It’s all hands on deck (yes, even Wolverine) for Alpha Flight’s final battle against the Goddess!
Paradise Omega - where Earth’s greatest heroes bid to thwart the plans of the Goddess, knowing that to do so, they must first defeat the friends and colleagues she “converted” to her cause. While this may look like just another battle, it is not, it is a test. A test of faith. Canada’s premiere super hero team, Alpha Flight, are heavily involved in this test, with four of their number fighting for the Goddess, and the others fighting for what they believe in.
Heather McNeil Hudson a.k.a. Guardian, Alpha Flight’s leader, blasts the gritty hero known as Daredevil against a tree with her electromagnetic abilities, thinking to herself that Wolverine’s warning was right on the money, if it wasn’t for his uncanny sense of smell, then Daredevil would have nailed her for sure. As Daredevil begins to fall down the tree, breaking branches on his way, Heather hopes that she hasn’t hurt him badly.
Heather flies towards Daredevil and catches him, while cursing the Goddess, not only for forcing this confrontation, but for so cruelly using these heroes religious beliefs to enlist them to her twisted crusade. Heather admits that she doesn’t have much in the way of faith herself, but understands its importance to those who have. However, she thinks that if they are to protect the universe from whatever the Goddess has planned, they must first shatter that faith and expose her for the manipulator she really is.
Heather rests Daredevil on the ground, thinking that when the Goddess falls, many will fall with her. Checking Daredevil’s pulse, Heather is relieved that she only stunned him, meaning she judged the wavelength intensity of that electromagnetic blast just right. She mutters that if she can do the same about thirty times over, when she sees her dear friend Wolverine a.k.a. Logan attacking the hero known as Living Lightening.
Heather leaves Daredevil and races over to Logan, telling him to sheathe his claws, pointing out that they shouldn’t forget who the real enemy is. The two men struggle, when Logan sheathes his claws, admitting to Heather that she is right. He remarks that the converted are not pulling any punches and ads that it is easy to forget the Goddess is pulling their strings. Heather tells Logan to watch out, but it is too late, as the Living Lightening kicks him square in the face, knocking him backwards. ‘Blasphemer! Your unclean soul defiles this scared place! You must be purged!’ he exclaims.
‘Just great,’ Heather thinks to herself before taking to the skies once more, asking Wolverine if he can deal with the Living Lightening on his own. ‘Are you kidding?’ Logan replies. Heather is flying towards the place that she is most needed - a massive castle situated in Paradise Omega. Heather sighs as she thinks to herself how beautiful the castle is, though much like the Goddess’s work, it is rotten to the core!
Nearby, Michael “Shaman” Twoyoungmen has trapped X-Factor’s Strong Guy, and the Sorcerer Supreme, Dr. Strange congratulates him. Strange informs Shaman that he is being summoned by the Goddess, and asks him to keep Strong Guy apprehended. AS Strange departs, Shaman smiles to himself, thinking that they do the Goddess’s biding so willingly, with no questions, no doubts. He remarks that their faith is a powerful force, and the Goddess has exploited it to perfection.
Shaman thinks that it is a shame the Goddess’s plan did not work with him, for although he believes in higher powers, he does not believe in their wisdom. Suddenly the bubble that Shaman trapped Strong Guy in explodes. Shaman realizes that their previous efforts to stop Strong Guy must have somehow been metabolized into strength enough to shatter the mystic force bubble.
Shaman exclaims that if it is kinetic energy which Strong Guy feeds on, then he will just have to slow things down. Strong Guy runs towards Twoyoungmen, but finds himself turning to crystal, unable to proceed any further as he is rooted to the ground. Shaman exclaims that this must stop, exclaiming that he has continued to feign allegiance to the Goddess, searching for the one spell that would break her hold on the converted. However, now he knows he has found it - it is only weakness on his own part that holds him back.
Twoyoungmen thinks of his daughter, Elizabeth Twoyoungmen a.k.a. the phenomenal Talisman and knows that within his medicine pouch resides the power to open her eyes and force her to confront the truth about the Goddess. However, he wonders what the cost will be, for his daughters power depends on the strength of her faith. Should she lose that faith, then a great force for good will be lost too. Shaman decides that before he acts, he must have proof that faith is strong enough and powerful enough to weather the storm he intends to conjure. And having none himself, it is within others that he must look.
