Upon returning home to Tamarind Island, several members of Alpha Flight: Heather McNeil Hudson, a.k.a. team leader “Vindicator”; the handsome Jean-Paul “Northstar” Beaubier, and his unstable sister Aurora; as well as the diminutive Eugene Milton Judd a.k.a. Puck; and the codename-less Madison Jeffries; and Kara Kilgrave, the only current member of Beta Flight, also called the Purple girl enter a room, only to be greeted by Astral projections of two other members – the beautiful goddess Narya a.k.a. Snowbird, and Michael Twoyoungmen, the new Talisman.
Snowbird pleads for Alpha to heed her call and to help her aid her son, to which Judd remarks that it would be nice for once if they could return to Mansion Alpha to find nothing more interesting awaiting them than the mail. Aurora points out that the image is wavering, Jeffries declares that their must be a bad connection, but Heather tells everyone to be quiet before they are cut off. Twoyoungmen informs the Alphans that he has dispatched the spirits he commands via his medicine pouch to implore Alpha’s aid. Snowbird reveals that they have located her son, yet his body is still possessed by the evil soul of Pestilence. She asks her friends and teammates to aid her in seeking her son’s salvation by hastily coming to Burial Butte.
Aurora asks if there will never be any rest, to which her twin brother declares that they will only get rest when they lie cold in their graves, coughing as he says it. Puck tells Jean-Paul that he should take care of his cold, or else he will end up in a grave, and asks him why he didn’t let Scramble cure him, like he fixed him. Northstar just tells Judd to mind his own business.
The Purple Girl protests to Jeffries that she doesn’t want to be left behind, to which Jeffries tells her she will do as she is told. Heather crosses her arms and thinks that for all of Alpha Flight’s bickering, they are starting to sound like a family more than ever, and she has managed to unify them as her late husband never could. She thinks that she may be a better leader than she knows, as Kara informs Jeffries that he is starting to sound like her father. Jeffries tells Kara she is lucky that she never knew her father, as from what he heard, nobody talked back to the Purple Man.
The Purple Girl declares that she could order Jeffries to take her, but Jeffries reminds her that if she uses her manipulation powers on anyone then she is out of the training team Beta Flight, before telling her again that he promised her mother he would look after her. Jeffries tells Kara that he needs her to wait here, just in case his brother phones with news on Bochs. Heather watches Jeffries intently and thinks to herself that his concern for his teammates embodies the new Alpha Flight, and realizes that she likes him, a lot.
Shortly, Kara waves goodbye as Alpha Flight head off in the Omnijet, while at that moment, inside Mansion Alpha something – or rather someone – emerges from Twoyoungmen’s abandoned medicine pouch. His name is Alec Thorne – better known as Smart Alec!
Meanwhile, at the New Life Clinic, a very unusual treatment is going in one of the underground laboratories. The injured Alphan Roger “Box” Bochs lies on a table, while Jeffries’ brother, Doctor Lionel Jeffries hovers over him, and his assistant, Whitman Knapp stands at a console. Knapp asks Lionel if he really thinks he can cure Box, to which the flesh-mutator declares he can before reminding Whitman that when he hired him as his intern he informed him of his power to make broken bodies whole.
Whitman exclaims that he knows that, for he saw how he cured Puck, and declares that he thinks the authorities are wrong to deny him a license because of his unorthodox methods. Jeffries agrees, but reminds Knapp that as Scramble, he gave the authorities a reason to fear him. However, there are some who Scramble is their only hope for a new life, hence his clinics name! Roger Bochs is one such individual, who incurred a severe case of the bends and now cannot emerge from his armor.
Lionel orders Knapp to initiate the auto-phase, which causes the machinery to come to life, and the incredible occurs: Bochs is phased out of the armor. Lionel compliments the machinery his brother Madison created that wrenched Bochs from the armor, and now he gets to use his own power, on Rogers’ flesh. Bochs is disorientated, and asks where he is. Lionel informs Bochs that he is in his care, and healthy again. ‘Healthy? I’m still only half a man!’ exclaims Roger, before informing Jeffries that it is only a matter of time until Aurora gets tired of loving a cripple, until something better comes along. A glean in Scramble’s eye and the former villain tells Bochs not to despair, especially when he can make him whole again!
