You think this is funny, don’t you?
Mesmero must, because he is laughing. ‘Food fight!’ he orders, which is carried out by those patrons and certain others under his control in the diner near Montreal. He laughs hard. Not the smug little self-satisfied giggle he let out over his idea to name the diner he abducted “Food for Thought”. And it is not the chuckle he allowed himself each time a new customer that he knew he was never going to let leave sat down for lunch at his counter. It is not even the gleeful titter that squeaked out of him when Fate marched the newest members of Alpha Flight, Canada’s only super hero team right through his front door. No, his laugh today is none of those laughs. This is the laugh of a man who is either a mad genius…or a man who is genuinely mad.
Either way, one thing is certain - his ability to possess the minds of others has rarely yielded him to so powerful a puppet force. At this moment, he manipulates the most formidable citizens of Canada - Guardian, Vindicator, Sasquatch and Puck. And although he has lost control of Radius, Murmur, Flex and Sunfire, he is still supremely confident that this is his day of triumph. Over what? Over whom? That remains to be seen. But still, he is happy, and so he laughs.
Jared Corbo a.k.a. the hot-tempered Radius exclaims to his teammate the sultry Arlette Truffaut a.k.a. Murmur that he doesn’t know how she managed to free him without being able to touch him, to which Murmur smiles and declares that perhaps she did touch him. Former X-Man Shiro “Sunfire” Yashida points out that regardless, their other teammates are now enthralled and they must free them before they harm any of the civilians in here. Watching the senior members of Alpha Flight engage in a food fight with some mind controlled civilians, Adrian “Flex” Corbo asks how they can.
Adrian’s brother Jared declares that he knows how - by fighting them! Flex exclaims that he can’t because he head hurts too much from whatever Mesmero did to his brain. ‘Heroes don’t get headaches, wuss!’ Radius tells his brother as he rushes into action. Sunfire exclaims that this is no time for arguing and that their course is obvious - they must remain in tight formation, move to the center and get Murmur close enough to touch the senior Alphans.
Radius mutters that it is a great plan for people who like the indirect route, but as for him, he’d rather get right into it. Jared stands amongst the food-fight occupied civilians, his force field protects himself as the throw food at him. Of course he would like to get right into it because he is a loner and as a result, his personality if a lot like his super powered force field - it pushes people away from him. Jared doesn’t know much about his father, he knows he was a boxer because he sent Jared a letter once at the orphanage, though there was no return address. It was Radius’s fathers job to keep people who get close to him an arm’s length away - but what’s Jared’s excuse?
Sunfire calls Radius an idiot and exclaims that actions like that could cost them this battle, if not his life. Murmur tells Radius to wait, as they must take this seriously, when suddenly, a banana cream pie lands on her face. It hits her where it hurts the most. Beauty may only be skin deep, but beneath her beauty is an ugly secret. Perhaps that is why she takes this pie so hard. ‘No…’ she mumbles beneath the banana cream.
Radius shoves a mind-controlled patron out of his way and exclaims that he is taking it seriously - ‘I’m going to do some serious damage to Mesmero!’ Standing with his arms folded across his chest, Mesmero declares that this is absolutely appalling, that none of the new vanguard super hero youths have any respect for history or tradition. ‘Like what, Psycho?’ Jared asks. ‘Like leaving the villain alone and fighting your turncoat teammates!’ Mesmero declares, adding that it is what people really want to see.
‘Oh, well… look in to my eyes,’ Mesmero says to Jared. But Jared declares that he isn’t falling for that again, that his eyes are wide shut ‘And I’m ready to kick your - ‘ before Jared can say exactly what he is going to kick, Mesmero calls to Alpha Flight, telling them to make short order of the novices. ‘Whatever you order,’ the mind-controlled James MacDonald Hudson a.k.a. Guardian replies as he uses his electromagnetic abilities to blast Radius across the diner. Mesmero laughs at his “short order” joke, being in a restaurant and all.
What kind of control would this take of Mesmero? To be aware of where everyone is, what they can do - to have some aggressively fighting and others passively eating. It’s spectacular and says a lot about his current abilities. A man with this much power could have almost anything - so what is it he wants? ‘Chocolate mint milkshake!’ he shouts.
The messy Murmur dodges her way past some equally messy patrons, when Sasquatch comes up behind her. ‘No!’ she exclaims as Sasquatch takes a swipe at her, she tries to remind him that she is on his side. Murmur thinks to herself that she could control Sasquatch if she could touch him, but knows that under Mesmero’s power he is even wilder. Nevertheless, Murmur always has to be in the thick of things - she finds it exciting. Even though this time, Sasquatch grabs her by the arm, pulls her to the ground hard. ‘Ahhhh! My hand! Let go!’ Arlette shouts in pain.
