It has been one hour since Alpha Flight’s resident goddess, Snowbird, has heard fellow Alphan, Shaman, invoke the Great Spirit. She flies gracefully across the sprawling whiteness of the North, where she feels a great evil surrounding, and as she is one with the land, it touches her very soul. She wonders how this evil could have occurred so quickly and knows that she has to find the rest of her team. Suddenly, Narya spots Alpha Flight‘s Omni-Jet, badly damaged, crashed in the snow, and realizes that it must have been attacked before it crashed. Thankfully, Snowbird does not see or feel the touch of Death, but she wonders where Alpha is now, and who of her teammates were aboard.
Narya stands still, frozen across the landscape, and her unhuman eyes slip closed, waiting… when she open her eyes again a minute or more later, the damaged Omni-Jet pulses with an aura that only Snowbird can see. Realizing the crash was recent, Snowbird is able to use her post-cognitive powers, so she can find out what happened to Alpha Flight. At first nothing happens, then with a thunderclap, time peels backwards and before Snowbird‘s eyes she sees the events of the past hour – she sees Alpha Flight‘s aircraft shot down by a laser beam. Snowbird‘s control over time continues, as the events are played out still. The goddess watches as Guardian, Sasquatch, Northstar and Aurora emerge unscathed from the wreckage of the jet. Snowbird wonders why Shaman and the new recruits Puck and Marrina weren’t among them. She drops her control over time, and the visions of her friends’ fade.
Snowbird transforms into a polar bear, so she can use it‘s stealth to track her teammates easier. Snowbird‘s mind is almost lost among the polar bear’s but, she has enough control to direct the activities of the bear, and she lopes across the snow, tracking Sasquatch’s footprints until she comes across an opening in a snow covered hillside the same sort of melding of ice and metal that Marrina discovered. The door is ripped from its hinges – Sasquatch has come this way. Snowbird senses more than just the hum of a mechanical vibration in the walls – she feels the place is alive – and evil.
Half a mile ahead of where Snowbird’s location, Sasquatch and Guardian are ripping apart a wall, which dropped in front of them, separating them from Northstar and Aurora. Sasquatch thinks the wall is growing.
While three feet away, in pitch-blackness, bar the luminescence of the twins’ costumes, the mutant siblings worry as the wall pushes them further and further away from their teammates. Realizing there is nothing they can do, they attempt to look for another way out – and clasp hands for an instant, letting a pure white light fill the extremely vast and cavernous chamber they are in. Aurora asks her brother where they are, but he doesn’t know. Northstar sees an opening however, and they fly towards it. Aurora follows her brother, telling him to go slow, for if he should strike a wall… when suddenly a wall strikes him, as large metallic bars sprout from the wall, and knock Jean-Paul unconscious.
Aurora is rather shaken, she reaches out to Northstar, worried that she may once again loose the brother she has only recently met…when rods begin to poke out from the floor and walls, at all directions, too fast for her to get some momentum and escape. The rods move in on her, shrinking the space around her…Aurora is very afraid…and she no longer wants to be here, so she lapses out, and Jeanne-Marie is now the dominant personality…
Suddenly (and just in time) Sasquatch bursts through the rods, breaking them to get to the mutants. Sasquatch tells Guardian he was right in suggesting they find another way in, rather than follow the tunnel. Mac tells the doctor to save the compliments until they are out safely, before trying to bring “Aurora” around. She wakes, but is confused, the last thing she remembers is being at the school with Jean-Paul – and what is she doing in this shameless costume ?
Guardian is very concerned. He was always a little worried something like this might happen – Aurora has slipped back into her Jeanne-Marie persona! It is now Sasquatch who is concerned, he asks James if there is something he “forgot” to tell them about Aurora and seems generally rather startled by this revelation. The team leader tells Walter there is no time to explain, and that he must go find Northstar, as he is the only one who can bring Aurora out of this.
