Flashback, six weeks ago:
Inside a court room of the Superior Court of Justice, Ottawa branch, a Family Court hearing is in session. A young red-haired girl sits on the lap of a red-haired woman. She is looking at the pictures in an upside down children’s book, as the judge announces that the issue before them today concerns delicate matters of the highest personal and public responsibility involving one Claire McNeil Hudson, born on the first of July, eighteen months ago to Mr and Mrs James MacDonald Hudson, who was since placed in the care of Mrs Hudson’s distant cousins, David and Yvette McNeil, once the mother and father were declared deceased after one of their so-called “adventures” with the government’s paramilitary superhuman force, “Alpha Flight” misfired. As the judge explains the situation, David and Yvette look at each other, while the lawyer stares at the judge.
James “Mac” MacDonald Hudson - also known as Guardian - listens to the judge, who remarks that news of their deaths was obviously premature, as they have seen fit to return and ask their daughter be given back to them. The judge announces that the child’s lawyer’s report shows that Claire has already bonded with the McNeils. ‘Hey, Claire!’ Heather McNeil Hudson a.k.a. Vindicator whispers to her daughter from across the courtroom. The judge continues to read from her judgment, remarking that given the high risk of the birth-parents’ careers as quote-unquote “super heroes”, in which death and resurrection appear to be the rule rather than the exception, the court has no choice but to rule in favor of the respondents, and leave Claire in the care of her new, legitimate parents, the McNeils.
Heather hangs her head, but Mac stands up and shouts ‘NO!’, before declaring that he has literally given his life for this country - twice. The judge warns Hudson to control himself, while Heather whispers at her husband, telling him that this will not help. James tears his suit back, revealing his Guardian battle suit beneath, while exclaiming ‘And you sit there - and you pass judgment on me?’ But the judge replies ‘The life you’ve chosen -’, to which James asks ‘You think I chose this? The endless fighting and danger? I’m an engineer who built an electromagnetic harness for oil exploration! The government put the maple leaf on this thing!’
‘Mister Hudson!’ the judge shouts with a stern voice. ‘I’ve given everything I’ve ever had to the nation. And you won’t grant me -’ Mac begins, but the judge once again interrupts, telling him that does not make him above the law, and that if he thinks he does, then all he has fought for is meaningless. Claire begins to cry, so Heather stands up and puts a hand on Mac’s shoulder, telling him that he is scaring Claire. Mac hangs his head, and begins to glow with electro-magnetic power, ‘I never fought for the law. Or for the flag. I fought for the people’ he announces, before turning and burning a hole in one of the courtroom windows, and flying out through it, adding that now he just wants to be treated like one of the people. He then soars off across the city.
‘Vindicator to Department H. Cipher code B3’ Heather calls out as she flies across the city of Ottawa in an electromagnetic blaze - an unconscious Guardian held in her stasis field. ‘ETA in fifteen’ Heather announces, before asking Agent Brown what his status is. ‘Status awesome, Vindicator’ Department H’s new Director replies via the communicator.
Department soldiers walk past Brown, wheeling the unconscious Marrina and Michael “Shaman” Twoyoungmen past him. Brown informs Heather that the Box units executed the Hudson Protocols perfectly, and that the team has been successfully neutralized. ‘Alpha didn’t know what hit them’ he adds.
Flashback narrated by Agent Brown:
‘What the devil -’ Walter “Sasquatch” Langkowski called out as he and his teammates were suddenly confronted by several Boxbots. Agent Brown in forms Heather that Marrina was dehydrated almost instantly with high-intensity microwaves, while quasar-level gamma rays counteracted the “Hulk-stuff” in Sasquatch’s cells, reverting him to his human form, he was then quickly subdued. Agent Brown tells Heather that the Box unit calibrated to Aurora’s speed countered her as soon as she moved, rendering her unconscious, while as far as Shaman goes, once you take away his medicine pouch, he is no match for the killer robots. ‘But the best was Snowbird! Aw, you shoulda seen the look on her face! Our creepy ally gave us a bone fragment from Neooqtoq the Ravager - one of those - whatchamacallit - Great Beasts - that prevented her mystical shape-changing abilities, then -’.
