Fearing the rise of Toyo Harada, the most powerful Harbinger on Earth, Omen Enterprises funds the HARD Corps, a secret paramilitary organization of psi-borg soldiers armed with cybernetic brain implants that reproduce the psionic powers of certain Harbingers one at a time.
The HARD Way
Cornered during an assault of a Harbinger data bunker in Georgia while stealing a ROM disc, the H.A.R.D Corps faced Big Boy, an Eggbreaker that killed Maniac. As the implant inside Maniac’s head exploded, completely surprising Superstar, the survivors escaped. From their helicopter, Shakespeare detonated an explosive that destroyed most of the installation. While waiting for Director Heydrich to debrief them, Superstar expressed shock over there being a bomb in his brain. As Gunslinger assured him that he would not be on the team unless he could cope with it, Omen executives in New York indoctrinated Sam Yoon Kim into the unit to replace Manic. Expressing doubt, Sam questioned what would happen if he refused, to which the executive replied that they would remove the implant in his skull and he would return to his coma. Back in the bunker, an underling informed Harada of a tracking device within a ROM disc. Tracking the signal to the HARD Corps’ headquarters, Harada sent a massive wave of soldiers and Eggbreakers to destroy the Corps.
Vendetta On The Rocks
While Softcore destroyed sensitive material and Heydrich supervised the concealment of trucks carrying equipment, HARD Corps engaged Harada’s forces. Warned of incoming jets, Harada ordered a retreat and the destruction of the compound. Back in Georgia, Harada ordered Big Boy to wait there. The next day in an Omen Enterprises corporate center in California, Ellen and Shakespeare lamented the loss of the ROM disc, which contained information on the Omega power. Just then, Hammerhead walked in with beers for them to drink in Maniac’s honor. In New York, Sam talked with a psychiatrist about his recent resurrection and desire to speak with his wife, who still believed that he was dead. Back in California, the drunken HARD Corps decided to return to Georgia to search for Maniac’s body. Finding Big Boy, who had cremated Maniac, the Corps engaged him in battle, and with Softcore’s reluctant aid Shakespeare blew Big Boy’s head using a force field. The next morning, the guys gathered to spread Maniac’s ashes over the ocean.
At the Gun Fun outlet, Hammerhead was showing a customer a gun, when his beeper rang. At the Desert Shade restaurant, Shakespeare was in the kitchen, when his beeper rang. During an aerial, Gunslinger’s beeper rang. At a convenience store outside Albuquerque, a fan recognized Superstar as his beeper rang. Returning to The Ranch – HARD Corps headquarters –, Superstar was disappointed at his inability to enjoy being recognized. Several levels below, Sam trained in the use of his implant, when then the others arrived. Telling Sam to become invulnerable, Hammerhead pulled his gun and shot him. Angry, Sam lurched at him. Standing between them, Shakespeare explained Hammerhead’s disdain for people of Asian descent to Sam, who did not take it lightly. That night, Superstar and Sam shared their sorrows over a bottle of beer.
The next morning, the team gathered in Slaughter Street, a HARD Corps training facility, for an exercise involving the rescue of a priest, his daughter, and her dog. During the test, all the members of the team were knocked out or disabled except for Sam, who instead of completing the objective chose to save Hammerhead after his heart stopped when he accidentally electrocuted himself. That night, Sam’s actions not only proved the vital factor of the exercise, for them to work as a team, a success, but they also earned him the nickname Flatline.
At a veterans’ hospital, Gunslinger’s dad berated him for leaving the air force, which made him feel bad for not being able to tell him about the corps. Back at HQ, Seth ordered the team to stop a foundation vessel armed with a hidden arsenal from reaching its destination in Europe. While Superstar, Hammerhead, and Shakespeare distracted the soldiers protecting the ship, Gunslinger and Flatline went inside to blow it up. Using invulnerability, Superstar destroyed a sub, which gave him an adrenalin rush. Inside the vessel, an explosion trapped Gunslinger and Flatline behind debris, while Static prevented them from switching powers. Blowing up Flatline’s air tank, Gunslinger knocked out Static so they could blow a hole and escape. As the explosives Gunslinger set up blew, the ship’s cargo, billions of dollars in gold, spilled out from inside it. The next day at the veterans’ hospital, Gunslinger came to terms with his inability to share his accomplishment with his dad, a situation that although he disliked he knew he could learn to live with.
Breaking into Carboni’s house during his daughter’s wedding, Bloodshot retrieved data from his PC that led him to a chop shop in Long Island. The next day at the ranch, the HARD Corps headquarters, Superstar was on the verge of a breakdown while Flatline was eager to see his wife, who still believed that he was dead. Assigned to determine whether or not Bloodshot was a Harbinger, the Corps followed him to Long Island, where they witnessed a shootout between Bloodshot and the Mob that escalated once they joined the fray and concluded when a mobster dropped a grenade that destroyed the building. As the dust settled, Gunslinger told the others to shoot Bloodshot if he tried to leave. To everyone’s surprise, Flatline stood between the corps and Bloodshot as he could not abide taking his freedom as Omen had taken theirs. Asking what they wanted from him, Bloodshot allowed the Corps to scan him with a device that his nanites recalibrated to show negative results no matter what it was looking for. The next day Seth denied Flatline’s request due to his breaking from the team. As Flatline left, Seth expressed concern over Shakespeare’s’ whereabouts. Unaware that the Spider Aliens had captured him, Hammerhead assured Seth that Shakespeare was safe with a friend in Oregon.
Mountains Of Pain
In a cavern in the Oregon wilderness, the aliens kept Shakespeare alive to analyze the circuits in his brain. Back at the ranch, Flatline and Superstar engaged in a flying exercise with paintball guns. Facing defeat, Superstar switched powers and got the upper hand. After coldly lecturing Flatline over the unexpectedness of combat, Superstar left as Seth entered the room. Though agreeing with Superstar, Seth remarked that his statement could have been delivered less harshly, to which Flatline replied that due to his decision during their last mission everyone in the team had been chilly toward him. Moments later in the situation room, Heydrich informed the team that as it seemed like Shakespeare had gone A.W.O.L. he was going to activate his brain pop. Reminded by Softcore of the cost involved in replacing a trained agent Heydrich agreed to give Hammerhead 24 hours to ascertain Shakespeare’s whereabouts.
Traveling to Oregon, Hammerhead used a tracking device to follow Shakespeare’s signal, but had no luck finding it. Meanwhile at the cavern, a Spider Alien bioengineered to look human tried to coerce Shakespeare into willingly helping their invasion of Earth, but he refused, so they took him topside to surgically extract his implant. Once they exited the cavern, Hammerhead locked onto Shakespeare’s signal and followed it to an armed camp. Making his way toward it on foot, Hammerhead came upon a guard at the gate who shot him with an energy weapon. Shooting back, Hammerhead killed the guard, who he discovered was a Spider Alien. Reporting the situation to Softcore, Hammerhead requested that she sent the rest of the team to his location.
Within an operating room inside the facility, the bioengineered alien left Shakespeare with a lone guard while she and the others left to investigate the gunshots. Taking advantage of the location of the trigger in the alien’s weapon, Shakespeare shot off the guard’s leg with a kick. Breaking free of his bonds, Shakespeare made his way to the courtyard, where Hammerhead was engaged in battle with the aliens. Hiding behind some canisters, Shakespeare explained that when Jack Nance, the friend he came to visit, told him of a project he was working on, curiosity got the better of him and he followed him when then he was shot down. Worried that the aliens had captured Jack, Shakespeare made Hammerhead help him find him by reminding him that they do not leave anyone behind. Back at the ranch, Heydrich informed the Corps that Intel came in that Harada planned to use the gold they sunk in the ocean to buy his own country in Europe from where he could change the world to fit his vision. Deploying the team to stop Harada’s plan from reaching fruition, Heydrich canceled the rescue operation and referred to Shakespeare and Hammerhead casualties of war.
Breaking into the control center, Shakespeare and Hammerhead found Jack free and unarmed. Relieved at first, Shakespeare was surprised when Jack turned his gun on them.
The Juice Of Heroes
After Hammerhead punched Jack, a group of Spider Aliens broke in through the door and he killed them. Refusing to believe that Jack was a collaborator, Shakespeare stopped Hammerhead from killing him. Too weak to go with him, Shakespeare urged Hammerhead to leave him. Escaping into the courtyard, Hammerhead used ghost mode to phase through the fence and ran into the woods. Back at the ranch, the rest of the corps dismissed Heydrich’s orders and jumped on their jets to go rescue Hammerhead and Shakespeare. Back in Oregon, Jack justified his allegiance with the aliens to Shakespeare by holding the entire planet responsible of falsely blaming him of slaughtering an entire village in Vietnam, and though Shakespeare tried to make him see reason Jack no longer cared. Cornered in the woods, Hammerhead did his best to kill his alien pursuers, when then they came at him with a tank. Somewhere else entirely, Heydrich activated a B–Team of HARD Corp recruits led by Hotshot to send them on the mission Gunslinger bailed.
Pinned under a tree with his transceiver knocked off, Hammerhead was trapped and unable to switch powers. As the tank came bearing down on him, however, Superstar and the others arrived to save him. Seizing a second tank, the corps returned to the facility to rescue Shakespeare, who managed to fool the bioengineered alien into believing that Jack had called the corps to kill the aliens. After the alien killed Jack, Shakespeare grabbed a weapon and shot her. As the Corps flew away, a strike team destroyed the installation
The B–Team Or, “Some Like It Hot(Shot!)”
At an installation in Estonia, Harada delivered a speech to the workers that detailed his plan to build aerospace technology second to none that would prepare the Harbinger Foundation to take to the cosmos. Talking to William, the plant manager, Toyo explained how the Corps had interfered in his plan to bail out Estonia’s crumbling economy in exchange for political control that would have allowed him to move the foundation there and given him total freedom to complete his vision for the planet. With the shipment of gold lost at the bottom of the ocean, Harada’s plan b was to use the factory to provide jobs that would generate an influx of stable currency that would gain him considerable influence with the government. As they walked by a worker, Harada read his mind and became aware of a sabotage attempt on the plant. Sounding the alarm, Harada alerted his guards, who engaged the B–Team led by Hotshot in a firefight. Switching to airborne, the corps escaped thinking that they had been successful, but as they flew away Harada disabled their bombs.
