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.