Fort Calgary, Canada…Elizabeth Twoyoungmen leads the way through a cairn, followed by a fellow archaeologist who admits that he doesn’t like to keep bugging her, but wants to know why she insists on digging into this cairn. He reminds Elizabeth that they were going to dig into this cairn in a couple of days anyway, but right now they are supposed to be finishing excavating the village that built it. Elizabeth ignores her colleague, to asks her if she has anything to say.
Elizabeth does have something to say and tells her co-worker to shush, ‘I’ve found him!’ she exclaims wide-eyed as she gazes upon the skeletal remains of a man who had been bound to the ground in the corner of this cairn. Elizabeth’s colleague notices some kind of sceptre, or wand, lying beside the skeleton and wonders what it is, as he has never seen anything like it in all his studies. Elizabeth declares that she doesn’t know, admitting that she was drawn here, she dreamt of a man, a shaman…she reaches down for the sceptre but before she can touch it, her hand bursts into flames.
‘It’s burning!’ cries Elizabeth as she shakes her hand, trying to put out the flame. Her colleague obviously doesn’t see the flames, and asks Elizabeth what she is talking about, before the once phenomenally powerful young woman, formerly of Alpha Flight, falls to the ground, unconscious.
‘Listen well, daughter, for we could not allow you to touch the object! Listen and observe. What you will see is the past, the foundations of the future, the building blocks of the present! We want you to learn!’ announces the beautiful goddess Narya, once part of Alpha Flight as Snowbird, until she met an untimely demise. Snowbird appears before Elizabeth and informs her that they want her to prepare, because before the day will be over, she will go back to the endless game, she will once again don the mantle of power…and will need to return to her destined path. With that said, Snowbird begins to recount a tale to Elizabeth.
(In Elizabeth’s dream / flashback to Dreamqueen’s origin)
Her name was Zhilla Char, a succubus who haunted the sleep of lonely men, some 800 years ago. After a night of visitations, she would wander the glades of the Astral Plane, seeking a private place to digest her stolen man-essence. Being a lesser demon, she would never imagine herself as the victim of another dark obsession - such was the vanity that killed her.
From on a nearby ridge, a white-skinned figure in green calls to Zhilla, who turns to look - and suddenly runs as her now-assailant throws some creature at her. ‘Stay away from me!’ she screams, before the creature wraps itself around her and she tumbles to the ground. The mysterious assailant asks Zhilla Char if she likes his pet, joking that it tends to grow on people. Scared, Zhilla asks her attacker who he is and what it is he wants. The pale man tells Zhilla that she is so naive for a demon, and adds that she should know these are the borders of his domain. ‘And I am your worst Nightmare!’ he sniggers aptly introducing himself.
A bedraggled Zhilla gathers herself and gets to her feet as she looks around at the dark and strange surroundings she now finds herself in. She wonders where she is, when Nightmare appears before her, a projection, informing Zhilla that he has banished her to a lesser plane, one that cannot be so easily escaped from. The shaken Zhilla asks Nightmare if he hasn’t done enough to her already, and asks if he knows what will happen now. Smugly, Nightmare replies ‘Of course’ and explains he knows that she is in a lot of pain, and that soon, she will give birth to their daughter.
Nightmare informs Zhilla that the birthing will destroy her, since demons’ mothers become their children. Nightmare declares that he finds it quite amusing, but then he always finds the suffering of others a laugh. Zhilla tells Nightmare that he is insane before pointing out that her daughter will know everything she knows, just as she has the memories of her own mother. ‘She will hate you! She will seek revenge!’ Nightmare disagrees, boasting that their daughter will never be a threat to him so long as she is trapped here, adding that without him, she would have never been born.
Nightmare mockingly wishes Zhilla ‘Fare well’ as the birthing flames begin to consume her, yet Zhilla tries to summon the passion to live on. ‘Hate you…’ but Nightmare’s act could not be revoked. Crawling along the ground, she desperately screams ‘I won’t die…I won’t!’ But her entire body is then consumed. Very soon, her bones and ashes are replaced by a younger looking version of herself, complete with the white skin and flowing green hair, inherited from her father.
As the demoness wakes into life, she finds herself in a realm of mediocre interpretation. It is a world of sub-matter molded by an apathetic intellect. She feels the urge to change it - and she has the power to do so - she is the Dreamqueen! The Dreamqueen stands up, and declares that her father has given her her own world, that her mother was wrong and he was right. ‘How can I hate you for giving me life or the gift of a private dimension?’ The Dreamqueen declares that this world will conform to her thoughts and all that she desires shall be. She uses her powers to create her home the way she wants it, creating floating islands, rivers and lakes, and her mighty citadel. By imposing her will on the ethereal reality around her, she creates a world and a people that submit to her dark fantasies. The Dreamqueen does whatever she wants, creates all that she desires. But as the years pass, she sees her dream world no longer as a domain…it has become her prison.
