The Breaking

Season 3 Issue 6 - The Wish Part 3

The team materializes back in the real world, underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. Or at least, what’s left of it. It looks like it was never repaired after the initial Breaking. Aurum fly the team to the outskirts of Sacramento, the possible location of the original wish maker.

In an abandoned suburb, the team lands and set up camp in a vacant house. Off in the distance, they can see a large energy dome in the middle of Sacramento.

The entire neighborhood is desolate, with the houses falling into disrepair. The team finds that the original owners were packing up, but left behind most of their belongings.

Aurum goes off to do research on Mister Infamy, to try and see if they can summon him. Firework being a big ball of Nevernever energy, goes with him, in order to avoid detection. They teleport out.

Using Zee’s tech, they determine that the shield is technological in nature and not magic. They should be able to work their way through it.

They debate on just sending the two non-Paranormal team members to do reconnaissance, when Bouncer remembers the special “Colleen Collar.” He puts it on Jesuit, who immediately loses access to his powers.

Zee just happens to have a spare.

War hot wires a minivan and they drive off towards the city.

Driving into the city limits, most of the place is abandoned. Buildings are crumbling, there’s trash everywhere, and cars are overturned. They don’t see anyone. They park in an alleyway and continue on foot. They eventually reach an electrified barb wire fence, one that goes on for several city blocks.

They hide as Paladins fly past them, scanning the area.

The team discovers that this section of the city has been corned off and made into makeshift camps, where people live. These districts are the only areas with power, as the rest of the city is blacked out.

The people they see are disheveled, wearing tatters, looking thin, but otherwise unharmed.

The team take to the sewers, hoping to find a way into the camps. They have to avoid detection from sentries, which seem to be cleaning up the sewers, but they do so.

They emerge a block away from what appears to be a Farmers Market, people doing business and going about their day. After a few moments, people start closing up shop, and people start rushing to and fro.

Exploring, they see that several of the former office buildings have been converted into apartments. The team is able to see various families through the windows. There isn’t much in their homes, just the bare necessities.

As they get closer to the Capital, they see less and less foot traffic. They finally reach the end of the residential habitat and see a large grassy field, leading up to the massive energy dome. It surrounds the main capitol building, along with several buildings behind it.

Bouncer takes the lead and heads towards the grassy field. As he approaches, a sentry pops up out of the grass, scans Bouncers, and says in a robotic voice, “Citizen. Return to your designated area or face termination.” Bouncer stops, turns around and quickly returns. The sentry descends back into their hiding spot.

Bouncer says, “So…we gotta find another way around. These things aren’t joking around.”

War cracks his knuckles, says, “I got this” and walks out. He steps onto the grassy field and the same sentry pops up. It scans War, who smiles, and the sentry pops back down into its hiding spot. War turns around, gives the thumbs up, and continues walking. Various sentries pop up, scan him, and let him pass.

Jesuit, Bouncer & Zee hide in an abandoned building. As they do so, they can see that people are now rushing places. Some are running. As soon as they break into the building and settle in, they can see that people are rushing home.

After a few minutes, alarms start to blare everywhere. A mechanized voice and be heard and it says, “Citizens. Curfew is now in effect. Those found outside their designated habitat will be terminated. Have a pleasant evening.”

The team sees various Paladins of various shape take to the sky and use spotlights from their eyes to scan the roads.

War walks up to the shield. He can’t find a way around it, but does find another manhole cover. He jumps on down into the sewers and finds that there is a door leading into the capitol building, but it’s locked up tight. He continues and finds another access point and goes through.

He emerges behind the capital and in front of two separate buildings. Wait…three. Wait…two? He focuses and realizes that one of the buildings is hard to look at, as if his eyes want to look elsewhere. He realizes it’s the same as the domino masks that the team used to wear. He forces himself to it and climbs up to view into the windows.
Inside he sees a giant laboratory, with Paladin parts strewn about, along with various computer monitors and machines. This must be where Paladins are sent to get repaired. As he tries to find a way in, he notices movement. He sees two people step behind a giant Paladin head.

It’s Jackson & Melody!

Back at the abandoned building, the team waits on War’s report. As they do, they hear a Paladin fly near the building. They look out and sure enough two Paladins fly down and stop in front of their building. They stare up and say in unison, “Curfew violator detected.” They raise their hands and a small missile flies out.

The team brace for impact but realize the Paladins aimed for the floor beneath them! They hear a scream and then a small explosion rocks the building, and then silence. There was someone else in the building, and the Paladins caught them.

The paladins jet boots start up and they launch into the air, their spotlight eyes turning on. They scan the building, but the team is able to hide from them. The Paladins finish their search, and take off into the sky.

War breaks into the building, and hides, listening to the two tech nerds. They sound like Jackson & Melody, but they look tired, overworked. They separate and go into different areas of the lab. Melody heads toward where War is hiding. He pops out and begins to talk to her. She yelps and is about to call security when she looks at War’s face.

“Wel…? I…I thought you escaped? Last I heard you made it to Brazil. What are you doing here?”

War, without hesitation, goes, “Well, I came back for you! With your help, I might be able to take down these flying tin cans.”

After a bit of convincing, Melody decides to help War. She brings in Jackson, who takes even more convincing. War makes them believe that he can get them to freedom, away from the Paladin’s rule. They agree to help.

Together, they work up a code that will shut down the force field for 2 minutes. Jackson also gives War a device that will open the sewer drain underneath the Capital. War tells them he’ll be back for them, once he’s done what he’s here to do.

Melody gives him a long kiss. She says, “Promise you won’t leave me.” War smiles, goes, “Would I do that?” But before he can register the look of unease on her face, he jumps out the window.

War contacts the team, and they make their way in the sewer to where the hatch under the Capital is located. War activates the code and the shield goes down. He uses the device and the hatch opens right up. The team get to work.

They emerge in a bathroom. They go out into the empty hallway and start to look for where the senator might be kept. Most of the rooms are empty, but they keep checking, knowing that the downed shield will most likely bring in Paladins.

At the end of the hallway are large oak doors. The sign outside says “Senate Chamber.” They can hear voices. They sneak their way in, just as the doors to the outside open up. Human size Paladins start to come inside. They open each door and scan the room. The team has little time.

Inside the Senate Chamber, they see it has been remade into a makeshift camp. Dozens of people seem to live here, broken up into sections for each senator’s family. Above their heads, in the dome area of the building, are massive amounts of tech. It appears to be where the force field originates from.

Everyone is looking up at the dome tech, wondering what happened. No one appears to notice the team, so they take position.

Jesuit spots the one they’re looking for, Senator Francis Weber. She’s with what appears to be her husband, and two boys.

Jesuit walks over to the Senator. She seems surprised to see him, putting herself between Jesuit and her family. As she does so, she looks up. From out of the mass of wires, two sentries appear!

Bouncer says, “Jesuit! We’ll take care of them!” The team go after the sentries, as the civilians cry out and rush to the other side of the chamber, away from the fight.

Dee wraps one up with her whip while Bouncer grabs the other and uses them to smash them both. War throws up an EMP arrow that fries the shield circuitry. As they do, they can hear the other Paladins stomping down the hallway. They feel the earth tremor as the giant Paladin starts marching their way from outside!

Jesuit talks to the Senator. He tries to appeal to her humanity, to her better judgement, tries to convince her to rescind her wish. She tells him that she lost both her boys in the attack, that her husband left her shortly after, and she had nothing left to lose.

Jesuit points to all the frightened families around her. He asks if this is what they deserve, if this is the kind of world she would want her children to live in, if this is how she wants to the world to end?

Back and forth, talking, as the battle rages around them. Soon, the roof gets torn down, as the giant Paladin rips off the dome, and reaches a giant hand in. People are screaming, the Senator’s children come racing to her, terrified. She can no longer see her husband.

Jesuit looks at her. He goes, “You can stop this. Please.”

She closes her eyes, strokes her youngest child’s hair, and whispers, “Mr. Infamy. Mr. Infamy. Mr. Infamy. I summon you.”

Immediately, the world stops. Debris hangs in the middle of the air, people stay frozen where they are, and the Paladins crashing through the door no longer move. Everything is still, except for the team, the senator and her children, and Mr. Infamy.

Mr. Infamy stands there, smiling, his eyes radiating with blue energy. “You rang?”

The Senator starts to cry, as she holds onto her children. One goes, “Mommy? Who is that?” She reaches into her pocket and pulls out a black business card with gold lettering on it. She looks at Jesuit.

Mr. Infamy goes, “Are you sure you want to do this? Lose them, all of them, again?”

Jesuit snaps at Infamy. “Quiet. You’ve done enough harm. Leave this poor woman alone!” Infamy smiles and goes, “I just gave her what she wanted, “For something to save my children.” I never realized how…interesting…this wish would turn out.”

Bouncer goes, “Oh B.S. You knew exactly how this would turn out.”

Mr. Infamy turned his gaze on Bouncer. “On the contrary. I assumed that the Paladin would cause a certain amount of…discord…but it wasn’t I who took the world down this path. That was…an outside influence. One who saw an opportunity and took full advantage.”

From around them, a sharp cackle starts to rise. It slowly surrounds them, and then dissipates back into empty silence.

“Regardless, I held up my end of the bargain, “ Infamy continues, “As always. What happened afterward…well, that was quite a treat, let me tell you.”

The Senator goes, “This world…this isn’t right…this isn’t…” Her children begin to cry. She hugs them tighter. She takes the card, looks at Jesuit, then at Infamy, “Damn you.”

She tears the card in half.

The world begins to vanish around them. The room they’re in, the people, the debris, all start to shift out of reality. As it does, Mr. Infamy goes, “Ah well, it was fun while it lasted.”

He walks over to Jesuit, reaches into his pocket, and pulls out another black business card. “Here. In case you ever need my assistance.” Jesuit takes it, and tears the card in half.

A new one appears in Mr. Infamy’s hand. He smiles, goes, “Trust me, with what’s coming, you’re going to need all the help you can get. Whether you take advantage of my generous offer or not, is up to you.”

He walks past Jesuit and over to War. “Perhaps you’ll want my…” He stops mid sentence, staring at War, who eyes the card greedily. Infamy frowns and walks past War.

War pouts.

Infamy gives the card to Bouncer. “Just in case. Now then, I have other business to attend to. Good bye. For now.” With a snap of his fingers, Mr. Infamy disappears, and takes the world with him.

A bright flash of light and for an instant, everything is gone. Then, the team and the Senator find themselves in the senate chamber, as it was before. Bouncer quickly checks outside, and sees the dilapidated buildings, the smoky skies, and the camps are gone. He sees couples walking hand in hand, over the grassy field, and Sacramento alive and full of life.

He stares at the business card. It reads in gold lettering, “Mr. Infamy, Your Deepest Desires Can Be Yours, 666-666-6666.”

The team start to head out when Jesuit turns to the Senator, to see how she’s doing. She is staring at the team, fury in her eyes. She walks over to Jesuit, and in an icy voice, says, “I hate you.”

Jesuit blinks.

“I hate you, all of you freaks. I will do everything in my power to destroy you. It will be my goal to see you all rotting away, locked up and kept from normal people. So you can stop destroying lives. Get out of my sight.”

Jesuit nods, and walks out. His team is outside, enjoying the cool night air, and talking about getting ice cream. As they towards downtown, a figure watches them leave. The Senator, gazing at them with hate and fury in her eyes.

As she glares, a clawed hand rests gently on her shoulder. A voice, sharp but intelligent, goes, “We’ll get them, my dear. Together, we’ll make them pay.”

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Season 3 Issue 6 - The Wish Part 2

The team stares in shock. Cain. Their first big bad, The Chosen One gone rogue. Cain, who helped cause The Breaking. Cain, the murderer of many Paranormals, several who are currently around him in this world. Cain, who the team defeated by bashing his head in.

