On a blustery and cold day, Heather Hudson, widow of Alpha Flight’s now deceased creator and leader, James MacDonald Hudson a.k.a. Guardian, is surrounded by her husbands teammates, her friends. All dressed in black, they stand by Heather in her time of need. Shaman puts his comforting arms on her shoulders, while Snowbird stands to his right, slightly distanced from the group. Puck stands in front of Heather, while Sasquatch, in his human form of Walter Langkowski stands to Heather’s left, comforting his girlfriend Aurora, who presses her body into his. Aurora’s brother, like Snowbird, stands distanced from the group, this time on the left, while a priest stands at the end of Mac’s grave. Alpha Flight are assembled…for Mac’s funeral.
After saying his words, the priest walks up to Heather, no one speaks and he takes her hand before descending down the graveyard slope. Heather turns to her oldest friend, Michael Twoyoungmen and he embraces her, before she turns to Narya, who brushes some of Heather’s hair off her face, before the goddess transforms into an owl and flies away. Michael holds Heather’s hand before leaving also.
With her two oldest and closest friends gone, Heather turns to the others. Walt and Jeanne-Marie walk up to her, and she hesitates at first, remembering the crush Jeanne-Marie once had on Mac. But seeing Aurora’s tears too, the two women embrace. Walt’s eyes remain downcast, and walks Jeanne-Marie away after she starts crying more. Heather now turns to Northstar, and starts to walk towards him, but when she reaches out to touch him he turns away and flies off. The diminutive Puck walks up behind grief-stricken Heather and she kneels down to his height. She rests her head on his shoulder before he walks away, leaving her alone.
Standing beneath a tree off to the side of the graveyard, a man lights up a cigarette. He is a man who knows Heather Hudson very, very well…Wolverine! As he turns towards her, he sees Heather kneel at Mac’s grave and she lies down on part of it, and closes her eyes. Without warning, the grave begins to crack, Heather leaps up confused, and scared when a fiery form resembling Mac reaches out and breaks through, jumping up in front of her. Heather begins to run away, and this all does not go unnoticed by Wolverine. Logan unsheathes his claws and leaps towards the fiery form, but his claws do nothing against it. Wolverine doesn’t give up, and returns for another attack, this time Mac gets the upper hand and grabs Logan’s by the wrists, pushing him back, before he puts a hand over Logan’s face, and the person he may have considered a brother drops dead before him.
Heather turns back just in time to see, and the fear mounts in her eyes. She continues running through the empty graveyard, but trips on a set of rocks. Her glasses fall from her head and smash. Heather gets up, shaky, and stumbles towards a metal fence. She starts to climb the fence, but Mac has caught up with her, and pulls her down before she can climb over. He pulls her face right up close to his, and pulls her mouth towards his…
‘NNOOOO!’ Heather McNeil Hudson wakes up from her nightmare, sticky and sweaty, and stricken with fear. She is inside a motor lodge, not far away from Parliament Hill, Ottawa. Michael Twoyoungmen heard her screams and rushes into her room. It is the same scream she has cried for the past month now, and it comes at the same time, in the early hours of the morning. He kneels at her side and tells her she is all right, that she is not alone. Heather is confused and quite delirious, asks where Mac is, and says that she has to find him. The man called Shaman chooses his words carefully, and tells her that Mac is dead, and that she must accept that so his spirit can rest in peace. Heather lays back down in her bed, and repeats ‘Mac is gone’ as she falls to sleep.
Twoyoungmen enters another room, and Eugene Milton Judd, a.k.a. Puck, asks him how Heather is. Michael tells Judd that she is asleep, but that he is troubled at the fact that Heather has now had the same dream for a month now. Sitting on a bed, Judd tells Shaman that it is not surprising, especially as the elements of the dream, as he described them, are so disturbing. Judd thinks that Heather must be carrying a lot of guilt and blaming herself for Mac’s death. With his arms crossed, Shaman tells Judd it is a lot more than that, after all, James Hudson was blasted to ashes right in front of his wife, and because of that, there was literally nothing left to bury. Michael adds that it is not without reason that so many people place so much emphasis on the ritual of funeral, as it is a vital part of the mourning process and a clear and definite symbol of an ending, and a beginning and continuing of life.
Judd tells Michael that he may be right, and comments on how the Jatravi people of the Serengetti don’t believe a warrior is truly dead until his funeral is done. Judd tells Michael that he has often though there was more to that than just superstition and starts to suggest Shaman’s magicks for Heather. Shaman tells Puck that he knows what he is about to suggests, and wishes he could do it, but it is forbidden, as the mind is too delicate a fabric for even his expert weaving. He tells Judd that if Heather is to come through this dark time, she must do it herself, and they may only offer support. Judd tells Michael he is right, and tells him that it upsets him to see Heather torn like this, as she is such a beautiful person, in every sense of the word. Michael tells Judd that he has great empathy, and confesses his surprise at this level to him that no one would have guessed. As he pours a glass of water, Judd jokes that he has depth he has not even used yet.
