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On an otherwise inconspicuous day in the Summer of 1994, Ivar Anni-Padda inadvertently releases a vast quantity of necromantic energy into the world through an open time arc over the Temple of Lamayuru in Ladakh. Due to this accident, heroes and villains who use necromantic energy like Hwen Mirage, Jack Boniface, Dr. Eclipse, Master Darque, and his sister Sandria Darque receive godlike power.

Due to the necromantic energy’s effect on electromagnetic waves, all computers in the world shut down, electricity goes out, and planes crash as part of a disaster of epic proportions that changes the course of the Earth’s history.

The effect of chaos that befalls the world greatly changes the lives of heroes and villains alike:

  • Awakening from a 50 year old coma, Maxim St. James, the 19th Century Shadowman, hunts down Master Darque and absorbs his runes into his Shadowman symbol, trapping him within the purgatory of the Shadow Portal.
  • Master Darque vanishes from the physical plane to parts unknown in an effort to better understand his ultimate fate as written in the Book of Darque etched on his skin.
  • While still composed of necromantic energy, Hwen Mirage regains his solid form.
  • The Immortal Enemy gains the ability to transfer his consciousness from one body to another without having to touch his new host or kill his previous one.

Chaos Effect Alpha

Chaos Rules

On June 21st 1994, the monks of the temple in Ladakh awoke to discover a black hole of dark energy opening in the heavens above. Feeling that something incredible was about to occur, the monks witnessed as Ivar the Timewalker fell out of the hole into their courtyard. Gravely injured, Ivar reached for the sky and said that he had brought the end of everything with him before he lapsed into unconsciousness. Consigned to await the outcome, the monks saw as the hole engulfed the sky and inferred that, soon, it would engulf the world too.

The energies released by the opening caused a planetary shutdown of all electrical systems that spared no bit of technology. In New York City, the streets filled with people proclaiming the coming of the apocalypse, critical life–saving operations in hospitals came to a stop, and airplanes crashed into airports.

In a remote region of the Andes mountains, a Spider Alien Transport Vessel preparing to rendezvous with their fleet crashed into the ground as a result of a massive shutdown of its electrical systems cursing the name of the Destroyer.

In Cupertino, home of Gayle Nordheim and Phil Seleski, Gayle awoke to find that Phil’s atoms had fused to the bed. Pulling him out, Gayle, frightened by the dark skies, asked Phil what was happening. Uncertain, Phil deduced that something was affecting his atomic structure’s integrity, causing him to dissipate.

Elsewhere, Geoff the Geomancer, he who was one with the Earth, stood on a cliff unable to commune with the planet, as the dark energy had befuddled and scrambled its voice into an incoherent mumble. Sensing that something he had dreaded since becoming Geomancer was about to happen, Geoff shielded his eyes from a massive flash of bright light that filled the sky all over the world.

All over the world, nothing went unaffected

In New Orleans, where Shadowman was embroiled in a scuffle with two killers, the bright light infused every cell in his body with enough power to destroy his enemies. Calling out Darque’s name, Shadowman went to find his enemy to finish him for good. At that moment, in the home of Shadowman’s nemesis, Master Darque and Sandria, having walked the Dragon Path and seen what the future held for her and what his role in the coming chaos would be, were hit by the same surge of energy. Moments later, while Sandria basked in the endless and limitless power like none she had ever known, Darque proclaimed that the energy of the dead ruled the Earth, and he along with it. In London, at the penthouse of Janine Noir, as the power flowed within her, she renounced Darque and said that from then on she served no one but herself.

In Miami, at the estate of Doctor Hwen Mirage and his wife Carmen Ruiz, Hwen could sense that the energy disrupting all electricity was necromantic in nature. Frightened, Carmen senses that something terrible was about to happen, when, suddenly, the surge of energy hit Hwen like it did the others. Moments later, Carmen and Hwen discovered that the surge had made him solid. Teary–eyed, Carmen and Hwen passionately kissed.

In Heathrow airport, Bloodshot discovered that something had deactivated the nanites in his blood.

In space, X–O Manowar witnessed as the black hole threatened to swallow the Earth, and believing that the Spider Aliens were responsible, he swore to make them pay. Meanwhile, at the headquarters of the Harbinger Foundation, Toyo Harada, certain that the calamity was the work of the aliens, decided to destroy them.

In the Southwest United States, Turok felt the presence of a great evil that walked the Earth, and, ready to do battle with it, he decided that if he was to die it would be on his feet as a warrior.

In London, Ninjak, having deduced that the disaster was obviously supernatural in nature, decided to use it for his advantage and attack Dr. Silk, whose loss of his computer network made him vulnerable.

In orbit around the Earth, the HARD Corps and the Armorines, having lost contact with ground control, found themselves making due with what they had in a fierce battle against the Spider Alien forces.

Back in Ladakh, and the continuously growing source of the chaos, Ivar lapsed into a coma. Kneeled over his bed, Chan suggested that the individual they called the Visitor might learn more from Ivar despite his state. Even though he knew that the Visitor preferred not to involve himself in their affairs, Brother Ting authorized Chan to ask him if he would assist them in dealing with their extraordinary circumstance. Inside the shrine, the Visitor sensed Chan’s approach and desire to speak with him. Grateful for the monks’ kindness since the day they found him, the Visitor followed Chan in the hopes that, in some small fashion, he could repay them. Moments later, the Visitor, who was inexplicably aware of the events that preceded his involvement, kneeled before Ivar’s bed and, after a few moments of ear–ringing quiet, recited the story of where Ivar came from.

Identifying Ivar by name, the Visitor said that he was a time traveler whose age defied the monks’ standards. In a trance, the Visitor explained that Ivar came from a terrible war, a vast distance away in the timestream. Unable to pinpoint the event in either the past or the future, the Visitor could sense the release of necromantic forces that defied comprehension. Going silent, the Visitor walked outside followed by the monks. Standing on the entrance to the temple, the Visitor stared at the looming black hole and proclaimed that the end of everything was at hand, for chaos ruled the Earth.

Chaos Effect Beta

If This Be Madness

His personality split in two as a result of Darque’s spell, Shadowman ran through the streets damming Darque for making him too weak to kill him, while Jack thought that he needed to stop Shadowman’s run. Back in Darque’s estate, Sandria scolded Darque for what he did to Shadowman, who he promised she could have for the coming chaos. Mocking her, Darque told Sandria that he could not refuse her anything, and that she was sure to have a Shadowman. Concurrently, Shadowman came upon a theft in an alley and leapt at the muggers to stop them. Feeling the rising energy, Sandria asked her brother if he still welcomed the chaos, and he said that he embraced it. Elsewhere, Jack worried that whatever was happening was a bad thing, when then, a surge of energy filled them with power unlike any they had ever seen. Afraid, Sandria watched in horror as the energy destroyed their home, while, in the face of his imminent Godhood, Darque dismissed her concerns.

While a helicopter crashed in the French Quarter, at the hospital an aura of energy surrounded Patient 937 and awoke him from his coma. Elsewhere, Sandria asked a looter why it was that in the face of chaos some men stole while others performed acts of selfless heroism, but he lacked an answer. Leaving the man on a rooftop, satisfied that there was no answer, Sandria floated away amid his calling her the Madonna of Chaos.

Meanwhile, in a cemetery, as Darque ordered an army of corpses to remove the covers to their graves and the doors to their crypts so that he could use them to store the necromantic energy pouring into the world, he saw Shadowman leap over a wall threatening to kill him. Reduced to pure ID obsessed with destroying Darque, Shadowman shot him with a burst of energy from the Shadowman symbol on his shirt that peeled his skin away. Astonished by Shadowman’s power, which he felt might be enough to best him, Darque commanded his creatures to drag Shadowman down to the ground. Impressed with Shadowman’s power, Darque mused that it would take an army of the dead to stop him, so he raised one to do just that. Lacking the time to lead his soldiers, Darque raised the body of his ancient mentor, Anton Quigley, so that he could serve as his general. Burning his seal of power into Anton's brow, Darque sent him forth to lead his army and destroy Shadowman. Carried away on the arms of the dead, Shadowman vowed to return and kill Darque.

Back in the hospital, Rotwak dragged nurse Giulia to Patient 937’s room, when then a looter took her hostage while another knocked Rotwak out. Suddenly, a hand pulled the looter away from Giulia and tossed him out the window. Stunned, Giulia stood before Patient 937, aka Maxim St. James, who, restored to full health thanks to the influx of necromantic energy, was ready to finally take out Darque. Back in the cemetery, while Darque pared his nails to collect flesh that he scratched from Shadowman’s face, Sandria left through a door in space that she opened with her new power to fetch Hwen and Carmen so they would help save the world.

Off the coast of Florida, Hwen steered a coast guard vessel across a storm in search of a missing fishing boat. Suddenly, the sea calmed and Sandria appeared, calling the Mirage to her. Helping the Mirage, Sandria raised the fishing boat off the water and back to the coast. Astounded by the effect the necromantic flow had on Sandria, Carmen feared that she had become a Goddess. In New Orleans, Nettie, who chaos had rejuvenated, went to find Marcia Lewis to ask her to help her find Jack. Hearing Nettie say that she could use her feelings for Jack to find him, Marcia thought how a week earlier she would have laughed at such notions, but even so, she agreed to help, and moments later they left her house on two bicycles.

Following Jack deep into the French Quarter, Nettie ordered him to use the power to burn Darque’s army, and her command got through his mindless ID and he did as told. Looming over the charred corpses, Shadowman was insane with killing Darque, who at that moment in the cemetery, mused over how even if Shadowman were to defeat his army, he would still be crazy.

Amid the fire and riots, Maxim St James smelled Darque’s evil in the night and promised to stop him.

The One

Months after Darque slaughtered the monks in the temple of Ladakh, Brother Ting and others restored it to its previous state to ensure that it would flourish once again. Among the new comers to the temple was Chang, a young boy who Brother Ting took under his wing as his pupil. Weeks later, Chan asked his teacher why they had not sought revenge against Darque. Calling change the inevitability of life, Brother Ting told Chan that he believed that a greater good would come from the tragedy that befell their brothers.

Months later, at the estate of Hwen Mirage and his wife Carmen Ruiz, Carmen suggested that they go to their place in New York while the contractor rebuild their Miami estate. At that moment, in a nearby shopping mall, Mamma Fong confessed to Rico that she could not get over what happened to her son. Agreeing with her, Rico felt like giving Hwen and Carmen credit for sticking together in spite of his disability. Still, Mae could not shake a feeling of dread that filled her. Back in the estate, Hwen shared his mother’s dread, a sensation that felt like waiting for the other shoe to drop.

