Do you know what a microcosm is?
It’s a little world that in some way mirrors the larger world around it. This is the sub-atomic planetary system known as Homeworld - and its Jungle Zone city, Ant Tica. What does this small world’s reflection show you?
Right now its shows the Microverse’s freedom fighters Commander Rann, Marionette, Dexam and Bug standing face to face with heroes not of their world - but of Earth, more specifically, Canada’s Premiere super heroes, Alpha Flight! ‘So, who are you?’ Alpha Flight’s leader James MacDonald Hudson a.k.a. Guardian asks the strange heroes before him. ‘You’re clearly not the tranquil Shadow Priests you pretended to be,’ Guardian’s estranged wife, Heather McNeil Hudson a.k.a. Vindicator remarks as she hovers in the air above her teammates.
The sultry Marionette replies that they are freedom fighters who are not obligated to answer to the questions of pawns of Ant Tica’s “Baron” Zebek. Sporting a large weapon, the handsome Commander Arcturus Rann adds that Zebek is a man whose proudest accomplishment has been the subjugation and cultural genocide of an entire race. ‘We’re no ones pawns,’ declares Mac, to which Rann asks if they came here of their own free will. ‘Yes, we…well, kind of -’ Mac begins, until Bug cuts him off, telling him it sounds like he is changing his story. ‘Can’t be both ways, so which is it?’ Bug asks.
Suddenly, ever the voice of reason, Heather flies down to the ground and points out that both teams are probably in equal consideration of Zebek and his “civilization”. ‘Oh? - then perhaps you can tell the Baron himself what that consideration is!’ Zebek declares as he comes up behind the heroes of two worlds, flanked by his soldiers. The heroes are cornered in a dead end, as Zebek, now resembling a centaur, tells Alpha Flight to tell him what that consideration is in exchange for suspension of their immediate and incontrovertible destruction for conspiring with these “freedom fighters”.
Zebek turns to Rann and tells him that he has long wondered when his legendary journeys would lead him to An Tica. ‘I’m glad that day has arrived - the waiting list at my body banks for your assets is a long one’. There is a silence, until Zebek shouts ‘Speak, upworlder Guardian! Is your conspiracy with these criminals predetermined or simply fate which you seized?’ Mac replies to Zebek by telling him that his question doesn’t leave him free to answer truthfully.
Guardian begins to explain that Alpha Flight had no prior knowledge of these individuals, when suddenly Jared “Radius” Corbo interrupts him, declaring to Zebek ‘But we do think they’re probably right about you needing a good stomping for the garbage you’ve pulled against these ant dudes!’ Radius continues by exclaiming that Guardian might be willing to try and buy them out of this politically, but that he isn’t. ‘Who’s with me? Let’s nail him before we all get slaughtered!’
‘Take them!’ exclaims Zebek to his followers, adding that he doesn’t want any of their magnificent bodies damaged as they will be the finest specimens the body banks have worked with in years. As the heroes leap into action against Zebek’s soldiers, Guardian shouts ‘Radius! You FOOL!’ while Bug jokes ‘Oh, gee, a battle! Now here’s something you don’t see everyday - unless you’re us!’ ‘Fool?’ asks Rann in reply to Guardian’s comment. ‘He understands the situation perfectly!’
As Heather takes flight, Bug calls her beautiful and asks what she does. Heather replies that she can deploy the Earth’s geothermic forces, to which Bug points out that she is not on Earth. Causing the ground to open up and a river of lava to separate the heroes from Zebek’s forces, Heather replies ‘No, but I’m in it - and that seems to be enough to make it work!’ Taking to the air, Guardian unleashes blasts of electromagnetic energy as he asks Commander Rann if the soldiers are bad guys, or the pawns he was talking about. Using some sort of flight device, Rann fires his weapon from the air, explaining to Mac that dog soldiers are just trying to earn a chance to live forever in the body banks - for that is their only chance to hope. He adds that they’re bad, but it is not entirely their fault.
Adrian “Flex” Corbo tells himself not to panic, when suddenly Dexam alerts him to a soldier behind him that is about to blast him. Flex spins around and blocks the blast by “flexing” his hand into a large piece of metal. ‘Excellent defense. You’re a born warrior!’ Dexam tells him. ‘Really? Me? I mean, I am!’ Flex exclaims. Flex’s brother Jared is having some troubles however, as blasts are constant fired at his force field, he is finding it hard to keep it in place.