At the same moment, Northstar wakes, and wonders where his sister is, when suddenly hears a shrill cry. At first he thinks it is his sister, but then realizes that in fact it is Marrina – the reason he and his teammates are even at this dangerous place in the first place. He flies away to find her. What the fast flying mutant does not know, is that Marrina is several miles away still, and it is only the strange acoustics of this vast complex that carries her cries.
Marrina is laid out across a table, stretched from limb to limb prodded with various instruments, and the pain is unbearable. Suddenly, a voice soothes her – it is the Master of the World…the mysterious man tells her not to resist the probes, to let them inside her…but Marrina still fights them. She pleads with the Master – she has never harmed him or anyone else ever, until he reached out to her mind and made her turn on her teammates. The Master tells Marrina that it was not him who made her hurt Puck, but the vessel they are in now. He continues. Marrina has lived upon Earth almost twenty years, and the time of reckoning has come. The Master realizes Marrina must be confused, and begins to tell his tale to the woman laid out in front of him, despite her being a monster in his eyes…
(flashback, 40.000 years ago)
The world was an unending winter, uncounted millions of living things died. Some survived though, a few strong ones, who set out to find the land where summer may still reign. However, while everyone was trying to survive, some individuals wanted more. One in particular who would not accept the current order of things, and would demand more – more clothes, women, food. He was a bully, strong and skilled, but alone. The rest of the tribe finally had enough of his arrogance, and banded together to drive him out.
The tribe had a code against killing – but isn’t that what they did by driving this individual out? It may have been – if he had died. Realistically he should have, on one of the first days. But he didn’t. He headed South, until for no reason in particular he stopped in his tracks, and headed North, further and further, drawn by some inner madness, a relentless tugging at his soul. He passed others (men and animals) who had felt the same call, their corpses now rotting. He survived by eating them, until…this primitive savage came across what would be known as a star ship, fallen from the sky. Of course he had no comprehension for this type of thing, yet was perplexed, and its mystery had engulfed him.
The irresistible beckoning still tugged at him, drawing him closer to the vessel. As he was within an arms reach of the strange alien metal, the strange call disappeared, and he was released from it‘s control, but it was too late for him to run or to escape, as the vessel captured him, it was indeed alive. Next the primitive savage was restrained and various instruments started probing him.
The Master asks Marrina if she thinks she suffers now. Well, what she is going through is more pain than anyone has endured for forty thousand years, but it is nothing compared to what this primitive man was endured to. The Master tells Marrina he believes this man went insane. This man had his body stripped of flesh, as muscle, tissue and bones were scraped and all of his cellular body was distilled and studied. Everything, except for his brain that is. His brain was kept alive and incorporated into the vessel, becoming, at first, just a tiny extension of the whole. But his will was strong, and though it took him thirty thousand years to do so, he escaped his madness, and turned his prison into his castle. He came into control over the mechanics of the vessel, and commanded them to reconstitute his mortal form, but a perfect form this time.
The Master now reveals to Marrina some startling information – he was that primitive human, and, now that his link over Marrina’s ship is complete he has knowledge at his disposal, and is aware of everything about Earth. Marrina is confused – her ship? The Master tells Marrina that her origins lie in fact within this ship, and beyond Earth. That she too has waited many thousands of years to ripen, and the hour of conquest to begin. But the Master tells her, that he is first and foremost at human being – and he does not want to rule a world of fish-things. That is why, Marrina and her brood-mate, when he is located, have to be destroyed, so that he may finally and fully assume his rightful role as Master of the World.
Intruders suddenly startle the Master – they have heard at least part of what he has said recently, and they are not going to let the Master take over the world. He will find a planet full of beings that will oppose him, and here are two now – Namor the Sub-Mariner and the Invisible Woman!
