‘I don’t believe this!’ exclaims Heather McNeil Hudson otherwise known as Guardian, the leader of Canada’s premiere super hero team Alpha Flight, as she stares up at the mighty Department H, which now resembles something akin to a demons citadel. With Jean-Paul “Northstar” Beaubier and Wildheart at her side, Heather remarks that she didn’t believe it when she took the call at Avengers mansion and seeing it - but she still doesn’t believe it seeing it up close. The handsome Jean-Paul exclaims that they cannot afford to be here right now, not with Aurora - Heather cuts him off, assuring Northstar that his sister is in the best of care, with Reed Richards, Tony Stark and the Vision watching over her.
Heather explains to Northstar that it is vital Aurora is allowed to run, to lead the others to the entity that has claimed many of Earth’s heroes, including some of Alpha Flight - Sasquatch, Talisman, Puck and Windshear. Heather remarks that perhaps then, they will know if what they face is a menace, or perhaps the greatest wonder of all. But until such time, they need to deal with whatever - or whoever - has done this to their headquarters. Wildheart stares up at Department H and thinks that for this to happen now, with the world at the brink of a new glorious era of peace and harmony…perhaps their two “problems” are but sides of the same coin.
Inside Department H, the young woman known as Witchfire, now sporting horns and a demonic appearance exclaims that Wildheart is very perceptive, for this entity that the heroes of Earth are seeking is everything her father despises. Witchfire exclaims that her father has opened her eyes, revealed her true birthright, and in turn, she will do his will - ‘And tear the Goddess’s bleeding heart out!’
Entering Department H, Heather motions to the demonic surroundings and jokes that she shouldn’t have left the Beta’s to redecorate. Wildheart thinks to himself that this place reeks of the unnatural. Every fiber of his being, every instinct screams at him to turn and run. Northstar remarks that standing around isn’t helping anyone, so they need to get on with it. Wildheart thinks that it is fear. Not of what awaits without, but of what awaits within - something in here calls, and the beast that he once was is answering…..
Further inside Department H, the only male member of the current Beta Flight line-up, Doctor Whitman “Manikin” Knapp is held to a wall, while Witchfire taunts him. Whit tries to tell Witchfire that it isn’t her, that this is not the real her, for she is one of Beta Flight, and encourages her to fight what has possessed her. Witchfire answers in the form of a surge of power directed at Manikin, causing him to scream in pain. ‘Be still, boy. And more importantly, be silent!’ she orders, warning him that otherwise she will grant him the same mercy she showed his teammates.
Whit reminds Witchfire that Kara and the others are her teammates too, ‘Dead, all dead!’ cries Witchfire, announcing that she is demon kind, that she always was. She remarks that the pathetic human shell in which she was cruelly hidden if gone, and tells Whit that she envies him - for he is witness to a new dawn. Witchfire boasts that when the Goddess is gone, so shall come the Dark Ones to claim the Earth once more as their own.
Witchfire disappears in a cloud of energy, and Manikin begins to wonder if the others are really dead. Whit recalls only seeing Albert and Kara struck down, but didn’t have a chance to check for vital signs. As for Wyre, he supposes that the smashed window was mute testament to his fate, as it is a long way down. He wonders why Witchfire didn’t bother with him - but why should she? With his otherselves gone, he is nothing now. Nothing.
Continuing their walk through the darkened Department H, Heather cautions Jean-Paul and Wildheart to go slow and careful until they know what they are dealing with, for getting killed certainly isn’t going to help anyone. Wildheart announces that they are not alone. Heather unleashes a plasma blast to shed some light on the situation, and dozens of demons appear before them. ‘You have a gift for understatement’ Northstar tells Wildheart.
Heather begins blasting the demons with her electromagnetic abilities, before ordering Jean-Paul to back off and hit them hard. When she is about to give Wildheart some instructions, but Wildheart and the demons just stare at each other. Slobber drips from the demons jagged teeth as communication takes place between them without words. It is a terrible meeting of minds, stripped to their ancient core. The language of the predator. There is only survival - or death. Nothing else matters! With that, Wildheart leaps into action.