They manage to keep their composure, and assess the situation. The hill has been hollowed out and houses what appear about a hundred people, most of them Paranormals, though there are a number of regular humans. The hill has running electricity, and is broken up into sections for housing, food, community and a garden. The majority of the fixtures are made up of debris, the “rooms’ are divided by fabric and used lumber, and half of it looks like a fire hazard, but the people seem at the very least comfortable.

Pack Rat talks to the team, with Dora, Carl & Cain hanging around. Cain wants to know where the team came from and how they were able to evade the Paladins. Pack Rat wants to know who they are. Carl seems confused by the whole situation, mentioning they haven’t seen anyone new in months.

Firework looks at Carl, walks right up to him and goes, “Don’t you remember us?” Carl looks nervous, and shakes his head. Firework sighs, goes, “I hope this works,” grabs onto Carl, and teleports out in a spray of fireworks.

Cain immediately yells out, “Where did he go?! Where did he take Carl!?” He reaches for the closest team member, who happens to be War. He grabs him by the neck and lifts him up one handed, his face turning red.

“Bring him back. Or else!” Cain yells. War, not able to breathe, tries to break free of his grip.

Bounce, nonchalantly, says, “Go ahead. Break his neck. Won’t help. Trust me.”

Cain does. A loud SNAP echoes through the tunnel. War slumps over, as Cain drops him.

War, his healing factor kicking in, lays on the ground and goes, “Owwwww.”

Dora secretly releases a fragrant scent, unknown by everyone except Jesuit. It seems to have a minor calming effect on everyone, but most especially Cain. Cain goes, “Where. Is. Carl.”

Bouncer says, “Yeah, sorry about that. See, our pal Firework is a bit..impulsive. We promise that Carl is safe, wherever they went.”

Pack Rat calls out to someone. In moments, three individuals show up. Three women, all identical, all very odd. They have stringy black hair, wearing white gowns, blue skin, and no eyes. Well, one eye, that floats in front of their faces, one at a time.

Pack Rat says that the Sabrinas will judge them. The light glows an eerie yellow, as the three sisters look at everyone in turn. Jesuit can tell that they’re scanning them, looking at their auras. They get uncomfortably close. The stop when they look at War, and all three smile and giggle.

He smiles back, from the ground.

They Sabrinas look at Pack Rat, and unison, with an eerie wind chime of a voice, tell Pack Rat that they are safe, and that they are not lying about Carl’s safety.

Bouncer asks if they can speak in private to Pack Rat, to get him up to speed. Pack Rat agrees and takes them to the very back of the Hill.

Bouncer picks up the still mending War, and flings him over his shoulder.

“Ow.”

Pack Rat leads then to a room made up of concrete with an actual door is. Outside stand two Paranormals, one who has overly large arms, the other with very large legs. They look alike, other than the differences in limbs.

Pack Rat says this is their War Room. Inside is a room much like the meeting room at AEGIS HQ. A large round table in the middle, with various screens on the wall, and a radio transmitter in the corner. The top row of screens shows the surrounding landscape outside the hill. The rest of the screens show various locations, most unknown to the team.

The team tell Pack Rat about where they came from, an alternate universe. How they were in space, and when they came back, the world had changed. They say they’ve seen a merging of worlds before, but they’re not sure if this is the same thing.

Pack Rat listens quietly. Once the team stops talking, he sits there, his tail twitching, for several moments.

“Okay. I understand.”

He’s very smart.

He tells them about what happened in his reality. How about a month after The Breaking, a Paladin appeared out of nowhere, saving a senator and her family from an Paranormal who had lost control of their abilities. He pulls up on an old tablet the newspaper article with pictures of the Senator, her family, posing next to the Paladin.

Firework knows of her. She was one of the most vocal proponents of Paranromals, and was a staunch supporter of the Registration Act that forces Paranormals to register with the government, as well as the 1 strike law against them.

With the help of Francis Webster, the Senator whose family was saved, help, the government got behind the Paladin program, mass producing them to “safeguard humanity.” The Paladins started to round up the Paranormals, locking them away for their “own protection.” Soon, most Paranormals were incarcerated…or so they told us. In truth, most were never heard from again.

Sometime later, something happened. The Paladins’ programming evolved. They realized that in order to stop Break Outs, they had to make sure that humans were safe..at all cost. Soon enough, they started to put humans into camps, for their own good they said. No stressful conditions, no one breaks out. This did lower the number of break outs, but Paranormals still pop up from time to time.

They’re quickly taken care of.

Pack Rat saw the signs long before the camps began. He started to gather his people, and move them out of San Francisco. He founded this area, and with a bit of computer hacking, bought the land and started to build up his sanctuary. With his people’s help, they were able to make it one of the last bastions of Paranormals. He occasionally sends out teams to scavenge for supplies, but those trips are rare.

Jesuit asks about Cain & Carl, about how long they had been there. Pack Rat says almost from the beginning. They were integral in finding new people, as well as helping build up the community. They’re best friends, he says.

Bouncer says they know Cain & Carl, from their world. They are very different there. He asks Pack Rat how well he knows Cain. Pack Rat says fairly well, though he was surprised at the show of strength. Cain had never shown that ability before.

Bouncer then asks if Cain had ever gone outside the hill, with other Paranormals, and has he been the only one to return?

Pack Rat says “Well, yes. He’s a teleporter. He typically led the outings to find supplies. Sometimes…sometimes they were ambushed by Paladins, and so he was the only one to come back.”

The team look at each other. Bouncer says, “Was one of these people who didn’t come back…did they have super strength?”

Before Pack Rat can answer, War says, “Um…guys…?” He’s pointing to one of the security feeds.

In the tall grass there’s a rustling. All eyes are on the screen when a tiny, robotic head pops up, scans, then drops back into the grass. Several moments pass when a dozen or so foot tall robotic automatons, with spidery legs and an oval body, jump out of the grass and start to climb the hill.

Pack Rat says in a low voice, “Sentries. We’ve been discovered.” He rushes out of the room and using a gadget to project his voice goes, “Red Alert! Sentries! Man your stations! Those who can’t fight run to the escape tunnel!”

What follows is orderly chaos. Several of the stronger looking Paranormals rush to the front of the hill, powering up and facing the one entrance. Children, the elderly, and humans pack up small bags and then head to the back of the hill. There, the twin guards begin to push back a large boulder, one using their arms, the other kicking it aside, to reveal a large hidden tunnel. They wait, seeing what happens next.

Jesuit is able to hear skittering along the hills topside…and then closer. He looks around and sees there are various vents all over, most likely to circulate air. He points at those and says “The Sentries are in the vents!”

Bouncer barks orders, telling those who can, to cover the vents with their abilities. One Unmentionable, who looks human but who has arms made up of…goo…launches green colored slime at the vent. Another does the same, but with rocks.

Heather says, “I can help too!” Bouncer thinks about it, then nods his head and points to an open vent. She runs from one vent to the next, icing them up.

Dora is at the front of the hill. She and other Unmentionables are creating a barrier at the entrance, her with fast growing vines, others with whatever they can throw on top of the pile.

Everyone can now hear the skittering of dozens of Sentries. They can also hear the hum of rocket boots landing outside.

The Paladins have arrived.

In the Nevernever, Firework appears above a vast field, with Carl in tow. They’re several hundred feet above the ground. Below them, about half a mile apart from each other, are two large armies, one of orcs, the other of elves. They are poised to attack each other, but are distracted by the display of Firework’s sparks.

Carl is yelling, even more confused than ever before. Firework goes, “You’re the Caretaker! This is your home! Don’t you remember!?” Carl continues screaming.

The armies below fire off arrows and canons at Firework, who easily dodges them.

Left with no choice, Firework goes, “I hope this works.”

He drops Carl.

As Carl falls, the two armies charge at each other, taking it as a sign to begin the battle. Carl flails in the sky, quickly plummeting to the ground.

Firework sighs, and zips down to catch him.

Just as Carl is about to collide with the armies, he stops in mid air, and time stops around him. The armies freeze in place, arrows and canons and spears stuck in the sky.

Carl rights himself up, mid air, looking around. He blinks and looks up at Firework.

“Happened again, huh?” Caretaker says, in his usual gruff voice.

Firework says, “Yup. We got a lot to catch you up on.”

Caretaker snaps his fingers. They pop out of existence, as the battle below begins again.

They arrive in a void, the empty space where the Lair used to be. Caretaker looks at Firework and goes, “Good thing you didn’t try coming here on your own. Probably wouldn’t have ended well. Whelp, time to get to work.”

Caretaker begins the long task of rebuilding The Lair. Firework pops back into the real world.

Back at the hill, the sentries have broken through some of the barricades. Most are stopped by the Golden Gate Guardians & The Unmentionables, smashed, burned, or crushed. As they get a moment’s reprieve, the outside cameras capture that several of the Paladins’ chests open, and out spring more and more Sentries. The other Paladins are firing off blasts to try and tear down the hill sanctuary.

Pack Rat orders the civilians to flee. He says the escape tunnel leads a mile and a half way from the hill. He knows the Paladins will track them down eventually, but hopes that some are able to escape.

As more Sentries swarm in, they start to overwhelm The Unmentionables. Several of the fighters start to fall, taken down by the shock blasts of the small robots.

War covers one of the air ducts after an Unmentionable falls. He is about to blast the incoming Sentry when he notices the Sentry scanning him. As it does, it turns around and ignores War. Not until War outright attacks it does it focus on War at all.

Bouncer sees that the hill defenses are about to collapse. As he tries to protect the fleeing civilians, he sees on the cameras that a giant Paladin has arrived. This one towers over the others and it starts to blast away at the hilltop. Boulders fall, crushing some of the remaining fighters.

Jesuit sees that Cain is there, teleporting several civilians at once somewhere, then reappearing. Cain sees a rock tumbling toward Dora, but he teleports her out of the way.

Firework pops in and surveys the scene. He quickly closes the only door in the place, the one leading to the War Room, and puts in his golden key to The Lair. He looks in and sees The Caretaker has built a single room, their old one. He yells, “Caretaker! Can you build a big enough room to hold all of The Unmentionables!?”

Caretaker goes, “Um…maybe?” and he gets to work.

The void reappears and out in the distance, a single floor appears. It starts to expand, but very slowly. No walls, just a floor surrounded by void.

With the help of the team & Cain, the remaining people are taken to the safety of The Lair, crowding around each other so they don’t fall down into the darkness. Either thrown, flown, jumped over or carried, they get inside. Cain teleports those who have run down the escape tunnel back so they could be brought to real safety.

Every time he pops them back, he stares into the doorway to The Lair, to The Nevernever. He stares at it, for what seems like long moments, before he pops back out to grab more people.

The hilltop ceiling breaks open, as a giant hand punches its way through. The hand detaches itself from the giant Paladin and transforms into a smaller but no less deadly Paladin! It starts to blast away at the remaining fighters, taking them down one by one.

Firework picks up the remaining people, scoops them up in a shower of sparks and zips into The Lair. He looks back and sees rocks caving in the sanctuary.

He sees Cain covering Dora with his body. He looks up, one last time staring at the door to The Lair, and then they both disappear with a loud pop.

As the door closes, they see one final giant beam of energy eradicate the sanctuary for good.

Inside The Lair, Caretaker has finished making the room. A large warehouse size room (complete with walls!) but nothing else. He sits down, exhausted.

Pack Rat and the team regroup. Once they realize that Cain is not among them, they ask Pack Rat whether the weird sisters ever scanned him. He admits that they didn’t, since he was almost there from the beginning and earned his trust.

The team tells Pack Rat about Cain from their world, about how he murdered several of The Unmentionables, and other Paranormals, to gain their power. Pack Rat finds it hard to believe, for the Cain he knew was kind, protective…and in love with Dora.
Dora, who Cain killed without a second thought in the other reality.