450 years later, a drought plagued the now extinct tribe of the Chickaqua. After two months of dryness, after berry bushes withered and the game moved away, the tribe implored the shaman known as Nanquato, to seek a solution to the problem. Nanquato sent his astral self on a quest in search of the Sky God’s realm. He was to beg them to release the waters of the air onto the parched soil of the Chickaqua territory.
Nanquato searched through dimensions of screaming colors, through planes where machines danced in weird rituals…his journeys led him further away from the Earth planes and deeper into the dream lands where the dark ones dwell. Eventually he came upon the Dreamqueen’s realm. Nanquato hoped it was the land of the Sky gods. He approached the tower with high spirits and great expectations.
Inside the tower, Nanquato met a beautiful goddess who assured him that she would bring the soothing sky waters to his people, all he had to do was carry a magic totem back to his world, he wore the totem around his neck. Nanquato did not see the Dreamqueen laugh with evil satisfaction, or the dark reality of her world. This was her first deception, and it gave her a feeling of pleasure unlike anything she had ever known.
Upon returning to his people, Nanquato informed them that he had returned to say a goddess had granted their request. The Dreamqueen meanwhile, watched her play unfold, anxious to hear the screams and taste the terror of the Chickaqua. Watching Nanquato and the Chickaqua through a looking globe, the Dreamqueen, whose powers on Earth were limited to the altering of perception, knew the effects would be satisfying.
Nanquato begins a prayer to the “Sky Goddess”, and his people stand with him in support as he asks her to come and dance with his people. The Dreamqueen laughs, ‘Ha ha ha, let them dance with these!’ she exclaims before sending illusions into the people’s minds - Nanquato believes that the rain is pouring down on him, while his people believe they are being attacked by horrid beasts.
The Dreamqueen is pleased with her trickery, as the fear of Chickaqua feeds the psychic link, so she can soon pull herself through. As Nanquato bathes in a dream of rain, his people fought with phantoms, their hearts bursting with terror. Nanquato only saw laughter and joy, the Dreamqueen had spared him for later torment. The Dreamqueen sets into motion her next phase, causing a sceptre to burst from the totem worn around Nanquato’s neck, she waits for the weapon of fear to pass safely, and if it does, then she too will be able to do the same.
As Nanquato felt the pain of the sceptre’s passing, a nearby warrior realized the source of their problems, and heaved a spear at Nanquato, striking him in the stomach as he labels him a traitor. As the Dreamqueen sees this, she is shocked, certain that they will ruin everything.
The wounded Nanquato looks up at the warrior and asks him why he did this. The warrior declares that it is because he brought evil upon them, it was either his life or theirs. Nanquato is confused and asks the warrior what he is talking about - and it becomes apparent as the warrior reveals that Nanquato has betrayed them to demons. Another spear is thrown into Nanquato, striking him in the chest this time.
The Chickaqua are freed from their nightmares as Nanquato lies dead. ‘We are bound to our destiny, as we are bound to our past. The choices of necessity are often painful’.
Nightmare appears before his daughter and asks her if she is disappointed. The Dreamqueen is surprised to see her father, who tells her that he has come to bask in the light of her misfortune. ‘It’s really invigorating, I must say’. The Dreamqueen asks her father why he has imprisoned her here and why he doesn’t set her free. Nightmare declares that he enjoys watching her suffer, as anguish gives him thrills. Nightmare points out that his daughter has some of his powers, and a nature almost as perverse, so he doesn’t want any competition.
The Dreamqueen tells her father not to be too confident, for when one of the people she motions to through the looking globe touch her dream totem, then they will be under her control. She explains that it will then only be a matter of time before she can forge a new connection and escape. Nightmare reveals to his daughter that he knew what she was planning, so the night before, he gave that warrior a nightmare, showing him that the dream totem is a weapon of evil, that to touch it was to die.
The Dreamqueen is furious as Nightmare declares that her little ploy is going to fail, and she watches as the warrior wraps the totem in cloth without touching it. She watches the Chickaqua stake Nanquato to the ground so the evil spirits could not animate his body. The Chickaqua then began to build a cairn, to keep the malignant forces trapped by the power of the Earth’s bones. Once the dark magic is enclosed in stone, its corrupt influence cannot escape to plague the living.