Using a flight device like Rann, Marionette files over to Radius asking him if he needs help. This causes Zebek’s soldiers to turn their attention to her, ‘Leave him! Get the rebel!’ they cry. In reply to Mari’s question, Radius tells her that he doesn’t need help, that she should go help somebody who needs it. ‘As you wish,’ replies Mari, flying high above the soldiers attacking her. Eugene “Puck” Judd asks Murmur if Zebek is anywhere near her, to which Alpha Flight’s resident vixen replies that he has vanished. Judd tells Arlette Truffaut not to give Zebek that much credit, and remarks that his guess is Zebek vanished.
Heather hovers above Commander Rann as she exclaims that the soldiers just keep on coming. ‘There are too many of them and too few of us! Like there’s an endless supply!’ Rann tells Heather that he agrees, before remarking that help should be coming from on high. ‘”high…”?’ Heather asks, when suddenly, there is a blinding light that engulfs the area. A ship of sorts appears above the battleground and Rann exclaims ‘Endeavor? Voice match - Arcturus Rann’ ’Arcturus Rann confirmed’ replies the ship. Rann exclaims that he wants an immediate landing in the central courtyard and for the main landing ramp to be deployed. ‘Confirmed’ replies the ship.
Blasting his weapon at the enemy, Rann calls to his teammates and Alpha Flight, telling them to get to the ship and he will cover their retreat. Marionette joins Rann as the cover the others. Judd remarks that he was just loosening up his knuckles, to which Heather tells him there will be time for that later. Eventually, Rann makes his way up the ramp as Zebek’s soldiers continue to fire at them. The ramp closes and the Endeavor takes off, with the heroes safe inside. Microcosms can be valuable tools - allowing you to see your situation in miniature and apply what you learn from it to your larger dilemmas. Of course, you do have to be aware that you’re viewing one.
Inside the Endeavor, Rann and Mari take control of the ship, and gazing out the window, Mac asks them what is happening here. Heather stands next to Mac as she points out that one minute they were honored guests, and the next, they are running for their lives. Mari informs them that it is a long story, ‘Just call it a civil war’. Rann detects incoming fire and tells everyone to hold on, as from the side of a mountain, a large gun begins firing at the Endeavor. ‘Doesn’t look too civil to me,’ Mac remarks as everyone is thrown to the floor of the ship. Mari announces that the blast didn’t breach, and that she can steady them.
Towards the back of the ship, Bug clings to a wall and tells everyone to hold on. ‘Easy for you, Bug, you’re sticky!’ his teammate Dexam points out. Jared asks why they took off if the enemy is just going to follow them. Bug informs him that Zebek’s men wont follow as they have no ships, adding that they will be fine once they clear the range of Zebek’s defenses. Arlette asks where they are going to go, to which Bug reveals that they have a little place they’ve been calling home.
Meanwhile, on Earth proper, at Department H, Alpha Flight’s home and headquarters. Each home is a microcosm in its own way. The family inside a miniature consideration of its greater community - and the society it serves. ‘Director? You wanted to see me?’ General Clarke asks as he opens the door to the office of the mysterious Director of Department H. The Director holds in his hand a snow globe with a mini version of Department H inside it, and shakes it so the snow flies around. ‘I wanted a word with you, General Clarke…whether I saw you for it or not was of no importance’. Clarke begins to look quite anxious, and asks the Director what he can do for him.
‘It’s more what you can stop doing’ the Director replies, before informing Clarke that his private monitors on Floor Thirteen brought to his attention a number of boundary violations Clarke has made in his program work for Department H. The Director declares that he set the parameters for the Department based on his goals and any change to those parameters could greatly upset the balance of power here and lead to catastrophic results…for whoever ordered those changes. The Director drops the snow globe to the ground and it smashes, the water leaks out around the broken glass. ‘I trust you’ll take the appropriate steps, General?’ The Director asks. ‘Don’t doubt it, Director. I’m taking them even now…’ Clarke remarks as he looks at the shattered snow globe and leaves the office.
Back in the Microverse, Alpha Flight and the Micronauts have landed and are mingling amongst themselves, discussing their predicaments. Guardian is talking to Rann and Marionette and asks Rann if freedom has to be fought for in his universe. ‘It doesn’t in yours?’ asks Rann. Mac replies that it isn’t on this scale, and asks how long they have been fighting for. Rann explains that they battled an equally offensive baron to release his murderous grip on Homeworld, then Mari, Bug and he chose to continue the fight throughout the Baron’s influences, and they picked up Dexam in their most recent effort.
Rann explains that due to such positive legends, Ant Tica escaped their notice, until recently, when a chance landing revealed Zebek’s evil to them. Guardian tells Rann that it is more than evil, that he discovered a bomb called a “quarkarion” in a remote anthill, adding that it could destroy both their worlds. Heather joins the group reminding everyone that they still have a teammate to rescue, for Manbot was taken to the body banks right before the two groups met up.
