Ungava Bay … a place that has caused much trouble for the Canadian Alpha Flight and their allies, the American X-Men, and a place they never thought they would return too. But having returned…some of them may never leave.
Heather “Vindicator” Hudson; Jean-Paul “Northstar” Beaubier; Aurora; Wanda “Sasquatch” Langkowski; Eugene “Puck” Judd and Madison “Box” Jeffries, the current members of Canada’s premiere super hero team stand on the snow-covered plains and looking at a lone pink rose sticking up through the snow, Heather declares that there is some magic here after all. Jeffries, from within his Box armor, informs his teammates that his armor’s instruments cannot find any other explanation for a rose blooming out of frozen tundra.
Judd declares that there may still be hope Aurora and Northstar can be saved, as Sasquatch, who is carrying the dying Northstar informs Vindicator that there is a storm closing in so they better find whatever it is they are looking for and then leave. Heather glances around the snow and wonders what it is they are looking for…a miracle perhaps?
Heather thinks back to the team’s most recent tragedy, for while they emerged triumphant over the monster Omega, though not without the loss of Roger Bochs, they became aware that something was wrong with their mutant speedster twins – Northstar is dying, for apparently his body can no longer fend off any infection, while Aurora had been caught in a pitch-black area during the battle and her phobia of the dark drove her increasingly mad.
Box announces that his brother, Scramble, may have been able to cure both of them, had he not killed him. Heather reminds Madison that they brought the mad Bochs to see Lionel to be cured, but instead, Lionel used his flesh transmutative powers and incorporated Bochs into himself, to create Omega, and she declares that she would never suffer him to lay his “healing hands” on another Alphan.
Judd looks up at Heather, and recalls that as Bochs was destroyed by Omega, Jeffries inherited Bochs’ armor and transmutated it into the new Box, and realizes that Jeffries has the power to offer himself to Vindicator now – while he is nothing more than an acrobatic dwarf. But he remembers that it was in this very place some months ago that a powered-up Madelyne Pryor, as “Anodyne” lifted his curse for a time, returning him to his true height. He thinks that if the Fire Fountain, which imparted the power to Madelyne enabling her to heal still exists perhaps then another Alphan besides Aurora and Northstar may find salvation.
Wanda reminds the Alphans that she has been lost in limbo since they were last here, but since she came back she has scrolled through the Alphanex computers, her voice trails off, and Jean-Paul realizes she is referring to the catch that underlay the miracles. Vindicator exclaims that there was a dark side to the Fire Fountain, for although it transformed humans and even super-humans into godlike beings… ‘there was a price!’ declares Jean-Paul, who reveals that in order to transform people, the Fire Fountain consumed their inner magic – their imagination, but that also those beings whose powers were derived of magic, such as former Alphas Snowbird and Shaman, had to die.
Vindicator declares that in the end, they discovered the “gift” was a scheme of Loki’s, the Norse God of Mischief, and by raising mankind to Godhood he sought to earn favor with Those Who Sit Above in Shadow. But when Alpha Flight and the X-Men rejected Loki’s gift to save their friends, the powerful gods rejected Loki. The gift was withdrawn and the Fire Fountain and its magic destroyed. ‘Or so we thought’. Sporting a new green and black winter costume, Aurora kneels by the rose and smells it. She asks the flower if it can make her mind one again.
Heather declares that she might have known this was a wild goose chase, for the palace that was erected here has gone, and that it was madness to dream that the Fire Fountain would still be here. Judd asks Heather why she would lose hope now and reminds her that it was she who said the rose could not bloom in this wasteland unless there were some traces of magic here to nurture it. Box agrees with Judd and transforming the armor, Madison turns it into a drill, suggesting that if they cannot detect the source of the magic on the surface, then they must dig.
Sasquatch makes a joke about Box’s powerful capabilities as everyone crowds around the tunnel Jeffries has dug in the earth. Judd agrees that Jeffries has expanded the capabilities of the robot, as Heather thinks Madison is starting to realize the extent of his own inventiveness now that he cannot rely on Bochs anymore. Aurora gazes into the tunnel and remarks at how dark it is.
Box finally breaks through solid earth and enters the caverns beneath. He transmutates a lam so he can see in the dark and realizes just how big the caverns are and wonders if they are big enough to house the destroyed city. Coming to a Viking village he remembers Elizabeth Twoyoungmen telling him about how she discovered this place and jokes that if she couldn’t figure out how it got here with all her university degrees he will not even bother to try. Using some sort of loud speaker, Jeffries informs the Alphans still in the snow that he has found the Viking village.
