Have you ever felt completely alone?
Out on the iceberg fields in the Labrador Sea, south of Cape Farewell in Greenland, you might. Three Canadian choppers approach an iceberg, and the pilot of one announces that they have two bodies on visual, but no sign of the ship. The first chopper adds that there is no movement and asks if they have permission to land. Someone from another chopper replies that he does, but to be careful and do ti by the numbers. Thr first chopper lands and someone asks what is wrong with all the snow, as it is the wrong time of the year for it. Someone else remarks that it is El Nino from the Pacific which is messing up the global air currents.
Someone else motions to the two men sitting several feet away from them in the snow. One of the men remarks that they must be dead, and he is not surprised, for a couple of days out in these conditions would do that to you. From the second chopper, the commander asks his men if they are going to bring them back. ‘What kind of question is that? We’re Canada, not Latveria, of course we’re taking them back!’ Suddenly, one of the rescuers exclaims that one of the men is alive!
‘…Not going to take me…won’t let him take…’ one of the frozen men exclaims. ‘Who’s he talking about, eh?’ one of the rescuers asks. ‘He’s not gonna take me!’ the frozen man screams, before standing up to reveal a large pile of dynamite. The rescuers see the clearing dynamite and realize that the man has rigged it to him and his partner. The men start running back towards the choppers, and seeing the frozen man hit the detonator, they wonder how long the fuse is. ‘Not long enough!’ However, the other two choppers begin taking off without the rescuers. ‘No! Wait for us! Wait!’ they shout. Some of them jump onto the side of the chopper as it takes off, while inside, someone radios for help, exclaiming that they have men on the iceberg still but that it is about to blow - and on cue, it does, in a mighty explosion.
Department H, Ottawa, Canada. Coordinator Gentry stands before a screen which just played out that scene for Canada’s premiere super heroes, Alpha Flight, and informs the heroes that it is the last image the reconnaissance video feed picked up before the helicopters were destroyed in the blast. Gentry explains that the workmen apparently used their entire supply of explosives to avoid being “taken” as they out it.
‘I don’t blame them’ remarks Jared “Radius” Corbo. Manbot whirs and clicks before telling Radius that self-termination is not rational. ‘Click this, Manbot’ Jared mumbles, holding up a finger. James “Guardian” MacDonald Hudson asks Gentry what the motive of the two men was. Heather McNeil Hudson a.k.a. Vindicator also wants to know why and asks what would prompt such an extreme response. Eugene Judd a.k.a. Puck remarks that it would be fear, as they looked like they were trying to protect themselves from something more than hurt anyone.
Alpha Flight’s youngest member, Adrian Corbo a.k.a. Flex, asks what could scare them so badly. Gentry explains that those men are part of the crew of the Navigator, a commercial iceberg clearing vessel that dropped them off to wire the iceberg and then just sailed off. Gentry adds that aside from the odd fog bank in one of the video feeds, there is nothing else out of the ordinary. ‘They were abandoned? I’d be afraid too!’ Flex exclaims. ‘You’re afraid of your own shadow, Flex’ his brother remarks.
Flex asks why the men were left, to which Gentry replies that they have no idea. Guardian suddenly tells Gentry, with all due respect, that it sounds like he is assigning Alpha Flight to go investigate, which he is rather hesitant about. ‘But what does it have to do with you?’ Gentry asks, before telling the six heroes to bear with him, as the mystery is deeper - and more complicated. Gentry reveals that standard channels have picked up no sign of the Navigator, meaning for all intents and purposes, that ship was never in the area.
Gentry remarks that if it wasn’t for a sharp-eyed visual tech down in monitor scanning, they would never even know where it went, but she pulled this satellite image which now appears on the screen from a standard scan just hours ago. Gentry reveals that the ship has made a course change for White Cross, Newfoundland and that further visual enhancement showed no visible crew - it is still a “ghost ship” sailing under a steady hand somehow. ‘You mean, something actually happened in Canada that Department H didn’t know about in advance, Gentry?’ Heather asks.
Guardian points out that this should still be a matter for the police or the army, and Judd adds that they have been sent on too many government “errands” without knowing why lately. ‘Yeah!’ agrees Flex. Gentry announces that as of 2.41pm yesterday, all contact with White Cross was lost - including reports from the body guards of the Prime Minister’s wife who was in town on personal affairs. He adds that a special forces army corps was sent in, but it too was lost with no contact within minutes of arrival. Manbot declares that the probability of terrorist action is 15.862 percent.
