Do you know this man?
Lying in his bed, next to his wife, his name is Basil Kilgrew. But part of his job requirement is to make sure you don’t come to know that fact. Another requirement is that he not tell anyone where he works, or what he does. Even his wife doesn’t really know. To be precise, Basil Kilgrew has signed an all-encompassing secrecy agreement about his work and his life. And Basil is nothing if but precise.
Basil Kilgrew wakes every morning, thirty seconds before his alarm goes off. So that he doesn’t wake his wife, he draws himself from his bed quietly, like a spy. He knows as he does so that he will be ready to leave his house in thirty minutes…thirty exacting minutes. Five of those minutes he spends with his head under water hoping it will melt away the dull headache he perpetually sustains. Have you ever had one of those headaches? The kind that won’t go away?
Basil’s clothes are laid out the night before. Time spent making decisions under pressure is wasted time, far better to have everything calculated and planned in advance…down to the smallest detail - like having the days of the week printed on his socks, so Basil knows which pair to wear on which days.
Entering his office, Basil was awake there very late last night, reading documents - sensitive documents about Alpha Flight, that he isn’t allowed to view until every member of his family is tucked safely away in bed. When he finally retired for the night, his briefcase was closed - but from the look of horror on Basil’s face, you can tell that something has happened in the intervening hours - the briefcase is now open.
This has occurred once before, and now, like then, the guilty “thief”, is Basil’s young son, Gerard. Prying the document from his sleeping son’s hand, Basil knows Gerard hasn’t read the document, because he can’t read yet. Nevertheless, if anyone other than Basil had seen this incident, Gerard would be sleeping very soundly.
Despite this unexpected turn of events, Basil makes a clean exit. He arrives at his car at eighteen minutes after the hour. It will take him exactly eleven minutes to drive to work and park his car…leaving him exactly sixty seconds to make the walk from his assigned space to the front doors of Canada’s Department H. You can almost sense the tension in Basil’s step, as if he knows that this is the day his precision…will slip.
Do you hear the little bits of conversation that slip through air of Department H? Basil does, like the Epsilon he walks past who remarks to another ‘…the Zodiac really made a mess of this place, huh?’ Basil approaches a panel on the wall and it talks to him. ‘Welcome to the Ministry of Defense. Please insert your security card and place you palm on the glass surface’. Basil does as he is requested, always listening, always watching - and in turn, he is watched back…as a man entrusted with secrets must be. ‘Thank you’ the computer states. ‘Security clearance confirmed. Please enter to your right’.
Entering a new corridor, Basil Kilgrew sees Eugene “Puck” Judd of Alpha Flight talking to a Epsilon. Judd exclaims that General Clarke was powder by the time Alpha Flight got down there, so he won’t be giving no more orders. ‘He was in a nuclear reactor? In this building?’ the Epsilon asks. Judd remarks that it turns out they have been sitting on a little Chernobyl this whole time, before telling the Epsilon that it is time he got going.
As Judd turns around though, he crashes into Basil Kilgrew. Judd apologizes, explaining that he didn’t see him coming. Kilgrew replies ‘Think nothing of it’ and smiles, when Judd suddenly remarks that he looks familiar and asks if he knows him. ‘I don’t think that’s possible’ Kilgrew replies. Taking his leave, Kilgrew calls back ‘I’d remember a man like you’. Judd replies that he is tough to forget, before adding that it isn’t so much Basil’s face, but his voice….
Entering a elevator, Basil Kilgrew does in fact know the diminutive Alphan. But luckily, Basil is going to the one place where the prying voice of one of Canada’s oldest heroes cannot follow…a world between worlds…a floor between floors…Floor 13.
There is much to see here on Floor 13, but not by normal eyes. And there are rules. Employees may refer to one another only by their sequentially assigned project codes. Employees may enter only those labs for which they have proper security clearance. Employees must sign waivers allowing them to monitored at all times while in the confines of Floor 13. Additionally, employees must agree to a standard accidental death report should anything happen to them while on duty.
‘Morning Lambda 6’ Basil says as he passes a woman in the corridor. ‘Door morning, Beta 1’ the woman replies. It is all in the interest of national security of course. Swiping his security clearance card, Basil is nothing if not precise. ‘Enter’ the computer announces.