Elsewhere, Alpha Flight approach Klondike guided by wind spirits summoned by Twoyoungmen for his teammates. ‘Guide us where?’ asks someone in the Omnijet, as Vindicator, who was flying beside the aircraft, sees where the spirits take them all down. A north-woods mining town which Alphanex identified as Burial Butte, which Heather thinks is named appropriately, as the streets are littered with…’Bodies!’ cries Aurora as she and Jean-Paul fly out of the aircraft.
Northstar reminds his sister of the power of Pestilence, adding that as he possesses Snowbird’s son, he is linked to the life of the land. Jean-Paul continues, (in amongst his coughs) to remind everyone that because Pestilence is one with the dark forces, being linked to the land through Narya’s baby, he can control death. He adds that Pestilence was trapped under Arctic ice for one hundred and fifty years, where he developed an insane jealousy of all things that life, and he is now out to “cure” that situation.
Heather leads the way up to the local RCMP headquarters where Aurora points out that there are dead rats all over the place. Jean-Paul suggests they are probably carriers of some disease Pestilence conjured up. Entering the RCMP post, everyone covers their mouths and noses due to the foul smell, and Jeffries recalls that Snowbirds estranged husband, Doug Thompson, was a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. As they enter another room, Vindicator declares that he was – and in a room reeking of mortifying flesh, they see Thompson lying on a couch, covered in a blanket.
Heather walks over to Doug, but wracked with some disease, and with not much energy left in him, Doug just tells everyone to listen.
Thompson tracked across Canada to save his son, he did so by following a mysterious trail of death. The trail was so bizarre that he knew it had to be Pestilence – and he found him too. It was then that Pestilence released the plague. Not long after, Snowbird and Twoyoungmen found Doug, after Twoyoungmen followed his spirits that homed in on the place. Standing over her dying husband, Snowbird asked where her son was, and Thompson replied ‘The mines!’
Wearily, Doug looks at the Alphans and reveals that Snowbird and Shaman went into the mines, which is the last he ever heard. Heather clasps Thompson’s hand and asks if Shaman – a doctor – didn’t even try to cure him? ‘And Snowbird’s your wife!’ exclaims Jeffries. Thompson reveals that the plague is incurable, not that Shaman tried, ‘and you take your chances when you marry a goddess, that one day she will regret a union that bars her from paradise’. Thompson exclaims that both he and Snowbird love their son, and he asks Alpha to promise that they will save the baby from Pestilence. ‘We…’ Heather is about to say, but Thompson dies before she can finish speaking.
Soon, Vindicator, Jean-Paul, Aurora, Jeffries and Judd stand at the mouth of the mines. Heather exclaims that you can feel Pestilence’s evil emanating from the caves. Heather declares that two Alphans have already entered and failed to return and that she doesn’t expect any of the others to follow her down. Jeffries tells Heather that she doesn’t have to, as Judd points out, they owe it to Doug Thompson.
Heather and Jeffries lead the way into the cave, but Aurora doesn’t enter – she thinks it is too dark. Jean-Paul reminds his twin that she can generate all the light she needs, while the others all wear light devices designed by Jeffries, and that she has nothing to fear. Aurora realizes her brother is right, before reminding him his cough is getting worse, and that he keeps trying to hide the wound he received in his shoulder while battling the Auctioneer by clutching it all the time, while the two of them cannot touch lest they negate each other’s powers. Judd watches as Shaman’s wind spirits swirl away, almost as if their master no longer lived to command them. ‘Still, we have nothing to fear, but fear itself’ Judd thinks to himself.
As the quintet walks deeper into the mines, the shaft divides in two. Jeffries asks what they should do, and Heather declares that they will split up. ‘Divided we fall’ mumbles Judd, but Heather points out that united, they might not locate Pestilence.
Jeffries thinks to himself that Pestilence will probably find them, but sometimes it doesn’t pay to be right, as he finds out when he is struck at by some giant bugs.
Elsewhere in the cavern, Judd hears Jeffries cry of pain, though he cannot tell who it is from, nor where it comes from – yet the vibrations are setting off a cave in – and the rocks crash down on Judd, burying him.
Aurora looks behind her, and in her native French, she asks Jean-Paul if he lags behind because of his wound. Jean-Paul asks Aurora why it doesn’t heal, and his cough…he has always been in excellent health, as he is an athlete and has never had an ill day in his life. ‘What’s wrong with me?’ he asks, to which Aurora asks him why he did not ask Scramble to examine him. Clutching his wound, Jean-Paul says ‘Perhaps, because I was afraid of what he’d find’.
