

He continues saying that there are those who are corrupted, those who want to use this blessing for evil, that evil is still out there. He suspects that such evil caused The Breaking, that it upset the balance. Beelzebub, Abaddon, Cain, Hundun, and other malevolent beings continue tempt mortals, and to lead them astray, perhaps were even behind The Breaking. But by staying true to God, to the church’s teachings, they can fight back against the temptations.

Jesuit and Aurum stiffen at the mention of Cain, ignoring the other evil beings that were named with him. That’s when Aurum lifts himself into the sky, spazzing out for a minute acting as if he’s possessed, and then lowers himself to the floor, in front of the Archbishop.

He demands answers, demands to know what he is up to, and to know why he’s trying to trick these poor hopeless saps. He wants to know what the Archbishop is up to, and doesn’t care that anyone knows.

People rise from their seats, voices start to rise, but they all calm down with a wave from the Archbishop. The Archbishop invites Aurum to the stage, and calls upon a few people from the front row of the audience.

He says that these believers were blessed by God, inspired by their faith, and have been using their gifts to better the world. He asks them to give a demonstration. Which is when Aurum casts nullify on their powers, preventing them from showing anything.

Jesuit stands at that moment and walks to the stage. Archbishop Theodosius recognizes Jesuit and invites him on stage as well. They begin a philosophical debate about how could this be God’s will, who can say who will get “chosen” and why does a new religion need to come of this?

At that point, a call for help comes from War. Aurum says, “My job is done” and vanishes. Immediately the Paranormals on the stage’s powers activate. Jesuit asks for permission to activate his powers, and Theodosius says “By all means.”

Jesuit’s Angel Eye cans the Archbishop. He gets nothing but faith, spirituality, peace, and kindness from the man. He truly believes what he is saying, truly believes that Jesus was a Paranormal, and believes that by becoming closer to God, one can become blessed as well. The Archbishop is also filled with what looks like Nevernever energy, though it’s…different, somehow. Tainted, is the word he’d used, but not by anything malevolent, just a different type of energy. Spiritual energy, perhaps.

Jesuit asks that they continue the discussion in private, which Theodosius agrees to. He asks that he be allowed to finish mass. Jesuit steps aside, and watches.

The people line up down the aisle, and all walk towards the Archbishop. The Archbishop says a small blessing and taps the people on the forehead. The person smiles and walks away. Halfway down the procession, an elderly woman walks up to the Archbishop. He does what he does, and as he touches her, she hunches over, almost in pain. Her back starts to controt and collapse, but then reconstructs itself as a pair of giant white wings sprouts through her clothes. She flies into the air and hovers over the crowd, as everyone says out loud, “Amen!” or “Hallelujah!” or other religious exclamations.

Theodosius smiles, motions to the woman to fly back down, and to join his other blessed children. She does so, filled with energy and vitality.

Jesuit watched all this, through his Angel Eye. He saw the faith, the spiritual energy of the woman connect with Theodosius’, watched them merge, and then she broke out. Jesuit realizes what the Archbishop actually is.

He’s a walking, living Breaking.

Back in Golden Gate Park, the team squares off against the Power Corp. War gets surrounded by blast fire when Firework & Wildheart teleport in. Firework looks after the civilians, getting them out of the way, while WIldheart throws a rock at the Corp.

  1. broadcasts that if they let them have #7, they’ll leave peacefully.

War yells out to protect Rosa, the fallen member of the Corp. WIldheart deliberates, yelling back why should they? He yells at War that he doesn’t trust him and that she’s a bad guy! While they argue, #1 gets tired of waiting and blasts Wildheart, knocking him to the ground.

The blasts continue but Juanito jumps in the way, creating an force field made of light. He strains under the attack, not able to withstand the barrage for much longer. However it buys War and Wildheart the time they needed to get back on track.

As the Power Corp maneuvers and works together as a team, through the Golden Gate Guardians communicators, they begin to be able to hear into the Power Corps private communications. They don’t know how, but they can hear how the Corp is strategizing, allowing them the chance to outthink them.

Together, the team is able to hold off the Corp. War is able to crack one of the face plates, while Firework barrages them. Just as the Corp begins to reassemble, Arum comes flying in, inside a golden airplane. He flies over Bouncer, who was heading to battle on his bike, ties golden tethers of magic around him, and slams Bouncer into a member of the Power Corp, taking them down.

  1. calls for a tactical retreat, and the remaining Corp members pick up their fallen comrades and blast off. War hits them with an EMP Arrow, which causes them to slow down and slowly descend.

They fly off over the ocean, and the team is able to hear them request an evacuation. As they begin to teleport, Aurum casts one last nullify spell. He is able to prevent one member of the Power Corp from being teleported, but the rest vanish from view.



In the vast emptiness of Space, past Saturn, a ship travels through void. A voice breaks through the silence, an alien garble that sounds nothing like human speech. “Captain, we’re picking up up odd energy readings coming from the third planet from the local star.”

A gruff voice responds, “Earth? That’s odd. That’s a primitive planet by our standards, not usually worth noticing. Bring it up on the view screen.”

The front of the ship lights up as a view of a giant swarm of rainbow lights carrying a shuttle of some kind and docking with a substandard space station.

“Hmm..” replies the unseen Captain. “Set a course for Earth. Looks like it may be worth looking into after all.”


The Power Corp materializes inside of a giant warehouse, a warehouse filled to the brim with ACME devices. Various weapons, armor, vehicles, gadgets and gizmos aplenty.

A metallic voice rings out through the warehouse. “DID YOU BRING #7 BACK!?”

  1. takes off his helmet, revealing an older, rough looking man. “No. And we lost #3. We weren’t prepared. They had a magic user with them.”
  1. flinches, “We…we don’t have it. #7 cleaned us out. But we’ll get another job, a score, and pay you back. We just need to get patched up and…”

“SILENCE. YOU COME TO ME, BEGGING FOR HELP, BUT WITH NO MEANS TO PAY?” A platform descends from the ceiling. On it stands a man in a lab coat and slacks. The man, though, is more than just. His skin is covered in a metallic shell, bolts sticking out from his head, yellow illuminated eyes scanning the Power Corp.


Chapter 14 Power Savers

Aurum is called to a meeting at AEGIS HQ, where he meets up with Mickey in Dr. Brennan’s office. Aurum asks Mickey what the meeting is about, since Mickey seems to have his ear to the ground at HQ. Mickey says he’s not sure, but he knows that the whole of the AEGIS board is at HQ currently.

What’s left of them. Where there were a dozen people on the board of AEGIS before the Mini-Breaking, there are now 5, most of them having left the board, supposedly, for various reasons (other projects, not enough time to devout to the cause etc). The way Mickey tells it, most just seemed to want to get away from Paranormals and all their activities.