In Ladakh, the monks awoke to discover a black hole of dark energy opening in the heavens above. Feeling that something incredible was about to occur, the monks witnessed as Ivar the Timewalker fell out of the hole into their courtyard. Gravely injured, Ivar reached for the sky and said that he had brought the end of everything with him before he lapsed into unconsciousness. Consigned to await the outcome, the monks saw as the hole engulfed the sky and inferred that, soon, it would engulf the world too.

The energies released by the opening caused a planetary shutdown of all electrical systems that spared no bit of technology. In New York City, the streets filled with people proclaiming the coming of the apocalypse, critical life–saving operations in hospitals came to a stop, and airplanes crashed into airports. In Miami, Mae and Rico found themselves in the midst of a blackout that confirmed her sense of dread.

Back at the estate, Hwen could sense that the energy disrupting all electricity was necromantic in nature. Frightened, Carmen sensed that something terrible was about to happen, when, suddenly, the surge of energy hit Hwen like it did the others. Moments later, Carmen and Hwen discovered that the surge had made him solid. Teary–eyed, Carmen and Hwen passionately kissed.

A passionate hour later, Hwen and Carmen laid on the floor, surrounded by their clothes. While Carmen felt happy for the first time in awhile, Hwen looked forward to telling his mother and Rico what happened, when then he realized that they were out there in the midst of whatever was happening. Pointing out that whatever happened was bigger than they were, Carmen told Hwen that they would find his mother and then find out what was happening to the world and him. At the mall, as Mae and Rico fought their way through a group of looters, Hwen appeared and sent the thieves on their way with a demonstration of his power. Hugging Mae, Hwen surmised that the necromantic pool exploded and broke down the laws of physics.

Sometime later, while pulling a woman out of her car, Hwen learned that his energy levels were unlimited. Throughout the long hours, the Mirages’ rescued one victim another, until Hwen saw a sinking fishing boat in the marina. Using his necromantic energy to substitute for the electrical current of a coast guard’s vessel, Hwen and Carmen went to rescue the fishermen. At that moment, Sandria Darque appeared over the bow of the ship and told Hwen that he had to go with her, but he refused to leave until he figured out how to save the ship. Telling Hwen that the problem was in his thinking, and that he continued to comprehend like a mortal even after gaining the power of a God, Sandria levitated the vessel much to the Mirages’ awe.

Back in Ladakh, Chan asked Brother Ting if he believed that what was happening and the incident in their temple with Master Darque were connected. Assuring him that everything, from Darque, to the portal, Ivar’s arrival, and his very presence there were connected, Brother Ting told Chan that everything served some purpose that in time they would come to know. Staring at the mouth of the darkness above them, Brother Ting told Chan that their brother’s deaths brought him there, at that time, at that place, to play his part.

A short while later, while Hwen towed the boat back to shore, Sandria insisted that he had to go with her, but he refused. Though grateful for her help in rescuing the boat, Carmen still did not trust Sandria, who told her that trust would cease to be an issue if the world came to an end. Telling the Mirage that her brother was the only one who could explain what was happening to them in a way that they would find useful, Sandria took them to his sanctum in New Orleans through a door in space.

Taking the Mirages to the Dragon Maze Darque and Sandria willed the runes that covered their flesh off them to show them the fate that awaited mankind. Showing them the opening in the curtain of time over Ladakh, Darque reiterated his sister’s reference to Hwen being the one and told him that he had to plug the hole before they all perished. Opening a door way to Ladakh, Sandria asked her brother about the Shadowman, who she required in order to save the world. Called forth, Shadowman stepped out of the darkness and followed Hwen and the others through the doorway, leaving Darque behind.

In Tibet, Sandria and the others stepped out of the doorway into the temple’s courtyard, where Chan welcomed them. Standing under the looming rent in the sky, Sandria told Hwen that, with all the courage he could muster, he had to block the flow of energy until the others came to seal the breach. Teary–eyed, Carmen faced Hwen and told him that she had just realized that once he closed the rent he would revert back to his phantom state. Aware of what would happen, Hwen nevertheless felt that saving the world was the reason he gained a second life. After kissing Carmen one last time, Hwen rose to the mouth of the hole and plugged it.

The Darque Gods

Hovering over the cemetery adjoining the ruins of his home, Master Darque stared out at the chaos around him and wished that it could go on forever. Returning to his chambers, confident that his army of the dead would pursue Shadowman to his destruction, his sister could not oppose him, and that the Coven would be powerless without his champion, Darque had forgotten about Dr. Eclipse. Having gained the powers of a God like Darque and many others, Eclipse was at a loss on what to do with his newfound abilities. Focusing Eclipse’s attention on a miniature of the sun, Darque fooled him into visualizing the celestial spheres orbiting the fiery star and split himself into six individual planetoids orbiting the sun.

Running away from Nettie and Marcia, Shadowman saved an old man from a group of looters, but then the cops arrived on the scene. Resisting arrest, Shadowman beat up a cop after he shot him. Calling him Jack, Lt. Szymanski urged him to stand down, but calling Jack weak, Shadowman beat up the lieutenant and escaped.

Elsewhere, Maxim and Rotwak made their way across the French Quarter looking for Darque. Curious, Rotwak asked Maxim how he knew that Darque was still alive if he had been in a coma since 1944. Pointing to the Shadowman symbol on his chest, Maxim told Rotwak that the closer he got to Darque, the more it burned, and that whatever restored his youth might have empowered Darque. Just then, a runaway carriage came running down the street, and Maxim mused that in the country of chaos, the 19th Century man might be king.

Back in Darque’s chambers, Darque hovered over a pit surrounded by his minions. Aware of Sandria’s need of Shadowman’s participation to end chaos, Darque, who was most anxious to see chaos cease once he had captured sufficient necromantic energy lest every fool receptive to it be ordained with divinity, used the flesh he scratched from Jack Boniface’s face during their battle to create a soulless double that served only him.

Just off the coast of Florida, while Hwen Mirage towed a fishing boat back to shore, Sandria insisted that he had to go with her, but he refused. Though grateful for her help in rescuing the boat, Carmen still did not trust Sandria, who told her that trust would cease to be an issue of the world came to an end. Telling the Mirage that her brother was the only one who could explain what was happening to them in a way that they would find useful, Sandria took them to his sanctum in New Orleans through a door in space. Taking the Mirages to the Dragon Maze Darque and Sandria willed the runes that covered their flesh off them to show them the fate that awaited mankind. Showing them the opening in the curtain of time over Ladakh, Darque reiterated his sister’s reference to Hwen being the one and told him that he had to plug the hole before they all perished. Opening a door way to Ladakh, Sandria asked her brother about the Shadowman, who she required in order to save the world. Called forth, Shadowman stepped out of the darkness and followed Hwen and the others through the doorway, leaving Darque behind. Before crossing the threshold, Sandria told her brother that he had not deceived her, and left, fearing that Jack’s clone would be the Shadowman her vision predicted.

Basking in the glow of the necromantic power that filled the sky, and the knowledge that his rivals had been neutralized, Darque was nevertheless aware that someone would inevitably stop the chaos effect, so he went about collecting as much Darque power as possible. After sacrificing one of his servants, Darque stepped out into the cemetery, which his dead servants had transformed into a battery to collect the necromantic energy that poured from the skies, and sealed the crypts and tombs. Surrounded by his rotting minions, Darque was satisfied that he had hoarded the energy of a billion deaths, enough to feed him for a thousand years, and had accounted for all those who might threatened him. Elsewhere, using the carriage, Maxim followed the burning sensation of his Shadowman symbol to Darque’s location, confident that Darque ignored that he still lived.

Back in the Quarter, Shadowman came upon a burning building. Seeing a little girl trapped in the top floor, Shadowman wrestled with his need to kill Darque and his sense of heroism, the latter of which won out in the end, restoring Jack’s dominant personality. Leaping inside the building, Shadowman rescued the girl and took her out the window, where Marcia and Nettie were waiting for him, glad to see that he was back to normal.

Alone, filled with power that would last him for centuries, and confident that his enemies were gone, Darque believed that now he would finally have time to study his fate, inscribed in the runes upon his skin that he called the Book of Darque. Outside the cemetery, Maxim followed his burning symbol to Darque’s chambers. Letting his body vanish, letting only the symbols remain, Darque transformed into energy and vanished, promising to return once he had studied his own destiny written in the air. Standing over the hovering runes, Maxim sucked them into his symbol to trap Darque within the purgatory of the Shadow Portal. Simultaneously, on a rooftop overlooking the Quarter, as Nettie told Jack that there was a link between his Shadowman symbol and Darque, Jack felt a door slam shut in his chest and both he and Nettie felt Darque’s departure. Sensing Maxim’s involvement, Jack was glad to know that he was too mean to die.

Back in the cemetery, Maxim told Rotwak that it was better that no one knew where he was going and rode away in the carriage.

Chaos Effect Gamma

Lights Out

Finding the Secret Weapons running an exercise outside Heathrow airport, Bloodshot stopped Mach’s high–jinks before he alerted airport security of their presence. Asking Bloodshot to let him run the team his way, Charles "John" Sinclair reminded him that he was the Secret Weapon’s leader, a de facto decision that Sonar, who Bloodshot could tell was bitter over what happened to the original Para–Man, did not agree to. Upset, Sinclair told Sonar that there were many things he did not agree with that he was stuck with, just like she was stuck with him. Just then, Jillian Alcott arrived to inform the team that they had clearance to enter the Tower of London to diffuse a hostage situation. Watching the Secret Weapons walk away, Bloodshot whispered to Jillian that for a new team they already had a lot going against them. Meanwhile in suburban London, the Immortal Enemy, empowered by the influx of necromantic energy, gained the ability to transfer his consciousness from Timmy, his latest incarnation, to the boy’s father without touching his new host or having to kill the child.

Beneath the Tarmac of Heathrow Airport, as Bloodshot made his way to the locker room to retrieve his bag, the lights suddenly went out and the lift he was in plummeted to the ground. Awakening an hour later unable to access his internal clock, read his metabolic system, or employ his enhanced strength, Bloodshot realized that his nanites shut down when the elevator did. Some miles away, the Immortal Enemy, drawn into town by the effects of chaos, wandered the empty streets, which reminded him of the days when he could kill an entire family and it would take the authorities weeks to find the bodies. Two hours later, the Immortal Enemy discovered that he was burning out his host’s body and needed to find another one, when then he ran into an acceptable subject.

