The team materializes back in the real world, underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. Or at least, what’s left of it. It looks like it was never repaired after the initial Breaking. Aurum fly the team to the outskirts of Sacramento, the possible location of the original wish maker.
In an abandoned suburb, the team lands and set up camp in a vacant house. Off in the distance, they can see a large energy dome in the middle of Sacramento.
The entire neighborhood is desolate, with the houses falling into disrepair. The team finds that the original owners were packing up, but left behind most of their belongings.
Aurum goes off to do research on Mister Infamy, to try and see if they can summon him. Firework being a big ball of Nevernever energy, goes with him, in order to avoid detection. They teleport out.
Using Zee’s tech, they determine that the shield is technological in nature and not magic. They should be able to work their way through it.
They debate on just sending the two non-Paranormal team members to do reconnaissance, when Bouncer remembers the special “Colleen Collar.” He puts it on Jesuit, who immediately loses access to his powers.
Zee just happens to have a spare.
War hot wires a minivan and they drive off towards the city.
Driving into the city limits, most of the place is abandoned. Buildings are crumbling, there’s trash everywhere, and cars are overturned. They don’t see anyone. They park in an alleyway and continue on foot. They eventually reach an electrified barb wire fence, one that goes on for several city blocks.
They hide as Paladins fly past them, scanning the area.
The team discovers that this section of the city has been corned off and made into makeshift camps, where people live. These districts are the only areas with power, as the rest of the city is blacked out.
The people they see are disheveled, wearing tatters, looking thin, but otherwise unharmed.
The team take to the sewers, hoping to find a way into the camps. They have to avoid detection from sentries, which seem to be cleaning up the sewers, but they do so.
They emerge a block away from what appears to be a Farmers Market, people doing business and going about their day. After a few moments, people start closing up shop, and people start rushing to and fro.
Exploring, they see that several of the former office buildings have been converted into apartments. The team is able to see various families through the windows. There isn’t much in their homes, just the bare necessities.
As they get closer to the Capital, they see less and less foot traffic. They finally reach the end of the residential habitat and see a large grassy field, leading up to the massive energy dome. It surrounds the main capitol building, along with several buildings behind it.
Bouncer takes the lead and heads towards the grassy field. As he approaches, a sentry pops up out of the grass, scans Bouncers, and says in a robotic voice, “Citizen. Return to your designated area or face termination.” Bouncer stops, turns around and quickly returns. The sentry descends back into their hiding spot.
Bouncer says, “So…we gotta find another way around. These things aren’t joking around.”
War cracks his knuckles, says, “I got this” and walks out. He steps onto the grassy field and the same sentry pops up. It scans War, who smiles, and the sentry pops back down into its hiding spot. War turns around, gives the thumbs up, and continues walking. Various sentries pop up, scan him, and let him pass.
Jesuit, Bouncer & Zee hide in an abandoned building. As they do so, they can see that people are now rushing places. Some are running. As soon as they break into the building and settle in, they can see that people are rushing home.
After a few minutes, alarms start to blare everywhere. A mechanized voice and be heard and it says, “Citizens. Curfew is now in effect. Those found outside their designated habitat will be terminated. Have a pleasant evening.”
The team sees various Paladins of various shape take to the sky and use spotlights from their eyes to scan the roads.
War walks up to the shield. He can’t find a way around it, but does find another manhole cover. He jumps on down into the sewers and finds that there is a door leading into the capitol building, but it’s locked up tight. He continues and finds another access point and goes through.
He emerges behind the capital and in front of two separate buildings. Wait…three. Wait…two? He focuses and realizes that one of the buildings is hard to look at, as if his eyes want to look elsewhere. He realizes it’s the same as the domino masks that the team used to wear. He forces himself to it and climbs up to view into the windows.
Inside he sees a giant laboratory, with Paladin parts strewn about, along with various computer monitors and machines. This must be where Paladins are sent to get repaired. As he tries to find a way in, he notices movement. He sees two people step behind a giant Paladin head.