‘Now that’s what I call iron lungs’ jokes Sasquatch. Aurora stands sullen and declares that if some of the magic that once made her whole still exists, then maybe there is still hope, but she is too scared to descend into the darkness and flies away screaming ‘I cannot!’ Jean-Paul tries to leap out of Sasquatch’s arms, declaring that he needs to go after her, but stricken with his illness he falls to the snow.
The Alphans gather around him and Wanda points out that the cold will not be doing him any good. Heather declares that they will have to get him down the shaft with or without his sister’s help. Aurora glances back at her teammates and sees her twin lying in the snow, as sick in body as she is in mind. Although every instinct drives her away from the blackness of the pit, she cannot abandon her brother, even though her last feeble hold on sanity may fade with the light. She flies back to her teammates and tells her brother that she will aid him.
Watching from his throne room, Loki sees the Alphans plight in his viewing portal. The evil god mocks at how touching it is that the selfish Aurora set aside her own fear to aid her brother. He smirks at knowing how fortunate it was that he cast an enchantment upon the Well of the Wyrd to summon him should any of the mortals to whom he once offered Godhood return to the scene of his shame. He thinks of how humbly he abased himself to They Who Sit Above in Shadow, and with what humility he – the Trickster God – offered to bring peace to Earth.
He believes it was a deed of goodness, given freely, and in return he was to have been granted power beyond compare. He recalls the mortals rejected his gift and when he sought to cram it down their ungrateful throats it was no longer a “gift given freely” – and They Who Sit Above denied his petition. It is for that alone that Earth’s heroes earned Loki’s undying enmity. However, Loki was forbidden by Those Above to revenge himself upon them in their own, or any other sphere.
Loki doesn’t think he should defy the ban, nor does he need to do anything except for observe from his throne in Asgard, while the mortals seeking a miracle race blindly into darkness. He supposes it wouldn't hurt to play the slightest bit of mischief with the signposts along Alpha flight’s way…so that they read salvation, where lies destruction! Smirking, he jokes that it will not be his fault that they make an error in their interpretation.
Aurora lights the way down the shaft as Vindicator flies Jean-Paul down and Sasquatch climbs down with Judd hanging to her fur. Heather tells Aurora that she is doing fine, to which the French-Canadian mutant replies that she feels as if evil eyes are watching their every move. Sasquatch recalls how before she was resurrected as a woman she loved Aurora – but now she can only feel sorry for her. Surprisingly, Jean-Paul asks what will happen to Beat Flight should tragedy befall Alpha Flight.
Speaking of Beta Flight, its only two members – the aptly named Purple Girl a.k.a. Kara Kilgrave and the intelligent Manikin a.k.a. Whitman Knapp have remained at Alpha Flight’s home on Tamarind Island. Kara asks her new boyfriend if he thinks the mansion is spooky with the rest of Alpha Flight away. Whit exclaims that he is too in awe of the place to be scared and remarks about the hidden technological marvels throughout the house. He thought he had seen everything as Dr. Jeffries’ intern, for every piece of equipment at New Life was top of the line.
Kara informs Whit that most of the equipment was made by Madison Jeffries, to which Whit declares that he knows that now, just like he now knows his boss was a ‘nutcase killer called Scramble / Omega whose goal was to unleash more super uglies like him on the world!’ Kara frowns and reminds Whit that Dr. Jeffries let loose his power, and yet he is not ugly.
Whit smiles and boasts that thanks to Scramble, he is now the Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow man! He takes Kara’s hand and remarks that he should be grateful before asking her if she just called him ugly. ‘I just said you weren’t ugly’ Kara replies. Whit asks her if she noticed he moussed his hair. ‘Uh-huh’ she replies. Whit exclaims rather unconvincingly that the house is spooky with Alpha Flight away. ‘Uh-huh’ He asks Kara if she thinks it would keep any ghosts at bay if they cuddled. ‘Might take more than a lot of cuddling Whit…’ Kara replies.
Back in the caverns beneath Ungava Bay, Alpha Flight have met up with Box, who tells them that this is a big place to search. Heather hands Jean-Paul over to Sasquatch as she tells everyone they need to get started. Jean-Paul remarks that it is humiliating to be carried about like a babe in arms. Watching Aurora, Judd asks her if she is with them. ‘We are, Cher Puck – Jeanne-Marie and I!’ Heather thinks that if both sides of her persona are wresting for control, Aurora could crack up at any moment. Heather knows that Jeanne-Marie represents Aurora’s repressed side, which ruled in her convent days when her powers were regarded as sinful.