Under Heathrow, Bloodshot, unsure of what was going on topside, retrieved a dead guard’s gun and made his way to a system of access tunnels Neville Alcott told him about once. Coming upon a fork in the road, Bloodshot, unable to access any of the data stored in the nanites, had to make an educated guess on what path to follow, one of which had been walled off years earlier. Above ground, not many miles away, Cheng followed the death energy that caused the chaos around him in his new body, leaving Lloyd’s corpse behind on the lawn.

Reaching a dead end, Bloodshot turned back and found an exit that opened in a cemetery. Staring at Big Ben, Bloodshot noticed that there were no lights on in the city. Presuming that Para–Man had the sense to abort the mission, Bloodshot went to find the Secret Weapons. Sometime later, outside the Tower of London, Cheng attacked a sentry and two police officers, one of which shot him. Hitting Cheng on the back with the butt of his gun, Bloodshot stopped him from snapping a cop’s neck, when then, he recognized his distinctive eyes. Fighting Cheng hand to hand, Bloodshot accused him of being part of the craziness around them. Grabbing Bloodshot by the neck, Cheng, who was unable to take over his body, told him that he could make him watch while others died. Taking a switchblade out of a pouch, Bloodshot slashed Cheng’s face.

Certain that Cheng was connected to the night’s events, and feeling a different type energy coming off of him, Bloodshot chased him inside the tower. Feeling the same energy coming from the top of the tower, Bloodshot deduced that it was the center of all the chaos. Reaching the top of the tower, Cheng searched for the Silver Basin, a container of death energy that held the necromantic power he needed. Following the basin’s call to a hall in the wall, Cheng stepped through it, when then, Bloodshot jumped him and pushed him into the other room, where the Secret Weapons were fighting a man called Crona.

Clothes Make The Man

Standing outside the White Tower, Carol Hatcher accused Sinclair of not deserving to wear his suit, then she said that Richard Grant would not have had them stand there like fools during a hostage situation. Pointing at the guards, Sinclair told Carol that there were two of their own inside, and that they deserved every chance to rectify the situation themselves. Laying against a tree, Andre DuBois asked Joe Valez what moved Carol, Richard’s death or the fact that Sinclair was wearing his Para–Man suit, which he himself was not sure he deserved. Assuring Andre that Sinclair, with whom he had worked before, could handle the suit, Joe said that Carol was another story. Fed up, Sinclair ordered Carol to fall in line, when then Tex, one of the burglars, opened fire on the guards. Telling the others to check their suits’ batteries, Para–Man ordered them to breach the tower.

Standing by a window at the top of the tower, Tex watched with delight as the guards scattered, when then a raven flew at him and he shot him. Recounting the legend of the ravens that guard the royal treasures in the tower, the burglars’ leader, a blonde woman, told them that the queen could sleep easy as they were too stupid to pull of a simple robbery. Telling the woman that there was time for them to retrieve the Silver Basil, Tex questioned why their boss wanted her to tag along and wondered what her part in the robbery was. Assuring Tex that he did not have to worry about her, the woman told him that he worry about the storm. Telling Tex that he would find out why she was there soon enough, the woman discreetly placed her hand on a knife.

Under the cover of a blanket of white noise generated by Sonar’s suit, the Secret Weapons broke into the tower, startling a sentry in the lower level. Advancing on the man from opposite sides, Tank and Mach told him to lower his weapon, when then the lights went out. Refusing to surrender, the man shot Tank, who snapped his neck. Upstairs, the woman killed all the burglars and filled the basin with their blood, which released a surge of energy. Kneeling down, the woman recited an incantation that called forth Crona, a spirit trapped within the basin that manifested beside her. Seeking nourishment, Crona sucked the woman’s soul.

Hearing a scream, Para–Man sent Mach to investigate, but soon as he took a step, Mach fell down and they all discovered that their suits no longer worked, but nevertheless, Para–Man ordered them to go up. Reaching the top of the tower, the Secret Weapons were astonished to find the badly decomposed corpses of the guards and the burglars. Enraged, Sonar accused Sinclair of being responsible for those people’s deaths, when then Crona ordered them to leave him to the power in the basin or suffer the same fate as the other mortals.

Angered, Mach lunged against Crona, who easily pushed him out of his way. Grabbing a scepter, Tank hit Crona across the jaw, but proving to be stronger than he was, Crona grabbed Tank’s neck and pushed him to the ground. Looming over Tank, Crona reached for his head to rip it off his shoulders, when then Sonar came running toward him with a sword. Promising to keep her alive long enough for her to see her own body rot, Crona shot Sonar with a blast from his hand, but then Para–Man tackled her to the ground before it connected. Standing over Para–Man and Sonar, Crona accused them of distracting him from tapping into the power within the basin, when just then, Bloodshot and the Immortal enemy came crashing through a wall.

Grabbing the side of the basin, the Immortal Enemy could feel it drawing the power from whatever was going on outside in great amounts, while Crona, sensing that he was not like the others, warned him not to test him. Deciding that they were out of their league, Para–Man ordered the others to retreat, but Bloodshot refused to let either Cheng or Crona have the basin. Telling Para–Man that whatever was going on outside powered Cheng, Bloodshot explained that it was the silver that was focusing it and ordered him to destroy it. Certain that his suit would protect him, Tank grabbed Mach and threw him against the basin, which shattered into a dozen pieces. Enraged, Crone lunged against Tank, when suddenly the ravens swoop down on the broken pieces of the basin and took them with them, taking Crona’s power as well. Grabbing an ax, Tank then beheaded Crona, who turned into energy and vanished.

Sometime later, while paramedics took Bloodshot out in a stretcher, Carol accused Sinclair of killing Richard and two guards had to drag her away.

Heart’s Desire

While on his way to Heathrow Airport, where Neville was expecting him to brief him on a mission to capture Mademoiselle Noir, who had escaped from MI–6, Colin King avoided an airplane that crashed within meters of his car. Feeling the blistering heat on his face and the stench of aviation fuel and smoke in the air, Colin wondered what brought the plane down, when then he heard the shrieking sound of a second plane crashing behind him and he realized that there was nothing natural about these disasters. Sometime later, Ninjak broke into MI–6 headquarters through the vent system. Informing Alcott that Heathrow was a disaster area, with planes dropping like lead balloons, Ninjak asked if anyone knew what was going on, so Sinclair told him that before everything died on them they registered a global power surge on the electromagnetic scale.

Deducing that Silk would be blind and more helpless than he had ever been before, Ninjak wanted to strike, when, suddenly, Mademoiselle Noir, empowered by the chaos effect, materialized in the middle of the room as an unearthly Goddess behind a carpet of red muzzle flash fired by puppets who were once MI–6’s finest. Falling to their knees, all the men in the room became Noir’s slaves, except for Ninjak, who despite his racing heart and lust for her, resisted her irresistible charms. Amazed by Ninjak’s resistance, Janine desired to know more about him. Taking Ninjak to a tropical island, Janine found him to be a man who had strength that made him a worthy lover. Savoring his immunity to her power, Noir found Colin to be everything she desired.

Confessing that when Darque made her what she was she lost the chance to love, Janine told Colin that she loathed the human cattle that fell at her feet, and that she longed for a partner who would love her, not her powers. In awe of her, Colin told Janine that in exchange of her taking him to face Dr. Silk so that he could finally end his struggle with him, he would be hers forever. Finding his heart’s desire to be a fair exchange for her own, Janine entered Colin’s mind and used his memory of Silk to take him to Dr. Silk.

Appearing in Webnet central in less than a blink of an eye, Ninjak engaged Silk’s security guards, when then Janine ended their lives with a snap of her fingers. Telling her to stay out of his business, Ninjak moved forward, but Janine ignored him and continued to interfere, until he threatened to rescind their deal unless she allowed him to finish things his way. Reaching the inner sanctum, Ninjak swiftly dispatched Fitzhugh, Silk’s bodyguard. Holding Silk at bay with the tip of his sword, Ninjak ignored his pleas for mercy and was ready to strike, but then he hesitated and pulled back. Realizing that his journey had been a mockery of everything he struggled for, Ninjak accused Janine of taking away the challenge and the prize of being hollow. Accusing Ninjak of being unbearably noble or pathetically squeamish, Janine used her spell on Silk to make him beg Ninjak to kill him, but turning his back on both of them, Ninjak told her to let him go and called their deal off.

Upset, Janine blasted Ninjak across the room with a wave of her hand and threatened to burn the flesh from his bones if he defied her any further, when just then, she noticed Fitzhugh wheeling Silk out of the room. Though she commanded him to return to her, Janine’s spell did not work on Fitzhugh, who took Silk away. Facing Ninjak, Janine demanded that he honor their deal. Asking Janine to reach into his mind, Colin told her that it was fitting that they should be together since they were kindred spirits destined to never find real love again. Showing her his memories of Michiko Okubo, Colin told Janine that her prize was as empty as his. Appalled, Janine accused Colin of buying her help with an empty promise. Her heart fluttering away, Janine released Ninjak, who through the vestige of their psychic bond, felt her hopelessness before she vanished.

Finding himself alone, Ninjak centered his thoughts and focused to drive aside the madness of that insane day. Though he threw away the change to kill Silk, Ninjak felt no regret, certain that Silk would soon die by his hand in a victory that he would earn. Hearing Webnet’s guards approaching, rallied, rearmed, and returned in force, Ninjak welcomed the challenge.

Risen From The Dead

Outside Heathrow airport, Gilad Anni-Padda witnessed as an airplane crashed on the tarmac after its engines cut off as a result of the strange clouds gathered overhead. Wondering if anyone survived the crash, Gilad jumped over a fence and ran toward the airplane to help the survivors. Ripping a door off its hinges, Gilad walked inside the plane, while outside the paramedics and ambulances gathered around the crash. Kicking the emergency door aside, Gilad emerged from the wreck holding two children on his shoulders. Hearing the paramedics say that even their flashlights did not work, Gilad felt like he was back in the dark ages. Watching the paramedics take the passengers away, glad that theirs was the only plane on the glide path, Gilad wondered what would have caused the disaster, when just then, he felt a strange sensation that drew him elsewhere. Resigned to accept that the whole world seemed to have turned on its rear end in the last few hours, Gilad decided to play by the new rules and followed the strange calling wherever it might take him. Meanwhile, Malloch, empowered by the chaos effect, escaped his confinement within a cavern in a hillside near Heathrow

Sensing Gilad’s presence in a horse ranch where he was borrowing a mare, Malloch thanked the fates for delivering his old enemy into his hands. Retreating into the cavern, a resting place prepared by his followers, Malloch opened his lady Julia’s crypt and commanded her to rise so they might reign once again, but the death power that brought him back was not enough to rouse her from her slumber. Soon, Malloch found Gilad looking to take what he sought from him. Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, Geoff made his way to Gilad’s apartment looking to gather others who could help him against the chaos effect, when suddenly the pipes blew up and the stairwell filled with water that threatened to drown him.