Before Agent Brown can tell Heather what actually happened to Snowbird a.k.a. Narya, Heather interrupts him, ‘Spare me how in love you are with yourself, Brown’ she declares, before announcing that she assumes Northstar was taken out with the same basic Box unit that subdued his sister. ‘Ahh…that’s a negative, I’m afraid. The Box dispatched to Montreal failed to track him down. We’re still trying to locate -’ Agent Brown explains, as Heather flies into the current Department H facility, based underneath Parliament Hill. She gasps ‘What? Why are you wasting time talking to me, then?’ she demands. Agent Brown tells her not to panic. ‘No expense is being -’ he begins, but Heather yet again interrupts him, ‘Not good enough! Find him!’ she demands, before asking Agent Brown if she has to remind him what Northstar used to do before he was a super hero. And as the steel doors begin to close behind Vindicator and the unconscious Guardian - a blurred figure speeds into the hangar bay, just in time.
In another part of Department H, ‘Hallway 52B all clear’ a Department H soldier announces as he patrols the area. ‘Copy that’ someone replies from another location. But, suddenly, ‘Bonjour!’ a voice calls out. The soldier spins around, but before he can act, his helmet and weapons have been removed at super-speed, ‘And bonsoir’ Jean-Paul “Northstar” Beaubier declares as he renders the soldier unconscious. ‘Ah. Security cam’ Northstar whispers as he looks up to the ceiling and sees a camera. ‘Pretty quick. But nothing’s as fast as I can be…when I need to be there for my sister’ he boasts as he places the soldier on a bench, posing him as if he was simply resting, before Jean-Paul speeds out of the corridor.
At that moment, Northstar’s sister - Aurora a.k.a. Jeanne-Marie Beaubier, suddenly wakes in the darkness. ‘Wha - where… can I have some light?’ she calls out, then again, asks for light in French. A voice from within the darkness replies ‘Tch. A grown woman. Afraid of the dark. You should be ashamed of yourself’. Aurora spins around and asks ‘Who’s there?’ as she asks once again for light. The voice suggests to Aurora that she put on some light herself, as she is a mutant and has the power. ‘B-but…’ Aurora begins. The voice shushes her and tells her that it is all right. ‘I know why’ the voice calls out. ‘Whenever your abilities manifested themselves at the orphanage…well, they’d lock you away, wouldn’t they?’
Suddenly, a figure appears before Aurora. ‘Oh, God, not…not him’ she calls out as the figure is dowsed in light. ‘In the deep, endless dark’ the voice calls out. Aurora crouches and puts her head between her knees, ‘N-no, I’ll be good - just don’t’ she begs. ‘Don’t let him -’ she begins. ‘Who?’ the voice calls out. ‘Your social worker, Monsieur Laclose?’ Aurora looks up and sees an elderly man, bounded to a chair and gagged. ‘We know. You needn’t fear him any longer, Aurora. We’re protecting you. We know what he did. And it wasn’t just to you’ the voice calls out., informing Aurora that there were others, so many others, that they have not found them all yet. These other victims, young girls, apparently appear behind the forlorn Aurora, as the voice tells remarks ‘Why, whenever he got found out, his superiors just shipped him off to another town. Another round of victims. But now he can’t hurt anyone. Ever again’ the voice assures Aurora, before asking Aurora if she wants to do things to him. ‘What…what do you want from me?’ Aurora asks. ‘Not much’ the voice replies. ‘Just…Unity’ .
At that moment, Jean-Paul speeds into another corridor, this one lined with a series of cells. ‘Northstar!’ a voice from within one of the cells calls out. ‘Kill this magnetic bottle and let me out!’ asks the imprisoned Citadel. ‘Not likely’ Jean-Paul tells the villain, when suddenly a voice from within another cell calls out to Northstar. ‘First they came for the super villains, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a super villain…yet’ calls out Kara Kilgrave. Northstar turns to his former associate and addresses her as the Purple Woman, before pointing out that she is sealed up where her pheromones cannot do any harm.