In Seattle, the lead Corps team visited Shakespeare in the hospital, where the thanked them for disobeying Heydrich while Superstar made peace with Flatline. Upset over their disobedience, Heydrich chastised them for forcing him to sent the B–Team to deal with Harada and expressed his belief that they were most likely dead. Back in Estonia, Hotshot and the rest of the B–Team broke into Harada’s aerospace installation again to destroy it. Though the initial break–in went unchallenged, the team eventually came across a group of Eggbreakers. While Static kept the Corps locked in Tsetse mode, Flashbulb, Taser, and Rock made quick work of them. Just then, the led Corps arrived and knocked out Static. Using Stun Ram, Flatline pushed Rock through the floor down to the basement, while Hotshot shot Static in the leg to keep her unfocused.
Splitting up, the lead Corps team headed toward the installation’s support columns to detonate them. Encountering initial resistance from the Eggbreakers, they quickly overpowered them and completed the mission. As the installation came down on them, all the members of the team switched to Ghost Mode except for Superstar, who retained his invulnerability much to Gunslinger’s concern. Switching to airborne, the two teams left to rendezvous with an evac transport. On their way there, Gunslinger chastised Superstar for his irresponsibility and made him realize that he could have put the team in danger. Aboard a stealth ship over the Baltic Sea, Gunslinger offered Hotshot a spot with the lead team and she enthusiastically accepted it.
The Last Days of Ditzy Duck
While on a camping trip with his estranged daughter Dana Peeves in Southern Colorado, Hammerhead experienced a brief loss of super strength while holding a boulder over his head. Though told that Lifeline’s instruments showed no anomalies, Hammerhead nevertheless decided to switch to invulnerability just in case.
At the ranch, Perp and Whiteout jealously watched while Gunslinger welcomed Hotshot into the core team. In reserve while he healed from the injures he sustained in Oregon, Shakespeare took the two rookies to the mess hall for a drink. Watching them walk away, Hotshot wondered if they would ever become full members again. Meanwhile in Los Angeles, Sam and Superstar, who was dressed as a rabbi, went to find Sam’s wife, Li Song, whom they learned had returned to Korea because she thought that Sam was dead.
While Hammerhead and Dana stopped at a convenience store for a supply run, they watched as Turok stopped a shoplifter from escaping with a stash of goods under his coat. Impressed by Turok’s toughness, Hammerhead watched him ride away on his bike before he and Dana returned to their car.
Back in LA, Sam and Superstar took a taxi after Lifeline refused to let them use airborne to avoid traffic. Upset, Sam complained that he saw no point in having powers if the bigwigs did not let them use them. Stuck in a traffic jam, the boys learned from a motorist that terrorists looking to ban Japanese imports had taken the Japanese ambassador hostage at Ditzy Land, and Sam silently told Superstar that they should go rescue him.
At Ditzy Land, Superstar used ghost mode to get the upper hand on the two terrorists guarding the door while Sam snuck up from behind and knocked them out. Learning where the terrorists were holding the ambassador, Sam and Superstar stormed Fowl Fortress and discovered that the terrorists had a bomb. While Sam flew the hostages away, Superstar laid on top of the bomb and covered the blast using invulnerability. Flung out of the building by the explosion, Superstar landed in a nearby meadow where Sam found him. Feeling an adrenaline rush, Superstar said that anytime Sam needed someone to muffle a bomb, he was his man.
Back in Colorado, Hammerhead reported back to Softcore, who reassured him that there was nothing wrong with the equipment. Suspecting that local minerals or even radioactive ore may have caused the malfunction, Hammerhead requested airborne and performed an aerial survey of the area. Spotting an abandoned miner’s cabin, Hammerhead lost control of his ability again and plummeted to the ground. Regaining airborne before he hit, Hammerhead was sure that what he was looking for was in the cabin. While Hammerhead drew his gun and asked Softcore to monitor him, a bionisaur came up from behind and lunged at him.
The Killer With Clean Hands
Moving out of the bionisaur’s way, Hammerhead called for arc charge, which fizzled just like airborne and super strength did. Suddenly, an arrow hit the Bionisaur and killed it. Looking up, Hammerhead saw Turok coming towards him. Contacting Softcore, Hammerhead requested that she sent the others to investigate. Meanwhile inside a Colorado mountain, a Bionisaur informed a Spider Alien half-breed that someone had killed their sentry and that they would need the buzz tech they required to kill the intruders.
An hour later, Hotshot and Gunslinger arrived by helicopter and Hammerhead sent Dana away for her own safety, which really irked her. Following Turok’s lead, the corps made their way to the entrance to the bionisaur’s hideout inside the mountain. Alerted of the break in, the Bionisaur told the half–breed that he and his kind would take care of the intruders while he escaped like the cower he was.
Realizing they were in a NORAD facility taken over by Spider Aliens, Gunslinger decided that learning as much about their technology as possible was the best way to defeat the aliens, a notion that brought him into conflict with Turok, who wanted to destroy everything that helped the Bionisaurs survive. Just then, a group of Bionisaurs discovered the group and a firefight ensued. Pushed away from Hammerhead and Hotshot, Turok and Gunslinger found themselves facing the reactor powering the aliens’ machinery. As Turok aimed his grenade launcher at the reactor to blow it up, Gunslinger kicked it out of his hand and trained his gun on him.
Elsewhere, Hammerhead and Hotshot ended up in the same room with the half–breed. As Hammerhead trained his gun on the alien, a Bionisaur broke into the room and almost killed him. Pulling her knife out, Hotshot slid the bionisaur’s neck, which enraged him. Jumping on the bionisaur’s back, Hammerhead called on arc charge and fried its brain. Unfortunately, the Bionisaur fell on top of Hotshot and Hammerhead hit his head on the floor, loosing consciousness. Looking up, Hotshot saw the half–breed aiming a gun at her.
While a Bionisaur broke through the wall of the reactor room and pushed Gunslinger into a room littered with human bones, the half–breed explained to Hotshot that due to a faulty genetic experiment he was unable to kill her and left to fetch a Bionisaur who could do it for him. Back in the reactor room, having realized his mistake, Gunslinger returned Turok’s weapon to him and allowed him to blow up the reactor.
Startled by the explosion, the half–breed feared that the self–destruct mechanism would go off. With the power out, Hotshot was able to call upon super strength and push the Bionisaur off her, then after throwing Hammerhead over her shoulder, she warned Softcore of the self-destruct. Receiving Hotshot’s heads up, Gunslinger summoned airborne and took Turok out of the base with him, while elsewhere Hotshot found a door and used detonation mode to blow it up so she and Hammerhead could escape.
Two minutes later, as Sam and Superstar arrived in a helicopter, the reunited corps and Turok watched from a distance as the mountain exploded. Parting as friends, Gunslinger and Turok wished each other good luck.
Return to Slaughter Street
While going down New Mexico State Road 117, Superstar forced himself to drive off the road and crash. Surviving thanks to the default invulnerability setting in his implant, Superstar walked out of the wreckage high on an adrenaline rush. Back at the ranch in a sound–baffled target range several levels below ground, Sam laid his anguish over Li Song returning to Korea on Gunslinger’s shoulder. Meanwhile, while Seth checked Hammerhead’s implant to make sure there was no residual alien interference, he shared his concerns over Superstar’s recklessness with him, but Hammerhead dismissed them, claiming that as long as he was not a danger to the team, Superstar had the right to deal with his problems as he saw fit.
Later that day, Shakespeare and Superstar helped Hotshot move into her apartment. As she mused over how her life had changed following the incident that put her into a coma, Superstar shared his frustration over his inability to leave the compound without a disguise due to his being a movie star. As Hotshot asked him how he dealt with the tedium and solitude, Superstar stared into the distance and said that he was learning to cope.
Moments later, the corps gathered in a training field nicknamed Slaughter Street to run an exercise overseen by Seth and Softcore. While prepping up, Sam moaned at having to go down the street and Superstar assured him that the practice would make him feel alive. Simultaneously, Hotshot asked Shakespeare if he was ready to return to active duty and Gunslinger asked Hammerhead about Dana, who he said he had not seen since the incident in Colorado. Detailing the exercise, Seth told the corps that their goal was to retrieve a flag while using Harbinger powers assigned by Softcore to deal with automated obstacles to test their implants.
Following Gunslinger’s lead, the corps spread out across the street in a sweep maneuver. As the test proceeded normally, Seth left the command trailer to check a fluctuating generator’s external couplings. Returning a few moments later acting strangely, Seth activated the defense override, which turned all the defenses in the street on at once. Attacked from all sides by the street, the corps lost contact with Softcore.
Aborting the mission, Gunslinger ordered a retreat to the command trailer. Finding his way to it ahead of the others, Shakespeare ran inside and saw Seth trying to kill Softcore. Pulling him off her, Shakespeare punched head in the face and his fist went through his head as if it was made of goop. Reassembling himself, “Seth” bid Shakespeare and Softcore goodbye and then ran out the door.
Seeing the others, Shakespeare told them that Seth was a traitor and they went after him. Reaching for Seth, Hammerhead grabbed his coat, which turned to goop in his hand. Following “Seth” to an arroyo, the corps found the real Seth tied and gagged behind a bush. Though Seth explained that someone slugged him while he was checking the couplings, Softcore refused to believe him until they examined the fingerprints on the activation button and they either cleared him or condemned him.
Hours later, tests conducted on the goop revealed it to be ectoplasm, while tests on the button showed no one had touched it at all. Puzzled, Gunslinger wondered who the other man who tried to kill them really was.
As Hammerhead drove up to the Omen ranch, Superstar leapt over him in his motorcycle and startled him. Admonishing Superstar’s behavior, Hammerhead warned him to be careful not to kill himself. Acting smugly, Superstar assured Hammerhead that with his implant on invulnerability nothing would happen to him, then he raced him to the house, which as a result of the Other Man’s attack had been fitted with a print scanner. Later in the meeting room, Hydrich briefed the corps on an job to Tennessee to investigate the theft of information related to the HARD Corps by the Other Man, Shakespeare’s first mission since Oregon. Faced with another problem, Hydrich sent Sam to Iowa to investigate a diary farm they suspected belonged to the Harbinger Foundation, which had blocked an Omen member from buying land to expand its property. Feeling left out, Sam believed that Hydrich was being prejudicial for sending him on squat duty while the white guys went on a real mission, but then Ellen proposed that Hydrich chose him because he was the best man for the job.