‘So you want us to go pound on whoever’s doing it?’ Jared asks. Gentry declares that he wants them to go find answers, that he wants his first official assignment of Alpha Flight to end in a fast and unqualified success. Glancing out the window, Gentry adds that he wants the Prime Minister’s wife returned safely - for she is his sister! ‘Count on us, sir! Alpha Flight stands ready for province and planet!’ Guardian declares. ‘That supposed to be our rallying cry?’ Jared asks mockingly.
As the team begins to disperse, Gentry asks Guardian for a moment. Suddenly Mac feels completely alone - even in a room of his closest friends. Heather tells her estranged husband that they will meet him at the jet. ‘Sir…?’ Mac asks, standing with his hands behind his back. Gentry informs Guardian that he has been reading up on his files and that it appears he has been under a lot of pressure to lead since the team’s reinstatement. Guardian agrees, but claims that he thinks he has handled it as well as could be expected. ‘To be blunt, I don’t’ Gentry remarks, saying he doesn’t want to diminish his efforts, before pointing out that a member of Alpha Flight - Murmur - was severely injured while under his watch.
Guardian replies that he cannot make excuses for that, to which Gentry tells him ‘Good, a great leader wouldn’t’, before declaring that is what he is looking for in this mission - great leadership and no excuses. Mac replies that he is the perfect man for the job, when Hames, Gentry’s assistant, enters the room. Gentry tells Mac that that is the kind of statement that makes him nervous. ‘Don’t be perfect. Be a leader’. he says, before turning to Hames and asking him what is going on. Hames reveals that Dr. Huxley is causing quite a ruckus, and wants to see him. Mac leaves the room, feeling alone - which is just like feeling your insides freeze.
The best way to alleviate that feeling is to reach out to another - to come in from the cold. At a makeshift medicine hut near Anchorage, Alaska, that is what one man is about to do. Do you know this man? He is a former professional football player with a PhD in physics - an unlikely combination - a dichotomy. He is also a friend to the man inside the smoke hut - Doctor Michael Twoyoungmen - a man of medicine, both practical and profane. His patients call him “doctor”, while the tribes he assists call him - ‘Shaman! I’ve found you!’ exclaims the man as he enters the hut. ‘Really? I wasn’t aware that I was lost…’ the elderly former Alpha Flight member remarks, turning to the handsome Doctor Walter Langkowski…a.k.a. Sasquatch!
You never know where you’ll run into old acquaintances - nor if your reception will be warm and loving or stone cold dead. ‘You notice something, Mac?’ asks Judd, peering out of the Alpha Jet down at the town of White Cross, Newfoundland. ‘It’s deserted, just like the boat’ Mac replies as the six Alphans emerge from the aircraft. ‘Cool, I’m moving here!’ Jared exclaims while Judd declares that the whole town couldn’t have just vanished, so he thinks it is time for a little search and scour. Mac agrees and declares that he wants three teams as follows. But before Mac has a chance to divide the team into three, Heather exclaims that she will take Manbot to scan the residential area. Manbot begins to follow Heather. ‘Confirmed. Infra-red spectrum disrupted. Visual scans enabled’ he states. Judd leaps over Mac exclaiming that he and Flex will sniff around the shipyards.
As the four take their leave, Mac tells them to wait, as he is supposed to - ‘I wasn’t going to group you that way!’ Frowning, Radius asks Mac if he didn’t want to be stuck with him. Mac replies that it isn’t it at all, and asks Jared if he is ready to follow orders. ‘To the grave. Let’s go’ Radius replies.
Heather flies alongside Manbot and asks him if this place is giving him the creeps too. ‘No’ Manbot replies. Heather apologizes and remarks that she forgets sometimes that he is a man only in name, no emotions. Heather informs Manbot that General Clarke told them little about him when he was in charge of the Department, quite the opposite of this Gentry fellow. Manbot whirs and clicks and states that General Clarke followed a need-to-know paradigm.
Suddenly, Manbot states ‘replaying stored example’ and an image of General Clarke appears projected from Manbot. In this recording Clarke states that he is concerned about Heather, as she is downright uncooperative. Heather is shocked and asks Manbot where he got that image from, for even she hasn’t seen it. The recording continues, and Heather sees Clarke state that they might have to supplement her conditioning program, for she can have no future in Department H if she doesn’t get in line.