The other heroes have overheard the team leaders’ conversation and Dexam remarks that the body banks are foul things. Jared asks him if he knows about them, to which Dexam motions to his robotic arms and reveals that he lost both his limbs to the body banks the day before Liberation. ‘Talk about your lousy timing’. Judd remarks that you cant knock fate there, for sometimes cruel circumstance is what makes a person everything they are. ‘Yeah, like green…handsome…tri-fingered’ exclaims Bug while he eats something.
‘Delusional?’ asks Judd, before declaring that he thinks they should get right back in there, squelch the missile then storm the body banks, save Manbot then topple Zebek and free the ants. ‘Sure - but what do you want to do after dinner?’ Bug jokes. Marionette tells Judd that his plan is sound, except for the last part. She explains that their role in the Microverse has to be to inspire races to rise against tyranny, to make them fight for their own freedom - not just hand it to them. Showing her nastiness towards Heather, Murmur tells Mari that she is a very intelligent woman and a natural leader. ’How refreshing to see’.
Heather turns to Mac and tells him that before they go she wants a word with him. Mac hesitates and tells Heather that he doesn’t think there is time, for they need to lay out a strategy - Heather interrupts, telling him that there is never a time or place for the two of them, but she needs to talk to him now. The senior Alphans walk off into the bushes as Mac begins to ask Heather what this is about, to which Heather comes right out and tells her estranged husband that she saw him kiss Murmur, adding that they have both just been pretending that it never happened since then.
Defensively, Mac declares that he didn’t kiss Arlette, that it was her that kissed him. Heather tells Mac that she isn’t here to bust his chops, explaining to him that she has been feeling this push and pull with him lately and that it is tearing her apart. Heather admits that she sees the Mac she loves, he is still there - but she also sees a playful 19 year old boy who doesn’t know her. Heather begin to inform Mac that it is too much to deal with in addition to the stress of Department H, but before she can say anything else, Mac takes her by the hand and tells her not to say it.
Mac explains to Heather that he is just starting to get a sense of his life back - separating the lies from the reality and reveals to her that he does have feelings for her, but he just needs more time to know what those feelings are. ‘Murmur means nothing to me’ he declares, unaware that Arlette is listening from behind a tree nearby. Mac’s lack of feelings for her takes her by surprise - how will it affect her greater vision now?
Sometimes it is hard to know what the greater scheme of things is. That is certainly true for Lillian Crawley-Jeffries, a.k.a. Diamond Lil. Once she was a villain, then a hero - and now? Now she is an unwitting, unwilling experiment locked in a little lab, hidden away somewhere deep inside Department H. What is to become of her? Tubes poke in and out of her, and somehow, her diamond-hard skin has been cut open and little parts of her has been removed - for what purpose is not quite clear. Glancing at a tank in the room, it is clear to Lil that she has seen the young girl inside it before - at the reception when she arrived at Department H in search of her husband.
It was then that she was interrupted - ‘She’s awake!’ one of the scientists exclaims. Another scientist declares that she must be put back under immediately or the entire process will be compromised. But inside this Beta Flight wing, it is starting to come together again - though you can only build a puzzle one piece at a time.
From Macrocosm to Microcosm - you can make the jump quickly if you know what you’re looking for. Two soldiers guard the body banks of the Microverse, where those close to death can buy an extension at the cost of shortening the life of another. The banks are a hideous institution somewhat analogous to the Beta Flight Wing of Department H. ‘Halt! Who’s there?’ asks one of the guards as two Shadow Priests approach the body banks with Heather, Murmur and Flex as prisoners. One of the priests declares that they were sent by the Baron himself, ‘New rebel captures, the first of many surprises this night’ the second priest exclaims.
One of the soldiers orders them to be taken to the bank mound and chained, the other remarks that there is another back there already. Several meters past the soldiers, Marionette and Dexam strip out of the Shadow Priest cloaks as Heather exclaims that this place has awfully weak security. Marionette explains that the citizens are educated to think that the body banks are a good thing, therefore there are few incidents. Heather declares that they should up the ratio and tells Murmur to come with her, and orders Flex to stay with Mari and Dexam and rally the prisoners. ‘Me?’ exclaims Flex nervously.