Neither her fall nor her crushed hand is a laughing matter - but she still doesn’t lose her concentration. Sasquatch holds her in his hand and brings her up towards his face, where he growls loud as she shouts’ Remember!’ Suddenly, Manbot comes near Sasquatch and informs Sasquatch to release Murmur. The mysterious Manbot then unleashes a powerful blast from his myriad of abilities, which smashes into Sasquatch and causes Arlette to lose her balance. Arlette struggles to stay on top - but she does, clinging on around Sasquatch’s neck she once more shouts ‘Remember!’ - and she should be proud, for that is the mark of a hero.
Meanwhile…it would be nice if all you had to do to get what you want was ask. But across the country, entering the front doors of Department H for the first time in this new era…the spectacular Lillian Crawley-Jeffries is about to learn that life is not that simple. ‘Yes, Diamond Lil, when I’m dressed like this, that is my name’ Alpha Flight’s former vixen tells the receptionist, Jennifer Tartan, who rather uninterestedly replies ‘Oh, all right, how can I help you then?’
Back in her original yellow and green classic costume, Lil explains that she is looking for her husband, Madison Jeffries. ‘…yes…?’ the receptionist mumbles. Hands on her hips, Lil reveals that she and Madison had a fight, then he came here while she went to take care of some…”personal” stuff. ‘Your husband came here?’ the receptionist asks. Getting annoyed, Lil says ‘Look, lady, I’m not some crackpot! I used to be a member of Alpha Flight. Madison rejoined when you opened back up’.
Lil doesn’t notice the young girl banging on the doors nearby as she leans over the reception desk and lowering her voice, Lil tells the receptionist that just between the two of them, this is what they fought over, and asks the receptionist not to tell Madison that she is here. The receptionist picks up the phone and informs the person she speaks to that she has a “Diamond Lil” here looking for her husband, a Mr. Jeffries.
Suddenly, Lilli, the girl that was banging on the door reaches up and taps Diamond Lil on the shoulder, asking her if she can help her, as she doesn’t want to be here anymore, but that they said she cannot go back to the orphanage. ‘Huh? Who are you?’ asks Lil before the receptionist motions to a couple of Epsilons, telling Lil that they can help her. The Epsilons lead Lil away and one of them informs her that her husband is waiting in the infirmary. ‘Infirmary?’ asks Lil, before asking about the girl, as she looks familiar. A scientist tells Lilli that she isn’t supposed to be out here, as Lilli exclaims that she wants to go. ‘Department H, may I help you?’ the receptionist asks as the phone rings.
Back in Montreal…it is funny how things change, isn’t it, Sasquatch? Sasquatch is supposed to be a brilliant scientist named Walter Langkowski - but he acts more like a raging beast. Sasquatch growls loudly as he tosses Arlette aside. If he could talk right now - what would he say? Would he explain to Murmur that he did remember when she touched him? Would Sasquatch tell Murmur that it didn’t make a difference, because all he remembered was that he didn’t want to be here?
Arlette lands hard on a table, smashing it as she falls to the ground. ‘Murmur!’ exclaims Radius - with, perhaps, actual concern in his voice. Jared tells Arlette that he will hold Guardian so she can touch him and do her thing. Forlorn, Arlette replies that she can’t, for her hand - it didn’t work on Sasquatch. Radius tells Murmur that she has to try it again, when suddenly Guardian lunges at Jared and shoves him through a window, and into a car.
Guardian uses his super powered battle suit to then fly upwards, carrying Jared, boasting that he is going to fly high where he can drop him ‘You egotistical little twerp‘. Mesmero is happy as he listens to this, and he snickers to himself - because he knows that these aren’t word’s he made Mac say about his teammate - he just found them floating around inside of him.
In the middle of the air, Radius struggles and gains the upper hand, proclaiming that Guardian is jealous of him, because he is a better leader. ‘Leader? You’re not even fit to be on this team!’ Mac replies, before suggesting that he drops Radius from the roster right now. Placing his hand on Mac’s face, Jared declares that he is good at this, ‘Better than you’ll ever be! I notice things!’ Indeed, Jared does notice things - like how a major suit has got a major weakness when it comes to breathing. Mac begins to struggle, and Radius pushes downwards, forcing both men to the ground, with Jared exclaiming ‘If I ever take a fall, you can bet you’ll be under me when I land!’
