The Huntmaster, a powerful, dimension hopping, cosmic weapon wielding entity, known throughout the multiverse…kneels before Bouncer. His pack of mechanical dogs, each the size of a car, lay down, but keep an eye on the whole team.
“I formally request asylum.”
Bouncer motions for the Huntmaster to rise, and calls his team in. “Um…so, like, we’re going to have to talk about this. With my…people. What is it you want asylum from, exactly?”
The Huntmaster looks to the burned area, where the Probot scorched the earth. He goes, “I intercepted the transmissions the Probot was sending. I made sure they did not get to its intended destination. It said it was under attack by powerful forces. I knew that anything that could withstand a Probot would make for potent allies. So I came here, and sure enough, you made short work of it.”
He looks at the team. “Humph. You’re an unassuming lot. However, you took down a Probot. That says something. I have been hunting for a long time for a place where I could find allies, and where I can set up a base of operations. This looks like a good universe to do so.”
Bouncer goes, “Okay…but you’re The Huntmaster. You’re like…a big bad, right? What could have you on the run?”
The Huntmaster looks down at Bouncer and scowls. “I am not running. I am strategically retreating. A long time ago, I came back to my home after a particularly long hunt and found my world…my reality…was gone. All that was left was emptiness…darkness. A void. I only barely managed to escape its dark pull. I traveled to other universes, trying to see if I could find out the cause, but I only stumbled upon more realities that were gone…wiped out. I knew that if there was something out there destroying realities, even I would need assistance going up against it. So, I spent years looking for a place where I could fortify myself, and potential allies to help fight the upcoming darkness.”
“What is it you want from us? From our world?” Bouncer asks.
“Simple. A place where I can set up a base of operations. Where I can come back to after my hunt. And, when the time comes, your help in battling whatever is causing the destruction of the multiverse.”
Bouncer smirks, “Is that all?” he says sarcastically.
“Yes.” The Huntmaster replies, seriously. “ In exchange, I will not hunt anything on your world. I will go out of it to continue my hunt. I am the Huntmaster. It is what I do. Also, if you need my assistance in battle, and it is a foe worthy of my prowess, you shall have me by your side. I will also spend time looking for this foe, or any information relating to it. And share it with you, my allies.”
Jesuit opens his Angel Eye and scans The Huntmaster. He is taken aback by the power within him. The Huntmaster is a formidable foe, every bit the legend that surrounds him. His power comes mostly from his armor, but even without, Jesuit senses he would be a difficult foe. Jesuit thinks that maybe, just maybe, the team could take him, but the collateral damage would be extensive.
The Huntmaster’s main weakness is his sense of twisted honor. If The Huntmaster gives his word, he will keep it.
Bouncer looks back at the team. Jesuit says, “I think we should consider his offer. I know a great threat is coming, and we could use his assistance. Further, it would behoove us not to have to face him in battle if we could avoid it.”
Bouncer turns to The Huntmaster. “Okay. We’re gonna talk this over with our people. In the meantime…just hang out. We’ll get back to you shortly. Don’t…hunt anything…”
The Huntmaster cocks an eyebrow. His mechanical dogs stand up, growling. The air fills with tension for a moment. The Huntmaster sends away his spear, flicking it into nothing, and motions to his hounds. They stop growling, leap into the air, and head back to The Huntmaster’s spaceship. It moves over the Golden Gate Bridge and hovers there. The Huntmaster walks onto the bridge, stopping when he reaches the center. He stares off into the Pacific Ocean, and does not move.
Bouncer breathes a sigh of release, informs AEGIS that they all gotta meet, and the team heads off to AEGIS HQ.
The Board of AEGIS is ready when the team arrives. Some telecommute from around the world, others are there in person, including Dr. Brennan & Maximilian Mars. Once there, Maximilian throws up into the air a holographic projection of The Huntmaster.
“My drones are keeping an eye on him.” he says.
Aurum mumbles under his breath, “And no doubt scanning him for any useful data.” Maximillian only smiles.
Dr. Brennan goes, “So, what do you think? Do we trust him not to attack us? Do we use him?”
Wildheart, in the corner with his arms crossed, “I don’t trust him. I don’t think letting him stay here is a good idea.”