Judd has found something and calls Alpha over – Heather flies through it, for he found a shaft way, and Box supposes it may be the same one Talisman described Rachel Summers blasting from the Viking Village to…’The Fire Fountain!’ exclaims Heather. Aurora and the others enter, and as Sasquatch, Box and Judd wait on the narrow walkway that surrounds the giant cavern, Aurora flies around it, seeing nothing she flies swiftly downwards in the mighty cavern, screaming that there must be some magic left.
She thinks back over her unhappy life: orphaned at birth, she matured in the cruel environment of a convent school. James MacDonald Hudson liberated Aurora in the hopes that her powers would be used for good in Department H. It was there that she was reunited with her long-lost twin – Jean-Paul, and speed was only half of their mutant specialty, for together they emitted a brilliance that rivaled the sun. In a fit against Northstar, Aurora had Walter Langkowski alter her powers so that shine alone, perhaps not so bright, but shine alone. This change drove a psychological and physical wedge between the siblings, for no longer could they touch, as their powers would be negated for a time. Now that both twins are sorely afflicted, and need each other more than ever, it seems that all hope of undoing the error is in vain.
Heather exclaims that Aurora dove so deep down that she can no longer even see the glimmer of her powers. Heather doesn’t think there is any point in Aurora subjecting herself to the darkness down there, for the Fire Fountain is gone – there is no magic left. She asks Box to amplify his voice again and call her back. Jeffries begins to do so – until Aurora appears before them, declaring that there is no need to shout, and revealing that she has returned with news.
When asked if she has found the Fire Fountain, she replies no, but that she has a doorway, which beyond it may lie the magic. Heather and Aurora fly down towards it as Box turns into a device, which carries Jean-Paul and the others down. Upon seeing the golden circular door, Heather remarks that the circumference is as large as the shaft itself. Judd declares that from it’s position at the bottom of the shaft, it is entirely possible that the Fire Fountain’s source may lie behind it. Weighing up all possibilities, Heather remarks that it is also possible that it conceals nothing, or evil.
Aurora disagrees and asks Heather to look at the runes that are imprinted upon it, for she thinks they are so beautiful and benevolent. Vindicator tells Aurora that flies are drawn to a trap by honey, not castor oil and suggests she is forgetting that it was Loki, god of evil, who created the Fire Fountain. Judd asks Heather how they knew that for a fact, Heather just replies because Loki said so, to which Judd points out that Loki is also the god of deception and supposes that Loki may no have created the Fire Fountain, that he may have found it amidst the ruins of the Viking village and opened this Faerie gate, which may have existed from that time or even earlier, and from that let the magic flow forth.
Vindicator tells Puck that since they have come this far they better find out which of them it right – but they can only do that if they open his so called “faerie gate”. Using her battle-suit, Vindicator’s strength is slightly enhanced, but as she pulls at the large opener in the center of the gate she finds it is not enough. Box transmutates his armor into a winch to aid Heather, and together they make the gate budge. They lift it high enough so that Sasquatch can get a grip of it and as Judd helps he points out that there is smoke rising from beneath the gate.
Wanda warns Judd to stand back, for when she swings it on its hinges they will see what is below. Peering down past the gate, Judd informs the others that it is like looking down into another world. When the gate is fully opened, Sasquatch looks into it and remarks that it is not a nice world from what they can see of it. Box declares that the darkness is so deep that even his optic-sensors can barely penetrate it. Aurora wonders if the healing magic of the Fire Fountain could really have flowed from down there.
Unselfishly, Aurora declares that for her brother’s sake she must find out, to which Heather smiles and informs Aurora that lots of them blamed her selfishness for what happened to Roger Bochs, but because of the way she is pressing forward, despite her terror of the darkness to save Northstar, she has done a lot to redeem herself. Heather announces that whatever is down past the gate they will meet it together.
As Sasquatch places Jean-Paul onto Box, who has transformed his armor into a flying bed for the ill super hero, she asks Heather if she doesn’t want to leave someone to guard the gate. ‘Why? To write our epitaph should we fail to return?’ Heather asks as she enters the darkness, and Wanda jokes that she likes that thinking, before Judd remarks he hopes it is poetry and not prophecy.