Nightmare laughs as he tells the Dreamqueen it looks like she will be here much, much longer. The Dreamqueen asks her father if he thinks this is amusing, to which he replies ‘Very much so!’ and that if it weren’t, he would have to think of some other thing to upset her. ‘After all, what are parents for?’ he asks before boasting that he is so glad he met her mother and laughing as he disappears.
Years passed, and the Dreamqueen’s hatred for her confinement grew with each passing moment. Her frustration would be reflected in the changing landscape, as she re-molded her world. As the decades passed, her moods would shift from violent outbursts with brooding introspection. Sometimes, she would try to invent victims for her savage amusement, but the thrill was never there - she had tasted the fears of real people, and nothing could compare to that.
Sometimes, her father would visit and make jokes about her situation. In a screaming rage, she would hurl volcanic blasts at her tormentor. Nightmare would just laugh and laugh.
Then, one day her servants brought a creature they had found wandering the wild lands. This was not a life form that she had created, but a truly independent living thing. Resisting her sadistic impulses, the Dreamqueen set the creature free, and would spend hours each day studying its movements, hoping to learn how it came into her world. Eventually, her patience was rewarded.
The Dreamqueen learned that the creature was a twin to an Earth girl named Laura Dean. Laura could open a portal to any dimension of her choosing. She had placed her mutant sibling in a place that seem pastoral and safe. Like Nanquato before her, Laura had made an ill-fated choice of necessity.
Laura and Goblyn would later associate with Alpha Flight, becoming members of the junior squad, Beta Flight. The Dreamqueen saw a pattern beginning to unfold, the moment of her escape was fast approaching. Alpha and Beta Flight were brought to the Dreamqueen’s realm after a series of misadventures, and she tried to force them to help her escape. But they resisted, which only made her more mad.
Then, unexpectedly, a gate was opened between the worlds, Alpha Flight made their escape, with the Dreamqueen not far behind. But the former Alphan, the aged Puck, prevented the Dreamqueen from escaping. Thankfully for Puck, the Dreamqueen’s powers could not affect him as they were between worlds. In desperation, the Dreamqueen planted a psychic seed in the minds of Alpha Flight - seeds of their worst nightmares.
When Alpha Flight parted ways from each other, these seeds sprouted in the dark corners of their consciousness, feeding upon their weaknesses and inner fears. Their nightmares were utter fantasies, born of delusion and insecurity, they were formed out of their most recent concerns. Vindicator dealt with an uncontrollable battle-suit, and Jeffries too fought inner demons concerning his Box armor. Sasquatch was bothered by the Great Beasts, while the Purple Girl was confronted by her “resurrected” father, and Manikin feared death. As each aberration reached its zenith, a bond of fear would grow into the Dream Queen’s world.
While the Dreamqueen waited for each link to strengthen, she tormented Puck, making him a slave to her perverse pleasures. In the Dreamqueen’s world, reality was malleable to her will, so she made him young again, able to withstand the physical abuse. When the Dreamqueen wasn’t using him, she would torture him, renewing his flesh when his wounds became too serious. These excesses only increased her hunger for the solid world. She was anxious to inflict her special attentions on the people of Earth.
The Dreamqueen had foreseen Elizabeth’s presence near the tomb of Nanquato, she had felt the power that lay dormant within her and sensed Elizabeth’s relationship with forces that she wanted to control. Within Talisman lies the raw power of the spheres, she can channel these mystic energies in the manner of the elder gods…but she needs to awaken from her dormancy, she must use her powers again. Because Elizabeth was close to the dream totem, the Dreamqueen could enter her sleeping mind, making Elizabeth want to seek it out…it was her bidding that made Elizabeth enter the cairn. ‘Touch it! I want your power! Touch it!’
Snowbird tells Elizabeth that it is time to make her decision, that necessity calls once more. ‘In your hands rests the fate of mortal man’. Snowbird informs Elizabeth that she and her fellow Gods have helped her to overcome the Dark One’s influence, but that it is now her turn to act. Elizabeth tells Snowbird that this must be a dream, that it can’t be real as she is dead. ‘No, Elizabeth. This is no dream. The nightmare is just beginning’ declares Snowbird, he last words before Elizabeth wakes up.
Several archaeologists are standing around Elizabeth, and declare that she…’uh we’ one of them corrects himself, were wondering what happened. Elizabeth rubs her forehead, supposing that she passed out, she wonders how long for. One of the archaeologists replies that it doesn’t matter, and tells Elizabeth that they have something they want her to examine.