Mesmero doesn’t want to fall with Guardian, so he lets his all-controlling mind drift - back into his restaurant and into the mind of Heather McNeil Hudson, otherwise known as Vindicator. As Sunfire flies towards Heather, Alpha Flight’s former and greatest leader uses her new geothermal battle suit to unleash a burst of molten lava from the ground below, telling Shiro that his powers won’t help him. Heather reveals that she can turn the very bedrock against him by releasing the molten lava trapped beneath it.
Trapped in some rock, Shiro struggles as he points out that there is no lava under Canada, to which Heather replies how then can he explain the stone she is solidifying around him with the cooling spring water mists. ‘Science…sorcery…’ he suggests, to which Heather just scoffs at, ‘Magic? Don’t make me laugh!’ she exclaims, before suggesting they finish off Sunfire’s head.
Murmur comes up behind Heather and is about to place her hand on Heather’s shoulder, telling her to remember, when Mesmero alerts Heather to Arlette’s presence. ‘Remember? I remember all too well how much I hate you!’ Heather exclaims as she unleashes a blast of sulphurous gas and mockingly apologizing for the smell, telling Arlette that it should wash out of her beautiful hair in a week or two.
Sunfire suddenly uses his powers to burst free of Heather’s rock prison, and tells Heather that the evil within herself is not her own, that she must break free of its control. Holding his fist towards her, he warns her that if she does not, or cannot, then she leaves him no choice but to - Shiro doesn’t get to the chance to say exactly what he will do as Radius and Guardian crash through the ceiling, then crash straight through the floor. Heather calls out to Mac, allowing Sunfire the moment he needed to knock her off balance by blasting her as he tells Heather her concern should be for her own well-being.
Nearby, Eugene Milton Judd a.k.a. the diminutive Puck bounces around and hits Flex in the chest, knocking him over as he tells him he needs to keep his eyes in front of him, remarking that Flex mustn’t have learned anything from their training sessions. As Adrian falls to the ground it hurts him - but it hurts more to be criticized by a man he respects. Judd lunges for Flex’s legs, pointing out that his arms may be deadly but his legs aren’t, however Adrian warns him not to - only for Judd to cut his hand as Adrian flexes his lower leg.
As Adrian begins to run away, calling for Murmur, Manbot seems to be recording this. Judd is surprised at this revelation that Adrian can flex his legs, and runs after the teen, telling him that he should have cut his hand off when he had the chance, for you have to learn that missed opportunities can cost you. Adrian flexes his hands, ‘Fine! You wanna fight me?’ he asks Judd, but Judd grins and smashing Adrian in the face tells him that it is too late for that.
What about Manbot? Can he still laugh? Is humor part of his programming? Or did Department H completely neuter what little of you used to be named Bernie Lachenay - when they merged him with what they had made of the system formerly known as “Box”? ‘Cease and desist’ declares Manbot as Sasquatch throws a table at him.
Manbot transmit’s a request to Department H asking for clearance to use lethal force against Sasquatch, and a reply is issued immediately, denying Manbot’s request and ordering him to deploy nerve toxin M-11. Manbot readies the toxin as the Department H employee communicating with him orders him to restrict the spray area to affect only Sasquatch, which is acknowledged by Manbot.
Manbot fires the toxin at close range, which splashes all over Sasquatch, who growls in disgust. Bernie Lachenay would have laughed at the last defiant act of Sasquatch - a defiant snapping of the weapon that felled him. But Manbot does not even crack a smile. ‘Target neutralized,’ is all he says.
One small part of the personnel to blame for Manbot’s lack of emotion is Doctor Myra Haddock, coordinator of Department H’s Prometheus Division. But at the moment, Manbot is far from her thoughts as she stands beside the giant Prometheus Pit in her laboratory. Myra thinks to herself that this is it - after all her years of dealing with this maddening bureaucracy are about to be vindicated. She thinks that if the notes were accurate, then this Prometheus Pit is a doorway to a sub-atomic Microverse that will one day make her legendary.
One of Haddock’s Prometheus Division workers approaches her with some buckets of dry ice and water, remarking that he cannot imagine what they need either for. Myra tells the man to just stand ready, remarking that there is high science and there is low science, and that one is no more valid than the other, but if her hunch is right, then both will be needed this day. Myra announces that they have power, and orders someone to prepare to pulse the Pit. There is a loud sound for a moment, then it is over.