In Asgard, Loki declares that he thinks the dwarf will find it a measure of both. He stirs the Well of Wyrd and the runes raised in the relief on the faerie gate assume their true, evil form – and the massive metal portal slams closed. Loki laughs as he reveals it was the signpost he originally spoke of that the mortals mistook. He cannot bear this passive observance, for it does not suit the Prince of Mischief. He supposes he will not be defying the ban if he reveals hidden truths to the Alphans, though such revelations may cause them pain. He wonders where to start, and as he lights his stick with a green fire he decides on Northstar, ‘Fire and water now combine, let a burning thirst be thine!’ Loki exclaims as he plunges the stick into the Well of Wyrd, striking Jean-Paul.
The handsome Alphan suddenly cries out in pain and Aurora rushes to his side as they travel through the hidden cavern. Box reports that his sensors are monitoring Jean-Paul’s condition and that he suddenly is burning up with a fever. Jean-Paul tells his sister to have a care and reminds her that if she touches him then her light will vanish, plunging her into the darkness she so desperately fears.
As she leans across her brother, her light vanishes, and Aurora admits that she fears losing her only living flesh and blood far more than she fears losing her light. Northstar coughs that his heart rejoices to hear such sentiments, for logic deplores such senseless sacrifices. Jean-Paul reminds Aurora that he is doomed and would not have her torture herself in a vain attempt to save him.
Heather watches the twins and tells Judd she thinks this is a waste of time, for she cannot believe that there exists any “good” magic in this ill-smelling hole that is capable of curing Northstar. Judd tells Heather that she is forgetting about the rose and the runes on the faerie gate, and so he believes that having come this far they should press on, while thinking to himself even if there is the slightest possibility of curing his dwarfism he cannot leave until he finds it.
Heather supposes that Judd is right, but Wanda points out that they may not have any choice in the matter, and tells them that in case none of them have noticed, the faerie gate has slammed shut behind them. Aurora asks if they are trapped in the darkness then, and Jeffries declares that as they got in, they can get out. Heather tells everyone that they are not leaving until they make one final attempt at finding the Fire Fountain.
As Northstar is laid on the ground, Jeffries returns Box to his regular form and Aurora tells her teammates that they will go faster without her and her brother. Vindicator asks her if she is suggesting that they leave them here in the darkness. Aurora informs her that her light will return soon and can tend to Jean-Paul so long as they do not touch each other. As Heather, Jeffries, Sasquatch and Puck depart, Aurora declares that she could not bear to leave her brother now.
Sasquatch tells the twins to take care of themselves, as Heather informs them they will be back. Jean-Paul coughs for water and Aurora finds a small pool of water, as black and tainted as the pit in which it collects. She cups some into her hands and declares that she hopes it can slack her brother’s thirst and cool his fever, before she realizes just how dark it is and begins to feel her terror returning.
Further on, Vindicator leads the way as she asks Box if he couldn’t have turned some segment of his body into a lantern in order to leave the twins some source of light. Box informs Heather that he couldn’t have, and reveals that the only draw back about being phased inside the Box armor is that he can only transmutate himself as a unit. Wanda remarks that it seems a small price to pay for such power.
Judd asks the others if they hear something – like waves breaking on a distant shore and as the quartet enter another vertically large cavern they see the Fire Fountain! Sasquatch asks the others if this thing was supposed to be composed of pure white light, for this one is of eternal blackness. ‘Then we have been tricked after all!’ remarks Judd.
‘Oh, yes dwarf! Tricked indeed!’ Loki gleefully says to himself as he continues to watch Alpha Flight’s journey. He then reveals that Puck guessed right, for it was not he who wrought the benevolent magic of the first Fire Fountain, for it sprung from one of the realms of the Faerie, that are known in Earth’s mythology as Alfheim, where the Light Elves dwell. Loki remarks that the gate to Alfheim has been forever shut, but that there are other gates leading to other Faerie realms, and it was one such gate which his deception lead Alpha Flight into, and Alpha Flight has entered the realm of Svartalfhiem, and laughs that the Dark Elves who dwell there shall seal Alpha Flight’s doom!
As Heather begins blasting the Dark Elves that attack her she boasts that she knew something like this would happen, to which Box tells her that he cannot say she didn’t warn them. Sasquatch joins in the battle and remarks that there is no use in crying over spilt milk, and as Judd engages in the battle too, he decides that whoever these creatures are, there is not an ounce of good in them – nor is there good in the roaring mockery of the Fire Fountain.