Aurora tells her twin that he must live with his fear and pain then, when suddenly, a flock of rats begin to swarm over the mutant siblings. Aurora keeps them at bay with her light, while Northstar whirls them away by creating a vortex by spinning around, that is until he is overcome with another coughing fit. He calls to Aurora to help him, but they accidentally bump into each other, moments after Aurora reminded him that if they touch their powers will be canceled out, and robbed of her light, they will both be plunged into darkness – which is exactly what happens.
Jean-Paul cannot see in the darkness, while Aurora reverts into her Jeanne-Marie persona, begging the Sisters of the orphanage she was raised at not to lock her in. Her fear of the dark prevents her from coming to her brother’s aid, abandoning him in the mine while she goes in another direction.
Elsewhere in the mines, Heather thinks to herself that it certainly is dark and wonders how Aurora is going, but lucky for her, her battle suit provides sufficient illumination in the darkness. ‘You mean my battle suit, don’t you darling?’ Heather spins around where she sees her husband – her dead husband, Mac – standing meters away from her. Heather reminds herself that Mac is dead, she saw him die. Heather exclaims that she has gotten over the guilt that it was she who killed him, and tells “Mac” that he is just an illusion Pestilence has dredged from the doubts of her mind, adding that she has learned that in a fight, doubts can lead to death. With that, Heather fires an electromagnetic blast at the illusion of her husband, and he disappears, only to be replaced by Wolverine!
Hands on hips, “Wolverine” tells Heather that she is learning to fight fast, even without his help, but slagging her own old man? “Wolverine” suggests that she might be turning into a killing machine, like he is. Heather exclaims to Pestilence that that would make her more amenable to his control, before blasting the image of Wolverine away.
Suddenly Judd walks up to Heather and asks her what she was doing by killing Mac then Wolverine. Heather declares that Mac is already dead and Logan was an illusion. Judd suggests that maybe Pestilence can raise the dead, ‘and if Logan is really the “Killing Machine” that he claims to be…’ Heather understands what Judd means and realizes that their enemy may have been able to control him and bring him here. But she is not that gullible, and exclaims that Logan was no more real ‘than you!’ and fires at the Judd image.
Jeffries appears next and asks Heather what she plans on doing – frying every guy who she ever loved or who ever loved her? ‘Mister Jeffries!’ exclaims Heather, but Jeffries tells her to call him “Madison” as it is his name, but suggests that she would probably like to call him something else – ‘like husband?’ ‘No! Yes! Maybe! I don’t know!’ exclaims Heather, before realizing that this is not the place to discuss it, and the mere fact that Jeffries is discussing it, means that he is not really him, and somehow Pestilence is playing upon the doubts that eat away at her self-consciousness.
Hoping she is right, Heather acts to dispel her doubts, and the illusions, and there is enough doubt to unleash a less than lethal blast. When the Jeffries illusion is gone, Heather sees Puck lying in amongst some fallen rocks and rushes over to him. Judd is still, not breathing as Heather wonders if Pestilence’s plan was to get her to blast away at mirages, while positioning her so that her blasts would slay the weakest Alphan. She declares that she won’t let Puck die and begins to give him mouth-to-mouth.
Judd stirs, and waking he says to Heather ‘So you can love a dwarf?’ Heather asks Judd if he was faking, and pulls away from him quickly. ‘Hardly’ Judd replies before explaining that yogic-breath control comes in handy when you get buried alive, before telling Heather that she didn’t answer his question. Matter-of-factly Heather reminds Judd that Pestilence just tried to use her to kill him, and so questions about their feelings for each other will have to wait until they find out what he is doing to their fellow Alphans.
‘I will do penance, Sisters’ exclaims Jeanne-Marie while she admits that she understands she is only a humble, lowly creature capable of only crawling her way towards the divine ‘light?!’ exclaims Aurora as her powers return and she is bathed in light and the Jeanne-Marie person fades away like a bad dream.
