The Breaking

Chapter 11 Family Rift

The night ends with Aurum working on the locating spell with Jesuit. Using Jesuit’s blood and an arcane onyx bowl filled with secret herbs & spices, and liquid, Aurum is able to make contact with Jesuit’s daughter. Aurum tells Jesuit to place his face in the bowl, to visually see her.

Jesuit’s face goes into the bowl, his senses instantly transported above The Earth. He gets the sensation of falling towards the surface, even though he knows he’s still in Aurum’s laboratory.

Zooming in towards Italy, and then in the southern part, on the boot’s tip, he “falls” above a small village. He continues to fall towards a two story house, going through the roof. He stops inside of a bedroom on the upper floor.

Not being able to control where he looks, he is shown the room in a panoramic view. The room is simply decorated, with handmade furniture, a bed with pink lace surrounding it, a wooden toy chest filled to the brim with dolls of all kinds, and a bookshelf filled with children’s books. There is a small wooden desk where a young girl around 5 years old is at, writing in a notebook.

The little girl stops writing and looks up from her book. Jesuit can make out that she’s writing a story, about a princess who fights dragons. The little girl looks around the room, a confused look on her face. She seems to focus on Jesuit, or where Jesuit would be given his perspective. She smiles and goes back to writing.

The door opens and an older Italian lady, in an apron with her hair up in a bun, comes inside. She says in Italian, “Darling you’re going to be late for school. You can finish your story later.”

The little girl finishes her sentence and closes her notebook, grabbing her school bag off the floor. “When I come back, can I read it to you?” she says, looking at the lady, but then shifts her eyes back to where Jesuit is.

“Of course, bella. You know I love hearing your stories. Now come along.” The woman goes back into the hallway.

The child puts on her bag and closes her door. As she does so, she says, “Bye Angel. I’ll see you later.”

As the door closes, Jesuit is forced back into the sky, as if a rubber band had just snapped. Within moments he’s above the countryside, and then the country, and finally back into the sky. As he enters the darkness of space, Jesuit pulls his head out of the water, dry as a bone.

He takes a moment to ponder what he had just witnessed. He looks at Aurum, quietly sitting in the corner, and goes, “Thank you, my friend. You have given me something…very special.” Aurum nods, and with that, Jesuit goes back to his floor.

Later that week, Aurum goes back home to check in on his family, as well as manage his company. He is in in his study reading an old text when the room gets very cold, very quickly. As a flash of cold breath escapes his lips, he says, “Hello Uncle Gerald.”

The ghostly apparition of Gerald Key, this realities former Locksmith, stands before Aurum. insert appearance here

“Hello nephew. Long time no chat.”

Aurum goes, “Yes, usually the only time we get together is when the world is in danger. I take it this isn’t a social call.”

Gerald walks to the books, looking at his old collection. He did so love his library. “No, unfortunately. Coming back to this realm is not easy, so unfortunately I can’t make it for tea time.”

Gerald turns around and looks at Aurum. “The walls are beginning to thin, Aurum. Dangerously so.”

Aurum closes his book. “I know, dear Uncle. The Incursions have been occurring more and more frequently and…”

“Not just those walls.” Gerald interrupts. “All around I see chaos and discord. Not just here, but elsewhere. There is something…coming. Some…force that I do not understand. And that is troublesome, since I understand much.”

Aurum says, “I don’t suppose you can be a bit less vague?”

Gerald smiles, “You know that’s not how this works.”
Gerald walks to Aurum, placing an icy cold hand on his shoulder. “Be wary, nephew. Troubling times are ahead. And I won’t be here to protect you, much as I would do anything to do so.”

Aurum smiles. “Thank you, Uncle. You have taught me well. I hope to live up to your legacy.”

Gerald pulls his arm back, slowly fading from view. “You already have.”

Fast Forward a month or so.

After a number of battles and missions, the team has gotten used to being in their luxury building complex, courtesy of Aurum. AEGIS still does not know about the arrangement. By this time, Johnny 5 has fully integrated with the building, happily helping in his own unique way.

War spends the majority of his time in The Arrow Cave, which he has dubbed his floor, though not aloud. Exercising, meditating, and face timing with his friend Melody Smoke, he hasn’t allowed for much team bonding outside of missions. This has annoyed Melody non-stop.

“You’re on their team! You’re one of them! I mean, not a WTF or whatever, but still, you’re one of them. You rely on each other, to watch each others backs. Kinda hard to do that if you don’t, you know, get to know them. I mean, you LIVE with them. How have you not even gotten an invite to dinner yet?”

War shrugs. “I don’t know. You know I’m not good with…the talking.”

Melody laughs, “Oh I know. Guess it’s good we found each other since I can do all the talking for us! Usually. But not in this case, since I haven’t even been invited over…hint hint.”

War shrugs, “I don’t know what the policy is on guests. I haven’t actually seen anyone bring anyone over. Usually they go out. Or something.”

“You could ask.”

“I could…”

“Seriously, War. You need to make more of an effort to get to know these people. You’ve been with them for over a month. You live with them, or at least, are neighbors. And getting to know them, and letting them get to know you, would be an asset to the team. Plus the sooner you get chummy with them, the sooner I can come over!”

War smiles. “That would be nice. Okay. I’ll…try.”

“Great. Now it’s time for your salmon jumps. Feel free to move the computer so I can…make sure your form is…correct and junk.”

War smirks and does as she suggests.

The next evening, in the communal kitchen, Jesuit, Bouncer, & Wildheart are cooking dinner. War comes down from his apartment and asks if he can join them. Bouncer & Wildheart look surprised, but Jesuit readily agrees.

After a rather awkward dinner, Jesuit suggests they go out for a few drinks, to bask in the glow of not risking their lives for once. Bouncer suggests “Jack’s” and off they go.

After a few drinks, and making some chit chat, Jesuit can tell War is uncomfortable. He also notices Wildheart is eyeing War questionably, unsure of what to make of him. Bouncer has gone off to talk to his friends over at the bar.

Jesuit asks War a few questions, about himself, about how he got into AEGIS, and the like. He says, “You’ve been with us for a while now, and I feel we don’t really know you.”

War goes, “Yeah, sorry about that. I’m not a very…social person.”

“We’ve noticed.” Wildheart says, in between sips of his beer.

Jesuit ignores it and goes, “Well you’re on the team. You’re one of us. So let’s fix that, shall we?”

War takes a deep breath, and gives his back story.

“So when the The Breaking happened..I was different person. I didn’t know what caused The Breaking, nor did I care.I just knew that there was money to be made in it. So I became a mercenary. Back then, the governments of the world were panicking, unable to comprehend how this would change the world. So they hired folks like me, humans who they assumed could be trusted, and had us…hunt down Paranormals. I did it, I was good at it, and I got even better at it as time went on.

The agency before AEGIS even gave me this bow. Where they got it, never asked.

When there were reports of a Break Out, or when a sighting occurred in whatever country I was in, I would be called in. I would gather a team, and we would nab the paranormal, bringing them in. Remember, back then, Paranormals were being rounded up. I just helped move matters along.

After several of these missions, there was this paranormal who could cause explosions with his mind. Reports said he would just look at you, and your head would pop. So my team and I went in. We surrounded the home of the paranormal, ready to extract him, when a wailing woman came running out of the house. We had been spotted, and she ran out, begging us to leave them alone. We were about to tranq her when our target came out, hands raised.

He was kid, no more than 13.

He had his eyes closed, and he was crying. He said he was sorry, that he didn’t mean to blow up that dog (Turns out the only thing that was blown up with a neighbor’s dog, and some minor property damage). He said that he couldn’t control it, and that he didn’t want to hurt anyone.

We tranquilized him before he could continue.

Afterwards, I talked to my superiors. By then, I was tired. Tired of taking down these so called dangerous targets. The majority of them were everyday people, who hadn’t been given enough time, or training, to control their abilities. I never asked what happened to the targets, but that boy was enough to get me to begin to question everything.

Eventually I learned that I could help these people in the new organization AEGIS rather than just hunting them down. So I signed up and have been trying to make amends for what I did.

Jesuit and Wildheart remain silent, listening to their teammate’s confession. Jesuit speaks up first, “Sounds like you did some bad things, but are trying to repent. I approve of that. Back then, no one knew what was going on, and fear gripped the world. We appreciate your honesty, War.”

Widheart spoke up next. “You hunted us down, like animals. And then put us down like dogs. What gave you the right…?!”

Jesuit stopped him. “Wildheart, please, he confessed to us what he did and…”

Wildheart slammed his drink down. “And what? We’re supposed to forgive him? Trust him? He’s not one of us. And never will be.” With that, Wildheart leaves.

War looks at Jesuit. “Well, that could’ve gone better.”

The next day, Aurum gets an invitation to an event being thrown by his rival Maximilian Mars, the CEO of MarsTech, saying they’re going to reveal a machine that will “save the world.” Dr. Brennan calls Aurum and informs him that her sources indicate that this new machine has something to do with The Incursions that have been occurring throughout the world, though they don’t know what about. She suggests that Aurum goes to investigate, since he’s been invited. Aurum accepts the invite,, bringing along the rest of the team.

At the gala, for that’s what it turns out to be, the team shows up in style. They enter the W Hotel whose lobby has been taken over by VIPs, tech moguls, celebrities and the press. They mingle as best they can, while trying to figure out what the new technology is. They come to a separate room where a small stage has been built, with a large object under a blanket stands.

Jesuit attempts to get a sense of the place, but senses nothing amiss. Everyone is there to have a good time and to be wowed. Firework scans the crowd, but sees no other Paranormals. Aurum reaches out with his magical senses and detects…something…nothing necessarily amiss, but there is an oddness to the atmosphere.

At last, the presentation begins. Maximilian Mars comes out to the roar of the audience. He begins his presentation by showing video of the various incursions that have occurred throughout the world, most notably the dangerous ones that have happened in the Bay Area. Just like AEGIS intelligence has found, incursions in other parts of the world tend to be more chaotic than destructive, the creatures, people or what have you coming out of the portal being more confused and scared than hostile. Only those in the Bay Area have come out with harmful intention (and covered in shadow).

Mars says that their society has been threatened long enough, that unless they fight back, who knows what will come out next. He says the Kaiju is a perfect example of a weapon of unusual destruction, and says what if something like that comes out in the middle of the city rather than in the bay.

As he continues talking, Mars’ voice becomes louder and more frantic. Jesuit senses the fear that is being spread throughout the crowd. Where before they were there to have a good time, nervousness, panic, and even anger is starting to clutch the people’s hearts. Nothing supernatural about it, just good old fashion propaganda.

As Mars’ reaches the climax of his presentation, and about to reveal his creation, Aurum mentally taps into Mars’ mind, creating a mind-link where they can communicate instantaneously.

Though Aurum is rivals with Mars, he also respects him as a business man. For all of Mars’ ego, he’s always wanted to make the world better (while making a profit). This fear mongering isn’t his style. He’s always been about hope, not fear.

In Mars’ mindscape, Aurum calls out Mars’ actions, saying that that’s no way to run a business. Mars disagrees, telling Aurum that he’s just giving the people what they want, even if they don’t know it.

Aurum accuses him of trying to create a panic, while Mars says the panic is already there, he’s just trying to control it. Mars says his machine will make Aurum and his team obsolete, and that when the people think hero, they will think MarsTech.

Aurum says he’s smarter than this (supposedly), and that the Mars he know wouldn’t stoop to this circus performance. Mars frowns and says, “Maybe that Mars is obsolete as well.”

With a push of willpower, Mars breaks the mind-link. As Aurum is pushed, he hears faint laughter in the background.

All this occurred within a few seconds. Mars shakes his head and continues with his presentation. He unveils the machine underneath the tarp.

“Welcome to the future!”

The machine looks like a large cannon, comically so. It has a various tubes and pipes along the side, with electric conductors at the tips of what appear to be handles. There is a seat for a person in front of a large view screen with various diodes and buttons.

There is a bit of laughter from the audience, but a look from Mars quickly quiets them.

“MarsTech is proud to introduce The Ballistic-Anti-incursion and Nullification Gun! Using highly advanced techniques, as well as data gathered from all over the world, this will close any Incursion, guaranteed. We will begin mass production soon, and of course, we’re willing to work with government agencies that want to protect their people. For the right price, of course.”

Immediately questions start to come from the press, as Mars bows. Firework scans the contraption and it is positively glowing with Nevernever energy. It’s an ACME device, and a powerful one at that. Firework sends a spark to whisper in a reporter’s ear to ask how MarsTech plans to mass produce an ACME device since that’s never worked in the past, needing to be created by a Paranormal.

Mars frowns at the question, as everyone goes silent. He responds that though the main prototype was created by a Paranormal technician, he is able to guarantee mass production soon. With that, he says no more questions and ducks behind the stage.

Aurum creates a facsimile of the machine and uses a spell to connect the schematics in an e-mail and sends it to Jackson, AEGIS’ main Paranormal techie.

The presentation is over, and with that, the party begins. The team gathers together and talk. Firework points out that if this thing works, and closes a portal before all invaders are sent back, it could tear apart reality. Aurum says that this isn’t like Mars, and that he’s a bastard, he’s not evil. This whole presentation doesn’t feel right.

As they’re getting ready to leave, Bouncer gets a call from AEGIS headquarters. They say they’ve gotten reports of an Incursion in Golden Gate Park, but that their instruments are not detecting any energy that is normally associated with an Incursion.

The team jumps into action. Firework gathers everyone up and flies them to Golden Gate Park.

