Can you believe your own eyes?
Here, before Dr. Horatio Huxley, is Canada’s hero, the leader of Alpha Flight, Guardian locked in combat with…Guardian!? All that separates these identical men are the twin electromagnetic fields that crackle around their Canadian engineered flight suits…and a decade or two. But then Dr. Huxley already knows this, doesn’t he? But what he cannot understand is how this particular piece of the past…has come back to haunt him. Luckily, Huxley is not alone in his confusion.
‘Who are you?’ asks the young Guardian, current leader of Canada’s premiere super hero team, Alpha Flight - at least, the government affiliated team that is. ‘Who do I look like? The question is who are you?’ asks the older James MacDonald Hudson, leader of the Alpha Flight team consisting of the original members. The young Guardian, who is easy to tell apart from the older one by the red stripe on his head covering declares ‘I’m Guardian! Leader of Alpha Flight!’
‘Funny, I was about to say the same thing!’ the older Guardian exclaims. ‘Though with far greater authority’ jokes Walter “Sasquatch” Langkowski of the original grouping. Michael Twoyoungmen a.k.a. Shaman of the original Alphans tells his teammates to subdue the other Alpha Flight quickly, as Weapon X is their key objective. Caught between the two groupings of heroes, the new Weapon X declares ‘Tsk tsk, luv. We don’t plan to come easy. We don’t plant to come at all!’
This confusion means something to all the members of the official Alpha Flight line up - Guardian thinks that this other Guardian cannot be him. Can he? Heather Hudson a.k.a. Vindicator stands sullen in the pouring rain - for could anyone withstand a fifth resurrection of their dead husband? As for Eugene “Puck” Judd, it is bad enough he had one Mac standing between him and his feelings for Heather - what will he do now with two of them? Adrian Corbo a.k.a. Flex has just been starting to feel confident with his place in the team - but that isn’t rain water rushing from his armpits, it’s the perspiration of unbridled fear. As for Adrian’s older brother, Jared a.k.a. Radius, he must be feeling something as he stares into the eyes of Sasquatch - the teammate whose death he caused. Only Manbot remains emotionally unaffected by the return of the original Alphans - though that is his own curse.
Judd tells Manbot to give him a reading on Sasquatch, pointing out that he is supposed to be dead. Judd asks if Sasquatch is real or just a Synthoid Department H has sent out. Manbot states that life signs are normal, to which confuses Flex. Judd leaps towards his former teammate and informs Walter that they saw him dead. Judd tells his old friend that he is glad he isn’t dead, before pointing out that he has got a lot of explaining to do. Sasquatch swipes at Judd, telling him that he has nothing to say to the pawns of Department H’s evil machinations - even if Judd is an unwitting one.
Heather flies towards Northstar and asks him why he has come here, not to mention why he is attacking them, before reminding him that they were friends for years. Jean-Paul Beaubier replies that the past is history and that he could never align himself with those who would do such brutal damage to his sister. ‘Aurora? She’s been -’ Heather, begins, only for the young woman in question, Jeanne-Marie Beaubier a.k.a. Aurora to fly past Heather, and giving her former friend a filthy look, Aurora calls her brother to her side, and they clasp hands. ‘Let our touch blind this gnat and send her falling!’ Aurora declares cruelly, which sends Heather plummeting down where she lands on Manbot.
‘Oh my gosh! What do I do?’ exclaims Flex, to which Judd tells him to keep his head glued on, as they have to defend their own without losing Weapon X. Shaman reaches into his medicine pouch and addresses Flex. Flex asks Shaman what he wants, to which Shaman remarks that he is called “Shaman” as much for his wisdom as for the powers at his disposal within his medicine pouch. Tossing some totems at Flex, Shaman advises him to take his teammates and leave this area immediately. Adrian is about to reply when the totems become very large, and make their way towards the young Alphan. Adrian could still get away before they reach him, but he knows his teammates are counting on him, so using his mutant powers to transform his limbs into razor sharp metal, Flex begins hacking away at the totems.