Judd thinks that even if it did possess the power to cure his dwarfism as its white counterpart did, he would wager such a cure would only come at a terrible price. Judd uses his acrobatic skills against the odds, fighting his best – but unfortunately for Judd, as the case has been of late, his best is not good enough – and a Dark Elf knocks him off the small ledge.
Sasquatch calls to Judd when she sees him fall, and fall Judd does – into the dark Fire Fountain! His clothes begin to rip as he feels his body start to change – just like when Anodyne cured him! He thinks to himself that he is whole again – his original elderly age, but his original size, for the curse that made him a dwarf has been lifted. But he knows that it is not canceled like Anodyne negated it, and he realizes that is the price the evil Fire Fountain has extracted.
Judd knows he is cured, but only because the Fire Fountain has released the demon that dwelled within him, so while Judd has obtained salvation, he has unleashed the Black Razer on his friends. ‘I’m sorry!’ he calls to them, but the soul stealer’s laugh drowns out Judds cries as the helpless Alphan continues to plunge down into the pit.
Meanwhile, Aurora continues to sit by Jean-Paul as he calls to their mother and father. Aurora thinks her brother’s fever has made him delirious for why else would he cry out to their long dead parents? They never even knew them! She declares that she can no longer hold the fear back and wonders how she could have been so stupid. She wishes her light would return, for it is becoming hard for her to breathe. Her heart races and she feels as if the darkness surrounding her and Jean-Paul is swarming with…
…‘Evil!’ Aurora exclaims as she spins around and with her light powers returning illuminates the darkness. This sends the goblin-like creatures scuttling back behind their master – Loki. Aurora looks up at him and declares that they should have known he would come for his revenge. Calling Aurora ‘wench’ he tells her that she has wronged him, for he has not come to torment her, but open her eyes to the truth. ‘What truth?’ Aurora snaps back, to which Loki informs her it is the truth, which is already being revealed to her ailing sibling.
Aurora tells Loki that Northstar is raving in a fever-induced delirium, but Loki informs her that Jean-Paul is seeing visions raised by the black water, which he enchanted and which was then used to cool his thirst. The creatures begin pulling Aurora as she asks what manner of visions these are. Loki tells Aurora that she doesn’t need to wonder when she may share in them, though of course she must first be made receptive…and at Loki’s command the lesser Dark Elves force Aurora to touch Northstar, once more plunging her into darkness.
Loki declares that some truths are best revealed in the darkness and the Lesser Svarts force the brackish water down her throat, and though it burns like frozen fire, within seconds, both twins share the same dream…but of what?
(Flashback / dream created by Loki)
A man walks towards a small mound and declares he has found a genuine Elf barrow, that after all the years of having his research into the factual under-pinnings of Norse and Celtic Mythology derided in the journals and sneered at by academia he has actually found one! He reminds himself that it stood to reason that so many myths from so many cultures pointed to a race of little people, so there had to be some basis for it. He enters the barrow and realizes that the runes match those identified as Elvish in the early texts.
He exclaims that the “wee folk” did dwell here once, and that Jean-Claude Baptiste will prove their existence by whatever artifacts they left behind. But to his surprise, Jean-Claude makes the most astonishing discovery of all – ‘Elves! They still exist!’ He runs after the dancing creatures as they scatter when they see him. He decides he will now be able to being back living proof. Jean-Claude manages to catch one of the white-haired vixens, and as she changes forms he tells her to just add proof to what she is, before revealing that he knows the legends – so long as he does not let go, she becomes his.
The Elf looks at Jean-Claude and tells him that perhaps she wished to be his, to which he asks why, she reveals that she might love him all his days. None of Jean-Claude’s studies had prepared him for the revelation that Danae told him – that it was boring being an Elf, that one of the Children of the Light may hunger too after mortality. Jean-Claude and Danae were married and soon had children, twins. Jean-Claude asked Danae if she wished them to have Elvish names, but instead she decided on Jean-Paul and Jeanne-Marie.
However, their happiness was short-lived for Danae’s race forbade such human-elf mixings, and several elves tracked Danae down. Breaking into Jean-Claude and Danae’s home, the elves told Danae that they cannot let their bloodline be polluted and that she must return with them. The couple fled, but the Elves pursued them. Tragedy struck when Jean-Claude’s car spun off the road and crashed in a forest.
The Elves found Danae and seeing that she was dead, wondered how death could have come to the undying. Another elf points out that Danae chose to live like a mortal and therefore could die like one. The elves were so stunned by Danae’s death that they ignored Jean-Claude’s death mere moments after rescuing his twin children and bringing them to safety.