Caretaker says that Cain is the one who found him, living on the streets, and brought him to Pack Rat’s sanctuary in the first place. If it wasn’t for him…

Caretaker says the team has to fix this, fix reality. Heather suggests that if they find the person who made the wish, and make them take it back, that maybe that’ll fix everything? Jesuit points out they don’t know who made the wish.

Firework comes up with an idea. He remembers Pack Rat told them that the Paladins first appeared when they saved a senator’s family from an unstable Paranormal. He says that’s probably who made the wish.

Pack Rat tells them that all politicians are now held in their state’s capital (for their own protection). They don’t really have any power anymore, but are kept guarded.

Aurum says he was at the Capitol in Sacramento. He says he saw various camps with people in them, and a lot of Paladins. Pack Rat says that’s where they mass produce the Paladins for the West Coast.

The team decides that their only option. They’re going to infiltrate the capital, try to find the Senator, and convince her to take back her wish.

Pack Rat says, “Is your world…is your world better than this one.” They all enthusiastically say yes. “Then…good luck.”

Caretaker teleports the team to their personal room. Still tired he says, “Okay, so I’ll ask the question no one wants to ask – What about the Unmentionables? Those that are, you know, dead.”

Without hesitation, Firework says, “What about them? We keep them safe. We’ll integrate them back into the world once we fix things.”

Caretaker says, “But then you might have two of the same person walking around. That’s no good, and could cause issues…reality breaking issues.”

Firework says, “Then we’ll build them a home here, in The Nevernever. We’re not going to let them die again.”

With that, the team gathers around the door, they open it and step back into the real world, ready to do what they have to to bring back their reality. The expect to end up in their HQ, but wasn’t that erased…?

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Season 3 Issue 6 - The Wish

The team, flying in the Plucky Puck, head back to Homeworld. They give the data disk they got from the Star Raiders to Mentor. He is surprised to hear that the team ran into a K’ltar, a species long thought extinct.

The team giggles because they are children.

They decide that it’s time to head back to Earth. Mentor informs them that they have enough fuel to return home and back to Homeworld once. But if they arrive at Homeworld, they can refuel. The type of fuel the Plucky Puck uses is not available in Earth’s solar system.

The flight home is uneventful. As they fly into the atmosphere, they realize something is wrong. There is thick, black smoke covering the majority of the West Coast of the U.S! They dive underneath it and are attacked by long range missiles. The Plucky Puck defense systems are easily able to take them out, and the team fly closer to the ground to see what is going on.

They see desolation, as far as the eye can see. The countryside has been ravaged by fires, the towns up and down the coast have been destroyed. Buildings looked like they had been devastated ages ago, crumbling on their foundations.

Firework phased and flew as fast as he could to San Francisco, to his family’s home. San Francisco was just as ruined as the rest of California, building collapsed on themselves, cars overturned, and debris everywhere.

Fireowork notices some puddles that looked like melted cars, near an open sewer hatch. He zips down and finds his sister hiding behind a wall of ice. She begs him to come down, to get out of sight, before “They” find him.

Aurum teleports himself to Sacramento, to see if there is any government left. He arrives at the capital building, and finds that the city is alive, though barely. Buildings are destroyed, but not as badly, and there is signs of life. Camp like facilities line up the once grand city, and in front of the capital are two large robotic figures. They are two dozen feet tall, and stand at the front of the building.

As he hovers overhead, their eyes light up red and they turn their gaze on him.

Back on the Plucky Puck, the onboard computer picks up a distress call. Bouncer recognizes it as an AEGIS signiture! They fly toward the signal, in Marin County. There they discover AEGIS agent Zee. She says she’d been hiding out in Marin for a week, trying to figure out what the hell was going on.

Zee tells them that she a special ops agent, that AEGIS sends her out on various missions that take her into pretty murky territory. She was on a case nearby, staking out a politician who had been potentially involved in some corruption scandal, when everything around her shifted to what they see around them.

Zee tried to get back to AEGIS HQ, but saw the giant robots patrolling and decided to set up camp in Marin. She’d been on the lamb since. She says she thinks the things are called Paladins, since she’s found scraps of newspapers throughout Marin County.

Jesuit scans Zee and sees that she is telling the truth, but also, that she has a little it of Nevernever energy emanating from her. He concludes that she is a low level Paranormal.

As she is explaining her situation, the Plucky Puck alarms start to go off. They have incoming! They board the ship and take flight, pursued by various Paladins! They attack, but the shields are able to hold. That is until they start to hit harder and harder. They seem to be adapting to the Plucky Puck’s shield technology!

Bouncer makes an executive decision and they blast off into space. The Paladins follow up until the atmosphere, but then drop back.

In San Francisco, Heather, Firework’s step-sister, has a similar story to Zee. She was in her bedroom about a week ago, studying, when everything changed around her. She immediately went to check on her moms, but they were gone, and her home was in tatters. She took off her power nullifier, because she thought she might need her powers, and went out to explore. Outside of some feral animals, she didn’t find anyone. But she did see the giant robots. They seemed to sense when she used her powers, so she tried to only use them in emergencies. She’d been hiding in the sewer for a few days before Firework showed up.

Firework pulls out his golden key and tries to open a door to The Lair. But the door opens up to an empty void. The Lair, and Caretaker, are gone.

Firework takes Heather and zips back to The Plucky Puck.

Back in Sacramento, Aurum easily evades the Paladins. He goes to one of the few remaining libraries and tries to put together what happened. According to what he can find, the Paladins appeared about a month after The Breaking. They were introduced at a time when the country was in a panic over Paranormals. The program got funding pretty quickly, and they started to come off the assembly line in vast numbers.

And then the newspapers just stop. Aurum teleports to The Plucky Puck.

Bouncer wonders if they can hack into a satellite system and see what the hell happened. Zee says she has her own personal satellite that helps her out in missions, and she taps into it via the Plucky Pucks’ control panel.

The view screen shows everything was fine 12 days ago. They see scenes of Zee in a European country (Satellite selfie!) and then in Marin. It zooms out and catches a wave of reddish energy surround the planet, 7 days ago. The satellite feed cuts out then.

Aurum tries to get a read on the energy, but does not’ find it familiar. And yet there’s something about it that’s bugging him…

Heather gasps. She says she recognizes the energy. It’s the same type of energy used on her to make her the Ice Queen where she…ahem…kidnapped Santa Claus.

Zee goes, “Um…what?”

The team vaguely remembers the adventure, as if it was a dream they had long ago. Vague memories of it come back to them. Santa. Grinch like creatures.

And Mister Infamy.

Just then, the ship is rocked by missles. They can see large Paladins, much larger than the ones they’ve seen, flying towards them.

Jesuit says, “Fine, let’s see if they can reach Jupiter!”

The Plucky Puck takes off and within minutes they enter Jupiter’s atmosphere.

As they try to figure out what to do next, even debating on whether they should call their friends in the Star Knights, a portal opens up nearby. A dozen Paladins come rushing out, towards the ship!

This time, Aurum recognizes the energy signature from the portal. It’s mystical in nature, and he’s sure he knows who created it.

Bouncer flies the Plucky Puck out of Jupiter and they land on Mars. Zee says she has a portable shelter that could hide them under the surface. She pulls it out of her bag and drops it on the planet’s surface (with some help from Firework). It’s an ACME device! Within minutes, they have a shelter that provides them with food, water & breathable air. It’s a bit cramp, but they all go in.

Bouncer decides it’s safer to send the Plucky Puck to the far side of the Sun, until they get a chance to retrieve it.

The team tries to figure out their next step. They realize that both Zee & Heather were able to hide underground, which means the Paladin’s scanners won’t find them. They figure they can set up a base camp on Earth, in a cave somewhere, and start some sort of resistance.

Heather says that once she took back her wish, everything went back to normal. Maybe that’s what they need to do, find the original wish maker.

Firework carries the team back to Earth. They head towards Napa, hoping to find an abandoned winery, where they can hole up in the wine cellar. They find a place and scout the area.

That’s when Zee sees movement, just a few hundred yards from their location. They see a humanoid figure, expertly camouflaged, heading towards a large hill. They follow and soon realize they recognize the figure. It’s Dora, one of the Unmentionables! Her grass covered body blends in almost perfectly with the surroundings.

But she died. At the hands of Cain.

She walks towards the hill, looks around, and pulls up a hidden hatch. She goes inside.

The team follows. They find a large tunnel, filled with bobby traps, which they are able to handle. They come to an electrified fence and meet Pack Rat, the leader of the Unmentionables. He doesn’t seem to recognize them. After some back and forth, and scanning to show that they’re Paranormals, they are welcomed in.

Pack Rat informs them that once he saw how popular the Paladin Program was becoming, he knew that it was only a matter of time before they started to round up WTFs, especially those who couldn’t pass for human. He gathered as many as he could and they went out to find a new home. Not long after, sure enough, the Purge began, when The Paladins became sentient and took over the country.

As they walked deeper into the hill, they saw several Unmentionables that they recognized, though none seemed to remember the team. They saw several that were killed by Cain, alive and healthy.

Heather accidentally bumps into one of the denizens, knocking him over. One of the others quickly rushes to his side, and yells at Heather “Watch where you’re going!”

The team recognizes him. Caretaker!

The man Caretaker is helping up says, “No, it’s okay Carl. No harm done.” The man turns around to face the team.

It’s Cain.

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Season 3 Issue 5 - Stars in the Sky Part 2

The Star Dragon is massive, several dozen feet long, with a wingspan that covers the team in shadow. It swoops down from the atmosphere, roaring.

The captured shapeshifting alien yells out “That’s the Klitar! We…we were merely transporting it’s egg…to…to..”

Cutlass speaks up, “To either train it as a war hound, or to splice and dice the baby critter?” The alien goes silent. Cutlass punches it out.

Aurum and Firework leap into action. Firework flies up to the creature, hoping to cut it off. Aurum teleports in front of the massive alien, and begins to cast a spell.

The Star Raiders all get into The Marauder. Syd begins to rummage through the storage hold, going through heaps of various items, trying to locate the egg. Captain Cutlass starts up the engines.

Wildheart and Juanito stand outside The Marauder, while the rest of the team gets into The Plucky Puck. Bouncer orders the ship to take off, and to lay an intercept course with the dragon. They begin to ask what capabilities the ship has.

They seem very random.

As they get weapons primed, Bouncer has this unnerving sensation. He glances around at the various controls in the ship and sees a big, red button, next to the captain’s chair. He asks the computer what that switch is.

“That button initiates the self-destruct sequence.” responds the computer.

Jesuit laughs, “Why would someone put something like that in? And who would be dumb enough to hit it?”

Bouncer nods in agreement…but can’t shake the feeling that it would be REALLY NICE to hit that button…

Aurum casts a golden mandala, hoping to calm the beast down, or at least distract it. Firework, seeing Aurum has it in hand, flies back to The Marauder and scours the ship, looking for the egg.

The Dragon does indeed slow down. Where before it roared in rage, now it seemed calmer, though no less fearsome. It extends its massive claws and begins to land ON TOP of the Marauder.

Captain Cutlass activates the shields, which the Space Dragon lands on, wrapping it’s paws around the ship. This inadvertently traps Firework inside!

Juanito and Wildheart attempt to distract the dragon. Wildheart hears the engines start on The Marauder, wondering if the space pirates are just going to abandon them.

Syd finds the egg, and tosses it to Firework. Firework shouts that Cutlass needs to turn off the shields. Cutlass says the only thing protecting the ship from the dragon IS the shields! Firework convinces her to turn them off. As she does, the dragon gets a hold of the ship, damaging some parts, but not destroying it out right. The mandela effect is still ongoing.

Firework phases through the ship and holds the egg in front of the Dragon. The Dragon growls, gently grabs ahold of the egg, lets go of the ship, and flies off. It roars triumphantly as it leaves the atmosphere.