Aurum notices that Mickey is acting weirdly, stuttering and not looking at Aurum directly. Aurum peers at him and realizes that he and Mickey have never been in alone together. There’s always been other team members, or Firework, to act as a buffer. Mickey doesn’t seem scared of Aurum, just nervous to be alone with him.

Aurum takes this information, thinks on it a moment, an then smiles a Cheshire cat smile. As Mickey gives him the lowdown on the board, Aurum starts to lean in closer and closer to Mickey, slowly (and seductively) looking him up and down. Mickey tries to ignore this, focusing on the laptop in front of him. Aurum gives him his sexiest smile, runs his fingers up and down Mickey’s arm, and thanks him for all the help he’s given the team. He even uses his real name, as he leans closer and closer.

Mickey freezes up and makes the mistake of looking into Aurum’s eyes.

Just as Aurum gets as close as he can to Mickey, he leans up, winks at him and walks out, leaving the young man breathless and unable to move from his desk.

Aurum heads towards the conference room and joins the AEGIS Board of Directors. There are indeed 5 people there, including Horatio “Harry” Powers and Maximillian Mars.

Mars presence surprises Aurum, since the last time they saw him just a few weeks ago was locked away in the magic and power proof cell, half mad. Max smiles at him and gestures he should take a seat.

Powers starts the meeting by welcoming Aurum, and thanking him for meeting with them. He gets down to business. Powers wants Aurum on the Board of AEGIS, and wants his help and input into restructuring the organization. After the mini-breaking, and after all that’s happened the last few years, and with push from various organizations (including HOPE), Powers feels that it’s time for a change. The majority of the board has left, and he feels that that now is the time for fresh blood and ideas.

Powers says he feels that having a Paranormal on the Board would help with the restructuring, as well as help with the public image. Many insiders have told Powers that Aurum is the man for the job, and that having him on board would be an asset.

Max speaks up, on behalf of Aurum, and tells him though they’ve had their difference in the past, his input would be invaluable to the new AEGIS.

After some banter back and forth, Aurum agrees to join. Powers dismisses everyone, but asks Aurum to stay behind.

Once everyone’s left, there’s a knock at the door. Mickey pokes his head in, and goes “You called for me, sir?”

Powers motions to Mickey to take a seat. He says he wants the new AEGIS to be an open book, and doesn’t want secrets to be there at the beginning.

He tells Aurum that AEGIS’ board is small, but will be expanding soon. He hopes to have six members on the board, to start with, and that the three current members (not Aurum, Powers or Mars) will be leaving soon. For various reasons. Because he’s on the board now, Powers wants Aurum to nominate someone he feels would be

“Dr. Temperance Brennan.” Aurum says before Powers can finish his sentence. Aurum explains that he trusts no one else like Dr. Brennan to have Paranormals and the public at large’s best interest in mind. She cares not just about her job, but making sure her job does good in the world, and is adamant about making sure everyone is safe.

Powers thinks on this for a moment, then nods his head in approval. “Once she gets back from her vacation, I’ll talk to her about it. Maximillian and myself will have our choices soon.”

Aurum thinks a moment and says, “If you please, Director Powers, I believe there has been some…talk…about Wildheart and a…pet project…he’s working on. With HOPE, I believe. It may behoove us to give them a bit of leeway in this regard, since we’re starting anew and all that.”

Powers nods, and says, “I’ve heard rumblings as well. Very good, I’ll look into it. Dismissed.”

Powers walks out of the room, leaving Aurum and Mickey alone. Mickey realizes this and makes a hesitant retreat. Before he does so, he glances at Aurum, who winks at him seductively. Mickey turns bright red and heads out.

Wildheart has his own meeting, with Tyrone Black, the director of HOPE. Wildheart tells Tyrone that he needs help with a particular project he’s working on. Wildheart tells him the story of Juanito, how the moment he broke out, he was recruited by a gang to commit a crime. Not having anywhere to turn, due to anti-Paranormal sentiments, he was forced to do so. Now thanks to the draconic laws regarding Paranormals, he’s going to be sent away for who knows how long, and WIldheart just can’t sit back and let that happen.

Director Black thinks a moment, and then goes, “I’ve been talking with AEGIS, recently, and this particular case came up. In fact, I spoke with Director Powers himself, and he mentioned that you may be looking into this case. I think HOPE can help, Wildheart, but it’s going to need your help to do so.”

Director Black explains the proposition he has. Basically, if Wildheart, an acting agent of AEGIS, is willing to take Juanito under his wing, teach him, train him, rehabilitate him, they may be able to work out a deal with AEGIS. He’d essentially become his ward.


But there is a downside. If Juanito breaks any laws, if he’s caught doing illegal acts not in accordance with their position at AEGIS, if Juanito “goes bad,” Wildheart will take the fall with him. If Juanito goes to jail, so will Wildheart. The reason being is that AEGIS can’t fully nullify the laws passed by Congress, but they can bend them ever so slightly. But by doing so, they risk the chance of even stricter laws going into effect. Thus, they can’t afford to allow this to happen if they don’t have the utmost faith in the parolee and the parole officer.

Director Black says, if this new “internship” program works, it could help HOPE’s cause along to get some of the more stricter laws regarding Paranormals amended, or outright overturned. Not to mention the public image where criminal Paranormals have the opportunity to “redeem” themselves.

Wildheart thinks on this, and has a momentary panic at the thought of bing locked up again. But he takes a deep breathe and tells Director Powers that they have a deal.

Wildheart arrives at AEGIS HQ and goes down to the cells, where Juanito awaits. He picks up Juanito’s things, and explains the situation to him.

“If you’re willing to work with me, learn to control your powers, and help out in the field, then I can get you out of here. Eventually, you may be able to go home, and live a normal life. As normal as Paranormal can get.”

Juanito thanks Wildheart, tells him he’ll do everything he can to make amends, and that he’ll be the best partner he can be.

Wildheart smiles, “Sidekick.”

They head home.

War is at home with Melody. Melody and Johnny 5 are playing video games together as War cooks breakfast. Melody and Johnny 5 start talking shop and Melody says that after she was able to connect with Johnny, she saw a few ways that she could upgrade Johnny 5’s systems. Johnny 5 seems particularly keen on the idea. War asks the team if this is okay, and the team agrees, as long as Johnny 5 keeps a log that Firework can go over of all the changes made.

Melody pauses the game and races upstairs to the control room. Johnny 5 lights up the screens and Melody starts zipping to and fro from control panels, computer monitors, hard drives, and her coffee, that Johnny 5 can now refill.

War sees Melody getting into the zone and leaves her be. As he walks to his room he gets a phone call. On the other line is an old friend, Rosario Elzie. War is taken aback a bit since they haven’t spoken in years, for good reason. Rosario asks him to meet her at her hotel. She needs help, and War is the only one she can trust.

