‘Good evening! This is station KB-Z, live on this rocking Saturday night from the heart of Toronto. Turn up the volume, folks, it’s time to wake up the kids…disturb the neighbors…rev up your party engine…and KILL someone!’
Toronto. A man runs down the street, waving his arms in the air and screaming. Children claw at the mother and father who just stand there and smile. A woman is covered in blood as she leaves her neighbors kitchen, a bloody knife in her hand. Another man drives his car fast - heading straight towards a woman walking across a pedestrian crossing.
‘NO!’ shouts Colin Hume a.k.a. Windshear of Alpha Flight as he swoops down and shoves the car back with a blast of solid air. He introduces himself to the woman and tells her that she is safe now, while thinking to himself that it was a close call, but the woman just continues to walk away. ‘Not fair! Not fair!’ the man in the car begins shouting, banging his fists on the side of his now-damaged car. Windshear wonders what is happening here, for some maniac just tried to run this woman down, but she didn’t even notice.
Colin notices the fires and supposes that it is a riot or something, but he has never seen anything like it - it’s like the whole of Toronto flipped their collective lids. The woman who Colin saved suddenly turns to him and putting her arms on his chest, she tells him that there a lots of things she would like to do to him, that she is hungry for his flesh. Windshear wonders if Talisman being attacked and the city going up in flames has anything to do with each other or if it is just a coincidence. He remembers that she said “They’re out”, and wonders if it is connected, and who - or what - are out.
The woman says ‘Come on! You’ll love the way I -’ Windshear flies off, telling her some other time, while realizing that he is getting that “out-of-my-depth” feeling again, before admitting that truthfully, he was happy playing desk jockey and letting the core team handle stuff like this. But they are in New York - so this time, he is on his own. But as Windshear rounds the corner, he realizes that isn’t so, for Beta Flight, or Gamma Flight as he would prefer to call them, are down on the ground. He wonders if they are somehow mixed up in this as he makes his descend.
Down below, the “fire bug” exclaims that they should play a game - they can all see how many times he can blow himself up before they run out of magic tricks. Witchfire throws a shield around the strange man as he tries to blow himself up again, while Doctor Whitman Knapp a.k.a. Manikin is tended to by his past and future selves. Highbrow asks Whit if he is hurt, but Knapp replies that he is just scorched and is more concerned with how Witchfire is holding out. Highbrow replies that she is containing the “fire bug”, but only just, as the force of his spontaneous combustion is increasing, and he believes Witchfire’s mystical shields are weakening.
Highbrow is about to announce some calculation but Whit snaps ‘Spare me!’, and mutters that next time four girls ask him out on a Saturday night, he is staying in. ‘Party pooper!’ exclaims Witchfire as she asks Manikin to pull back Apeman, before explaining that keeping Firebug split into component parts should prevent him from forming a cohesive thought, let alone a body.
‘Good’ declares Windshear as he comes up to the teens, reminding Manikin that he gave express orders for “Gamma” Flight to remain at Department H - but here they are, up to their necks in this mess. He asks Whit what they think they are doing, to which Whit replies ‘Our job!’ Colin tells him not to get smart, and reminds him that these kids nearly brought an army of extra-dimensional demons into the heart of Department H - so they are not ready. ‘Not ready? KIDS?’ Manikin shouts.
Suddenly, Highbrow, whose eyes are augmented by technology, strip away shadows, a vast computer net quantifying, identifying a villain lurking in the shadows as Mad-Dog, a man with enhanced strength, speed, endurance and who is both highly dangerous and unstable. Highbrow tries to get Manikin’s attention, but Whit is still being lectured by Windshear, who tells him that he should have known better than this, before muttering that it is typical when he needs a team he just gets the barebones of one. ‘Where are Core Alpha when you need them?’
Actually, they are in a reality far removed from our own, and partaking in a war to end all wars. Aside from Alpha Flight, the combatants are some of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, against Adam Warlock and the Infinity Watch. Only in this battle, the considerable power of the Infinity Watch is augmented by the most dreaded of Titans - Thanos! Alpha Flight’s leader Heather McNeil Hudson a.k.a. Guardian spots Thanos nearby and thinks that he has a name to conjure if ever there was one. She wonders how you fight something like that, and realizes that she is not sure she can - before telling herself that she doesn’t need this weakness, not now.
Heather thinks that she is better than that, for too long has she lain with corpses, buried under the bones of the past - this is her team not, her future and she will fight for them both. Speaking of her team, more than half of them are still on Earth, while Walter Langkowski a.k.a. Sasquatch lies across the battlefield unconscious. As for Shaman, who is standing on a hill with several other mystics, who knows. Heather wonders where he disappeared to, and what happened to him - obviously something terrible, but he can’t - or won’t - even talk to her. She recalls that they used to be so close, his aura so warm, so alive - but now it is just dead.