As the dragon flies off, it passes by where the unconscious shapeshifting aliens lie, in a heap. It opens its mouth and a blast of radiation burns them to crisp. It flies up, pasts the Plucky Puck, shaking the ship in its wake. The urge for Bouncer to push the button is increasing. Jesuit notices and activates his Angel Eye. He sees that Bouncer is being influenced by something. He follows the trail and yells out, “Something is on the hull of the ship!”

Down below, Wildheart and Juanito are attacked! Giant alien bugs with long tails start to spread out, some attacking The Marauder’s damaged hull, some focusing on Wildheart! The Star Raiders exit their ship, and help in the fight. They all quickly realize that the blood from the creatures is acidic, eating through whatever it lands on!

Cutlass yells out, “Parasites! From the Space Dragon!”

Back on the Plucky Puck, the parasites begin to chew through the hull. Bouncer orders evasive action. The Plucky Pucks does a barrel roll, tossing a few of the creatures. Some get through, though, and attack the team. They fight back, with War taking the lead.

And by lead I mean causing an explosion that rips a hole in the hull. A hole which Bouncer tosses several bugs out of. One of the creatures tries to attach itself to War, who drags it to an airlock. As the acid burns away his flesh, War chucks the beast outside.

Down below, the Star Raiders, with the help of Juanito, Wildheart & Firework, take care of the rest.

Aurum, still reeling from the memories of Jesuit, conjures up very potent alcohol and proceeds to get drunk.

As the Plucky Puck lands, Wildheart turns on Cutlass. “Were you planning on just leaving us!? After everything that’s happened, after we helped you!?” He was not happy.

Cutlass, still breathing hard from the fight and near escape from the Space Dragon, wasn’t having it. “Look, a SPACE DRAGONDRAGON…was coming towards my ship. Hell yes I was trying to get away.” She points to her damaged ship, “Cause it coulda been a lot worse! But I said I would help you, already gave you my word. What more do you want?” Disgusted, she turns and leaves him.

Firework offers to patch up both ships and gets to work. It’ll be a days work before he’s done.

Cutlass yells out, “Zok-Ten! Grab the mule. I need a drink.” The Blue Tech alien pushes a few buttons on his sleeve, and a hovercraft descends from The Marauder.

Cutlass looks at the team. “There’s a town a few clicks over. It’s not exactly friendly, but the drinks are good and strong. If you want in, get in.” The Star Raiders all climb in. Bouncer goes, “A hive of scum and villainy? Sure why not.” He is joined by Jesuit & War, and Wildheart. Juanito starts to hop on when Wildheart goes, “Uh uh. You’re underage. Watch the ships.”

Juanito sulks but goes into the Plucky Puck.

Aurum, drunk by this point, goes, “Bah. I don’t need…your….transportation…” He conjures up a set of angel wings, begins to fly…and then his wings leave him behind, leaving him to pass out on the desert floor.

The rest of the team shrugs, and they head off.

The “town” is a small, only a few blocks around. The houses are made of various alien material, but nothing that shines or gleams. It has a rundown look, even though there are flying aircrafts and holograms advertising what is inside the various shops. As the teams arrive, they see a pair of golden angel wings standing outside a large that’s made up of black wood like material named The Romantic Tigress. An alien gets tossed out the holodoor, landing face first in the mud.

“Charming.” Jesuit says. Cutlass snickers and walks inside, followed by the team. The whole tavern goes, “CUTLASS!” as she enters. She screams out some obscenities and then heads for the back of the bar. Syd & Zok-ten put out their hands and drinks fall from the ceiling directly into their palms…paws. They go in seperate directions, as does Quarry, who does not drink.

The team enters and everyone faces them for a moment, sizing the mup. The tavern is dark, dank and crowded. Various alien vines crawl up the walls, the furniture seems to be made of the same black wood, and all types of alien beings are scattered about. There is a “bar” with a multi-limbed humanoid behind it. When they appear to be no threat, everyone goes back to what they were doing.

The team makes nice with the locals. War engages in a friendly drinking contest. Bouncer is “asked” to participate in an arm wrestling contest with a grey alien. Aurum finally teleports in and continues to drink. Jesuit joins Cutlass in a private booth and they speak long into the night.

Wildheart takes one look around, decides the place isn’t for him, and leaves. He explores the town, sees that it is indeed hopping with life, but nothing too exciting. He tries to sense any other Paranormals, but he doesn’t. He finally flies back to The Plucky Puck.

Cutlass and Jesuit talk. Jesuit learns that Cutlass’ backstory, basically abducted by aliens at a young age, sold into slavery, escaped with “these fools,” pointing to the Star Raiders, and has been living it up. Cutlass says she hasn’t seen her parents in years, doesn’t even know if they’re alive or what. Jesuit gets the distinct impression that as much as Cutlass tries to hide it, she considers the Raiders her family now.

Jesuit tells her how much Earth has changed, about The Breaking, about Paranormals, and how they’re a government sponsored team. He tells her a few adventures, drinking more and more. Finally Cutlass says, “Alright, one more drink, and then you and I are going upstairs.” Jesuit nods in agreement, smiling.

War drinks several shots of alien liquor. He feels it for a few moments, then his healing factor kicks in. But even it can only take so much. One by one, the aliens around him go down. The final one falls out of his chair and he stands up whooping. As he does so, a bag of credits lands in front of him, his winnings. An attractive female cat like humanoid alien curls up behind him, her tail stroking his still partially melted face. She takes him by the hand…paw…and leads him upstairs.

Bouncer loses the first match with the alien. He is taken aback by how strong the skinny alien with twig like arms is. He gets the sense that his “strength” is telekinesis. He wins the second round. The final round is up, and several aliens have gathered to watch. The final round takes several minutes, neither contestant giving in. Finally, after many moments of straining, Bouncer overtakes the grey and wins, slamming his arm through the table. Everyone cheers as Bouncer gets patted on the back…and watches in horror as a brute of an alien takes the grey aliens head in his hands and smooshes it, green blood spraying everywhere. Another alien with a mop and bucket comes over to clean up the blood, while a robot servant takes out the body.

Everyone goes back to drinking.

Bouncer, unsure of just what happened, sees a very muscular, very orc looking alien (without the tusks) dressed up very professionally. He fixes his bowtie and comes over to chat with Bouncer. After a few more rounds, they go upstairs.
Aurum has been talking it up with Zok-Ten, Quarry & Ceph, who is being carried by Quarry. Aurum listens to tales of their adventures, sees all his friends go upstairs, and telepathically calls to Firework. He asks if it’s okay if he “gets some” as well. Firework tells him to have fun, use protection, and gets back to fixing the ships. Aurum gets one more drink, slams it back, and takes Zok-Ten by the hand. “Shall we.” Zok-Ten gulps and nods. Aurum conjures up a duplicate and the dupe goes to Quarry. “Care to join?” Quarry goes, “I am always interested in trying out new things.” He puts down Ceph and the four go upstairs.

The next morning the team wake up, some with hangovers, others just tuckered out. They all meet up at The Mule and gather inside. No mention of the previous night’s activities are discussed. They head back to their ships.

Firework has finished the repairs, and has a better understanding of how The Plucky Puck works.

Cutlass stands in front of her team. She goes, “Alright, well, tell Earth I say howdy. Zok-Ten…a deals a deal. Give it over and let’s take off.” She heads back to the ship. Syd follows her, looking back and saying, “Glad I didn’t have to blow y’all up. Mostly.”

Quarry says, “The Captain is a woman of few words. What she means is that it was a pleasure fighting alongside you. If you ever need our help, just give us a hail. Alternatively, we hope we can call upon you in the future. Perhaps Cutlass would be more amiable to return to her homeworld. For some reason, she has never returned. Oh well. Farewell, Golden Guardians.”

Ceph telepathically calls out, “Lots of fun. Great adventure. See you next time.” and is carried out by Quarry.

Zok-Ten hits a few buttons on his arm. A small device pops out of his cranium. He pulls it out and hands it over to Bouncer. “This is what I got from The Blackguard computers. It’s quite a bit, encrypted, but hopefully it’ll be useful to you all. Stay out of trouble.” He walks back to the ship.

The Marauder starts up and takes off into the sky. The team get onto the Plucky Puck and Bouncer gives the order to take off.

View
Season 3 Issue 5 - Stars in the Sky

The team warps into space. Firework has a…slight idea on which direction to go. All he knows is he must get away from the planet of the Blackguard. After a few light years, a spaceship flies close to the cluster of sparks that is Firework. It’s The Marauder, the ship of the Star Raiders. They lead Firework back to Homeworld.

Just outside of Homeworld’s range, Firework gets a telepathic message. The voice in his head tells him that they’re not exactly welcome so they’ll be taking off. But they may have important information for the team, and if they’re into it, they can meet them at insert planetary coordinates. They take off.

Firework enters Homeworld’s atmosphere, and lands near The Citadel, in an airfield. He drops to his knees as he changes form, exhausted from carrying so many people for so long. Dozens of prisoners, and the team, materialize. Immediately, Star Knights start to arrive, as well as Homeworld personnelle. They begin to help out the prisoners, who are all in bad shape.

Sri Lerus, the four armed green Star Knight, arrives, and takes the team to see Mentor. He is amazed at how many people were rescued, and the fact that the team survived an onslaught of the Blackguard. As they walk to the Citadel, the team is able to overhear the rumor mill starting, and how word of the rescued prisoners, and the fact that it was newly arrived Earthers that did it, is spreading.

Mentor is once more on the giant screen in their command center, dozens of feet tall and wide. Sri Zarius, the blue is there, greeting the team. Mentor asks for details of the team’s adventure.

The team tells Mentor about The Night Stone, about the dozens, if not hundreds, of Blackguard they saw, about how Blackstar is somehow connected to the entity that is the Big Bad that kidnapped Jesuit, and that their planet homebase somehow disappears once you leave its atmosphere. Whether it cloaks itself, teleports or phases out of reality is unknown. Mentor sends out a small scouting party to the last known location of the planet.

Mentor then asks the team how long were they planning on staying? The team gets a little defensive until Mentor says he’s inquiring so that the proper accommodations can be made. Sri Zarius tells them that they have rooms for them, but they can be upgraded later on. He also mentions that a lot of people are impressed with all the humans have managed to do in such a short amount of time.

Jesuit says they have a few questions, and Mentor encourages them to ask anything they want to know. Mentor doesn’t know the being that captured Jesuit, but he does tell them the story of Blackstar.

Blackstar used to be a Star Knight, one of the best. But he came to believe that the only way to bring peace and order to the universe was to rule it with an iron hand. He rebelled and it took many Star Knights to take him down. He was captured and imprisoned, for years, his power and armor stripped from him.

One day, he escaped. No one knows how he broke out, just that he did. He went underground, disappearing for years, until one day he reemerged, as Black Star. He was a match for the Star Knights, but was defeated time and again. Soon, though, he started to show up with his Blackguard, beings he somehow impowered and commanded. Since then, they have been a blight on the galaxy. Sometimes they work together, causing havoc and chaos. Other times they work alone, as mercenaries or assassins. No one knows why they do what they do, but they are a powerful threat that the Star Knights have dedicated themselves to eradicating.

They haven’t been able to capture any Blackguard for interrogation, though. When a Blackguard is taken down, their power implodes into a shadowy mass, that dissipates, leaving no trace. Firework wonders if the body actually dissolves…or teleports.

With Aurum’s help and the team’s memories, they’re able to create a holographic image of the various Blackguard members that the team encountered. Mentor estimates that the Blackguard’s numbers may very well rival that of the Star Knights.

Mentor does see one member of the Blackguard that the Star Knights killed…or thought they killed. They all theorize that maybe sometimes, the Blackguard doesn’t die, just gets sent home. A power the Star Knights do not possess. When a Star Knight dies, their armor returns to Homeworld.