Kara leers at Northstar and tells him to let them out, suggesting that they can help him. ‘Like you helped nearly crush my boyfriend to death on election day? I think not’ Northstar replies. Kara reminds Northstar that they warned him then about Unity’s danger. ‘And you still can’t trust us?’ she asks him. ‘To think I had a crush on you as a teenager. The famous pro skier’ she reminds Northstar. Kara tells Jean-Paul that he was a fraud back then, using his powers to win Olympic gold, surrounding himself with hot women. ‘Crack that glass and I could make you love me…’ Kara declares. ‘Pass’ Northstar replies, before informing Kara that she can tell him why, when he went to Cape Race to chastise Hudson about his treatment of his sister, he found Vindicator blasting him. Before the Purple Woman can answer, a voice calls out ‘Therein lies a tale, eh, Jean-Paul?’ Northstar spins around, and is shocked at whom he sees.
Meanwhile, at the residence of the leader of the Opposition. The opposition leader and his supporters are watching a news report: ‘Inconceivable worldwide devastation…Canada is not immune…’. ‘Where the hell is Alpha Flight?’ the opposition leader asks, before ordering someone to get Gary Cody on the phone. But before anyone can do so, several Department H soldiers burst into the residence. ‘Everybody down! Under the authority of the Emergencies Act, you’re all under arrest!’ one of them announces. ‘What? Cody has overstepped his authority! You can’t manipulate the Act to trample the charter of rights and freedoms -’ the opposition leader begins, before one of the Department H soldiers shouts ‘You’ve got the charter. We’ve got the guns’ as he slams his gun handle into the leader’s face. As the opposition leader and his supporters are loaded into transport, one of the Department H soldiers radios back to headquarters, announcing that the targets have been acquired.
At the same time, in Calgary, at the Natural Resources Canada office, ‘Targets acquired!’ another Department H soldier reports back to headquarters as several men are lead away with covers over their heads. At the Red Cross camp in Vancouver, ‘Alice Hu? You’re coming with us’ a Department H soldier calls out as he grabs the reporter. ‘What? You can’t just -’ Alice begins, while another soldier grabs a camera from Alice’s cameraman.
At the General Hospital in Montreal, several patients are watching a report by Prime Minister Gary Cody. Cody states that there have been up to a hundred thousand murdered in dozens of cities around the world by mystically powered terrorists. He announces that it is his grim responsibility to report that a fifth column of home grown traitors has helped these demons spill innocent blood here on Canadian soil. ‘They have lived among us, pretending to be our greatest friends while plotting our destruction for years. But rest assured. We will not run in fear. The heroes and victims of Vancouver and St John’s will be avenged’ Cody declares. ‘Mon dieu…’ a woman gasps as she watches the report.
At that moment, ‘Everybody down!’ a Department H soldier booms as he and several others enter the waiting room and push past some civilians. ‘Wait, you can’t -’ a hospital staff member calls out as the soldiers try to enter an operating room. ‘The world’s under attack, pal’ the soldier retorts, as he bursts into the room and shouts ‘Put down the knife!’, the doctor spins around and explains that it is not a knife, but a scalpel, for operating on a patient. ‘You mean a terrorist’ the Department H soldier replies as he looks at the patient, he announces that Kyle Jinadu is a known associate of Jean-Paul Beaubier, a mutie and a former member of a violent separatiste cell. ‘He’s coming with us’ the soldier orders.
Back at Department H, Guardian wakes, to find himself held in stasis. ‘Heather! Let me go! What - what are you doing?’ he asks. ‘What I should have done six weeks ago’ Heather replies. ‘What, shoot me in the back and trap me in a magno-field?’ Mac asks. ‘No, Mac’ Heather replies, as she removes her mask, she admits that Mac was right, back in the courtroom. ‘We bled and fought and died for this country. And look how they reward us’ she remarks. Mac asks Heather what she is talking about, and reminds her that it was she who attacked him. ‘Because you were working for the old regime’ Heather tells him. Mac asks Heather what is going on here, to which Heather replies ‘You know what they say. “Never waste a crisis”!’ and tells Mac that the global calamity has given the strong and brilliant the opportunity to wrest this country from those who oppress them.