In a dimly lit green-glowing lab, two men stand before a tank in the center of the room in which the being known as Woodgod is suspended. Beta 4 informs Beta 3 that he is ready to try the next spinal, though wonders if they should wait for Beta 1. Beta 3 remarks that Beta 1 is never late, to which Beta 4 agrees, before pointing out that there is always a first for everything. The computer registers Kilgrew as he enters the room and greets him, before asking if he has any commands. ‘Idle’ Kilgrew replies, before turning to Beta 3.
Beta 3 replies that he didn’t hear him come in, before Basil asks if the Zodiac intrusion breached the lab. Beta 3 replies that there was an unauthorized entry to the floor, but that it was actually the Alphan Flex, and he didn’t make it any farther than the Monitor Bay by the service elevator. Kilgrew is relieved, and declares that he would be extremely disappointed if their work with Woodgod was compromised, before asking how the sample extraction is coming.
Beta 4 replies that it is difficult, for Woodgod’s DNA is unstable. He begins to give a timeframe, but Basil takes his leave and declares that they need it today, for there are men above him that he must answer to. Indeed, Kilgrew does have men above to answer to - difficult men with unknowable agendas. It is hard enough to keep men like that informed about the daily lab developments. ‘Eye level folders’ Kilgrew states, to which the computer opens some folders in front of him.
Imagine how much harder it would be to account for an unapproved folder on your otherwise spotless computer desktop? And how would you explain the expression on Basil’s face upon seeing such a rogue folder? Curiosity? It clearly doesn’t belong there. Is it subterfuge? Did Basil leave this folder out, or was it left out for him to find? Should he open it, or is it bait?
‘Beta 1?’ asks Beta 4 as enters the small room where Basil is contemplating whether or not to open the folder. ‘WHAT?’ shouts Basil, before seeing Beta 4 and apologizing, claiming he startled him. Beta 4 tells Basil not to get in a jumble, ‘You act like you’ve got a guilty conscience!’ Basil snaps that he is busy, and asks Beta 4 what he wants. Beta 4 smiles and tells Beta 1 that he thought he would like to know that they got some DNA lifts off the Zodiac, and adds that whoever did their engineering was a class act - definitely state-of-the-art.
Beta 4 begins to say that it is almost as good as what they have been - ‘Unsanctioned testing?’ asks Basil, telling Beta 4 that he does not have time for silliness. Confused, Beta 4 apologizes for mentioning it and walks away, while Basil tells the computer to close the Curiosity file.
Meanwhile…you would have to go a ways to find mysteries deeper than those that have wrapped themselves around Department H. In fact, you’d have to go all the way to the end of the world…to Project: Michelangelo in the remotest Antarctica - and back in time a few weeks ago. The front door opens to the building as a sled arrives. A scientist called Randy approaches the sled and exclaims ‘Walt! You made it! We were starting to worry that…’ his voice trails off when he sees someone else on the sled.
The handsome Doctor Walter Langkowski replies that there is no time to explain and tells Randy to kennel the dogs while he gets him inside. A scientist with a large moustache named Guidry asks Walter if it is he and what he discovered about the seismic disturbance. Walter apologizes for being late, before revealing that he didn’t have time to inspect the seismic activity, because he found something. ‘You’re always finding…something…? Who in Mary’s name?’ exclaims Guidry as he turns and looks at the frozen man clad in red and white that Walter puts onto a table.
Walter explains that as odd as it may seem, this is an old teammate of his. Walt reminds Guidry that he asked him a while ago about Alpha Flight? ‘This is the leader of my old team - James MacDonald Hudson…Guardian!’ Walt pleads with Guidry to help him, as he fears the exposure may have caused brain damage. Examining Mac, Guidry tells Walt that he wouldn’t call it brain damage, but brain failure, ‘This one’s dead as driftwood’.
Walt tells Guidry that he thought so too, before asking him to look at Mac’s pupils, they are still normal. Walt explains that Mac’s suit gives off a strong electromagnetic pulse, and he think that it is keeping him alive. ‘There you go with your “comic book” science again!’ Guidry mutters, declaring that traditional cures will not save a dead man. ‘Fine! Then we’ll try something a little less traditional!’ Walt exclaims, taking off his glasses and beginning to transform into his Sasquatch form.