Jesuit speaks up, “I think that as long as we get his word that he doesn’t hunt here on our world, he will stay true. He has a twisted sense of honor, one that many of these big game hunters tend to have. He will hunt you down, shoot you in the back, and to hell any stray casualties if they get caught in his way…but if he says he will not hunt here, he won’t. I have…seen what is coming. It is a danger not only to us, but all of God’s creation. We must start getting ready to protect ourselves.”
Dr. Brennan looks at Bouncer. “What do you think?”
Bouncer shrugs. “I’d rather not have to go toe to toe with the big guy, so if we can make it so he doesn’t go all explody on our world, why not let him set up camp. Just so long as he doesn’t you know, set up camp in the middle of San Francisco, or some other major metropolitan area.”
Dr. Brennan goes, “Agreed.”
Aurum goes, “Have a lawyer write up a contract. I have a feeling if he says he’ll do something, we want to make sure there are no loopholes for him to abuse. A contract that states he’s welcome to stay here, as long as he doesn’t hunt here, and when we need his power, he’ll be there. And with that, I bid you adieu.”
Aurum whips up a doorway, pulls out his Lair Key, opens a door to the Nevernever, and steps through.
“Figures. He’s always gotta make an exit.” Mars says, while looking at his tablet.
Dr. Brennan goes, “Very well. We’ll come up with a contract, and give him asylum. It’s better to know where he’s at, anyways, and better not to have to deal with a potentially devastating battle. If that is all, dismissed.”
After a few hours, The Huntmaster stats to move. He walks down the bridge and heads towards San Francisco. AEGIS troops stand ready, but are told to let him pass. Bystanders have all been evacuated from the area. The Huntmaster walks right towards AEGIS HQ. He stands outside of its gates and goes, “I demand an audience with the leader of the world. Bouncer, is it? Has a decision been made?”The team walks out, followed by Dr. Brennan & Mars. Bouncer walks forward, with a tablet that has the contract on it. The gates open and they step outside.
“So, we decided that you can stay. We’ll grant you asylum as long as you adhere to the conditions laid out here.” He shows him the table.
The Huntmaster steps forward…and shrinks down. He is still taller than everyone there, but he is of a more manageable side. He looks at the tablet for a moment, and then hands it back to Bouncer. The tablet has been wiped, as all information on it was transferred to The Huntmaster’s suit. His faceplate shows various holo-data points as the Huntmaster reads what the tablet said.
“So, if you grant me asylum, I will be allowed to stay on your world. I will be left alone, no one is to invade my sanctuary, no one is to attack me. As long as this is the case, I will keep to myself. I will continue my hunts, but off world. If you call me for assistance, and I deem it worthy of my time, I will come. And when the time comes to face the coming darkness, you will stand by my side, to protect this realm, and all the multiverse”
Bouncer goes, “That’s the gist of it. BTW, where are you gonna live? And in what?”
The Huntmaster points to his ship, still hovering over the Golden Gate Bridge.
“That is my home, my lair. It is bigger on the inside. I have been scanning your world, via your…internet. I believe Ant-arc-tic-A will be sufficient for my needs. A remote area where I can come and go as I please, away from you lot. I accept your terms.”
With that, The Huntmaster grows back up to his earlier size, towering over everyone. He pushes a button on his suit, and his ship instantly zooms over. A tractor beam turns on from underneath his ship, and The Huntmaster rises into the air. As he does so, Mars’ drones continue to circle the ship, scanning it. Before the doors close on the ship, the Huntmaster looks down at the AEGIS members. He pushes one more button…and the tablet that had gathered all the intel on the ship that Mars was holding is wiped.
“Awww…” a disappointed Mars says.
The ship flies off into space, and heads to its destination, the bottom of the world.
Mars goes, “So…we may want to let the world’s leaders know that we may or may not have given an alien free reign on a continent that is not in anyone’s jurisdiction. Because you know that’s not gonna go over well.”
Dr. Brennan sighs. “Indeed. The alternative would’ve been to have a massive battle, perhaps one that would have spread. But for now, at least, crisis averted. Good job team. Go rest up. I have a feeling this this job just got a lot more difficult.”
Aurum arrived in The Lair and goes in search of The Caretaker. He asks the Caretaker a few questions before heading to the library. He sees that Caretaker is almost done repairs to The Lair, and that the command center has been upgraded.
In the small library, Aurum gets to work on researching the upcoming threat. He studies the history of the Caretakers, as well as the previous teams, hoping there are some clues as to what could be causing the destruction of the universes.
