VINDICATOR II: Page 6 of 7

Publication Date: 11th Jan 2019
Written By: Daytripper.
Image Work: Douglas Mangum.


Guardian soon had an unexpected visitor at her private home, when a badly injured Wolverine was brought to her. During a recent battle with Magneto, Wolverine had had the adamantium literally tripped from his body. Worse, without the alloy in his body, his healing factor was not working properly, causing him to suffer from various injuries that would have long healed by now. For the second time in her life, Heather nursed Wolverine back to health. By happenstance, Lady Deathstrike chose this time to attack Wolverine again, causing massive damage to Heather’s house home during the battle. However, once she realized that Wolverine no longer possessed the adamantium, the very reason for which she hated him, Deathstrike broke of her attack and left Wolverine in peace. [Wolverine (2nd series) #76-77]

As the vote approached on Parliament Hill regarding the Super-Powers Bill, Heather began to have nightmares about a horrific future in which industrialist Joshua Lord ruled Canada, turning it into a paradise built on the back of slaughtered thousands. In the dream, Alpha Flight had been unable to stop it and had been destroyed, with Heather herself killed in battle. Though it was but a dream, Heather saw at least part it come true when the Super-Powers Bill passed, becoming law. Sure enough, shortly after its passage, the Hardliners had the legal authority they needed to take into custody Albert Louis, who in recent weeks had become a member of Alpha Flight's training team. True to her word, Heather chose personal principle over the law and led Alpha Flight to rescue Albert.

Though the Hardliners fell, the Alphans learned to their horror that they had not been the true foe. Their employer, Joshua Lord, was no mere industrialist but was secretly Alpha Flight’s old foe, the Master of the World. Revealing himself to the team, the Master introduced his newly formed Omega Flight, which included the very living James MacDonald, whom the Master had rescued from certain death and reprogrammed into a being called “Antiguard.” Still in shock by yet another return of her husband, Heather nonetheless led Alpha Flight against the Master and their Omega counterparts. As they fought, Heather realized that the entity that had killed her in her dream had been Antiguard, meaning that her nightmares were literally coming true.

In truth, Heather’s dreams had not been a premonition but a literal warning from the Dreamqueen. Though no ally of Alpha Flight, the Dreamqueen had become aware of the Master’s intentions on Canada and knew that it was incompatible with her own, so she had sent the nightmares to Heather to warn her. Continuing to influence the Alphas during the battle, the Dreamqueen secretly gave Heather and Alpha Flight the boost needed to gain the upper hand in battle against Omega Flight. As the tide turned, Heather was able to break through Antinguard’s brainwashing, reaching the true mind of her husband within. Freeing himself from the Master’s influence, Mac combined his powers with that of Heather’s and together the two defeated the Master, apparently disintegrating him in the process. The crisis passed, Heather and Mac embraced, reunited one more time.

Realizing how close they had come to falling into the Master’s hands, the prime minister suspended the Super-Powers Act and ordered the entire affair with Joshua Lord under a security silence. More draconian, until the heat died down on the situation, Alpha Flight was to be suspended with no official status. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #128-130]

Assigned to backroom duties at Department H, Guardian did her best to maintain a watch over her now scattered “family,” particularly with Northstar, who was especially disgruntled after Alpha Flight's disbanding. Heather also became aware of the government's new team, Weapon PRIME, and secretly monitored communications between them and their liaison, General Clarke, whom she still distrusted. It was this way that she learned Northstar was being investigated for murder and that Weapon PRIME had been instructed to bring him in. Heather contacted Northstar and warned him about the danger he was in. Despite the lack of authorization for her to operate and the many statutes she was violating, Heather flew to Quebec City, thwarting Weapon PRIME’s hunt of Northstar and giving him the space he needed to deduce who was framing him and clear his name. Magnanimously, Heather even offered Weapon PRIME’s leader Tigerstryke some advice about being Alpha Flight's replacement. [Northstar #1-4]