Heather lets out a little scream when someone comes up behind her - but it is only Logan a.k.a. Wolverine, a former Alphan and one of Heather’s closest friends. Logan asks her why she is so jumpy, and tells her to relax, adding that he thinks all the heroes here have felt like that today. Unsheathing his claws, he exclaims that in his book there is one way to deal with fears and doubts - and it isn’t standing here talking about them. Walking back towards the battle, Logan asks Heather if she is with him.
Guardian sighs and mumbles that she was hoping for something deep and meaningful, before taking to the air and following Wolverine as he rushes towards Gamora who is currently beating on the She-Hulk. As Wolverine lunges at Gamora, Heather wonders if Wolverine is right - perhaps you can look too long and hard, torture yourself over what could have been or what might be. Perhaps….
Up on the ridge, Shaman continues to stare ahead, motionless and vacant, until finally he utters ‘Elizabeth’. Doctor Michael Twoyoungmen can feel that his daughter Elizabeth a.k.a. Talisman is in pain - again. Her body lies broken beyond his reach - again. He cannot help her - again. No! He can touch her mind… so he calls to her. ‘Talisman!’ he says.
Elizabeth lies motionless in the hospital bed, but within her powerful mind, she walks down some stairs, asking her father where she is. Shaman replies that she is within, but she must go deeper. Elizabeth replies that she doesn’t want to, but her father tells her that she must. He points out the door in front of her and tells her to open it. Elizabeth replies that she is afraid and asks her father why he is doing this to her. Shaman tells Elizabeth to open it, that she must understand what has been unleashed. Talisman does open the door and coughs at the putrid smell which flows from it, before she starts to drown in an ocean of bones.
The Ska’r are awake, and one of them has his first feed. ‘Crude…but palatable’ the grotesque alien with teeth larger than his face decides, before declaring that already the air carries the taste and soon the rest of the Ska’r will feed! He realizes that the world has changed since they slept, the pulse is now more urgent, vital, while vibrant beings with aura have turned the fodder, into a feast!
Back in Toronto, Witchfire hears Mad-Dog growl as he leaps at her, but Apeman comes to the sorceress’ rescue, knocking Mad-Dog away, though Witchfire is startled and loses her balance. As Colin tells Witchfire that she has to watch her back, the fiery redhead calls him an idiot and tells him to let go of her, exclaiming that it is too late, Firebug is going to blow. Colin replies that it is no problem for he can use a well-placed pulse of solid air on him. But as Witchfire cries ‘No!’ it is too late, as Windshear’s solid air reacts with Firebug’s flames, ‘Ohh…god one!’ the Firebug remarks.
Kara “Persuasion” Kilgrave, formerly the Purple Girl sees the explosion and calls to Witchfire and Manikin, the latter of whom suddenly appears right beside her, thanks to a short-scan-teleport from Highbrow. As Apeman and Proto fight Mad-Dog, Whit informs Kara that he is okay. ‘No thanks to you, Windshear!’ exclaims Witchfire, pointing out that the shot of solid air may have spread Firebug into the four winds, but it almost took them all with him.
‘You listen girl, and you listen good!’ exclaims Windshear as he tells Witchfire that he has had enough of her high-handed meddling, pointing out that she has disobeyed orders, exacerbated the situation out here and now he is going to - Hume is cut off mid-sentence when he suddenly turns purple. ‘There, much better!’ exclaims Kara. Witchfire seems impressed with her teammate for possessing Windshear. Manikin smiles as he remarks that now they just get the wind, without the hot air, adding that Windshear is going to be ticked off. ‘Good!’ exclaims Witchfire, before telling everyone that it is time to get back to work.
Meanwhile, on a rooftop above the streets, the Master of the World, flanked by the new Omega Flight, surveys his work. He remarks that everything is as it should be, and soon the Ska’r will feed, the madness will spread as the Ska’r grow fatter and more powerful. He knows that Canada of course will be lost in the process, but decides that when you are dealing with worlds, one country is a very small price to pay.
Sinew hisses, and looking down at the street he exclaims that his blood boils at their mind touch, their call is carnage. ‘Aaaw, what’s the matter? Is kitty spooked?’ jokes Strongarm, smiling. Sinew snarls and tells Strongarm to try smiling with the flesh torn from his skull. The Master interrupts the squabbling Omegas, telling them to remember the place - all of them. He declares that they are the favored sons and daughters of the Master of the World, and that they and others like them still to come, are the children that will inherit the Earth. ‘My Earth!’