In Tennessee, the Corps met Janet Dooly, Rockytop Research’s administrator, who objected to their presence. After giving the Corps badges, Janet left them with her head of security, Jose Romero, who was their guide. As the Corps made their way to the cafeteria, they walked by the Other Man, who was posing as Dr. Woods. Taking Jose’s gun the Other Man shot them, but Superstar stood in front of the bullets and they bounced off him. Calling for Stun Ram, Gunslinger splattered Other Man against the wall., but he reassembled himself and escaped. Recognizing Other Man’s voice, Ellen told Gunslinger that he was the man who impersonated Seth, a conclusion that surprised Gunslinger given the physical differences between Seth and Dr. Woods.
Chasing Other Man, the Corps cornered him in a hallway and shot him, but he escaped by squeezing through the bars on the wall and shorted out the building’s electrical grid. Using the surveillance system in the security office, which had its own generator, Gunslinger discovered that Other Man lacked a heat signature. Even so, using motion detectors he and Jose tracked him down and relayed his position to Hammerhead. Finding Other Man oozing from the ceiling, Hammerhead and Hotshot shot him with everything they had, but he still kept coming. Meanwhile, as Shakespeare and Superstar made their way through the generator room, Superstar foolishly stuck his hand into the generator and electrocuted himself, blowing the machine in the process.
While chasing Other Man, Hammerhead broke through a wall to intercept him, but Other Man grabbed him and threw him away. Pulling a grenade out of her belt, Hotshot, protected by her invulnerability, stuck it in Other Man’s stomach, and blew him up all over the room. At that same instant in Waycross Georgia, a young man cried out in pain as a result of the Other Man’s explosion. While Gunslinger chastised Superstar for his imprudence, the man reached for a picture of Big Boy, his little brother, and swore to avenge his death.
Using airborne and ghost modes, Sam infiltrated the farm in Iowa. After seeing farmers armed with machine guns, Sam found a barn with construction equipment and building facades that made it look like someone was preparing to put up an entire town. Following the farmers down an elevator shaft, Sam arrived at a place that looked and smelled like a hospital, where he discovered a room filled with people sealed in glass canisters.
The Body Farm
Seen by Harada’s guards, Sam escaped using ghost mode. Finding himself near an elevator shaft, Sam called for airborne to fly away, but then Rock broke into the room and knocked him out before he could escape.
On a corporate jet 30,000 feet above Mississippi, Heydrich and Gunslinger reprimanded Superstar for his rash behavior. In his defense, Superstar said that, unlike the others, he did not have a life due to his agent telling people he died, which turned him into a very recognizable “corpse”, which forced him to wear disguises anywhere he went. Pleading his case, Superstar said that the only time he felt alive now was when he cheated death, but even though he sympathized with him, Gunslinger warned that the next time his thrill seeking could kill somebody. Just then, Heydrich received a priority communiqué about Sam’s capture. Though Heydrich wanted to pop Sam, the Corps convinced him to let them rescue him, so he gave them three hours to do so.
Back in Iowa, Sam followed a scientist back to the room where he saw the people in glass canisters with his arms chained to Rock so he would not fly away. The scientist told Sam that the people he saw were individuals genetically predisposition to birth Harbingers whose minds Harada wiped clean for the intent of turning them into residents of a town designed to gauge the contributing factors necessary to accelerate a Harbinger’s development. Just then, the sound of an alarm filled the room, and while the scientist left to deal with the Corps Rock took Sam to a surgery room to have his implant removed so Harada could study it.
As the Corps broke into the farm, Gunslinger fell to Taser’s neural spikes, so Hammerhead stayed behind to watch over him. Finding Sam in the operating room, Shakespeare, Superstar, and Hotshot rescued him. Frantic moments later, as the Corps rushed to meet the EVAC chopper, their injured members slowed them down. Staying behind to cover his teammates’ retreat, Superstar was certain that his invulnerability would protect him, when suddenly a spent casing from his machine gun burned him his arm and he realized that he was no longer invincible. Watching from the helicopter, the Corps saw as the guards gunned down Superstar, whose brain implant popped automatically. As the chopper took off, the Corps mourned in silence.
Hours later, back in the ranch, the surviving members of the Corps gathered to celebrate their friend’s life. Walking into the room, Heydrich informed the team that until they figure out what went wrong with Superstar’s invulnerability, the new default setting would be shield. In light of recent high–profile action, Heydrich ordered that the Corps take some time off, which upset Hammerhead, who wanted to take action and find out who Other Man was and what happened to Superstar. Fed up with Hammerhead, Heydrich reminded him that they worked for Omen, so they had to do what he said, a statement that prodded Gunslinger to say that maybe they should stop working for Omen.
The Trouble With Midnight
At the Harbinger Foundation complex dubbed Starstep off the coast of Vancouver, Earl "Midnight" Simkus, an obnoxious scumbag with more smarts than all the professors at Cal Tech combined, waltzed into the building well past 1 am, much to the annoyance of the security guards forced to report there on time every day. A short while later in a distant lab, after Earl finished stimulating his brain to give himself a high, he went about studying a report on the HARD Corps to find a way to kill them at Harada’s request.
The next day in Denver, while Hammerhead showed Dana how to use a gun in his target range, he got a call from HARD Corps that forced him to leave. Though Dana prodded him to tell her what he was involved in, Hammerhead said it was too complicated to explain and walked away, promising to talk to her about it later.
That afternoon, as Shakespeare and Hotshot hung a plaque in a wall honoring their fallen teammates, Hotshot, unsatisfied by their failure to offer more to honor Superstar, wondered if loosing friends got easier, to which Shakespeare said that all they could do was cope with the loss and move on. Just then, Gunslinger called them to join a briefing where Heydrich told them that the tests in their equipment were negative. Accusing Harada of Superstar’s death, Heydrich sent the Corps to Starstep to stop Harada’s attempts to kill them. As the meeting adjourned, Heydrich found an anonymous note accusing him of killing Superstar.
The next day, as the Corps arrived at Starstep, Sam rigged the cameras to run on an endless loop so they could break in. Unbeknownst to them, Earl had his own security system and detected their approach. Alerting the security guards, Earl told them to keep the Corps busy while he rigged a device of his own to deal with them. Reaching a data storage room, as Shakespeare cross–referenced the computer files on HARD Corps while Hammerhead watched the door, he discovered a file about Other Man–style break–ins on various Harbinger Foundation facilities, a discovery that made Gunslinger question why the same man would target Omen and Harbinger. Just then, however, the guards walked into the room garbed in high–tech armor and attacked.
Though the Corps initially had the upper hand, all of a sudden their implants stopped working right and instead of receiving the powers they called for, they reproduced the wrong one. Revealing himself, Earl showed the Corps a hand–held device he designed to scramble the signals sent to their implants. Halting his team’s assault, Gunslinger ordered the Corps to stop asking for powers to avoid a backfire. Unfortunately, Earl and the Star Squad had them surrounded on all sides.
While the HARD Corps engaged the Star Squad with the powers at their disposal, Hotshot took a chance and asked Softcore to switch her to grenade mode, but she instead got static and scrambled the team’s headsets. Faced with no way out, Gunslinger ordered the corps to surrender. Taking Gunslinger’s headset, Midnight told him that he would kill the others unless he ordered a wimpy power, so Gunslinger told Softcore to switch them to Tsetse mode. As the Star Squadron took the men away, Midnight ordered Hotshot to stay with him. Back at the Ranch, where Softcore informed Heydrich of the team’s capture, Heydrich, who was reluctant to destroy five Psi–Borgs, ordered Perp, Wipeout, Grasshopper, and Lifeline, their control link, to stand–by.
While locked in a cell somewhere in the Starstep complex, Virgil asked Sam about his name and found out that he changed it when he arrived in America. Accusing Sam of denying his heritage, Virgil asked him what his real name was, so Sam told him that it was Suk. Turning back, Virgil said that he was right to change it. Asked by Aaron to elaborate on what he meant when he said that they should stop working for Omen, Charles said that while their opposition of Harada’s foundation was a necessary pursuit, it was a narrow one, and that he believed it was time for HARD Corps to resume their dream of making the world a better place.
Three levels down, Midnight showed Hotshot a laser saw that he developed to build space armor and a beta particle charging unit for their battery packs. When Hotshot asked why he brought her there, Midnight said that he thought that unlike her Neanderthal friends she would value his work, but seeing through his bull she said that she thought she was there because he was lonely, an assertion he dismissed through insults. Just then, Mr. Hazelton, head of the Starstep complex, ran inside in his pajamas demanding to know why security woke him up. Seeing the HARD Corps on a screen, Hazelton said that Harada would be pleased. Back at the Ranch, as Heydrich walked away from Softcore after asking her for a progress report, he nonchalantly stepped on Stuart’s hand. A tech, Stuart blamed the incident on the techs’ inherent invisibility within the corps, but as Heydrich left he muttered under his breathe that he knew a secret that Heydrich did not want others to know.
Playing on Midnight’s emotions to get him close to her, Hotshot kicked him in the abdomen to knock him out. Breaking her cuffs, Hotshot grabbed a headset and then shorted out Earl’s scrambler before she made a break for it. Making her way to the cell block after dispatching Hazelton’s guards and a Star Squad soldier, Hotshot reestablished contact with Softcore and freed the others. Taking the headset, Gunslinger coordinated the distribution of the team’s powers with Softcore as they made their way to the hangar, where they ran into Midnight, who held them at bay with his repaired scrambler. Appealing to Midnight’s need to belong, Hotshot told him to join Omen, where he would be wanted, a plea that convinced him to let them go.
The next day at the Ranch, where the corps learned of Harada’s coma, Hotshot asked Gunslinger if he thought that Earl would come around. Uncertain of what Earl would do, Gunslinger said that in light of recent events the only thing he knew for sure was that things were going to change, but not necessarily for the better
Mangy Mouse is Missing
In a workroom beneath Ditsy World, Heydrich oversaw as techs outfitted Mr. Dubrovsky, a Webnet defector, with a Mangy Mouse costume to hide him from Webnet’s assassins so the Corps could escort him to Cosmic Mountain, where a helicopter waited to fly him to North Dakota. Meanwhile, Hammerhead dismissed the mission as a milk run much to Hotshot’s amusement, ignoring that a Webnet assassin was watching them. Shortly, while Gunslinger assured Dubrovsky that they would keep him safe, Hammerhead’s attitude prodded him to recount in detail how Dr. Silk killed his wife and daughter before his eyes to keep him in line with the fear that the same could happen to him. Instead, the threat gave him to courage to flee, which is why Silk wanted him back, for if he killed him it would reveal that terror, his greatest weapon, could not control everything.