It’s Jackson & Melody!
Back at the abandoned building, the team waits on War’s report. As they do, they hear a Paladin fly near the building. They look out and sure enough two Paladins fly down and stop in front of their building. They stare up and say in unison, “Curfew violator detected.” They raise their hands and a small missile flies out.
The team brace for impact but realize the Paladins aimed for the floor beneath them! They hear a scream and then a small explosion rocks the building, and then silence. There was someone else in the building, and the Paladins caught them.
The paladins jet boots start up and they launch into the air, their spotlight eyes turning on. They scan the building, but the team is able to hide from them. The Paladins finish their search, and take off into the sky.
War breaks into the building, and hides, listening to the two tech nerds. They sound like Jackson & Melody, but they look tired, overworked. They separate and go into different areas of the lab. Melody heads toward where War is hiding. He pops out and begins to talk to her. She yelps and is about to call security when she looks at War’s face.
“Wel…? I…I thought you escaped? Last I heard you made it to Brazil. What are you doing here?”
War, without hesitation, goes, “Well, I came back for you! With your help, I might be able to take down these flying tin cans.”
After a bit of convincing, Melody decides to help War. She brings in Jackson, who takes even more convincing. War makes them believe that he can get them to freedom, away from the Paladin’s rule. They agree to help.
Together, they work up a code that will shut down the force field for 2 minutes. Jackson also gives War a device that will open the sewer drain underneath the Capital. War tells them he’ll be back for them, once he’s done what he’s here to do.
Melody gives him a long kiss. She says, “Promise you won’t leave me.” War smiles, goes, “Would I do that?” But before he can register the look of unease on her face, he jumps out the window.
War contacts the team, and they make their way in the sewer to where the hatch under the Capital is located. War activates the code and the shield goes down. He uses the device and the hatch opens right up. The team get to work.
They emerge in a bathroom. They go out into the empty hallway and start to look for where the senator might be kept. Most of the rooms are empty, but they keep checking, knowing that the downed shield will most likely bring in Paladins.
At the end of the hallway are large oak doors. The sign outside says “Senate Chamber.” They can hear voices. They sneak their way in, just as the doors to the outside open up. Human size Paladins start to come inside. They open each door and scan the room. The team has little time.
Inside the Senate Chamber, they see it has been remade into a makeshift camp. Dozens of people seem to live here, broken up into sections for each senator’s family. Above their heads, in the dome area of the building, are massive amounts of tech. It appears to be where the force field originates from.
Everyone is looking up at the dome tech, wondering what happened. No one appears to notice the team, so they take position.
Jesuit spots the one they’re looking for, Senator Francis Weber. She’s with what appears to be her husband, and two boys.
Jesuit walks over to the Senator. She seems surprised to see him, putting herself between Jesuit and her family. As she does so, she looks up. From out of the mass of wires, two sentries appear!
Bouncer says, “Jesuit! We’ll take care of them!” The team go after the sentries, as the civilians cry out and rush to the other side of the chamber, away from the fight.
Dee wraps one up with her whip while Bouncer grabs the other and uses them to smash them both. War throws up an EMP arrow that fries the shield circuitry. As they do, they can hear the other Paladins stomping down the hallway. They feel the earth tremor as the giant Paladin starts marching their way from outside!
Jesuit talks to the Senator. He tries to appeal to her humanity, to her better judgement, tries to convince her to rescind her wish. She tells him that she lost both her boys in the attack, that her husband left her shortly after, and she had nothing left to lose.
Jesuit points to all the frightened families around her. He asks if this is what they deserve, if this is the kind of world she would want her children to live in, if this is how she wants to the world to end?
Back and forth, talking, as the battle rages around them. Soon, the roof gets torn down, as the giant Paladin rips off the dome, and reaches a giant hand in. People are screaming, the Senator’s children come racing to her, terrified. She can no longer see her husband.