Rosario is from War’s mercenary days. They would do jobs together, hunting their targets, and keeping each other warm at night. They were good, very good, together, as mercs, but they were bad influences on each other. The closer they got, the colder War got when it came to the job. And the more vicious she got. War finally ended it one night, after a particularly brutal mission. And by ending it, he just left. That was when he started to go towards Paranormal cases, rather then normal humans.

Rosario was vicious out on the field, and took pleasure in taking down her target. But the one thing she would never do is hurt children, and would hurt those who hurt kids. That was her one line, and she never crossed it. Everything else, though, was fair game.

War agrees to meet her, and heads out, his trusty collapsible bow with him. He arrives in the skeevy part of town and heads to her hotel room. Rosario meets him at the door and lets him in. He instantly remembers how he used to feel about her, and how she made him feel. A slender redhead, who’s physical frame hides her deadly accuracy and prowess. She smiles her wicked smile at him, and he feels himself get warm. She slinks towards him to welcome him, but he slips away, demanding why she called him, and how she got his number.

“You weren’t hard, baby. You’ve been pretty out there, what with being part of that AEGIS team. Wow, who would’ve thought, you working with Paranormals. Do they know what you used to do? And how much pleasure you used to take in it?”

He glares at her, tells her he never took pleasure, that it was just a job. She smiles and says, “Right. You got your pleasure…elsewhere.”

War says that unless she tells him why she called, he’s out. Rosario pouts, “So much for foreplay.” She walks to the bed and pulls back the sheets.

On the bed, disassembled, is a suit of armor. Power armor. Silver and black with a 7 inscribed on the chest. War has never seen anything like it. Though in pieces, he can tell it’s an ACME device, and an apparently potent one at that.

Rosario explains, “After you…left, I wandered around, trying to find jobs and staying out of trouble. That’s something you know I couldn’t do very well. Eventually I got into a bit too much trouble, and was about to be taken out, when this guy in a suit similar to this bailed me out. He called himself Number 1, said he was looking for a few good mercs for a new company he was starting. He had heard of my exploits, hunted me down, and said I could join up with him and get power and money beyond what I could imagine, or he could leave me to the rats.

How could I say no?

I joined the Power Corps, a group of mercs in power armor. We did all kinds of jobs, all over the world. The money was good, but the thrill of the suit was better. We could do anything together, and did. We even went up against your little team a while back, before your time, but that didn’t end too well. Regardless, everything was going great. Until we took a job out in the middle east. One that was too much even for me.

The target was some diplomat or another, didn’t really pay attention to the deets. We were supposed to go in, take out his envoy, and the guy himself, and head out. Turns out they had their own paranormal on security detail. We held our own, no problem, until they all ran into a school. A school that was in session. I told everyone to abort, that we’d get them later, but Number 1 told us the job was still on. He and the others demolished the school, with everyone in it. Just to get paid.

I lost it, and ran. Our jobs had been getting more and more up there in the destruction, which was whatever, but…we had a line I thought we didn’t cross. Guess I was deluding myself. I said I quit, that I was done, but you can’t quit the Power Corps once your in. You know too much about the suit, and that kind of knowledge can be deadly. So before they got to me, I booked it. And I came to the only person who I knew I could trust, who might be able to help me. You, lover.”

War shook his head, “And you took the suit? You couldn’t just go into hiding without it?”

Rosario walks over to the bed, stroking the armor along the way, “And give up this power? They weren’t going to give me my take on the past few missions, so I figured this would make up for it. Besides, I took out the tracker on it. Can’t find me if I don’t want to be found.”

War shakes his head, “You always did like the danger of this job. A bit too much. So what do you want from me?”

Rosario walks towards War, slowly and looks into his eyes. “I need your help in going into hiding. Most of my assets have been frozen, and was only able to grab some of my emergency cash, but it’s not enough. I don’t want to use the suit if I don’t have to, not until I get someplace safe. I need your help, Warren. If they catch me, the suit won’t be the only one in pieces. With your help, your connections and wealth, I can disappear, and you’ll never see me again.”

She walks up right to him, almost touching, “Please, help me. You’re my last hope. For old time’s sake?”

War can feel the heat radiating off her, and he remembers the good times they had. He forces himself to back up. “Look, I…”

Before he can finish, he stops and looks towards the door. He hears footsteps outside in the hallway, walking slowly and methodically, as if they’re trying to be stealthy. He looks at her, and falls into old patterns. He motions towards the door, signaling that someone is coming. Without a word, she nods and heads to the bed. She slams her fists into the two hand parts of the suit and with a soft whirr, she has it on, and is ready to go.

War pulls out his bow, and with a simple nudge it extends. He readies an arrow.

The door slams inward, as someone kicks it in. Rushing in come four brutes, looking each way as they enter the room.

They don’t get far.

War slams one with an arrow, pinning him to the wall. Rosario shoots a concussive blast at the other, slamming him into the hallway, and through the door of the room across the way.

One of the mooks takes a swing at War, which he easily dodges. He uppercuts the mook, slamming his bow into his face, knocking him out. The other one swings at Rosario, who blocks with her armor gloves and punches him out, breaking his nose.

They are in perfect sync as they do battle, and dance around each other as if there wasn’t years and lifetimes between them.

After taking out the last one, War looks at Rosario. “Can’t trace you, huh?”

Rosario smile and shrugs. “I’m good. Maybe Number 1 is better.”

War shakes his head. “C’mon, we gotta go. I’m taking you to AEGIS. They can protect you.” 

“No way, honey. I ain’t going to jail. I…”

Before she can finish, the wall to the hotel explodes inwards. War and Rosario dodge the debris and hide behind the bed. They look up at the gaping hole now in their 5th story hotel. Outside are three members of the Power Corp, #2, #6, & #8.

  1. speaks out, voice blaring from her speakers. “#7! #1 would like to have words with you.”

Jesuit has a meeting with Archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore J Cordileone. He was told to meet him in his office at the Holy insert Church name here after mass.

After some small talk, Cordileone says, “I’ve asked you here because we are need of your…unique…assistance, Father Edmund. As both a member of this church, and a member of AEGIS.”

He explains the situation. Ever since The Breaking occured, the masses have turned to the church to help explain the situation, why it happened, and why only certain people are chosen. The church is still in debate about how to proceed, though most agree that it’s obviously God’s will. However, there are certain…factions…that have risen as of late, that have taken that creed to an unfathomable level.

A faction of the church has split off and gone it’s separate ways, creating The Church of Jesus Paranormal. Its members believe that Jesus Christ was the first Paranormal, that he was the first chosen, and that he helped bring about The Breaking. The church’s core beliefs say that the closer you are to godliness, closer you are to God, the more like you’ll be “elevated” and given his blessing, or powers.