Nearby, Jared might be proud of his mother if he could see him right now - but all Jared can see is his ten-foot-tall guilty conscience looking him dead in the eye. ‘I killed you’ Radius exclaims. Walter points out that “killed” is past tense, referring to things that have already happened, while future tense is reserved for actions yet to happen. ‘As in “I’m going to hurt you if you don’t step aside”!’ Jared remarks that Sasquatch can talk this time, before declaring ‘Cool. Then say your prayers - because you’re about to eat some serious force field, you ugly big, wookie!’ The handsome Alphan extends his force field and knocks Sasquatch to the ground, declaring that if everyone is going to blame him for Sasquatch’s death for the rest his life when he didn’t even mean for it to happen - then he may as well make it happen now.
The older Guardian tells his younger counterpart that he doesn’t know what kind of trick Department H is playing on him, to which the young Mac declares that it isn’t a trick, he is James MacDonald Hudson, born in London, Ontario. The older Guardian remarks that anyone can memorize some trivia, before asking his younger counterpart when he was living in London, what it was he did with the Horrocks’ pet dog after he accidentally hit him with his bike when he was seven. ‘The Horrocks? Who are the Horrocks?’ Mac replies. ‘Just as I thought!’ exclaims the older Guardian as he unleashes a mighty blast of electromagnetic energy which knocks the young Mac to the ground.
Manbot announces that his power cell is damaged, and that systems failure is imminent. He initiates “sleep” mode for power conservation and overrides the tracking target, before launching several missiles into the air in an attempt to capture Northstar and Aurora. Northstar boasts that one can never stop siblings who can fly at the speed of light with mere explosives, when suddenly, the missiles unleash nets, and Aurora screams as she is captured in a net. Jean-Paul calls to his sister while Manbot informs him that he has calculated their speed of velocity and it is not the speed of light, adding that the projectiles are not explosives. Aurora falls to the ground and Manbot stands over here, announcing that he has contained his target, while Aurora screams to be set free.
The young Guardian calls to Puck, ‘You know them best! How do we win this?’ he asks. ‘Duck!’ exclaims Puck. ‘Duck? What good will that do?’ Mac asks, when suddenly Radius comes careening past them, tossed across the site by Sasquatch, he lands smack in the Alpha Jet. Sasquatch declares that he has kicked Radius’ butt and asks if anyone else is interested in becoming past tense. Judd leaps on Sasquatch and exclaims that the Walt he knows is logical, while now he is acting like a monster! ‘Name-calling, Eugene? That’s the best you can do?’ Sasquatch asks.
The young Mac flies towards his senior and shouts ‘I hid him in the woods~’ ‘Who?’ The older Guardian asks. ‘The Horrocks’ dog, Pepper. Now I’m gonna do the same to you!’ shouts the younger Guardian, when suddenly, Heather, ever the voice of reason, screams ‘ALL OF YOU STOP IT THIS INSTANT!’ Indeed, everyone does, and Heather takes to the air so she is flying above the two teams of Alpha Flight, including many people whom she lead for years, and who were her friends.
Heather tells everyone that in case they hadn’t noticed, Weapon X has escaped, meaning all of this chaos if not only stupid, but completely pointless. She asks how many times one super hero team has to fight another before they all learn once and for all that all it does is let the bad guys escape? Looking at the younger of the Guardian, before turning to the other, she declares that they all want answers here, some more than others. Dropping back to the ground, Heather faces Sasquatch and Shaman and reminds them that they have a mutual, extremely dangerous quarry and they are all Alphans in one way or another, so they must cooperate until they have reached their goal and saved their country.