Mentor admits that the Star Knights have a similar power source to the Blackguard, the core of Homeworld. He’s never named it, but he will now call it the Day Stone.

Mentor tells the team to go rest, and that once they have an answer they can let him know. Sri Zarius takes them to their quarters. The rooms are sparsely furnished, but comfortable. The food is rather lacking, since no one has ever had to cook for humans before.

Aurum decides this is unacceptable and goes off in search of the planet’s greatest chef. He finds them, on the other side of the planet, where the well to do aliens hang out. Posh setting, gambling, boutiques, and the like fill almost a whole quadrant.

The chef is a mechanical being, roughly cube shaped (stove) with 8 arms. Aurum sees them pull out from inside of themselves a meal that makes his eyes water with how delicious it smells. Aurum says, “Marry me.”

The chef says, “Very well.” and opens his chest hole. The chef says that he cooks all of their spouses, that it is a great honor to be turned into a delectable meal by them.

Aurum sighs and flies away. Chef sighs as well, and goes, “I liked him. I really did. He would’ve been delicious.”

The next morning, most of the team wake up refreshed but…off. They feel…distant…from their abilities. No one more so then Aurum, who for a while has felt the lack of magik in the air. They sense that if they don’t return home, sometime in the future, their abilities may start to fade. Firework is unsure why this is happening, since he’s spent months out in space, but he thinks he’s never had to push himself like he did the days before.

Firework says that he can fly them home, but it would take weeks. Even with a spaceship, it would take them about a day or so. Bouncer suggests opening a doorway to The Lair, but then remembers its a one way trip. The team wonders if they should stay, and if so, why?

They remember that the Star Raiders wanted to talk to them, so they decide to see if they can borrow a ship or get some sort of transport.

Sri Zarius greets them and says, “So, humans, we like you. Word has spread about your heroic deeds, and we have a gift for you.” He takes them back to the airfield, where before them stands a spaceship.

Not just any spaceship, an actual UFO looking flying saucer. It’s large, cylinder shaped, and chrome. Very, very chromatic.

Sri Zarius say, in an excited voice, “We looked through your Earth history, and found that his was the prefered shape. We made it to your Earth specifications! It is fully space worthy, with a space drive, AI, weapons, and gets great fuel spaceage.” Even through his helmet, the team can tell he’s very excited.

We call it The Plucky Puck!

Bouncer asks how long can it fly for? Sri Zarius says it has enough fuel for about one Earth week’s worth of flight, and that the fuel source is common in this sector. When asked what the fuel is, Sri Zarius says a word that is unpronounceable.

The team thanks Zarius and climb in. Inside the ship seems to be a mixture of various earth culture spaceships, with touch screens, levers, buttons, pipes, and chrome. Lots and lots of chrome. The bridge looks just how you would expect a bridge to look…from a certain popular tv show. When Firework goes, “Um…Computer?” the A.I. activates and sounds just like a certain popular tv show’s computer voice. Firework gives the ship coordinates, to where the Star Raiders wanted to meet them.

The ship’s computer says that the Captain must be sitting on the Captain’s chair in order for take off procedure to begin. Firework designates the following:

Captain – Firework
First Mate – Wildheart
Chief of Security – Bouncer
Science Officer – War
Ships Counselor – Jesuit
Hottie – Aurum
Ensign – Juanito

Once Firework sits in the captain’s chair, nothing happens. The computer says, “You must say Engage.” Firework does so, and the ship immediately rockets up into the sky, almost hitting nearby space crafts.

They arrive in a few hours to the coordinates sent by the Star Raiders. It’s a desolate planet, not quite desert, but close, with a breathable atmosphere. There’s a village in the distance, but the Marauder is parked miles away from it.

Leaning against the ship is Captain Cutlass. She’s with the Blue skinned alien with tech attached to his face, and seems to be just waiting. The Plucky Puck lands and a ramp opens up, allowing the team to descend. All vacate the ship, except for Wildheart, who stays behind, just in case it’s a trap.

Captain Cutlass nods at the team, saying “You alone?” The team nods. Cutlass talks into a communicator, “Don’t blow ‘em up.” They hear a voice on the other end go, “Awwww.”

Cutlass says, “Okay, let’s get down to business. We got information that might be worth something to the Star Knights. Now, we’re not on the best of terms, so we figured we’d make use of our new found friendship.”

Firework goes, “Well, we’re not really…like, that close to…”

Cutlass interrupts, “Yeah, maybe. But you’re hanging out at, what we hear, is The Citadel. Only big important folks hang there. So, since we helped each other out before, why not again?”

Jesuit goes, “What kind of information.”

Cutlass smiles. “Heh, a lot of info. See, my buddy here, he’s a hacker of some renown. In fact, he’s a psychic hacker, able to hack into most tech without even touching it. So when they captured him, he took it upon himself to learn about our captors.”

The blue skinned alien speaks up, “Apologies. My name is Zok-Ten. As the Captain has stated, we have information that pertains to the Blackguard, the nemesis of The Star Knights. I was able to download several pieces of important information from their terminals that I believe The Star Knights will find useful.”

Cutlass says, “So, you talk to them, see what it’s worth, and we can negotiate. Nice and easy.”

Firework goes, “How do we even know if the information is worth anything?”

Zok-Ten says, “I am still categorizing the information, but I believe that The Star Knights will indeed be…”

Cutlass interrupts, “We have the name of the big boss. The one who Black Star follows. As well as other tidbits. I think that speaks for itself.”

Jesuit speaks up, “Look, Captain. You do not seem to understand the situation. Not giving that information to The Star Knights is not in your best interest. The…big boss…as you say. I have dealt with him. I know just the destruction and devastation he is capable of. By not sharing this information, we are leaving ourselves open to his assault, and by not sharing, you will be responsible for whatever havoc and chaos he reeks. He is coming, the Blackguard and Black Star are just the opening gambit. They are his harbingers, and by not helping us, you may as well just lay down and die.” ask Mike to fix if needed

Cutlass thinks a moment. As she does, three figures teleport next to her, the massive crystalline being, carrying a glass tube that contains the green, one eyed goo creature, and…a talking platypus, armed to the teeth.

Cutlass motions to them. “This is the rest of my crew, Quarry, Ceph, and Syd.”

The crystal creature, Quarry, speaks. In a very soft, soothing voice, he says, “Hello. I hear you and think that we should be of more assistance. However, our…predilections…make it so that it would be difficult to fully cooperate with the Star Knights, with…our having to worry…”

The platypus interrupts, “Having to worry about being locked up and the key thrown down a deep, dark Black Hole. Look, we don’t do nuthin’ for free, and if you think that we’re gonna start now…”

A voice is heard throughout, inside their heads. A voice that sounds almost underwater, “What Syd means is that we do what we must to survive. We’re all on the run, for one reason or another, and this is how we can live. We do not wish anyone harm, but we also must look after our own.”
Jesuit looks at Ceph. His voice cracks, momentarily, but he says, “You are a telepath, yes? Can you look at my memories? Can you see what I went through, and then perhaps share it with your crew, to show you the threat this being represents.”

Jesuit knows that everytime he shares his memories, he relives the worst moments of his life. Everytime he opens up his mind, he has weeks of nightmares afterward.

Aurum, who had been largely silent, steps forward. “Green…eyed..one…if you please…I will serve as a conduit, between you and Jesuit. He…well, he’s been through enough, and I will take on his burden…this time.”

Ceph agrees. He reaches into Jesuit’s mind, via Aurum’s spell. By going through Aurum, Jesuit can “relay” the memory, but not relive it. Aurum however…once the connection is made, and the transfer begins, Aurum falls to his knees, tears in his eyes. Ceph explodes within his containment unit, crying out so loudly that everyone grabs ahold of their heads, except for Syd, who reached for his belt, ready to press a button.

Aurum knew what Jesuit went through, but he didn’t KNOW. He feels the pain, isolation, and fear that Jesuit lived through. He felt the terror, the fear, of the flame skulled being, and how he suffered for that year and a day, all within a matter of moments in his time. He sees all the other aliens, creatures and beings, tortured, enslaved, and broken around him. He feels the power coming from the being, and his servants.

Aurum breaks down. Firework rushes to his side, and comforts him as best he can. Ceph breaks the connection, his psychic scream done. He whimpers, “Captain…Kate…it’s…horrible. We must…we must…”

Kate raises her hand. “No. We get immunity, the Star Knights guarantee us that they’ll leave us alone, and they can have the info. We don’t want credits or weapons, we just want…”

The crew all begin to talk at once, but Cutlass says, “Enough.” and walks away.

Wildheart teleports out. He follows Cutlass, talking to her alone. He speaks with passion, from the heart, and compels to her better nature, the good hero underneath the criminal. He hopes that she can see reason, and see that this is her chance, to save the universe.

Cutlass listens. She listens, doesn’t interrupt, and takes it all in. She sighs, turns to Wildheart, and goes, “Look…we’ll…”

And she’s interrupted by a loud alarm, coming from both ships. Firework sends a spark inside the Plucky Puck and goes, “Computer. Status report.” The AI replies, “Incoming hail from approaching vessel.” “On screen.” Firework orders.

On the screen, a red skinned humanoid alien, with a large bald head, white eyes and NO MOUTH, speaks, “We are The Grue Unity. Our targets are the Star Raiders. Step aside as we capture them and we will not open fire on your vessel.”

Firework goes, “What did they do?” The alien answers, “They have stolen from us. That is an offense punishable by death. Step aside, this is your final warning.”

Firework sighs, and warns his friends. The Star Raiders are already in action. Quarry, carrying Ceph, Syd and Zok-Ten teleport inside the ship. Captain Cutlass goes, “Look, once we deal with these guys, we’ll go talk to the Star Knights. From a safe distance, of course but…” And that’s when a force field surrounds The Marauder.

From above, a red tinted space shift descends from orbit, the field coming from it. Turrets descend from the belly of the ship, while several Grue soldiers beam down, surrounding the team and Cutlass. The aliens arm their cannons and get ready to fire.

The team leaps into action, making short work of the aliens. The Star Raiders help out, Syd finally pushing “The Button” and activating the various explosives around The Maurder that he hid…blowing up three of the aliens.

They find out, the hard way, that the aliens are shape shifters, growing wings and leaping to the skies. But working together, they make sure they get knocked out.

Firework, on the other hand, takes on the shuttle. He wraps it around in sparks, shaking the ship up and down. When the ship powers its engines, getting ready to escape, Firework aims it at the ground.

The ship is no more.

As they round up the rest of the alien’s crew, they hear a roar from above, shaking the very ground they stand on. A massive SPACE DRAGON descends.

Firework glares at Cutlass, “What. Did. You. Do!?”

Cutlass grimaces, “Um…Syd..? What have we…acquired…recently…”

“Hmm…well there’s the Justicar Power Staff, the Triumph Gauntlet, the Letters of Honesty, the fossilized egg, the Chaos Door, the…”

The captured alien shouts, “Fool! You stole the egg, but it is not fossilized. That is how it looks when it is about to hatch! We were transporting it to a…safe…location when you stole the shipment it was in!”

The ground shakes again, as the mother Space Dragon descends, blotting out the alien sun. She does not look happy.

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Season 3 Issue 4 - The Dark Rises Part 2

Aurum, Firework, and Jesuit find themselves in a vast canyon made of black, onyx rock. The sky overhead rumbles with thunder and black lightning. Darkness surrounds them. They see the Blackguard flying overhead, causing Firework to summon an illusion of a home made of the same black onyx, shielding them from view.

Bouncer finds himself on top of the cliff making up the valley. He is confused as to how he arrived, but figures his team did something. He sees a flying figure above and manages to hide, as he sees the imp of the Blackguard, Gravik, fly by, laughing hysterically calling out, “I’ll find you! I’ll find you and then we can play!”