There, just over the buffalo pen, is a red tear in reality. Unlike the blue portals of Incursions, this one looks like a pulsating wound, and out of is spewing what appear to be demon like creatures, bat wings, razor sharp fangs and claws, and screeching into the sky.

“A Rift.” Aurum says. He knows what this is. He knows that a Rift hasn’t occurred in generations. And he knows that it is up to The Locksmith of this reality to close it.

As he is about to explain what it they’re up against, he sees a limo pull up near them. Where most people are running away, the driver jumps out and walks around to open the door. Out steps Mars, studying the Rift. The driver looks up as well.

Aurum’s scowls with anger.

He sees a woman of above average height, athletic body visible in a black top, skirt and chauffeur hat. Two locks of chestnut brown hair obscure either side of her beautiful yet pale face, the remainder of her long hair hangs neatly plaited down her back. With blue-green eyes, she exudes an obvious confidence. Firework and Jesuit are able to see a glimmer of orange within her eyes revealing a sense of hidden knowledge.
Everyone is able to see the similarities between the woman and Aurum. As if she were his twin.

Aurum roars in anger, breaks free of Firework’s hold, and charges at the female impostor.

Chapter 10 Wild at Heart Part 2

Derek, Wildheart’s brother, walks down from the upper tier office. He keeps his eye on Wildheart, moving with a very steady, very sure pace. His people look up at Derek, asking what they should do.

“Continue your meditations, but on the other side of the warehouse. I must have a word with my brother…in private.”

Some obediently pick up their mats and move away. Others take a few moments longer, watching Wildheart with distrust. They eventually do as the other did and they all move away.

Derek walks around the shattered glass carefully, looking at the hole in the ceiling. “You always knew how to make an entrance, Ricky.”

Wildheart snarls at Derek. He says, “It’s Rick. Where the HELL have you been?!”

Derek walks towards Wildheart. “I understand your anger and frustration. And I’m sure you have a lot of…”

Before Derek can finish, Wildheart throws a punch. He is fully charged, having been close to his fellow paranormals, and swings fast and hard.

Derek dodges the punch, which causes Wildheart to strike out again. And again. And again.

Each time, Derek is able to dodge, or leap over Wildheart. This causes Wildheart to become more and more frustrated.

At this, Derek’s people come rushing to help. Aurum, who is connected to Firework, sees this and raises a giant golden wall that cuts them off from the fight. One of the people slams into it. The others attempt to climb the wall, or try to figure out a way around it.

Jesuit is able to see that though several of the people seem to have some martial arts skills, the majority of the group are normal humans, with limited agility.

“You left us! You left her when she needed you the most!”

Wildheart begins to grab pieces of furniture strewn about the warehouse, hurling them at his brother.

Derek is able to dodge the majority of the incoming projectiles, but gets tagged by the final one, knocking him down.

His team decides it’s time to intervene.

Firework sends a spark to talk to Wildheart, telling him to calm down. Wildheart ignores the multi-colored voice.

Bouncer, who was at their HQ, gets word that Wildheart is losing control. He bounces towards where the team is, leaping high into the air.

Mind-linked via Aurum, Bouncer asks for a favor. With Aurum’s help, Bouncer is able to gain enough velocity, and aim, to slam into Wildheart, knocking him down into a deep hole.

Aurum brings down the wall and creates a dome around Wildheart, his brother and Bouncer, to keep them from causing even more damage.

Wildheart, hurt but still conscious, gets up, ready to go on the attack. Bouncer bellows out in a commanding voice to stop. Wildheart hesitates, giving Bouncer the opportunity to put him into a chokehold.

This stops Wildheart, snapping him out of his berserker rage, but not his anger.

He screams at his brother, telling him that he abandoned his family, that it almost broke his mother to lose both of them at once.

His brother, who until this moment was calm, yells back, “Because I had no choice!”

Derek tells Wildheart about what happened on the day of The Breaking. He was shooting up in an alley, like he had been for a while, with his dealer.

He was next to the TransAmerica Building when it came crumbling down.

He got buried alive, and the majority of his body was crushed. He went into a coma for months. When he regained consciousness, he barely had any control over his body. It took months of physical therapy to be able to walk again, and even longer before he was able to leave the hospital.

During that time, trapped in his own body, he thought about his life and his choices. He realized what a horrible human being he was, and what a horrible brother and son he was. He didn’t know that Wildheart had disappeared, but he thought it would be better if they thought he was dead.

When he was released from the hospital, he wanted to start over, start a new life where he wasn’t just a druggie criminal. So he went searching for answers and he found this new meditative lifestyle.

“So you ran. Like a coward.” Wildheart spits out.

Jesuit and Aurum have joined by this time. Jesuit says, “You have a skill unseen in humans. You were able to dodge your bothers attacks with ease. Who is teaching you these things?”

Derek looks at Jesuit and goes, “You come crashing through our place and ask for answers? I don’t believe I will be answering those questions.”

Jesuit goes, “Fair enough.”

Wildheart asks “Why didn’t you come back home. Mom needed you more than ever!”

Derek looks down. “I had thought you both had moved on, that thinking I was dead was better than knowing what I was. I was trying to make myself a better person, but I’m not there yet.”

Wildheart goes, “Obviously.”

Derek says, “I thought of coming back, of seeing you two again. I came…and then I saw you. Really saw you. You were fighting these…horse creatures and you were amazing! You had power, such power… I realized you didn’t need me, and mom had you.”

“Then why send the letter?” Bouncer asks, brushing concret off of himself.

Derek shrugs, “A moment of weakness. Believe it or not, I did miss you, and mom. I thought about just showing up, but I felt that might be too much of a shock, so a letter. Wasn’t my most brilliant idea.”

Aurum brings down the dome, seeing that the fighting was mostly over. Jesuit has herded the others outside, leaving the brothers to talk.

Jesuit asks the people why they’re there, and what they’re doing with Derek. They all respond similarly, that though they all came from different backgrounds, they were all lost, aimless. They found Derek and he started teaching them martial arts, yoga, and meditation practices. It helped them to find focus, to gain control of their lives, and to be able to live again.

Cultish? A bit. Illegal. Not even remotely.

Wildheart says, “You selfish bastard. You let us think you were dead, and you thought that was better?”

Derek say, “You didn’t need me, mom had you…”

“WE BOTH NEEDED YOU! Do you have any idea what I went though!? What has happened to me? I needed my big brother!”

“No you didn’t!” Derek yells back. “You have all this…power! And strength! Mom didn’t need me. You didn’t need me. I’m just a lowly human compared to…whatever you’ve become. How on earth could I, your druggie con of a brother, have helped you?”

“By being my brother.” Wildheart says.

After a moment of silence, Wildheart says, “You’re right. I don’t need you. I don’t need you, you selfish bastard. But mom, she does. She wants you. And you need to go to her, let her know you’re okay, and become part of her life again. She deserves your support, after everything she’s gone through.”

Derek nods, “I’ll make it right with her. I’ll…I’ll make it right. You, though…I can never repay you back for what you did, for, everything you’ve done for me.”

Wildheart glares coldly, “You’re right. You can’t. Good-bye, Derek.”

Wildheart walks away, leaving his brother alone in the dark warehouse.

Chapter 10 Wild at Heart

Aurum opens the door and ushers everyone out of his Sanctum Sanctorum. The basement area looks the same, the prison cell and danger room in order. He leads them upstairs to the main floor to discover that everything looks exactly the same.

The team is rather unimpressed, given how much spectacle there was downstairs. They look around, Aurum slightly annoyed. Johnny 5, however, is going full alert mode saying “Something has changed.”

It doesn’t take long for them to discover that there’s an elevator door next to the exit.

Aurum calls the elevator and the team steps inside. There are 10 stories, each button marked with a letter after the first two. Aurum starts with the first floor.

The team finds out that the first two floors are a “main lobby” where as the second floor is the common area, complete with state of the art kitchen, computer room, and weight room. The following floors are all designated living quarters for each member of the team, including War, each tailored to their specifications. Well, as best as Aurum was able to guess.

The top two floors belong to Aurum, including one floor dedicated to his laboratory.

Firework attempts to travel through the walls to see where they’re located, but ends up back home, leaving from the side of the house. When he zips back in, he realizes he has to take the elevator to get back to the group.

Back in the original portion of the house, Aurum gives Johnny 5 permission to expand to the new section of their home. Johnny says he’ll need several hours to modify and evolve his systems to do so, and will be mostly off line for a while. But with a gleeful WHEEEEE he goes off, to assimilate to the new household.

With the tour over, Wildheart calls his mother to inquire more about the letter. She says that she’s just happy that he’s alive and that Wildheart shouldn’t worry. However if he wanted to come over for dinner, she’d show him the letter. Wildheart agrees and asks if he can bring some friends over.

During the day, Firework attempts to keep busy by cleaning up the large trash island that’s in the middle of the ocean. He starts what did Firework do? Chuck things towards the sun? and is on his way of getting rid of the mass debris. However, he gets a call from AEGIS, telling him to stop what he’s doing and to return to base immediately. He is told that he almost created an international incident because he’s a known AEGIS agent (yay social media!) and he was performing unsanctioned activities.

Basically people in power were nervous that a Paranormal was doing god knows what.

Firework tells Aurum about this, and Aurum plans to do some political maneuvering to see if he can get Firework’s pet project sanctioned.

Meanwhile, Jesuit talks to Aurum in private. He asks if Aurum can help him find his daughter in a way that wouldn’t put her in danger, but would allow Jesuit to know if she’s safe. Aurum says he’ll need some blood from him and possibly from Constance, and he may be able to find a link to their daughter. Jesuit agrees and will get Aurum what he needs.

That evening, the team takes the van and head to Wildheart’s childhood home. It’s a quaint one story, three bedroom house, in a quite neighborhood, with a small front yard that has a cement patio off to the side.

Wildheart rings the doorbell and the door immediately opens. Molly Matthews greets the team, giving them each a hug as they enter. She is short with curly blonde (going white) hair, a welcoming smile and a slight tint to her pale skin.

After introductions are made, she asks them if anyone would like some wine. This causes Wildheart to stiffen, but only Jesuit & Firework notice. Jesuit stands up to help and while looking for a fresh bottle of wine, sees an empty one discarded in the recycling bin.

Molly talks nonstop, a gracias if rather perky hostess. She tells them that dinner will be ready in a little while and begins to talk nonstop about how proud she is of her son, how she’s happy that he’s found such good friends, and that she’s hoping that it works out with that new boy of his.

Aurum excuses himself and goes to the bathroom, casting a scrying spell to see if the brother who sent the letter is within the area. He is not.

It soon becomes obvious that Molly isn’t just happy to see her son. The smell of wine is abundantly clear. She keeps putting off showing the letter to Wildheart, who starts to get impatient, and disappointed, with his mother.

Jesuit pulls Molly aside and talks to her in private, while Firework tries to alleviate the mood in the living room. Jesuit finds out that Molly has been sober ever since her husband passed away. When The Breaking happened, and she lost both her sons it seemed like, she almost threw away her sobriety, but went to meeting after meeting to keep going. When Rick showed up, better then ever, she was overcome with joy. But with the recent attack in her neighborhood, the way Rick risks his life everyday, and finally this…letter…it was too much all at once.

Jesuit helps her calm down, helps her get perceptive, and assures her that after all she’s gone through, she’s a much stronger person for it. He offers her his personal assistance, as well as suggesting that she contact her sponsor. She smiles and after making sure (with Jesuit’s help) that all alcohol is out of the house, they start serving dinner.

During the talk in the kitchen, Wildheart discovers a new ability. He can now sense each of his friend’s individual scents. They all have a tinge of caramel in them, but each has their own distinct smell. Jesuit is hazelnut, Firework is popcorn, Aurum is Wine, and Bouncer is black licorice.

During dinner, where Molly seems to have calmed down and sobered up, she pulls out the letter, still in its envelope. Wildheart looks at it, sees no return address and no postage stamp. He reads it out loud.

insert Letter text here

Wildheart gets nothing from the letter, other then his brother seems…off. He was never this eloquent, and yet, his handwriting is distinct. He tries to get any clues from the letter regarding his brother’s whereabouts, but gets nothing.

Firework sees that there was a return address on the letter, but that it was erased. He thinks Johnny may be able to scan it and pick up any residual ink or lead which may lead them to the right address. Aurum points out that Johnny has shut down in order to expand throughout their new home.

After making sure that Wildheart’s mom is taken care of, and has the number of the local AA chapter, the team heads back home. Wildheart gets a call from HOPE and gets an appointment with Tyrone Black, the head of the organization.

The following day, Firework does some research on Wildheart’s family. He finds out that Wildheart’s dad was killed in a burning shed, where the spot of bare cement in Wildheart’s yard is. He discovers that though it was deemed an accident, Wildheart went to Juvie because he had unintentionally set the fire in the first place.

This struck Firework as odd since before this, Wildheart did not have a record, but his older brother did. A rather extensive one. He begins to suspect that Wildheart took the fall for the fire, for his older brother who would’ve been sent to prison instead of Juvie.

Firework asks Wildheart about it, but Wildheart denies that his brother had anything to do with it, that he had accidentally set the fire.

Firework is able to see through Wildheart’s lies, but doesn’t push it.

As Wildheart gets ready for his meeting, Firework looks over the letter one more time. He uses his sparks to “scan” the letter, and see if he can get any more clues. Because of his pinpoint accuracy, he’s able to make out a zip code on the return label, in Oakland.

The team decides to split up. Wildheart says he has some important business to take care of, and that he’ll meet up with the team later. Jesuit, Firework & Aurum head out to see if the can narrow down where Wildheart’s brother may be hiding.