Heather remarks that Shaman looks to be the spokesperson for her former teammates and asks him what he has to say. Restrained in Manbot’s netting still, a delirious Aurora exclaims that they will never cooperate with them, that they must unite with their - she screams, and passes out. Heather turns to Aurora and asks what is wrong with her, but Northstar doesn’t answer, so she turns back to Shaman and asks him to tell her what is wrong with Jeanne-Marie. Heather begins to offer help, when Shaman agrees that perhaps it is not necessary for them to fight each other, before revealing that the man Heather seeks is the cause of and answer to Aurora’s problems.
Shaman explains to Heather that those problems were caused by the men who she works for, so they are not at liberty to trust or cooperate with them. Shaman warns Heather not to continue this chase, and exclaims that they will do whatever it takes to save Jeanne-Marie. With that, the five original Alphans begin to disappear in a small storm of dust that Shaman let out of his medicine pouch. ‘Former allegiances not-withstanding’ he adds. Then, as suddenly as they appeared, they are gone.
‘For a physician, Dr. Twoyoungmen could sure use some work on his bedside manner’ exclaims the young Guardian, before suggesting that they should follow. ‘Follow him, or Weapon X?’ asks Heather, to which Flex asks whichever one they pick, what will they follow with? For Radius wrecked the jet. Stuck in Alpha Flight’s jet, Jared mutters ‘Did not you little snitch!’ ‘Where’s Madison Jeffries when you need him?’ mumbles Guardian, as they could have used his transmutative power to repair the damaged Alpha Jet.
Suddenly, Manbot, who is suffering from some serious damage, announces that he has detected a life form in a tree 4 meters East. ‘Tree? What kind of an idiot would hide in a tree?’ Heather asks. Everyone looks up to the tree, where Dr. Horatio Huxley has been watching Alpha Flight versus Alpha Flight and exclaims ‘No! Don’t come near me!’ Suddenly, his jet pack launches him high into the air, and Flex asks if it is Weapon X. ‘Not unless he gained two or three hundred pounds’ Guardian exclaims, before using his electromagnetic abilities to short-circuit Huxley’s jet pack.
As Huxley thinks he is safe, he boasts to himself that they will never know who it was that spied upon them from that stately Maple tree, when suddenly Mac powers interact with the jet pack, and Huxley screams for help as he plummets towards the ground. Manbot catches Huxley in a device which he extends from his body, ‘Subject apprehended’ he announces, while Judd remarks that it is Department H’s own mad scientist.
‘Turn me loose, you pusillanimous pile of programmed puss!’ Huxley shouts at Manbot, to which Heather tells Huxley that just because he didn’t create Manbot is no reason to insult him, before remarking that she wishes she could say she is surprised to see him, but points out that Huxley is always lurking behind anything unsavory. Heather exclaims that they were set up here, and points out that since Huxley was peeping from the bushes, she thinks he is guilty unless he can prove otherwise.
‘What? How dare you accuse me of skulduggery?’ Huxley shouts, still stuck in Manbot’s “arm”, before claiming that he tried to keep them out of this for their own sake. Huxley declares that this is a power struggle between himself and Department H that he knew would only cause them all great outrage. Judd tells Huxley that before he flaps his lips any further, he should know that he has some inside info about this, and tells him to share his tale, but to know that he is taking a tooth for every word that he thinks is false. ‘Very well…my tale begins in the horrific halls of Department H, months ago’…
(Shown with flashback images, takes place sometime shortly after Alpha Flight (2nd series) #1):
Huxley’s version of events:
‘My hunt for a snack machine led me to a secret lab in the bowels of the building - a lab littered with corpses ravaged by a deadly bacteria’. Huxley claims that he was aghast and immediately took himself and his enormous rage to then-director General Clarke, and apparently told Clarke that this ludicrous folly must be cancelled immediately.
Judd and the rest of Alpha Flight listen to Huxley, but Judd doesn’t believe him, for his details are incongruous with those he has read in “Curiosity”, the file which was mysteriously emailed to him. The file claimed that Huxley was the projects biggest proponent.
Huxley claims that when it became clear that Clarke would not halt the project, he felt a moral obligation to run it, with the secret agenda of curing the test subjects and ridding them of the deadly bacteria coursing through them. ‘I am here to help you’ he told the poor subjects.