Moments later, as the Corps made their way to Cosmic Mountain on two golf carts six Webnet ninjas jumped from a bridge and attacked. While Hotshot and Flatline held the ninjas at bay, Gunslinger tried to escape with Dubrovsky, but one a ninja shot him with a drugged spike that knocked him out. Awakening Gunslinger using jolt mode, Shakespeare told him that the ninjas grabbed Dubrovsky. While Flatline, Hotshot, Gunslinger & Shakespeare dispatched ninjas at three different amusement rides, Hammerhead saw a Webnet helicopter landing on top of Cosmic Mountain and saw the ninjas taking Dubrovsky to it.
As a little girl ran toward Dubrovsky to take a picture, a ninja swung his sword to stop her, so Dubrovsky tackled him off the ledge to save her. Angered by Dubrovsky’s sacrifice, Hammerhead dispatched the ninjas, then he landed beside Dubrovsky, who said that in time Silk’s failure to control him would do more damage than anything he might have revealed to the Corps. With this dying breath, Dubrovsky told Hammerhead that how people see things and how they react to them was what would ultimately change the world.
One hour later, as Hammerhead made his way back home on foot he came across a homeless veteran begging for money, and taking Dubrovsky’s words to heart, he gave his prized jacket to him.
Send In The Armorines
During a meeting following the capture of a Harbinger whose ability was worthless, Hammerhead suggested that with Harada in a coma the foundation might no longer posed a threat and it might be time for the Corps to rethink their priorities. Closing the debate, Charles proposed that given the stressful events of the last few weeks everyone should take some time off. An hour later, while Aaron cooked dinner, Sam went to find Charles, who was hiding in the hangar. Speaking freely, Sam said that he noticed that Charles had become withdrawn lately, and that he was concerned that Ricky’s death had affected him more profoundly than he cared to acknowledge. Confessing that it had, Charles said that there was something about Superstar’s death that did not sit well with him due to the many unknown factors behind the scene.
Meanwhile, in Camp Pendleton in California, the Armorines were personalizing their helmets to help them identify each other in the battlefield, a trivial exercise that Michael Sirot did not want any part of. Just then, General Kendall summoned the team to a briefing where he assigned them to capture the HARD Corps and bring them in for interrogation so they could ascertain how they acquired their remarkable powers. Shown a video of the HARD Corps in action, Gunny Lewis though that he recognized Virgil, but he dismissed it as soon as he though it.
One week later outside of Walker’s Key, Florida, the HARD Corps made their way to an airfield to intercept a plane carrying illegal high–tech weapons that Omen wanted to make sure would never reach the foundation. After a sweep revealed that the field had been abandoned for some time, Shakespeare and Hammerhead suggested that the place was too clean, like a village in Nam where they almost died after the Viet Cong snuck up on them from a tunnel beneath their feet. No sooner did Gunslinger realize they had fallen into an ambush, did the Armorines rise up from the ground and ordered them to surrender.
Protected behind Gunslinger’s shield, the Corps made a run for it. While Flatline pushes Sirot out of the way with stun ram, Shakespeare fell to James Earl’s neural spike. Incensed, Gunslinger dispatched Sirot with arc charge and detonation mode. Ultimately, however, the Corps fell to Gunny’s PBC beam, which shorted out their implants and knocked them unconscious. Removing his helmet, Gunny looked down at the Corps and recognized Virgil, who while looked older than he remembered, was the man he knew in Nam. Sealing his visor, Gunny contacted Major Lane and scrubbed the mission much to Sirot’s annoyance.
After shooting the aircraft fuel canisters in the hangar to cover their tracks, the Armorines left to rendezvous with their extraction choppers. Minutes later, the Corps came to and wondered why the Armories let them go.
At the Ranch, a group of medics rushed to meet the helicopter carrying the injured members of HARD Corps. Taken to the infirmary, Hotshot was upset at the ease with which the team was defeated, while Hammerhead was pleased that he had a new scar on his forehead. Later, while telling Heydrich that the mission was a trap, Gunslinger wondered who the men that attacked them really were. That night at the infirmary, Gunslinger visited Shakespeare, who told him that he saw US Marine badges on the armored men that attacked them.
As the Armorines returned to Camp Pendleton, General Kendall reprimanded Gunny for aborting the mission. Informing Kendall that someone called Softcore controlled the Corps’s powers, Gunny said that he believed the Corps possessed built–in fail–safes that would have prevented them from talking and let their higher–ups trace them to their base. Though scolding Gunny for ignoring orders and following his own agenda, Kendall commended his theory and told Dr. Zahn to track where the Corps went after their battle with the Armorines. Later that night outside the barracks, Major Lane asked Gunny for the real reason why he really pulled out of the mission. Though he was hesitant to get her involved, Gunny told Myra Lane that he recognized some members of the Corps from Viet Nam. Showing Myra a picture of himself with Virgil, Aaron, and Charles, Gunny said that he wished to reach, so she suggested that they ask a friend hacker of hers to find them for him.
The next day, Gunny charted a flight with Palmer Air, and soon as their plane took off he held Charles at gun point to question him about the Corps and Omen, but Charles feigned not to know what he was talking about. Showing Charles the picture of them together, Gunny told him that he was part of the covert marine unit that attacked the Corps in Florida to bring them in under charges of terrorism. After Charles told him that Omen revived him and the others to keep Harada in check, Gunny became convinced that the HARD Corps were not terrorists and agreed to straighten everything out with his superiors before anyone else got hurt. Soon as they landed, however, Myra told Gunny that Zahn found out the Corps were hiding in New Mexico and Kendall had dispatched the rest of the Armorines to bring them back to Camp Pendleton. While Charles returned to the Ranch, Gunny and Myra stayed behind to contact General Kendal and put a stop to the attack.
Following Sirot’s orders, the Armorines breached the Ranch, but Hotshot and Flatline pushed them back out. As the battle intensified, the Armorines knocked Flatline out, which left Hotshot alone to deal with them until Shakespeare arrived to offer back up. Lunging against Shakespeare, Sirot promised to finish what Williams began, but then the CIA showed up and Kendall ordered the Armorines to submit their jurisdiction.
Conferring Senator Ackerman’s apologizes, the CIA assured Heydrich that everything was in control. Upset, Hotshot walked away in a huff, while behind her Flatline wondered if they would see the Armorines again.
Bad Omen – Part I
At the Ranch, the HARD Corps’ underground headquarters in Albuquerque, Director Heydrich charged the Corps with a mission to breach the Harbinger Foundation Complex in Bolivar to record Toyo Harada’s brain waves for inclusion in their Harbinger powers database and to assassinate him.
Later that day, at the foundation complex in Bolivar, the members of B-Squad, punished with cafeteria duty after the prank they pulled on Mr. Smalls, coped with their reprimand. While Sam, Faith Herbert, Mira Choudhury, and Victoria Martinelli served Sloppy Joes and tater tots, Butch MacFaddin and Sam bused tables. After clearing Beatrice’s table, Butch ran into Nathalie and tried to cozy up to her, but Blast warned him to leave her alone. Meanwhile, Takashi Kuramoto informed Mr. Kabuto and Mr. Sakai of his decision to cut down on the foundation’s security measures, as in his opinion their enemies were no longer a threat. Leaving in a huff, Mr. Kabuto exclaimed that she was glad that she would be relocating to New York and would not witness Kuramoto tear the company apart, unaware that Kuramoto planned to dismiss her and her colleagues from the foundation for good.
That evening, Simon noticed Sam was distracted and asked him if he was okay, so Butch mockingly revealed that Sam had the hots for Mira. Though he denied at first, Sam asked Butch if he thought if Mira would go out with him, but Butch told him not to bother with her because she was a cold fish. While getting dressed to go out, Butch told Simon that he could tell he had fallen head over heels for Mira, but that inevitably something would go wrong and he was the one who would have to hear him moan about it later. Walking out the room, Butch told Sam that he was leaving to go see Natalie in spite of Blast’s warning that he stay away from her.
Elsewhere, Ms. Kabuto told Mira that since things with the B–Squad had not improved since she assigned her as team leader she had no choice but to break them up due to their many indiscretions. Returning to her room, Mira told the girls and Butch that in two weeks Ms. Kabuto would relocate them to different branches of the foundation, with some of them going with her to New York. Feeling guilty, Victoria offered to confess that she flooded Mr. Smalls’ office, but convinced that it would only make things worse, Faith dissuaded her. Upset, Victoria asked if there was something they could do, and Butch said that they could go get drunk.
That night, B–Squad broke into the hospital cafeteria to have a last meal together. Reaching for a six pack, Butch split the beer with the others, except for Mira and Faith, the latter of whom said that her friend Torque let her have a sip once and it tasted awful. Raising her bottle, Victoria promised to visit the others and offered a toast that Simon sealed by yelling out that “Nothing Beats A Bud”. Just then, the kids saw the Corps walked into the cafeteria in Ghost Mode. After a brief skirmish, the Corps defeated the B–Squad, except for Simon, who turned invisible and ran away. While Flatline and Hotshot stayed behind to watch the kids, the others proceeded to Harada’s room, where after copying his brain waves, Gunslinger trained his weapon on his head.
Bad Omen – Part II: Hard Decisions
Standing over Harada’s bed, Hammerhead urged Gunslinger to pull the trigger, but feeling at odds with his orders, Gunslinger requested to speak with Heydrich, when suddenly Simon grabbed his arm and pulled it away. Punching Simon aside, Hammerhead knocked him out, but then Sam and the rest of the B–Squad broke into the room with Flatline and Hotshot in tow. Though the Corps got the upper hand again and defeated the B–Squad, the sound of the security alarm in the distance forced them to retreat. Meanwhile in the cafeteria, Faith told the security guards that she and the others were there investigating noises when the Corps attacked them. Hearing the sound of an explosion, the guards ran into Harada’s room and saw a hole in the ceiling.
