Chaos has erupted all over the world. The major cities all have large swarms of the dark souls whirling in a vortex just above the skylines. People panic, even though the shadows have done nothing but circle above.
Heroes around the globe are taking to the streets, trying to reel in the panic. Those with flying abilities fly up, try to interact with the shadows, communicate with them. The shadows pass through any figure that goes above, leaving behind a cold, dead sensation.
In the Nevernever, Firework interrogates Radiant, his doppleganger from a dead universe. Radiant admits that his team was the one sending in the shadow-infused invaders. They were scouts, trying to find a universe that was compatible with theirs. The shadows are actually the souls of his world, merged with his sparks.
“Why can’t we just merge your world with ours? We’ve done it before. Or find another world they can inhabit?” Firework says.
“There is no world to merge, no universe. I managed to save the souls of my Earth before the destruction of my reality, but they need bodies. Right now, they’re circling the globe, waiting on my signal to start possessing their counterparts…and living once more.”
Caretaker steps up, “Yeah…that ain’t gonna happen. See you’re stuck here, and I’m guessin’ my boys are taking care of your boys so…”
Radiant looks saddened, but smiles. “I won’t be stuck for long.”
And that’s when a blast of energy comes from behind Caretaker, knocking him down the hallway. From one of the doors steps out an older, more disheveled looking Caretaker! He waves his hand and the cage around Radiant disappears.
Radiant immediately teleports out.
Firework stands off against the other Caretaker. Caretaker lifts his hands up, ready to blast Firework, when this Lair’s Caretaker physically tackles the older one. Young Caretaker yells at Firework, “GO! Get outta here! I’ll take care of…” he gets punched in the face. The whole Lair shakes, as the hallway starts to crumble.
Firework heads out, teleporting home.
Back in San Francisco, each team member of the Golden Gate Guardians face off against what looks like their teammates.
Bouncer realizes that Collective has everyone under her spell, and is most likely nearby, invisible. He tries to talk to her, reason with her. He’s unsure whether this is the Colleen he knew and ran away, or if this was a trick. Collective speaks into his mind, telling him that he’s going to go down, but she’s not going to lift a finger.
Instead, everyone in the command room all turn to look at him. They all launch attacks at him, some of the agents pulling out weapons. Bouncer isn’t worried about getting hurt, but is worried about the mind controlled agents hurting each other. They swarm over each other, trying to get to him, uncaring as to who they trample.
Bouncer leaps over everyone and runs into the hallway. From every door comes pouring out AEGIS agents, some packing some serious hardware. Bouncer slides down the hallway, outpacing his pursuers. He calls out on his comm, asking for help. Everyone is busy with their own issues, though.
Firework, on the trail of Radiant, sends out a lone spark…looking for a lost companion.
Aurum dusts himself off and faces the person who looks like Wildheart. Wild Card, the doppleganger of Wildheart, seems to be throwing off some sort of dampening field, trying to negate Aurum’s magic. It worked for a moment, until Aurum could muster his defenses. Wild Card throws a wave of nausea at Aurum, when Aurum instinctively sets up a protective shield around himself. Wild Card starts to pound on the shield, trying to get through to the chewy magic center inside.
After a few moments Aurum, Aurum blasts his forcefield outward, pushing Wild Card braces himself and starts to push back. Aurum yells out, pulling on the full power of his authority as The Locksmith, telling Wild Card that he will destroy him, and everything he cares about, including the souls of his loved ones, that he is the master of reality, and Wild Card is nothing.
Wild Card backs away, unsure how to proceed.
War went straight to the weapons room, to load up for the upcoming battle. When he arrives, he finds the guards knocked out. He braces himself as a figure leaps from the shadows and tries to tackle him. It’s a man he’s never seen before. War dodges easily.
The man laughs and says in a southern twang, “They told me you’d be easy to take out. Didn’t figure you’d be quick. But you can’t keep dodging forever.” The man touches a nearby table and his body shifts into steel!
War dodges his hits, but he can feel the power behind the punch. He knows if he gets hit, it’ll be lights out. He uses every arrow at his disposal. The big man rips through War’s snares and ignores the concussion arrows. War finally lets loose with an explosion arrow and knocks the steel man off his feet, with a loud thud. War doesn’t let up and fires a gas arrow. The man, having had the wind knocked out of him, inhales deeply…and passes out.
Wildheart hears the commotion, sees a giant hole in the wall where War’s arrow exploded, and races towards it. He doesn’t see the figure leap out from one the hallway doors and slam into him. A man resembling Bouncer begins to bounce up and down the hall, gaining momentum and taking Wildheart outside.
Wildheart mimics Other-Bouncer’s powers and they begin to fight, punching each other, but gaining strength with each blow. Leaping to and fro, they seem to be at a standstill. Wildheart unleashes his affliction power, slowly whittling down Other-Bouncer, until he finally knocks him out.
Bouncer runs, easily outpacing the AEGIS agents. That’s when the open gun fire begins. He knows it’s only a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt. He leaps onto a roof of a two story building. The mob pounds on the door, trying to get through. He hears in his head, “Not gonna stop, luv. Not gonna stop until either they kill each other…or you let yourself be kill…”
The voice stops suddenly.
Bouncer hears an argument, he thinks. In his mind he hears two voices that sound very, very similar. “I’m the only Collective around here, bitch!” Bouncer hears a scream and a thud, as something lands on the ground floor. He looks over and sees what looks like Colleen, unconscious. The people in the mob all stay still for a moment, and then seem to snap out of it.
