Ultra-Girl and The Jaeger are now safely back on Earth teleported from the galactic bounty hunter Key’loc. After six hours of silence and reflective thought during the travel back Ultra-Girl breaks the stillness by mentioning it’s nice to be home again and if Jaeger thinks her bounty of 24 fire stones was a lot. Jaeger having lived a pretty normal life up until a few months again is staggered by what he just learned. He starts to ask some questions for clarification, but quickly stops himself admitting he can’t handle learning anymore right now.
Their communicators chirp and its Ezekiel and The Spider worried about their sudden disappearance and loss of coms for over 12 hours. Ultra-Girl assures them everything is fine and they’ll be back at the crash pad soon. Ultra-Girl asks Jaeger to not tell anyone about what he learned. The Jaeger agrees.
Back at the crash pad Ultra-Girl stumbles for a good excuse and blames a bad battery in both their communicators. Neither Ezekiel nor Spider believes it. Dynamo doesn’t seem to care either way. Ultra-Girl and Jaeger allow The Spider and Ezekiel to worry about more bounty hunter attacks on Ultra-Girl rather than have to explain the last 12 hours. House arrest is shot down, but Ultra-Girl agrees to stay in her secret ID until The Raven returns and can figure out who is behind the bounty.
A little more than a day later Amanda Waller visits the apartment of Wolfgang Maximilian Schafer a.k.a The Jaeger. She has gotten the captured alien bounty hunters to talk and they confirm Ultra-Girl was their target and that other bounty hunters will come to collect, but they don’t know why. Waller presses Jaeger for answers. First appealing to his sense of civic duty and that these alien threats are to be feared, but he refuses saying he gave his word not to tell. Waller leaves him with a threat that he and his entire family will be closely watched by the government. After she departs Jaeger learns that teams of soldiers were in position to capture him in case he tried to flee.
Jaeger calls a roof top meeting with Ultra-Girl who arrives out of costume. He warns her about Amanda Waller and that the U.S. Government may go after his family. Ultra-Girl come across uncaring making remarks about his parents being old and doesn’t his loss of memories about them make it less likely for him to care about them. Ultimately she isn’t going to turn herself into Waller because of a few threats. The Jaeger is upset and teleports away.
The next day at Empire High during lunch Stephanie, Derek and Xander are talking about the upcoming science fair that could lead to summer internships at OmniCorp. Providence Pope gets her hopes ups up that track and field star Mile Rinehart is being kind to her. This quickly changes into embarrassing her in front of the school. Alex fearing Providence will use her powers steps in followed by Zack Pope. With one social scene diffused another springs forth. Zack is confronted in the cafeteria by the football captain TD and several members of the varsity team. Zack has missed two practices and is told to be a team player and not to miss anymore. Zack verbally spits in TD’s face and announces he no longer cares about football, there are more interesting and exciting things in life. Besides committing social suicide he also makes an instant enemy with Stomper.
Marcie and Alex are surprised by Zack’s rebellious display. Marcie admits she has a small crush on Zack and Alex offers to help her get closer to him.
The next night Alex is finally invited to one of the “special” meetings that Lainie, Becca and Marcie has been going to for over a month and the reason they have been spreading that strange Sign all around town. Lainie made it clear that Alex must be on time or she won’t be invited again. Fifteen minutes before Alex is to meet up with the girls for the meeting Spider climbs through her window and reveals that he has known her secret identity for a while. Spider says he is worried about her and wants to know what really happened during the 12 hours she disappeared.
Alex proposes an exchange, she’ll answer that question if Spider takes off his mask. Spider reluctantly agrees, but says it’s a big moment. Two others besides the Raven know his identity, but both of them figured it out, this is the first time he has chosen to reveal it to anyone. Looking at the clock Alex urges him to get on with it. She is generally surprised to learn The Spider who is always so confident is actually the science nerd sophomore from school Derek something. Derek feeling a big weight off of his shoulders starts to get comfortable in her room wanting to talk more, but Ultra-Girl ushers him out saying she has plans tonight and he can come back in a few hours to hear her story about the missing twelve hours.