Caretaker comes in, knowing that Aurum has questions. He sits down, puts his feet up and goes, “If you’re that interested in lil’ ol’ me, why not ask the source instead of those dusty books? Got questions? Shoot.”
Aurum does so. He learns that Caretakers have been around for a long time, even before human civilization. In the Nevernever, Caretakers have immense power and control. Outside, in the “real world” they are mighty, but not nearly as powerful. Caretakers are immortal, but they can be killed, and have been in the past. When one Caretaker dies, another one spawns in their place.
There is one Caretaker for every reality, but they rarely interact with each other. He tells Aurum “It’s just weird. You put us in the same room, and eventually, it just gets very uncomfortable and awkward.” Their job is in their name, to take care of their reality. Usually that involves mentoring, training and helping the chosen of the reality. Other times it means something else.
The Caretaker says that The Nevernever is the “place between universes,” and that sometimes, things slip through the cracks and end up there. There are beings that live in The Nevernever, whole cities in some places, but The Nevernever is infinite, so they rarely interact with each other. He doesn’t know where everything is, but he knows a lot.
When Aurum asks the Caretaker how someone as powerful as he could’ve been defeated by Cain. Caretaker sighs, thinks a moment, and responds. “Cain. Cain was one of the best. He was a good guy, real nice, easy going, and funny. Can you believe it? He didn’t have much power, compared to some of the others. Teleportation. Useful, but not world changing…at least…we didn’t think so. When he went off the rails…it surprised us all. I didn’t know what was happening until it was too late. That he was going to each of his teammates…all throughout the world…killing them, and absorbing their power. Normally, when a Chosen One dies, I feel it. But he kept their power, rather than allowing it to move on. So I didn’t know. Essentially…he sucker punched me. He came to me, and I knew something was wrong. Nevermind the fact that he smelled of blood. He came at me, and I admit…my defenses were down. Because I trusted him. We all did. And he used that trust against us.”
“He said that he wanted to make the world a better place. That splitting up the power like we did didn’t make sense. That if 7 of us could change the world bit by bit, then one of us with all the power could make even bigger, better changes. He killed them all…because he wanted to make the world a better place. Can you believe it? And he thought…he knew…that I would try and stop him. That I wouldn’t…I couldn’t…let him get away with it. So he came to me. As a friend…and then…well you know. Big Battle. Lair got destroyed (of course). And the world broke.”
Caretaker gets up, goes, “I need a drink” and walks off. Aurum reflects on everything the Caretaker said.
A few weeks pass. Jesuit has nightmares, preventing him from getting a good night sleep. He decides he needs help, and after much prayer, decides he needs a therapist. He searches AEGIS’ databanks for a therapist that could help a Paranormal such as himself. He finds out that one of the members of AEGIS Paranormal Team in New York, a “Mindblast” is an empath, as well as working on his counseling degree, when he’s not saving the city. He sends a message to him to see if he can meet him, and is willing to fly out to New York to do so.
On his way to one of his sessions, he meets up with Rosa in Freedom City. He spends a few days there, teaming up with The Freedom League on a mission, and getting to know the major metropolitan area.
Bouncer spends his time in several meeting, including with the leaders of the other teams. They tend to look at him as the most experienced one, especially since his team has dealt with far more dangerous forces then the rest of the teams. He gives them advice where he can.
Wildheart spends his time with H.O.P.E., talking to other Paranormals on their behalf, and getting to know the organization. He works on his Biochemistry and hopes to discover more about The Nevernever Energy that gives Paranormals their powers. He wants to learn more about the powers in general so he can help them grown their abilities, as well as learn how to better control them.
The team is at home (or in The Lair) when Johnny 5 sends out the alarm. He says that satellites have discovered an unidentified craft that appeared out of nowhere and is heading towards Golden Gate Park (because of course it is). It seems to have had some sort of cloaking technology on when it entered the atmosphere.
The team gear up and race to the park. In the meadows, a giant vessel, which can only be described as a spaceship, lands. The visitors to the park all gather around the craft, taking pictures and videos with their phones.
A side door opens with a hiss, and a ramp comes down. Standing in the door way are 4 figures, a female in red armor, a male that is half black and half red with white hair, a figure in dark armor, and a giant reptilian looking alien.
The black and red man steps forward, and in a booming voice with a very odd accent goes, “Greetings Earthlings! We are The Starbreed! And we come in peace!”
Bouncer laughs out loud and goes, “You have got to be kidding me.”