On the opposite side of the valley, Juanito & War appear. Juanito lights up their path as they try to find their friends. They don’t see the trap laid before them as they fall into a pit, tumbling head over heel. As they land, they hear a voice go, “Hey! This is my hiding spot!”

A female with short red hair, with a cybernetic eye, wearing body armor, and pointing a blaster at them, stands before the two heroes. She goes, “Great, now they’re going to see us!” Her gun whirs on.

Juanito goes, “Wait, wait. I can help!” He casts an illusion of the ground above them, covering them from view. In moments they hear Gravik screech, “Come out come out wherever you are! Let me take you to your friends! It’ll be fun!”

They wait until the hysterical giggling trails off.

The woman speaks, “Okay, a) who are you and b) how’d you get here and c) give me one good reason not to blast both of you.”

After some back and forth, the woman says her name is Captain Cutlass. She escaped capture from The Blackguard but is trying to get her way back into their HQ. She says they have her crew. War convinces her to join them while they find their friends.

After some mishaps, the team reunites in the fake rock home. Aurum spreads out with his magical senses, trying to get a lay of the land. He senses that magic is sparse here, but there is a dark energy surrounding the planet. Jesuit activates his Angel Eye and tries to get a sense of the twisted world. The darkness covers the sky, even blocking his sight.

War, Juanito & Cutlass tell the rest of Cutlass’ predicament. She says that if they help her get her crew back, that she has a way off the planet.

Probably.

Jesuit is able to tell that Cutlass is from Earth, and it turns out she is originally from Emerald City. She’s even heard of The Key family. She was kidnapped by aliens when she was younger. Those same aliens killed her family and sold her off to be a slave. She was able to escape, joined up with a rough crew, and made her way into the spaceways. She tells them eventually she got herself a crew and that they fight against the slave trade and fight the good fight.

Mostly.

Firework and Jesuit converse, realize that this is a good opportunity to get The Night Stone, the object that gives the Blackguard their power. Using Juanito’s newfound vision powers, they’re able to deduce that the power surrounding the planet emanates from the giant citadel miles away, the homebase of The Blackguard.

The team agrees to help Cutlass. She says that she can try to stealth their way in, the way she escaped. Bouncer suggests having a distraction. As the team discuss their options, Wildheart and Juanito take off!

“So much for the element of surprise.” says Bouncer.

Wildheart and Juanito fly straight towards the citadel, blazing light as they streak across the sky. From a distance, they can see that members of the Blackguard start pouring out of citadel, heading to interpass the two light heroes.

Firework gathers up the rest, turns them into spark form, and zips through the ground towards the Citadel. It’s tough going through the onyx rock, but they get there in no time. Just as they’re about to enter…they slam into the energy shield protecting the fortress, causing the team to land unceremoniously on the ground, just under the open door where Blackguard members are flying out.

Dozens of Blackguard surround Wildheart and Juanito. They’re able to fight them off, Juanito’s light blasts being very effective against the villains. Wildheart let’s go of Juanito’s powers and latches onto a Blackguard, channeling their power to slam the darkness against them.

The darkness surges through Wildheart. This isn’t Nevernever energy. He’s never felt anything like it. The power, though…the power is intoxicating.

They’re able to hold off for a few moments, but they are soon overwhelmed. Wildheart orders Juanito to join the others, letting loose one last blast, knocking several of the guards down. He then pops out of the fight.

Back on the ground, the team battle against the Blackguard. Firework summons duplicate illusions of themselves, which gives Aurum time to summon a magic beetle that is able to chew through the shielding. They hold off the onslaught, as War, Jesuit and Captain Cutlass slip in through the defenses.

Inside, Cutlass leads the way, battling through the somewhat empty fortress. Most of the Blackguard swarmed outside, leaving the inside with a skeleton crew. Jesuit, his Angel Eye activated, leaves War and Cutlass and follow the trail to where he thinks the Night Stone is. He finds it. It’s the throne where Blackstar sits. Blackstar says out loud, “So you made it this far. My liege gives his regards, Jesuit. He says he misses his favorite toy.”

Jesuit then hears the voice of the being that captured his essence and tortured him for a year. He hears the voice in his head, beckoning to him, telling him to return. Jesuit is able to fight through the fear and focus his sight on the throne, trying to figure out how to take it. He realizes that the throne is just the portion of The Night Stone that he can see. The Night Stone itself is the core of the planet!

That’s when the doors shut, sealing Jesuit inside with Blackstar.

Even with the illusions, and the turning of one of the Blackguards against his mates, Firework, Aurum, Juanito and Wildheart begin to get overwhelmed. There are dozens of Blackguards, fighting to protect their fortress and their master.

Inside, Cutlass and War make haste to the dungeons, flirting along the way. Inside, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of prisoners. Cutlass ignores them and heads straight to the back. She finds her teammates, but has to hack into the system in order to release them. War gives her cover. War hears a voice in his head, a watery one, telling him to tell Cutlass to cut the shield as well. He says this and she does so.

The cell opens up and out pops her team, a talking platypus, a blue skinned male, a giant made of shiny crystal, carrying a small jar with a green oozing eyeball inside. They immediately back up War, with the platypus causing an explosion that knocks the bad guys down.

Blackstar, not standing up, says, “You are a fool to challenge me here. Here, in my place of power!”

Bouncer, through the mindlink via Aurum, is able to size up Blackstar. He realizes that Blackstar could give The Huntmaster a run for his money! Bouncer says they need to go, now!

The magic beetle finally chews its way through the shield, just as the outside teams is almost down. Firework immediately scoops them up and swarms inside. He snatches up Jesuit, War and The Star Raiders. As he picks up the crystal man, Firework sparks immediately flare up brighter and hotter than before. His power has just gotten a boost somehow!

Using his new found strength, Firework scoops up as many of the prisoners as he can, dozens out of the hundred or so, and jets off into the sky. The Blackguard corp follows, the thundering voice of Blackstar ringing through the fortress.

The rainbow streak of Firework blasts through the thunderclouds and rips through the atmosphere. As they break free, they turn around and see the planet disappear! The shield, which Cutlass took down, came back online, mere seconds after Firework’s escape. If it had been up…

Cutlass yells out, “Our ship, The Maurader! Behind the asteroid!”

Firework drops off the Star Raiders, who immediately head into warp drive. Firework, his sparks full of his friends and refugees, blast off into space, heading back to Homeworld.

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Season 3 Issue 4 - The Dark Rises

The team is transported back to The Citadel, and once more speak with Mentor. Mentor, back in this holographic form, thank the team. He says the Blackguard have never been able to infiltrate Homeworld before, and that their numbers are growing faster than anticipated. He welcomes the team to stay as long as they wish, and to show Homeworld’s gratitude they would provide transport for the team, for the duration of their stay.

They discuss the possibility about opening trade agreements, and having Earth join The Stellar Imperium. The whole team decides that it’s a bad idea. Nations on Earth can barely get along with each other, let alone adding a whole other galaxy. Mentor says he hadn’t planned on extending the invite for several hundred more years, so he will follow the team’s suggestions.

As the team explains Earth’s current political climate, Aurum declares that he is planning to run in the next presidential election. He has been working with those in AEGIS, as well as making his own political connections, to get the word out. He will soon declare his intentions publicly. As is, he will be going up the Primary Republican candidate, Trump, who is running on an Anti-Paranormal ticket, and Primary Democrat candidate, Clinton. Hate crimes against Paranormals have started to slowly increase, and a lot of pundits are pointing fingers at the Trump rhetoric.

Aurum implies that if he wins, he may be able to help ease the world into accepting The Stellar Imperium’s offer.

Mentor says he would be happy to give the team a tour of The Citadel, which the team is happy with. As they’re about to step out, Jesuit notices that certain members at the various terminals in the control room are acting oddly. Some seem to be ducking under their terminals, while others are arming themselves. Mentor stops in his tracks and begins to some sort of scan.

He says, “Jesuit, please…stay where you are. Do not make any sudden movements.” Jesuit, who was reaching for his own weapon, points out they have been nothing but civil, and even assisted them when they needed it. That everyone else is making aggressive actions towards him and his people.

Mentor nods, tells everyone to stand down, and begins to explain. “Apologies. We are still on red alert, after the attack from The Blackguard. Our scans have indicated that you, and just you, is contaminated with a…dark energy, one that is unknown to us, but similar to the kind that The Blackguard uses. We must ask, would you be willing to undergo examination, to make sure that you do not pose a threat. To yourself, or anyone around you?”

Jesuit agrees, and Mentor escorts Jesuit and the team to an examination room. War & Juanito go off on their own, and discover a viewing room where they have access to millions of alien entertainment programming. They found alien cable tv.

Meanwhile, Wildheart has been busy with SCIENCE. With the advanced alien technology, he has been examining both Nevernever energy that fills every paranormal, and the dark energy that resides within Jesuit. He is trying to figure out just how Nevernever energy works, how it can be harnessed, and exactly what the black energy is.

He asks for assistance from a nearby technician. A female alien, purple skin with gold eyes and wavy, snake like hair, comes over. She begins to assist Wildheart, and seems fascinated by Nevernever energy. She asks if she can continue studying that energy, while Wildheart focuses on the dark energy. He agrees.

Wildheart explains to the technician about Nevernever energy, about how it changes his species and gives them extraordinary abilities. The Technician is confused, saying she doesn’t understand. Wildheart asks if there is something that her species can do, that no other species can. She gestures to her hair, and it moves on its own. She says that its prehensile, and that to her knowledge, only her species can do it. Wildheart says that with Nevernever energy, maybe someone on his planet can do that, while others can fly, or shoot lasers from their eyes! He gets excited while he speaks about the possibilities of Nevernever energy, which cause the tech to dive deeper into her investigations.

Jesuit is brought to an examination room. After a series of alien tests, Mentor says that the dark energy is unknown, but shares similar properties to the energy that powers The Blackguard. The real test was to see if it was viral, whether other people could be infected. Mentor explains that though Blackstar does recruit people with darker natures, they seem to become more chaotic and evil after being infected with the black energy. Mentor worried that Jesuit was being used as a trojan horse of some kind.

Jesuit says that he believes he became infused with the energy when he was ripped from this reality and thrown into that darker universe, where everything except a few dozen planets was gone. He explains how he was imprisoned for a year, tortured, but only for a few moments had passed in his world. With Mentor’s help, he creates a hologram of the one who was in charge, the giant one with a flaming skull. Mentor says he will use The Stellar Imperium resources to look into it.

Firework comes up with an idea. He says that if he wants Jesuit to get rid of the energy, that all he has to do is not be able to house it. He latches onto Jesuit, and they fly up to the sky, past the planet’s atmosphere. Mentor’s consciousness follows, as does Aurum, leaving Bouncer behind.

Up in space, Jesuit protected from the vacuum by Firework, Firework explains that he can change Jesuit to pure Nevernever energy, and that maybe that way, they’ll be able to separate the dark energy and contain it. Jesuit agrees, and Mentor monitors the situation.

Firework concentrates and he transforms into his pure energy form. The energy swallows up Jesuit and he becomes pure Nevernever energy. Instead of the rainbow that is Firework, Jesuit is mostly Light Blue, Indigo, and gold. Mentor detects the black energy and tracks it. Aurum casts a spell and try to exorcise it not just from Jesuit’s body, but destroy it as well. He succeeds, partly. The black energy is ripped from Jesuit, but it immediately flies away, faster than the heroes can track. Mentor can track it, but it is difficult.

Back in the lab with Wildheart, the lights flicker momentarily. Everyone looks more then a little confused, since that never happens. Wildheart looks around, trying to figure out what happened, but no one seems to know. He turns to talk to the tech he’s been working with, but she’s gone. She seems to be walking out somewhat quickly. Wildheart shrugs and goes back to his work. But he quickly realizes that all the information on the Nevernever energy is gone! He goes to check in with the team.