That doctrine has created a small exodus of church members, not just from the Catholic church, but from all walks of life, including nondenominational or atheists. What started off as a small cult has become one of the fastest growing religions in the country.

Cordileone goes on to say that he was saddened to hear that a former Archbishop was the one who started the movement, Theodosius. He tried to spread his version of the gospel within the church community, and in fact, his own church, when he was expelled from the Orthodox Church for heresy. He went out on his own and with his charisma and unknown financial backers, he was able to open up a small church in San Jose. That quickly grew over the past few years. In fact, new churches are said to be opening up around the country, in Chicago, New York, and Atlanta.

Normally the church doesn’t concern itself with cults, but this one is growing fast, and since it started in our own home, we feel that it is necessary to at least investigate and see what is happening on the inside. There has been rumors that Theodosius himself has broken out, and that a high number of church members have broken out as well. Whether that’s coincidence or something else, we need to know.

Jesuit agrees to the task, and says he’ll bring along some back up, just in case. Cordileone says that the San Jose church has a has a mass tonight, and that would be their best bet to investigate.

Jesuit calls War, thinking his skills could come in handy, but gets no response. He ponders a bit on who would be the best member for this mission, and calls up Aurum.

“Hey Aurum? Care to go to church with me?”

Aurum goes, “Have you met me…?”

Jesuit explains the situation, and they make plans to head down. Jesuit says they’re going incognito, so no teleportation. Aurum is aghast at the fact that they have to drive, but agrees that Jesuit has the lead on this mission.

They arrive in the early evening and park a few blocks away, since the church parking lot seems to filled to capacity. People of all ethnicities, backgrounds and social status seem to be heading to the large community hall. Aurum talks it up with some of the passing members, saying that they just heard about the church and were wondering about it.

The various congregation members all roughly say the same thing, that the Archbishop Theodosius (still going by Archbishop) is an amazing preacher, gives inspiring sermons, and that everyone really feels connected to the whole. No one has seen anyone Breakout (or been Blessed as they call it) but they all know someone who knows someone who has.

They go by Para-Christians and not only want to be Blessed, they want to use those blessings to benefit mankind, which is obviously God’s plan.

As they get closer to entrance, Jesuit spots that the various guards placed at the entrance (since that’s what they look like) are waving metal detectors at each person that walks through. His Angel Eye, though, tells him that they aren’t metal detectors, but Paranormal sensors, and will go off if they detect any WTFs.

Aurum casts a bad luck spell, that sets off as they get to the entrance. The device gives a small shock to the guard, and he drops it. Jesuit picks it, hands it to him, and walks through, followed by Aurum.

They are now in the belly of the beast.

Chapter 13 Keep it in the Family part 2

In the middle of AEGIS HQ, Bouncer tackles the partially invisible woman down to the ground. She pushes him off, showcasing some potent strength, and attempts to go invisible again.

Now that Jesuit knows what to look for, he is able to “see” where she is and takes a few shots, causing her to become visible again. Bouncer tackles her once more, but this time, is zapped with electricity, causing him great pain.

Bouncer fights through the sparks and slams the woman into barrels of water, knocking both of them out. Jesuit heals Bouncer and AEGIS guards surround the woman.

As they watch, her suit begins to disintegrate, leaving a naked black woman lying on the grass, along with a flash drive.

As they clothe and tie her up, a metallic howl rings through the air. Mickey comes running out with an iPad, showing surveillance footage from outside the compound. The guard towers have spotted a creature outside of HQ and have shined spotlights on it. It’s a large metallic dog, big as a car, howling. It peers at HQ with glowing red eyes. Jesuit and Bouncer head out to meet it.

Firework looks at Aurum, panic in his eyes. Aurum holds Firework’s hand, with a calm expression, and nods his head. Firework’s sparks surround Aurum, and they both become a ball of rainbow sparks, merging their forms. They zip out of the tower and head towards Firework’s home.

A similar metallic dog lurks in his neighborhood, sniffing just a few doors down from his home. Firework lights up, catching the creature’s attention. Firework flies into the air, trying to lure the canine away from his home. The dog’s eyes light up and it leaps into the air, rocket propelled. Firework charges away, heading towards Treasure Island.

As he does so, Firework lights up as bright as he can, hoping that he can signal his friends to follow. With a miniature sun in the sky, everyone takes notice.

Back at home, Johnny 5 shows Wildheart that there is a creature lurking near his mom’s home in Oakland. Wildheart calls his mother, telling her to get down into the basement. He begins to head toward the garage, to drive to his mother, when Johnny points out that something has gotten the metal dog’s attention. The black and white viewscreen lights up, and the dog leaps into the air, away from his mom’s home. Wildheart breathes a sigh of relief.

War strolls through Golden Gate Park, with Melody Mist at his side. He had taken a few days off to spend time with Melody, though Melody insisted they stay in the Bay Area. “A staycation is the best!” As they walk about the dark park, Melody implies (heavily) that she would really like to see his new home, his “War Cave.” He begrudgingly agrees to show her that evening.

They get to War’s home, and are greeted by Johnny’s famous gun turrets, when War spies something stalking in the darkness. He puts Melody behind him as a giant metallic dog stealths out of the darkness. War watches as the dog walks up to the gated entrance of home, looks around, and continues its tracking, having been “pushed’ away by the house’s protective spells and tech. War watches as it goes down the street, and goes inside.

He almost gets slammed by Wildheart, who is racing towards the garage. War joins him, telling Melody to stay in the house. War tells Johnny 5 to watch over Melody, and to protect her. Johnny 5 asks if Melody likes video games. “Boy, do !?”

Wildheart and War leave the protective field of the house in the Impala. As soon as they do, the metallic dog catches their scent, howls, and chases after them. Barely keeping ahead of the creature, Wildheart heads towards AEGIS HQ, not sure where else to go. He sees the sky flare up in Rainbow colors, sees Firework traveling towards Treasure Island, and gets an idea. He sets the Impala to autopilot (thanks, Jackson) touches War, and teleports them to where he thinks Firework is.

On Treasure Island, the merged Firework and Aurum get surrounded by two of the metallic creatures. They’re joined by Wildheart and War, who’s own dog followed them, flying through the air and arriving moments after.

Aurum summons a big, bad wolf, and has it attack one of the dogs. Wildheart launches himself at one of the creature, trying to ride it like a cowboy. War stealths into the surrounding forest, and aims an explosive arrow, waiting for the right shot. Firework throws a blast of energy at another dog.

The dogs react to the attacks. One of the dogs eyes change color, and shoots out a beam of pure Nevernever energy, something that Firework is immune to. It changes color and shoots out a fire blast.

The dog that Wildheart rides gets damaged in the scuffle, but in moments, begins to self repair!