Shortly, Heather and Murmur explore the mound, searching various holes. Eventually, Murmur discovers Manbot in the one she is looking into, though informs Heather that he is not moving. Heather flies down into the chamber and exclaims ‘Manbot? Are you…’ Manbot whirs and clicks, explaining that as he contains no organic matter, he was not as useful as the body bank technicians believed. Heather blasts at the chains with streams of lava, telling him that she is glad to hear it, although she is surprised by this revelation that he has no organic matter.
Flex, Mari and Dexam approach some sort of ritual, where a body is bring burned on a large stone, and hundreds of ant citizens are surrounding it. Flex asks what they are doing, to which Dexam explains that it is a ceremony of passing for the victims of Zebek’s games. Marionette gathers several ants and tells them that the time to strike is now. ‘Listen to her, she’s right’ ‘But we are happy as we are,’ come to different opinions. Another ant points out that they perform a role and have every chance of winning immortality if they triumph in the games. ‘Until you wrest control of your own destiny - your life is a game’ Marionette declares.
A guard begins to hear some of the commotion and tells them to keep the noise down or else they will put a stop to this stupid ceremony. Dexam tells the ants that he too once believed he would win immortality ‘And look at me now!’ He informs them that he dreams in the night of the fingers on his phantom hand. ‘And I’m one of the lucky ones’. Flex tries to help by informing the ants that when he was in the Baron’s palace, all the ants were doing was serving the humans. ‘Where I’m from that’s slavery’.
Dexam tells the ants to listen to Flex, for he is a wise Upworlder who notices about their world what they may be too close to see, when suddenly, Heather, followed by Arlette and Manbot, round a corner. Heather tells the ants that a proud society doesn’t cower before its rulers - it chooses them. ‘Protect yourself from those who only pretend to protect you’. One of the ants suddenly declares that no more of them can die for Zebek’s sport! ‘We do not need eternal life…but neither should we sacrifice the lives we are granted!’
A small spark can ignite an enormous wildfire, a microscopic ripple can spill over into a wave of change - you just have to spot the wave while it is still a ripple - and ride it out. ‘Storm the palace!’ ‘To freedom!’ Heather and the others break through the fence surrounding the body banks, and a sea of ants follow.
Elsewhere, the Endeavor flies over the missile silo where Guardian heard the chanting coming from. Rann suggests to Guardian that he fly on ahead and distract the leader while they clean out the guards and meet up to dismantle the quarkarion. Moments later, Mac flies into the lab. ‘Upworlder! You have returned!’ exclaims the scientist he encountered earlier. Mac claims that he was hoping to learn more about the quarkarion. The scientist apologizes and informs Guardian that Baron Zebek has ordered he speak of it no further with him. ‘He thinks you might mean to harm the sacred weapon?’ ‘Me? Really?’ asks Mac as Rann, Radius, Judd and Bug rush past, taking down all the guards.
Back at the body banks, a soldier comes out of a chamber asking ‘Who comes’? ‘Free souls intent on a better world!’ shouts Heather as the ants cry ‘Destroy the body banks!’ The guard orders everyone to cease or be sacrificed for these actions. Dexam declares that it is a small sacrifice for the world they will leave in their wake. Marionette calls to the ant citizens, telling them to take this facility, shut down its cruel engines and capture its keepers. Flanked by Heather and the others, Marionette begins running towards Baron Zebek’s palace, telling some of the ants to come along, declaring that they will bring down the man as surely as they have stopped his self-aggrandizing monuments.
Back at the lab, Judd informs Guardian that things are nearly under control. The chief scientist suddenly realizes that Guardian’s allies have laid siege to this sacred place, to which Mac remarks ‘There is nothing sacred about mass destruction’. Guardian tells the scientist that he is being manipulated by his ruler and been brainwashed into thinking that it is some kind of honor. ‘It is the highest honor!’ declares Zebek as he enters the chamber, followed by a group of soldiers. ‘To serve an eminent man is the greatest honor there is!’
‘Good. Then let me honor myself by serving you up on a cold slab!’ Radius boasts, to which Judd reminds him of the team. ‘Show me you’ve learned something’ Judd asks Jared to let Mac and Rann handle Zebek while they help mop up the soldiers. Rann makes a move against Zebek, who remarks ‘You hope to defeat me with so small a force?’ Bug tells Zebek that it isn’t the size of the rocket lance, but how you swing it.
Zebek’s hands suddenly come off his arm, and as fists the smash into Rann as he declares that madmen are never content to settle for the power they have. ‘Looking to expand, are you?’ Mac asks. Making a reference to the soldiers attire, Judd calls one of them King Tut and asks him how the weather is. ‘Fair to partly bloody?’ Judd jokes. Bug leaps up as one of the soldiers fires at him, ‘Whoops! Missed me, but at least ya hit someone!’ he remarks as the blast strikes another soldier. ‘I’d compliment you on your trick hands - but I’ve been told they probably aren’t yours!’ Mac tells Zebek as they engage in hand to hand combat. Zebek tells Guardian that he can see how his hands feel around his neck if he likes. ‘Let me finish up these losers and I’ll lend you my hands, Guardian’ Radius offers.