Shaman’s astral form leaves his body and sees Wolverine racing towards him. He knows that he must make this next action convincing, when Heather flies to intercept Logan, declaring that he needs to give Shaman a chance and she is sure she can reach him. Wolverine tells Heather that he would like to oblige, but that he has the feeling that Michael isn’t home. Shaman unleashes a mystical bolt while thinking to himself that Wolverine’s words are very true.
Suddenly, Wonder Man smashes into Heather as she tells Shaman not to fight Wolverine. As Heather stumbles backwards in the air, she is thankful that her battle suit’s force field saved her. Heather doesn’t think she has the power to stop Wonder Man physically, so she unleashes a small does of sonics, which causes Wonder Man to stop his attack while he covers his ears. The effects soon wear off though, and Simon Williams once more flies towards Heather, who tells herself that she really doesn’t want to risk harming his body permanently, before deciding that perhaps the one who needs some faith around here, is her.
Shaman watches his earth-bound body fall under Wolverine, and is pleased, thinking that the Goddess will believe him to be fallen. Now, he is free to tread a very different path. He flies towards his teammate Sasquatch, who is battling the She-Hulk. Shaman’s plan is to get to the souls of his teammates, and his astral form floats down into Sasquatch. Shaman remarks that Walter Langkowski is noble and determined in a selfless quest for answers to questions that could aid his fellow man - then he was transformed into Sasquatch.
Shaman learns that Walter believed that no matter what he became, no matter how monstrous his appearance, his faith would anchor him to humanity. Shaman decides that in the heat of battle, when the man is buried and the beast holds sway, it is faith that brings him back.
Shaman flies over to where Aurora, or perhaps Jeanne-Marie, is running rings around the New Warrior known as Speedball. The two souls of Aurora are on the surface, diametrically opposed, but on closer examination as he learns entering her, the souls are co-existing in a strange symbiosis, bonded tighter than any normal twins. Far above and beyond religious faith, which one possesses and the other does not - there exists a far stronger faith - a deep and abiding trust in each other.
Eugene Judd a.k.a. Puck and Spider-Man are fighting side-by-side against the Thing and Firestar. Shaman proclaims that Puck is a true triumph of spirit over flesh, adding that in all the years he has known him, not once has he heard him complain about the pain that is his constant companion. Judd kicks Firestar to the ground while Shaman comments on how Judd accepts his lot without question, not pausing to wonder why his “god” saw fit to cruelly stunt his body. Judd’s only concern now, even controlled by the Goddess, is for the well-being of his fellow man - whatever the personal cost..
This is shown when the Thing does some serious damage to Spider-Man, and Judd rushes over to his aid - only to be shot in the back by Firestar and her microwave energies, causing him to fall to the ground, stunned.
Shaman’s astral form flies higher into the air, where Colin Hume a.k.a. Windshear is engaged in battle with the Avenger known as the Vision. Suddenly Shaman detects that Hume is somehow free from the Goddess’s influence - he has broken her hold! Judd wonders why Colin is still fighting her cause, when Colin is struck down by a blast from the Vision. Shaman knows that Windshear could have shielded himself from the blast by forming a wall of solid air, or simply turned the Vision solid, crushing him with his own weight.
Shaman realizes that Hume chose not to do one of the options available to him - he chose to defy the Goddess passively. His faith, in what he is, in what he will or will not do, survived intact, and thus Shaman has his proof. Shaman remarks that he is shamed by the strength demonstrated by all the Alphans, each has a pocket of faith too deep for the Goddess to touch. He declares that he too must be strong, and have faith in what he knows he must do.
Meanwhile, Wonder Man smashes into Heather, and again, knocking her backwards in the air. Blood streaming from her nose, Heather knows that she cannot take much more of this, and tells herself to put aside her doubts, to trust the inner strength she knows resides in each and every member of Alpha Flight. ‘They will endure…and so will I!’ she exclaims, turning and punching Wonder Man. Heather thinks that there has indeed been a test of faith here, her own faith, in what she is, in what she does as team leader. She feels that if she stops believing in herself then she has no right to wear this uniform.