One of the archaeologists hands Elizabeth the Dreamqueen’s totem and tells her that she must touch it. ‘Take it!’ he urges, but Elizabeth pulls away, telling him ‘maybe later’ as she doesn’t feel well, but the man backs her up against a wall and tells her to ‘take it now’. Elizabeth tells him to back off, as she isn’t going to do anything until he backs off.
The Dreamqueen telepathically orders the archaeologists to make Elizabeth touch it, while Elizabeth wonders if her powers really exist within her still… and as a bright light suddenly surrounds her, she realizes that Snowbird was right, she has her powers. ‘Drop that thing, now!’ orders Elizabeth, as the archaeologists tell her she said that she must die…painfully. Elizabeth declares that “she” can stick it, and uses her powers to release her colleagues from the Dreamqueen’s spell.
The archaeologists wonder where they are and what had happened, when Elizabeth suddenly realizes that the Dreamqueen still has Alpha Flight. As she rushes out of the tent, one of her colleagues call after her, asking her where she is going, to which Elizabeth calls back that she has to warn Alpha Flight.
Watching Elizabeth through her looking globe, the Dreamqueen boasts that she is too late. Suddenly, Nightmare appears beside his daughter and after asking his daughter if she is going somewhere, he tells her he wanted to drop by and see her off. The Dreamqueen tells her father that he shouldn’t think he can stop her, as she has planned this too well. Nightmare asks the Dreamqueen why he would want to stop her, and reveals that he came to give her a little warning.
As Nightmare places a hand on his daughter’s cheek, she brushes him off, telling not to ever touch her. Nightmare jokes that he only has that urge every thousand years or so, and laughs as the Dreamqueen tells him to say what he has to say then leave. Nightmare informs the Dreamqueen that the world she is about to enter is much different than when she last tried this trick.
The Dreamqueen asks Nightmare why he is telling this, to which he exclaims ‘Because I am your father, of course…’ before the Dreamqueen walks through a portal.
Elsewhere, Heather “Vindicator” McNeil Hudson, former long-time leader of Canada’s former premiere super hero team Alpha Flight, stands before her lover Madison “Box” Jeffries and Wanda “Sasquatch” Langkowski, as well as former Beta Flight members Kara Kilgrave the Purple Girl, Laura Dean and Goblyn. Heather tells everyone that she has asked them to come here because she and Madison have been facing a serious crisis. She knows that the team has split up, but that it is something that is affecting them all.
Heather points out that Manikin is the only one who refused to come, as he doesn’t want to be a part of Alpha anymore, so it is down to the six of them. Heather asks Wanda and the Beta Flight girls if they have been experiencing any waking nightmares. Visions so real that they make them lash out at the world around them. She admits that it sounds crazy, but they have been through weirder experiences together.
Wanda informs everyone that when she was in court trying to regain her estate, she thought she was being attacked by the Great Beasts, then just the other day she was out in the mountains and thought she had struck gold, but when she got back to town discovered she was carrying granite.
The Purple Girl reveals that she thought her dad had come back from the grave, and that both she and her mother saw him, so she cannot say that it didn’t happen, but the damages to their condo where gone after the fight. Laura Dean tells Heather that nothing happened to her, but that she is kind of scared now. Vindicator tells Laura that hopefully she will be ok.
The handsome Madison Jeffries stands up beside Heather and informs everyone that they think this might by the Dreamqueen’s doing, and asks everyone if the Dreamqueen zapped them when they were back in China. Heather interrupts her lover and tells him that his head is glowing (…a familiar green glow…), and so is everyone else’s! They all cry out, before suddenly all collapsing across the living room.
The Dreamqueen enters the room littered with unconscious Alphans, cackling ‘And now, the night begins…!’
Laura Dean used her powers to send Goblyn to the Dreamqueen’s realm (dubbed “Liveworld”) when she was a foetus, to protect her from being killed in the womb by their mutant hating parents. Later, whenever Laura was in danger, the twins would switch place, as told in their origin story. [Alpha Flight (1st series) #54].
Alpha Flight tussled with the Dreamqueen across Alpha Flight (1st series) #58-60.
The Dreamqueen’s psychic attacks on Alpha Flight continued in Alpha Flight (1st series) #62, 64-66, all unexplained at the time, though there were hints that it was the Dreamqueen.
Talisman’s powers were believed to have vanished when the coronet that she wore was torn from her in Alpha Flight (1st series) #37. Close readers would remember however, that Elizabeth had some innate powers before she donned the coronet, as seen in Alpha Flight (1st series) #18.