On the way over, Wildheart calls Dr. Brennan. Dr. Brennan once again asks that Wildheart infiltrate HOPE, to make sure they’re on the level. AEGIS likes to keep close tabs on any group claiming to want to “represent” Paranormals at large. So far, they seem like a legit organization, but the fact that they seem interested in Wildheart could allow them an inside look.

At the meeting with Tyrone Black, WIldheart apologizes from the way he had acted before. Tyrone apologizes and tells him that they’ll start fresh. After some nice chit chat, Black offers Wildheart a position at H.O.P.E. He says that Wildheart has gotten some recognition, the kind that HOPE could use, to help other Paranormals such as himself. Black tells Wildheart that after he passes a background check and fills out some paper work, he’ll be put out into the field, to help recruit other Paranormals.

“Recruit?” Wildheart asks.

Black tells him that HOPE is an organization dedicated to bringing about equality and protection for Paranormals, that they offer any assistance, legal or financial, to those that need it. However, having a fellow Paranormal like Wildheart talking with them would have a greater impact then if someone like himself did the talking. Since HOPE is a growing organization, they could use the help, both human and Paranormal.
Wildheart accepts Black’s offer. They shake hands and continue their lunch.

Overhead, a one eyed raven watches the meeting intently. Once the conversation has moved on to other matters, the raven flies off.

Back with the rest of the team, Aurum once again scries to see if he can locate the brother. His spell leads the team to an area of warehouses, some abandoned it looks like (the economy took a hit after The Breaking, and is still recovering).

Rather then rush inside, the team spreads out and surround the building. Jesuit heads to a nearby warehouse and sets up where he can get a good shot. Aurum flies up and hangs a hundred feet in the air, while Firework lands on the roof. He sends a spark inside to scope it out.

Firework is able to see several people sitting in on what appear to be yoga mats on the floor. They are in various meditative positions, some moving slowly around, others not at all. The floor appears to have been cleared of debris, most just pushed to the sides.

He goes into a loft area, behind closed doors. Sitting in a lotus position, in a room lit only by a single window letting in sunlight, is Firework’s brother, Derek. His eyes are closed and he seems to be in a deep meditative state.

Firework scans Derek’s aura. Light blue, but it’s rapidly rippling. This confuses Firework, but he notifies the team that he isn’t a Paranormal.

The team waits until Wildheart shows up. Once he does, Firework tells him about what he saw. Wildheart decides to take the initiative and leaps in through the sky light, raining glass on the floor below.

He stands up and demands to see his brother. The people meditating get into martial arts stances and tell him to get out, that he’s trespassing.

“What’re you going to do, call the cops?” Wildheart asks sarcastically.

One of the people reaches into his pocket and begins to dial 911.

“Hold.” A voice from the loft causes everyone to look.

Standing in a robe, with a shaved look, a few more wrinkles around his face, but otherwise the same, stands Derek Matthews.

“Hello brother. I’ve been expecting you.”

Brothers in War

Jesuit doesn’t say anything for a few moments, taking in what his ex-wife just told him.


Constance nods, slowly. “Our daughter.”

She continues. She found out she was pregnant after the divorce was finalized, and after Edmund had started the path down to becoming a Jesuit. The way they had ended the relationship, and the fact that they both lived ridiculously dangerous lives, convinced her that the best option would be to put the child up for adoption.

She called in a few favors and made sure their daughter was given a safe, loving family, but one that she would have no idea where. For years she resisted the temptation to try and find her, to find anything about her. But a recent mission brought her here to Italy, and she knew of someone here who could possibly find out a few things. So she asked. She found out the child was in Italy, but that’s all they could find.

That’s when The Order of Il Lustratio kidnapped her. They tried to get her to tell them where the child was, but she didn’t give them anything, not even where she may potentially be.

Jesuit asks, “But why would they want our child? I did not have my powers when she was…”

Constance shrugs, wiping the tears from her eyes. “Who’s to say? I didn’t get any chance to ask them questions.”

The couple walks back inside and tells the rest of the team, and Father Nicholas, about this new turn of events.

“A child…?” Father Nicholas asks, eyebrow raised.

“Before I took the vow, Father.” Jesuit says.

“But why do they want her?” Firework asks. “The Breaking didn’t happen until after she was already born, right?”

Father Nicholas responds, “Perhaps because since the first Jesuit was a, how you say, Chosen one, and there hasn’t been a Jesuit with abilities since Edmund here, they felt there would be a connection. The whole purpose of Il Lustratio, from what we’ve been able to determine, is that they want to figure out the meaning behind The Breaking, what in their eyes corrupted God’s plan, and how to reverse it.”

He indicates to Edmund. “With you, and your child, they have a link, possibly a direct one, to Loyola himself. What they intended to do if they got your child, I know not”
The team shares with Father Nicholas the true cause behind The Breaking. That a “chosen one” called Cain fought with the one known as Caretaker, which broke the cycle of 7 and released energy from The Nevernever into the world, causing people to Break Out.

Father Nicholas says, “A CHOSEN ONE did this? Amazing. I had heard stories about such things but…” He trails off and ponders for a bit. He says he’ll discuss this with his council.

Constance and Edmund decided they wanted to know about their daughter’s whereabouts, not to bring her into their lives, but to make sure she’s safe. They also realize they may well be under observation. They would use other channels to try and find her, and to make sure that she is indeed safe. And happy.

Father Nicholas tells Edmund that the heads of the Jesuit order have been keeping an eye on him and that they are very impressed with his actions of late. That in the near future, he may need to make a choice. A choice about what direction he wants his life to go.

Constance and Edmund share a lovely evening, deciding that getting back together would not be a wise choice. They leave each other on good terms.

Aurum pulls aside Father Nicholas, before he heads out. He tells him, “I am requesting an official meeting with Pope Francis, by the order of the terms listed in The Covenant.”

Father Nicholas says nothing for a moment. He pulls out his cellphone and steps into the hallway. A few minutes later, Aurum’s cellphone rings. A voice responds, “Your meeting has been granted for tomorrow, 1:15 p.m.”

Aurum smiles and tells Jesuit and Firework that they’ll be joining him as his associates. Bouncer and Wildheart should…keep themselves busy.

Which they do.

The following day, Bouncer rents a Vespa and rides around Rome, checking out the sights and sounds of the beautiful country.

He makes a call to Dr. Brennan. He updates her on what’s been going on. She suggests that they come back as soon as they can, that she can only “hide” their absence for so long. She mentions that Mickey has been able to help covering their tracks, but even his skills are only so good. Bouncer tells her that he thinks they’ll be coming back that day, though there areis some business to attend to.

Dr. Brennan says they’ll have some business to attend to as well, once they get back to the states.

Wildheart attempts to track down other Paranormals. Following his nose, he stumbles upon a farmers market outside of The Coliseum. He sees a pair of young men in gladiator gear putting on a show with fake swords and shields. He’s able to tell that one of the fighters is a WTF.

Not speaking the language, he tries to get a sense of the young man. He asks around and finds a vendor who speaks some English. The man is selling similar props that the men are using. The old man indicates that the one Wildheart is tracking is his son. He’s proud of his gladiator son.

Wildheart asks to duel with the young man, in a “mock” fight.

Wildheart wants to let the man know that he’s a paranormal, and that it’s okay to come out to Wildheart. They spare and Wildheart gets more and more juiced up from being around the young man. He starts to try and taunt him until he pushes him to the point of revealing his powers.

The fake sword that the young man wield, completely plastic, turns into metal. The man drops it and it falls to the ground with a loud KLANG. The marketplace all turn to look at the young man as the sword turns back into plastic.

The old man who helped Wildheart initially scurries over to the young man. He picks up the sword and starts ushering the young man away, leading him to a van. Wildheart follows.
Wildheart tries to explain that he’s a Paranormal too, and that he can help him. The old man tries to brush off Wildheart, telling him to go, but Wildheart insists. The young man finally reaches the van, but when he opens the door, the metal door turns to plastic, which the young man’s fist goes through.

That’s when a loud whistle rings through the air.

Wildheart turns around and sees a small crowd has gathered. Several of the people are pointing at where the young man went. A police officer is there, talking into a walkie-talkie. Soon, other police man arrive.

The young man panics and bolts. He is soon chased by the police.

The old man gestures wildly, trying to distract the cops. Wildheart uses this and leads the policemen on a goose chase, helping the young man escape. Once Wildheart sees that their quarry has escaped, he bounces off as well.

Aurum, Firework, and Jesuit get to the Vatican City on time. They walk up to the main gates and tell the guard that The Locksmith is here for a meeting with his holiness. Walking hand in hand, Firework and Aurum walk in, followed by Jesuit.

Several tourists start to snap photos of the apparently gay couple walking in, but they’ll find that several flashes went off (sparks, you might say), obscuring the men’s faces.

They’re told to go to the “usual place” and Aurum leads the way. They go down several corridors, twisting this way and that, with each hallway longer than the one previous to it. After several minutes they reach the longest corridor yet. Walking down they see on either side of them portraits of the previous Popes. They get more and more ornate as they go down the years, until they reach Pope Benedicts portrait, extravagant and framed in gold and jewelry. Right after that is a much simpler, wooden frame with a simple portrait of the current leader of the church.

Walking in through large, ornate doors they step into a well lit room. The light becomes blinding, causing the men to blink a few times. Once their vision clears they find themselves in a small room. Inside is a simple wooden desk, a sturdy yet plain chair, a bookcase filled with tomes, and a file cabinet. Sitting in the chair behind the desk is Pope Francis the First.

After welcoming his guests, and providing seats for them (which appeared out of nowhere) he asks what brings The Locksmith to his humble abode. The Pope admits he’d been looking forward to meeting this generations Locksmith for some time now.

Aurum, in a very professional and diplomatic manner, tells his holiness about the incursions that have been occurring the past several months, about the shadowy figures that have possessed those that come through the incursions, and how he feels they are a threat to this reality, which is his purview.

His excellency agrees that the incursions are a cause to worry. They have been happening all over the world, but the “shadowy agents” seem only to occur in the Bay Area, near where the The Breaking originally occurred.

Pope Francis ponders a moment, then thanks Aurum for bringing him his concerns. He tells him that he has the full support of the Church behind him, and that he’ll do what he can to look into the situation.

Aurum asks the Pope for his assistance in another matter. After seeing how Paranormals are treated in Italy, where they are still rounded up out of fear, a few words from his immense could greatly alter the general populace’s perceptions. Father Francis smiles and says he will look into that matter as well, and speak with his cabinet.

Before they leave, his excellency asks to speak with The Jesuit. He tells him that he is proud of the fact that a member of the church is doing so much to safeguard the world. He tells him that though he may need to make a choice in the future, as Father Nicholas told him, he should put his faith in God to help him make the right choice.

Sometimes the right choice isn’t the most obvious.

After the meeting, Aurum flies the team back to the states. They get a good night sleep and are told by Dr. Brennan that she wants them at AEGIS HQ to have a meeting about the future of the team.

The next day, the team is told that Kali, who has been OVER THERE for most of this time, is being sent away on a long term mission, one where her unique skills will be an asset. In her stead, they’re getting a non-Paranormal teammate. When asked why this is, Dr. Brennan explains that it’s not just this team, but every AEGIS paranormal team will be getting a non-paranormal agent.

In the past, various teams have encountered a paranormal or some other factor that took away the paranormal abilities, leaving them defenseless. Typically these factors don’t affect ACME Devices, so top agents will be given such devices to help assist the team.

Firework asks why the team isn’t just given ACME Devices, in case something like that happens. Dr. Brennan says that such items are still rare, since only a handful of Paranormals have been discovered that can create them, and the top brass felt it would be redundant.

Bouncer mumbles something about the “top brass” not trusting the paranormals to have that much power.

Regardless, Dr Brennan says she’ll be introducing their new teammate now.

The team is introduced to Wellington Whedon III aka War. He show cases his ability with an ACME bow and arrow, taking out various AEGIS agents with both style and grace. And gas arrows.

Back home, the team introduces War to Johnny 5, who almost zaps him dead. But after some scanning and encoding, Johnny 5 welcomes War to their happy home.

A month passes, with various adventures and assignments. War mostly keeps to himself, being a naturally private person, as well as the only non-WTF in the house. He does have long conversations via Google Hangouts with an unknown women, who remarks “Your firewalls are harder to crack than most. I love a challenge.”

Thanks to the advice from the unknown woman, War attempts to make small talk with his team, which ends up awkward, but it’s a first step.

Aurum has kept to himself more than usual. He summons the team into his Sanctum Sanctorum in the basement. He tells them that with the teams help, he’ll be able to channel their energies into upgrading their home.

He asks them to concentrate, performs a ritual (everyone spends 1 PP), and with a loud shake and flash of light, he takes them into their new home.

Before Wildheart steps out, he gets a phone call from his mother. She sounds distressed. He asks her what’s wrong.

She says, “I got a letter. It’s from your brother.”

Chapter 9 The Italian Job Part 3

The team gets into the van conveniently left by the people they buried, and drive to Rosa de Vio, the town where Constance is potentially being held. On the drive over, Aurum summons his black cat and sends it off ahead of the team to scout the area.

Minutes later, Jesuit swerves to miss hitting a lump that appeared in the middle of the road. They check it out and it’s the cat, hurt with smoke coming off its fur. Aurum sends it back to where it came from. He deduces that wherever Constance is being held is heavily warded.

The team debates on whether they should split up and check the potential spots of where Constance may be held, a hotel, a bar, and a house. They instead go to the closest one, the hotel.