While the Corps made their way toward their rendezvous point with their evac chopper, the foundation’s security guards surrounded them from both sides in the hallway. Breaking through a tilted window to escape, the Corps inadvertently found themselves facing dozens of guards waiting for them outside. Flying toward the roof, the Corps took cover while they waited for their chopper. Meanwhile, while Walter Sakai chastised Kuramoto for risking Harada’s life, inside the hospital, Katsumi questioned the B–Squad. Seeing their chopper, the Corps made a break for it and got away, certain that Harada would not wake up from his coma.
Inside the hospital, as the kids confessed that they broke into the cafeteria not worried that they would be punished since she had already broken them up, Katsumi told them that they were heroes for saving Harada’s life. Meanwhile, Walter and Kuramoto were astonished to discover that Harada had awoken from his coma.
Bad Omen – Part III: Last Rites
During an assembly, Harada asked the members of B–Squad to stand so he could have a look at them. Feeling proud, Mira pulled Sam by the arm so he would stand up with her, while feeling embarrassed, Victoria, Faith, and Simon slouched in their seats until Ms. Kabuto forced them to stand up to be congratulated. Calling the B–Squad a shinning example of the Harbinger courage and spirit, Harada told them that he looked forward to meeting with them that afternoon and then broke off the assembly. While Victoria and the others left for the infirmary to see how Butch was doing, elsewhere in the auditorium, Coach Nicoletti asked the Eggbreakers where Blast was. At that moment in Natalie’s bedroom, as Blast walked out the door she asked him when she would get a try out with the Eggbreakers, but rolling his eyes, he said that it would happen soon and then left.
Sometime before noon, in Butch’s hospital room, the kids felt weirded out that everybody was treating them like heroes, especially Victoria, who could not stand being congratulated for saving a guy she did not even know. Unlike the others, Mira was excited that they were going to meet Harada, who wanted to thank them personally. Later that day, while Toyo and Walter discussed their imminent strike against Omen Enterprises, Kuramoto’s fate, and the whereabouts of Pete Stanchek, they ran across Edward T. Sedgewick. Looking into Eddie’s mind, Harada was appalled to learn what happened to him. Meanwhile, in Takashi Kuramoto’s office, sensing his impending doom, Takashi called an unidentified associate and gave him access to the foundation’s network to steal its classified data as a way to ensure that he be remembered long after he was gone.
That afternoon in the gym, Sam asked Mira if she had seen Faith, who was supposed to give him a computer lesson. Feeling left out because all her friends and family were in Minnesota, Mira told Sam that Faith was probably with Victoria as they barely left each other’s sight. Telling Mira that she was her friend, Sam gazed at her and told her that she did not have to be alone. As Mira reached out to hug Sam, Victoria and Faith interrupted them. Grabbing Sam’s arm, Faith pulled him away for his computer class. As Mira left, Victoria asked Sam if he was making a move on her, but calling her shrimp he told her to mind her own business.
Sometime later, in Harada’s office, Toyo assured the B–Squad that he would deal with the people responsible for assaulting the foundation and attempting to kill him as they took something from him that he wanted back. Commending them once again for saving his life, Harada told the kids that it was a joy so see them thrive and reach their full potential, especially Faith, who he was glad had adapted well to foundation life. After Harada sent the kids on their way, Simon turned back and asked him if there was anything he could to do stop the squad from breaking up, and Toyo promised to take care of it. Leaving Harada’s office, the kids padded Simon on the back for having the guts to speak to Harada on their behalf.
That night, while Mira told the kids that Katsumi told her that they were going to let them stay together, back in Harada’s office, Toyo discharged Takashi for dishonoring the foundation and him with his ploys. Bowing to Harada, Takashi left to reclaim his honor. Following Takashi to his office, Harada found him kneeled on the floor holding a katana to his abdomen ready to perform Seppuku. Telling Harada that he did not regret anything he did, Takashi said that he did not think he could go through with killing himself, so Harada pushed the sword into his stomach with his mind and then walked away.
That night at the HARD Corps’ headquarters in Albuquerque, as Gunslinger delivered the device that held Harada’s brain scan to Heydrich, a squadron of Harbinger fighter jets attacked the Ranch.
Bad Omen – Part IV: H.A.R.D Retribution
While Softcore talked with her mother on the phone, the window exploded and the lights went out. Looking outside, Softcore witnessed a small contingent of Corps led by Hammerhead holding their ground against a barrage of Harbinger foundation troops descending on the Ranch. As a foundation soldier fell beside the open window and trained his weapon on Softcore, Hotshot killed him. Throwing a weapon at Softcore, Hotshot told her to follow her. Meanwhile, at the Harbinger Foundation complex in Bolivar, Harada oversaw the assault against the Ranch on a monitor bank. Ordering his troops to focus on the Corps above ground, Harada said that he had a weapon that would destroy the underground levels and retrieve what the Corps stole from him.
Back in the Ranch, director Heydrich retrieved the device that held Harada’s brain scans from his safe and ordered Gunslinger to ensure its safety. Leading Heydrich away from his office, Gunslinger was interested in getting back with his team. Looking to reach Softcore, Gunslinger got in touch with Lifeline, who found the Corps and Softcore in the battle field. Surrounded from all sides by foundation troops, the Corps was in trouble, when then, Shakespeare arrived on a commandeered foundation helicopter and killed their attackers.
While Gunslinger and Heydrich ran down a darken hallway, a piece of equipment fell over a tech that was running behind them. Though Heydrich urged him to leave the man behind and get him to safety, Gunslinger ignored him and went to help the tech while Heydrich ran away. Meanwhile, outside, Livewire, Harada’s weapon, destroyed the helicopter that Shakespeare commandeered. Escaping using flight mode, the Corps followed Livewire to stop her. Reaching a dead end, Heydrich ran back down the hallway to go find another way out. Stumbling on a piece of metal on the floor, Heydrich dropped the scanning device. Reaching for it, afraid that he broke it, Heydrich inadvertently activated the device, when just then Livewire flew toward him.
After taking the device, Livewire bond Heydrich with metal wires. Looming toward him, her hand glowing bright, Livewire was ready to kill Heydrich, when then the Corps arrived and stopped her. While Gunslinger recovered the device, Hotshot protected the team behind a force shield and Shakespeare and Flatline kept Livewire off her feet. Defeated, Livewire collapsed the ceiling and sealed the hallway. As Hammerhead released him, Heydrich demanded that Gunslinger return the device to him. Throwing the device at Heydrich, Gunslinger told him that he did not trust him and was watching him, then they all got out of there.
That night in Bolivar, Harada told Walter Sakai that their attack against Omen had not ended, and that he could not allow Omen to ever use his psionic power, for in the wrong hands it would devastate the world.
Somewhere in downtown Santa Fe, Midnight barely escaped from a barrage of the Star Squad’s weapons. Using his gizmo, Midnight tracked the Corps to Shakespeare’s restaurant, the Desert Shade, where inside the team was celebrating Sam’s birthday. Following a toast, Chris mused that it was a shame that Virgil was stuck with a training detail, but Sam said that he probably was not there due to his prejudice toward him. While Aaron assured Sam that Virgil had high regards for him, Ellen tried to cheer up Charles, who questioned what they really knew of Omen’s agenda, and asked the others if they were on the side of the angels or hired killers. Feeling depressed, Sam thought that it was strange to celebrate his birthday while his wife returned to Korea thinking that he was dead, but he then cheered up when the cake arrived.
Meanwhile, in Slaughter Street, Hammerhead and Safeguard oversaw Wipeout, Grasshopper, and Perp as they completed an exercise. Splitting up to locate secret documents that Hammerhead wanted them to recover, the trio went their separate ways, while watching them from inside the trailer, Hammerhead told Safeguard that they had it too easy, when just then the lights went out. Opening the door, Hammerhead was upset to see that the kids had torn up the main power line to neutralize the threats against them. Telling them that in a real situation they could not do that, Hammerhead forced them to run the course all over again.
At the restaurant, just before Sam blew out his candles Midnight came running toward their table and second later the Star Squad burst in behind him. Hiding behind their force fields, Gunslinger told Softcore to get their powers online, but she was only able to send a short transmission before a Star Soldier destroyed her radio. While Hotshot took the civilians away from the line of fire, back at Slaughter Street, Safeguard relayed Softcore transmission to Hammerhead and told him take the recruits with him to go rescue the others.
Pushed into the kitchen, the Corps armed themselves with weapons hidden in a secret locker that Shakespeare opened with a password. While Hotshot and Flatline stayed behind to cover them, Charles and Aaron took Ear out the backdoor into an alley. Back inside, a blast from a Star Soldier’s gauntlet ignited the gas from a ruptured the gas line and the restaurant exploded. Watching from the parking lot, Ellen tried to call Heydrich, but she discovered that her cell phone was being jammed. Monitoring the operation from a foundation helicopter, Mr. Hazelton signaled the ground troops to move in for the kill.
Enraged by his restaurant’s destruction, Aaron picked up an automatic rifle and shot the Star Soldiers coming toward them while Charles covered their flank with his shield. Just then, the Star Soldiers blanketed the area with a wide–angle concussion beam and knocked out Aaron and Earl. His ears ringing, Charles had trouble clearing his head, when then a Star Soldier grabbed him by the neck and held him up in his grasp.
Held in the grip of a Star Soldier amid the ruins of the Desert Shade, Gunslinger fought to stay awake while the soldier chocked him to death. Awakening, Midnight pulled out his gizmo from his backpack and activated Gunslinger’s detonation mode, which he used to blow up the soldier’s head. Staring at his hands, Gunslinger asked Midnight how he managed that, but warning him that the Star Squad was closing in on them, Midnight suggested that they retreat. Leaping behind the pillars of a building, Shakespeare asked Midnight for arc charge, but he accidentally he gave him sunburst instead. Nonetheless, Shakespeare used what he had to fry two soldiers, while Gunslinger used grenade mode to take out three others before they made a run for it.
Elsewhere in the blazing ruins, Seth and Softcore searched the debris for any trapped members of their team. Spotting a Harbinger Foundation helicopter, Seth surmised that they were the ones jamming their contact with the Ranch. Though Seth wanted to get out of there, Softcore refused to leave any of their team behind long as there was a chance that they could still be alive. While Seth and Softcore kept digging, several feet below, Hotshot and Flatline laid trapped beneath a force field keeping the rubble at bay. Her legs broken, Hotshot worried she would not be able to maintain the shield much longer, so, after freeing her legs, Flatline relieved her with his own force field. With her headset broken, Hotshot had no idea of how deeply buried they were.