‘You deserve a nation that deserves you, Mac. And we will forge that nation. Together’ Heather announces. ‘Who the hell are you? Alpha Flight serves the nation - we don’t rule!’ he tells his wife, who presses a button on a panel and informs him that things are changing. ‘The others see it’ she tells him as a panel in the wall rises, and Mac sees Marrina in another room, apparently surrounded by adoring fans. Heather tells Mac that Marrina is learning how beloved she could be, even as an alien. Another panel opens, and Mac sees Shaman, apparently sitting next to his estranged daughter Elizabeth a.k.a. Talisman. Heather explains that Michael has reconciled with his daughter, and remarks ‘Look at your friends, Mac. They just want Unity’.
Heather presses another button on the wall and tells Mac that he is not going to really understand until he sees what they have saved for them. Heather enters the room and looks happy. ‘This is -’ Mac begins as he looks around. ‘The baby’s room. And she’ll be here. Any minute now’ Heather exclaims. Mac frowns and reminds Heather that he designed this facility - neuro-stims VR pods. ‘Box units to subdue Alpha Flight in case they ever fell under enemy mind control’ he points out, asking her if she thinks she can use it to brainwash him. ‘It’s not what you think, Mac. It’s…so much more’ Heather begins, adding that the procedure works best when the subject is relaxed. She begins to release an electromagnetic burst of energy at her husband, but is suddenly knocked aside as a familiar figure somersaults into the room, ‘Well, lemme see if I can help you with that’ exclaims Eugene Milton Judd. ‘PUCK!’ Guardian gasps.
Judd dodges an EM blast that Heather attacks him with as she shouts ‘filthy little freak, I told them to kill -’ she begins, before screaming as an EM blast slams into her - courtesy of Mac. Heather falls to the ground, drowsy, as Northstar enters the room. ‘Dammit, Hudson! I haven’t found Aurora yet! And now every guard in the building is going to be on the way…’ Jean-Paul exclaims. Mac apologizes and replies that he got carried away when he discovered his wife had become a murderous super villain. Mac looks down at Judd and thanks him for the assist. ‘We thought you were dead -’ Mac tells him. ‘Look who’s talking, eh?’ Judd replies, before Mac asks ‘Department H had you locked up?’ Judd looks at a stuffed toy and replies ‘They knew I held the truth’.
Puck reveals that he learned the truth from Baal, Archduke of the Seventh Circle and Berith, Grand Marquis of the Plains of Regret. ‘And…who…are they…?’ Mac asks. Judd explains that they are lords of the Lower Orders, known to mortals as Hell. ‘That’s where I’ve been’ Puck explains, adding that he held the shining Soulcutter Blade in his hand and cut down the damned like wheat to seize the throne’ Judd smiles as he announces that he gave all that up to come back and rescue Guardian. Jean-Paul and Guardian just frown. Mac turns to Jean-Paul, who holds up a hand and looks away as he declares ‘Don’t look at me, he’s been babbling like that since I sprung him’, while whispering that he thinks Department H might have scrambled his brains. ‘And I’ll save you, too…’ Judd tells the stuffed toy he is holding, while Northstar suggests they get out of here.
Too late, though, as several Box units enter. They scan their subjects - Northstar, Guardian and Puck, as one of them collects the unconscious Vindicator, another announces that they are executing the H Protocols. ‘If you’ll pardon me, gentlemen…I REALLY NEED TO BREAK SOME $#%@’ Guardian shouts as he unleashes several powerful EM blasts, taking out the Boxbots with ease.
The Box unit that took Heather however walks down a corridor, where Prime Minister Gary Cody is waiting. Heather regains consciousness, and Prime Minister Cody tells her that the Party will not forget the pivotal role she has played in saving her country. ‘But, Mr Prime Minister…Mac…and Puck and Northstar…’ Heather begins. ‘On the loose, beneath Parliament Hill. Yes. Not exactly ideal’ Cody replies, before smiling and telling Heather ‘You know their type. Give them a few killer robots to smash and they think they’re saving the world’. The Prime Minister then motions to a window, which looks down into a room below. ‘Meantime…our next subject is ready for Unity’ he remarks, as Aurora is strapped to a machine, razor-sharp prongs held out to her body, while she stares blankly ahead as a light shines down on her….