While riding through a canyon, Gilad got the inexplicable feeling that Geoff was in trouble, when suddenly Malloch threw him off his horse. Lunging against Gilad, Malloch said that his death would awaken his lady, but Gilad hit him across the fate with a rifle and knocked him to the ground. Looming over Malloch, Gilad told him that he believed that he had died in a fire. Crawling away, Malloch said that the cursed silver coins wielded power beyond that ken that saved his body even as the fire took away his life, and that he had laid there ever since, interred alongside his coven, waiting for that night of death. Shooting the mountain to seal the entrance to the cave, Gilad told Malloch that he would have to dig his friends out. Crying out for Julia, Malloch used his power to barrage Gilad with a pile of rocks, but, standing his ground, Gilad shot him repeatedly. Taunting Malloch to pray to his dark Gods to keep his dusty bones together, Gilad shot him in the chest and said that that night was no different than the other times he defeated him and his damned priests.

Standing over Malloch’s remains, Gilad wondered what had brought him back. Taking a dagger from his bag, Gilad walked into Malloch’s resting chamber to finally bring peace to the lost souls that followed him and look again upon the face of the woman he stole from him. Back in Brooklyn, Geoff yelled for anyone to help him and asked the walls to tell him how to get out, when, suddenly, he vanished in a flash of light.

Reaching London’s East Side on his mare, Gilad felt Geoff calling him again, but he also felt that he was all right. Thinking that if anyone in the city would know what was going on it would be his brother, and that he would not be surprised if he had a hand in it, Gilad rode to Ivar’s apartment, where he found a letter addressed to Aram that said that Ivar had left in a time arc. Getting the feeling that the world was coming to an end, Gilad left Ivar’s apartment thinking that there was nothing he could do about it.

Fossil Fuel

Trapped in the flooded stairwell of Gilad’s building, Geoff McHenry could no longer feel the geo–lines of the Earth, when, suddenly, he vanished in a flash of light and reappeared in a cemetery in New Orleans where Sandria Darque told him that the world was full of Darque energy and that chaos was upon them. Taking Geoff by the hand, Sandria told him that there were others they needed to find before they traveled to Ladakh.

That evening, while Archer and Aram were stuck in Los Angeles traffic, an earthquake shattered the bridge they were on and sent all the cars down to the ground. While helping the other drivers, Archer got the feeling that Ladakh was calling him home, so he and Aram went to find a way to get there. As they sky darkened and the temperature fell, Archer said that it seemed like the end of the world, when then he and Aram came upon a mini mall under the protection of a man armed with two guns that was keeping the looters away. Stepping forth, Archer assured the man, Fred Ames of Ames music, that they were not looters. Shortly, a group of actual looters broke into the store, and while Archer and Aram attempted to dispatch them without bloodshed, one of them shot Aram in the chest and Fred, unaware of Aram’s immortality, killed him. Astonished to see Aram still standing, Fred gave him a boxed set of jazz recording as a thank you for his help.

Taking their leave, Archer and Aram followed a crack in the Earth that lead directly to Ladakh that took them to a petroleum field overran by dinosaurs. Igniting the oil around them to cook the dinosaurs, Archer and Aram took shelter in a ridge within the crevice. Just as the fire sucked the oxygen up, and it looked like the end was at hand, Sandria and Geoff appeared and took Aram and Archer with them to Ladakh. Telling them that the chasm would take them to the temple, Sandria left to search for the one who could end the chaos.

As Archer and the others neared the temple, a volley of arrows stopped them in their tracks. Showing himself, Chan ordered them to halt where they were, but then Archer told him that they were friends and had come to help. Aware of who Archer was, Chan gladly guided them to the temple. Reaching a high peak from where they could look at the temple in the distance, Archer knelt before it, grateful that he was able to see it again. Telling Archer and the others that a traveler had fallen out of the sky and not yet regained consciousness, Chan took them inside the temple in the hope that they might recognize him. Walking inside a room where the monks kept Ivar as comfortable as possible, Aram knelt beside his brother and grabbed his hand in his.

Chaos Effect Delta

The Gathering – Part I: A Call To Arms

At the office of Toyo Harada in Bolivar, Aric Dacia asked Harada if he had any information about the Spider Aliens, whom he was certain were up to something after they sent a thief to steal a ship in Orb Industries. Confirming Aric’s suspicion, Harada said that he had recorded dozens of Spider Alien vessels leaving Earth. Presuming that they were gathering in space planning an attack, Harada told Aric that Omen Enterprises and the government faction that ran the Armorines were launching two shuttles out into space to investigate. Interfacing with Harada’s computer, Aric downloaded the location of the Omen spacecraft into the Good Skin and took his leave. Before Aric left, Harada reminded him that this was another favor he had done for him with no questions asked, and that he expected him to do the same for him someday.

Inside a van somewhere in Ohio, the kids from B-Squad drowned in Dr. Eclipse’s liquid body one by one until Butch MacFaddin let out a sonic scream that blew the top of the van off. Chocking on Eclipse’ fluid, yet still alive, the kids crawled into the road, where Victoria Martinelli saw Eclipse looming over them with a mocking smile on his face. Taunting them, Eclipse challenged the kids to take on him, so Sam Silently stood up to face him. Grabbing Sam in his oversized hand, Eclipse pulled him toward his mouth, when suddenly, the chaos effect enveloped the world and filled him with an influx of necromantic energy. Mad with power and delusions of Godhood, Eclipse took to the skies and left the B–Squad behind to wonder what was happening.

Amid glowing chemical lights, Harada told Walter, Katsumi, and others that he had spent two hours reaching out across the globe and felt the fear, confusion, and death left in the wake of the chaos. Explaining that the laws of nature no longer applied, Harada said that a dark energy was sweeping the world, blocking the sun’s rays and disrupting the electromagnetic spectrum, causing electricity to become erratic. Proclaiming that they were witnessing the fall of man and that they were spinning chaotically in a world that no longer welcomed them where science no longer ruled, Harada said that magic and faith were their masters. Fearing the worst, Harada told Walter that he believed that the Spider Aliens were behind the worldwide crisis, and that the Armorines, Omen Enterprises, and X–O Manowar might be battling them in deep space with the fate of everything hanging in the balance. Pointing out that communications were out, Walter said that there was no way they could find out what was happening, but Harada suggested that there was a way he could find them.

Somewhere in West Virginia, Faith Herbert landed in the woods to find shelter from the weather before she got lost in it. Just then, a dog called Chief jumped her from behind and threw her on the ground. Following Chief, Jack, a young kid, apologized to Faith and pulled the dog off her. Introducing himself, Jack told Faith that he and his uncle had a campsite nearby and invited her to join them. Five hours later, somewhere in Ohio, the kids from B–Squad gathered around a campfire beside their van and wondered when the skies would clear up again.

In Bolivar, while on their way to a specially prepared room, Harada told Walter that he planned to reach out mentally to the Omen shuttles in space to take possession of somebody’s body, preferably Aric’s, so he could not only see the end of the Spider Alien threat, but play a part in it as well. Disrobing to go inside a sensory deprivation chamber, Harada told Walter to transcribe everything he said, and that even if the chaos effect ended, he was not to be disturbed. Entering the chamber, Harada spent the next few hours focusing his mental abilities in an effort to reach out to any of the warriors fighting against the Spider Alien forces.

High above the Earth, the Armorines and HARD Corps engaged the Spider Alien fleet in a no holds barred battle. Astonished, Cordova could not believe that they were taking on an alien fleet in space, while Michael Sirot was satisfied that the proof was right in his face. Seeing a squadron of alien warriors coming their way, Flatline suddenly grabbed his head and keeled over in pain as Harada took over his body. Staring out into the void of space, Harada looked at the others with contempt.

The Gathering – Part II: Search And Destroy

On the morning of June 20th, 1994, in a remote launch site owned by Omen Enterprises located somewhere in New Mexico, the space shuttles Voyager and Intrepid launched into orbit carrying the Armorines and HARD Corps within them. Inside the Voyager’s cargo hold, while Major Lane complained over the cramped space, Clark Hossen felt elated that they were going out into space, but urging him to loose the starry–eyed attitude, she told him that they were going to war, not an episode of Star Trek. Behind them, Gunny Lewis agreed with Myra Lane that they could not take the luxury of taking in the scenery, not when an alien invasion threatened the entire Earth. Soon, the shuttles reached escape velocity and were well on their way to rendezvous in high Earth orbit.

Down in ground control, Phillip Zahn told Sigmund Heydrich that he was surprised that he did not sent Softcore up with his agents since she activated their Harbinger powers. Explaining that they had found that they ran less risk of discovery by keeping Softcore at the home base on all of HARD Corps’ missions, Heydrich said that it gave them tighter control over the Corps’ members. Offering his due respects, General Kendall told Heydrich that he found the ability to brain–fry their own personnel on a whim to be somewhat disturbing. Telling Kendall not to be sanctimonious, Heydrich accused him of building his distinguished marine corps’s reputation on false propaganda and deceit. Looking to dissuade the argument, Zahn called Kendall and Heydrich’s attention to a monitor. Behind them, Softcore established contact with the HARD Corps aboard the Intrepid and told them that she would be switching them to shield mode until further notice.

Onboard the Intrepid, Flatline told Hotshot that he was not too keen on working with the Armorines, who tried to kill them. Agreeing with him, Hotshot said that if they turned on them while they were up there they would be dead meat. Calling them paranoid, Gunslinger told them that what happened before was a mistake, and that Gunny Lewis was a good man, when suddenly the shuttle wobbled and threw them off balance. Running to the cockpit to find out what happened, Gunslinger learned that there was some kind of major disruption in the Earth’s electromagnetic geosphere and that the pilot had lost contact with Voyager.