From in the back of the crowd, Bouncer sees someone dust their hands off. She covers her redhead in a green hoodie, turns around, and disappears.
Firework catches up to Radiant, who instead of fighting, sends out his shadow sparks out in a burst. They seem to disappear for a moment, then return. He continues to flee.
That’s when the reports start to pour in. The shadows have started to descend, and they’re possessing people! Each shade that enters a body drops to the floor, writhing as if in agony. Then, they stand up, their face covered in half shadow. They start to gather together.
This doesn’t only happen to normal people. Those who have Broken Out are also starting to become possessed, including some AEGIS agents! Those heroes who were badly injured in earlier attacks start to wake up, including Captain Thunder, Captain Victory, & Raven.
Any possessed hero that can, lifts into the sky, no matter where they are, and start flying towards San Francisco.
Jesuit has been on the road, coming in from San Jose. He sees the shades coming down, pulls over, and start blasting with Verdicto de Loyola. As his holy bullets hit, the shades disperse, as if expelled from this reality.
So far, other then some magic users around the world, Jesuit is the only one who can affect the shadows. Everyone else’s powers just go through them.
Jesuit tells the team this. Aurum relays this information to Eldritch, who is trying to contain the storm of shades. Aurum asks if there’s a way to do a mass exorcism, since these shadows are actually souls! Eldritch says that a spell that size would need an immensely powerful conduit and focus. He tells Aurum to get Jesuit and to meet him at the top of Mt. Tamalpais, where a convergence of ley lines meet.
Meanwhile, the team incarcerates the dopplegangers, all except Radiant, who seems to have vanished. They then tend to the riots that are happening in San Francisco. They’re told to brace themselves because several Paranormals are converging on their location, shadow-possessed WTFs that will try and take them out.
On Mt. Tamalpais, Eldritch explains the plan. Jesuit is to fire at Aurum, who will channel the holy energy into Eldritch, who will use his body to magnify the stream, and hopefully, send it across the world. If they make a mistake, the backlash could kill them all.
Jesuit prays, Aurum chants, and Eldritch opens up his very soul, and they unleash a wave of holy magic across the globe. They hold on as the very energy they unleash threatens to overwhelm them all. The very earth lights up as Eldritch channels the essence of the world, casting out the invaders.
A wave washes over everything, lightening up the world. As the light spreads, the shadows remaining in the sky dissipate. Those who have been possessed cover their faces. When the light passes, they reveal their shadowless faces once more.
This happens quickly, and when Jesuit lowers his gun, the price is clear. Eldritch has aged a decade, maybe more, in the matter of seconds. He collapses to the ground, near Aurum. Aurum lifts him, and Jesuit up, and fly them home.
The world is once again, saved.
Caretaker comes stumbling out of one of the AEGIS barracks, looking beaten down but still standing. He was able to take down the other realities’ Caretaker, and dragged him to the Council of Caretakers. He had broken a lot of rules, and would face punishment. He did say the Lair took massive amounts of damage (again) and it would be awhile before it was fully operational again.
The clean up begins. Most of the world has been cleansed by the holy light. But there are reports of shadow faced people seen in various corners of the globe.
Wild Card, Unity (Collective’s dopple), Roman (Spartan’s dopple), & Rebound (Bouncer’s dopple) are all locked up. They don’t hide any details of their plan, or why they did what they did.
The team was in their part of the Nevernever, in their Lair, resting after a tough battle with a giant robotic sentry that came from outer space. It was a difficult battle, and they were trying to access its memory in their Lair. That’s when they first got warning that their universe was being ripped apart. Their Caretaker cried out in pain as he felt the universe collapsing.
Acting quickly, Caretaker and Radiant joined their powers and mystically absorbed the souls of Earth into his sparks. They stopped being white and turned black and shadow like. Just as they got the last soul, the world ceased to exist.
Caretaker told them that there were other realities out there, but that most would reject them outright. Radiant and the team decided that in order to live, they had to find a new home, one where they could find new bodies for the souls of the deceased.
With Caretaker’s help, Radiant sent out shades that would infect random hosts, and then would send them to various realities, trying to find one that wouldn’t reject them. Because the team had vanquished each shadow-possessed bad guy, they weren’t able to report back, until the last time when Cerberus Rex’s shade survived the attack.
The team knew that by doing this, they were basically killing off another world, to save their own. They decided that in order for them to be the heroes their world needed, they’d have to make that sacrifice.
They all said they don’t know where Radiant went. And they all agreed that this world’s team would’ve done the same if their world was in danger.
Weeks have passed since the Shadow Invasion. Things have slowly gotten back to normal. As normal as the world gets. In Golden Gate Park, by the buffalo paddock, a lone hoodie wearing figure walks. It’s past midnight, and he is alone, with the soft snorts and grunts of the buffalo to keep him company. He gazes out at the field.
Radiant pulls his hoodie back. He looks around, checking to make sure he’s alone. He is no longer surrounded by sparks, or even shadows. Those have been taken from him.
He says aloud, “Soon. Soon my powers will be back to full, then I’ll break my team out. And then we can continue with bringing our world ba….”
Before he can finish, Radiant explodes. Gore, viscera and wet clothing goes in all directions. The buffalo panic and stampede away.
Standing where Radiant stood, dripping with Radiant’s blood, stands Cain.
“Mmm…That’s better. Now then, we can begin again.”