The big bad wolf faces off against the metallic creature. It’s too fast to be hit by metal dog, but it’s not strong enough to pierce its armor hide.

War changes tactics and shoots out a bolo arrow, snaring one of the wolves’ legs, giving the big bad wolf an advantage.

Back at AEGIS HQ, Jesuit and Bouncer face off against their own metal mutt. They test it’s strengths, shooting and punching, when Bouncer’s feet gets frozen by a beam from the dog’s eyes! Aurum is able to free Bouncer, and they continue to spar against it. Bouncer had called in the full force of AEGIS to get ready, and while they do, Jesuit and Bouncer buy them time.

Seeing that they’re at a stalemate, Firework realizes he needs to know more about these creatures, and their master.

He taps into the multiverse, and channels his other “selves” into him, a dangerous procedure for everyone involved. When connected, they lose touch, just for a moment, with reality, losing themselves in their hive mind. If they’re not careful, they can lose themselves into the vastness of the multiverse. But with enough willpower, they can gain the insight their “others” know.

The metallic dogs do indeed belong to Huntmaster, or The Huntmaster. Huntmaster has mastered the ability to travel between realities, without causing the usual chaotic disruptions that comes with foreign objects in foreign universes. He uses this ability to travel through different universes, hunting “game,” those he deems worthy of battle. Those who can pose a challenge, usually those who are capable of destroying or taking out his warhounds, catch his attention. He travels with his vast armament of weapons, and his flying headquarters, The Hunting Lodge, and challenges his prey to battle.

He gets bits and pieces of this information, from an infinite amount of sources. Most of his “selves” have never heard of him, others have heard whispers or myths. It is implied that he is the root of the legend of the Wyld Hunt.

All who have heard of him, or have dealt with him and lived say the same thing: Where he comes, destruction follows. Legend has it that he has been defeated before, typically by a valiant group of heroes (or villains, Huntmaster don’t care), it came at a great cost, usually massive devastation. He can be “defeated” in that if you gain his respect in battle, if your strength impresses him, or you otherwise “win” the fight, he will leave. But those cases are rare and few, and have not been verified.

It always starts the same. His warhounds show up first, tracking his prey. And if his warhounds are defeated, or are given a tough fight, they send out a mighty howl that will summon their master across the dimensions.

And that’s when the end becomes nigh.

Mere moments pass as Firework gains all this information. It takes him all his will to snap out of, to break free of the tight grip of the hive mind, and to not get lost in the multiverse. He does so, with help from the still bonded Aurum. Firework relays his information.

The team realizes that if they defeat the warhounds, Huntmaster will arrive. If they don’t defeat the warhounds, the mechanical terrors will kill them.

insert name wonders if there’s a way to block the signal, to prevent the warhounds from sending out the call.

In comes Melody Mist. Melody, who by now has bonded with Johnny 5, gets on the com with the team. She says that if she can get into the network, with Johnny 5’s help, she may be able to whip up something to help.

With some hesitation, the team gives Johnny 5 permission to help Melody. Doing so, they team up and hack into the city’s system. They say the can set off the tsunami alarms at a frequency that should, in theory, block whatever signal the warhounds use.

The team gives the go ahead.

Back at AEGIS HQ, Jesuit and Bouncer have given the army time to set up. At Bouncer’s command, AEGIS unleashes the full military power onto the beast. Bazookas, M-16s, grenades, and EMP bomb, and anything else that the base had is thrown at the self-reparing warhound. It takes it, repairs, takes it, repairs, and then starts to lose the battle. In moments, its systems are overwhelmed with the sheer might of AEGIS until finally, it explodes, sending Jesuit and Bouncer flying back. The creature is destroyed.

On Treasure Island, in the middle of battle, the three remaining warhounds stop, turn their heads towards AEGIS HQ on the mainland, and stand still, as if listening. Then, moments later, they all howl in unison. Firework can “see” that they are indeed broadcasting a signal.

At that moment, the tsunami sirens go off, but at a much higher pitch then normal. It’s almost painful to listen to, and the team isn’t even that close to them. Jesuit and Firework can “see” that it works! The signal the warhounds tried to send out can’t get pass the frequency that Melody & Johnny 5 are emitting.

The team steps away from the three warhounds, waiting for them to attack, when after a few moments, they self destruct.

From all four bodies, in the two different locations, a small, black cube shaped item lifts up over the debris of the warhounds. They hover where they are for a brief moment and then try to launch into the sky.

The team reacts instantly, with War shooting one out of the sky into Wildheart’s hands, another being caught by Firework’s sparks, another by Aurum’s force field, while Jesuit shoots the one near him, allowing Bouncer to bounce high enough to capture it.

The items beat against their holdings, trying to break free. Bouncer yells out to AEGIS to prepare containment for the devices.

Melody suggests that they put the cube near their wrist communicator, so Johnny can attempt to hack into it remotely. They do so, giving Johnny access.

“So…many…zettabytes…of data…”

Melody laughs into the coms, and goes, “So…does this mean I’m part of the team now?”

In unison, everyone says, “No!”

With no one to see her, Melody sulks.

Chapter 13 Keep it in the Family

At breakfast, the team gets to know Heather a bit more. They discover that she “broke out” the year before. Her family was a bit dysfunctional from the sound of it, and her parents often argued. One evening they were arguing so much she got upset, which activated her powers. The road they were driving on slicked over with ice and the car skidded out of control, killing both her parents.

She was sent to an orphanage and a volunteer there told her to keep her powers secret, otherwise she’d never get adopted. She’d been trying to conceal her powers this whole time, sometimes losing control. When it got near the holidays, she just started to feel more and more angry at the world and that’s when…HE…came to her, and granted her wish.

The team asks what her abilities are. Heather takes a fresh egg from the fridge. She holds it up with her right hand, and it slowly becomes covered in ice. She moves the now Egg Ice Cube to her left hand, and the entire thing melts, egg and all, into a liquid goo.

Bouncer says she needs to be registered, that if AEGIS finds out about her and the fact that she isn’t registered, it wouldn’t end well. Some quick research finds that the youngest paranormal to have registered is a 17, almost 18 year old in New York. Heather, at 13, is the youngest Paranormal to have broken out.

They agree to bring her to AEGIS later to register and to help speed along the process, but to keep the incident with her parents a secret.

They talk about giving her training, so she can control her powers, and realize the best tutor would be the Caretaker. But when she wasn’t training, she should not use her powers. Guy makes a quick call to Jackson, who says that he’s already built an inhibitor that looks like jewelry, rather than the inhibitor collars that AEGIS uses, and has shipped it their way (precognition and all that). He sounds stressed and tired, and Firework learns that Jackson hasn’t been getting much sleep. Too many ideas in his head.

After breakfast, Firework, Aurum, Bouncer & Jesuit take Heather to Firework’s mother(s) home. Wildheart has other plans.