Mentor tracks down the energy, near the science division of The Citadel, but he can’t narrow it down further. Firework and Jesuit are the first to arrive, being pure energy, and begin their search. Bouncer is on the way, and Aurum hovers above, providing air support.

Mentor says that the Science Division is reporting there was an energy fluctuation that caused a momentary black out. He checks the video surveillance and pulls it up for the team. They see Wildheart and the SNEK haired tech working together, but when the lights go out, nothing. When the lights go back on, the tech is uploading files onto a device of some sort and then walks away.

Mentor says he can detect the energy approaching. From down the hall, the tech appears, followed by Wildheart. Before Wildheart can do anything, the tech’s hair comes to life and wraps itself around Wildheart. She yells out, “Let me pass, or your friend will suffocate!”

Firework smiles. He says, “Hey Wildheart. Aurum is right above us.” Wildheart doesn’t move, but then POPS out of the tech’s grip, and appears next to Aurum. Aurum lets him fall a bit before he catches him.

The tech looks around, sees that she’s surrounded, and swallows the device with data on it. She makes an attempt at an escape, but Jesuit blasts her before she can make it, severely injuring her. The Citadel’s healing machinery activates and begins to heal her. Firework attempts to get the device from out of her, but instead discovers that it’s gone! It seems to have been teleported out somehow. He can “feel” what seems like a mini-wormhole inside of the tech! He thinks about jumping in when Aurum arrives with Wildheart.

Aurum pulls out his golden key to The Lair, channels some magic into it, and sticks it into the tech’s chest! Immediately the entire team is teleported out and reappear on a rocky, jagged environment, surrounded by black obsidian stones and cliffs. They look up and see black thunderclouds, with powerful lightning bolts ripping through the sky. As they look around, they see several members of the Blackguard fly overhead.

The team has been transported to the world base of The Blackguard.

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Season 3 Issue 3 - ...In Spaaaaace... Part 2

The team is enveloped in darkness. The only light stems from Firework’s sparks, Sri Lerus armor, and the alien energy powering the plant. Firework spreads out his sparks a bit, but the darkness almost seems to be fighting back.

The winged alien says, “I see you made some new friends. Perhaps they would like to meet MY friends!” The aliens get into battle formation, except for the imp, who seemingly jumps into the darkness itself, disappearing from view.

Sri Lerus gives the Golden Gate Guardians the low down on The Black Guard. Their leader, Black Star, was once a Star Knight known as Rojan Lhar. He became corrupted and abused his power. Mentor and the rest of the Knights took him down, and imprisoned him. Somehow, Lhar escaped and discovered a power source known only as The Night Stone, which allows him to empower his followers. The Black Guard are sworn enemies to not only the Star Knights, but the entire galaxy.

Sri Lerus yells out, “We must take down that dome! Then we can have all of Homeworld here to capture them!”

Aurum looks up into the darkness, sighs, and envelops himself in golden light. “This isn’t magic…but I’ll see what I can do. Do be a dear, and cover me, as they say.” and rises to the top of the dome, and begins casting.

The team battles hard, going one on one with the Blackguard.

Auroch charges at Bouncer, who is able to turn his own momentum against him.

Izeel flies towards War, deflecting his arrows with his shadow wings.

Gravik the imp plays hide and seek with Firework.

Sri Lerus flies into the air and fights Karess, backed up by Jesuit.

The battle goes on. Auroch is hard to hurt, but not hard to trick. Izeel plays with War, until War stops playing and uses explosions against him. Karess dances with Sri Lerus, until Jesuit finds her weak spot.

As his teammates get taken out, Gravik shouts in an alien language, summoning shadow versions of himself. They attack en masse.

The team is able to take out the additional numbers, as well as the rest of The Black Guard. Before they’re able to capture the slippery Gravik, Gravik screeches and yells out, “BOSS!”

Tentacles of shadow rip through the ground and capture each of the Golden Guardians and the Star Knight, except Aurum, protected by magic, and Firework, who slips through.

From the ground rises the leader of The Black Guard, Black Star. He inspects the team, as he slowly crushes them. “Interesting. Which planet do you hail from? I would like to…visit…”

None of the team answers, as Firework starts to light up the place. Black Star looks over at him, and says, “Well, you would be most fun to play with, I think…”
From above, Aurum yells out, “He’s taken!” as a blast of golden energy pierces the shadow dome. From the outside, dozens of Star Knights are attacking the dome with energy weapons of all kinds.

Black Star releases the team, dropping them to the floor. “We’ll continue this another time. Good bye, Star Knight. I hope to see you again…soon…” The shadows themselves wrap around the Black Guard, and they teleport out.

The Star Knights begin to see to the injured, and begin repairs on the Power Plant. They take Sri Lerus’ report. Sri Zarius shows up, envelops the team in an energy field, and flies them back to The Citadel.

“The Black Guard have never been able to penetrate our defenses before. For them to so boldy attack our power grid…”

Jesuit speaks up, saying what everyone is thinking, “Sri Lerus. I do believe you have a traitor among you.”

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Season 3 Issue 3 - ...In Spaaaaace...

The team talks wit the green armor alien, Sri Lerus, while the blue armor alien, Sri Zarius, talks with President Obama. Zarius & Obama make plans to have a proper diplomatic meeting at Camp David later, when things quiet down.

Lerus asks the team again if they’d like to come to Home World, home of the Order of the Star Knights. The team agrees, but asks if they can have some time to get their affairs in order. Lerus says to take their time.

Firework & Aurum check up on the home, and see the damage that was wrought when Johnny 5’s security systems went haywire. They see damage on the street, a few cars scorched, and the lawn burned. Inside, the house is in disrepair, but looks salvageable. AEGIS is already on site, cleaning up and doing repairs.

Upstairs they find Melody, who had been hiding in the command center. Jackson is with her, and they’re looking over a black metallic box. Jackson says that Johnny 5’s AI matrix is inside, but he’s not sure if he’ll be able to salvage it. Thanks to Firework’s text, Jackson was able to get Melody to begin a contingency plan he had in place, so there is hope, but it’ll be tricksy.

Firework and Aurum look outside and see neighbors huddling around, taking pics of the chaos. They realize their “secret headquarters” is no longer secret. They make the decision to permanently move to their skyrise building in the city. They make the only entrance accessible via the bird sanctuary island off the shore of San Francisco. How the non-fliers of the team will get access to their homes, and what AEGIS will say, is left for future them to worry about.

Meanwhile, Aurum gets a call from Princess, one of the team members of the Emerald Knights, the AEGIS team based in Emerald City. She asks to have a word with Bouncer, in person. He agrees, and they meet up at SFO, in an area designated for government agencies.

Princess arrives with Xeno, another Emerald Knight. Bouncer is accompanied by Jesuit. Bouncer has met Princess before, and read about Xeno, a shapeshifting paranormal whose “default” state is that of an alien humanoid.

Xeno asks for discretion and requests Bouncer’s help. She says she’s here in regards to the two aliens that have been captured by AEGIS, War Witch and Drakko. She fears for their safety, and from what she’s heard, they weren’t in full control of their actions.

Bouncer tells them that they’re safely locked up in AEGIS HQ in the Presidio, until they’re transferred. Though aliens, they’ll be treated just like Paranormals. Xeno goes, that’s what she’s worried about.

Xeno confesses that she lied to AEGIS. She’s not a Paranormal. She’s actually an alien herself. She arrived on Earth years ago, and with her natural shapeshifting abilities, blended into society. When The Breaking happened, she saw it as an opportunity to “come out” and be who she was, although she would still say she used to be human. Her team, The Emerald Knights all know, but they all promised to keep it under wraps.

Xeno says there’s a small community of aliens who are too, well, alien looking, living off the coast of Emerald City on Star Island, and she’d like to bring War Witch & Drakko there. She’s been digging into AEGIS and has discovered that certain “paranormals” have gone missing, paranormals she suspects were actually aliens.

Bouncer and Jesuit mention the time that Pack Rat’s people were attacked by Men In Black, and wonder if there’s a connection. Xeno says she and the Emerald Knights would look into it. Bouncer says he’ll talk to Dr. Brennan and see what strings she can pull. Xeno & Princess thank them both.

Meanwhile, Melody is not super happy with War, who seemingly was not concerned with her well being as Johnny 5 lost control. He quips that of course he was concerned, but knew she could handle herself. She was not impressed.

When the team reconvenes, they tell Sri Lerus that they’re ready. Sri Lerus creates a green bubble around the team and they shoot off into space. Maria Jackson, The Star Knight of Earth, waves goodbye and tells them she’ll keep an eye on things there.

The trip is exhilarating. They travel deep into space, with stars and planets passing them in the blink of an eye. They go further than any human ever has (except for Firework). They see the infinite vastness of space, and are awed.

For the first hour. Then it just gets kind of boring. It takes several hours for them to arrive to their destination. But once they do, it’s another spectacular scene.

They see Home World before them, an Earth size planet that is busy with life. Ships go in and out of the atmosphere, space stations circle the planet, and streaks of light come to and fro, faster than the team can keep up. Those are the other Space Knights.

Sri Larius explains that the Order of the Star Knights are the peacekeepers of the Stellar Imperium, the coalition of different planets and civilizations. They stay out of interplanetary politics, but intervene when outside forces put a planet into danger, or when they are asked for assistance. Most of the alien civilizations are considered allies, though some more reluctantly then others.

The leader of the Order is called Mentor, and he lives in the Citadel, the largest structure on Home World. That’s where the team will be taken.

The team arrives in the city where the Citadel is located. They walk the streets and are bombarded with all kinds of alien technology, and different alien lifeforms. No one blinks an eye their way, though Lerus says that most of these folks have never seen a human before.

Once inside the Citadel they go through several security gates, pass many other Star Knights, and finally go into a vast room filled with monitors. Hundreds of them. They all have different scenes, most of alien worlds and landscapes, some of Home World itself.

An electronic face appears on the monitors, looking down at the team. They are scanned briefly, and then energy comes out of the screens themselves. A holographic human appears before the team. It introduces itself as Mentor, and explains it has chosen a body that would hopefully put the team at ease.

Mentor says that he had not planned on inviting the planet Earth to join the Steallar Imperium for another few centuries, but Zarius has said that the people of Earth have great potential. Firework himself has impressed the Star Knights, and that if the team wishes, they can begin diplomatic delegations soon.

The whole team says, “Um…no…” They all agree that the Earth isn’t ready for first contact, that Earth is still fighting amongst themselves, and throwing another “other” that is very much OTHER will cause panic and fear. Paranormals are humans, and they’re still looked upon with fear. If aliens are brought into the situation, it wouldn’t go over well.

Mentor thinks it over, and agrees to let the team decide what is best for their planet. Mentor asks them to explore the Citadel, and Home World, and when they’re ready to go back, just ask and a Star Knight will escort them home.

While this happens, Wildheart takes a big sniff. He smells no Never Never Energy outside of his friends. The whole world is barren compared to Earth. It makes him uneasy.

Aurum feels that there is magic in the world, but it’s “new” almost raw, and more difficult ot wield. He’s still able to cast spells, but it takes a bit more concentration.

Jesuit says that he would like to discuss the prison planet he was on for the year he was gone (only a few moments in our time). He describes the scene, and Mentor admits there is nothing like that in his database. He has heard of some sort of conqueror, rumors in the darkest reaches of space. Mentor says he can tap into Jesuit’s mind and project the images he has seen.

Jesuit agrees and does so. The team is able to see for the first time the planet array where the large skeletal figure held Jesuit captive for so long. The team sees the creature for the first time, and Jesuit blanches at the sight of it.

Mentor says he senses different types of energy within Jesuit, different then what the rest of the team has. He doesn’t pry too much, but seems interested in studying the energy.