‘I wish you wouldn’t do that in front of me!’ Guidry exclaims. Walt apologizes, but explains that for what they have to do, they don’t have much time, and that time he needs to spend as Sasquatch, ‘And your plan, carpeted one?’ Guidry asks. Walt tells Guidry to get Mac in a wash basin and start massaging his heart while he goes and gets some ice. ‘Ice…? But he’s already frozen!’ You’d be amazed at what the human heart is capable of withstanding.
Meanwhile, at Department H, in the medilab on Wednesday - Testing Day. Jared Corbo a.k.a. the handsome Radius for his ever present, ever protective force field, hates this weekday. Lying on an examination table in nothing but his jocks, Jared tells the doctors hovering about around him to hurry up, as the discs on his chest are cold. Adrian “Flex” Corbo, Jared’s younger half-brother is standing nearby and tells his brother that the discs are sitting on his force field, so he shouldn’t be able to feel them.
‘Shut up, Adrian, you act like such a know-it-all, but you don’t know nothing!’ ‘Anything’ Flex corrects his brother, before claiming that he does know Jared cannot feel the sensors. Jared explains that he can make his force field really thin so that the discs can pick up his heartbeat, but he has to concentrate hard to do it, ‘So shut up!’ Jared then asks Adrian why he is even hanging around here if he has finished.
Adrian smirks and tells his brother that he wanted to know if he was going to Sasquatch’s memorial service tomorrow. ‘Since you’re kind of the reason he died!’ Jared sits up on the table and tells Adrian to shut up, that it is not his fault. ‘Get out of here!’ Jared yells. ‘Geez! I was just asking’ Adrian mumbles as he leaves the medilab. One of the doctors asks Jared to lie back down, but Jared gets up off the table declaring ‘Forget it! I’m sick of being tested!’ and storms out of the room.
Watching from behind a panel, Basil Kilgrew phones someone for the results. For anyone who has been to the doctor’s, they can probably sympathize with Radius - unless you’re Kilgrew, who just lost an important days data. One of the doctors look into the panel and apologizes to Beta 1 for losing Radius, before asking if he got the results for Flex. The female doctor tells Basil that the full battery was completed on Flex, adding that the trend is still quite flat. When she gets no response she calls out to him, ‘Beta 1, are you there?’ Still no response, she jokes ‘”Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”!’
Basil leaves the lab and makes his way along a corridor, he is sorry, for Flex should be so much more, especially given where his genetic overprint originated…but science, like life, is full of surprises - like the one Basil gets when he literally bumps into Manbot. ‘AAAAH!’ screams Basil, as Alpha Flight’s most mysterious member does a visual scan of Kilgrew. Kilgrew knows who - what - Manbot is so why is he so jumpy?
Manbot declares ‘Visual review shows you are an unregistered entity’ and tells Kilgrew to follow him to the security clearance station immediately. Suddenly, Kilgrew exclaims ‘Override code 13-Delta-Beta-Chi-Beta. Delete visual image and de-log encounter. No record’. Manbot begins to walk past Kilgrew down the hall, whirring and clicking as he exclaims ‘Deleted. No record’.
What is it like to be invisible? Powerful? Or lonely? Or is it fun? Like playing doctor - which is what Basil is about to do as he puts on a white lab coat and enters the Intensive Care Unit of the medilab, where another of his tracking projects, Arlette “Murmur” Truffaut lies motionless after being shot by the Zodiac. Heather “Vindicator” Hudson, James “Guardian” Hudson and Puck sit by her. Heather remarks that there is still no change, to which Mac tells Heather not to worry, that Murmur will pull through.
‘I have to worry, Mac. You know that…at least you used to’ Heather remarks, before declaring that anyway, this was bound to happen as there are too many novices running around half-trained. Judd agrees and exclaims that they didn’t see it because they were too busy getting their brains scrambled by Clarke, adding that he would like to bust some heads for everything that has been done to them here.
As Basil Kilgrew begins to inject something into Murmur, Guardian reminds his teammates that with General Clarke dead, the man behind all that is gone, which leaves them with more important things to do - like find the Zodiac, get back the device they stole and rescue their teammate Madison Jeffries from the brain-washing. Heather suggests that, speaking of brainwashing and mind-scrambling, another priority should be to find Clarke’s memory-wiping machines and dismantle them. Mac asks Judd if he agrees, to which Puck replies that it would be his pleasure to spearhead that, joking that the advantage of being his size is that he can snoop below most people’s radars.