Elsewhere…welcome to paradise! Or at least, Paradise Omega. It is an oasis of beauty and calm created by the Goddess on a distant planet. It symbolizes her “Holy” crusade, her vision of an ordered universe, its inhabitants united in peace and harmony. It is a vision she will fight for, and if necessary…kill for! Walking through Paradise Omega are Sasquatch and Talisman of Alpha Flight. Elizabeth Twoyoungmen asks Walter Langkowski if he has ever seen such a place, and remarks if only the others could be here to see it. Then there would be no doubt in their minds at all, she believes.
Talisman exclaims that everyone would see the Goddess means well, that she - suddenly, Elizabeth notices something wrong with Sasquatch and asks him if he is all right. Sasquatch rubs his head, before shouting ‘Mother!’ and falling to the ground. Elizabeth calls out to him and rushes to his side. Sadly, for every Garden of Eden…there is a serpent! In this one, that serpent is Witchfire, who leers out from behind a tree.
Back on Earth (though you wouldn’t know it if you saw it). Heather, Northstar and Wildheart continue to fight on, with Jean-Paul exclaiming that as much as it pains him to admit it…he believes they cannot win this fight. He points out that for every creature they destroy, something even more loathsome and deadly takes its place. Noticing Wildheart, Jean-Paul decides that with each passing second, he becomes less Wildheart, and more Wild Child.
As Kyle slashes his way through demon after demon, Heather continues to destroy her opponents with electromagnetic blasts, and though it pains her to retreat, especially as this is their home, she knows Northstar is right - there is no end to their attackers. ‘It’s as though someone opened the gates to Hell itself!’
Back on Paradise Omega, Witchfire calls to Talisman and Sasquatch - and memories begin to play in their minds, narrated by Witchfire herself. Elizabeth is ten, her mother Kathryn has just died, and Michael, Elizabeth’s father, the same father that told his daughter he would save her mother simply tells Elizabeth that Kathryn has gone to a “better place”. But there is no better place, Witchfire exclaims cruelly. No glorious afterlife, there is only flesh, rotting in the grave that Shaman helped dig.
As for Walter Langkowski, he is twenty, and an honor student at the University of Calgary. Apparently, to succeed, you must purge your system of superstition and religion. If you believe for a moment mankind’s destiny is in the hands of some omnipotent one, true God, then you may as well quit. For the laws of Newton, the writings of Einstein, these are your bible, your Talmud, your god is…science!
Sasquatch and Talisman both lie slumped over as Witchfire stands before them, very pleased with herself. The seeds of doubt are sown, and in the armor of converted super beings, the Goddess has thrown around herself, a chink is opened. ‘And she is vulnerable!’ exclaims Witchfire.
On the grounds of Department H, Wyre stirs after surviving his fall. ‘The witch thinks I’m dead…she’s wrong!’
Back inside the hallowed halls, the trio of Alphans are trying to corner the demons down some stairs, with Heather blasting at them. She informs Jean-Paul and Wildheart that she cannot keep it up much longer, for the battle suit’s power cells are almost exhausted. Jean-Paul points out that the three of them are exhausted also, while their foes only seem to grow in number. Heather tells Northstar to fly up ahead of them, which is where she thinks he will find the answers that they need, while she and Wildheart continue to hold the creatures off.
Naturally, Jean-Paul begins to protest, until Heather orders him to go, pointing out that he can cover a lot of ground quicker than she or Kyle. Northstar turns and makes his way up the stairs, knowing that Heather is right - until he is blown back down the stairs - by Witchfire!
Heather is shocked to see Witchfire, but the grinning Witchfire announces that she is really glad to see Heather here, even if it does mean delaying her agenda on Paradise Omega. Power surging from her hands, Witchfire exclaims that she can now prove that her loyalty to her father is beyond any lingering doubt…’By sucking your souls dry!’
Outside, Wyre looks up at Department H and realizes that he fell probably three hundred feet, semi-conscious and burning like a comet. His tendrils begin to sprout from his massive chest as he reminds himself that they are more than tools, they are bonded to his nervous system, in ways he cannot even fathom. The wires reacted to the incident by finding precious purchase on the sheer face of Department H and slowed his descent. Angrily, Wyre shouts ‘You should have listened when I told you, Witchfire. I’m very hard to kill!’