Samantha & Darla welcome the team for brunch. While Samantha plays homemaker, Firework talks to Darla about Heather. He says that she has nowhere else to go, no family, and putting her back in the system, with her abilities, would end disastrously. Darla says she must register, but since she’s a minor, that this would open up a world of legal issues (Darla has been studying Paranormal Paralegal issues lately).

Samantha meanwhile chats with the teammates and gets to know Heather. Once Darla and Firework return, everything is decided. Darla & Samantha will be Heather’s foster parents for now (Darla will work on the paperwork), she’ll be registered with AEGIS, and she’ll train with The Caretaker after school (really the only time she should take off her inhibitor until she can learn to control her powers).

Samantha is excited to have a child again. Darla is excited to start down a whole new legal path or Paranormal paralegal matters. And the rest of the team decide to let Caretaker he will have a new charge.

Meanwhile, Wildheart goes to have brunch with his mom. His mom tells him that his brother had stopped by a few times, each time making sure that Wildheart wasn’t present. She says that he said “I don’t want to cause any more problems than I already have.”

Wildheart tells his mom to pass along a message, that he would like to have coffee sometime and talk. Just talk. No punching.

Wildheart then goes to AEGIS HQ, and goes down the holding cells. He talks to Juanito, the paranormal that the team captured on Christmas Day. Wildheart tells Juanito that he’ll do what he can to help him in his situation, and will put him in touch with HOPE, to see if they can help with his legal issues.

Wildheart goes to talk to Dr. Brennan, but runs into Mickey, who says she’s on vacation.

Back in the city, Bouncer puts in a call to Dr. Brennan, to consult about Heather. Mickey answers and tells him she’s on vacation, and that he’s surprised Bouncer wasn’t notified. Bouncer shrugs it off and meets back with the rest of the team.

Firework pulls out his Golden Key and put it in the door to his pantry. When he opens the door, a black void stands before him. He lets everyone go in before he does, and then follows. They get the sensation of traversing dimensions (something Firework is used to) and arrive in the Nevernever, at The Lair entrance.

Which now looks like a swanky hotel lobby, with a check in desk, lounge furniture, and staircases going up several floors.

The team walk to the “STAFF ONLY” door and open it. Inside they find the familiar, endless hallway with doors on either side. They get their bearings and head towards “their” room. As they do, they hear a crash from inside one of the rooms, and out stumbles a disheveled Caretaker.

“Oh. You guys. Can’t y’all knock?”

From inside the room comes Dr. Brennan, not in her usual business attire, but in a baggy sweater and leggings. Her usually impeccable hair is pushed back in a bun with various strands sticking out.
“Ahem. Gentleman. I see that you…are here…and well…ahem…”

Firework giggles as Aurum says, “Now now, Temperance. We’re all adults here. There’s not need to explain your…liaisons. We are here to talk with The Caretaker.”

Caretaker goes, “Bout time. It’s been ages since y’all stopped by. Can’t bother to check in on an old man?”

“You look like you’ve kept busy.” Bouncer says.

Caretaker explains that he has upgraded The Lair, with better security after the “incident’ last time, as well as created a few more portals. It’s not instant teleportation everywhere, but a good number of locations around the globe. Dr. Brennan seems a bit hesitant about the idea of her AMERICAN team traversing the globe, but the team seem excited by the notion.

They explain the situation about Heather, and Caretaker agrees to take on Heather, while Dr. Brennan agrees to help where she can with the registration process.

Jesuit hd something bothering him. He says, “Dr. Brennan, how long have you been here?”

“Well, time moves differently here, as you know, so quite some time actually. However in the “real world,” I’ve only been gone a few days. Did you not get my message?”

Bouncer says, “Wait…you’ve been here? You weren’t around on Christmas Eve?”

She shakes her head, “No, I took time off and was here with Carl. The vacation request was a bit last minute, but I made sure that you would be notified…”

Bouncer goes, “Then who…wait, we talked to you yesterday, on Christmas Eve, and you sent us on a mission. An easy one, but…oh no.”

Bouncer and Jesuit leave through one of the new portal doorways and head straight for AEGIS HQ. They walk in as if nothing was wrong, and head straight for Dr. Brennan’s office. They see Mickey at his terminal, in the office, working. They question him about what he’s doing there, and he says he needed the pay so volunteered to work the holiday shift. He says that he’d been keeping track of Dr. Brennan’s message and keeping her files in order for when she returned.

Jesuit is able to tell that he is not lying.

They ask him to bring up surveillance footage of the past few days. For a while, they spot nothing. Then, the day before, they see what appears to be Dr. Brennan walk through the security gate. She walks carefully, around people. No one seems to really pay attention. She gets to the office, walks in, and does not leave. At all.
Mickey quickly goes onto Dr. Brennan’s computer and checks it.

“It’s been wiped. All of it.”

Bouncer immediately calls General Jackson, the person in charge, and informs him there’s been a data breach. Jesuit focuses his powers, using sight beyond sight.

He barely notices that the door behind them opens slightly, and not by the wind. He excuses himself, making eye contact with Bouncer, and follows the lead.

Focusing his sight abilities (aka uses a Hero Point) he’s able to see what he wasn’t before…light being refracted away from a particular space, causing invisibility. He takes aim and fires, hitting a humanoid figure. A wave of electricity courses through the body, briefly revealing a woman covered head to toe in a body suit. She goes invisible, but the shot left a patch of circuitry revealed in her back.

She bolts, running outside, but is tackled by a charging Bouncer, and knocked to the ground.

Back home, Aurum and Firework walk into their home. As they’re about to go up to their penthouse, Johnny 5’s alarm system sets off.

“Firework! You have to head to your moms’ now!” The tv turns into a view screen, showing surveillance footage of Firework’s moms’ condo. Outside, stalking and sniffing the ground, is a metallic robot dog.

The viewscreen begins to show other views, including outside of HOPE and AEGIS HQ, and outside of Wildheart’s mom’s street. The same metallic dogs, stalking in the darkness.

Firework’s jaw drops. “Those dogs…they belong to The Huntmaster.”

Crisis on Christmas Part 2

Adventure Log: Crisis on Christmas Part 2

The team watches as a pack of wolves comes out from the darkness of the forest. Their eyes glow a crimson red, their fur is laced with ice and snow. They growl and stalk forward, slowly at first.

And then another pack comes out. And another. And another. Each from the same path in the forest.

The alpha, the large wolf leading the packs, howls a chillingly howl, and they charge.

Jesuit fires but for everyone he takes out, another takes its place. Firework scoops up several of them and tosses them aside, but doesn’t make a dent in the wave of wolves.

Aurum casts a spell, circling the team in a ring of fire. The wolves back off at first, their ice melting as it gets close to the protective barrier. But they’re steeling their resolve, and the team knows the fire will only hold them off for so long.

