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.
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.
“WHERE IS ABOMINATION! SHINY MAN WILL TELL HULK WHERE HE IS!”
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.