Reestablishing contact with Intrepid, the two crews learned that there was some kind of global disturbance that caused a communications blackout that left them completely cutoff from Earth. Contacting Gunslinger, Gunny turned his attention to a massive alien fleet in the distance that had spotted their approach. Back in ground control, Kendall found Zahn staring at the sky, amazed by the electric field that encompassed the Earth, and ordered him to return inside to help Heydrich’s staff. Telling the General that there was nothing they could do, Zahn said that the aliens may have caused the electrical freeze using some type of weapon to keep them defenseless for when their invasion force stroke. Looking at the sky, Kendall proclaimed that that could mean the end of everything as they knew it and Zahn concurred. Meanwhile, onboard a Spider Alien vessel, Marc Anthony told Aristedes that their mothership was not scheduled to arrive for a few hours and asked him what they were going to do about the two shuttles, which surely contained a human attack force. Reluctant to risk loosing anymore ships, Aristedes ordered Marc Anthony to sent out three squadrons of their finest warriors in X-O Wolf Armor to engage the humans in hand–to–hand– combat.

Equipped in EVA suits, the HARD Corps exited the Intrepid’s cargo bay through the open canopy while the Armorines approached them in their armors from the Voyager. Hearing Flatline complain about being stuck on shield mode and loosing their offensive strategy, Gunny realized that cut off from Softcore they could not switch to any of their other powers, which put them at an immediate disadvantage. Showing off a high–tech gun, Hammerhead told Flatline to be glad that he insisted that they bring those along. Nevertheless, Gunny suggested that they work together and watch each other’s backs. Agreeing, Gunslinger said that their first priority was to find a way to disable the aliens’ ships. Watching the alien’s first wave of defense troops bearing on them, Gunny ordered everyone to lock and load for a fight.

His heart pounding like a hammer, either due to an adrenaline rush or the cold fear at the sight of the aliens, Gunny wondered if they were going to have a chance against them and their technology. Contacting Myra, Gunny told her to scan the outer hull of the closest ship to find a weak spot they could penetrate with their weapons. Taking Gunslinger with him, Gunny blew a hole on the side of a Spider Alien vessel with his ion cannons and the two of them went inside to find its main power source and destroy it. Meanwhile, outside, Toyo Harada’s consciousness took over Flatline’s body. Taking the others by surprise, Harada used his Omega Power to switch powers and dispatch two alien warriors, then he flew away, leaving Shakespeare in doubt.

Inside the alien vessel, Gunny and Gunslinger reached the engine room. While Gunslinger kept the aliens at bay with his force field, Gunny fired his PBC cannon at the engine and destroyed it. Blowing a hole through the hull, Gunny and Gunslinger escaped the vessel before it rammed another ship. Taking cover behind a shield, the two withstood a massive explosion that resulted from the collision of both vessels. Floating aimlessly, at the mercy of two alien warriors, Gunslinger was too weak to put up another shield, while the energy levels in Gunny’s armor had dropped severely and were a few minutes away from going back on–line. Just then, X–O Manowar destroyed the aliens and rescued them. Cursing the hard skins, Aric promised that they would die like all the rest of their kind. Assuring one another that they were on the same side of the battle, Gunny, Gunslinger, and Aric went their separate ways to fight the aliens from multiple fronts.

Elsewhere, Harada in Flatline’s body watched as the Armorines and HARD Corps engaged the aliens in futile battle atop an alien vessel. Showing outer disregard for the other’s safety, Harada ripped the alien vessel to shreds. Taking cover behind a shield, Hammerhead told the others that he was beginning to believe that Flatline was not himself.

The Gathering – Part III: Old Acquaintances

Leaving Harada’s office, X–O Manowar took off for space, delighted at the prospect of the coming slaughter. Satisfied that Harada’s information confirmed his suspicions about the aliens, Aric vowed that they would not escape his wrath. Urging the Good Skin to hurry and take him to his enemies so that he could fulfill his blood oath, Aric broke orbit right as the necromantic energy pouring out of Ivar’s time arc enveloped the Earth and momentarily lost touch with the Manowar Class Armor. Staring at the Earth, Aric surmised that the aliens were responsible for the energy web around the planet and vowed to make them pay dearly, when suddenly he heard Paul’s voice screaming in his ears. Skeptical at first, Aric listened as Paul said that the Good Skin had not fully absorbed part of his consciousness during the joining due to his being a human host and not an alien. Deducing that the disturbance had awoken Paul, Aric promised to deal with the situation after they killed the aliens. Meanwhile, at the Orb Industries medical center, Ken Clarkson and Tilly Milton discovered that Krollos had escaped.

Above Earth’s atmosphere, Harada took over Flatline’s mind and flew away, while Sirot broke ranks and left. Aboard an alien vessel, Gunny and Gunslinger destroyed the ship’s power source, causing the vessel to ram another ship and explode. Delighted by the sight of so many hard skins, Aric inferred that the gathering must have been why Aristedes desperately wanted Shanhara out of the way. Holding Aristedes responsible for the death of Shanhara and Paul’s current predicament, Aric promised Paul that he would find him and make his juices flow. Floating aimlessly at the mercy of two alien warriors, Gunslinger was too weak to put up another shield, while the energy levels in Gunny’s armor had dropped severely and were a few minutes away from going back on–line, when then X–O Manowar destroyed the aliens and rescued them. Cursing the hard skins, Aric promised that they would die like the rest of their kind. Assuring one another that they were on the same side, Gunny, Gunslinger, and Aric went their separate ways to fight the aliens from multiple fronts.

Meanwhile, in a small town near Vancouver, Randy Cartier informed the rest of Department W that David’s autopsy revealed that whoever murdered him was an experienced assassin. Explaining that the coroner found a gelatin fragment and broken skin along the bruise on David’s neck, Randy said that David was poisoned. Calling it a unique method of assassination, Ian said that the only individual in their files that fit that mo was an assassin who called himself Snakebite, named after the legendary silent killers of World War II. Intent on tracking down Snakebite, Randy urged the others to help her. Just then, a sniper’s bullet killed Stephan.

Breaking into an alien vessel, Aric found Aristedes on the bridge and tore him asunder, then he blasted Marc Anthony into space. Elsewhere, Gunslinger and Gunny went to find Flatline, who unlike the other Corps was not stuck in shield mode. Contacting Myra, Gunny learned that Sirot was onboard one of the alien vessels and had shut off visual and audio contact with Hossen.

After ripping the heads off two aliens, Sirot linked his armor to the vessel’s computers, unaware that an alien had trained his weapon on him. Startling Sirot, X–O Manowar killed the alien. Grabbing the interface, Aric asked Sirot what he was doing, so he told him that the NSA wanted him to retrieve as much information about the aliens and their technology as he could while he was up there. Silently, Aric ripped the interface from the aliens’ computer and shattered it in his hand, infuriating Sirot, who accused him of being a stupid, arrogant brute. Just then, the alien ship shook up and threw the two men off balance. Lighting the darkened room with his omni beam, Aric told Sirot that the others might be trying to disable the ship from outside.

Finding Flatline attacking the Spider Alien vessel with arc charge, Gunslinger ordered him to stop what he was doing and told him that one of the Armorines was on board the ship. Calling him naïve for not realizing that Sam Kim was no longer in control of his body, Harada said that the aliens posed a threat to everything he had tried to built and that he did not care who got killed as long as those damned creatures were eliminated. Vowing that he would not be denied Harada delivered a fatal charge that destroyed the alien vessel.

The Gathering – Part IV: Unholy Alliance

Finding Flatline attacking the alien vessel, Gunslinger ordered him to stop what he was doing, and told him that one of the Armorines was on board. Calling him a fool, Flatline said that the Spider Alien posed a threat to everything he had tried to built and that he did not care who was in the way of his slaughter of all of those creatures. Vowing that he would not be denied, Harada delivered a fatal charge that destroyed the alien vessel.

Gathering the Armorines and the Corps, Gunslinger told them that Harada had possessed Sam, and that in his eyes they were expendable. Certain that Sirot was dead, Gunny accused Harada of murder, when then Myra informed him that Sirot was alive and headed their way. In awe, the Armorines and Corps watched as the X–O Manowar armor in its ball configuration flew toward them from the explosion and opened up to reveal Sirot and Aric inside it. After thanking Aric for saving Sirot, Gunny confronted Michael for shutting off visual and audio without permission, but all Sirot would say was that he had his orders. Interrupting Gunny’s reaming of Sirot, Major Lane informed him that one of the alien ships had broken formation and headed for the Voyager. While the others dealt with the fleet, Gunny and Aric flew toward the shuttle to take care of the aliens.

Soon, Aric and Gunny found the vessel attacking the Voyager, which was taking evasive maneuvers. Aware that the shuttle could not avoid the alien lasers for long, Gunny worried that if they did not save the shuttle, they would all be stranded in space. Attacking the ship from different flanks , Aric and Gunny destroyed it. Reaching the shuttle, Gunny raised Myra on their comm–link and told her that the shuttle was hit hard but the hull was not breached. Meanwhile, Sirot suggested that they kill Flatline, but Gunslinger told him that killing Sam to get rid of Harada was not an option as far as he was concerned. Pointing to the last three alien vessels, Shakespeare informed Gunslinger that they were reconfiguring and that Harada had gone on the offensive.

Contacting Harada, Gunslinger urged him to halt his assault, and told him that taking on the Spider Aliens alone was suicide, but Harada ignored his warnings and engaged a squadron of aliens in Wolf armor. Urging Harada to realize that he was jeopardizing the mission, Gunslinger told him that he if he really wanted to beat the aliens he would work with them. Though he was hesitant to work with his would–be assassins, Harada agreed to let the Corps and Armorines protect him while he single–handedly knocked out every alien ship. Protected by the Corps’ shields while the Armorines took out the aliens, Harada destroyed the alien vessels.

Weakened, Harada turned on his brief allies to avenge their assassination attempt on his life before he lost his hold on Sam’s body. Shooting Shakespeare out of his way and disabling an Armorine, Harada, certain that he would not harm him as long as he was in Flatline’s body, grabbed Gunslinger’s neck through his force field and threatened to blow up his helmet, when, suddenly, an Armorine tackled him and pushed him off Charles. Exhausted, and unable to hold much longer, Harada barely had enough strength to raise a force field to deflect a burst from Sirot’s PBC cannon. Regaining control of his body, Flatline came to unaware of what happened.

Sometime later, Gunny and X–O Manowar took out the remaining alien ships while the Armorines and the Corps took out the last of the armored aliens, bringing an end of the Spider Alien threat. Soon, while Gunny informed the team that it would take a few hours to make repairs on their shuttle, Gunslinger bemoaned the fact that as long as the energy field was around the Earth they could not get back, when then the disturbance disappeared as soon as it appeared. Contacting the Intrepid, Gunslinger urged them to reestablish contact with ground control. Shacking Gunslinger’s hand, Gunny told him that as soon as they made contact with ground control they should get out of there, while X–O would stay behind to help the Armorines get back safely. Parting ways, Gunny and Gunslinger agreed that they were getting too old for their line of work.