Six kilometers away, onboard an Omen chopper, Grasshopper informed Hammerhead that they were coming up on a dead zone saturated with a high resolution electron–jamming field. Uncertain of what the disruption would do to their powers, Hammerhead ordered Perp and Wipeout to reach the area on foot. Upon entering the dead zone, the chopper lost contact with Safeguard while airborne Star Troopers closed in on it. Down in the crater, Wipeout and Perp took three Star Troopers looming over Softcore and Seth.
High above, Hammerhead’s chopper took a beating from the Star Troopers and he ordered Grasshopper to bail out. Hesitant, Grasshopper worried how the dead zone would affect their powers, when just then, the tac–scan triangulated the source of the jamming field right below them inside the foundation helicopter. Taking the chopper into a nosedive, Hammerhead aimed it at the foundation chopper before he and Grasshopper jumped out. While on freefall, Hammerhead witnessed the choppers collide and explode. Just then, Safeguard reestablished contact and assigned flight mode to Hammerhead and Grasshopper. Meanwhile, down below, Gunslinger, Shakespeare, and Midnight, commandeered a police jeep after the Star Squad killed its driver.
Beneath the rubble, as Hotshot and Flatline bonded over their failed relationships with their husband and wife respectively, and she made him see that he had not thought about the situation with his wife from her point of view, he thanked her for making him realize how selfish he was getting. Establishing contact with Safeguard, Hotshot and Flatline requested detonation mode and destroyed the rubble. Shortly, Charles and Aaron dropped Earl off before they ran into any police. Though Aaron disagreed, Charles ordered him to let Earl go. Watching them drive away, Earl told the guys that if they ever needed him, just whistle for him.
Back at the Ranch, director Heydrich chastised the Corps for the destruction and for failing to keep hold of Earl. Walking out of the room, Heydrich reminded the Corps that they owed everything they were to Omen, and that without them they were nothing. Once they were alone, Charles told the others that he and Aaron knew that what Heydrich said was not true, and asked them what they were going to do about it.
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, when then, Butch 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 saw Dr. 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 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, Antonio Cordova could not believe that they were taking on an alien fleet in space, while 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 agreed with Myra 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, Zahn told 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 Sam 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 Aaron 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 X–O armor 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.
At a boxing arena in Los Angeles, California, Barfly, Eddie “Ironhead” Abdul’s coach, slipped him a drug in his water to render him unconscious on orders of Joey Pinetti, whose order that Abdul take Eddie refused to obey. Loosing his focus during the match, Abdul received a pounding that put him in an irreversible coma. Soon, Omen Enterprises recruited Abdul into the Harbinger Active Resistance Division, and warned him that if he decided not to enter the HARD Corps, they would have to return him to his comatose condition.
Two weeks later Abdul arrived at the Ranch, where Hotshot welcomed him and told him that his nickname in the unit would be Ironhead. Shortly, Heydrich instructed the corps on the days exercise to move between two helicopters during flight while dodging machine gun bullets and arc blasts. Upset, Ironhead stood up thinking that they were going to kill him, so Heydrich explained the process of how his implants granted him Harbinger–like powers.
During the exercise, Ironhead rescued Wipeout after he lost his transmitter, a fear that earned him the other’s respect. Even so, Ironhead, who questioned why he rescued Wipeout and wondered if he was turning into some sort of humanitarian, warned him that next time he would not help him and walked away. Following Softcore to the operations room, Ironhead made a move on her and she hit him across the face. Apologizing, Ironhead told Ellen that he was used to taking what he wanted, but that he felt different now. Telling Ironhead that she did not know what he was like before, Ellen said that this was a perfect opportunity for him to start his life over again fresh, and that not many people got a second change.
In the coming days, Ironhead continued his training with the corps, all the while wondering if he could forget what happened before and start over. Nevertheless, during a sparring boxing session with the others, Ironhead, haunted by his defeat in his fight with Kid Sanchez, wondered how he defeated him. Loosing himself in thought, Ironhead inadvertently knocked out Wipeout with one punch while teaching him how to box.
Looking for someone to talk, Ironhead went to find Ellen and saw her talking with Heydrich, who told her that Ironhead endangered the team and asked her what he would do if he found out that Pinetti had his swill bottled treated with a compound that induced his coma. Haunted by the truth of his coma, Ironhead said goodbye to Wipeout and Softcore and went to find Pinetti.
Reaching Pinetti’s mansion, Ironhead requested that Softcore give him shield mode, but, after ordering him to return to base before Heydrich discovered that he was gone and warning him that he was unsanctioned, Ellen told Ironhead that she was under orders to brain pop him given the present circumstances. Acknowledging her orders, Ironhead apologized to Ellen for everything and shattered his transmitter. Back at the Ranch, Ellen wrestled with whether to brain pop Ironhead or help him, but ultimately she activated his shield mode, which helped him survive a bullet barrage and enter the manor. Just then, Heydrich walked into the room and told Softcore that she was aware that she was tracking Ironhead and that he had sent a retrieval team for him. To her surprise, Heydrich told Softcore not to activate Ironhead’s pop and to continue tracking him.
Back at the manor, Ironhead reached Pinetti’s room, while outside the retrieval team breached the manor. Unexpectedly, Heydrich ordered Softcore to switch off Ironhead’s shield mode, and when she refused he did it himself. Back at the manor, Pinetti’s men opened fire on Ironhead and left him for dead for the retrieval team to find. Shortly, the Corps took Abdul’s body back to the Ranch, where Heydrich ordered that he be returned to the state they found him in.
Standing over Abdul’s bed, Softcore lamented that he wasted his opportunity at a second chance at life when he was so close to attain it.
Bring Me The Head Of Earl Simkus
Inside Heydrich’s office at the Ranch, the HARD Corps’ headquarters, Heydrich delightfully held a helmet in his hands that contained the complete spectrum of Toyo Harada’s Harbinger powers. Musing that it was just a fluke of nature that Harada was born with the Omega Powers and he was not, Heydrich proclaimed that now there was going to be a new king of the mountain.
Donning the helmet, Heydrich experienced a power surge that momentarily dropped him to his knees, but soon he flew up into the air, through the roof screaming that the power was his and that he was born for it. Noticing the damage he had caused, Heydrich returned back down just as Perp and Wipeout entered the office to make sure he was okay. Blaming the hole on the roof on a lighting bolt, Heydrich praised Perp and Wipeout on their response time and then told them to find the Alpha Team and send them to him.
Shortly, the core squad, who Wipeout derogatorily referred to as Senior Citizens, arrived in Heydrich’s office, where Heydrich chastised them for not responding to the lighting strike in his office to check on his safety, then, ignoring their excuses, told them that from then on he wanted one of them to monitor surface conditions at all times. After dismissing Hammerhead’s notion that it looked like something that broke through the ceiling from the inside, Heydrich told the squad that as long as Earl Simkus was at large they were all at risk, and ordered them to find him and kill him. Ignoring Hotshot’s claim that Simkus was not dangerous, Heydrich said that Earl benefited from a bio–compatible chip that gave him secure access to systems without hardware, therefore he wanted them to bring him his head to examine it so they could develop technology to protect themselves from a brain–pop pulse he claimed Harada had ordered Simkus to develop.
After Heydrich dismissed them, the Corps discussed the mission while on their way out of the Ranch. While Hammerhead joked that if he thought that Heydrich himself would not push the button he would walk right then, Gunslinger told him that he did not believe he would leave, not only because he signed up to do the job but because Heydrich was right when he said that Earl could develop a blanket pop pulse. Refusing to believe that Earl was working for Harada, Hotshot told the others that she was not up for the mission and that they did not need her, but then Flatline reminded her that they did as she knew Earl better than any of them, which could be their edge if the mission turned into a fight. Joining hands with the others, Gunslinger asked them to have a moment of silence for their fallen comrades, then he requested flight mode for the five of them and they took off into the air, unaware that Perp, who was invisible, had been listening in on them.
Somewhere in Vancouver, Earl Simkus broke into an ATM to raid his father’s bank account for some money, but as he hacked into the teller he accidentally triggered an alarm that left him trapped inside the room. Soon enough, however, he was able to hack into the door’s system and break out, but as he escaped he ran right into the police, who swiftly arrested him. As the police took Earl away in their squad car, Hammerhead, Hotshot, and Shakespeare stopped them. Using fake identification that said that they were Special Agents on loan to the UN by the Harbinger Foundation, the Corps convinced the officers that Earl was a wanted terrorist and got them to release him into their custody so they could deliver him to the International Court in the Hague.
Soon as they were out of sight of the Mounties, the Corps took off with Earl in tow and flew to a fishing boat where Gunslinger and Flatline were waiting for them. Though he struggled, Hammerhead pushed Earl into a locker to confine him until they left Canada. Unbeknownst to the Corps, Earl used a pocket knife to open a wire conduit and accessed the communications system.
Later, while the Corps debated which one of them would kill Earl to deliver his head as ordered, with Hotshot and Gunslinger taking the stance against it while Hammerhead and Shakespeare were for it, a foundation helicopter carrying two Harbingers opened fire on the boat. Arriving in response to Earl’s signal, the Harbingers engaged the Corps in combat intend on killing them as well as Earl. Ultimately, the Corps defeated the Harbingers and destroyed their chopper, then they flew away to a nearby beach before two foundation boats arrived.
Sometime later on the beach, Hotshot helped Earl come to terms with the fact that he had no friends and could not trust anyone at the foundation. Resuming the debate of what to do with Earl, Hammerhead suggested that he could take him to the woods and return with his head, while Hotshot offered that they put it to a vote. Pleading for his life, Earl begged the corps not to kill him as they walked away to vote.
Shortly, Hammerhead walked back toward Earl and, after telling him that the vote was three to two, offered him a blindfold.
That's Earl, Brother
Looming over Earl, Gunslinger requested super strength to finish his mission, but then, Earl revealed that he had evidence that suggested that he could prove that Omen, which he claimed was as bad as Harbinger, had arranged for some of them to get head wounds. As he never quite believed his old medical records, Charles called for another vote that ended on Earl’s side and gave him his chance to prove his claims. As a storm front moved in on them that they knew they could use to break–into Omen so Earl could access their mainframe, Gunslinger ordered the team to remove their external links to keep Omen from getting a fix on their position.