Puck’s version of events according to “Curiosity”:
Apparently, Huxley ran through subjects faster than they could be delivered. ‘Success, General Clarke, will require more time, more money and more bodies’ he apparently said to the now deceased Clarke.
Huxley’s version of events:
Huxley reveals that in the middle of his travails there was a startling development when he was brought the former Alphan Lillian Crawley-Jeffries a.k.a. Diamond Lil, who had already been infected with the bacteria somehow, and further tests were ordered.
Puck’s version of events according to “Curiosity”:
In reality, Huxley ordered Epsilon guards to ambush Diamond Lil when she came in search of her husband, Madison Jeffries. ‘Do it!’ Huxley exclaims gleefully.
Huxley’s version of events:
According to Huxley, despite his “undying respect” for the heroes of Canada, there was little he could do for Diamond Lil but place her in stasis. ‘I’m so sorry, my dear, sweet child…’ he said to her.
Puck’s version of events according to “Curiosity”:
The file claimed that it wasn’t Huxley who saved Lillian’s life, ‘Stop resisting me!’ he would shout at her, but Lillian’s own super-hardened molecular structure which held the bacteria outside her skin, where it now resides like a parasite.
Huxley’s version of events:
Huxley claims that he was next ordered, at gunpoint, to infect a New Zealand terrorist apprehended in Thunder Bay. ‘How dare you force me to perform these transgressions?!’ he supposedly said, ‘No matter what this man has done he doesn’t deserve this!’
Puck’s version of events according to “Curiosity”:
The New Zealander was a tourist, not a terrorist, and Huxley eyed him up like a vampire would eye a bloody steak. ‘Scuse me, luvvies, I think I took a wrong turn somewhere on the tour!’ the tourist exclaimed as he approached Huxley and a group of Epsilons. ‘Indeed, the exit is right this way’ Huxley told the New Zealander, beckoning him to follow.
Huxley exclaims that under great duress he did what he was ordered, and reveals that the bacteria did not kill the last subject, but consume him. He explains that somehow the bacteria mutated and replaced the New Zealand “terrorists” organs with its own collective consciousness, the two becoming a hybrid of man and infection. Heather asks Puck if that jibes with what he read, to which Judd replies ‘Let’s say it does’ before asking Huxley if he knows Weapon X so well, where is it that he thinks he went and why.
The “good” Doctor Huxley replies that Weapon X is an unpredictable and unstable wild card and explains that all that is evident is that he has been heading West since his escape. Huxley remarks that if Weapon X’s humanity is in control, then he would postulate that he is seeking more power to keep his environmental suit cooled, and thus preventing the bacteria from reproducing. However, if the bacteria is in control, then he fears that it is seeking a means to rupture the suit and spread itself to millions more human hosts.
Well, which is it, Weapon X? Which side rules his troubled soul as he escapes through the Calgary sewers at an inhuman velocity? Is it a desire to remain in control of the bacteria that has laid siege to his body? Or is it something much more primal driving his actions? The powerful super being stops in the water for a moment, when suddenly he sees a worker being lowered into the sewer. Weapon X is hungry. As the man is lowered down into the sewer, he calls up to his co-worker and tells him that from the noises they are making, they rats down here must have gotten huge.
‘That’s right, luv. We’re human sized - if not quite human!’ Weapon X exclaims as he leaps up at the worker. But before Weapon X attacks him, he stops. ‘Raise the winch!’ the worker shouts to his colleague. What is it that keeps Weapon X from ripping open his suit and allowing himself to swarm over this fresh meat, then dine on it? That’s what his instincts are commanding him to do, isn’t it? ‘No! I won’t!’, ‘Yes, we will!’, ‘No!’ he shouts to himself as he leaps off the man and back into the water. As the man is raised up, he calls down to Weapon X and asks him if he needs some help. ‘Leave me alone! Leave us alone!’ Weapon X shouts back. ‘Us, us, us!’ Weapon X skulks off down the sewer. As long as he is at war with his instincts, then he will be a threat to the very humanity that he claims as his heritage.