Chaos Effect Epsilon

Chaos Epsilon – Part I: A Distant Call

After she awoke to find that Phil had fused to their bed, Gayle grabbed his hands and pulled him up. Frightened, Gayle asked Phil what happened, but all he could deduce was that something had affected his atomic structure’s integrity and caused him to dissipate. After she told Phil that before she helped him she saw something out the window that looked like storm clouds, Gayle opened the curtains and showed him the disturbance caused by the chaos effect. Certain that the storm was linked to his condition, Phil changed into his outfit to go investigate. Dizzied, like weak from hunger, Phil flew out the window.

While he flew through the skies of San Francisco, Phil noticed that electricity was out as far as he could see and that not even the cars were running. Surrounded by scattered fires and falling buildings, Phil decided to put out the flames and stop the looters, when then he heard a scream coming from the B.A.R.T, which had derailed. Though Phil tried to stop the train, his powers fizzled and had no effect. As he flew beneath the train, Phil tried to hold it up to let it down gently, but he phased through it and it fell to the ground. Desperate, Phil screamed to the skies asking what was wrong with him, when then Sandria Darque appeared and told him that he was the sun god fated to save the world or destroy it. Sandria offered to help Phil end the chaos and take him to Ladakh, where he had to be. Though he was hesitant to leave, Phil followed Sandria through a gateway that took them to the Temple of Ladakh.

After they arrived, Sandria pointed to the rip and told Phil that it was up to him to do whatever he had to stop it, or else everything would be gone and necromancers like her brother would bend the chaos to their will. Confused, Phil asked Sandria who her brother was, but then she left. As he approached Phil, Chan told him that Sandria’s brother was Master Darque, who a year earlier had destroyed the temple and whom the strange force had made more powerful. As Phil followed the monks inside, he noticed that the rip had grown.

Inside, the monks invited Phil to warm himself by the fire, and though he could not feel the heat of the flames, he gained a measure of strength from them. After Phil learned what happened from the monks and came across Archer and Aram, the latter of who kept referring to him as Magnus, they heard a scream from outside.

As they followed the cries, Phil and the others saw Geoff keeled outside the temple. Frightened, Geoff ran toward Phil and told him that it was up to him to end the chaos, but he did not know what to do.

Sometime later, in a room within the temple where the monks had taken Phil and Geoff to rest, Phil mused over Sandria’s and Geoff’s warning that he was the answer to ending chaos and questioned what he could do within the storm that covered the Earth. Just then, Phil and Geoff discovered the answer to their dilemma.

Together, Geoff and Phil ran outside to attempt to contact the Destroyer.

Chaos Epsilon – Part II: Destroyers

In the year 4020, somewhere in the space lanes near the Jovian Republic of Ganymede, a Starwatcher shuttle carrying Hexstrike Alpha and Danae Del Sol, the Terran consortium’s ambassador, nearly collided with Solar the Destroyer. Unable to veer from crashing into him, Graal shot the Destroyer with a beam that ripped him in half so they could fly through him. Enraged, the Destroyer vectored in on the vessel at light speed.

Inside the shuttle, Aesha gave Danae a syntheskin that custom–fitted her with a uniform that overwhelmed her with an extraordinary sensation as it enveloped her. Though Boaz did the best he could as tailgunner, the Destroyer’s powers were beyond the Psi–Lord’s understanding and he sliced the hull of the shuttle. Sucked into space, Danae was certain that they would die, but then Aesha, the only one of them with flight powers, launched Graal at the Destroyer before gathering her and Boaz up. Grabbing Graal’s hands, the Destroyer shouted curses at him silenced by the interstellar vacuum, while, unable to free his arms, Graal lashed out with his leg, not realizing that within the Destroyer’s energy–body burned an inferno like the heart of the sun. Graal’s howling shriek of pain rattled the others’ helmet bubbles and nearly blew out their comlink systems.

Holding on to a scattered piece of their craft, Danae saw the Destroyer approaching, and had a pang of recognition upon seeing his crest, when then her view was briefly obscured as Boaz and Aesha hit him with a spurt of sunburst that he easily soaked in. Seeing the crest again, Danae knew how to save their lives. Urging them to not fight, Danae, aware that the Destroyer could monitor comlink frequencies, called him Solar and urged him to talk with her. Unable to transmit back, the Destroyer placed a hand on Danae’s helmet bubble and vibrated it, producing a hollow, eerie voice that asked her not to call him Solar and tell him where he was and why they attacked him. Telling him that they were near Jupiter, and that they pulled him out of subspace by accident, Danae told the Destroyer that it was all a terrible mistake. Distressed, the Destroyer demanded to know where his other self was, but, worried that hearing that Solar died, Danae told him to go to Earth. In a blink, Danae watched as the Destroyer left, and hoped that she had not just doomed her planet. Within a few hours, they repaired the shuttle with a glue–like Molmach paste and returned to the Palisade.

Back in the Palisade, while Aesha took Graal to Una so she could clone him a new leg, Boaz thanked Danae for saving them, and offered to visit her later with a token of his gratitude. Filled with a thrill of anticipation that stayed with her until Boaz ranged her bell two hours later, Danae had no idea of what he had in mind. Inviting Boaz inside, Danae asked him if she was dressed appropriately, but apologizing for the confusion, he told her that they were not going anywhere. Telling Danae that he felt that she deserved to have some of her questions answered, Boaz showed her a vial that contained a solution filled with special nanocomputers that could deliver a message directly to her brain she could play by ingesting it he programmed with a synthestim file that would allow her to relive the origins of the Starwatchers. Unlike the others, Boaz did not agree with most of their rules and doctrines, and believed that it was time they dealt openly and honestly with the sol system, so he did not care about getting into trouble for revealing such things to her. Wondering if she could trust him, Danae sat there looking at the vial for an eternity, but in the end curiosity won out and she drank it.

As a flood of foreign sensations swept over Danae, she felt as if she was wearing Boaz’s body, while the molmachs fed her recorded sensory input from every nerve in his mighty frame, including those from some very unfamiliar body parts. Danae quickly learned that the Starwatchers descended from the HARD Corps, who two hundred years after they left Earth in their interstellar starships, made the breakthrough in creating their own version of nanotechnology.

Watching through Boaz’s eyes, Danae saw a HARD Corps doctor standing over her in the year 3152 AD tell Boaz that the molecular machines they put in his system should be taking effect. Feeling Boaz’s mouth move when he answered, Danae heard him say that he felt better than he had in years. Unable to describe just how vital it felt being in Boaz’s body, Danae listened as the doctor explained that the molmachs were repairing his body tissues, and even undoing the effects of ageing. Telling Boaz that the molmachs also carried information from the Harbinger Powers Database, that once he learned to use he could access his powers without calling Softcore, the doctor showed him a mirror in which Danae saw an old man’s face that helped her deduce that Boaz had been around sixty when the nanotech breakthrough occurred.

Suddenly, the recording skipped three years, when the molmachs had restored Boaz to the peak of health and he had mastered the complex mental commands required to access his awesome powers. Looking at Sarathan, Danae felt the twinge in Boaz’s heart, and his feelings for her laid bare. Only a select group of HARD Corps was empowered like Boaz, and was the first team to investigate a planet in the Arcturus system capable of sustaining life. Looking upon the shuttle’s pilot, Ravenrok, Danae felt Boaz’s respect and admiration for him. Addressing the crew, Ravenrok proclaimed that, for the first time since the Harbinger Wars, the HARD Corps had a mission to perform. Skipping down to the planet, Danae thrilled to the feeling of fearlessly attacking the Spider Aliens, and noticed that the HARD Corps had no compunctions about using lethal force. Suddenly, Boaz did something that Danae had never seen him do; he flew to better view the battle, and she realized that, in those days, each one of them possessed all of the Harbinger powers. Through Boaz’ eyes, Danae witnessed as the HARD Corps exterminated the Spider Aliens with frightening efficiency.

When the file jumped ahead again, the Corps had transformed the alien base, and gathered to celebrate around a hologram of their Supreme Commander, who declared the planet their new homeworld. With no Harbinger threat left to combat, the commander proclaimed that they would redirect their organization’s mission and no longer be known as HARD Corps, but from then on call themselves Starwatchers and use heir power and molmach technology to colonize planets in other systems. Telling Ravenrok that they spent a hundred and fifty years getting to that planet, Boaz asked him who the commander thought would be going to do the colonizing, and Ravenrok told him that he would, for how else were they to claim the stars as their own.

Three hundred years later, contact with Ravenrok’s isolated colony had become increasingly sporadic, and when the Starwatchers came to investigate, they found Ravenrok had made himself ruler of a totalitarian world. Since Boaz had deliberately omitted some information, such as who Ravenrok’s golden–skinned allies were, Danae did not understand much of the battle, but she still got the point; one of their own had gone bad, and recapturing that world from him was only accomplished at a horrific price.

A year later, Ravenrok had yet to be found, and, though how their adversary escaped remained a mystery, the Supreme Commander vowed that they would pursue him until he was captured. Acknowledging the deep shame and guilt they all shared, the Supreme Commander proclaimed that they would take steps to insure that such a tragedy was never repeated. From then on, the Starwatchers split their powers into three classifications, so as to foster teamwork over individual action. Those of them in red should be Bastions – retaining strength and invulnerability powers –, those in orange should be Gunner – with energy projection powers –, and those in yellow should be Scouts – employing infiltration powers, such as flight and invisibility. Promising that they should once again rededicate themselves, the Supreme Commander uttered the vow that their first mandate in policing the stars should be the protection of all life. To that end, they hard–wired directives into their molmachs prohibiting the use of lethal force, as well as prevented the m from procreating to prevent the birth of a new generation of supermen.

Aware that the changes came as a result of penance for Ravenrok’s crimes, Danae knew that the Starwatchers had hunted him down in the five hundred years since, but had been unable to locate him, and that while his capture was still a top priority, none of them ever even mentioned his name. Once, all Starwatchers wanted to emulate Ravenrok, but when he fell they all fared that there really was something of him in each of them.