Manbot reveals that he houses a number of similar programs, but that his programming would not allow him to access them before. Manbot informs Heather that his programming has now been altered, and Heather tells him that she wants to see every file that he has, but later, after - Heather stops in her tracks, as there is a loud BWAAAOO sound coming from the church nearby. ‘What was that?’ Mac exclaims. ‘Don’t ask me. I just work here, boss’ Jared remarks.
At the wharf, Flex asks Judd what that noise was. Judd replies that it sounded like a horn. ‘Like…a fog horn?’ Adrian wonders. Judd tells him only if they are really lucky. ‘Do you feel lucky?’ Adrian asks. Judd replies that he doesn’t, and adds that he doesn’t see any fog either. He tells Adrian that they cannot let their imaginations run away with them until they have good cause to. Nervously, Flex asks “Mr Judd” if that is a good cause.
Turning to see what Adrian is looking at, Judd sees the missing ship - the Navigator - crashed into part of the wharf. Judd wonders where it came from, while Flex motions to the man strung from the front of the ship, exclaiming that it is the Captain, and that he looks dead. ‘I think I’m gonna be sick!’ he exclaims. Judd tells him to do it to the right, and to make it fast, as this is not good news. Flex asks what they should do - call the others? Judd tells him that he is guessing the Captain didn’t put himself in that position, and leaping up the chains, he exclaims he is going to see if he is alive. Judd calls down that the Captain isn’t looking too good, when suddenly, in a strange voice, the Captain, with glowing red eyes, exclaims ‘And…so, he said unto his flock - Come my sheep, your master calls. My will is strong and there is work to be done!’ The Captain’s voice returns to normal and he tells Judd to run away as fast as he can. Judd tells Flex to call the others - for their luck has officially run out! ‘Uh-oh!’ remarks the frightened Flex.
Meanwhile, back at Department H. Doctor Horatio Huxley is having a go at Gentry, asking him how he dare move the new Alpha recruits from their private wing without consulting him. ‘How dare you!’ ‘You mean from their holding cells?’ Gentry remarks, pointing out that Lilli, Flinch and Ouija are people, not specimens, so he “dare” do what is best for them. A furious Huxley declares that Gentry has none of his seventeen years of experience in the development and advancement of the super hero.
Gentry interrupts Huxley, informing him that he knows all of his history, that he was an important player in the seventies, turning this back-water program into something special. Gentry tells Huxley that he knows his ego got bruised and so he jumped ship, moving to Washington DC, where he tried to recreate his success for the Americans. After a promising start, that series of experiments ended in an embarrassing failure, prompting him to return back to Canada, sniffing around for his old job.
Gentry begins to walk away from Huxley, telling him that while they are on the subject of jobs, he knows that Huxley has been making statements about the fact that he has designs on his job now as well. ‘What if I have been?’ Huxley asks, exclaiming that he is better qualified. Gentry turns back to Huxley and declares ‘Since no one else is willing to tell you, allow me - you’re past your prime, Huxley!’ Huxley mutters that he will not even grace that comment with a response. ‘You just did!’ Gentry points out, before declaring that Huxley’s best days are far behind him, and that if he wants his job, then say it to his face, then they can have it out. ‘I love a fair fight!’
Gentry declares that what he cannot stand are backdoor, side-stepping cowards, and tells Huxley that if he has a problem with him to bring it up at the next general meeting. ‘I…will!’ Huxley shouts, storming past Hames. Hames begins to remind Gentry that he is late for his check up of Murmur, but Gentry knows this, and they enter the rehab room where Arlette “Murmur” Truffaut is exclaiming ‘Non! It hurts!’ Gentry asks Murmur what she is doing, and goes over to help her. Arlette knows what it feels like to be alone and it is a feeling that leaves her cold.
Gentry grabs Murmur so she doesn’t fall, telling her that he has her, Murmur declares that she will cooperate. Arlette much prefers the warm touch of another, as that and a word from her lips can give her control over their actions. Arlette smiles and thanks Gentry, to which Gentry asks her if she should be in bed, reminding her that she was shot by the Zodiac. He points out that she has to recuperate and asks if she isn’t in pain. ‘The pain of boredom’ Arlette replies, informing Gentry that she wishes to finish therapy and return to active duty.
