First story :
In the waiting room of a psychologist’s office in Montreal, Quebec, Jean-Paul Beaubier rises from his seat as his twin sister, Jeanne-Marie is led from the office proper. Jeanne-Marie thanks the doctor for being so kind, and the doctor tells her that it has been a pleasure to speak with her. With a copy of National Geographic in his hand, Jean-Paul asks the doctor if he has determined what is wrong with Jeanne-Marie. Crossly, Jeanne-Marie tells her brother that, like she has told him before, there is nothing wrong with her, and that Doctor Bosson has confirmed it. The Doctor interrupts, and suggests to Jean-Paul that they discuss the matter further, in his office.
Bosson asks Jean-Paul if he may call him Jean-Paul, and offers him a seat. Jean-Paul tells the doctor that it is his name, but he did not come here to discuss polite etiquette, and reminds the doctor that his sister is a very sick woman. Dr. Bosson interrupts and asks Jean-Paul why he thinks Jeanne-Marie is sick. The doctor tells Jean-Paul that he has found no hints at Jeanne-Marie being “psychologically unbalanced”. Jean-Paul tells the doctor that he may then seek out a more competent doctor, and that he knows his sister is unwell, for he sees it every time they are together. Doctor Bosson suggests to Jean-Paul that that may be the cause of the problem. After all, they were separated at birth, and grew up under the most extreme different social situations, oblivious to the other’s existence. Bosson tells Jean-Paul that he thinks he may be imagining a fault in his sister simply because of this difference, and tells Jean-Paul it is not a problem for a doctor to resolve.
Scowling, Jean-Paul thinks to himself that he should have expected this. Considering the split between Jeanne-Marie’s personalities is so far apart, and therefor the doctor could not have detected the presence of another, after meeting only one. Jean-Paul wonders what he can do. After all, it is not like he can simply tell the doctor that the reason he knows his sister is psychically unbalanced is because they are secretly two of Canada’s premiere super heroes! He wonders if he can tell the doctor that he is in fact Northstar and Jeanne-Marie Aurora…though only when she is not in the state she is in currently?
Still thinking to himself, Jean-Paul recalls how wonderful it was for him to discover a sister, only some weeks after he discovered whom he was. And can he tell the doctor about the year of training, honing in on their mutant powers, and discovering that Aurora was a free spirit that rivaled even he? And what of the horror he saw when he visited her at the school she grew up at – and discovering that Jeanne-Marie was a completely different person to the one he had spent the past year with?
If Jean-Paul were to speak of those things, it would surely jeopardize his, and Jeanne-Marie’s place in Alpha Flight, without which Aurora has no life. Jean-Paul had been ignoring what doctor Bosson has been saying, but he listens again when the doctor tells Jean-Paul that he can continue to see Jeanne-Marie if he insists, but he suspects it will be a wasted effort for all involved. As the two men walk out of the office, Bosson gives Jean-Paul a warning - that if Jeanne-Marie does have a split-personality like he believes, that he as a doctor cannot simply turn Jeanne-Marie into the person Jean-Paul wishes her to be. If so, she would more likely to develop a third personality unlike either of the original two. Jean-Paul tells the doctor that he understands, and says that he has much to think about.
Doctor Bosson tells Jean-Paul to consider something else. That Jeanne-Marie has the potential to be a very beautiful woman, and tells Jean-Paul that it is a great pity that she chooses to leave that potential unrealized. Jean-Paul frowns and quickly, Bosson tells Jean-Paul that that was a completely objective, value judgment, not anything else, psychological or otherwise. He says that everyone must learn to accept each other for who they are…not what they could become… Jean-Paul puts an arm around his sister as they begin to leave the office, and tells the doctor that he is sure he is right, and Jean-Paul thinks to himself just as he is sure that his concern for Jeanne-Marie has genuine grounds. He tells Jeanne-Marie that it is time for them to get some lunch.
After a few minutes walk through one of the pleasant side streets of Montreal, Canada’s largest city, Jeanne-Marie tells her twin brother that she is having a lovely time, and admits to being surprised that her brother even knows of such a place. Jean-Paul replies: ‘I have…depth you do not even suspect sister. An old friend lives on this street’. Jean-Paul tells Jeanne-Marie that he may have spoken of him before – Raymonde Belmonde. Jean-Paul’s voice becomes quite hesitant and just says that Raymonde helped him through some difficult times. Jeanne-Marie says that she remembers that name, and that it would be nice to meet some of her brother‘s friends.