With Alpha Flight no longer an ongoing concern, Heather and Mac took the opportunity to spend more time together, such as when they took an assignment in the Canadian-Arctic, researching the ozone depletion's effects on the local environment. During their stay, they were visited by Wolverine, who was still suffering from the effects of having lost his adamantium skeleton. Unaware of how bad things actually were, Heather Heather became visibly upset when she overheard him reveal to Mac that there was a serious danger he might die without his healing factor. When the research station suddenly came under attack, the three worked together to take down the creature involved. [Wolverine (2nd series) #83-84] Heather and Mac continued to work alongside each other and assisted Professor Xavier during his investigation into the changes to Wolverine since he lost his adamantium. Heather and Mac both noticed changes to their friend, and did their best to help him, even keeping watch over him when he was away from the X-Men. [Wolverine (2nd series) #92, 95]

When there were rumblings about the Canadian government re-starting Department H, Heather and Mac parted ways. Despite caring for each other, a lot had happened to Heather in the time Mac was believed dead and they had difficulty connecting the way they used to. Heather realized that she didn't know – or love – Mac anymore. Mac returned to Department H where he was re-christened Guardian. [off panel / Alpha Flight (2nd series) #1, 19]

Around this time, Heather took a job as a florist, where she appeared bored with her now mundane life. Heather also began to have nightmares about Mac's first “death.” One day at work, Heather's dull existence was interrupted by a surprise visit from Puck, whom she hadn't seen since Department H was shut down. Heather joined Puck for lunch and they reminisced about the old days, but Heather admitted that she didn't miss Alpha Flight, as the worst moments of her life are associated with the team. Heather was told by Puck that he had received a message that Mac had been kidnapped and that something bad had happened to him. Heather tried to shrug off Puck's revelation, not wanting to get sucked back into Department H. Unfortunately for Heather, she didn't have much of a choice, as the Department's new foot soldiers, Epsilons, kidnapped both she and Puck.

Waking up back at Department H, Heather was incredulous to learn that their kidnapping had been but an overzealous order by her longtime nemesis General Clarke, his way of asking her and Puck for help. Clarke revealed to Heather that a terrorist organization with connections to a mysterious new Zodiac was threatening the country and that Department H had been re-organized with a new Alpha Flight. Heather was surprised to learn that her former fiancé Madison Jeffries was among the roster, but the bigger surprise came when she was introduced to the team's leader – Mac, who appeared as if he were nineteen years old.

Reluctantly, Heather agreed to suit up to work with the new Alpha Flight and was given a new battlesuit, one that gave Heather control over geothermal phenomena. Heather adapted quickly to her new power set during the battle against members of the Zodiac. She also found herself making her own decisions during the mission, ignoring the orders that she didn't agree with given by Guardian. When Mac was in danger during the battle, Heather appeared genuinely concerned for him and came to the rescue. Though Alpha Flight ended the terrorist threat, the Zodiac managed to escape, taking Madison Jeffries prisoner as they fled. Afterwards, Heather and Puck met with General Clarke, who offered them permanent membership on the team. Suspicious about the mission and unwilling to be government pawns, Heather and Puck declined, though they vowed they would find and rescue Jeffries on their own. However, General Clarke was not to take no for an answer and, when they left the main entrance, they were shot down by Epsilons, dragged back into Department H and subjected to memory manipulation. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #1]

Following her treatment, Heather fully believed herself to be a willing member of the new Alpha Flight. Nevertheless, she still had ongoing emotional issues with her de-aged husband. After yet another encounter with the Master, Heather confronted the young Mac about what he remembered about her and their life together. Mac demonstrated that he was emotionally detached from their shared history, informing her that he’d been “briefed” on it and was “cool with it” if she was. Heather was taken aback by the young Mac's attitude towards their past, but he pointed out that he had technically never had that life with her and claimed that his responsibilities leading Alpha Flight were his priority. Unable to handle the emotions this brought up, Heather ran off. Watching this remotely via cameras, General Clarke and his associates were pleased that Heather had reacted as predicted and believed she would remain with the team in attempts to reconnect with Guardian.