Puck starts to change the subject, wanting to talk to Shaman about what he did to Smart Alec, and tells him that he doesn’t agree with what he did. Michael reaches into his pouch, and tells his friend that there was little else he could do, as when Thorne looked into the medicine bag, it took his mind. Shaman holds up the figurine-sized form of the former Gamma Flight turned Omega Flight member. He tells Puck that the least he could do was look after his body until he finds a way to restore his mind, and reducing the size of Alec’s body was the easiest method. Judd tells Shaman that he misses his point – that Smart Alec was more-or-less the leader of Omega Flight, and they were directly responsible for Mac’s death. Judd says that carrying him around in a bag while searching for a way to restore his mind is too good for him.
Shaman reminds Judd that he is a Sarcee medicine chief, and has been long before he joined Alpha Flight. He tells Puck that such as his title, he has been sworn to protect and preserve life, even such as Thorne’s. Judd tells Michael that he is a better man than he, as he would rather see Alec sharing some of the anguish of Heather. Michael tells Judd that he might be, after all, there is a whole universe beyond the mouth of the medicine pouch, a universe which Alec’s mind wanders alone and unprotected. Shaman adds that if the Great Spirit hears his prayers, Smart Alec will not go unpunished. He suggests to Judd that they get some rest, as tomorrow they have an appointment at Parliament Hill….
(the next day)
In the office of the Prime Minister…Heather, Michael and Judd sit before Gary Cody, their unofficial team liaison to the government, who tells them that his position has been rather nebulous since Department H was closed down, and finding an office had been hard, but after Prime Minister Trudeau resigned, yesterday, he got this office. Gary smiles and tells the trio that he is curious as to why they are meeting, and as to what was so important they could not say over the phone. He tells them that he is also unsure as to why they, particularly Heather, are present as it is an unofficial meeting. He asks where Guardian is.
Very bluntly, Heather says ‘My husband is dead Gary’. Michael tells Heather it may be better if he tells Cody what is going on. Heather tells Michael she appreciates his concern, but that she must do this herself. Gary Cody’s expression reveals his disbelief, and asks how and when. He asks Heather why she let him rattle on about his office when she had something much more important to say. Heather tells him that he had his piece to say, and now she has hers. She tells him it began with a letter…
(several flashbacks to the events of the past months)
Slowly at first, but with great determination, Heather begins to tick off the events leading to her husband’s death. She tells of the letter from Roxxon Oil arriving at their home, and it led to many hours discussion, as it offered Mac a very lucrative position, with a corporate giant, though a position that would involve moving to New York City. Finally, the adventure of the offer won Mac and Heather over, after all…it was New York they would be living in! Mac left Heather to settle everything in Ottawa, while he went to New York to meet his new employers, and while Heather took care of the old apartment, Mac signed a lease for another, in Brooklyn Heights.
Everything was going perfectly, but then came the first hint that something was going wrong – when Heather arrived in New York. Heather was not met by James, like expected, but by a woman called Delphine Courtney. Delphine escorted Heather to a place where Mac was supposed to meet them later, but as hours went by with no sign of Mac, Heather grew impatient and demanded answers. Delphine gave none, only let Heather watch a “very special” television show…a prerecorded tape that introduced Heather to the motive force behind what was looking more and more like a calculated trap. Mac’s former friend, and Heather’s former boss…Jerry Jaxon!
As revealed by Jaxon in the video, he had fallen on hard time when he failed to take possession of Hudson’s cybernetic helmet for Am-Cam Petrol. Ten years later, after he crippled himself and was dirt-poor, he had recruited disgruntled former members of Beta and Gamma Flights including Diamond Lil and Smart Alec. Jaxon used the influencing powers of Delphine Courtney to aggravate the mutants and superhumans in their annoyance at being disbanded by the government. Together they were united as Omega Flight, and fought Guardian.
Jaxon did not know of Mac’s ability to send the “Alpha Signal” back to Canada, and soon, teleported to New York by Shaman’s magicks, the rest of Alpha Flight, minus Marrina, had arrived to even out the sides. Even before Omega Flight was defeated by the superior Alpha, Mac was separated from the group by Box. Mac discovered that it was not the faithful Roger Bochs who was inside his Box armor, but Jaxon was cybernetically controlling it. Mac was battered almost to unconsciousness, and in desperation tore from his super-suits circuitry, and plunged the wires into Box’s only vulnerable point. Box was defeated, and Jaxon rendered brain-dead. As Mac tried to disconnect his overloading power pack, he was distracted for one fatal moment when Heather walked into the room, and he died.