Gentry informs Murmur that after reviewing her files, he is worried that she might now have been ready for field action, pointing out that her lack of training ay account for her wounds, and adding that her powers have not even been fully examined. Arlette exclaims that she has nothing but Alpha Flight and tells Gentry that to take it away would be the death of her. She remarks that she would do anything to ensure her active status, and asks Gentry to help her. Gentry smiles, and tells Arlette that he will, but that they must discover better ways for her to more actively help the team. ‘Now, lets get you back on those legs of yours. If you can’t talk the walk, you can’t fight the fight!’
Huxley sits in his private lab watching the scene between Gentry and Murmur play out while eating some potato chips. ‘Go ahead, Gentry…play the hero…and may you soon learn what happens to the heroes here in Department H!’ he exclaims wickedly, while behind him, trapped in a vat of green liquid…is Diamond Lil, one of those very heroes!
Back in White Cross, Judd asks what they are going to do now. Heather tells him that as soon as Mac gets the Captain secured, someone is going to have to fly him out for immediate medical attention. ‘I don’t know how to fly, but I’ll go!’ exclaims Flex. Judd tells the young Alphan to relax, as there isn’t any fight yet. Mac walks down the ramp of the Alpha Jet and declares that there is no flight either, as their on-board computers are dead - including communications - meaning they have been cut off. He remarks that whatever is in this town doesn’t want anything that gets here getting back out.
‘It’s happening to us, just like that team the army sent out here!’ Flex exclaims. Judd tells Flex not to get his boxers in a bunch, as it isn’t a brawl if there haven’t been any punches thrown. Suddenly, the horn sounds again, and Heather declares that she has a bad feeling about it. Jared is standing on the porch of a church and tells his teammates that if they think a horn is bad, then they definitely want to come and see this.
Mac and Heather take flight, while Judd, Manbot and Flex follow on foot. Mac tells Radius to stay where he is until they are with him and asks Heather to take the Z-axis, and informs Judd that he is to take the point. ‘Sure, throw the short one to the wolves, why not, eh?’ Judd replies, leaping on the back of Manbot. Guardian asks Manbot for readings on the church interior, to which Manbot replies that the atmosphere has sulfur content of .323 above normal, and that the life form count is zero. ‘Guess again, transformer!’ Jared exclaims as the team enters the church.
‘Life form count zero? How do you explain that?’ The fog horn sounds again and the Alphans all stare at a group of zoned-out people. Mac motions to the Prime Minister’s Wife in the front, and asks what is wrong with her. ‘Maybe she saw the Canadian exchange rate, eh?’ Judd jokes, before remarking that there is something here more rotten than the economy. Guardian asks Manbot to confirm his life readings, to which the mysterious Alphan replies that the interior life form count is five. ‘That’s us’ says Guardian.
‘It’s only women and children. Not to sound like Murmur - but where are all the men?’ Heather asks. Jared is walking amongst the unmoving people and remarks that, for dead dudes, they are still warm, and suggests that Manbot’s circuits are on the fritz. The horn sounds again and Heather asks what it means. Judd remarks that he feels like he should know, but that he cannot remember. He declares that he wishes Clarke was still alive so that he could kill him again for wiping his memories. Judd adds that he thinks Clarke did something to the part of his brain that wants to tell him the horn mean - ‘Warning!’ announces Manbot.
Indeed, and suddenly, all the zombie-like people in the room light up and smile. ‘Welcome!’ one of the women exclaims. Flex screams and flexes his hand into a sharp weapon. Judd turns to a little girl and remarks that she didn’t say anything, but the girl just screams and with her teddy bear, begins to run away. Judd tells her that it is okay, that they are the good guys, but the girl just tells him to leave her alone, and screams.
Heather and Guardian fly after the girl, with Guardian telling her to stop, that they are here to help her. Heather cautions Mac to be gentle so as not to frighten her. ‘Leave me alone!’ the girl repeats over and over. The fog horn sounds again and Mac points out that the intervals between the calls are decreasing, and asks Manbot to get a fix on it. Manbot attempts to, but replies that the origin point is indeterminate. Heather asks the little girl if she knows where that sound is coming from, to which the girl exclaims that it is coming from the tower in the sky, adding that she saw it in the woods, and then he came to her.