Moosejaw, Saskatchewan. Eugene “Puck” Judd, Jean-Paul “Northstar” Beaubier and Wildheart are involved in a battle with three of Puck’s former associates. As Judd battles one of the men, he recalls various stages of his past - all filled with pain. He recalls being cruelly stunted by dwarfism, so he looked inward, and in doing so, found ways not only to control the pain, but to tap into his body’s full fighting potential. A soldier of fortune, thief and bodyguard, it was to prove a useful talent. But some pains run too deep - some battles just cannot be won. Long before Judd became a member of Alpha Flight, he lived a different life, outside of society’s rules and constraints. The four of them - Puck, Cleft, Flagstone and Depth Charge bonded more tightly than flesh and blood - as the Outcasts!
His mind returns to the battle at hand as he suggests to Depth Charge that it isn’t too late, that they can still - Depth Charge doesn’t let Judd finish his offer, he just smacks him in the face. Depth Charge reminds Judd of the score - that it was always “them” and “us” - and now Judd is one of “them”, which means in Depth Charge’s book, that Judd is nothing at all.
Nearby, Flagstone punches Wildheart, remarking that all of Wildheart’s power and skill is nothing to the Outcasts. Flagstone remarks that their strength is drawn from a well deep within the self - they think faster, react faster - and hit harder. Flagstone exclaims that like so much of humanity, Wildheart sleepwalks through existence, and is about to strike him again, when Wildheart declares that Flagstone is wrong, blocking Flagstone’s attack, Kyle exclaims that he also knows another self, an older, inner pool of strength. Kyle then exclaims that his is the beast, the ancient and savage soul of man, and once it is roused…only blood will sate it! Claws take the place of fingernails, as Wildheart continues his attack on Flagstone.
Across the street, Jean-Paul repeatedly punches the handsome Cleft, who admits that Northstar is fast, but as he knees the Alphan in the stomach, he exclaims that he isn’t fast enough. Northstar clutches his stomach as he falls to the ground, and Cleft looms over him, realizing that his suspicions that Jean-Paul was nursing an injury were correct. ‘Now say good night!’ he exclaims.
Meanwhile, Depth Charge tosses Judd into a parked car, laughing that this is too easy. Judd grits his teeth and thinks to himself that this is in no way easy - but he knew that when he saw the “unregistered paranormal” involved in a bar brawl was Cleft, and yet, he practically begged Guardian to let him handle this incident. Heather of course trusted Judd to do his duty, to bring Cleft and the others in - but can he? After all, he thinks, there was a bond between them, and admits that a part of him still yearns to run free with the pack, for he loved that life and everything about it.
Except…the feeling that he was somehow short-changing the monks who taught him, like he was cheapening something sacred. Depth Charge lifts Judd up and holds him in the air, giving Judd time to recall that the monks trusted him with a power few men possess - and he used it for fun and games. He couldn’t live with it then, and he cannot live with it now! As Depth Charge slams Judd to the ground, Judd manages to pull the large man down with him, exclaiming that he is no longer the free bound mercenary he once was.
Judd explains that when he put on this costume it was because he wanted to make a difference, for better or worse. ‘I am Puck of Alpha Flight - and the edicts govern them now govern me!’ he remarks, kicking Depth Charge in the head, before cart wheeling over to where Cleft is beating up on the injured Northstar. ‘You want more? I got more - for you much more!’ he exclaims.
Puck comes to Jean-Paul’s aid by bouncing on Cleft and knocking him into a brick wall - ‘Still as inflexible as ever. The world’s changed, Cleft - and we have to change with it’ Judd exclaims, pointing out that the Outcasts, the life that was, is now over. ‘NEVER!’ shouts Cleft, threatening to swat Judd like a fly as he lunges at him. But Judd attacks Cleft from the legs, flipping him to the ground he remarks that Cleft obviously forgets who was the pupil, and who was the teacher. Then the last thing Cleft sees amongst the flames, is Judd’s foot smashing into his face.
Later, an observer mentions to someone else that the guy called Flagstone is going to have to be stitched back together after what Wildheart did to him. As ambulances take injured civilians away, the Outcasts are prepared for transport by the police. Cleft asks Judd if he is proud of himself, before asking Judd what right he has to chain them simply because they choose to live outside society’s self-created rules and regulations? ‘You sold us out, Puck. You betrayed us…and yourself’.
Wildheart puts a hand on Judd’s shoulder and tells him that Cleft is wrong, assuring Judd that he did what had to be done. But Judd declares that Cleft is right, and admits that a part of himself died today - a part he can never reclaim. Judd exclaims that he has set himself on a course from which there is no turning back, only he wishes he could be sure it was the right one.