For a long while there is silence in the office, when Gary Cody finally breaks it by asking Heather if she actually saw Mac die. Heather tells him that she saw him blown apart and consumed into less than ashes. Michael tells Heather, as her friend and doctor, that she should get some rest. Heather reminds Michael that she had been resting for a month, and tells Gary that her husband died in the service of his country, and very sternly tells him she wants to know what is going to be done about it. Gary was afraid Heather was going to say something like that, and tells her he wishes that there was something he could do about it, but there isn’t.
He tells Heather that while she may not believe him, as far as the Canadian government was concerned, James Hudson was even less than another taxpayer to the government for the past ten years. Heather frowns and looks very cross at that remark. Gary asks her to let him explain before she jumps down his throat. He reminds her that Mac created Alpha Flight as part of Department H, which was a top-secret extension of the ministry of defense. Very top-secret. He tells Heather that he used to be a very high official within Department H, and now he cannot even get a real office. Gary says that is because when Department H was officially closed down, and Alpha Flight disbanded, it ceased to exist retroactively, as if it never was.
Heather is shocked at this, and asks Gary if what he is telling her is that her husband devoted ten years of his life to Department H, worked, fought and died for them…and now the whole thing is going to be swept under the rug, and Mac’s life tossed away as if it were nothing more than old paper for the shredder. Gary stands up and tells her that it is not like that, as Mac did not die for Department H, because Department H did not exist anymore, and he continued Alpha Flight on his own initiative. Gary admits that the government supported him, unofficially, but officially there is nothing that he can do.
Puck jumps up from his chair and tells Gary that there is something he can do, like taking a pound of flesh from his body to compensate. Heather tells Judd to stop, and standing up she goes over to Gary. She puts a hand on his shoulder and understands it is not his fault. She says she is not going to fall into the trap of blaming the messenger for the bad news. Heather thanks Gary for being honest with her and not giving her the typical run-around. Gary tells Heather she is too kind, especially as whatever way she wants to look at it, he has simply ‘pushed you overboard and refused to toss you a life jacket’.
Heather says ‘maybe’, but tells him that she prefers to look at as if he has been their friend for over five years, and will still continue to be, even if it means being completely honest, something she knows his job goes against. Gary thanks Heather, and tells her that he will try to something about it, even with the election coming up, which will probably result in a change in government, but he will still try. Puck thinks that he would still like to ‘pop ‘im one’.
Wit weary feat, and dampened spirits, the three friends leave Parliament Hill for what may be the last time in their lives. Twenty minutes later, they are at a diner. Heather tells her friends that even despite what Gary said it is probably the end of things, with Mac dead, and nothing anyone can do about it. Shaman tells her that there are still many things to do, and without trying to sound mercenary, reminds her of the issue of insurance. Heather tells Michael that there isn’t any. Mac did have life insurance, but for her to claim it, she has to prove he is dead, and without a body, there isn’t anything they can do, so Mac will not be legally dead for seven years.
Heather sums it all up for her friends: Omega Flight is captured, and handed over to the New York authorities, while Jaxon and Delphine seemed to have disappeared; she has no job, as she cannot reclaim her old one, it has been filled; she has no apartment, though she paid her landlord a four month hold fee in cash, she neglected to get a receipt and he has rented the house out again, and she cannot afford the one in Brooklyn. Heather tells them she is a widow at the ripe old age of twenty-nine, and without much hope for the future.
Judd tells Heather she is not alone, she still has Alpha Flight and her parents. Heather frowns and tells them that she hasn’t spoken to her parents since she eloped with Mac, as they never approved of the marriage. She tells them her mother is the type who would rub her nose in it a time like this. She adds that without Mac, Alpha Flight is no good, as his dream died with him. She tells her friends not to worry, as she is from “old pioneer stock”. She adds that her people worked their way across the country, and if necessary, she can do the same, because she knows what Mac would want, and she tells them she is never going to let him down, whatever else happens…Heather McNeil Hudson is not beaten yet.
(fourteen hours later)
Elsewhere, in Toronto, Canada’s largest city, the lonely stretch of dock is destined to become even darker…as the thud of running feet sound loud through the narrow back alleys. Jacob Vandernet is running for his life. Through the blinding blood red veil of panic, a tiny voice of reason tells him he will be safe if he can make it back to his ship. But Jacob won’t make it, as something snatches him off the dock, and into the lake. His terrible and final scream becomes nothing more than silvery bubbles bursting in the moonlight.