The hotel is a few stories tall and shaped like a U, two sides faces perpendicular streets and one with an alley way. Inside is a closed off grassy courtyard with some benches and a fountain.

Jesuit & Aurum go through the front door. Bouncer and Wildheart go around, Bouncer heading down the alley while Wildheart checks out the other side of the street, and Firework walks in straight to the bar.

Jesuit & Aurum learn that there have been other priests in town, and that they were meeting with men in Armani Suits earlier, but that they had left for the evening.

Bouncer sneaks down the alleyway and leaps onto the side of the wall when the doorway to the kitchen opens. A man in an Armani suit comes out and yells into a cell phone. Not knowing Italian, Bouncer doesn’t understand anything, though he does catch a few words.

Wildheart searches the other side of the hotel but doesn’t see anything unusual. He hears a commotion and stealths into the darkness. He sees a young boy race out of the hotel, chased by three older boys, teenagers. The three catch up with the young one, and begin to push him around. The boy escapes and bolts, with the three boys chasing him.

Wildheart intervenes, moving with incredible speed in front of the charging teeangers. One of them slams into him and falls backwards, with a bloody nose. The other two slow down, while their prey turns the corner and escapes.

One of the boys tries to take a swing at Wildheart, who easily dodges it. He picks him up with one hand and drops him on his prone friend. The other teenager helps his friends up and pushes them back into the hotel.

Smiling, Wildheart goes back to the the van.

Firework sits at the bar and looks around. He sees a door that leads to what he assumes to be the court yard and decides to check it out. He sees three boys, one being carried by another one, one with a bloody nose, walk in from a side door, and they go into a hotel room.

Firework goes back into the bar, just as Aurum and Jesuit come in. As they do, a man dressed in Armani comes from out the kitchen, sees Jesuit, and bolts back inside. Firework takes off after him.

Bouncer, from the outside, can hear commotion as the man in the armani suit comes running out. Taking that as his cue, he puts out an arm that the man slams into, getting knocked to the ground.

With the entire team there, they interrogate the man, who tries not to give up anything. Bouncer repeats the words he remembered, which Aurum translates. Rope, basement, down. Jesuit deduces that they must have Constance in the house.

Bouncer tosses the man on the roof of the hotel…”gently.”

They drive to the house on the map, which is in a suburban area. a one story, old italian house, with a small dead lawn out front.

Aurum tries to scry inside the house, but finds it warded. Jesuit goes out back to look around, climbing in through a window. Wildheart, Firework and Bouncer hang out by the van, with Firework sends a spark to follow Jesuit. Firework concentrates and forces his spark to only glow purple, hoping to avoid recognition.

Aurum teleports across the street onto a roof and waits.

Jesuit searches the house, dark and dusty. It is filled with old furniture, but so much dust that it doesn’t look like it has seen much use. He goes from top to bottom but finds nothing. He is caught off guard by Firework’s spark, which lights up the joint. Searching the kitchen, they find a trail coming from the pantry, which they move.

A dark tunnel with stone steps goes down, deeper than Jesuit can make out.

He leads the way, with Firework behind him. Once they get down, Bouncer makes his way down, and Wildheart pops in after them. Aurum stays behind, concerned that the wards will prevent his magic from working properly. Instead, he links up their minds so they can stay in communication. The only person who isn’t linked, still being blocked by some outside force, is Jesuit.

After a long trek down, they find themselves in a cave, filled with boxes and crates. There’s a pathway leading away and into another cavern past the boxes. Only Firework can see this for now.

With his dark vision, Firework is able to see the man hiding behind a large crate, with a gun and night vision goggles. Firework lights up the joint, blinding the gunmen, which Wildheart promptly takes out.

Finding a light switch, they fill the cavern with wires of lights. They search the crates and find various boot leg items, from DVDs of movies still in theaters to computer software. They find random fruits, vegetables and plants, and all manner of contraband.

Wildheart continues his search of the crates while Jesuit and Firework go into the next cavern.

Outside, Aurum keeps watch, trying to figure out where the wards are to see if he can get through them. As he searches, a black town car pulls up to the house. Several men come out, most dressed like Jesuit, in priestly garb. They look around the neighborhood and then at the house. Finally, out steps an older gentleman, balding with strands of white hair on the back of his head, big tinted glasses, and a stern look on his face.

Aurum realizes the time for subtlety is over. He begins to cast a spell.

Back inside, the team finds themselves in another large cabin. This time, there is a row of men standing in front of them, each wielding a weapon of one kind or another. Behind them, three men of the cloth stand.

One of the priests says loudly, “Please do not come in any further. We do not wish to harm you.”

Jesuit says, “Then you shouldn’t have taken someone who means a lot to me.”

Another says, “We did not harm her, nor do we wish her harm. However, we can not let you stop us. You cannot stop Il Lustratio!.”

Jesuit takes a step forward. With that, the battle begins.

Wildheart hears the sound of a fight and races in. He slams into each of the henchmen, knocking them down like bowling pins.

Firework spreads his sparks and sends them to search for Constance. He goes all over, including through the cavern walls.

Jesuit rushes the three priests. Before he can reach them, they start to pray.

One holds up a pendant and a blue light radiates from it. He is covered from head to toe in blue armor, much like those worn by Crusaders.

Another holds up a rosary, whose beads start to glow a dark red.

The final one holds up a cartoonish looking gun, with a large barrel at the end.

A wave of red energy pulses from the rosary, filling the room up with a red light. Nothing seems to happen though, so the priest wielding it runs down the hall, towards the exit.

Where he runs into Bouncer, who had just gotten down the stairs.

Using his rosary one more time, the red light seems to have an effect on Bouncer, who immediately starts to get visions of his past misdeeds. Nothing bad per se, but enough to slow him down a bit.

Upstairs, Aurum unleashes his spell. A golden ball of energy starting as a speck of light grew to the size of a volley-ball. From within golden claws shot out, followed by thick chains. Grasping into the structural weak points in the house and the wards they ripped the foundations down, both physical and spiritual.

This causes the priests in front of the house to stand back, as the house begins to be torn from its foundation. A young boy leaps out of the car and grabs onto the older gentleman’s leg. The old priest protects the boy from any flying debris.

The team downstairs is too deep to hear the commotion from above. Jesuit tries to reason with the ACME armed priests. He tries to get a read on them. Jesuit is rather surprised to learn that the priests are in fact holding back, that they really don’t want to harm the team, but they are convinced they are in the right.

Jesuit demands to know where Constance is being kept. The Blue Crusader yells back, “If you were worthy you’d find her!”

Bouncer is able to fight through his past sins and knocks out the priest. Wildheart fights the priest with the gun, but is caught in some sort of snare that the gun shoots out. Jesuit dodges the punches of the blue crusader, but is unable to harm him.

Aurum, now free of any ward interference, heads down. He sees the commotion and senses the ACME devices are radiating Divine Energy. He decides to put an end to this. He begins a summon ritual.

The rock ceiling begins to fade away. Instead, a blue sky with clouds appears. The sky seems to zoom upward, towards space, growing darker and blacker. Soon it is a starry sky. From the distance, a bright light appears. It grows brighter, and brighter, like a comet crossing the sky. It starts to get closer in view. As the object falls, it starts to burn in the atmosphere, heading down, down down to Earth.

Aurum is summoning an Angel.

Just as the fiery figure is about to crash, Aurum feels something interrupt his summoning. He wasn’t trying to bind the creature, allowing it to keep its free will. Instead, something stops his ritual from completion, zapping the ceiling back to view, severing the connection that Aurum had with the angel.

From behind him, he hears voices. He sees the priests from above have made their way downstairs.

The older one, seeing the commotion of battle yells out “This ends NOW!” His voice echoes through the chamber, even over the sound of battle.

The fight ends. The snare gun is dropped. The Blue Crusader powers down. And the unconscious one begins to wake up.

The defeated priests look up at the elder. Jesuit recognizes the man and goes to him, kissing his ring finger.

Jesuit introduces Father Adolfo Nicholas, the Praepositus Generalis, the Superior General, of the Order of Jesuits.

Fr. Nicholas explains that his people have been searching for these men, these members of Il Lustratio. They will be taken into custody and interrogated. The defeated priests offer no resistance, handing over the ACME devices to the Generalis.

Going back upstairs, Jesuit asks the Father if he has any idea about the whereabouts of Constance, his ex-wife. The Father looks at the captured priests, and then looks around.

He looks at the sparkly purple man and asks him to rip up a tree in the yard. Firework does so, revealing that hidden beneath the tree is Constance, tied up, gagged, but unharmed. In front of her in a yoga pose is another priest, with a headband with script on it on his head, concentrating.

Jesuit walks over, takes off the headband, and glares at the priest. Immediately Jesuit is connected to the mind link established by Aurum.

Jesuit unties Constance and takes off her gag.

“What kept you?” she asks as she hugs him.

Father Nicholas instructs his men to take the wayward priests away, collecting the artifacts. He tells Jesuit to meet at the hotel in an hour, where he’ll explain everything he can.

At the hotel, the team listens to Father Nicholas.

“The Jesuit order was founded originally to educate, delve into intellectual research, and to help enlighten the masses. What most do not know was that it was also founded specifically to help deal with what you call Paranormals.

The Order was founded, as Father Aramis knows, by Ignatius of Loyola, the original owner of Verdicto de Loyola. Ignatius was, as you say, a Chosen One. He was blessed with abilities far beyond those of mortal ken. When he discovered what he was, he went straight to Pope Paul III, and told him all that he knew.

Pope Paul tasked Ignatius with starting a new order, to use his abilities to help the church, help mankind, and to do right by God. The Pope instructed him to seek out others like him, to learn from them, and to teach them as well.

Ignatius soon made it so that the inner circle of the Jesuit Order would focus on documenting all instances of Chosen Ones activity, to keep a record of their deeds. Soon, they would also take it upon themselves to procure and guard items of power, those today known as ACME devices. The Jesuits would keep watch, making sure none of those items fell into the wrong hands. And they did so for centuries.

And then The Breaking occurred.

For centuries, we believed that the Chosen Ones were those blessed by God himself, given abilities to help his children. That only a certain few would ever wield the power of heaven itself. That God had a plan.

But when The Breaking happened, and more and more people gained abilities, some grew to question God’s plan. They thought that somehow evil forces conspired to usurp his ideal word and to throw it into chaos.

The sect of Il Lustratio (The Purification, by sacrificial means) came about, thinking this. Surely this was not God’s plan. Surely this was something tainted, and foul. They had been documenting these few for centuries, and now that meant nothing. They were the keepers of secrets, but now the whole world knew about Paranormals.
This sect took it upon themselves to figure out what went wrong. What could have corrupted God’s plan? What was behind this sudden change, this shift in reality. These men were scholars, not warriors. But they felt they had to fight back.

So, these few, these…deluded men, broke into our inner sanctum, procured a number of ACME devices, some centuries old, and took it upon themselves to figure out what went wrong, and how to fix it.”

Father Nicholas takes a pause. He looks at Jesuit. “Only a select few are ever allowed inside the inner circle of the Jesuit Order. You, my son, were well on your way to be brought in. But then, you broke out. You became the very thing we used to observe. So we waited, to see what you would do.”

Jesuit takes a moment to process all this new information. “That still doesn’t explain why they wanted Constance. Was it because of her past connection with me?”

Constance, who had been sitting quietly up until then, spoke up. “Edmund. I think I know why. May I speak to you? In private?”

They walk out of the room, into the hallway.

“I think I know why they took me. They didn’t want me.”

Edmund held her. “Then what did they want?”

Constance takes a deep breathe, as a single tear ran down her face.

“Our Child.”

Chapter 9 The Italian Job Part 2

The team steps through the gateway Caretaker created for them. It is a disconcerting feeling, being teleported. Firework, Wildheart & Aurum are somewhat used to it, but it’s much odder feeling when you’re not in control of the ‘port.

Bouncer feels like the whole world disappeared, and then reappeared who knows how much later. Very odd indeed.

They step out into darkness. Firework is able to see that they’re in a barn, a large one at that. They’re stepping out from a tool shed within the barn. After scoping out the area, Aurum is able to determine that they’re on a farm, surrounded by farm country.

The team debates on how to get to Naples, since that’s the only lead they have for where Jesuit headed. Dr. Brennan said to be discreet, otherwise they could risk creating an International Incident. They decide that Firework should not carry them as per usual. They debate on having Bouncer bounce them to Naples when Aurum walks away from the team, heading towards the farm house.

At the farm house, Aurum talks to the residents, a couple with four boys and one girl. Speaking in English but seemingly being understood by the farmers, he tells them that he wants to buy their horse and cart. In exchange he would give them his rolex watch, and further compensation later.

The wife readily agrees and invites the team to dinner.

After dinner, Aurum gets everyone on the horse and carriage. It’s an old horse, not quite ready for the glue factory, but no young stallion either. Wildheart says he’ll just keep up by walking.

Aurum says an incantation, waves his hands, and morphs the horse and carriage into a lamborghini. Somehow, it is able to fit the entire team. They roar away to Naples.

While on the drive, Bouncer tries to communicate with Jesuit, trying out a new trick he learned. By throwing his voice, and using the kinetic force of the wind to carry his words (COMIC BOOK SCIENCE!) he is able to communicate with others from a distance. But for some reason, his words don’t seem to get to Jesuit.

Everyone else in the car just thinks he’s talking to himself.