As Danae awoke from her trance, Boaz told her that now that she knew their secret, whatever she decided to do with the information was up to her. After Boaz left, Danae recited her thoughts into a recorder. Reiterating Boaz’s warning that the file did not reveal everything, but it should still answer some of her questions, Danae said that rather than fearing them she felt sympathetic, and that their greatest fear was their own capacity for evil made them human after all. Aware that Boaz took a great risk showing that to her, Danae decided not to report all she had learned to Magnus so as to not repay his trust with betrayal. Though it was her duty to report what she had seen, Danae wanted to know more before she tipped her hand.

Meanwhile, in the command center, Graal and Aesha finished briefing Superion Gryffen on their mission. Curious, Graal asked if they had received any word from their homeworld, but reiterating that they had not had any contact since they arrived in that system seventeen years earlier, Gryffen said that that was the least of their worries. In light of the encounter with the Destroyer, Gryffen negated their agreement with Magnus and sent two Hexstrike teams to Earth immediately to subdue the Destroyer.

Elsewhere, at the Gateway station on the solar frontier beyond Neptune, a badly injured Starwatcher warned the humans that Ravenrok had returned to the homeworld and killed everyone.

Chaos Epsilon – Part III: Homecoming

As the Destroyer made his final approach to Earth, he landed in the South Am sector. Acclimating himself to an atmosphere, the Destroyer mused over how ever since he made his return, it seemed like everyone he had run into had tried to kill him. Aware that things had changed since he left, the Destroyer saw no sense in keeping his existence secret since he doubted he had any loved ones left to protect. Using the communications grid, the Destroyer made an open call to anyone who could tell him about Solar. In Ladakh, Mother Nike recognized the symbol on the Destroyer’s chest and told him that his arrival was the fulfillment of a 2000–year old prophecy and that she believed that she could answer his questions.

In Africa, Obadiah Konishi asked Ananse why he attacked him, and he told him that he had to test his worthiness before revealing the secrets of his lair. Wondering why he was following a Spider Alien, Obie questioned if his being there was worth the risk, when then, Ananse showed him the Blood of Heroes. Hearing the nanites calling him, Obie stared into the liquid computer that was once his father’s blood, which contained his memories and experiences, the very essence of the man himself, and for a fleeting moment communed with it and it showed him an image of his father that faded as quickly as it appeared. Unable to reestablish contact, Obie asked Ananse what to do. Musing over the promise he made Takao Konishi seventeen years earlier to give his blood to Obie, Ananse said that he thought he had finally gotten that obligation off his back, but that now he would either have to train him to use the nanites, or else his blood would join his father’s.

In Ladakh, the Destroyer popped out of the comlink and startled Mother Nike, who asked him to follow her to the library. Just then, Kazuyo flew over the temple and the Destroyer shot her thinking that she was a Spider Alien. Pulling the Destroyer’s arm down, Mother Nike told him that Kazuyo was a friend and a high ranking diplomat. Enraged, Kazuyo lunged against the Destroyer, who grabbed her by the neck and, admitting that it was a mistake to shoot her, told her that anyone who dressed like a Spider Alien was asking for it. Telling Kazuyo that they would be in the library, Mother Nike asked her to think of the Destroyer as a dignitary. Leaving, Kazuyo commented that this had been the worst welcome she had ever gotten to a state function. Two minutes later, in Kazuyo and Takashi’s private quarters, Kazuyo found Takashi and Suki Seko working with forbidden technology and threatened to turn her in after her business with the Destroyer was over. Asking Suki to go to her air car and get out of there, Takashi told her that he was going to kill his mother.

In Africa, Ananse fitted Obie with a device that would amplify his brain and his nanites to help him break through the mental blocks within him that he had to overcome. Though Obie felt something, it was not very strong, so Ananse attacked him to force him to use his body’s nanosystems. Leaping out of the way to avoid Ananse's staff, Obie felt calm, sure, and totally in control. Feeling every fiber of his being singing to him, Obie’s nerves and muscles fired with digital precision, turning every moment into a revelation. Brashly, Obie told Ananse that he was in trouble, so Ananse released a blade in his staff to increase the danger.

Elsewhere, Superion Gryffen informed Balaam that he dispatched two Hexstrike teams to forcibly extract the Destroyer, an Alpha–Aggressor, and that he should inform Magnus that their pact was temporarily off.

Running outside, Obie barely kept ahead of Ananse even with his adrenaline maxed. Seeing the death in his eyes, Obie worried that even though the nanites in his blood let him do anything that was humanly possible, that maybe humanly possible would not be enough to survive. Loosing his sword during the melee, Obie grabbed Ananse's staff to take it from him. As they wrestled for the weapon, Ananse told Obie that he was fighting stupidly, and that it was a pity that he did not have his father’s combat files. Telling Obie that if he could access the files he could find one that said to expect the unexpected, Ananse bared his alien teeth and startled Obie, who fell to the ground. Looming over Obie, Ananse said that they had made some progress.

In Ladakh, Takashi walked into Kazuyo’s bedroom. Standing at the foot of the door, Takashi trembled while his mother asked him what he was doing with Suki and threatened to report her to the authorities again. Noticing Takashi’s shiver, Kazuyo apologized and offered to not report his girlfriend. Turning back, Kazuyo admitted that she had not been a very good mother to him, and suggested that he invite Suki back so they could talk, when then, Takashi punched her across the head and told her to shut up.

Looming over Kazuyo, Takashi said that it was too late for apologies. Clenching his fist, Takashi said that there was only one thing he wanted from her, and turned Kazuyo’s attention to the X–O armor behind her. Though Kazuyo begged him not to, Takashi bashed her head with a base. Removing the control ring from Kazuyo’s finger, Takashi donned the armor. Calling his father’s name, Takashi said that was the day he would start restoring the glory of Japan. Promising to honor Tohru’s memory, and the forty–one Rais who served before him, Takashi marked that day as the birth of the Forty–Third Rai.

Chaos Epsilon – Part IV: Sacrifice

In the personal office of President Magnus of the Terran Consortium, Balaam of the Starwatchers appeared in the middle of the room, startling Torque and Magnus, and proclaimed that something terrible had happened. Informing Magnus that several hours earlier an unbelievably powerful entity calling itself the Destroyer had attacked a Starwatcher shuttle and easily defeated three of their best combat personnel, even maiming one of them before proceeding towards Earth, Balaam said that his commander feared that the Destroyer was a threat to the entire solar system. Though he regretted it, Balaam informed Magnus that, despite their agreement to keep the Starwatchers off Earth, Superion Gryffen dispatched two Hexstrike teams to deal with the threat.

Explaining that the Destroyer’s phenomenal power temporarily negated their agreement, Balaam told Magnus that with the Hexstrike teams en route, he just needed to decide what to do about it. Deciding to get his battle armor, go to Ladakh immediately, and personally handle the situation, Magnus told Balaam that he would accompany him. Though Torque wanted go with him too, Magnus, appreciative of his wanting to help him, said that Leeja would be crushed if something happened to both of them and told him to stay there and look after things while he was gone. 27 minutes later, while watching Magnus’ transport leave from a window, Torque said that his father should know that when told not to go somewhere, he was as good as there.

In the library chamber of the Temple of Archer in Ladakh, Mother Nike showed the Destroyer a book that chronicled a great disaster that threatened to destroy the Earth in 1994. Opening the book, Mother Nike showed the Destroyer a drawing of the portal that opened up there in 1994 and unleashed chaotic energies that froze all electrical systems across the globe. Seeing an image of his chest plate, which Mother Nike told him the book claimed was the key to saving Solar and ending the chaos effect, the Destroyer realized that, since Solar would have been too weak to reach him there, he had to reach back to him in 1994. Meanwhile, in the temple’s north wing, Makiko Minashi found Kazuyo’s body and realized that Takashi killed her and took the armor.

Taking the Destroyer to the south terrace, Mother Nike showed him the site where the chaos portal opened up over 2,000 years earlier, when just then Magnus and Balaam arrived. Asking Balaam to wait in the transport, Magnus walked up to the Destroyer, who at first he confused with Solar, and told him that his being there was jeopardizing his agreement with the Starwatchers, who had sent a dozen warriors to stop him. Taking flight, the Destroyer said that he expected them to go after him, so he offered that since he needed to go back in time anyway he would do everyone a favor and leave, but when he tried to open a portal to the past, an influx of necromantic energy disrupted him and prevented him from leaving. Elsewhere, in an Agro–Tract in Chinasia, the Immortal Enemy, sensing the river of necromantic energy, felt more powerful than he had in 2,000 years.

Reassembling himself, the Destroyer closed the portal and wondered how he could help Solar if he could not even reach him, when just then a Starwatcher grabbed him from behind and flew off with him, ordering him not to attempt to struggle and go with him peacefully. Enraged, the Destroyer burned the Starwatcher, killing him instantly. Surrounded from all sides, the Destroyer engaged the Starwatchers in a bloody battle and killed all of them. Returning to the temple, the Destroyer threatened to do to Balaam what he did to his friends, but standing between them, Magnus urged him to leave Earth before the turned the incident into a global war.

Upset, the Destroyer said that he was trying to leave for 1994, because he had to save Solar and the world, but that the chaos effect sapped his energies just like it did him. Stepping up, Balaam offered to nano–construct a container to insulate a portion of the Destroyer’s energy against the chaos effect that could then be given to Solar and provide him with a chance to end his crisis. Curious, the Destroyer asked Balaam why he was so eager to help him, and Balaam said that, whatever he might think of them, they were there to protect life. Confirming Balaam’s claim, Magnus offered to take the piece of him to Solar since he was strong enough to withstand time travel, and, unlike them, the chaos effect would not wipe him out. However, he would only do it if Balaam promised him the other Psi-Lords would withdraw from Earth until he returned. Though he was unsure of how Magnus would return, Balaam promised an immediate withdrawal until his return.

Taking Balaam aside, Magnus asked him why he proposed to help the Destroyer, and Balaam told him that, after watching the Destroyer massacre six friends he had known for seven hundred years, any opportunity to decrease his power increased the Starwatchers’ chances of defeating him someday.

Six minutes later, Balaam asked the Destroyer to give him the piece of himself he wished to sent back. Taking a cue from Mother Nike’s book, the Destroyer gave him his crest plate, certain that the Solar symbol was no longer appropriate for him. Using a nano–construct, Balaam coated the disk with energy–inhibiting molmachs to insulate it from the chaos energies. Saying that since chaos poured from the past into the present when the Destroyer opened the portal, Balaam theorized that if Solar opened a portal to the beginning of time the energies would leave 1994, drawn to an era when all truly was chaos. Asking Balaam to keep his promise and tell Leeja and Torque that he would be back, Magnus leapt into the open portal and vanished.