Suddenly, a thief, one who is well skilled in his “art” runs past the twins, and snatches Jeanne-Marie’s handbag out of her grasp. The thief is fast, but not as fast as…Aurora. For when Jeanne-Marie, who possess mutant abilities, but prefers not to use them, reacted to the thief snatching her bag, she reacted as Aurora! In the course of those split seconds, Aurora no longer even resembles her other self- for where Jeanne-Marie had her hair tied back, blouse buttoned to her neck and glasses (which she does not even need) resting properly, Aurora now has her hair coming loose from its tie, blouse unbuttoned and glassed resting on the tip of her nose. Aurora tells the thief that this is such a naughty way to spend an afternoon! And the voice, no longer Jeanne-Marie’s timid whispers, but the rich, smooth and confident voice that is Aurora! As the assailant tries to turn around, he finds that Aurora is already blocking his path. She asks him kindly to give her bag back, or says that she may have to ‘borrow a page or two’ out of Wolverine’s book – and get very nasty! Aurora begins to punch her assailant, and while her individual blows are no harder than any woman of normal strength may use, Aurora punches a hundred times in less than a second. Northstar rushes over and asks his sister if she is all right, to which she tells him to save his concern for the would-be purse-snatcher. Aurora adjusts her clothing and hair to suit her, and Northstar is amazed at how suddenly she became her other self, and wonders how long it will last this time. Jean-Paul suggests to his sister that they keep moving, to which Aurora tells him that she has captured this felon, and intends to see him incarcerated.
At a nearby police station, half an hour later, a police officer tells the twins that even with their testimony, he can not hold the thief because his bail was posted, even before they arrived! Jean-Paul wonders who would put up bail for such a low life, and Aurora asks the police officer if he has someone looking out for him. The officer tells Jeanne-Marie that that is exactly the case, as he is employed for a man called Earnest St. Ives, a man people around the police station call “Deadly Earnest”. Northstar asks the officer why St. Ives would have such a person on his payroll, and his reply from the police officer is that St. Ives has a lot of cheap thugs working for him, and it is rumored that St. Ives has connections with the American Maggia. Leaving the police station, the officer tells the twins that St. Ives has previously been taken in for more than a dozen times, but on charges that they cannot prove. Jean-Paul shakes the officer’s hand and wishes him luck, and tells him that if St. Ives is foolish enough to employ the sort of ‘rabble’ that tried to snatch Jeanne-Marie’s purse, then St. Ives himself is likely to slip up one day. The officer says he hopes so.
Aurora’s attention however been turned elsewhere – most noticeably the person calling out to Jean-Paul. Jean-Paul is extremely happy to see who it is – for it is his old friend, Raymonde Belmonde. Jean-Paul asks him what he is doing here, and Raymonde tells Jean-Paul that he heard what happened earlier with the thief and came over as soon as he could. Aurora clears her throat with an “A-hem”. Jean-Paul introduces his sister to Raymonde, and Aurora says that she is “Enchanted“, and tells Raymonde that Jean-Paul has told her all about him. Raymonde seems a little surprised at this, and remarks it to the twins. Raymonde continues, saying how delighted he is to see that Mother Nature has so “graciously imparted Jean-Paul’s features to a woman, where handsome may become beautiful“.
Raymonde suggests they leave the street, and soon they are sitting at a table in the small restaurant he owns. It seems that Jean-Paul and Raymonde are in the middle of a discussion, and Raymonde tells Jean-Paul that he has not told his sister everything about him after all, and if he did he thought it would have been quite odd. Changing the subject, Jean-Paul tells Raymonde that it is not as odd as the restaurant being empty at the lunch hour. Raymonde asks Jean-Paul who it was that said “Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so…” Aurora returns from the ladies rest room, and tells the men it was an alien who called himself “Ford Fairmont”, and remarks on how widely read Raymonde Belmonde is. Noticing Aurora’s sudden change in appearance – gone is the dowdy skirt Jeanne-Marie was wearing, and now, Aurora, is dressed only in the black tights and yellow blouse, which she has tied around her waist, and hangs at her thighs.
Sitting at the table with the two men, Aurora tells Raymonde he is too kind, and that she does the best considering the “poor scraps” Jeanne-Marie gives her to work with. “Jeanne-Marie?” Raymonde asks, and tells Aurora she speaks of her as another woman, and one whom she doesn’t like at that. Quickly trying to close the topic of discussion yet again, Jean-Paul tells Raymonde that his sister teaches at a very prim and proper school, and that she tends to speak of it as it were someone else. He asks Aurora to confirm this, and all she says is ‘Whatever you say dear brother’, before telling Raymonde that she is interested about his empty café too.