Jesuit meanwhile lands at the Naples Airport without incident. He has no missed calls or messages. After scaring away a few local predators attracted to some young tourists, he finds himself a hotel and makes a few phone calls. His contacts point him in the direction of one Sergio, known for having a finger on the pulse of the underworld in Naples.

Sergio agrees to meet Jesuit for 15 minutes, and only 15 minutes. Jesuit knows that he now owes his contact a favor for setting up the meeting.

Jesuit meets Sergio at a rather seedy bar. When he asks for Sergio, the bar gets quieter, though only someone as astute as Jesuit would’ve noticed. Going up to the second floor, in a corner in a booth, is Sergio. An older gentleman, hair around the sides of his head but not on top, with a thick mustache, gold rings gleaming from his fingers.
After a bit of back and forth, Jesuit comes out and says he’s looking for a woman. He gives a description of Constance, though Sergio seems to not know anything. He tries using one of Constance’s old alias’, Rosalie Dimaggio. Sergio immediately says, “Eddie? Are you THE Eddie!?”

Constance was ever the only one who got away with calling him Eddie, outside of his family.

Edmund smiles and says, yes he is Edmund.

“She has…spoken much about you.” Sergio says.

Sergio opens up a bit more. He says that Rosalie came to talk to him a few weeks ago, that it was personal, not business, though they have had done business in the past.

He also says that not much after that, two men came asking about her. He told them nothing, saying he knew nothing. He is nothing if not loyal…for the right price. Rosalie has more than paid her fair share for discretion.

He did have the two men tailed, but his tail lost them in the warehouse district of Naples.

Edmund senses that Sergio has not given him all the details. When he tries to press for more information about why Rosalie saw him in the first place, Sergio played it coy.

“Everyone has secrets, Edmund. Everyone.”

Jesuit takes his leave and heads back to the hotel. He gears up for what may lie ahead.

The rest of the team arrives at the city limits of Naples. At midnight, Aurum’s spell ends and the car they’re in turn back into a VERY tired Horse and carriage. Blocking traffic, Aurum hands a local several hundred dollars to keep an eye on the horse. The team goes to look for a hotel.

Wildheart, rather tired of the shenanigans, takes off on his own. He senses various paranormal trails, which is not unusual for a city the size of Naples.

At a rather extravagant hotel, the team rests up while Aurum casts a scrying spell. While scrying, Wildheart teleports into the hotel, meeting up with them.

In the Warehouse District, Jesuit does some sleuthing. He finds one of the warehouses that has a car parked discreetly in the back. It’s late at night, and all the workers have gone home, so this catches his eye. He uses a grappling hook to scale the wall of the warehouse and look in through the window.

In the warehouse are large boxes and containers. There’s a small office in the back, and in front of that, a table with a lamp on it. Near the table are two men, both who match the description that Sergio gave him. One is a young man, early 20s, in jeans and t-shirt, wearing a jacket. The other is an older man, white hair and beard, in a suit. He can see that they’re talking and pointing to a map on the table, through from where he’s at he cannot see what the map is of.

Sneaking in, and hiding himself from the eyes of sinners, he walks up to the men and listens into their conversation. They seem to be arguing about where the best place to “hold her” is. They point to three different locations on the map. The map is of a small town named Rosa de Vio. Edmund has never heard of it.

Back at the hotel, Aurum’s spell works. Sort of. He has filled the sink with water. He puts his head underwater and waits. He is able to see a warehouse and its location, but is unable to see Jesuit.

Coming out of the bathroom, he creates a hologram saying that this is where he thinks Jesuit is located.

Wildheart takes a look and with a loud POP teleports to Jesuit’s location.

Firework changes into his energy form and merges with Aurum, who teleports away as well.

Bouncer is left alone in the hotel room. He sighs, walks over the balcony, and leaps into the air, aiming at the direction of the hotel.

Jesuit takes a few snapshots of the map, and of the men in the warehouse. Satisfied he was going to get all he was from this, and making sure Constance was not in the warehouse, he is ready to take his leave.

And that’s when he hears a loud POP.

Wildheart appears beside him, though he is unable to see Jesuit. Shocked, the two men stagger backwards, both reaching into their coats.

Aurum appears in a flash, and the flash lingers as Firework stays in his energy form.

“Who…what!?” The young man says as he reaches into his coat. His hand comes out and his fist is covered in metal. The metal expands and it larger metal closed fist appears.

The older man pulls out a gun. The gun extends in length and looks almost cartoonish, but dangerous.

Before either of them can act though, the team moves. Wildheart knocks the gun out of the mans hand and picks it up.

Firework flies in front of the young man, who throws a punch through him. Electricity pulses out of the fist, but harmlessly passes through Firework. Aurum creates a construct cage around the young man, trapping him.

The old man tries to make a break for it when Bouncer comes crashing through the roof, landing in front of him. Bouncer quickly gets him in arm lock and brings him back to the table.

Jesuit sighs, and comes turns off his cloaking field.

Jesuit interrogates the older man. The older man seems to know Jesuit, or know of him, and is not easily intimidated. The younger man is a different story. After making the construct smaller and smaller, and threatening to bury him underground, Aurum is able to get the young man to talk.

He tells them that the old man hired him and a bunch of his friends to kidnap a woman. He didn’t say why or who, but he paid them well. The woman fought back and took a lot of his friends out, but eventually they were able to overwhelm her. They knocked her out (he indicated that he had used a drug of some sort) and were transporting her to the town on the map. But that’s all he knew, didn’t even know her name.

The more Jesuit tried to intimidate the old man, the more the team realized that he was not going to talk. Firework scanned his aura, and Wildheart smelled him. He nor the young man were WTFs, but Firework did deduce that the man was “as cool as a cucumber.” There was something else in his aura, but firework did not reveal what it was.

The old man started to taunt Jesuit, where Jesuit said a religious line, the man threw it back in his face with another. The old man tells Jesuit, “You do not understand what is coming.”

Aurum eventually grew bored and placed a trap around his mouth, preventing him from talking.

Aurum knocked out the young man and they carried the older man outside. They decided to bury him alive, “for safe keeping and until he talks.” The old man did not so much as sweat. Aurum conjures forth his builder demon, who digs a hole and builds the man a coffin, complete with air holes.

Aurum contemplates letting the demon have his way with the man, but Jesuit steps in, saying that entrapping him for the time being was enough.

As the demon buries the man, the team talk. Bouncer tells Jesuit why didn’t he return their messages. Jesuit says he received no messages, nor e-mails or communications of any kind. Bouncer tries once more to communicate via the air waves, but something blocks it from getting to Jesuit. Wildheart has Jesuit move back 50 feet and tries to teleport to him. Something prevents him from doing so as well.

Aurum orders a van to take the team to Rosa De Vio. They hope into the van and head off.

Chapter 9 - The Italian Job

After their fierce battle, the team stands in the sand, seeing smoke rising from the homes damaged by The Mindless Ones. Aurum gets down to business. He casts a spell that locates all the people who need help, whether they’re injured or trapped under debris, and lighting them up like a beacon.

Using the locator spell, the team is quickly able to help out those who need it. Wildheart and Bouncer lift up debris and get people out of the homes that were damaged. Jesuit goes around and shoots people with his gun, instantly healing them.

Wildheart gets an idea. He asks Jesuit if he could mimic his healing ability, to help. Jesuit allows Wildheart to touch him. Wildheart absorbs Jesuit’s powers and tries to heal a local bystander. He can’t, though. In the past he’s gotten a vague idea of how to use a power that he’s replicated, but he doesn’t get that same sensation.

While trying to access this power, Wildheart accidentally activates Jesuit’s Angel Eye. He sees the world in a spectrum of colors, in a way he never imagined before. He sees where people are hurt, both physically and emotionally. He sees the very essence of life swirl around him. He sees the golden aura that radiates from his friends and himself, but also the aura that all people have.

He sees all this and cries tears of joy.

After a bit of time, the team has rescued most of the survivors. There were a few casualties, but they know it would’ve been worse had they not stopped the mini-invasion. As they gather, an AEGIS agent walks up to them. He tells them the Red Cross is setting up temporary shelters for those whose homes were damaged beyond repair.

Aurum leaves the team and walks into the middle of the street. He pulls out a knife and cuts his arm, allowing a trickle of blood to flow forth. He creates a summoning circle and calls forth a demon, a twisted monstrosity that is holding a hammer. He commands the creature to repair each of the houses, to put them back to the state they were in before, but WITHOUT any demonic enhancements or tampering.

The creature skitters away and starts banging at one of the houses. As it bangs, the shattered wall begins to repair itself. Aurum tells the AEGIS agent that the creature will not rest until all the houses are repaired, but to keep an eye on it, “just in case.”

Jesuit notices that a few of the residents are looking on in horror at seeing the creature repair their homes. He makes a note to come back and bless their houses.

Meanwhile, elsewhere…

Firework has lost track of how long he’d been traveling. Normally, whenever he dimension hops, it takes a few moments at best. This time though, it feels different. Longer, colder, like he was swimming through icy, thickening jello. He was trying to push through, push free at any point, but couldn’t. He could only submit and go where the current was taking him.

Finally, he plows through the current, and emerges in a field. A field of grass surrounds him, for miles in either direction. It’s nighttime. He sends a spark to scope out the surrounds. In the distance he can see a town. He flies over, as stealthy as he can. Well, as stealthy as a giant ball of rainbow fireworks can be.

He arrives at the town and decides to do some exploring. He quickly finds that the town is abandoned. Looking in various houses, he finds signs of quick departures. He continues exploring until he feels the ground beneath him start to shake. He hears voices and heads towards them.

He finds the source of the ground shakes, and voices. It’s a military tank, rolling down mainstreet. Dozens of armed soldiers are behind it, with various military vehicles. They all stop when they see Firework, and put their weapons.

Firework tries to calm them down, saying he’s lost, but he’s willing to help if he can. He reads that one of the vehicles says they’re part of the Nevada army.

As he tries to figure out what’s happening, he hears commotion coming from the jeeps. He hears a radio belt out, ‘They’re coming!” He then hears a whistling sound, as if something was falling from the sky.

In the distance, Firework can see something indeed falling towards the town. Zooming in, he sees a giant, green creature, scaled and human shaped, yet much, much larger than any person. It roars in anger, and the military behind Firework start to fire.

Without thinking, he creates a rainbow slide, and using the creatures own momentum against it, causing it to be shot out like a bullet outside of the town. The creature roars in anger as it continues on its journey, unable to stop itself.

The military stop firing and look at Firework.

“See. I can help.”

As Firework lands, he hears the same whistling noise. This time, he is caught unaware as another, giant humanoid shape figure lands in the middle of Main street. Its landing creates a small crater, causing a mini earthquake that shatters nearby windows. The creature roars in anger, and stands up, easily twice the height of Firework.

Firework realizes what, or who, this creature is.

“The Incredible Hulk…” he says softly.

The Hulk looks at the army, who is taking aim at him. The Hulk glares down at Firework, still lit up like a gay christmas tree.


Firework realizes that the creature he catapulted was the Abomination, an arch-enemy of the Hulk. Almost as strong, but definitely smarter. But all his strength and intelligence wasn’t able to help him then.

Firework points at the direction the Abomination flew off to, emphasizing with his sparks. The Hulk roars once more and leaps off, leaving behind Firework with the army.

As Firework is about to zip off to help the Hulk, he hears a voice come from everywhere and nowhere, saying, “That’s enough of that.”

Firework blinks out of existence. One moment he’s in the small town, the next he’s on a rocky surface, completely alone. In the distance is a building with a large glass dome. He looks around, trying to get his bearings, when he sees the Earth rising over the horizon.

He’s found himself on the moon.

As he takes in the scene, a figure appears next to him. “Breathtaking, is it not?”

Firework looks at the new person. It’s an older gentleman, dressed in a very formal business suit. His white hair is perfectly coifed, his beard neatly trimmed. He looks like the very definition of a businessman, but to Firework, he looks familiar.

It takes him a few moments to realize that the man is a spitting image of the Caretaker! Or at least, what the Caretaker would look like if he actually cared about his image.

“Caretaker?” Firework asks.

“Of a sort. Hello there, Firework, is it?” The man speaks with perfect enunciation.

“You look like our Cartaker, from my universe.” Firework says, matter-of-factly. “Only…better dressed and with better hygiene.”

This Caretaker straightens his tie, “What’s the use of having power if you don’t look the part, am I right? Now then, you know you’re not supposed to be here, correct?”

Firework nods, “Trust me, it wasn’t my choice. I was sucked into an alternate dimension, and then someone from this reality came to help, but then I got stuck teleporting out and…”

“Be that as it may,” Caretaker says, “You know what happens if you stay here too long.”

Firework says, “I know. Say, has this place been invaded by dark shadows, and darkness, and dark dark things?”

Caretaker pauses, and then goes, “I was wondering if you’d show up.”

Firework looks around, trying to figure out who Caretaker was talking to. Out of the corner of his 360 degree eye, he sees another new figure appear out of nowhere. This one is much larger than either Caretaker or Firework. Standing 10 feet talk, dressed in blue robes, with a large bald head, stands a…man?

“The Watcher…” Firework whispers.

“Yes, it is” Caretaker says. “We are in his front yard, basically. Don’t bother talking to him, though, he’s not much for conversation.”

Caretaker thinks a moment. “So you’re from one of those universes? Yes, we discussed this at the Epoch. Caretakers from all over are getting ill. Something is corrupting their universes, which are inherently connected to the Nevernever, via which we are connected.”

Firework, still gawking at the Watcher, goes, “Yeah, we know. We figured that part out…sorta. We’re having more and more shadow thingees come through to our world, and other creatures from outside our reality are starting to take note. Any ideas?”