Back at the Ranch, the Omen board of directors bemoaned Heydrich for his out of control expenditures and told him that unless he stayed within their estimated budget for the construction of their new facility they would, reluctantly, accept his resignation. Accepting the board’s terms, Heydrich ceased the transmission and then destroyed the monitors with an arc charge. Returning to his office, Heydrich ordered Grasshopper to kill a board member who sought to betray them to Harada and make it look as if a Harbinger did it.
That night, Grasshopper left the Ranch and traveled to New York, where she broke into the Penthouse Suite of Omen Board Member Leon Katz at Trump Tower. After disarming Katz, Grasshopper moved in on him to kill him, but then she retreated, unable to perform her mission. Sitting on the bed beside Katz, Grasshopper listened as he offered her more than Harada could give her, then, as he tried to seduce her, Grasshopper killed him. Running to the terrace, Grasshopper puked over the railing, when then a group of armed men broke into the penthouse and opened fire on her. As Grasshopper flew away, a bullet hit her on the shoulder and she plummeted down to the street. Landing in a playground, Grasshopper lost consciousness. At the Ranch, Heydrich ordered Softcore to send Wipeout to retrieve Grasshopper.
Somewhere in Vancouver, Earl used a laptop to hack into Omen from inside a van parked beside a telephone pole, while outside, Hammerhead told Sam that he joined the Corps because Heydrich swore that they were serving their country, but that they were more like soldiers in a corporate war. Disagreeing with him, Sam said that they had to stand for something or they would fall for anything. Back inside the van, Earl showed Charles a print out that detailed Omen’s approval to recruit returning US military casualties and revealed that he was not injured in combat, but that Heydrich altered his initial injury into shrapnel obstruction while he was on board the hospital ship. Enraged, Gunslinger ran out of the van and showed Hammerhead and Flatline the print out, which went on to say that Heydrich bribed the Navy to give them irreversible brain damage. Just then, Earl tripped an alarm that fried his hard drive with a satellite blast. Realizing that only Omen could have done that, Earl urged the others to vacate the area and hole up long enough for him to build them a pop suppressor so that Heydrich could not fry their brains, while, upset, Gunslinger viewed this as a turning point.
Back at the Ranch, Heydrich, aware of Earl’s hack, ordered Lifeline, Softcore, and Safeguard to locate the five original team members by any means necessary. He then contacted the barracks and ordered Perp to see him at his office. While Heydrich bemoaned himself for not erasing the evidence years earlier, Perp walked into the office. Telling Perp that the original team had gone renegade, Heydrich told him that he wanted him to head up a team to track down and terminate Hotshot, Gunslinger, Flatline, Shakespeare, and Hammerhead.
In New York, Wipeout followed Grasshopper’s tracker to a house where a group of kids that found her were keeping her. Flying inside the building after a short skirmish with four punks outside, Wipeout found Grasshopper laying on a bed unconscious. Just then, a man armed with a rifle stormed the room and threatened to kill Wipeout, but suddenly Perp arrived and stopped him.
Standing by the door, Perp said that he had good news and bad news for Grasshopper and Wipeout, the good one being that Heydrich had chosen them to replace the original members.
Generation Gap – Part I
Using sky–sleds, Perp, Wipeout, Grasshopper, and Football followed a signal to a cabin in the woods where they believed that the original members were hiding. Overconfident and foolish, Football rushed the cabin, which suddenly exploded and would have killed him if Perp had not told Lifeline to give him invulnerability. Watching the debacle from the Ranch, Heydrich, who was disappointed in their performance and blamed Lifeline for it, was certain that Earl had joined up with the original team and decided that he would have to deal with them himself. Just then, Heydrich received a call from Braunschweig, an Omen board member who informed him that the night before Gates and Katz, two other members of the board, were killed. Acting surprise, Heydrich feigned ignorance of the events, but then became upset when Braunschweig ordered him to expect his arrival so he could meet the new team. After the call ended, Heydrich mused that everyone should come see him for a very special demonstration of his powers, after which they would bother him no more.
At the barracks, Softcore refused to believe that the original members had killed the Omen board members, but Grasshopper convinced her that they were cold–blooded killers and she conceded the point.
Meanwhile, inside an old bus east of Winnipeg, Earl finished a prototype of his pop suppressor. Parking the van off the highway, everyone else but Hotshot donned a helmet that would protect them from the signal while Earl tested it on Chris. While at first the machine worked well without any side effects, it ultimately exploded and gave away their location to Perp’s team. With Earl’s help to access their abilities, the Corps defeated the rookies and escaped. Accusing Football’s recklessness for their defeat, Perp told Grasshopper that they did not need him to kill the original members, but she told him that Heydrich wanted him along.
Back at the Ranch, Heydrich told a new team of recruits that HARD Corps had given them a second chance, and that in addition he had also given them abilities far beyond those of other humans in return of which they had pledged their absolute loyalty to him in their war against a worldwide criminal empire. While Heydrich informed the recruits that he had restored invulnerability so they could cope with the five members of the original team, who had turned renegade and were selling themselves to the highest bidder, one of the recruits pointed out that when they signed up he pledged allegiance to HARD Corps and not him. Upset, Heydrich killed the recruit and told the others that he was HARD Corps, and that they would all be dead if not for him. Briefing the team on their fist test, Heydrich told them that the following week they were hosting a criminal cartel that thought they would be bidding on their services that during the course of the demonstration he expected them to kill. After dismissing the recruits, Heydrich received a call from Safeguard, who informed him that she had located Sangsun Minh living on a pension in Ho Chi Ming City. Pleased, Heydrich ordered Safeguard to prepare his personal stealth plane for immediate departure. Ending the call, Heydrich burst out in laughter and said that he hoped that Virgil survived Perp’s attack so he could see the look on his face.
Elsewhere, Earl received a transmission from Softcore, who informed them that Heydrich had restored invulnerability and sent the new team, who he resupplied with heavy ordnance, to bring them back dead or alive. Promising to contact them again later, Softcore told the guys that she missed them. Since the van was 20 miles from Brandenberg Royal Canadian Air Force base, Earl suggested that they go there so that while Perp’s team distracted the RCAF, they could steal the Kingfisher, Canada’s top–secret stealth bomber. Shortly, the team put Earl’s plan to a vote and agreed to do it. Suddenly, Perp’s team found the van and a battle ensued. While Hammerhead and Gunslinger dispatched Perp’s team, the others took off for the base, then, taking Wipeout’s sled, Hammerhead and Gunslinger barely escaped from the Canadian air force. Reuniting with the rest of the team outside the air force base, Earl thought of a plan to break in while the RCAF was busy chasing Perp and Grasshopper.
Twenty–four hours later, in Ho Chi Minh City, Heydrich met with Sean Minh, Virgil Peeves’ son, who wanted Heydrich to help him kill his father.
Generation Gap – Part II: Payback
Deep below the Ranch, in the HARD Corps’ gymnasium, Brainsmash, one of Heydrich’s recruits, introduced Satin Doll, another recruit, to Sean, whose code–name was Payback. An extremely offensive individual, Payback retorted that if he had known that the outfit included girls like Satin Doll he would not had joined because girls could not fight, a remark that angered Satin Doll, who kicked Payback on the back and said that his code–name sounded like a whiny country song. Just then, Heydrich walked into the room and stopped their fight. Upset, Heydrich warned the recruits that fighting among them would not be tolerated, and that the next recruits he found fighting would win a one–way ticket to the vegetable ward. Putting his arm around Payback’s shoulders, Heydrich took him away with him to device new training techniques for him, since he counted on him to set an example for the others.
Over the Polar ice cap, inside the stolen Kingfisher stealth bomber, Hammerhead wondered where they were headed and Shakespeare told him they were going to Kazikstan, a Soviet breakaway republic without an army whose President, a playwright, Earl told them hired them to guard their nuclear pile for a couple of months. Worried that Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s army would show up to demand the nukes back, Hammerhead pointed out that the first time one of Earl’s schemes landed them up the creek, but Shakespeare, who believed that was highly unlikely, said that Earl’s plan made sense, as once they finessed their way across Russia, Kazikstan would slam the door on airborne pursuit.
Arriving in Kazikstan, the Corps met the Prime Minister, Merle Pliever. That evening, as Merle told the Corps that when the Russians pulled out they left behind enough fissionable material to build six bombs, which they stored at the Krakow air force base in Silos, Gunslinger reiterating the deal was for the Corps to guard his stash for a month in exchange for sanctuary and resupply. Upset that they were keeping him out of the conversation, especially since he was the one who worked out the deal with Merle, Earl said that he would stop acting like a jerk if they treated him like a regular member of the team. Though Hammerhead laughed at him, Shakespeare said that Earl had had shown considerable initiative and ingenuity, and Flatline suggested that Earl should become their control, an idea that Gunslinger agreed to.
That night, over Kirgiz Stepper, the recruits emerged on their sky–sleds from a stealth plane that Heydrich had a little aerospace company built before it went broke. Staying within a diamond formation, the recruits rendezvoused with Bukarin, the former chief of state police, who had to go into hiding when Ninjak offered the Cossack and with Heydrich’s support would gain the edge to stage a counter–coup. In control of seventy–five well–armed men, Bukarin plotted to attack the main gate at dawn while the recruits infiltrated the site from the rear, killed the original Corps, and secured the warheads, which they would split between them. Unbeknownst to Bukarin, Perp had orders to leave nothing behind, even if they could not take it with them.
Back at the Ranch, Heydrich welcomed the esteemed members of Omen board to the new HARD Corps training facility, a long overdue meeting after which he was certain would allay any concerns about wasted funds. Heydrich introduced the board members to Sean, who took them to a lounge arena for a demonstration. Shortly, Heydrich returned with the recruits, who, following his command, slaughtered the executives, except for Braunschweig, who escaped in an aerial transport that broke through the roof to rescue him. Though Sean wanted to pursue him, Heydrich ordered him to stand down since he lacked aerial pursuit. Since during the battle it proved obvious that Braunschweig’s bodyguard, Dolph, was enhanced, Heydrich suspected that Harada had provided Omen with another source of technology.