Raymonde tells Aurora to call him Raymonde, as opposed to the way she has been calling him “Mister Belmonde”, as he tells her they are all like family here. Raymonde says that he does not like to burden his friends with his troubles, though thinks that perhaps he should, especially as these two may be able to help. He tells Aurora that if she and Jean-Paul are who he thinks they are, especially because he knows of Jean-Paul’s abilities. Raymonde decides that it is time he confides in someone about his problems. He tells them that, as they observed, it is odd that on a busy street such as this, it is only his business that is on the edge of a financial bankruptcy. He tells the twins that it is completely due to the actions of a man named St. Ives…suddenly, he is interrupted. A trampy looking woman, calling Raymonde “father”, tells him that things are bad enough without involving strangers.
Raymonde is taken by surprise, and tells the woman, Danielle, that he did not know she was home. Jean-Paul is extremely taken aback, and asks Raymonde “how” and that he never told him of a daughter. Raymonde tells Jean-Paul and Aurora that Danielle has only recently entered his life, and that she is a “treasured reminder” of the very different man he once was, and that since the death of her mother, she had been living with him. Raymonde introduces the Beaubier twins to his daughter, and Danielle realizes that Jean-Paul is the Olympic ski champion. Jean-Paul confirms this, and asks Danielle how long she had been with her father. Danielle answers that she had been with him for about two months, and that she is studying Classics at McGill University. Hands-on-hips, impatiently Aurora says that she is sure this is all very interesting, but tells Raymonde she still wants to know what his involvement with St. Ives is, after all, it was one of his henchmen that assaulted her. Raymonde tells Aurora that he must apologize, for in a way he feels it was his fault she was assaulted, as the henchman must have over heard Aurora or her brother mention Raymonde’s name, and that all of St. Ives’ men have orders to hassle any possible customers of his…
Meanwhile, in a car parked across the street from Raymonde Belmonde’s café, someone is given orders to go in and bring Belmonde out. One minute later, two men in suits enter the restaurant, telling the four inside that they will have no trouble, and have simply come for Belmonde. Danielle steps in and asks why it takes two “hulking brutes” to kidnap one old man. Jean-Paul tells Danielle to be careful, and that he will handle it. One of the henchmen calls Jean-Paul a “pretty boy”, and tells him to save the heroics, as they don’t have time to waste on him, and shove him into Danielle, knocking the two to the floor. On the ground Northstar thinks that he could easily use his powers to stop the henchmen, but that would mean revealing his powers before Danielle.
Outside the café, Aurora has been taken by one of the men in suits, and thinks that she will play along with them for a while, at least until they met St. Ives Across the street in the car, a passenger window rolls down, and a strange silent chill seems to flood the street. One of the henchmen holds Raymonde up to the vehicle, so St. Ives, who is in the car, can see him. Raymonde puts up a fight, telling Earnest St. Ives that his business must be doing extremely well, if he has time to waste on him. He tells St. Ives that his business is not for sale, something that Raymonde has told St. Ives many times before. Half hidden in the shadows inside his car, Earnest St. Ives tells Raymond that he is a foolish man, and as he takes off his glove, tells Raymonde he offers him the perfect opportunity to retire and spend his last few years with his grandchildren. He tells Raymonde that most men his age have spent all their lives dreaming of such peace.
Raymonde tells Earnest to spare him his philosophizing – and as St. Ives raises one of his large hands, and puts it across Raymonde’s face, he tells him that he left him no choice. At first Raymonde is puzzled at what St. Ives is doing, but as St. Ives’ hot and dry hand which is coarse against the older man’s flesh, the shock Raymonde experienced, quickly turns to amazement, and then a brief moment of panic…until there is nothing, and Raymonde Belmonde drops to the street below. On the pavement, Danielle screams out at the sight of her dead father. And Jean-Paul, Raymonde’s surrogate son, and someone who knows the older man far better than his own natural daughter, cries out too.
The bodyguard holding Aurora asks St. Ives what they should do with her, as she was with Raymonde. She peers in at St. Ives, and wonders what happened, as all he did was touch Raymonde…. St. Ives asks if it is the daughter, and tells his henchman that she will be negotiating the sale of the restaurant now that Raymonde is gone, he orders the guard to bring her, and he shoves her into the car. St. Ives calls over to Jean-Paul and Danielle, who remain by Raymonde’s body, and tells them to stay back, as he and “Miss Belmonde” have things to discuss, and warns them that if either of them try to follow, she will share her father’s fate.