‘Then our powers, our pointed ears!’ exclaims the shocked Jean-Paul as Aurora declares everything is explained by their parents having been a mortal man and an Elvish woman. Loki informs them that they both bore blood that would, by mankind, said to be blessed, and by the Light Faeries claim to be tainted – in truth, it was both. Loki tells the twins that while their birthright gave them great powers, it also subjected to them great pain, for the pure blood of Alfheim in their veins is so pure that is cannot survive for long upon Migard – Earth.
Loki turns his back to Jean-Paul and Aurora and exclaims that the stress of surviving on an impure earth has afflicted Northstar physically and Aurora psychologically. He reveals to the twins that they could both be cured if they were infused with the Pure Light of Alfheim… ‘but it seems you have stumbled through the wrong gateway…’ Loki mockingly tells the twins that it is a shame, for they sought the light, only to perish in the utter darkness of Svatalfheim.
The Lesser Dark Elves attack Aurora as Loki informs her that they delight in tormenting others and take great pleasure in the taste of flesh. The creatures attack Jean-Paul too as Aurora tries to fight her assailants off, while exclaiming that there is a cure – that she and her brother could be made whole again, in body and mind. The Lesser Elves tear at Aurora’s face as she announces the darkness dooms them, and their only hope is to somehow fight free to the light!
On cue, Aurora’s powers return, sending the Lesser Dark Elves scurrying away into the shadows before fighting off the ones who are attacking Jean-Paul. As Aurora hovers over Jean-Paul, the handsome speedster asks his sister why she postpones the inevitable. Aurora frowns and asks Jean-Paul what he means, to which Jean-Paul coughs ‘We are doomed!’ and reminds Aurora that she too heard what Loki said, that unless they can somehow attain access to their mother’s realm, every instant they spend on the world of their father brings them closer to madness and death.
Aurora tells her brother she knows where salvation lies, and that as long as they are trapped down here they are denied it, but reminds Jean-Paul that Loki said that an infusion of pure light may save them. She reminds Jean-Paul of how they used to emit such a light together, but because of her selfishness it now shines only half as bright and from her alone. She wonders what would happen should she give it all to Jean-Paul.
Jean-Paul tells his sister that she must be mad, for such an act would leave her defenseless in the dark. Aurora asks Jean-Paul not to call her crazy like the others do and exclaims that her terror of the darkness might indeed drive her to insanity, but that she would risk madness so that he might live. As Aurora bathes Jean-Paul in the powerful light sprung forth from her body, Jean-Paul asks her not to do this, for why should his life be saved if it is to be at the cost of hers?
Aurora’s decision is made however, and there is no stopping her, for Jean-Paul, at first, is too weak to stop her, though soon he feels his feeble form flushed with restored health. He stands up without the help of any other and exclaims that his fever is gone – he is no longer coughing either. ‘Sacre bleu, I am cured!’ He now emits his own light and sees the horrible Lesser Elves attack the powerless and frightened Aurora as they begin to drag her further into the darkness. Jean-Paul knows that stripped of her light, his sister has nothing to sustain her sanity in the darkness.
Northstar is attacked by the Dark Svarts as one of them informs him he shall never know where Aurora is gone, for she belongs to them forever. Northstar fights off the elves while calling to his sister, telling her that no matter where she is, how far they drag her into the darkness, he will fight free to save her and deliver her from the eternal night into their mother’s world of light. But the creatures swarm over Jean-Paul, and disorientated in the attack, as time passes he loses direction of which of the many chasms in this mammoth honeycomb cavern that his beloved sister was taken down.
Meanwhile, Vindicator, Sasquatch and Box continue to fight the Dark Elves as Heather sees Razer come howling up out of the Fire Fountain that Judd fell into. She wonders if the fact that Razer has been released from his prison within Judd means that the diminutive Alphan is dead, to which Razer tells Heather that Puck’s demise was a preface to her own, for to insure his immortality he needs to constantly take the life-force of others using his sword.
Box realizes Heather is in danger and decides he has to save her. Coming in between Heather and the demon, Razer asks Jeffries is he offers himself to his soul-stealing scimitar. Jeffries is hoping for the fact that he is as much machine as he is man that means Black Razer will not be able to hurt. But Razer strikes Jeffries with his sword, and the result, as Sasquatch points out, is that Box has been shrunk. Box remembers that this is how Puck became a dwarf.