Mac asks her who came, and Heather asks her why everyone else is standing still except her. The little girl remarks that her mother told her not to go into the woods and now she is in trouble. The fog horn sounds again and Radius declares that they have to go find that stupid thing. The little girl exclaims that she could take them to it, and Heather asks her if she would be brave and do that for them. ‘Yes’ the girl exclaims as the fog horn sounds once more.
Elsewhere, there are some people that thrive on isolation, Jean-Paul “Northstar” Beaubier always thought that he was one of those people. ‘Aurora!’ the handsome speedster shouts as he streaks across the sky. However, as the former founding Alphan approaches the magnetic north pole, he feels that it he cannot find his twin sister, Jeanne-Marie, then he will surely perish. Northstar recently found Aurora in her old school, only to lose her just as easily. Suddenly, Northstar discovers that his powers are gone, and crashes to the snow-covered ground below.
Aurora looked far worse, far more vulnerable than Northstar when he last saw her, and now, as he sits up, flagpoles all around him, he sees Aurora standing several feet away from him. In her native French, Jeanne-Marie asks Northstar if he came all the way to the North Pole for her. Jean-Paul asks Aurora if it is really her, to which the sultry former Alphan replies ‘Yes, Jean-Paul…but not for long’, before streaking skywards in a blinding flash of light. Standing in the snow, Jean-Paul calls after her to wait, as his powers are gone. How tragic it is for Northstar that he doesn’t realize he might be far better off…alone.
Back in White Cross, Alpha Flight and the little girl are in the teams jet, and Mac points out that with the radar and communication channels scrambled, they are flying blind, so everyone needs to keep their eyes peeled. Heather points out that they are blinded too, as there is nothing but snow and fog, meaning something is wrong with this weather. Judd tells Heather not to limit it to the weather, as there is plenty more wrong here, but he just cannot work out what. Mac asks Manbot if any of his systems are registering, to which Manbot replies that a conflicting input visual scan shows appreciable human movement at 144.8 Northwest, and his temperature scan shows only one human life form.
Guardian tells Manbot to input those coordinates, as he will settle for anything living at this point. Flex looks at the little girl nervously and reminds his teammates that Manbot said there were no other life forms at the church besides them, so wouldn’t that mean that the little girl - ‘Hard right, Mac!’ Judd exclaims, interrupting Flex. Mac tells Judd that he doesn’t see anything, but Judd tells him to trust him and just to veer.
Perhaps the most unnerving thing of all is thinking you’re alone…when you’re actually not. The Alpha Jet scrapes against something large in the air, and Mac exclaims that they hit something, but that there was nothing there. Judd tells him that there was, but he just couldn’t see it. ‘And you could?’ Radius asks, when suddenly, the little girl exclaims in the same freaky voice the Captain was using ‘Yes…he has the vision…he is the one!’ Radius exclaims that the girl is going “Exorcist” on them back here, and is looking like the people in the church. Mac orders Radius to hold onto her, while he tries to set them down.
Judd remarks that it isn’t going to be a three-pointer with a chunk of the flap missing and urges everyone to strap in. The Alpha Jet bounces along the snow-covered ground, and everyone leaves the plane unharmed. Mac asks for a status report and Manbot states that there is a craft system failure but with zero fatalities. Jared mutters that he hopes everyone is glad they came here, to which Judd exclaims they didn’t come here - they were brought!
Everyone stares up at the mighty tower before them, and Mac asks what it is and why they didn’t see it from the air. Heather asks why Manbot didn’t get a reading if all the men of the two are here working on it, for it is bigger than the C-N Tower. Judd remarks that it is a tower and reveals that it is called the Tower of Babel. ‘Translation for those who don’t speak Bible’ Jared exclaims. Manbot announces that the Tower of Babel is an ancient Mesopotamian structure built in the city of Babylon.
Guardian explains that the Tower is just a myth, supposedly built by the descendants of Moses to reach Heaven. ‘But we’re not in Babylon’ he points out. Judd exclaims that he remembers now, and informs everyone that this is a new tower, hidden from the eyes of man, and built for terrible reasons. He remarks that he never thought its architect would actually return to finish his work. ‘What architect? Who could build something like this?’ Radius asks.
Suddenly, the six heroes hear that strange voice spoken by the little girl and the Captain. ‘He refers to me…‘ exclaims a man clad in brass, surrounded by all the men of White Cross, and with a flaming skull at his side. ‘…the Brass Bishop!’