As pleased as Clarke was regarding the mental conditioning, the effects were mixed with Heather. During a training session with Puck, the subject of Madison Jeffries came up. For a moment, the two grew confused, sure that there was something about their former teammate that they were supposed to remember. In the end, the conditioning buried the memory of their kidnapped friend. On the other hand, after a training exercise of dubious merits, Heather went so far as to challenge General Clarke’s authority, reminding him that she had been with Alpha Flight for years and he was not her master. Despite her animosity toward Clarke, Heather kept her mind open for Mac and when he surprised her by asking her out she readily agreed. [Alpha Flight (2nd series) #2]

Although she proved capable with her new powers, Heather wanted to learn about the battle suit and engaged in extensive training sessions, intending to learn its weaknesses during exercises rather than in the field. However, every time she asked the Department H scientists specifics about how the suit worked, they evaded her questions. During this time, Heather's friendship with Puck, who was still very attracted to her after all these years, continued to grow as the two of them found themselves trading stories about what was going in the secretive Department H. She also confided in Puck regarding her feelings about Mac. [Alpha Flight (2nd series) #3]

Heather’s emotional exploration with her former husband was complicated by the flirtations of one of the new members of Alpha Flight, Murmur, who made clear that she was attracted to Mac. He, however, spurned each of her advances and indeed seemed interested in getting to know Heather all over again. Struggling as he did so, Mac surprised Heather by suggesting they go out on a date. Heather admitted that she found the idea of dating her husband absurd, adding that her own feelings were complicated. Mac did his best to push past those complications when he surprised Heather with a kiss.

When Alpha Flight were assigned to bring in Wolverine, it was decided that they should first train by being pitted against synthoids that represented Wolverine through various stages of his life. Heather flatly refused to participate in the training exercise and told General Clarke he was sick for using her memories of Wolverine as training fodder. She also told the Department H scientists that they were wasting their money, as these robots they were fighting did not represent Wolverine at all. Her anger was intensified when she saw Murmur tending to the de-aged Guardian, who had been injured during the training exercise. Heather warned Clarke that if he were sending Alpha Flight against Wolverine, they would be doing it without her. Heather’s defiance did not last long, however, as soon after she left the training room she found herself encased by a strange, energy matrix which had been lurking around Department H recently. Unable to break free, Heather was brought by the matrix to a secret lab where once again her memories of recent events were scrambled at the instruction of General Clarke.

Despite her treatment, Heather found the team’s briefing regarding the Wolverine mission troubling and tried to question some of the events as they were explained, finding them different than her own recollections. Nonetheless, she was a team player when Alpha Flight was sent to bring in the X-Man for charges, among others, of killing Madison Jeffries. However, when Heather eventually came face to face with her old friend, her true memories rose to the surface. Coupled with Wolverine's senses telling him that something was not right with her either, Heather decided that they need to return to Department H and confront General Clarke. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #8-9, Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #355]

Back at Department H, Heather had to be restrained by Puck and Guardian when she confronted General Clarke, accusing him of lying to them about Wolverine, conspiring against his own operatives and manipulating her memories. In contrast to her rage, General Clarke responded calmly, a seemingly innocent explanation for each of the errors in intelligence which had led to the mission. Heather was still not convinced and, when Clarke turned to Guardian for his comments, Heather intervened, warning Clarke not to manipulate him. When she told Clarke that Alpha Flight would not be following any orders until they got their bearings, Clarke reminded her that they all had signed contracts and failure to comply could constitute treason. To this, Heather warned Genera Clarke not to threaten Alpha Flight – after all, they were the ones with the power.

Sensing that the team he had worked so hard to control was about to break free, General Clarke decided to trick Alpha Flight to remove themselves long enough for him to arrange for their replacement. He ordered Dr. Myra Haddock, a scientist at Department H’s research arm, to “warn” Alpha Flight that the government was about to move against them and offer them temporary sanctuary while they could settle their counter-strategy. However, the sanctuary turned out to be a portal to the Microverse and in using it Alpha Flight inadvertently exiled themselves. As ever, Alpha Flight found adventure wherever they went and soon became embroiled in a rebellion against a tyrannical leader. In between revolutionary actions, Heather took opportunities to bond with teammates, specifically the mysterious Manbot. She also finally had a serious conversation with Mac, who assured her that he had no feelings for Murmur, but did have feelings for her. [Alpha Flight (2nd series) #10-11]