While Jean-Paul worries about his sister, Aurora tells him to do as St. Ives says. With that, the vehicle holding Aurora prisoner drives off.
Crouched at her father’s body, Danielle tells Jean-Paul she cannot find a pulse, and that he isn’t breathing, so she thinks he is dead. The words seem to reverberate along the suddenly silent streets and Jean-Paul feels a great, black emptiness open in his heart. A gapping hole which threatens to swallow his whole world. Until Jean-Paul was united with Aurora, Raymonde Belmonde had been the most important person in his life. Raymonde was more than a father and much more than a friend. The older man had found Jean-Paul when he was barely older than a boy, and he was alone and scared. Jean-Paul was frightened of what he thought he was, and of what he feared he would become. Raymonde had led Jean-Paul out of the dark fear, into the bright, clear light of self-acceptance, and teaching him not to fear his mutant powers, or anything else either.
Now, with those four short, sharp words spoken, an iron door has closed upon a chapter of Jean-Paul’s life, and he is once again alone. Jean-Paul’s hands form fists, and in his mind tells St. Ives that he has made a grievous error, taking from him his sister, and his friend, and for that Jean-Paul will kill him….
Meanwhile, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, at the Southbrook Mall, the newly constructed bustling new center of activity for the capitol of Canada’s most eastern prairie province. The mall is huge, and shoppers bustle about, even though the stores and shops all carry the same familiar items, but in their new surroundings, they have strangeness about them. On one of the upper levels, an all-corners chess match is underway, all against one man. Alexander Thorne sits up from one of the chess matches he is in and tells his opponents that it is time for his lunch break. He tells them that they will complete the games when he returns. One of the opponents protests, telling Thorne that he doesn’t want to be sitting there all day. Thorne tells the other man that he will be gone no longer than forty minutes, and suggests to the man he spend that time contemplating the ridiculous position in which Thorne has his King cornered in.
Several minutes later, Alec Thorne receives his coffee and hot dog from a take-away outlet. He thanks Meg, the woman behind the counter and compliments her cookery skills. Leaving the hustle of the crowded mall behind, Thorne walks through a seldom-used corridor. He calls the people he is against in chess idiots and wonders why he even bothers with them. After all, his IQ is higher than everyone in the malls combined yet the best he can do…. Suddenly, Thorne chokes on his lunch when someone shouts over ‘Alec Thorne? Or should I call you Smart Alec of Gamma Flight?’. Thorne turns around to see a striking woman dressed all in black walking over to him. He asks her why she calls him that name, and asks who she is.
The woman tells Thorne not to be alarmed, and introduces herself as Delphine Courtney. She explains that she and her employer are involved in a project that may interest him. Delphine speaks five more words…and Thorne finds himself immediately intrigued. And as the two unique people leave the mall together, Thorne’s chess opponents will have to wait more than forty minutes this day.
(fifteen years ago)
For many months, patient hands have worked to strip away the frozen layers of tundra, the soil is as hard as rock, here at an archeological dig, North of the Arctic Circle. For the first time since this dig started, many long months ago, a scientific discovery will be made…
An archeologist shouts out to Professor Camperton, and Doctor Ruth Efford, the people in charge of this expedition, telling them he has found something. Efford asks Camperton who it is, and Camperton tells his associate that it is Richard Easton. Ecstatic, Easton runs over to the senior site coordinators and shows them an artifact he has found. Camperton notices that it is a headband, and it is very unusual to find a metal one this far North. He doesn’t recognize the culture, and asks Easton where he found it. Still very excited by his discovery, Richard Easton tells the professor that he found it in the northeastern quadrant, about seven layers down. Easton guesses that it had been there for thousands of years. Slightly unimpressed, Camperton passes the headband to Efford. The doctor tells Easton that he must not let his enthusiasm overcome his objectivity, especially as one mistaken identification could ruin the results of this entire project. Camperton agrees with Ruth and tells Easton to log and file the headband with the proper notations. Slightly deflated, Richard returns to work.
Later that night however, as everyone else at the camp sleeps, Richard Easton wakes up. Slightly confused he hears tiny voices beckon to him, they are stuck in his mind and he cannot get them out, they call again and again… Compelled, Easton leaves his tent and follows the voices. They lead him to the storage tent, and picking up the glowing headband, he discovers his destiny… In the strange instant, he feels the touch of the metal headband as he places it upon his head – it feels cold, strange, and alien.