Wildheart asks Mentor if there is a science station he can access, to do a bit of research on his own.

Mentor begins to answer when he flickers. He starts to loop back and forth until he gets control again. He goes into computer mode and says there is an electrical issue in sector 4. The hologram disappears.

Lerus says he’ll go check it out, and whether the team wishes to accompany him. The team agrees, except for Wildheart, who asks a technician alien to take him to the science lab.

At the science lab, Wildheart SCIENCES and learns that Jesuit has two different energy readings in his body. One is Never Never energy, another is one he’s never seen before.

Back with the team, they arrive at Sector 4, which is on the other side of the planet. It is a large power plant, one that takes up several city size blocks. The team explores to see what the situation is.

War stumbles upon a goblin like creature, in a purple uniform, clawing at several circuits. He takes aim and fires.

Shadows emerge from the ground, protecting the imp. From the shadows arise several other figures, A bull-like humanoid, a female with long blond hair, and a male redhead with black shadow wings.

Lerus goes, “The Blackguard…ALERT! ALL SPACE KNIGHTS CONVERGE TO SECTOR…”

A black dome appears over the area, cutting off light and communication.

The winged creature smiles and says, “Cut off from your friends, Knight. Whatever will you do? Oh, that’s right. Die.”

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Season 3 Issue 2 - Stars Among Us Part 3

As Drakko roars, War Witch & Iron Monger leap into battle. The team brace themselves.

In an alternate reality…

Firework leads the way out of a tower of the Dark Necromancer, Grizhul The Desecrator. He is followed by his fellow adventurers, a group he met in a local tavern. As they take a rest, they split up the loot. Firework asks that the group keep the gold, but he wouldn’t mind one of the spell scrolls.

With the Necromancer’s dark magic out of the way, Firework’s connection with Aurum reestablishes itself. Via a telepathic mind dump, Firework realizes his friends need help. He wishes his new friends goodbye and teleports to The Nevernever.

There it’s a hop, skip & teleport to The Lair. He calls out The Caretaker and asks to be teleported to San Jose. Caretaker creates a doorway, and Firework appears in downtown San Jose.

Aurum is standing off against Erebus. Erebus has just disintegrated The President of the United States. His secret service are unconscious on the floor. Erebus’ formerly charming smile is now malicious, almost scary. Aurum keeps his cool.

Aurum tries to get Erebus to monologue, and succeeds. Erebus admits that he was hoping to get the trust of the planet before he betrayed them, but that the unexpected arrival of their prey sped up their plans. He says with the power he’ll get from his prey, maybe The Starbreed will properly conquer Earth, and rule it under his…merciful regime.

Aurum measure up Erebus. He finds him lacking. He threatens Erebus, telling him that his goons don’t stand a chance. That the power that Earth possesses, not just in technology but in raw, unadulterated power, will make the universe tremble. That Erebus would be wise to take caution, because once that power is unleashed, he’ll be its first victim.

Erebus takes in Aurum’s warning. He continues smiling, his demeanor not showing any sign of distress. Erebus remains quiet for a moment and then goes, “Bah, you are unworthy of my attention. Fare thee well, magician. And have fun explaining what happened to the leader of your world, and how you failed to protect him. “

With a wave of his hand, Erebus teleports away.

Aurum smirks, casts a spell, and vanishes.

Back in San Jose, the team leaps into action. Wildheart goes after Drakko, Bouncer charges Warwitch, while War & Jesuit take positions. Firework & Juanito attempt to clear out any bystanders.

Drakko slashes at Wildheart. Though Wildheart dodges, the force behind the hits are intense, and Wildheart knows that if they connect, it’s gonna hurt. A lot. He punches at Drakko, but Drakko just laughs off the taps.

War Witch twitches and her demeanor changes to that of royalty and confidence. Red energy surrounds her and from the ground rises red skeletal minions. They surround her and protect their Queen. As Bouncer reaches them, they slash at him, keeping him at bay.

Iron Monger taps some buttons on his wrist control pad. The Starbreed’s ship starts to power up.

Firework attempts to contact Johnny 5 & Melody. Their communicators are down, thanks to Iron Monger. He learns that the last transmission they sent out sounded bad, so he races home, in order to check in on them.

There, he finds that their home’s security defenses have been activated, and have gone wild! Blast of energy are shooting to & fro, a smoldering wreck of a car is seen down the block, while rubble is everywhere.

There are bystanders hiding up and down the streets. Some have their cell phones out and are recording. The Perception Filters are either offline or can’t hide the chaos erupting from their base.

Firework dematerializes and enters their home. Johnny 5’s systems have gone haywire. Cabinets, doors and panels are slamming open and shut. Various booby traps have been activated, including buzz saws, trap doors, and energy blasts. Firework avoids the energy weapons and heads into the control room. Inside, all the screens are flickering and changing, with various alarms going off all at once. He finds Melody, hiding underneath one of the control panels. Her clothes are burnt, but she appears unhurt.

Firework sends a text out to Jackson, hoping to get help in shutting down Johnny 5. He reaches the master control panel and tries to override Johnny 5. He inputs the master code, but something is fighting him! It looks like an outside influence is changing the code, preventing Firework from shutting down Johnny 5!

Firework gets a text from Jackson. It reads “On it.” A few moments later he texts, “Telling Melody to do the thing.”

After several attempts, Firework gets frustrated. He decides that drastic actions are needed. He goes underneath the base, finds the power lines and cuts them in half. The entire base (and neighborhood) black out. All activity has been nullified.

Firework sends a spark to Dr. Brennan, “Get an AEGIS team over to our base. We need a clean up crew, and the perception filters are down. People know.”

He flies back to San Jose.

Erebus shows up, and heads towards the immobile golden armored figure. Jesuit scans him, and the rest of the Starbreed. He sees that Drakko is a powerhouse, Erebus will be tough to hurt, Warwitch is completely unstable, and can’t get a read on Iron Monger due to his armor.

Jesuit takes a shot at Erbeus, but it stops just before it hits him. He has a force field!

War takes aim at Drakko. He tags him with a taser arrow, which Drakko laughs off. War goes stealth and takes aim at Drakko, getting ready for the perfect shot.

Wildheart attempts to put the whammy on Drakko, but his powers don’t seem to affect the non-Paranormal. Furious with Drakko and unable to hurt him, instead tells Juaunito to fly over the ocean, just off short. Juanito does. Wildheart latches onto Drakko and teleports him to where Juanito is, hundreds of feet over the ocean! He drops Drakko and mimics Juanito’s flying ability. They fly back to the battle.

Aurum arrives, surveys the scene, summons an Elvish Knight, and sends it into battle.

Bouncer takes care of War Witch’s summons. As he is about to attack her, she summons her ax and shoots blast of red energy at Bouncer!

War, his target gone, jumps into the battle and tries to help Bouncer. He is able to take out several of War Witch’s summons.

As they do so, Iron Monger finishes preparing the ship. The ship’s offensive capabilities are now online. Canon’s appear underneath the ship. They take aim and start blasting away at Bouncer & War! Bouncer barely dodges out of the way, but War is blasted into the ground, being left in a massive crater in the street.

Erebus, ignoring the blasts from Jesuit, picks up the golden armored figure and flies into the air. He yells out, “We have what we came for! Leave!”

Iron Monger says, “What about Drakko & the Witch?”

Erebus goes, “Leave them!”

As they fly up into the air, Jesuit yells out at the team “Stop them! They’re escaping!” As he does, he looks up into the sky. He sees streaks of light, different colors, emerging from the heavens, and heading straight to where they’re at.

Jesuit takes aim at the ship and starts to blast it, trying to take out its cannons. Aurum’s knight launches arrows at it, helping Jesuit take them out.

Firework arrives, just in time to hear Jesuit’s cry. He sees Erebus holding onto the armored figure. He takes a breath, hopes that the force field doesn’t extend beyond Erebus, and launches himself at them. He grabs onto the figure, dematerializes it and himself, and flies toward the ground, away from The Starbreed.

Erebus roars with rage. He flies straight into the ship, followed by Iron Monger. The ships cannons all focus on the team and start to charge up when bolts of energy start hitting it from above!

The color streaks are now in plain sight and they’re four other armored beings, similar to the golden one in Firework’s arms. They’re blasting at the ship as the purple one slashes at it with a pole axe, another with an energy sword. The ships turns and flies off, while two of the figures go in pursuit.

The two remaining ones, a blue & green one, land in front of the team.

The green one speaks, “We hear word that one of us in danger. Please, are you to assist in this?”

The team walks towards the blue & green aliens, weary. As they do, Firework rises from the ground, with the golden armored figure. As they do, the blue one says, “Fire-work?” Firework, surprised, goes, “Sri Zarius? Hi!” Firework looks at his friends, “These are my friends from…out there!” he points to the sky.

The golden figure stands on its own and takes off its helmut. Underneath is a young, african american woman, with big hair. She shakes her head and goes, “Wow…that was instense.”

The aliens explain that The Starbreed are infamous bounty hunters, and they were tasked with capturing a member of the Order of Star Knights, guardians of the universe. When they found out that Earth had been assigned a Star Knight for the first time, they thought it would be easy prey. With Iron Monger’s help, their ship was able to transmit a signal that interfered with Earth’s Star Knight’s armor, thus making its host lose control.

Golden Star Knight goes, “Yeah. I’ve only had the armor for a few weeks, still trying to understand it. But then today it just went kray and I couldn’t stop it, or even unsummon it. Oh yeah, hi everyone. I’m Maria Jackson.”
Firework goes, “Oooooh. So when I said that my world needed help, and you said you’d send help…”

Sri Zarius nods. “Yes, you showed us that Earth may be ready to join The Stellar Imperium. Seeing how you handled The Starbreed indicates that you are still a young species, but with great promise.”

Jesuit steps in, “Yes, well, we appreciate the compliment but…the person who you would’ve spoken too was…Erebus killed our leader, who…”

Aurum appears and goes, “Actually…” he waves his hand and a door appears. From out of it steps the President of the United States. He looks around and goes, “That Caretaker fellow is something, isn’t he?”

Aurum goes, “Bara…er, Mr. President, may I introduce to you an actual representative of the galaxy’s…something. Sri Zarius. You may continue the diplomatic talks.” The President smiles and extends his hand to Sri Zarius. Sri Zarius looks at it quizzically.

As they walk away, Jesuit looks at Maria. “So…you’re a superhero now, eh? And you didn’t think to mention it to AEGIS?” Maria looks guilty. “Well…that’s the Paranormal agency? This…” she gestures to the armor “is something else entirely, no?”

Firework goes, “Totally! But you know, if you ever wanna train, we’re here, Star Knight.”

Maria grins, “Star Knight. Yeah, I can get behind that.”

From the sky, the purple snake like Star Knight arrives, carrying Drakko. He lands him next to War Witch, who when Erebus took off fell to the ground. Drakko looks around and goes, “Oh…oh my. What…what has occurred? Where…where is my current location?”

War Witch shakes her head and twitches. “Oh dear…oh no…they took over. He…he allowed them to take over…” She starts to tear up. Jesuit walks over, says, “Your sisters?” War Witch goes, “Yes. Normally…usually I can keep them in check. They…they are not well. But I’m able to hold them. But Erebus…he did something…unleashed them, and locked me away.”

The green Star Knight says, “We are in pursuit of Erebus & Iron Monger. Erebus has a tendency to recruit unwilling agents to his cause. The only one he can’t control is Iron Monger, due to his suit. But once they are found, they will be brought to justice.”

He looks at the team. “Once the the negotiations have concluded, would any of you like to visit Homeworld? You have shown that you are all heroes in your own right, and we would be honored to have you over as guests, and representatives of your planet.”

The team look at each other. Jesuit goes, “We need to finish the clean up here, and check in on our home. But we would be honored.”

War yells out, “ROAD TRIP!”

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