At Department H, Gentry exclaims ‘I don’t think I believe what I am hearing!’ Lilli a.k.a. Ghost Girl asks Arlette “Murmur” Truffaut if Gentry is angry, to which Arlette replies that Gentry is just being official. ‘You battled Alpha Flight?’ he asks into his phone. ‘Correct me if I’m wrong, but you are Alpha Flight!’ he exclaims, before asking about Weapon X.
Heather replies into his microphone that it was the original Alpha Flight, complete with their own original - ‘Guardian here, sir!’ Mac exclaims, grabbing Heather’s microphone and explaining that his is damaged. Mac informs Gentry that Weapon X escaped and that he will take full responsibility for the failure, before revealing that he has devised a follow-up plan, before adding that their jet was, well, destroyed.
Gentry replies by telling Guardian that he respects his professionalism, but that this is no normal situation and tells him not to consider this a reprimand, before informing him that they will rendezvous with his team at their location. Lilli smiles and asks Arlette if she heard that. ‘We’re meeting up with Flex! Oh?…And uh, Alpha!’ Sullenly, Arlette mutters that the two of them will probably be left in the ship due to their lack of training.
Back at the power station, Heather asks Mac if he is okay, to which Mac replies ‘Sure’ before turning away from her and walking off on his own. ‘As okay as a guy who just saw his older, exact double can be. Two Guardians? One of us has to be an impostor…is it me?’
The young James Hudson is not alone in his thoughts, for at the stadium where the original team are holding up, the older Guardian thinks to himself ‘Two Guardians? One of us has to be an impostor…is it me?’ While Northstar tends to his sister, Guardian turns to Shaman who is meditating and asks him if he could tell him - Sasquatch interrupts and points out that Michael is in a trance trying to find Weapon X, so he shouldn’t disturb him until he is done. ‘You know how cranky he can get’.
Walt and Mac begin to take a walk away from the others, and Walt can sense that Mac is troubled by something, so asks if he can help with anything. Mac replies that he is having trouble remembering his life. Walt tells him that it is not unexpected, considering what the Department did to him. Mac points out that he knows Walt told him already, but that he cannot keep it in his head.
(Shown with Flashback images)
Walt tells Guardian that he isn’t surprised, for what he pieced together is almost too much to believe. He reminds Mac that when things fell apart and everyone left the Department, only Mac maintained faith, believing that things would right themselves as they always had. Walt reminds Mac that it looked as though his instincts were correct, as Parliament reapportioned funding and Department H was back in business.
Sasquatch explains to Guardian that it was a very different Department H that they were interested in creating, one of which Guardian swore he would have no part of. However, it was then in which Guardians entire cerebral cortex was somehow wiped clean by the Department - as if all his thoughts had been downloaded, leaving his brain as nothing more than a blank hard drive. Sasquatch reveals that Mac’s battle suit was then programmed to carry him into space and hold him there until he died.
But something inside of Mac refused that fate, and somehow he managed a command to reverse his flight and bring him home, albeit in a haphazard manner, and by a coincidence of astronomical proportions, Mac was delivered near the Antarctic base where Sasquatch was working at the time. ‘And the rest, as they say, is recent history’.
Suddenly, Aurora screams, ‘Release us! Release us!’ she shouts. Mac asks Sasquatch if that is also what happened to Jeanne-Maire, if that is why she is screaming. However, Aurora’s former lover explains to Mac that Aurora went to the Department after he had been sent away, as she was looking for help with her returning multiple personality disorder, however she was given a near-fatal injection of the Weapon X bacteria instead. Sasquatch explains that the bacteria is “eating” through Aurora’s personalities, and if it reaches her core persona, then she is doomed.