Jesuit scans the area, trying to find an exit point. He can tell that the wolves are magical in nature, that they’re weak to fire, but that it won’t stop the horde.

Jesuit gets on Bouncer’s shoulders to get a better viewpoint. He sees that there’s a small alcove in the outskirts of the forest, several yards away. At the mouth of the entrance, there’s a pile of what appears to be…toys. Toys of all shapes and sizes. Jesuit points the team to that direction.

Firework surrounds them in sparks, and though he can’t carry them, he is able to move the forcefield around them as they continue their journey.

Firework can feel the wolves pushing against his force field, and knows that they’ll break through by sheer numbers.

As they get closer to the pile of toys, someone, or something, from inside the entrance yells, “About time! We’ve been trying to get yous attention for a while! C’mon ya lugs! Get in!” The voice is high pitched and squeaky, with a bit of a bronx accent.

Toys begin to get tossed from out of the entrance. Baseball bats, toy trucks, wooden ducks, and all manners of toys get chucked, hitting the wolves in the face. This catches the packs off guard and they step back. The team uses this distraction and runs inside. As soon as they pass the small pile of toys at the entrance, they realize they didn’t enter the forest. They entered a giant ice cave.

The entrance behind them seals up, as a wall of toys manifests and locks them in.

The team finds themselves surround by tiny humanoid figures. They seem incomplete, as if they weren’t done being created, but they were friendly, chittering in a squeaky, high pitched language. The only one who can understand them is Aurum, and he concludes that they don’t pose any serious threat.

The one who speaks english says, “Call me Doc. That’s what these mooks call me anyways. Any who, we called out for help, and that guy in the cape, you knows, the flashy one?”

Aurum goes, “Eldritch? The Master Mage of this dimension?”

“Yeah, that’s the one. We’ve had dealings with him before, not the most talkative guy, let me tell ya, and so when things went down around here, we called him for help. Turns out he was outta town, and so he decided to outsource, namely y’alls. So, can ya help?”

The team looks around at each other. “With what, exactly?” Firework asks.

“Saving Christmas, of course! Jeez!” exclaims Doc.

The team all look at each other, confused. Jesuit goes, “And Christmas is what now?”

Dock smacks his forehead, “Of course, duh. You got the whammy put on ya too. Hold on.” Doc walks over to a toy chest and starts to rummage through it. He pulls out a handful of what appear to be roasted chestnuts.

“Here. Munch on these and all will be revealed and stuff.”

The team wearily eyes the treat. Firework goes, “Oh well, let’s see what happens.” and pops one in his mouth.

Firework gets blasted with memories of his childhood, of the few Christmas’ that his family spent together, happy. He remembers being a child, being surrounded by presents because he was an only child, and his mom and dad happily sitting on their sofa, watching their child happily tear through the wrapping paper. They held each other as they watched, content and sure that this would last forever.

Firework is filled with warmth and happiness and energy. He remembers everything about Christmas and realizes something is wrong with the world.

Jesuit follows suit. He too is filled with memories, of the various sermons he’s performed on Christmas Ever and Christmas, at various spots around the world. He remembers the joy and comfort he brought to those who attended his mass, the hope he gave them, and the much needed spiritual support that they in return gave him.

Aurum goes last, and his memories are slightly more…different. He remembers sitting on a chair with a single gift in front of him. His parents stand by the fireplace, watching. Aurum gingerly opens the gift and reveals his first Book of Shadows. His parents stand stoic, but proud, that their son has reached this milestone. He gets up and bows before his parents, thanking him for parting with him their knowledge and this responsibility. Aurum’s father calls Everett Smith, the head of the house staff, who brings in warm brandy for the adults, and butter beer for Aurum.

The team has a musical interlude about what it Christmas means to them. Though they will never admit it.

The humanoids now show their true appearance, that of elves. Santa’s elves, to be percise.

Doc explains that they were all gearing up for the big holiday season when a blizzard blew in, blowing through all of Santa’s defenses. A witch, calling herself Disparia, kidnapped Santa & Mrs. Claus, and kicked out all the elves! She’s taken over Santa’s workshop, with an army of grinch like creatures, and as long as she has Santa captured, no one remembers Christmas!

The team agrees to help. Doc says that if the team can create a distraction, their ninja elves (elves that are wearing the same kind of holiday clothing, but all in black) can sneak into the workshop and free the Clauses’. Otherwise, the world is doomed to a dreary winter season.

The team now notices how bleak the world was. With no holiday cheer, the long winter cold months just sapped everyone of merriment, of happiness, and most importantly, of hope. They all set off down one of the cavernous tunnels to Santa’s Workshop.

Back in San Francisco, Wildheart rides in the back of the AEGIS truck with Juanito, the Paranormal who was forced to help rob the bank the team stopped. Wildheart explains that as the law stands, Juanito is going straight to jail. No trial, no appeal, just jail. The law is different for Paranormals, but he’s working with an agency, HOPE, that aims to change those laws. Juanito says he didn’t want to do the crime, but he also doesn’t want to fight anymore.

As they talk, the truck suddenly stops. WIldheart asks the agents what’s going on. Seems like there’s a large crowd brewing in Union Square. Wildheart goes to investigate.

He sees what looks like an angry mob, facing off against a squad of police officers. The tensions that has been rising throughout the winter has hit a spark, and these two clashing groups looked ready for a fight. Wildheart can see that police in riot gear were coming, and he could see members of the civilian mob were picking up things to throw, including bricks, bottles, and whatever else they can get their hands on.

Wildheart spots a few tourists, trying to get away from the mob. He sees a mother with a baby carriage trapped, and that’s when the fight begins. Police draw their guns, bricks are thrown, and chaos ensues.

Back at the North Pole (?), the team leaves the giant cave and see a vast field, covered in snow. In the middle lies a simple, wooden cottage, one story, barely bigger than the team’s HQ, with smoke rising from the chimney.

The team walk across the field, leaving the elves behind (except the ninja elves, who have vanished from view). As they get closer, Bouncer says, “Distraction, huh? I got this.”

He walks ahead of the team, raises his arms, and slams his hands together, creating a massive shockwave, blowing snow from their path and straight for the cottage.

The shockwave hits an invisible force field, surrounding the cottage. As the ringing leaves the ears of the heroes, the front door of the cottage opens. Racing out comes a pack of ape like creatures, with thin limbs, distended bellies and heavy green fur. They charge the team. As they do so, a blast explodes from the roof of the cottage, and carried by arctic winds comes Desparia.

Desparia is clothed in an elegant, purple gown, with black hair and dark piercing eyes. She is carried aloft on the wind, and the team can’t help but notice her similar appearance to a certain Disney Princess (or is that Queen?). She cries out, “You’re here to ruin my fun! No one does that!”