Judd remarks that before they can change things for the better, they still have to get through the worst - Sasquatch’s memorial service. Mac agrees, when he suddenly calls out ‘Hey!’ Basil stops in his tracks - is Guardian talking to him? He hopes not, but he also knows his hopes are ill-founded.
Basil - the “doctor” - turns and Mac asks him how Arlette is. Basil introduces himself as “Doctor Jones”, and informs the Alphans that he is in charge of testing Murmur, but that he can get the attending if they like. Heather tells him that it is okay, they can see the attending on their way out. As Basil leaves the room, Mac asks if any of Walter’s relatives could be found, Heather replies that only a cousin could be contacted and that she said two funerals for Walt was enough for her. Judd asks Heather and Mac if Doctor Jones looked familiar to either of them.
“Doctor” Kilgrew has made his rounds, but where to now? Back to Floor 13? He does have some interesting computer files to attend to. Isn’t the curiosity killing him? Something quite the opposite of curiosity is killing the Japanese mutant known as Sunfire. Kilgrew passes a lab which Sunfire storms out of, with Doctor Horatio Huxley following him, telling him that he cannot leave. Sunfire turns and tells Huxley not to tell him what he can and cannot do. ‘You are a pompous and irritating troll of a man and I’m finished with you!’
Sunfire declares that he came to Department H to have them help him control his powers, and points out that instead, his powers have seemingly flared out of control and given him radiation poisoning. ‘I would say that makes you a complete professional failure’ Shiro tells Huxley. Using his powers to burst through the building as he takes off into the sky, Sunfire tells Huxley that he would also say that his failure will leave his little “Helios Project” without its son. ‘Goodbye Dr. Huxley - do not come looking for me!’
Huxley stands under the hole in Department H’s structure and calls after Sunfire, telling him that he must not leave, that he is a threat to everyone he comes in contact with. ‘You’ll die without our treatments!’ Fortunately for Basil, he had nothing to do with this calamity, so he can walk by with ease. Basil is also suddenly confident that he should do what he has considered doing since this morning.
Meanwhile, in La Valle, Quebec. The light emitting super hero Jean-Paul Beaubier a.k.a. Northstar lies on the wooden floor of a classroom. As a member of Canada’s premiere super hero team, Alpha Flight, he has fought world-threatening super villains, battled ignorant men dead set against his “choice” of male companions and of late, kept personal demons intent on his demise at his own hands in check. What then, could have left him like this?
‘Monsieur?’ asks an old woman as she enters the room. ‘Aurora?’ Northstar exclaims, looking up. The Nun replies that she is Sister Chloe, that they spoke yesterday. Jean-Paul remembers now, and the old woman reminds him that she told him the school had burned down, and asks him why he entered. She motions to the blackboard and assumes that from his writing that he has nowhere else to go.
Northstar looks at the board, and ‘HELP ME!’ has been scrawled on it in chalk. Northstar exclaims that he didn’t write it, that it was his sister. Sister Chloe motions to the chalk which is in Northstar’s hand. ‘My sister was here! She was here!’ Northstar exclaims, frustrated. If he keeps telling himself that, perhaps then he will come to believe it.
Basil has finally decided to go through with it - the plan he has played with in his secret heart for months, but never had the nerve to fully execute. Is that because o the blood already on his hands? Or the blood that continues to mount there? Basil holds in his hands a glass test tube, when the doors in the hallway suddenly open. Two Epsilons step out, leading in front of them is Beta 3.
The Epsilons ask Kilgrew to step aside, announcing that they have a security breach coming through. Beta 3 pleads with the Epsilons, telling them that they have the wrong man, that he didn’t have anything to do with it. ‘Beta 1 - tell them!’ he pleads with Kilgrew. Basil just turns his back - his silence is mandated in his protocol hand book. Beta 3 struggles to turn around as the Epsilons push him along, and exclaiming ‘Tell them, Beta 1! You know I would never compromise the project!’ He tells Beta 1 not to walk past him like he doesn’t even know him - ‘I’ve worked with you for four years!’