Outside the chamber, one of the soldiers asks another if he heard a noise. ‘Noise?’ ‘Yeah, like a rumbling, like…’ ‘REVOLUTION!’ shouts Marionette as she bursts into the room followed by Heather and the others. Marionette shoots the guards as everyone storms the palace, but she reminds everyone that there is to be no killing. ‘Don’t let their methods become yours!’
Dexam encourages Flex in the battle, and Adrian enthusiastically blocks the soldier’s fire with his metal limbs. Dexam then turns to Murmur and asks her what she says to the two of them teaming up and taking the back room. ‘I say “oui”’ Arlette replies. ‘Yeah, we’ Dexam remarks. Marionette and Heather regroup, and Mari points out that it is going well, to which Heather asks where the Baron is.
Back in the lab, Judd informs Mac that Zebek’s men are all taken out. Jared points out that the workers are all hanging back, to which Bug remarks that deep down they don’t like the big ugly either. Guardian continues to face off against Zebek and tells him that his people have deserted him. ‘Then they will soon become fodder for those who don’t!’ Zebek declares. Rann informs Zebek that his palace has been taken and he has no people left.
Rann tells Guardian to step away from Zebek, explaining that he can disrupt his magnetic centaur couplings, when suddenly, Zebek releases his hands again and one of them is fired right at Rann and grabbing his throat, begins choking him. ‘Let your blasphemy be carried on your final breath!’ Zebek exclaims. As Judd frees Rann, he points out to Guardian that the Baron must be held together with some kind of polar coupling. Mac replies that a properly deployed blast of his electromagnetic energies should break Zebek’s bonds, and indeed it does.
Zebek lets out a cry as his torso is removed from its four-legged body, then Mac takes him into the air, despite his claims that they have not defeated him. ‘No, Baron…you’ve defeated yourself!’ Mac tells him. ‘Aw, come on, we helped a little!’ jokes Bug. Zebek declares that they will not triumph and calls to the scientist, telling him to launch the quarkarion. The old man steps forward and tells Zebek that he will not. Mac then asks Rann what they are going to do with what is left of Zebek. The scientist asks for Zebek to be given to him, so he can take him to the body banks where their last action can be to reprocess the Baron into a full horse so that he may finally serve society.
Judd approaches Radius and thanks him for his cooperation. ‘You see how things go when you follow a plan?’ Jared replies that it worked out, but that he could have done it his way just as easy. Judd just mutters that he wonders what it is going to take for Radius to learn once and for all. Bug apologizes for interrupting, and motions to the large quarkarion and asks what they are going to do about it.
Do you see it yet? In this microcosm, there are practical actions that suggest the importance of overthrowing ones rulers - and symbolic actions that slow the liberation granted by such efforts. There is a lesson to be learned here. Several of the heroes take down the quarkarion bomb while Heather, Marionette and the others watch the ant citizens celebrate as they bring the giant statues of Zebek toppling to the ground.
Do you see it? ‘We have to go back!’ Heather remarks to Manbot. ‘Confirmed. Return is imminent’ Manbot replies. ‘No, I mean we have to go back’ Heather exclaims, before explaining that she has seen something here, something she should have seen in their own world. ‘We are pawns of an evil dictator…just not the one Commander Rann thought’.
Having seen it, there is only one question that remains…
‘Is everyone here?’ Mac asks as Alpha Flight and the Microverse’s own heroes regroup. A spokesperson for the ants informs the heroes that they wish to pledge that never again will their people be subjugated to another’s will. Dexam then pledges to remain behind and help them rebuild Ant Tica, adding that he can rejoin his friends when they are finished.
Murmur asks her teammates if they can please go now and escape the hideous bugs, to which Bug tells her she should knock them if she hasn’t tried them, then asks if she would like to. Marionette and Rann are standing on the ramp to their ship, and Mari tells Bug to come along. ‘We have a Microverse to protect’ Rann declares, before wishing Alpha Flight well and adding that they may meet someday on the other side of the space wall.
Suddenly, Manbot announces ‘Urgent. Remote emergency retrieval sequence initiated! Department H is being destroyed…’ with that, Alpha Flight vanish, leaving a bewildered group of Freedom Fighters and ants surprised.
…Will you do something about it?