Heather declares that she does not intend to lead a team of Micronauts and gets Sasquatch to pull Box back while she uses a plasma blast to hold the Arabian fright at bay. The Black Razer tells Heather that he has not encountered her power before, but points out that it appears to be as ineffectual as any of her teammates. He uses his sword on Heather, who cries out as he does. The Black Razer points out that only one man has ever bested him, and it is only because he was willing to doom himself to unending agony to contain him within -–for there is no other way to defeat him.
He asks the Alphans if they would do the same, and Heather begins to weigh up the odds – until Jean-Paul flies onto the scene and tells her that there is no need to make that choice. He blinds the Black Razer, who cries out at the purity of the light. He exclaims that he can bear no more of it, and as Heather points out that by some miracle Jean-Paul is back, he has brought them a diversion. Heather tells the Alphans to make use of the diversion and points out that there are overwhelming numbers of enemy approaching. ‘Get the blazes out of her!’ she screams.
It is said that discretion is the better part of the valor, but such platitudes to not mitigate Alpha Flight’s shame at having to turn tail and run. Box lifts up the giant gate as Jean-Paul flies through it, followed by Sasquatch and finally Vindicator. When Box is pulled through, Heather orders the gate closed, for the enemy is right behind them. Jean-Paul declares ‘But my sister!’ and Sasquatch asks if Aurora is still in there. Box points out that so is Puck, if he is still alive.
But Heather will have none of it, she points out that if they leave the gateway open the evil that almost destroyed them will spill out over the Earth, but as leader, she is knows she responsible for their safety. She tells Jean-Paul, Sasquatch and Jeffries that she is sorry two Alphans didn’t make it out, and that she will grieve about it all her life – ‘but close the blasted gate!’ she screams, and with that, the gate is dropped.
Jean-Paul asks Heather if she realizes what she has just done, and taking flight, Heather replies that she does. Using her electromagnetic powers, Heather then proceeds to seal the gate – forever, and by that act both she and Box are returned to their normal heights. Jean-Paul angrily tells Heather that his sister is still in there and that she gave her light to ignite his, thus sacrificing her own sanity for his salvation. ‘Aurora!’ he screams before scratching at the sealed gate. Jeffries turns to Heather, but she tells him that she doesn’t feel like talking right now.
Soon, Vindicator, Jean-Paul, Sasquatch and Jeffries have returned to the surface after Northstar’s story has been told. Jean-Paul kneels by the pink rose as the others stand and watch. ‘So Loki got his licks after all’ remarks Sasquatch. Heather declares that obviously the sanctions of They Who Sit Above in Shadow do not hold much weight. Jeffries asks if this means Loki will come after the rest of them next, to which Jean-Paul replies ‘I think not, the God of Mischief has had his little jest’.
Jean-Paul tells the others that Loki’s revenge is complete, for while they came to cure two Alphans, they have instead lost three. ‘Three? Who besides Aurora and Puck…’ Northstar takes to the air and shinning brightly he reminds Vindicator that Loki revealed to him his and Aurora’s origin, that they are children both of Earth and Alfheim and whereas the former was destroying them, the latter still offers hope, to the one who is left.
He says nothing more before he begins to fly towards some brilliance in the sky. Sasquatch points out that it looks like a gateway was opening, to welcome him home. Jean-Paul is greeted by two white-haired Elves and the brilliance disappears. Jeffries tells the others that he hopes Jean-Paul finds the happiness that has always eluded him among his own people.
Heather continues looking up at the sky and tells Box that she thinks he will. The Alphans turn and head back towards the Omni-Jet, as Sasquatch points out that the storm they saw earlier is almost here. But Heather tells Wanda that she is wrong, for they have already fought the storm…and lost. As the remaining members of Alpha Flight depart in the Omni-Jet, the petals of the pink rose are swept away.
Back on Asgard, Loki has continued to watch the goings-on through the Well of the Wyrd and exclaims ‘And so hope, like the belief in the magic that fostered hope, dies!’ It amuses him to see the mortals humbled as he was, but he thinks that humbled is a far cry from crushed and tells himself that now he knows They Who Sit Above have no intention of enforcing his ban on him, he shall…suddenly Loki finds himself elsewhere, drawn through the Well of Wyrd by some power greater than his own.