With her part of the mine glowing, Aurora sees Jeffries battling some giant insects. She is stunned by the armor he is wearing, and Jeffries asks her if she likes it, before revealing that he created it out of the metals in the mine. As Aurora strikes one of the creatures, she tells Jeffries that his armor is ‘most becoming’. Jeffries exclaims that his armor is fast becoming soaked with sweat, and suggests they mop up the creatures made form coal and join the others so he can slip out of the armor.
‘Coal creatures?’ Aurora asks, before Jeffries explains that as Pestilence controls the forces of death and decay, coal is composed out of the compressed remains of long-dead organic matter like trees and dinosaurs. The finish fighting the bugs and Jeffries removes his armor as Aurora exclaims that they have defeated Pestilence’s pawns together. ‘That’s teamwork’ says Jeffries, before Aurora puts a hand on Jeffries shoulder and tells him that their relationship could be more than that.
‘Our what?’ asks Jeffries before realizing Aurora is making a pass at him, so he reminds her she is Bochs’ girl. Aurora tells him the thing she has with Bochs is merely a flirtation, ‘and when I could have a whole man…’ Jeffries walks hastily away from Aurora declaring that he feels rather soiled and doesn’t think it is caused by the coal dust. ‘Am I not allowed to love any man I like?’ Aurora asks. Jeffries replies ‘Sure, but don’t expect them all to love you back’.
Elsewhere, the handsome Jean-Paul stumbles through the twisting caverns, coughing as he calls to his sister, he wants to make sure that she is all right after she abandoned him when her powers canceled out. He wishes he had the strength to run, when he sees a light ahead. Coming around the bend he sees not his sister, but the glow of Twoyoungmen’s staff, commanding Snowbird, in the form Jean-Paul’s friend has adopted of late, the Albino Sasquatch, and she is being used to slay Pestilence!
Jean-Paul can hear Pestilence tells Talisman that he is right for summoning his teammates, as their arrival has kept his evil powers diverted, so that Snowbird has almost destroyed his corporeal form. Jean-Paul races down to the battleground where he asks Shaman to stop Snowbird, for the body she is attacking belongs to her son. Twoyoungmen reminds Jean-Paul that the baby's body is now shaped by the evil of Pestilence’s soul, and declares that it is better one child should perish than the entire world allowed to be corrupted by Pestilence.
Jean-Paul asks Shaman if his transcendence to Talisman has caused him to become so removed from humanity that he can make that choice, when the speedster is struck down by the controlled Snowbird. Pestilence gets up and declares that it seems that the all-seeing Sarcee is unwilling to allow Jean-Paul to postpone his demise, to the extent that he would even order Snowbird to drive him into his embrace! ‘What are you doing?’ cries Jean-Paul, as Pestilence picks him up and kisses him, thus feeding on the decay he senses within him which makes the villain stronger.
Jean-Paul trembles as he asks Pestilence what he means by decay within him, and as he regenerates, Pestilence reveals that Jean-Paul is dying, and that his kiss has accelerated the slow disease that spreads like a cancer through his cells. ‘Thank you, Northstar! Your death has given me new life!’
Vindicator and the rest of Alpha Flight arrive on the scene and Heather tells Pestilence he will not savor it long. Twoyoungmen approaches his teammates and tells Heather that she knows not what she is about to do. Heather boasts that she does – that Alpha Flight will destroy Pestilence without sacrificing any of their own. Shaman states that Pestilence is too powerful and that to defeat him one must destroy his host body. Heather suggests to Shaman that the way he has distanced himself from humanity has blinded him to a more human solution, and tells him to join Alpha in finding a different way to stop Pestilence, or step aside.
Twoyoungmen declares that he cannot go against his judgment and therefore releases Snowbird. Narya uncontrollably changes back into her default form, and Shaman tells Alpha Flight to do as they will. ‘As we must!’ exclaims Heather as she orders Alpha Flight to take Pestilence down. Those capable spring into action, as Judd reminds them to be careful, as the power of death flows through Pestilence’s hands.
Aurora does not heed the warning and flies too close to the villain, who adds that he also controls decay and grabbing Aurora, Pestilence exclaims that if he cannot kill outright, he will hasten the death within each human. He tosses Aurora into the arms of Jeffries, who catches her as she is now transformed into a withered old hag. Judd points out that unless they defeat Pestilence soon, Aurora will die of old age.