Someone announces that this process caused a blackout on levels 20 through 47, while someone else informs Myra that the pulse should have been successful. Leaning into the pit, Myra replies that it was. ‘My God, how it was…’ she utters as she holds in her hand black and yellow clad being. Someone informs Myra that there is an incoming call from General Clarke, to which Myra replies ‘Don’t respond just yet,’ as she quickly hides her new “acquisition”.
Moments later, Myra steps in front of the console where Clarke is asking her how the test was, and informing her that her video feed is off. Myra urges someone to put some water on the dry ice before informing Clarke that it was no luck, that it overheated and blew something, before assuring him that if they get it working he will be the first to know.
Back at the diner, Murmur rushes over to Flex and asks him if he is hurt. ‘Puck hit me in the face!’ exclaims Adrian, to which Murmur points out that Puck is not himself. Adrian tells Arlette to just leave him alone and declares that he hates this, that he wants to quit, remembering that he got Madison Jeffries - before he can say anything more about Jeffries, Arlette wipes away his tears, telling that he should not recall his failures, that he must now have courage.
Murmur’s plan worked as she hoped, and Adrian leaps to his feet, telling Arlette she is right, and asking what he is crying about, pointing out that he has powers, good ones too, so he can do this. ‘Yes you can’ Murmur tells him, while thinking to herself ‘And so can I’, and wondering if perhaps this is how the whole team should be run. Murmur’s idea is an amusing one, but despite the good she might do, how would she then be any different than the man she fights - Mesmero?
Sipping his milkshake, Mesmero tells Arlette that he is getting really tired of her, for she is becoming much too like him. ‘Weren’t you crying a minute ago? What’d you do? Tell yourself to feel better?’ he asks, before offering her another dose of pain courtesy of the paying customers? And with that, Mesmero orders the patrons to attack Arlette. Murmur begins darting past the patrons, touching each of them and saying things like ‘Sit!’ and ‘Leave!’ while informing Mesmero that she is not so easy. ‘That’s not what the others think,’ Mesmero remarks cruelly. ‘How dare you say that!’ Arlette exclaims.
‘This is too rich!’ Mesmero thinks, deciding that he will have to have his next one made with less chocolate syrup, before ordering Guardian to get back up here. Suddenly, Radius appears from out of the hole in the floor he and Guardian made, to which Mesmero remarks that he didn’t ask for him, and that he isn’t even under his control. Radius lands hard on the floor across the room as Guardian flies through the hole, informing Mesmero that Radius was blocking his way, but it was a problem easily solved.
‘I’m gonna block your -’ begins Jared, before Puck interrupts him, warning him that his big mouth is going to get the better of him one day. Jumping onto Jared’s back, Judd exclaims that there is no time like the present, he thinks it best if he just get the better of him now. Guardian tells Judd to turn Radius around so he can blast him, as Jared informs Puck that he cannot hurt what he cannot touch.
Jared manages to swing his body around so that Puck is in front of him, and receives the brunt of Mac’s blast, as Radius suggests to Guardian that he as a “leader” needs to stop yelling out his plans, ‘All you’re doing is making sure I know how to beat them easier’. Judd rubs his head and wonders what he was doing. ‘Somebody else’s dirty work, now move!’ Jared exclaims as he shoves Puck out of the way of Mac’s second blast, realizing that the first must have reset Judd’s mind, but he probably couldn’t have survived a second.
Manbot approaches Mesmero, informing him that all means necessary have been approved for his capture, ‘No, leave me alone!’ is all Mesmero can exclaims - but he shouldn’t lose that Devil-may-care attitude, for he is doing so well. Mesmero controls great forces - he should use them. Mesmero orders Heather to jam Manbot’s gears, or melt his sockets, so Heather does as she is commanded, causing Manbot to repeatedly whir and click. However, Sunfire comes to Manbot’s aide by blasting Heather and telling her that distraction at her master’s hand is nothing she can afford.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, courage fades quickly as Flex has just discovered, thinking to himself that he has got to get out of this place and hide. It is a very delicate thing - just as being chased by someone you can trust is a delicate thing. ‘Flex, wait!’ shouts Judd, but Adrian just wonders why Puck is picking on him. However it is not the first time Adrian has not been able to get away from someone he trusts - and he thinks that this is just like back in Hull House when…when…’NOOOOOOO!’ he screams, as his mind flips backwards in his history, and he relives that time at Hull House.