Would Basil behave any differently if his silence was mandated? As he is led into another room, Beta 3 tells Beta 1 that he is next. ‘First Number Two, now me, you’re next!’ he exclaims, adding that he hopes no one comes to his defense. ‘You coward!’. When the doors close, Kilgrew hangs his head, before getting into an elevator.
But “coward”? Basil thinks that he will show him, and drops the glass test tube, it hits the ground and shatters. Basil thinks that he is going to be proven a hero - he is going to blow the lid right off this place and - his thoughts deter - he cannot creak down before he has had his chance. Is he crazy? He is being watched right now - the elevators have camera’s that feed to the monitor rooms. He is being watched all the time. He knows he must collect himself - if he is going to be a hero he must collect himself and ride it out…and hope for the best.
Suddenly, an Epsilon Black enters the elevator, surprising Basil. ‘Eh - Epsilon Black…? What…What?’ The Epsilon Black’s are Department H’s rumored “cleaners”. But if the rumors are true…then what is he on Floor 13 to clean? - Is he after Basil? ‘You - step aside!’ the Epsilon Black exclaims. Basil does so, and wishes the Epsilon Black a nice day as he begins to take his leave. But as Basil begins walking away, the Epsilon Black exclaims ‘Hey! What’s this?’ and motions to the broken test tube and its contents on the floor. Basil hesitates and waits for the doors to the elevator to close. He is relieved when they close on the Epsilon Black, and he is now home free.
Basil returns to his lab on Floor 13, greeted by Beta 4 who asks him where he was, and exclaims that the took Beta 3 away, saying he was a traitor. Beta 4 informs Basil that Beta 3 was crying and saying that he was innocent. Basil interrupts and tells Beta 4 that they should not be discussing this, and assures him that as long as he has done nothing wrong, then he has nothing to worry about. Beta 4 supposes that Basil is right and remarks that they wouldn’t have taken Beta 3 away if he wasn’t guilty, would they?
Basil tells Beta 4 that he should know the answer to that question, and declares that he will be in his office and that he doesn’t want to be disturbed. Inside his office, Basil tells the computer to restore the file “Curiosity”. ‘File restored. Thank you’ the computer replies. The heading of the file reads Project: Beta Flight. Basil orders the computer to transfer the file to “Puck 0112” with no headers or returns. The computer replies that the file has been transferred. ‘Delete file’ Basil exclaims. ‘File deleted, thank you’ the computer replies.
Basil Kilgrew should be thanked - thanked for being a patriot in the truest sense - a man willing to help his country even if it means putting everything he is and holds dear at greatest risk. Basil leaves his office and Beta 4 approaches him, informing him that he has isolated the Woodgod sample. Basil congratulates Beta 4, before announcing that he is taking the after noon off, as his son has a hockey game. ‘Your son? You have a son? But…’ begins Beta 4. Basil tells Beta 4 that he is sorry about that, it just slipped, and wishes him a good after noon.
Basil shouldn’t worry - after all, what’s one little slip? After months of sending Puck bits and pieces of information, he has finally dropped the mother-load on him. Enough information to fully expose Beta Flight, Hull House and all of Department H’s illegal and immoral bio-tech experiments. Basil enters an elevator, thinking that best of all, he is taking his wife and son away to a new life in another country - he has finally washed his hands of it all. Just one quick elevator ride away from his destiny.
As far as Basil knows, the only loose end is Murmur’s blood sample in the elevator which he can claim he simply dropped. It is the perfect plan…except that there is the one loose end he forgot about this morning - his briefcase. His son. His surprise this morning. Basil was counting on the fact that no one but himself saw what happened. But…the monitors in Department H aren’t all looking in on Department H - because some Department H security extends far beyond the walls of the building…like right into the Kilgrew home.
It is a little ironic, isn’t it? That on the day of Kilgrew’s greatest triumph, on the day he slew the goliath, one little detail, one human error - resulted in Basil’s fastest elevator ride to the ground floor ever. He screams - but only for a moment - for then there is a mighty crash as the elevator hits the bottom floor - hard.
Basil Kilgrew’s wife and son will receive a standard accidental death report about his passing that Basil himself signed off on years earlier. His obituary will say how much he loved his country, how much he believed in Canada…a pity the same couldn’t be said in return.