(elsewhere and elsewhen)
Suddenly, the world around him seems to blur, strange colors cloud his sight, until three strangely clothed beings, who definitely show their age, appear in front of Richard Easton, who is shocked to say the least. The one called the Shaper tells Easton not to fear them, as they mean him no harm. He tells Easton that they ‘beg a boon’ of him. The woman present begins to speak now. She introduces herself as Nelvanna, goddess of the northern lights, and she requires the “precious seed of humanity” he carries in himself. Aghast, Easton stutters out some words, which too convey his horror. The final god present, Hodiak tells his daughter that the concept appalls the mortal man, as he is bound by prejudices of youth and beauty. Nelvanna reminds her father that their time is so short, and asks how their end can be gained.
The Shaper tells his cousins to set their minds at ease, reminds them that his power is to mask all things they would not wish seen or known…and with that Nelvanna, once a withered old woman appears as a beautiful and naked young woman, and adding to the Shapers words, says her power is to grant the wildest fantasy of a small mind…. Nelvanna asks Easton if he will grant himself one night of pleasure, as the price for saving a world. Easton stares in awe at the naked woman, and asks what she means by saving a world. Reaching out to him, Nelvanna tells the mortal man that the forces of ancient evil are abroad, and that the headband he wears is a symbol of great and terrible power. Nelvanna continues, telling him that if the evil is to be held in check, then the world must have a champion, but they are trapped. Easton asks the goddess what she means by “trapped”. Nelvanna tells him that there will be explanations later, and as they touch hands she asks him to draw her into his world, to give her his seed, his love, to give her power! With that the lights around Easton blur again, swirl around in a sight that no mortal mind could comprehend.
(six years ago)
Later, Richard Easton walks the cold hard land of above the Arctic Circle again – and finds much has changed. Very puzzled, Easton stands where the archeological dig is – or at least was. No longer is it there, only flat land once again… Someone yells over to Easton, telling him this is government property, and that he better have a good reason – his companion tells the man called Lars to hold, as he recognizes the intruder. He is very shocked to see Easton, as everyone thought he was dead. Easton recognizes the dark-haired man as Carmichael, and asks him what is going on – where Professor Camperton is, and why the dig is buried.
Carmichael asks Easton where he had been, as Professor Camperton had been dead for nine years! Still wearing the headband, Easton panics and tells the other men that it must be some kind of trick, as he was only in the realm of the gods for one night. Easton thinks it must be the evil ones, and tells the other men that they are not who they say they are, but agents of the Beasts! Looking rather deranged, Easton tells the other two men that Nelvanna told him the barriers were becoming weak, and the Beast’s could break through. They also said that small-minded men would act as their agents…Easton thinks that Carmichael and Lars must have murdered everyone else. He thinks that they want the headband he wears – the headband that can raise the Beast known as Tundra… Lars tells Easton he doesn’t know what he is talking about, and grabbing onto his arms tells him that they should get him some help, as he seems pretty sick. Easton throws his arms up, and pushes Lars into Carmichael, running away, he tells them that they won’t catch him…and Richard Easton runs from the lands of men, into the lands of madness.
(five years ago)
Richard Easton has now become a “whatever happened to…” topic of conversation as old friends and colleagues gather and talk of the past. At the frozen tundra of the Arctic Circle again, only a different person walks the land this time – someone most unlike Richard Easton. This man is called Michael Twoyoungmen, doctor by trade, Sarcee medicine man by nature. He thinks to himself that ‘It is near now’, and levitates above the land which houses the mystical energies that drew him to this place, and he lets the conjuring begin. Reaching out with soul and mind, he taps the hidden powers that swirl across the north, and a tiny portal opens…
It is the goddess Nelvanna who steps through, very pregnant, she tells Michael Twoyoungmen that her time is near, and she has need of his skills. Michael tells the goddess that the Great Spirit spoke to him in his dreams, and told him of her needs. He tells the goddess that while his powers have yet to face such a great task, he understands what is required of him, and he charges up with power.
What happens next is an event without precedence in human history, as Michael Twoyoungmen finds himself midwife to the birth of a goddess…an event that cannot be described takes place, as Nelvanna gives birth, in a way totally alien to mortal experiences. Twoyoungmen realizes that the embryo is very unstable, and must be a transmorph, able to assume any shape at will. Michael decides that if he does not act quickly to bind the being to this reality, it may never posses a human form. Words that the medicine man has never heard spoken aloud fall easily from his lips, and the binding spell wraps the godling in a cocoon of humanity. A child, half-human, half-god, and with the appearance of a one year old infant rests in Twoyoungmen’s arms.