Deciding it was time to return, Alpha Flight activated Manbot’s retrieval mechanism and returned to Department H, only to find it was currently under attack from Alpha Flight's newest enemies, the Zodiac. In the chaos that followed, the young Guardian seemed as concerned with asserting his authority over the team as the crisis at hand. Her history as team leader kicking in, Heather told him that if he just made a decision and led, then no one would feel the need to do it for him. The team soon split up for different missions and along the way Heather came across General Clarke, who was inexplicably wearing a radiation suit. To her horror, she learned that Department H was powered by a nuclear reactor, rather than by hydroelectricity as had always been claimed. Worse, the Zodiac had sabotaged the reactor, which would kill everyone in Ottawa if it reached critical. Despite their history, Heather worked together with Clarke, monitoring the system while the general entered the reactor itself. Unfortunately, Clarke was unable to shut the core down and was consumed by the radiation, much to Heather's horror.

With the lives of everyone in the province on her shoulders, Heather used her battlesuit, with which she was still somewhat unfamiliar and uncomfortable, to absorb the excess heat from the reactor core, cooling it so much that she prevented it from overloading. Unfortunately for Heather, her battlesuit became overloaded in the process and an alarm from it warned that she had but seconds to remove it or be consumed herself in its self-destruction. Desperately, Heather began to disconnect components from the battlesuit to prevent the explosion, not dissimilar from the operation Mac had performed on his suit so long ago. In a reverse play of history, Heather was suddenly distracted as Guardian entered the room – but this time the results were different. Before her battlesuit exploded, she was able to deactivate it, preventing the impending explosion. Guardian took Heather in his arms and Heather finally felt vindicated. [Alpha Flight (2nd series) #12]

In the wake of General Clarke's death, the Canadian government assigned a new a supervisor to administer Department H. Mr. Gentry quickly left his mark on the staff, such as when he chastised its technicians for not acting on over thirty requests for changes made by Heather over her Vindicator battlesuit. The staff was there to serve Alpha Flight, he reminded them. Alpha Flight quickly embraced the new administration that worked alongside them, rather than controlling them.

Following her near-death experience, Heather began to reevaluate her life, specifically her relationship with her de-aged husband. At the funeral for who they believed to be Sasquatch, Heather informed Mac that she’d realized she’d only been hanging on to him because she thought she had to have him to make it. Now realizing they were different people and needed different things, she suggested they just be teammates and let the rest go for now. To her surprise, Mac responded angrily, upset that he didn’t get a say in her decision. [Alpha Flight (2nd series) #14] Indeed, Mac had trouble letting go. When weeks later he accompanied her on an apartment hunt, Mac pointed out that it would be easier to afford if they split the rent by moving in together, a thought which definitely left Heather uncomfortable.

Though Gentry’s supervision of Department H was positive, the rot from the previous administration lingered, specifically the unscrupulous Dr. Huxley. For some time, Huxley had been working with a subject infected with an intelligent bacteria, all in an attempt to create a new Weapon X. When the subject suddenly escaped containment, Alpha Flight was ordered to capture it and bring in Huxley for justice. To their surprise, however, Heather and Alpha Flight found another party unexpectedly hunting Weapon X too… another Alpha Flight. This team consisted of the remaining original members – Northstar, Aurora, Shaman, Sasquatch… and a Guardian who seemed to be the correct age for James MacDonald.

This other Alpha Flight was quite hostile, blaming Department H for Aurora’s infection by the same bacteria that had infected Weapon X and thus blaming the current Alpha Flight by extension. The two teams came to blows but eventually stopped when Heather finally convinced them to stand down, if for no other reason than their fight allowed Weapon X to escape. Eventually, the two teams were able to aside their differences and track Weapon X to an atomic incinerator at Devil’s Bay, where they learned that Weapon X was actually trying to kill himself, rather than infect the rest of the world with his bacteria. In the end, Weapon X ended his own life, thereby saving the world.

In the aftermath of the crisis, Gentry was prepared to tell the truth about Heather’s husband, or at least part of it. One of the two Macs, either the de-aged or regular age, was actually a synthoid duplicate, created by Department H and imbued with Mac’s memories. However, as both had proved themselves, both in battle and as individuals, Gentry decided that he would not reveal which of them were the real one and further hoped that both would serve Canada. Heather, however, had moved on, no matter what the truth was and had agreed to go out on a date with a man who had pined for her for years – Puck. [Alpha Flight (2nd series) #18-20]