But was it someone all those years ago - or some thing? Flex remembers screaming for Miss de la Salle to help him, and a hideous being standing in front of him, ‘Help you she can’t, young thing! Sure of that I am! MMM, pretty eyes you have. Eat them I could!’ the being exclaims as young Adrian tells it to leave him alone.
Flex’s mind returns to the hear and now, and as Judd approaches him, he flexes out and fights back, telling Judd to leave him alone. Judd manages to grab hold of Adrian and assures him that he is himself again, and telling him to calm, down. ‘What…?’ asks Flex. Judd repeats that he is himself again, which Heather overhears as she flies past them. Smirking, Heather says to Judd ‘Yourself again? That’s a pity…I always thought you were kind of cute,’ before telling him that now she has to kill him.
Suddenly, Murmur comes up behind Heather and shouting ‘Remember!’ is about to place her hands on Heather’s head, when Mesmero warns her to stop or else he will stab - not himself of course, but someone she likes almost as much - Guardian! The mesmerized Mac holds a knife at his own throat and Mesmero orders him to push the tip in a little further. Smugly, Mesmero tells Murmur that they will make this quick - that she will either “convince” the other Alphans to rejoin him, or “Commander Canuck” here will die by his own hand. ‘Or is that my own hand? Whatever. Either way, he will die’.
Heather McNeil Hudson is the kind of woman who can forget the punch line to a really funny joke. But there are some things she cannot begin to get out of her mind. Things like watching her husband die before her eyes years ago, then also in service to his country, then for no apparent reason. ‘MAC!’ Heather screams.
‘Such hysterics,’ Mesmero remarks, pointing out that the last time they met he recalls that they were very level-headed, ‘Department H have really made a mess of your mind haven’t they? Regardless, shrieks and tears won’t help you now! Only cooperation’ he declares, telling Murmur that she has until the count of three to meet with his demands - then Mac will kill himself. Mesmero begins his countdown, and just as he says ‘Three’ Sasquatch comes up behind Guardian and smacks him across the room, thrusting the knife from his hand.
Heather calls to Sunfire, asking him to help her break Mac’s fall, and as they catch him, Heather urges Murmur over, so Arlette rushes over and places her hand on Mac’s head, telling him to remember. ‘What…is going on?’ Mac asks as he comes to, before saying ‘Never mind, I do remember,’ and telling Mesmero that it is over, as he has lost.
Some believe that laughter is the best medicine, others believe the laying on of hands is helpful. But Mesmero believes in the very old adage that he who laughs last…laughs best. ‘Over?’ he remarks, ‘There was nothing here to end. This has been nothing but play - a last romp around my old playground my dear puppets’. Sipping his milkshake some more, Mesmero reveals that this was only a test, and that in the event of a real super-villain assault, they would have heard the emergency sound followed by important instructions.
Mesmero tells Alpha Flight that as fun as it has been, it was a waste of his abilities of which he is finally beginning to understand. He remarks that it has given him ideas, but he cannot share them just yet. He points out that if he did control every mind in this restaurant simultaneously, then there would be no limit to the type or number of minds he could control at once. ‘Whatever I want! Good bye!’ he exclaims, before mysteriously vanishing.
The patrons in the restaurant suddenly return to their normal selves, many of them wondering what happened. ‘Subject escaping’ Manbot announces. ‘More like escaped, huh?’ points out Judd. ‘Subject is escaping’ Manbot repeats, to which Judd reminds everyone that he couldn’t go invisible last time they fought. ‘Where could he have gone?’ asks Mac.
Far, far away…Paris, France, to be exact. The City of Light begins to twinkle into its full glory as old passions flare up as well. An elderly couple driving through the city are having an argument about where their friends’ house is. ‘I think your mind is going the way of your hair, Georges. We are no where near close!’ Georges’ wife tells him. ‘You never have confidence in me, never!’ Georges exclaims, taking his eyes off the road as he looks at his wife. ‘That’s not true, I am confident you are lost!’ the old woman exclaims. Georges asks his wife if she would prefer he let her out to walk the rest of the way, when suddenly, she tells Georges to look out, as there is a woman on the road.
Georges cannot break in time, ‘Sacre bleu!’ he shouts, while the woman standing in the middle of the road mutters ‘Sc - sc - sc - sc -’, before the car hits her, and knocks her several meters down the road. The elderly couple get out of the car, and the old woman asks Georges if she is alive. Georges replies that she is and that she is trying to speak. Lying on the road, the pink-clad woman with a large gun utters a single word in English. Her name is Virgo, and she whispers ‘Scorpio…’