He finds himself in darkness, and is about to ask ‘Who’ when the booming voice comes ‘Who else, trickster, than We Who Sit Above in Shadow?’ One of the women tells Loki he should not have thought his acts have gone unobserved, and another tells him that he has defied their ban by seeking revenge against the mortals, and the center figure informs Loki that it is now time to pay the price.
‘Hold, Lords! Why wouldst thou punish me? I have done naught but good!’ The center figure tells Loki to ‘have a care’ for they are not mortals who are taken in by his deceptions. Loki grins and tells They Who Sit Above in Shadow that he has not deceived them, nor would he dare! He tells them that he did engage in some “entertainment” in which the mortals played a part, but mindful of the ban he claims he did them no harm, and great good. He creates a looking device in which they see Aurora, and they see her, huddled in the darkness, teetering on the edge of insanity.
As the foul Dark Elves surround Aurora again, Loki declares that he had no intention of leaving her there, and Aurora vanishes from the darkness, and is deposited at a covenant where some nuns take her in. Loki tells They Who Sit Above in Shadow that thanks to his revelations, Aurora gave her light to save her brother, yet purged of that light she is mortal now, and cannot be harmed by life on Earth. Loki adds that although she is now memoryless, he has seen to it that her multiple personalities are now one. He remarks that he has also delivered her to a place where she will be welcomed, sheltered and hopefully find the peace that eluded her.
‘And the dwarf? Didst thou not bring about his demise?’ ‘Most assuredly not, Great One’ Loki declares as he creates the same device to see Judd as his did for Aurora. He reveals that the Fire Fountain of the Svartalfer did cure him as he desired, and takes credit for arranging his plunge into the Fire Fountain and then transporting him, to a land dear to his memory.
Sitting on a cliff, Judd knows he is in Tibet, and recalls how he started his career as a soldier of fortune here long, long ago. He knows that if his encounter with Razer hadn’t turned him into an immortal-pain-wracked dwarf, and then not hooked up with Alpha Flight, he doesn’t think he would have ever left the place. Tall, old and gray, Judd stands up and asserts that things were not working out with Alpha Flight, that his talents were not up to the power levels of the new team, and Heather clearly loved another. He realizes he was on the verge of leaving anyway, and now it looks as if someone has given him a chance at a second shot of happiness. ‘Whoever’s responsible…thanks!’
Loki also reminds They Who Sit Above in Shadow that he reversed the effect Razer’s sword had on Vindicator and Box. He tells them that they can surely see he has done good by these mortals and asks them not to accuse him of tormenting them. He begins to take his leave when the central Shadow Sitter tells Loki that he is clever to have engineered so effective an avoidance of the punishment which he most surely deserved. Loki asks if he is free to depart, and They Who Sit Above in Shadow tell him that he is and inform him that the door leads from this place to Asgard.
Before he enters the door, Loki waves to them and bids them well, but as he closes the door he calls They Who Sit Above fools and exclaims that like Odin, they are easily fooled by one born to deceive. Although it was true, no mortal suffered this time and he declares that he has not finished with Alpha Flight. He starts to think of what he will do as soon as he returns to Asgard, but to his surprise, he finds himself not in the realm of the Gods like They Who Sit Above said this passage would lead him to, and as the Black Razer stands before him, he informs Loki that this is the realm of Svartalfheim, and asks upon who better than him should he and the Dark Elves vent their frustration? And Loki realizes that They Who Sit Above in Shadow have tricked him, just as he tricked Alpha Flight.
High above the Arctic storm, the Omni-Jet is bound for Tamarind Island, and inside the craft, Heather sits alone with her thoughts. She realizes that the Alpha Flight her late husband forged is gone, and she is left as leader of a trio that comprise three of the most powerful Alphans ever. Heather realizes that to get to where they are now, they have had to suffer the deaths of some members and the loss of others – and she has had to preside over all that misery.
Heather wonders if she can go on, and even if she should, for she feels that each loss carves another notch in her heart, making her cruel, callous and cold. She wonders if she will have to sacrifice the other Alphans in time, or worse – will she have to offer up the fledgling Beta Flight for some elusive notion of “The Greater Good”.
She wonders if she is being too hard on herself, for other leaders of other super teams have had to deal with the same tough choices. She knows she never asked for this responsibility, but like the others, inherited it. She wonders if someone else would come to carry the torch should she let it fall, but they would have to start from scratch, whereas she has already run the gauntlet and survived. She realizes she has already answered her question, for better, or for worse, Alpha Flight is hers. ‘May heaven help me’ and Heather McNeil Hudson begins to cry.