The Master thinks of his Earth, and knows that Magus would take it from him. He tells Magus that he can see him, and suggests that he takes his madness and lust for power. The Master knows that he hides beyond mortal minds and eyes, his fortress is many realities removed from here. The Master boasts that his eyes are no longer mortal, his mind the product of alien bio-engineering, expanded until finally all that they were, was he!
As the Master tells Magus he can see him, Magus can also see the Master from the safety of his fortress. The Master calls Magus a cosmic puppeteer, pulling the strings, his true scheme a riddle wrapped in a mystery. But the Master knows that the coming duality, the power play for the minds of the human ants he can see, and believes he can prevent it. The Master boasts that he has unleashed the Ska’r and that through their malign influence, he will stop Magus, save Earth - and woe betide any who stand in his way.
Meanwhile, in Manhattan, at what is left of Four Freedom’s Plaza, Alpha Flight and other heroes are engaged in battle with various beings. Eugene Milton Judd a.k.a. Puck asks Jean-Paul if this is exciting enough for him now. As Northstar repeatedly punches some dragon, he admits that he is wishing he did not open his mouth. Weapon Omega shares his teammates sentiment, and recalls that no sooner were the expeditionary force away than they were beset by these bizarre doubles. ‘Next time Northstar says he’s bored, I’m ducking!’ he jokes.
Weapon Omega calls to Aurora and tells her to keep in mind that her double may not be up to date on recent developments, while thinking to himself that with Guardian gone the leadership mantle seems to have fallen on his shoulders, making this a day for strange inversions. He urges Box to attack the Colossus double, to use his metal transmuting power to - before he can explain what he wants Jeffries to do, Weapon Omega is kicked to the ground by a Daredevil double.
Kyle realizes that he was so busy giving out orders, that he wasn’t watching his own back. He supposes that there is more to it than Heather lets on, while trying to stop the Daredevil double’s claws connecting to him, he turns his opponents body, snapping his neck in the process. Weapon Omega sees that the Daredevil double is dead, and something stirs, a dark and ugly memory washed in blood. He claims that he didn’t mean to, but suddenly, someone cries ‘Yes you did!’ and Kyle turns to see…himself!
The Weapon Omega double tells Kyle to face it, that deep down, he hasn’t changed, and exclaims that he only wears the mask because when he looks in the mirror without it he sees…’This!’ The double removes his own mask, revealing the face of the old Weapon Omega - Wild Child! The man with a face only a mother could love exclaims that this is the real Weapon Omega, the Wild Child that growls and spits in your gut, and claims that there are no miracle cures, no drugs to take it away. He jibes Kyle by telling him it is still inside of him.
Kyle declares that that part of him is gone, ‘I am no longer you!’ he says, ‘Wanna bet?’ asks the dupe. Kyle leaps as his double, growling as he shouts ‘You animal, I’ll tear you in two!’ ‘Yes! Let it out!’ the dupe exclaims.
Nearby, Aurora’s horrid duplicate is tormenting her real-self, asking her why she struggles, ‘I see every move you make before you make it! I have you powers, your thoughts - I am everything you are…only more so! And very soon, child, I will BE you!’ The founding Alphan agrees with her duplicate that Aurora’s powers seem ineffective against her. The dupe grins, showing her jagged yellow teeth, extending her hand she urges the Alphan to take it. Suddenly though, the dupe is blown away as Jeanne-Marie reveals herself, ‘You misunderstand. I said Aurora’s powers seem ineffective against you. Jeanne-Marie’s work just fine’! And as Jeanne-Marie uses her light-exploding powers, the dupe screams.
Back in Toronto, Manikin exclaims that this is no good, for as soon as they put the lid on one situation, another one flares up. Witchfire suggests that they are looking at this wrong, fighting symptoms when they should be looking for the cause. She reminds everyone how Laura said Goblyn sensed a wrongness, an evil presence, just before all of this flared up, and reveals that she caught the same vibration on a more arcane wavelength, but didn’t have a chance to track it back to the source as they had more immediate concerns.
Witchfire uses her abilities to track the source and sees beings, their minds twisted and foul - they are doing this. Suddenly, Omega Flight appear before the teenagers. ‘Clever girl…dead girl!’ exclaims Miss Mass.
Elsewhere, Talisman rises to the surface of the sea of bones. She calls out to her father, asking him where she is. ‘TALK TO ME!’ she screams when she gets no response. Shaman then merely replies ‘You must understand what has been unleashed….’
Nearby, two of the Ska’r sense Elizabeth’s mind. One of them remarks that some of the morsels remain untouched, and refuse to feed them with their dark ugliness. ‘Then we shall just have to feed…on them!’ replies the other, both of the Ska’r grinning their horrid grins.