Before Caretaker can respond, a large flash of red catches the attention of Firework. Looking out at the Earth, a large red lightning bolt splits the sky momentarily. It was almost as large as the North American Continent.

“Time to go.” Caretaker says. He begins to gesture with his hands.

“Grrr, I figured.” Firework says, sulking. “I was really hoping to pay Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters a visit.”
Caretaker smiles, “Perhaps next time.”

Firework started to feel himself be pulled apart. He felt himself start to go back into the Nevernever, or at least, that’s what it felt like before. As he was about to blink out of existence, he hears a new voice.

“The shadow creatures are going to other realities as well.”

The Watcher spoke! Before Firework can respond, he disappears.

Back in the real world, the team has gone to AEGIS HQ to report on what had happened. After retelling the events at Ocean Beach, Dr. Brennan asks about the voices that came from The Mindless Ones. Jesuit, knowing that the voice was from his ex-wife, and that only Wildheart had heard it other than himself, told Dr. Brennan that it was indeed someone from his past, but he assumed it was from an alternate world.

Dr. Breanna dismisses the team, but asks that Jesuit stay behind. She asks him who the voices belonged to, and that she would not tell the team if he wished, but would need to put it into the report.

Jesuit nodded, and said, “It was my ex-wife, Constance.”

Dr. Brennan, wrote down a few things. “Your ex. She was…I mean, is, with French Intelligence, yes?”

Jesuit nods. “We met out on the field, and it was love at first sight. Though unfortunately our jobs didn’t allow us much time for that love to grow.”

Dr. Brennan replies, “Yes, our line of work doesn’t leave much room for personal ties. Would you like me to make a few phone calls, check up on her?”

Jesuit shakes his head, “Thank you, but no. I’m sure everything is fine. The Constance on the beach was not my Constance. I’m sure of it.”

Dr. Brennan agrees, thanks him for his honesty, and dismisses him.

Firework finds himself back to Ocean Beach, steps away from where he disappeared. He zips over and joins his team at HQ

“Hey guy!” he says excitedly.

Aurum turns around. Without missing a beat, he goes, “You’re late.”

Firework smiles broadly. “Well you know, I was visiting another reality, the Marvel Universe actually, and got to meet the Hulk and Abomination (sorta) and then met their realities Caretaker and THEN I met The Watcher!”

Bouncer steps in and goes, “And had a lot of sugar, apparently?”

“Nah, I don’t eat anymore. Anywho, those shadow creatures, yeah they’re going to other dimensions, not just ours. The Caretaker may have known more, but then the tear in reality started to occur, so I had to book it. Maybe I’ll go back one day, but for now…”

Aurum steps in, “Let’s go home.”

Firework nods, gathers up his friends in a swarm of rainbow sparks, and flies them home.

The team takes some much needed R&R.

Bouncer goes to a local bar.

Jesuit locks himself in his room and begins to make some phone calls. After a bit of waiting, he hears back from one of his contacts. His ex-wife, Constance, has gone dark. She was on a mission for the French Intelligence she works for, and had been bouncing around Europe. The last report she gave was from Naples, Italy. Jesuit thanks his contact, and makes another phone call.

He books a redeye flight to head out to Italy.

Aurum & Firework go out on a date, their first one in a long time. Or ever…

Wildheart calls and leaves a message with Brandon Peters, the guy he was seeing and came out to (as a Paranormal). He then calls the offices of HOPE and tries to arrange another meeting with Tyrone Black, the head of HOPE. He succeeds in getting in touch with a secretary, and is able to arrange another lunch in the near future. Finally, he makes a donation to a charity that helps people whose lives have been disrupted by The Breaking.

In the morning, the team is woken up to the smell of bacon.

Bouncer makes his way downstairs, but sees that Jesuit wrote him a message, saying he’d be going out for a few days, to take care of personal matters.

Coming downstairs, they find Caretaker has whipped up a feast of breakfast foods.

“My way o’ saying thanks for keeping an eye on me, while I slept. Shrinking down that varmit took a lot outta me. But now it’s time for me to head on out, head back to the Nevernever, and start to rebuild the Lair.”

Bouncer asks how long it’ll take.

“Well, I’ll be speeding up time quite a bit, so gimme a few days. Should be ready by then. Though you know, feel free to stop on by and say howdy. Is it really that hard to visit?”

Aurum says, “Well, it is if you don’t have a key.” He smiles wickedly.

“Yeah, it is, ain’t it?” He turns to the rest of the team, “So make sure you stop by and visit.”

Aurum smirks and goes, “I see.”

Without turning around, Caretaker goes, “Yeah, ya don’t. Look in your pocket, boy.”

Aurum does so, and pulls out a golden skeleton key.

As the team eats, Caretaker gets close to one of the doorways. “Oh yeah, I fiddled around with your house and gave ‘em an upgrade.”

Firework spits out his bacon. “You didn’t..”

Johnny 5 chimes in, “Oh did he ever!”

Caretaker smiles, “My gift to…”

A telephone rings throughout the house. Johnny 5 responds, “Incoming call from Dr. Brennan.”

A bulletin board in the kitchen flips around. A large video monitor appears in its place. Bouncer goes, “Patch her through.” Dr. Brennan’s face appears on the screen.

“Good morning, team. Caretaker.” She nods in his direction. He smiles when he sees her. “M’aam” he says, as he nods back.

“Bouncer, do you know where Jesuit is?” Dr Brennan says.

Bouncer, surprised, says, “Well, no. He left me a message said he had a personal matter to attend to, and he’d be out for a few days. What’s up?”

Dr Brennan sighs. “Well, his personal matter apparently is taking place out of the country. We had him on GPS as he was flying over the Atlantic, but then his tracker disappeared.”

“Out of the country…?” Firework goes.

“Yes. I’ve tried calling him, e-mailing, texting. But he has not responded to any of my attempts at contact.”

Aurum thinks a moment. “Do we have any reason to suspect he’s up to something nefarious? I mean, he is a priest.”

Dr. Brennan goes, “I don’t want to think anything is wrong. I don’t want to think the worst. But I can guarantee that others won’t be as willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Does anyone have any idea what he may be doing?”

No one does.

Dr Brennan sighs. “Then perhaps I do. He told me in confidence that the voices he heard coming from those creatures on the beast sounded like it belonged to his ex-wife Constance. He thinks it wasn’t his Constance of this world but another. His ex-wife currently works for French Intelligence. I called in a few favors, and found that she had gone deep undercover, and was last spotted in Italy.

You can imagine how…distressing…it might seem. One of our operatives, a former Spanish Intelligence agent, leaving the country to potentially rendezvous with an ex, a current French Intelligence officer.”

Bouncer nods, “Yeah, and on top of that he’s a WTF. So…what should we do?”

Firework speaks up. “Johnny 5! Locate Jesuit.”

Johnny 5 goes, “One sec. Hmm…last time I had sight of him was at SFO. He was registered on Italian Airline Flight #815.”

Wildheart goes, “If we know where the plane is, I can teleport there and see what’s going on.”

Firework goes, “Johnny 5, locate the plane, and its flight course.”

“No prob….bzzzt.” Johnny 5 sputters for a moment, and then all the lights in the house go out.

“Aw, c’mon! I just fixed ya up!” Caretaker says. He punches the wall. The lights come back on.

Johnny 5 goes, “One sec. Hmm…last time I had sigh of him was at SFO. He was registered on Italian Airline Flight #815.”

Firework frowns. “Um…did you not hear my other question?”

Johnny 5 goes, “Nope. Wait, what?”

Bouncer goes, “Oh for pete’s sake.” He whips out his iphone and pulls up the flight number.

No such flight exists.

Dr. Brennan says, “I can buy you some time, before others start to ask questions. However…” she looks around for a moment, “I think the best course of action right now is to give all of you a few much needed days off. Days off…where you can spend them…as you will. Days off that I know you’ll be, discreet, in your leisure time.”

The team all nods. Caretaker goes, “Whelp, before I head out to recharge and rebuild, I can do one more thing ta help y’all out.”

He walks over to one of the kitchen closets. He pulls out a set of various keys on a large key chain. He starts going through them, one by one, until he finds a glowing key. He inserts it into the door (which didn’t have a key hole) and turns. He looks at the team and goes, “When you’re ready, that’ll take ya ta Italy.”

“Where in Italy? It’s a rather large country.” Aurum asks.

Caretaker shrugs. “I dunno. Italy. I figured getting ya across the Atlantic would be enough but noooo, you need a destination. Sheesh. Now go get ready.”

The team heads upstairs to pack up, getting travel bags, passports, and whatever else they may need for a quick trip abroad.

Firework asks Johnny to look up something for him, when Johnny starts giggling. Firework goes, “What’s so funny?”

Johnny says, “I can show ya on the monitor….or you can check out the kitchen.”

Firework sends a spark down to check. He sees Caretaker talking to Dr. Brennan on the view screen. Alone.

“So uh…Doctor, eh?”

Dr. Brennan goes, “Yes, a doctor of….”

“Nice. Nice. Um…do ya um..get out much? I mean, what with being in charge and what not?”

Dr Brennan pauses, goes, “Not as much as I would like. You?”

Caretaker looks down at his shoes. “Um, nah, you know how it is. Busy watchin’ over the world and all that.”

Dr. Brennan goes, “Yes. I’d imagine that would keep one busy. Speaking of, I would be very interested in visiting this…Lair? The team has mentioned it, and I must say I’m very curious as to what this Lair is. Is it in the Nevernever?”

Caretaker perks up. “Um, yeah. Built it myself. Or wlll be building it. Again. Or..something. I could, you know, give ya tour when it’s up and runnin’ again.”

“I would much appreciate that, Caretaker.”

Firework pulls his spark back when some of his teammates walk by his door. He tries to stop himself from laughing.

He makes a point to make a lot of noise as they all walk down the stairs. Caretaker steps away from the monitor, and Dr. Brennan closes communications.

“Alright, good luck on tracking down your buddy. I’ll have the Lair up and runnin’ in no time.”

And with a snap of his fingers, Caretaker blinks out of existence. The team gather their bags, open the kitchen closet door, and walk through.

Chapter 8 Mindless Darkness Part 2

The rock creatures continue to push against Aurum’s barrier. The rest of the team springs into action.

Jesuit and Wildheart take turns at shooting and punching the creatures. Aurum tries to route the creatures so their destructive blasts don’t do more damage, giving time for the bystanders to run. They succeed to chipping off pieces of the creatures, but they don’t seem to notice.

Back in The Dark Dimension, a towering Dormammu slowly shrinks down in size, until he is only about 10 feet tall, and standing in front of Firework. He casually walks around Firework, sizing him up.

“So, you’re from that very interesting dimension, hmmm? You’ve been attracting a lot of attention recently. So much so that even I took notice.”

Firework says, “Well, we’ve been getting a lot of visitors. You’ll have to take a number.”

Dormammu laughs, mockingly. His laughter can be heard from all directions. “I don’t like to be kept waiting…Firework, is it? Normally I don’t bother with such insignificant dimensions as your own, but well, with all the chatter going on, I couldn’t help but take a look. And I’m so glad I did.”

Dormammu waves his hand. A portal appears, showing the battle on the beach. Dormammu turns his back on Firework. “Let’s see how my Mindless Ones are doing with the natives.”

As Dormammu turns, Firework uses all the speed he can muster and flies into the portal…only to be go through it onto the other side. Dormammu simply says, “I told you, no one leaves without my permission. Why don’t you just take a seat, and let’s watch together.”

As the battle continues on the beach, the team doesn’t seem to making much progress. They chip away at the entities, but they keep marching towards the houses. Aurum decides to even things up a bit.

Creating a panel underneath the creatures, he raises three of them into the air, locking them in place. He plans to throw them back into the ocean. Unfortunately, he doesn’t turn them around in time, and the creatures let loose with their blasts. The red beams cut into the houses in the Sunset, destroying building after building. Aurum quickly realizes his mistake and begins to rotate them in place.

Down below are three more of the creatures. Jesuit keeps running around them in circles, taking shots where he can. Wildheart wails into one, chipping away little by little. One gets a good hit on Wildheart, punching him clear across the beach.

Firework tries another tactic at escaping. He calls out to his friends, using his sparks as relays. He is able to break through the dimensional barrier temporarily and tell them about where he is, and what those creatures are called. “Mindless Ones, who work for some fiery guy called Dormammu. He’s apparently interested in our dimension for some reason.”

The team acknowledges the info and continue their battle. Firework then focuses on himself, and sends a shout out for help through his sparks. He knows his sparks represent one of him throughout the multiverse. He hopes that at least one of them will be able to help him escape.

Aurum, still holding onto three of the Mindless Ones, rotates them so they blast each other in the face. This works for a bit, until they stop. He holds them in place until he figures out what to do.

A call comes in through the comms, from AEGIS. It’s Mickey! He tells the team that he thinks the creatures they’re attacking are called Mindless Ones, that they work for Dormammu. When Jesuit asks how he knows this, Mickey responds sheepishly, “Um…I read about them. In a Marvel Comic Book. They’re enemies of Dr. Strange, a magician, who fights against Dormammu, the lord of the Dark Dimension.”

Aurum tells Ricky (Mickey!) to scan for any incursions that may have opened, that would have allowed these creatures to manifest. Mickey says they don’t detect any, but do detect read readings coming from the beach. Whether its from the creatures or something else, they don’t know.