Bouncer throws himself into the pack of animals, tossing them this way and that. The team focus on Desparia. Everything they hit her with is deflected by a force field. Jesuit tries to get a read on her, but his Angel Eye is somehow blocked. They try to get her to monologue, which she does, “No one can enjoy Christmas, not as long as I have Santa!”

The team starts to whittle down her force field, forcing their way through. As it looks like it’s about to burst, Desparia screams in rage and summons a blizzard, which starts to freeze the team!

As the team struggles against the cold, the door to the cottage bursts open. From out of the darkness steps Kris Kringle himself, though each of the team sees him differently. He bellows out a “HO HO HO” which causes the blizzard to cease, and the creatures, who were starting to overwhelm Bouncer, to dissipate.

Santa says, “You’ve been a very sad, very naughty little girl, Heather. Do you want to ruin Christmas for every little boy and girl?”

Disparia, who at this point has landed on the snow, screams out, “Why not!? It was ruined for me! It was taken from me!” An icy tear goes down her cheek. “Why?! Why did they have to die!?”

At that moment, Jesuit smells sulfur. He senses power around him. A voice from out of nowhere says, “Because life isn’t fair, my dear. Not for you, anyway, so why should it be fair for anyone else?”

In the blink of an eye, a man stands near Disparia. A middle aged,, attractive man, in a business suit, stands near her. He walks around her, eyeing Santa, smiling at the team, saying, “That is why I came to you. To help you. To make sure that others suffer as you did.”

Jesuit and Aurum look at Santa, and then at Disparia. Jesuit says, “Dispar…Heather…Who died?”

Heather doesn’t look at him, looking at the ground instead. She goes, “I…I couldn’t control it. I didn’t know what was happening. One minute we were driving…driving home from practice…when the road got slippery. I was mad that I lost the game, but…I didn’t mean for it to happen.”

Aurum watches the man and says, “Your powers. You broke out, did you not? Lose control?”

Heather slowly nods. “The road got slippery….I didn’t mean it…”

The man goes, “Of course not, my dear. But I heard your call. I heard your wish. You used to love Christmas. But that was taken from you. Isn’t this better? Isn’t this what you wanted?”

Firework steps in. “Heather, it wasn’t your fault. You’re a Paranormal. You’re like us. We learned to control our powers. You can too. If you want, we can help you.”

Jesuit has been racking his brain. He knows he’s heard about this person before, but he couldn’t…

“Mr. Infamy.” Jesuit says softly.

The man smiles, “Ah, you’ve heard of me? Excellent.”

Jesuit knows he must do more research, but he’s heard of a…person…thing…who goes around the world, granting wishes, but usually at great cost, and usually with unexpected results.

Jesuit, Aurum, and Firework say their peace, each talking about the wonders and magic of Christmas. They explain how dark and dreary the world has become without it, and how just like Heather, people are suffering. They talk about how the world can be tough, but that she doesn’t have to be alone. They talk about the spirit of Christmas, as Santa Claus himself stands proudly near.

Disparia looks at the team, and then at Santa, and then at Mr. Infamy. “I take back my wish.”

Mr. Infamy frowns. “Don’t you remember how much it hurt you, Heather, losing your parents. The thought of spending Christmas alone?”

Disparia starts to melt. Revealed is a little girl of 13, with brown hair in ponytail and overalls. She goes, “I take back my wish.”

Mr. Infamy starts to say something when Mr. Claus goes, “You heard her. GIve her what she wants.” He crosses his arms, which have words tattooed on them. Naughty & Nice.

The team circles around Mr. Infamy. Firework goes, “You might be able to take us on, but you can’t take him on.” pointing to Santa. “Not in his place of power.”

Mr. Infamy scowls for a brief moment, and then smiles. “Of course, my dear. Your wish is my…etc.” Mr. Infamy snaps his fingers. And begins to walk away. “Pleasure meeting all of you. I had wondered when our paths would cross. I would imagine, they’ll cross again.”

Aurum goes, “Yes yes, oh mighty being. I’m sure we’ll see you again. Soon.” He waves him off.

Mr. Infamy smiles, “Indeed. Eriss says hello, by the way.” and with that, he vanishes.

The team gather around young Heather. Mr. Claus looks happy, but tired. “Thank you, everyone, for saving Christmas. Normally I would have been able to handle it, but well, that man sucker punched me. Me! There’s just no class in the world anymore. HO HO HO.”

Mrs. Claus walks out. “Dear, ask what you want to ask. I’m sure they’ll help.”

Mr. Claus looks at the team. “Well see, breaking free, and breaking Mr. Infamy’s hold on my land took a lot out of me. I’m just not in the right space to…”

Firework jumps up into the sky. “We’ll do it! We’ll save Christmas!”

Mr Claus laughs a hearty laugh, “I figured you might. My reindeer and I are a bit out of commission. But I can still help. Follow me.”

Entering the small cottage, the team is not surprised to find it is bigger in the inside. Much, much bigger. A giant toy factory, manned by hundreds of elves, is running at full steam. Walking through the orderly chaos, the team is led to Santa’s sleigh. Just big enough to fit everyone. In the back of the sleigh is a giant red sack, filled to the brim with toys.

With Santa’s help warping time and space, the team gets ready. Jesuit will be able to tell who is “naughty or nice.” Aurum will be able to channel Santa’s magic to fly them around the world in a single night. Firework will light the way. And Bouncer will pull the sleigh. Firework makes sure a single red spark lands on Bouncer’s nose.

Together, they take flight, zipping around the world, delivering gifts to all manners of houses and homes. Each house they visit becomes filled to the brim with Christmas cheer and decorations. Each gift they deliver disappears, as the hope that is contained within disperses among the people sleeping. And sometimes, once in a while, a child will awaken and see the magic that is Christmas.

Back in San Francisco, Wildheart saves the women and the stroller, and starts leaping to and fro, trying to break up the riot. He yells out and tells everyone to calm themselves, that this is not right, and that everyone needs to work together. As he does so, the crowd listens, but begins to advance toward each other. Wildheart gets ready to bust some heads when he looks up. He swears he sees something flying in front of the moon…and maybe a red light leading the way.

As the team travels home, the joy of Christmas fills the air. Decorations appear, music begins to play, and the riot stops. Everyone looks at each other, police and civilians, and they begin to disperse, helping those who need it along the way.

The team has saved Christmas.

The next day, the team wakes up in their respective rooms. They walk into the living room where Johnny 5 has decorated (as best he could) with various gifts under an electronic tree (yay Amazon Prime, he says!).

Heather walks out of the guest room, as well. She is in pajamas and thanks the team for celebrating Christmas with her. Firework walks to her and kneels down, “So…you don’t have any other family?” Heather shakes her head.

Firework smiles. “We’ll just have to see about that.”


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