Sasquatch explains that Weapon X is somehow living with the bacteria, which is why they have to get to him at all costs. Northstar remains at his sisters side, and tells her to rest, before Shaman announces that he cannot see Weapon X himself, but that he has had a vision of his destination, so they must part immediately.
Meanwhile, near Vancouver, British Columbia, a small Department H hovercraft flits towards its destination, and inside, Flex exclaims ‘Are we there yet? I have to, you know…GO!’ Gentry tells Flex to hold his bladder as they are moving as fast as they can on very little information, and reminds everyone that this is a transport craft, not the Alpha Jet, and that he had to send the faster of his ships back to the Department with the injured Epsilons. Judd mutters that he wishes they could have gotten an upgrade, for it is a little cramped in here, even for a short guy like him.
‘I’ll tell you why it’s cramped!’ exclaims Radius as he elbows Huxley. ‘If that was meant as an insult to me, Jared Corbo, save your boisterous breath!’ Huxley replies. ‘How can I? You’re squeezing it out of me!’ Radius replies. Flex seems to have gotten over his need to go to the bathroom, as he smiles at Ghost Girl and tells her that he likes her costume. ‘Really? Thanks!’ Lilli exclaims happily.
Suddenly, Manbot comes back on-line and announces that he is replaying visual file number 36465-Delta. ‘I think the Manbot, he is about to explode!’ Murmur exclaims with her accent thick. A hazy image of Dr. Huxley is displayed from Manbot as he replays this event in which Huxley asked Manbot what the center of the triangulation was. Manbot replied that it was Devil’s Bay, in British Columbia, and Huxley seemed to know where Weapon X is heading for. ‘Gee. Guess whose been withholding information!’ Radius exclaims. A shocked Huxley mutters that he ordered Manbot to delete that file, and indeed, a recording of Manbot being told to delete the visual file is shown for everyone to see, including Manbot announcing that he deleted it.
‘How dare you defy my order, you walking garbage bin!’ Huxley shouts as he waddles over to Manbot and stares him straight in the face. Manbot whirs and clicks before exclaiming ‘File was deleted. File was restored’. Piloting the craft still, Judd remarks that it seems like their Mr. Huxley knows more than he is letting on. ‘That’s DOCTOR Huxley!’ the fat doctor shouts. Suddenly, Murmur goes over to him and putting a hand on his shoulder, she exclaims ‘Whatever. I believe, monsieur Huxley, it is time for you to…confess!’ With that, Huxley mutters ‘No! I will resist you infernal power of suggesting until the end of…Weapon X is traversing the continent to the…to the…Hell Pounder as it is nicknamed…the atomic incinerator at Devil’s Bay!’
As the aircraft hovers towards a strange looking structure located in a gully, Heather exclaims ‘Good Lord! What on Earth is it?’ Gentry announces that it is their destination and tells Puck to take them down. Once landed, everyone piles out of the craft and someone motions to all the staff, every last one of them is unconscious. Someone else asks if Weapon X hurt them, to which Heather points out that his touch would have killed them. Guardian remarks that it looks more like they are petrified, to which Judd exclaims that Weapon X might have powers Huxley hasn’t told them about.
There is no response, so everyone turns to where Huxley was last seen, until Ghost Girl announces that he is gone. Heather declares that Huxley tricked them into brining him here, but Judd tells her not to be too sure that this is Huxley’s doing, for whatever else Huxley may be, stealthy he isn’t. Guardian asks Manbot if he can get a reading on Huxley, to which Manbot only replies ‘Systems failure in 17 minutes’.
Suddenly, a commanding voice declares ‘Cease all actions!’ everyone turns to the direction of the voice and stares in shock. ‘Holy moley!’ exclaims Flex. ‘What? We must be seeing things!’ Heather remarks in disbelief…for standing before everyone is SNOWBIRD! Judd remarks that this would be a dandy reunion if she wasn’t six feet under. Alpha Flight’s former goddess stands her ground and simply tells her former teammates to turn away, as they are not welcome here!