Jesuit looks at her. He goes, “You can stop this. Please.”
She closes her eyes, strokes her youngest child’s hair, and whispers, “Mr. Infamy. Mr. Infamy. Mr. Infamy. I summon you.”
Immediately, the world stops. Debris hangs in the middle of the air, people stay frozen where they are, and the Paladins crashing through the door no longer move. Everything is still, except for the team, the senator and her children, and Mr. Infamy.
Mr. Infamy stands there, smiling, his eyes radiating with blue energy. “You rang?”
The Senator starts to cry, as she holds onto her children. One goes, “Mommy? Who is that?” She reaches into her pocket and pulls out a black business card with gold lettering on it. She looks at Jesuit.
Mr. Infamy goes, “Are you sure you want to do this? Lose them, all of them, again?”
Jesuit snaps at Infamy. “Quiet. You’ve done enough harm. Leave this poor woman alone!” Infamy smiles and goes, “I just gave her what she wanted, “For something to save my children.” I never realized how…interesting…this wish would turn out.”
Bouncer goes, “Oh B.S. You knew exactly how this would turn out.”
Mr. Infamy turned his gaze on Bouncer. “On the contrary. I assumed that the Paladin would cause a certain amount of…discord…but it wasn’t I who took the world down this path. That was…an outside influence. One who saw an opportunity and took full advantage.”
From around them, a sharp cackle starts to rise. It slowly surrounds them, and then dissipates back into empty silence.
“Regardless, I held up my end of the bargain, “ Infamy continues, “As always. What happened afterward…well, that was quite a treat, let me tell you.”
The Senator goes, “This world…this isn’t right…this isn’t…” Her children begin to cry. She hugs them tighter. She takes the card, looks at Jesuit, then at Infamy, “Damn you.”
She tears the card in half.
The world begins to vanish around them. The room they’re in, the people, the debris, all start to shift out of reality. As it does, Mr. Infamy goes, “Ah well, it was fun while it lasted.”
He walks over to Jesuit, reaches into his pocket, and pulls out another black business card. “Here. In case you ever need my assistance.” Jesuit takes it, and tears the card in half.
A new one appears in Mr. Infamy’s hand. He smiles, goes, “Trust me, with what’s coming, you’re going to need all the help you can get. Whether you take advantage of my generous offer or not, is up to you.”
He walks past Jesuit and over to War. “Perhaps you’ll want my…” He stops mid sentence, staring at War, who eyes the card greedily. Infamy frowns and walks past War.
Infamy gives the card to Bouncer. “Just in case. Now then, I have other business to attend to. Good bye. For now.” With a snap of his fingers, Mr. Infamy disappears, and takes the world with him.
A bright flash of light and for an instant, everything is gone. Then, the team and the Senator find themselves in the senate chamber, as it was before. Bouncer quickly checks outside, and sees the dilapidated buildings, the smoky skies, and the camps are gone. He sees couples walking hand in hand, over the grassy field, and Sacramento alive and full of life.
He stares at the business card. It reads in gold lettering, “Mr. Infamy, Your Deepest Desires Can Be Yours, 666-666-6666.”
The team start to head out when Jesuit turns to the Senator, to see how she’s doing. She is staring at the team, fury in her eyes. She walks over to Jesuit, and in an icy voice, says, “I hate you.”
“I hate you, all of you freaks. I will do everything in my power to destroy you. It will be my goal to see you all rotting away, locked up and kept from normal people. So you can stop destroying lives. Get out of my sight.”
Jesuit nods, and walks out. His team is outside, enjoying the cool night air, and talking about getting ice cream. As they towards downtown, a figure watches them leave. The Senator, gazing at them with hate and fury in her eyes.
As she glares, a clawed hand rests gently on her shoulder. A voice, sharp but intelligent, goes, “We’ll get them, my dear. Together, we’ll make them pay.”