The next day in Kazikstan, Earl informed the Corps that Gunslinger said there was an armored column they thought was the Bukarin militia heading toward the main gate. While the Corps engaged the ex–Soviet Black Berets under Bukarin’s command, inside Hammerhead awoke from his nap and Earl told him that he had a pulse detector set up that went dead, which meant that they were being jammed and everyone was stuck in their present mode. Armed with a personal force field that Earl built, Hammerhead joined the fray and blew out Grasshopper and Wipeout’s sky–sleds out of the sky with a bazooka. Realizing that the ground assault was a decoy, Hammerhead told the others that it was Perp and the rest of the recruits that they had to worry about. Finding Heydrich’s plane, Hammerhead aimed the bazooka at it to take it out to destroy the jamming device, but, suddenly, one of the recruits destroyed the bazooka and shot Shakespeare with neural spike.
Removing his head gear, Payback stared down at Hammerhead, his teeth clenched, and sarcastically asked him if he remembered his own son.
Generation Gap – Part III: Bad Son Rising
Clueless to Payback’s identity, Hammerhead had no idea who he was until he mentioned his mother’s name, Sangsun, during their fight. Exerting ultra–mass on Hammerhead’s force field, Payback blew it up like a thin membrane, shot Virgil with neural spike, and then punched and kicked him around the field. Angry with Virgil, Payback renounced him as his father, claiming that Heydrich was his true father, and threatened to find Donna and harm her. Flying over the battle field, Hotshot, Gunslinger, and Shakespeare faced Grasshopper, Brainsmash, and he others in aerial combat.
Inside, Earl located the recruits’ feed on an Omen Comsat satellite, and with Flatline’s help he used Sam’s sunburst and his own arc charge to toast it, which disrupted Lifeline’s station and cut off the recruits’ access to the Harbinger powers database. Even without powers, however, Sean continued to pummel Hammerhead, who he accused of abandoning his mother. Just then, Flatline kicked Sean across the face and pushed him off Hammerhead. Enraged, Sean yelled that their fight was no over, but then Perp ordered him to withdraw.
Shortly, Merle met with the Corps, who warned him that the recruits would return, and gave them a file Earl had requested with information on missing Soviet Weapons platforms. Pushing Earl aside, Gunslinger demanded to know what he was planning, which upset Earl, who demanded that Charles show him some respect, especially since he saved them five times before. Assuring Earl that he respected him, Gunslinger asked him again to tell him about the missing weapons platforms. Stating that Heydrich was out of control, and pointing out that there was no way Omen would let him head up HARD Corps after they split into two groups and started killing each other, Earl said that Heydrich would need a new base, preferably mobile with state–of–the–art defense. Since he could not built it, he had to buy one cheap, so he used his connections to ex–Soviet military to acquire either one of their missing submarines or their experimental stealth flattop. Sharing a gaze, Gunslinger and Earl concluded that Heydrich was going after the flattop. Studying its blueprints with Hotshot, Gunslinger realized that the flattop was going to be a problem for them.
Inside the stealth plane, Perp accused the others of acting like amateurs, and failing to follow Heydrich’s order to not return until they had killed the original members. Upset, Payback pointed out that he would have killed Hammerhead had he not ordered him to withdraw. Telling Payback that withdrawing was Heydrich’s decision, Perp suggested that he take it up with him, certain that Heydrich would send them right back with orders to kill Simkus. Just then, Heydrich contacted the recruits with coordinates to a rendezvous site.
At the Harbinger Foundation, Braunschweig asked Toyo Harada for assistance in stopping Heydrich, but Harada refused, claiming that from the outset the foundation was not some sort of international SWAT squad, and that his students were there to maximize their self–actualization, not risk their lives to stop a madman. Enraged at Harada’s refusal to interfere while Omen dealt with Heydrich, Braunschweig stormed out, warning Harada that he better pray they succeeded or he would be next.
Back at the Ranch, Heydrich accused Ellen of betraying him even after he gave her a second chance following the Ironhead incident. Lashing out, Ellen told Heydrich that he had violated the Corps’ charter for a personal vendetta, and that she had records of his embezzlement of close to a billion dollars. Shaking his fist at her, Heydrich told Ellen that he knew all about her records and that he had cleaned out her safety deposit box, then he killed her with the Omega Power, but not before she revealed that she shared a mind link with Hotshot. In Kazikstan, Hotshot felt Ellen’s death through their link and told the others what Heydrich had done.
Somewhere in the Indian Ocean, the recruits’ plane landed on an air craft carrier with Heydrich’s help, who used his power to stop the plane on its tracks before it ran out of runway. Inside the carrier, Heydrich put Perp on probation for failing to countermand his order to retreat and kill the original Corps until he proved worthy of his trust. Instructing the recruits to learn how to fly the Sukhoi 29 and Mikoyan 32 fighter planes contained within the vessel, Heydrich used his telepathy to tell them that their mission was to kill the old guard, who was now part of the Harbinger foundation. Dismissing the recruits, Heydrich told Wipeout to stay behind. Wondering where Softcore was, but getting no answer, Satin Doll retreated to her bedroom.
Two hours later, an alarm woke up Satin Doll, who ran into the hallway and learned from Perp that they old guard had found them and was attacking them.
Generation Gap – Part IV: Over The Top
Somewhere in the Indian Ocean, the original members of HARD Corps engaged Sigmund Heydrich’s aircraft carrier in combat. Shocked at how quickly the carrier’s weapons had targeted them, Hotshot believed that they had a super computer, but Gunslinger was certain that Heydrich had cybernetically linked to the ship’s defense systems, and was the one shooting at them.
Using a holoprojection, Heydrich told Chris that she was always his favorite, and that if she returned to him all would be forgiven, but, upset over Ellen’s death, she refused to obey him and shot him with a bazooka, though the missile went right through the illusion. Angered, Heydrich ranted that they would all be dead if he had not plucked them from the ash head of history, then warned them that they would all burn before he let them desert him.
Inside the carrier, Brainsmash informed Heydrich that the crew was bailing out, but since he was linked to the ship’s defense systems, Heydrich could not hear him. Taking command, Perp ordered Brainsmash to grab a machine gun and follow him to stop the deserters by any means necessary, but Brainsmash refused, and instead joined the fight against the original members. Leaving with Payback, Perp ran toward the boats the crew was using to desert and warned them that they would shoot any deserters. Telling Perp that Heydrich had told them that they would be conducting tests and not fighting Harbingers, the Captain said that that was not their fight, but if they wanted to shoot them to go right ahead. Relenting, Perp allowed the crew to leave, which enraged Heydrich, who reached out telepathically and ordered Payback to take command and kill the deserters. However, certain that Hammerhead was about to strike, Payback convinced Heydrich, who trusted his judgment, that killing the crew would be a waste of time and that they were needed downstairs.
Flying over the holoprojection, Hammerhead taunted Heydrich, who shot him with a blast of stun ram and fired four missiles against him. Flying away, Hammerhead contacted Earl and told him to get someone inside the flattop to shut down Heydrich, unaware that Payback and Perp were following him close behind.
Beneath the ocean, Gunslinger and Shakespeare used force field to swim toward the carrier, then, using ghost mode, they phased inside and went to find Heydrich. Finding him in a control center strapped to a chair, both men opened fire, but Heydrich used a force field to deflect their blasts. Using the same force field, Heydrich pinned Gunslinger and Shakespeare to a wall, then he ordered Grasshopper and Brainsmash to kill them.
Meanwhile, in Zurich, the Omen board of directors, who was well aware of the situation out at sea, agreed to meet a week henceforth to choose candidates to replace Heydrich. Although Patrice, an executive, worried that if Heydrich won the battle none of them were safe, and wondered what they could do to influence the outcome, Braunschweig told him that at that point they had done everything they could. Elsewhere, at the Harbinger Foundation complex in Bolivar, Harada used deep meditation to make contact with Heydrich.
Back in the carrier, Shakespeare used strobe light to momentarily blind Heydrich and the others so he and Gunslinger could escape. Dissipating the holoprojection, Heydrich, whose body became almost skeletal, chased Gunslinger and Shakespeare, who, with Earl’s help, fell into the ocean with ultra mass and then used force field and detonation mode to blow up the carrier as human torpedoes.
Watching the ship sink and the recruits fleeing like rats, Heydrich ranted that all he needed was the Omega Power, the be–all and end–all, which gave him control of the very elements. Using the Omega Power, Heydrich took the carrier and, using the missiles as his fangs, the planes for his teeth, and the nuclear reactor as his black heart, transformed into a giant metal monster.
While Hammerhead and Hotshot were busy dealing with Perp, Satin Doll, and Payback, Shakespeare and Gunslinger attacked Heydrich with arc charge to mess up the tracking system in his “hands”, but then, Heydrich swatted them away like flies. Contacting Earl, Gunslinger ordered him to fire the missiles, but the Kingfisher was involved in aerial combat with the recruits’ fighter, which left the corps on their own.
Flying toward Playback, Shakespeare and Gunslinger kicked him off Hammerhead, who fell into the ocean and, using force field and arc charge, reached Heydrich, then, using ghost mode, phased inside him to override the nuclear reactor. Making his way to the core, Hammerhead activated a meltdown.
Cocky, Heydrich. certain that he could not die thanks to the Omega Power, detached himself from the exoskeleton to survive the explosion, but, unbeknownst to him, Harada used the connection he established earlier to cause the Omega Power to burn Heydrich from the inside out. Unable to contain the energy, Heydrich’s entire body burned to ash, leaving only his skull, which sank to the bottom of the ocean still aware. Preserving his mind through sheer force of will, leaving his senses alert, Heydrich bided his time.
Hovering in mid–air, the recruits and the old guard aimed their weapons at each other. Aiming her gun at Perp, Hotshot commented that it looked like they were on their own, but, he was certain that they had the full backing of Omen. Though they were unable to switch modes, Perp and Payback were ready to fight it out with the old guard, so Hammerhead challenged them to have their bloodbath and get it over with. Pointing out that all they would do was wreck a lot of equipment, Shakespeare said that, like them, the kids had no home, so Hammerhead invited them to go with them, but they refused and flew away.
Rendezvousing with the Corps on the Kingfisher, Flatline left Earl in charge of the controls while he left to lie down, complaining of a headache. Inside the Kingfisher, Earl approached Hammerhead and offered to call him by his code–named if he called him Midnight. Having come to trust Earl, however, Hammerhead shook his hand and told him to call him Virgil.