Pestilence asks Puck how he plans on defeating him when all he has to do it unleash another death force on Alpha. Judd does cartwheels around Pestilence while realizing to himself that Pestilence must be talking about the demon Razer whose dark soul remains trapped inside his small body. It is this energy, his being a human prison, that turned him into a dwarf. He knows that if he lets Pestilence release Razer, he will case being a miniature mockery of a man, and become someone Heather may be able to love. But Judd knows that faced with two foes, Alpha will surely be doomed.
Puck cannot let Pestilence touch him and so darts aside as Heather asks him why he does not fight. Judd doesn’t give his answer out-loud, merely thinks to himself that he cannot, and after already being called the weakest Alphan, Vindicator may now consider him a coward as well. Vindicator strikes Pestilence with an electromagnetic blast, to which the demon tells Heather that if she harms him then she risks harming the child whose form he has possessed.
Pestilence fades away and the form of Snowbird’s son is only seen. The baby turns to Snowbird and says ‘Mommy! Don’t hurt me anymore!’ Narya turns away from the child, as Heather asks her to help save the baby. Narya reminds her friend that the child binds her to humanity as her husband did, and if he should die, she would be free to join the Gods in paradise.
The baby lies on the ground and Heather reminds Narya that it is her baby. Pestilence assumed the form of the child to cause Alpha Flight to hesitate – but his ploy has some unexpected side effects. The baby begins to cry as it calls to its mother. Snowbird turns and looks at it, she thinks it calls to her with such love, such longing, and picking it off the ground she wonders how she could ever have thought to disown the flesh of her flesh.
The child’s needs are genuine, and Pestilence realizes the danger of too long remaining in a vessel filled with such longing for life, so to the horror of Snowbird he transforms back into his true form, for the child nearly corrupted him, just as he has sought to corrupt the child. However, Pestilence senses that he may be able to control Snowbird, by forcing her to become the Albino Sasquatch again, one of the Great Beasts who were embodiments of death and decay when the planet Earth was still young.
Snowbird uncontrollably transforms into the Albino Sasquatch and forced to do Pestilence’s biding, he gives the goddess her first command – ‘Slay me!’ Alpha Flight is shocked by this, Judd asks Heather whether they help Snowbird or try and stop her, to which Alpha’s leader replies that she doesn’t know. Twoyoungmen declares that he knows now, as it has all become clear. He informs the other Alphans that the child’s life force is corrupting Pestilence, and by slaying the child, Pestilence’s spirit will be released and free to seek another host.
Judd leaps forward, as Snowbird is still attacking the demon, but Heather reminds Judd that Pestilence is in control of Snowbird, and that he will not be able to stop her. ‘Keep reminding me of my powerlessness and I may come to believe it’ says Judd, just before he is swatted away by Snowbird.
Vindicator realizes that she is alone and has to decide what to do. She knows Pestilence is evil incarnate and if his spirit is freed there is no telling what havoc he will wreck on Earth, but so long as he possesses the body of Snowbird’s baby, there is a chance the infants soul will corrupt him. As Snowbird looms over Pestilence, Heather realizes that all they have to do is let Pestilence live so the child can take over… ‘But to do that I may have to destroy Snowbird!’
Vindicator calls to Shaman to help her, suggesting that he wrest control of Snowbird and to take her away from Pestilence. Twoyoungmen declares that having been proven wrong once already, he cannot predict with any accuracy the consequences of such a course of action, and therefore dare not act.
Pestilence tells his “mother” that there is no one left to stop her – and Snowbird drives a hand into the form of her baby, one moment before Heather unleashes the plasma blast she should have fired a moment ago. Snowbird, in the Albino Sasquatch form, cries out as she is struck down, while Pestilence flies free from the dead baby’s body.
Hours later, back on Tamarind Island. The Alphans carry the bodies of the dead from the Omnijet, Heather telling Jeffries to be careful with them. Purple Girl rushes over to them, when she suddenly she sees the body bags. Aurora asks Kara if she has never seen one before, and Judd tells her she better get used to it. Jeffries tells her that it is Snowbird in her Sasquatch form as well as her husband and son.
‘You mean, sometimes even heroes die?’ asks Kara. Heather walks away from the others, telling Kara that it is worse than that, for ‘sometimes, especially when we stand alone, some of us even have to kill them’. Inside the mansion, nobody sees Heather McNeil Hudson cry, for the death of her friend and the fact she killed her, except the six-inch tall member of Omega Flight that once tried to destroy her!