In the end though, it is the Goddess herself, who reveals her duplicity. Friend and foe alike are suddenly consumed by a holy fire, an inferno of righteous fury that spreads through the universe - devouring everything in its path. None is spared. But in that instant, the final heartbeat of life, divided factions are united, brought closer than perhaps ever before, represented by Heather and Judd, who go to each other as the holy fire burns them.
For a time, there is nothing. Simple, sweet oblivion. A vertiginous sensation of being empty, stripped clean. And then… ‘Alive! We’re alive! Exclaims Judd, asking how. Judd asks if they were saved, to which Heather remarks that for the first time in her life, she wants to believe that. Shaman finds his daughter, Elizabeth and tells her that it is his eyes that have been opened, before admitting that she was right, that since her mother died, he has been running, scared of the pain that goes hand in hand with love. Talisman begins to cry when Shaman tells her that he would like the chance to start a fresh, to be a family again.
Alpha Flight gather together. The battle, one of their most fraught, is behind them. But for Guardian, Sasquatch, Northstar, Aurora, Talisman, Puck, Windshear, Wildheart and Shaman…the true ordeal is yet to begin!
Paradise Omega, and for a moment, here in this verdant oasis, it is just that. Paradise. The forest is still, its sounds and smells familiar and comforting, it would be easy to forget that danger and sudden death…are but a heartbeat away. The Alphan known as Wildheart turns quickly as Wolverine leaps towards him, claws outstretched and ready to do some damage.
Logan smacks Wildheart over, while Kyle thinks to himself that Wolverine must have been converted, and is out for blood - though he decides that it doesn’t fit the bill, it must be something else. Kyle asks the X-Man to talk to him, but Wolverine just swipes at him some more. Wildheart becomes Wild Child as he too leaps with claws outstretched, telling Wolverine if he wants it that way, ‘Let’s get bloody!’
‘That’s it’ Wolverine exclaims as he thinks of earlier finding Storm, and he lets the scene fuel his fury. Storm was dead. The scent on the wounds were fresh, unmistakable - Wild Child…Weapon Omega…Wildheart. As the two men continue to fight, Wolverine declares that he had figured Wildchild’s rehabilitation had to be either a sham or self deception, and exclaims that it is time to do what he should have done years ago.
(Flashback, takes place after Alpha Flight: First Flight Special)
The early days of Department H, the red-headed girl known as Stitch cowers against a wall, blood streaming down her face, while Wolverine has his hand around Wild Child’s throat, and his claws pointed towards his head. Logan exclaims that Wild Child was supposed to be training, but instead has nearly torn Stitch’s face off.
Suddenly, James MacDonald Hudson enters, telling Wolverine not to do anything. Logan asks why not, pointing out that Wild Child is a liability and untameable. He asks how they can ever trust him out in the field. Mac reminds Logan that there were those who said the same thing about him, and he didn’t listen to them until he reached the man inside the beast. ‘That’s all I ask of you now’.
Logan gets off Wild Child and storming out of the training room he declares that Wild Child is a monster pure and simple, and that he doesn’t need reaching, he needs putting down. Watching Wolverine leave, Wild Child thinks to himself, ‘Very well, if a monster is all you see - then that’s exactly what I’ll be!’
The memory still burns as Wolverine leaps at Wildheart once more. Kyle thinks that Wolverine is so ready to believe the worst of him, and decides that it is tempting now, as then, to just be as Wolverine perceives him, to give into the bloodlust. Wildheart kicks Logan in the back, and begins to run off into the forest, thinking that he has come so far, progressed so much, he will not let himself be dragged back by blind justice.
With Wolverine hot on his heels, Kyle thinks that something must have set Wolverine off, something he heard or saw, and decides to back track along his scent in the hopes of finding something - but after doing so, he discovers nothing. ‘Nothing’ is on Wolverine’s mind too, as the two men come face to face once more, Logan remembers seeing the body of Storm, his senses confirmed it was real, but now there is nothing, not even a scent.
Suddenly, Wolverine senses it, another scent, though it was masked before. It belongs to Moondragon. Wolverine declares that Moondragon must have used her mental powers to project images and smells into his brain. Wolverine is about to apologize, but Wildheart doesn’t want it. It would be meaningless, for he proved today that he is more than sum of other people’s opinions. And that is what matters, Kyle decides as he walks away from Wolverine without a word.