Jesuit continues shooting at the creature, trying to distract them from going into the suburbs of the Sunset. As he does so, he notices something falling from the sky. With his enhanced vision, he can see shadowy tendrils appearing and heading towards the battle. He sees a total of four. They look like the shadows that appear in those who have been infected when they come through the incursions!

He aims and blasts one out of the sky. But three of them dodge his shots, and enter the bodies of the Mindless Ones.

Back in the Dark Dimension, Dormammu frowns. “Hmmm, what is this?” He zooms that window on the black tendrils, and watches as the shadows inhabit the Mindless Ones bodies. Firework says, “I told you, you’re not the only one who is interested in our dimension.”

The beach explodes into even more chaos. The three Mindless Ones who have become corrupted by the shadows act more intelligently, dodging out of the way of the heroes blasts. They even attack those Mindless Ones who aren’t affected! Since three of them are still caught by Aurum, they prove to be easy pickings.

Dormammu says, “No one takes what’s mine! And those creatures are mine!” He raises his hand and opens another portal into Firework’s dimension. Firework notices how he actually seems to struggle to tear the rift open. Taking a leap of faith, Firework zips into the portal, hoping to return home.

Instead, he appears in another part of the Dark Dimension, with no Mindless Ones and no sign of Dormammu. He looks around, and is about to call out of for help when another portal appears, this one looking like a vortex, different then the one Dormammu opened. He braces himself when he hears a voice come from within the portal.

“By the hoary hosts of Hoggoth!”

Back at the beach, using the confusion created by the shadows, the heroes are able to take down the Mindless Ones, one by one. As Jesuit blasts them with his holy energy, Wildheart punches them into the ground. Aurum blasts them with spell after spell, until they all are knocked unconscious.

One is left, and Jesuit is about to shoot it down, when he is able to hear something, something he hadn’t heard in a long time.

“Edmund? Edmund where are you?”

He recognizes the feminine voice. He recognizes it, and realizes its coming from the Mindless One! He races over to the creature, already down on one knee, almost knocked out.

“Edmund, are you there?”

Jesuit kneels below the beast. “Constance? Constance what…what is going on!?”

The creature “speaks,” even though it lacks a mouth.

“Why…what is going on? Where are we? Why…?”

Jesuit interrupts, “What is the last thing you remember?”

A moment passes, and then, “We…we were celebrating our anniversary. We were at our special place when…when…darkness…utter darkness enveloped us…”

Jesuit, shocked goes, “What…which anniversary?”

“Our fifth one…Why is this…What is going on!?”

Back in the Dark Dimension, Firework watches as a figure emerges from the portal. A man with black hair trimmed with white, a goatee, and wearing a blue loose tunic, and a long flowing red cloak, appears. He looks around and goes, “The Dark Dimension? I had not expected to come back here willingly.”


The man, seeing Firework for the first time, goes, “So you’ve heard of me. Was it you who was calling out for help?”

“Wait…you heard me!? I was calling out to my counterparts in other universes. There’s one of me in each universe, you know? Have you heard of “Firework?”

Strange shakes his head, “No, I can’t say that I have. Though that doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist. It’s a big world you know. How is it that Dormammu was able to get into your dimension? It takes a great deal of power to do so, or tears in your reality.”

Firework goes, “Yeah, we’ve been having problems with incursions. Portals opening up, things from other realities coming in. You know, the usual.”

Strange cocks an eyebrow. “Indeed. That would explain it. That would weaken the walls between your dimension and others, and attract his attention. Now then, we should take our leave before…”


The portal Strange came through shatters, as the voice echoes from all over. Dormammu appears in between the Doctor and Firework. He looks at Firework and goes, “I told you, no one leaves until I say so.”

Strange walks around Dormammu, warily eying him, and stands next to Firework. “What is it you want with this man, Dormammu. He has nothing you want.”

Dormammu opens a window into Fireworks world once more. He looks at it and says, “He has a whole dimension that I want. Adding another dimension to my Dark Dimension would give me more power, as you know, Strange. But…there seems to be another interested party involved.”

Doctor Strange starts to mutter something under his breath. Firework can see his fingers start to gesture. He decides to keep Dormammu talking.

“See, I told you. Not a good listener, are you?”

Dormammu doesn’t turn around. “I could take your dimension. I could just let my MIndless Ones tear through your defenses, break your humanity down, and then merge the dimension with my own. But…it would be more trouble than its worth. Something is coming, young planeswalker. Something is coming that will make you wish I had conquered your world. At least if I had, it would have been a quick annihilation.”

Dormammu waves his hands over the portal, and teleports the bodies of his Mindless Ones away. All except those infected.

Back on the beach, the Mindless Ones are teleported away. The Constance One looks at Jesuit. “I’m so scared. Everything was so cold and then I…I felt like I was being drawn away from you. And then you were gone.”

Jesuit touches her. “I’m here now. I’ll help you. We’ll figure this out, together.”

As he says this, flames start to erupt from the other Mindless Ones, those that had the shadowy creatures in them. Jesuit leaps back as he hears Constance, and the other two ,scream in agony. The flames envelop the golems, and then they are gone.

Dormammu closes the portal. “Now then, what to do with…”

Before Dormammu can finish talking, Firework puts his plan into motion. He had been trying to see if he could trace the link Doctor Strange had with his dimension, the thread that connected him to his home. As he does so, the Doctor finishes his incantation at the same time. Firework leaps into the Doctor’s connection and feels himself being spirited away. The Doctor himself vanishes from the Dark Dimension, and away from an angry Dormammu.

The battle may be done, but Firework has not been returned. Aurum decides to rectify that. Knowing they exist, Aurum summons a Mindless One. The one he summons is smaller then the golems they had fought. It looks around confusedly and then at Aurum.

“Tell me where Firework is. Tell me what has happened to him.”

The creature stares at Aurum, and then responds, in that same non-voice that Constance had spoken in. “My master does not like his subjects to be controlled. Release me or suffer his…”

“ANSWER ME!” Aurum yells, throwing his will into the command.

The creature stops talking, pauses a moment, and goes, “My dark lord has released your puny Firework from his existence because he no longer had need of him. And now he commands that I be FREE!”

The creature blasts Aurum square in the chest, knocking him back. The creature says, “Do not summon us again, or face my master’s wrath!” In a flash of light the creature dissapears.

Jesuit heals Aurum up, with Wildheart standing next to him. “Who’s Constance?” Wildheart asks.

“My ex-wife. Once we get back to HQ, I have a call to make.”

Chapter 8 Mindless Darkness

In the control room of AEGIS HQ, Caretaker announces, “I know what’s out there.I know what’s coming.”

Before he can continue, General Johnson shows his displeasure of having a group of Paranormals just “pop in” to the main hub of AEGIS HQ. He starts yelling at the team, at Caretaker specifically, about protocol and how there are rules and how dare they barge in!

Caretaker is having none of it though. He mimes zipping his lips and the General immediately quiets down. He doesn’t stop yelling, there’s just no sound coming out. It takes a few moments before before the General realizes what happened.

The General makes a motion with his hands and immediately every available agent in the room draws their guns and aim at Caretaker.

Caretaker sighs and asks if there’s a place they can talk in private. Aurum points up and gathers everyone close together, surrounding them in a force bubble. Dr. Brennan runs up and asks to be brought along, which Aurum allows. They float out through the canopy and into the air.

Several hundred feet in the air, Bouncer, Wildheart, Jesuit, Aurum, & Dr. Brennan wait for the Caretaker to speak.

“So first thing’s first. What the hell happened to The Lair?”

The team explains about the events that occurred, how they were attacked by The Huntmaster, who was quickly going through The Lair’s defenses, and as a last ditch effort they teleported as much of The Lair as they could into the real world.

Bouncer says that they didn’t know that they’d be unleashing another Breaking and a WMD in the form of the giant Kaiju and a heads up would’ve been nice.

Caretaker sarcastically replies that if he had known they were planning on cutting the heart of the Lair out and dropping it into the ocean, he would’ve been mentioned it.

“The Lair is a stable piece of reality in an otherwise chaotic plane of existence,” he says, “so it’s a desirable piece of real estate. If The Huntmaster had gotten a hold of it, it wouldn’t have ended up so well.”

Wildheart asks what the Kaiju is, and why it was in The Lair. Caretaker says that it was before his time, that one of his predecessors had imprisoned it. Occasionally Caretakers come across beings that are too dangerous to let roam free, and almost impossible to kill, so they lock them away, hoping never having to deal with them again.

Caretaker continues, “As y’all know, I went to this gathering of Caretakers. Lemme tell ya, a more cantankerous bunch I’ve never met. But at least they had good booze.”

He sighs, takes a deep breath, and looks up. His eyes start to shine a golden light, brighter than anything around them. He goes “I know what’s out there. It’s Darkness; it’s Quiet; it’s Nothing.”

The team is surprised. They’ve never heard the Caretaker be so serious before, so eloquent, so… ominous.

“I see everything which touches my realm, know every space which touches mine. Where things once were, there is now nothing. They have not been shrouded, shadowed, or cloaked; they are just gone. This is no destruction. No broken realms, wrecked planes, or remnants of memory remain. Whatever has done this is Void—thieving all matter and leaving emptiness in it’s wake. This is why my race grows ill: something steals from us. We are connected to the Nevernever, and the Nevernever is connected to what is beyond; as these spaces are annihilated, so too are we.”

He lowers his head, closing his eyes, cutting off the light. Silence follows.

Bouncer breaks it, asking “Who is doing this?”

Caretaker looks up, a smirk on his face. “Ya got cotton in your ear, boy? I just said everything is gone. I’m blind to this. I am only the beginning. I cannot see the end.”

Dr Brennan clears her throat. This surprises everyone because they forgot she was there. “Excuse me, Mr. Caretaker. Dr. Temperance Brennan here. I am the liaison for the team to AEGIS.”

Caretaker eyes her wearily. “Yeah, the teams mentioned ya before. You seem to be one of the only good eggs on that government team deal.”

She goes, “I try. I don’t mean to interrupt, but, what you’re saying…whole universes being destroyed, sounds…impossible. Granted I just saw a 200 foot dinosaur be shrunk down to fit into your pocket but…If the world were to find out about this, that they may just be, wiped out from existence, mass hysteria would ensue.”

Jesuit quickly speaks up, “Hence why we will not be sharing this information. Panic in the streets is the last thing we need.”

Dr Brennan nods. “Agreed. I will need to have something to tell AEGIS though. They’ll expect information.”

Bouncer goes, “We’ll figure out something. Blah blah WTF shenanigans. Explaining the Caretaker and who he is will be fun…”

Caretaker starts to pace. “Something ain’t right, though. Something is missing, a piece to this giant puzzle. I ain’t a fan of puzzles, especially those that don’t fit the bigger picture.” Looking around at the team. “And then there’s the whole Kyle thing. Damn cruel way to go.”

The other nod. Aurum’s stony face gets more unsettling, as the glow around his projection turns slightly darker.

Caretaker stares down, towards AEGIS HQ. “Hmmm…” His eyes glow once more, as he scans something that the team cannot see. He goes, “Take me back down there.”

Without question, Aurum flies them down, landing them in the center of the base. Caretaker leads the way, as if this wasn’t the first time they were there. He walks past several armed guards, all ready to step in front of him, until they see the team and Dr. Brennan, who dismiss them.

Caretaker heads towards the meeting room, where the team has had several of their briefings. Walking around the long table, Caretaker looks all over.

“Hmmm….not enough. Can you take me to where Kyle lived?”

Wildheart goes, “Our home?”

“Nah, where he grew up.”

Aurum once again gathers everyone up and they fly towards Kyle’s mom’s home. Outside they find an AEGIS vehicle. Going inside without knocking, Caretaker makes a beeline to Kyle’s old bedroom.

Inside they find a pair of AEGIS agents sitting in the living room with Kyle’s mom Samantha and her wife Darla. Samantha was in tears, with Darla trying to comfort her. At the commotion of several people barging in, the agents draw their guns and confront the team. Caretaker pays them no mind as he goes into Kyle’s room.

Jesuit calms down the agents, and explains to the parents that they’re “trying” something. This doesn’t quite comfort Samantha, who barges into the bedroom as well, followed by Aurum, Bouncer, Wildheart & Jesuit.

Caretaker is in the center of the room. With a wave of his hand, he shuts the door, locking everyone inside. He goes, “This should work. Maybe. There’s enough here to work with.”

Aurum demands answers and wants to know what’s happening, backed up by Samantha. Caretaker snaps at them, “Quiet! This ain’t easy. I need ALL of you. Think on Kyle. Think about him and nothing else but him.”

Jesuit encourages everyone to do as the Caretaker says. They all start to focus, bringing to mind their memories of Kyle Brennan.

Caretaker starts to glow that golden glow. He slowly rises in the air, just a few feet off the ground. A large humming starts to emanate around the room. Objects around the room start to rumble, as if an earthquake was transpiring. Slowly, but surely, the objects in the room start to move, rising into the air. First the vast amount of role playing books on Kyle’s shelves. Then the rest of the books. Then the various posters and pictures posted around the room. He clothes start to join in as well, all lifting into the air.

They create a circle around the people in the room, and they start to spin. Slowly at first but picking up speed fast, they start a whirlwind in the room, sucking in everything into its sphere. The materials start to dissolve, break apart, turning to particles and fragments. Within moments, the fragments start to coalesce, coming together and becoming one big sphere, which then starts to collapse in on itself. It shrinks until it is small enough to fit into the Caretaker’s hand. As it shrinks, the Caretaker closes his hand, and making a fist. He gently lands on the floor.