Second Story :
(ten years ago)
James MacDonald Hudson sits alone in his apartment, in Edmonton, Alberta and contemplates his future after the recent events which occurred last night, when he “stole” the cybernetic helmet from his employer. Suddenly, the door bell rings – it is Heather McNeil! James is confused, what is she doing here? How did she know he lived here. Heather tells him, having access to Jaxon’s address book helped, and she is here because he just lost his job, and if he is anything like any of Heather’s six brothers, then he has probably got an empty fridge, so she bought him some groceries. Mac is a little taken aback, but seems happy to see her. He tells her she shouldn’t have done this, after all she lost her job too. Heather tells Mac that she has actually got three weeks left working for Jaxon, which isn’t as drastic as his position, and she has enough money in the bank, and a rather indulgent father.
Heather starts putting away the groceries, when she tells James that his quitting may have been premature. Mac is confused. Heather reminds him he quit because Jaxon was going to sell his exploratory suit to the American military, but someone has stolen the suit, and destroyed the only set of plans. The suit was found outside of town, except for the cybernetic helmet, which controls the suit, which is missing. James tells her he knows…Heather is puzzled, not even she should know – though as she follows Mac into another room she sees the helmet. Heather is a little startled, but realizes that Mac stole it so Jaxon couldn’t give it to the army.
James is somber, only now he doesn’t know what to do – except that he will probably end up going to prison. He tells Heather he doesn’t want her to shield him. Heather tells him she wouldn't think of it…and besides, a wife can’t testify against her husband…Heather is not sure what she just said, it all came out so quickly. James is shocked, Heather tells him that she knows it sounds crazy, and that he doesn’t even know her yet, but she fell in love with him the first time she saw him and she wants to take care of him. Mac asks Heather how old she is, she’s just a kid, and he could probably get arrested for even having her in his apartment with the door closed. Heather tells him she will be eighteen next month, but that doesn’t change the way she feels about him. James says it should…though he can’t deny something he felt yesterday when they spoke yesterday, when she told him she had quit in protest.
James tells her that he is going to go to jail, and can’t ask anyone to share that kind of life with him, and why does she still call him ‘Doctor Hudson’? Heather tells him she will call him something else if doesn’t stop feeling sorry for himself, and do something. Mac thinks he’s probably done enough already, and doesn’t see a way out of this mess. Heather does however. And five hours later they are aboard an Air Canada plane, headed for the country capital, Ottawa.
Over the course of the next two days James and Heather spend most of their time being shunted from one office to another, a little tired, they finally end up in a small office on Parliament Hill.
It is in this office that Mac and Heather are speaking to Frank Hulme, a government official who confirms with James that he did design and create the cybernetic helmet while he was still in college, and that no work was done on it during his tenure with AM-CAM. James agrees. Hulme asks Mac if he has a government student loan, and if it has been repaid…yes and no, in that order is James’ answer, though is puzzled as to what this has to do with his reason for being here. Hulme begins to make a phone call.
Twenty minutes later, Hulme tells Hudson that the Canadian government will be happy to pay AM-CAM for any incidental damages that were caused when Mac was collecting his property. Hulme also says that Mac has been employed by the government retroactively for the past six years. Mac asks if that is legal, and Heather tells him better not to ask. Several minutes later, James and Heather are met by the Canadian Prime Minister, who informs Hudson of a project he thinks may be of interest to him.
(over the next three years)
Interest, was putting it mildly. Hudson worked continuously in the early stages of development of Department H. The super secret research and development part of the Ministry of Defense. During this time comes Hudson’s greatest success and greatest failure - the mutant code-named Wolverine.
Mac and Heather also find time to marry. Hudson arrives home one day, and finds Heather quite astonished by what she has read in the paper – an article about Reed Richards, someone Mac has heard of, and three others who were bombarded by cosmic rays, and transformed into super heroes called the “Fantastic Four”. This gives Mac an idea, and he and the scientists of Department H begin work on furthering the exploration suit he designed, and for the next six years, all his life is about is making this a reality, and to his eventual, though somewhat reluctance at becoming Guardian.