Running out of the temple calling for his father, Torque told Balaam and the Destroyer that he was stepping in for Magnus while he was gone and ordered them to leave the planet immediately. While the Destroyer vanished, Balaam assured Torque that his father would come back. Certain that his father would keep his word and return, Torque asked Balaam to help him, his mother, and his grandfather to stop the Terran Consortium from falling during Magnus’ absence.

Chaos Effect Omega

From Chaos… Comes Order

Inside the Temple of Ladakh, Chan told the Visitor that he did not understand why he would not help end the crisis using his abilities. Reminding Chan that he had given him the ability to speak the tongue of their guests, the Visitor told him that that was all he could do for the moment. Telling the Visitor that he feared that the one called Mirage, who had placed himself in front of the portal in an attempt to hold back the chaos effect that was destroying the Earth, would not be able to do it for long, Chan pleaded with him to help him seal the breach. Asking Chan not to be disappointed in him, for he had his reasons, the Visitor said that he was not prepared to reveal his presence to the world, but that the time would come soon. Disheartened, Chan believed that the Visitor would do nothing to help, but easing his concerns, the Visitor told him that he would mediate and monitor the situation, when then, he sensed the entrance of an unexpected a new player into the game.

Outside, in the heart of the chaos effect, Mirage was unable to stop Magnus from coming through the portal and crashing at the entrance of the temple. Running to him, Geoff told Magnus that he knew he would come because the Earth told him that the future would send help. Asking for a moment to pull himself together, Magnus told Geoff that the stress of time travel could kill an ordinary man, and that even with his strength the experience was traumatizing. Handing the disk to Geoff, Magnus told him that the Psi–Lords entrusted him with it, and that even though the rift had disrupted all electrical energy, their molmach technology shielded it from the effect. Confident, Magnus said that the disk’s power should be able to restore Solar long enough for him to end chaos. As an expression of dread washed over Geoff’s face, Magnus asked him what was wrong, and the young Geomancer told him that he had felt his own destiny within the disk. Dismissing his fears, Geoff said that they had to quickly gather their friends and restore Solar’s power before the others arrived.

As the forces of chaos had raged out of control for hours, earthquakes, fires, tidal waves, and tornados laid waste to the planet, and Geoff knew that if the rift was not terminated soon there would be no world left for him to be a Geomancer in. Even worst, he knew that there were powerful forces who had gained immense power from the necromantic energies that had been unleashed who would have liked nothing better.

In New York City, Mademoiselle Noir asked the Immortal Enemy if in all his reincarnations he had ever seen anything as spectacular as the devastation outside their window. Telling her that he had not, Cheng said that he had also never tasted power as the phenomenon had granted him, power that he did not intent to give up without a fight. Like Cheng, Janine sensed that as they spoke many had gathered in Ladakh in an attempt to end the chaos, and that if they succeeded they would loose the necromantic power that had made them into Gods. Refusing to allow that to happen, Cheng said that it was fortunate that Janine decided to join forces with him, and, that although he was sure she had her own hidden agenda, their purpose was clear. Opening a portal, Janine and Cheng stepped through it to reach Ladakh and defeat their enemies.

Back at the temple, where Magnus and Geoff had joined Archer, Armstrong, Shadowman, Sandria Darque, and Solar, who had lost cohesion, Magnus told Geoff that Solar was in bad shape. Since Solar was the only one who could create time warps, Geoff said that they had to save him. Telling Geoff that there was not much time, Solar said that he was loosing his hold. Easing his worries, Geoff told Solar that help had just arrived, while Magnus told him that he would have to act quickly once the disk restored his power, as it would not last but seconds, and he would only have moments to create a second portal through time. Reiterating the Psi–Lord’s theory, Magnus told Solar that he would complete a circuit that would send the chaos energy back through history to the beginning. Handing Solar the disk, Magnus told him that his touch would activate the mechanism, but just then, Janine Noir levitated the disk from Geoff’s hands and gave it to Cheng.

Floating over the heroes with Janine, Cheng said that they could not permit them to continue. Mocking them, Cheng said that they were all merely puppets in the hands of Master Darque, who the chaos effect and them threatened his reign as supreme necromancer. Adding to Cheng’s words, Janine said that closing the portal only insured Darque’s dominance on Earth, which was why he was allowing them to do it. All of a sudden, the Jack Boniface clone that Master Darque created lunged against Cheng, and while screaming that the portal had to be closed because Master Darque commanded it, he shot him with a blast of energy and made him drop the disk. Jumping after the disk, Archer grabbed it before it hit the ground and shattered.

Enraged, Janine told Archer that she could not allow him to deliver the disk to Solar and ordered him to give it to her, but refusing, he reminded Janine that her powers of influence would not work on him. Even though those who were pure in spirit like Archer were resistant to Janine’s charms, thanks to the power of chaos she had other means to deal with the likes of them. Opening the crypts beneath the temple, Janine animated the corpses of the monks that Darque killed a year earlier and ordered them to retrieve the disk. Surrounded by corpses, Geoff told the others to protect the disk at all costs, for without it there would be no tomorrow.

Watching the fight, Hwen was unsure of what he could to since he could not leave the portal because his body was the only thing holding back the cascade of chaos energy. Just then, Hwen realized that he was not holding the back, but absorbing it, and had just been too afraid to use it. Refusing to let his fear stop him from using the power any longer, and recalling Sandria’s reference to his being the one who could end the chaos if he had the courage to use the power, Hwen released a massive blast of energy that disintegrated the corpses. Unsure of how much longer he could keep absorbing the energy, Hwen urged Carmen to hurry and restore Solar.

His powers restored after touching the disk, Solar created an arc that reached to the beginning of time itself, and seconds later, as Hwen moved away from the portal, the arc sucked the flow of necromantic energy. As the arc and the portal move toward each other and merge, Hwen felt his powers starting to fade. Reverting to his phantom state, Hwen landed beside Carmen, who told him that he had saved them and everything. Saying that they knew the cost of the price they had to pay to end the chaos, Carmen told Hwen that at least they had a few moments together like they were before, and that she was very proud of him.

All of a sudden, the Shadowman clone, which felt the power of chaos fading, said that he had to fulfill his master’s commands. Created from the flesh and blood of Shadowman, the clone was given two commands; to end the chaos and dispose of his master’s enemies. Acting while he still had power, the clone grabbed Archer, Aram, and Geoff and dragged them toward the portals, pitying that Gilad was not there to complete Darque’s revenge. Failing to stop the clone, Solar watched him cross the threshold of the arc and bemoaned that Geoff, Archer, and Armstrong were gone, perhaps forever. Suddenly, Solar picked up radio and TV transmissions as electrical power came back online, and he got reports of the skies clearing all over the world. Delighted, Sandria said that chaos had ended and order been restored, and with it the threat of her brother was over.

From the journal of Geoff McHenry, Geomancer:

I decided to start keeping a record of what had happened to me since I plunged through the time arc with my friends, Archer and Armstrong.

How long we’ve been in this place now is anybody’s guess.

Time really isn’t an absolute… here.

I wish I could tell the others back on Earth the whole incredible story.

I’m sure they think we’re dead.

But… far from it.

When Solar opened that second time arc… all of the chaos energy flowed back to the beginning. To the––

––Big Bang itself!

That energy formed a pocket between reality and Unreality.

In that pocket of warped space ––

–– those enormous energies began to take form.

It created mass… and endless plane that extended to all time… without beginning… or end.

Life… from every time and existence was drawn there… snatched through the small irregularities in space–time.

I don’t pretend to understand all that scientific stuff but… that’s when being one with the Earth comes in handy.

A Geomancer just… knows.

Just as I’ve learned how this lost land was created by the outcome of the chaos effect ––

–– I also know that my friends and I must find a way out –– and soon.

A great war is coming and our part is to be played in a different time.

A Geomancer just… knows.

Epilogue

Outside the Temple, after the terror ended, the heavens were restored, and Solar left, Chan at last had time to observe the amazing beings that remained in Ladakh, mainly Hwen, Carmen, Sandria, Magnus, and Ivar.

Unaccustomed to the weather, Sandria felt the cold, while unsympathetic to her plight, Carmen mockingly told her that it was snowing. Eager to leave, Carmen asked Sandria if she could transport them home, but she told her that she no longer had the power for to do that. Upset, Hwen could not believe that they would have to walk home. Ready to leave, Carmen told Hwen to get Sandria some woolies and start hoofing, but Sandria said that she was allergic and Carmen yelled at her. Asking Carmen to ease up, Hwen told her that she was just upset because he was ephemeral again, and she agreed with him.

Meanwhile, Chan helped Magnus find Ivar, who had miraculously recovered, risen from bed, and walked up to the mountain to meditate… or so he told Chan. Approaching Ivar, Magnus asked to speak with him and Ivar invited him for a walk. Anxious to receive the teachings of those most enlightened beings, Chan humbly asked if it would be permissible that he could be present for their words, and Ivar told him that it was okay.

As he told Ivar that it appeared like he was staying in the present for awhile, where his world began, Magnus asked him to tell him about visiting other times and if there was any danger of Chenging history. Ivar's reply was to tell Magnus not to worry, and that history was relative, which meant that if history described something a certain way and he went to the time where it happened, then he was always there, so it probably turned out the way history described just because of him, so he may as well just show up and have fun. Beyond that, Ivar suggested that Magnus beware of the drinking water and to take chewing gum since every era liked chewing gum.

Sliding off the side of the mountain alongside Ivar, Magnus asked him if there was anything he could tell him, like details of what just happened, or personal things he may not know yet. Declining to know, Ivar said that it was better to find out later in time, and that some things turned out less final than one could think. In addition, something very, very bad happened to him, way at the end of time, and though he did not remember what it was he knew that it was why he was there, and that he was the cause of whatever just happened. Ultimately, Ivar did not want to remember until he was damned ready.

Telling Ivar that he met him again in the future, an encounter that had not yet happened in his lifetime, Magnus asked him if he wanted to know what happened, but Ivar declined once again. Just then, a pinprick of light pierced the fabric of the sky and a time arc appeared above them. Calling it his gateway to the universe, Ivar told Magnus that he had a device that warned him of its appearance. Warning Magnus to keep his eyes open for the time arcs, Ivar told him that they were his ticket out of there if he needed a ride, and that long as he did not care where he would end up, all he had to do was jump in them. Leaping off the cliff, Ivar feel into the time arc and vanished, leaving Magnus and Chan behind.

In time, Magnus and the others departed as well, and though he tried to remain humble after reveling in their presence, Chan wondered if he would ever look upon such beings again.

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