He opens his hand and a single spark is there, hovering. He breathes into it and it starts to vibrate. Caretaker goes, “C’mon now. Think harder! Think about him, and wish him back!” He tosses the spark into the air.

The spark starts to glow brighter and brighter. It starts to change color as it splits into two. Then four. Then eight. It splits more and more. As it does so, a voice can be heard, coming from nowhere and everywhere.

“G…guy…guys? Are you there? Hello?”

Samantha screams out, “Yes baby! We’re here! I’m here!”

The sparks split faster and faster, and start to swirl around the room. Eventually they start to come together, forming a humanoid shape. Their light grows brighter, bright enough to cause everyone to cover their eyes, and then with a loud BANG, the light goes away.

Kneeling on the floor is a naked Firework.

Everyone is stunned at the miraculous return of Firework. Even Aurum is dumb struck, but he recovers quickly, creating a blanket to cover Kyle. Samantha kneels down and cradles Kyle in her arms.
Kyle slowly gets up, disoriented. He apologizes to everyone, “I’m sorry. I did say I’d be back…”

Everyone shakes their head and help him get up, grabbing clothes in the process.

Jesuit is strangely quiet, in the corner, contemplating what he’s just seen. Dr. Brennan walks over to him and goes, “I know what you’re thinking. If he’s even transcended death…what does that mean for the rest of us?”

Jesuit looks at her. “I don’t know.”

Caretaker is leaning against a wall, barely holding himself up. He goes, “Heh, you’ll be back, eh? Well next time I won’t bother. In fact…I don’t think I could even if I wanted to. One time trick, Kyle.”

Jesuit helps steady Caretaker. “I think I need to lay down for a spell. Care to show me what this home of yours, looks like?”

Aurum gathers up everyone and flies them to their home. Caretaker passes out in one of the guest rooms. “Taking down the kaiju, helping restore Kyle, took more out of me than I thought. I’ll need some time to recuperate. I’ll be knocked out for a while.”

Dr. Brennan says she’ll be returning to AEGIS HQ, and try to figure out what to report back. Jesuit offers her a ride, saying he could use the fresh air.

The next day, AEGIS calls in the team. They arrive and as they walk towards the command center, people from all over start staring at Kyle. Firework realizes that no one’s been told that he’s “back.”

In the meeting the team is told that since the events of the day before, several people have reported accidental deaths and suicides all over the bay area. It seems that a lot of people who had Broken Out temporarily weren’t ready to go back to being normal. Other people have been targeted by hate groups, blaming them for the random destruction caused by those who had Broken Out.

The team is to go on patrol, showcase that AEGIS is there to help, and to help any people who are in danger, whether from themselves or others.

As they’re about to leave, Mickey comes walking in. He looks haggard, his eyes tired and puffy. He looks up and almost runs into Firework. His eyes open wide, he stumbles backwards for a bit as he shakes his head. “But…you’re…”

Before Firework can say anything, Mickey runs out of the room.
Kyle decides not to give chase, wanting to give Mickey some space. As they head out, Firework goes online. He discovers that he’s a trending topic on Twitter, and that his fan club is all convinced he’s been killed. He tries to figure out a way to let them know he’s okay.

The team goes around the Bay Area, helping out where they can. Several people are talked out of jumping off buildings, and several are saved from trying to drown themselves. As one of the rescued says, “I used to be able to touch the sky. Now I feel trapped, chained down. Do you know what that feels like?”

Wildheart goes off on his own and patrols the East Bay. He remembers the earth mover who he had helped just the day before. The giant hole in the street was still there.

Arriving at the earth movers home, he finds signs of a breaking and entering. He carefully goes inside, where he is jumped by several thugs. Taking them all on, he’s able to knock out a few, while one of them escapes. That one is quickly taken down by the arrival of Firework and Bouncer.

Inside the home, they find an unconscious earth mover, which Firework heals.

Jesuit decides the fastest way to reach out to people is by going on TV again. Asking for permission from the news station they had used when the mini Breakout occurred, they have Johnny 5 once more hack the system, and connecting to all the channels in the Bay Area.

Jesuit gives a rousing speech of hope and faith, and telling everyone that they were part of something bigger, and though they may not feel like it anymore, they still are. For a moment, they were able to dance across the clouds, that they were blessed for even just a moment. Some would never be able to feel what they felt. He tells them that they can contact AEGIS or their local counseling services.

They are not alone, he says.

The spend the rest of the day helping out where they can, with the rebuilding as well as the stopping of violent crimes against former (and current) WTFs. Some of the other AEGIS Paranormal teams have stuck around to help out.

The team get a call that there has been a reported disturbance at Ocean Beach, where the WTF Army fought against the Kaiju. Aurum being the closest, heads out. He arrives and sees Replica, a member of the New York team, trying to gather beach goers away from the shore.

From above Aurum sees a 7 or 8 foot creature, made up what looks like grey rock. Its head has a large slit where its eyes would be, glowing a bright red. The creature walks out of the ocean, followed by another, and then another.

Before Aurum can react, the first creature’s “eyes” start to glow and a blast of energy shoots out, destroying a car. Another one shoots at the beach goers. Replica merges with the sand and pushes as many people as she can out of the way.

Aurum springs into action. He creates a barrier, hoping to stop the creatures. He does indeed stop one, but then another, and another, and another emerge from the ocean floor. They begin to push back, straining Aurum.

The rest of the team arrives, carried by Firework. Jesuit scans them with his Angel Eye. He gets no aura off of them, so he’s not even sure if they’re “alive.” He can detect no weaknesses, and no motivation. He just senses mindless destruction.

Wildheart tries to cast an affliction on them, which they seem to be immune to. “So they’re not Paranormals”, he says.

Firework lands the team and flies straight into one of the creatures. He wraps it up in sparks and teleports into the Nevernever.

Or so he tries.

Instead, Firework appears in a hellish landscape. He sees large boulders the size of buildings floating around in space. There is a fiery hue emanating everywhere, but from no discernible source. He sees dozens, if not hundreds, of the same type of creatures, all moving this way or that.

“Ah. A visitor. We don’t get much of those around here.” A powerful, booming voice, coming from everywhere speaks.

Firework looks all over. He lands on one of the empty boulders and waits. “Who are you!?” he demands.

From behind him, a rumbling is heard. Firework turns around to see fire emerging from behind the boulder. Followed by the fire is a large head, easily 20 feet tall. A body rises up, and up and up. The head is on fire, with an almost skeletal face within it, smiling wickedly.

“Allow me to introduce myself. I am Dormammu, Lord of the Dark Dimension.”

Firework takes a step back. “Nice to meet you. BYE!” He leaps into the air and tries to teleport back home. But he can’t.

Dormammu smiles even wider. “Leaving so soon? Why, we’re just starting to get acquainted.” Laughter erupts from Dormammu, filling the air so that is all Firework can hear.

Firework's Multiverse Adventure

Escape to the Nevernever

He sat quietly in a field of flowers slowly changing color around him. It was a particularly beautiful part of the Nevernever, but Kyle hardly noticed. He sat amongst the ever-changing flowers, arms wrapped around bent legs, and forehead resting on his knees. Tears tracked their way down his cheeks, also ignored. A few of his sparks darted about the meadow, talking amongst themselves, but Kyle didn’t care to rein them in.

He’d just had a particularly painful argument with his parents, but this was just the latest affront to his burgeoning adulthood. Nobody took Kyle seriously, because he was “just a kid.” It didn’t seem to matter that he was the one who took care of his mother after the divorce, drying her tears and trying to get her to move on with her life. It didn’t seem to matter that he’d been surviving just fine without his father for years now. It didn’t seem to matter how much experience he’d packed into a very few years. The most ludicrous of all, it didn’t seem to matter that he had phenomenal super powers, a host of other versions of himself to call upon for advice, and had literally held the power of life and death in his hands. It didn’t seem to matter that he was one of the few paranormals both deemed worthy and willing to assume the mantle of being a super hero, that he’d actually saved the world, possibly more than once.

They all still expected him to bow down to whatever they thought was best for him, just because he was younger than they were. Even his teammates Bouncer and Jesuit talk down to him, as if he’s not capable of noticing their condescending tones or making his own adult decisions.

“You know, you could do something about this,” one of Kyle’s sparks spoke, finally succeeding in breaking into his brooding moment.

Kyle’s head slowly rose, and he looked at the sparks dancing around him, studying them. Sensing his attention more appeared until there was a veritable swarm of them. He noticed how some appeared and disappeared quickly, never to be seen again, and then it all clicked. It made sense.

“You’re right. There is something I can do about this.”

Kyle waited for a brand new spark to appear, one that didn’t feel familiar to him, one that only emitted a high-pitched whine rather than words he could recognize. He focused intently on that one spark, and all his other sparks went into an agitated flurry.

“He’s going to do it.”
“Yup, it’s about time he figured it out.”
“Ready or not, here we gooooooo!”
Sing-song: “There’s no earthly way of knowing which direction we are going.”

Then, there was silence, and Kyle and all his sparks were gone. The flowers continued to slowly change colors as if he’d never been there.

The Academy (a.k.a. Sky High)

An amphitheater-style auditorium is filled with what could only be described as super heroes of various types and shapes. Most look like normal humans and might only be recognized as heroes by their outlandish costumes, but others are garishly otherworldly with powers on perpetual display or non-humanoid body shapes.

A board of elder heroes sits at a tall semi-circular desk raised high above a circular dais, and on that dais stands one of the brightest figures in the room, an older version of Kyle. He’s surrounded by a flurry of rainbow-hued sparks, living up to his heroic identity. His sparks are strangely quiet, as if understanding the gravity of the situation. At the center of the semi-circular desk, a stately woman with long black hair streaked with gray sits higher than the rest. Her navy blue cloak rests easily across her shoulders, a silver tiara with a large, blue gem barely glimpsed beneath her hood. Her commanding presence is undeniable as she speaks.

“Firework, your performance at this academy has been exemplary. You have taken to each challenge we put before you with a fervor that should stand as an example for all our students to follow,” she said while sweeping the entire assemblage with her gaze. “As you know, we wish to award you with our highest honor, ‘Hero Examplar.’ However, it is with a heavy heart that we must also bid you farewell.”

Gasps ran around the room at this proclamation, but Firework showed no surprise. Only those closest to the dais noticed the single tear slowly making its way down his cheek. Only those of Firework’s closest circle of friends were aware of the tears flowing freely down a young man’s face in the front row, his hair moving as if blown in a breeze that wasn’t actually in the room, and his hands tightly clasped with the young heroes flanking him.

“You are blessed with a power quite rare, that of traveling between parallel universes. Recently it has come to our attention that your power is actually tied into the very fabric of the multiverse, you are one with the living energy that connects all things and binds the multiverse together. This power expresses itself in each and every reality of the multiverse, and in your world it has expressed itself through you. In our world it has expressed its power through another.”

Firework’s eyes connect with those of an older hero standing to one side of the elders’ desk. What appears to be a slow-moving swarm of violet-colored fireflies lazily winks in and out of existence around the man, a stark contrast to Firework’s frenetic sparks.

The elder heroine continues, “We count ourselves honored and lucky to have had two of you for as long as we have, but this duality is a problem. While you may visit other realities, you should not stay in any of them as long as you have stayed with us. We have delayed this day as long as we dared so that you might complete your training, but it has created certain… imbalances. These will soon reach a problematic level worse than the rifts we’ve already experienced. And so, with a heavy heart, I must send you home. We bid you a fond farewell, and we hope that the experiences we send with you will help you to build a better world for your people.”

Firework’s gaze sweeps the entire panel before bowing deeply before them. “It has been an honor to serve you, and I will make you proud.”

Firework turns toward the crowd, and his eyes fall upon the breezy-headed young man. “Zephyr, I would take you with me if I could, but your place is here. Know that a piece of you will always be with me,” he says as he places his hand over his heart, and his gaze briefly encompasses the circle of friends surrounding Zephyr as well.

Lastly, Firework turns to the violet-lit elder version of himself, saying, “Thank you for your wise and level-headed counsel during my time here. I do not have enough words to express my gratitude fully.” Taking a deep, slow breath, Firework continues, “I hereby turn this dimensional custodianship over to you. …but I’ll try to stay in touch,” he adds with a wink.

Firework’s sparks begin to move at blurring speeds in a delicate and deliberate pattern, emitting a harmonic humming tone, the entire display demonstrating far greater control than their random, dissonant motions of years earlier. In the moment that the pattern closes and the sparks eclipse all view of Firework’s form, the sparks and Firework are suddenly gone, echoes of his departure quickly fading from the chamber.

Getting Home…

Getting home proved to be more difficult than anticipated. Firework safely arrived in the Nevernever, at least upon that first jump from The Academy. However, when it came time to return home, Firework found that after years away he only had a vague sense of a place that “felt like home.” He tried to contact The Caretaker using his sparks, but apparently the Caretaker was out of his range. Without a spark of himself to use as a dimensional navigation beacon, he did his best to focus on his “sense of home” and jump. …only to find himself in another random parallel dimension. This happened many, many times.

Firework eventually lost track of how many other Earth’s he visited. Sometimes it took a while to figure out this wasn’t his “home” Earth. Other times, it was obviously immediately, though still not always easy to turn around and leave again. The full scope of Firework’s Multiverse Adventures ™ are known only to Firework, though some details are certain to leak out over time. The time he spent traveling the multiverse is impossible to judge given differently flowing time, and even Firework’s personal sense of time passing became blurred when he stopped eating and sleeping. It’s Kyle’s best guess that he’s now somewhere around 24ish years of age, heavy on the “ish.”


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