Alex barely makes it to her friends in time. They drive to an even more run down part of Kings Row. She meets a big lumbering kid named Gus who opens the door to an old Thai restaurant long ago abandoned. Everyone gathered seems to be from different walks of life, but despite that get along. Alex is introduced to the group’s charismatic leader Joshua. He gives a speech to the five new comers to the meetings.
Humanity was always meant to be something great. We have evolved from single sell organisms to top of the food chain on this planet, uncontested by leaps and bounds above all other life here. Yet something is missing. Sure we have fast cars, 5,000 cable channels and instant access to every useless thought someone ever thought and posted on the internet from our phones, but I couldn’t help feeling a little emptiness inside, like something was missing.
What if I told you that the human potential hasn’t been fully reached, that we were designed for more?
Sure we know it’s possible with meta-humans we see all the time on news feeds, but they’re called meta-human for a reason. Their mutations separate them from the human race. What I’m talking about isn’t a small subset of the human species that spurs off, no I’m talking about a true greatness in all humans.
It’s there, inside of me, inside of you (points around the room). It’s there and when released it’s magical. I know we have this potential inside of us, I’ve seen it first hand, but we are stifling it and killing it within us and we don’t even know it.
Did you know that there are now over 2.3 million more time the electro magnet waves with in our atmosphere there was a thousand years ago? Before any of you new comers rolls your eyes and say this is just another global warmer speech hold on. Because what I’m going to tell you is it’s not just are world, but our human potential that is dying. Every advance in technology puts us further way from connecting to our true selves and reaching our full potential. The how, whys and proof of this is out there, I’ve seen it and those who are dedicated and ready will be shown.
Then he asks to learn what lead the newbies here tonight. Three of them nervously answer that their friends brought them. Once strange girl Pauline [add art] delivers a much more detailed answers. Her voice and facial features never changing throughout the tale:
She talks about how she hates being home when her mom’s boyfriend is over so she walks around the city at night. I wasn’t paying attention, well I normally avoid being near lots of people, especially bars and stuff. But I was looking at the moon and it was so big that night and felt like if I walked a little further I could stand right under it, but the buildings kept blocking it, so I cut through an alley. Then before I knew it two men grabbed me, so much liquor on their breathe it made my eyes water. They beat on me until everything went black. When I woke up, I felt calm like everything was going to be ok somewhere, which made no sense. I looked up and saw the sign and new I’d be ok. I started drawling it everywhere.
Joshua says and that’s how I found you.
Next all five of the newbies are taken one by one to see something in the hallway. Alex uses N-Ray vision to watch the face of those going first so she can better fake it. On Alex’s turn she is shown to a wall covered by stringed tarp, it’s lifted to reveal a golden yellow Sign painted on an interior brick wall. She is told to stare at it. Alex doesn’t feel anything, just before turning away it looks like it moved, like instead of being paint on a wall, it is actually a thousand golden flat backed beetles that shifted in a wave. This spooks her. She looks again with all of her super-senses and sees only golden paint on a brick wall. She tells Joshua what she had seen and he looked surprised, but quickly recovers.
The meeting is winding down with members talking about where next to spread the sign. It’s announced that that Donnie, who is absent tonight, has proven himself and is preparing to ascend soon to the next knowledge level. This is met with good cheer from the veteran members. Lainie speaks to Joshua and Alex listens in with super hearing. Lainie asks permission to sabotage the All County Science Faire coming up, to show people that technology isn’t the path to the future. Joshua encourages her and leaves the decision and specifics up to her.
Alex and Marcie go to fetch the car. One the way they talk. Marcie shares that her first time seeing the symbol on the wall was strange and different from what Lainie and Becca experienced. To Marcie it was like she discovered a coldness was inside of her that she never knew, and then by looking at the sign she felt warm. Alex suggested maybe she is special and that’s why it was different then Lainie and Becca. Alex having done well in the meeting, has a great rest of the night with the girls, she is even given the shotgun seat. The Spider waits around for several hours and gives up on Alex.
The next day at the Pope residence Derek talks Providence into not to giving up on her science project for the fair. Zack continues to put Providence down and wants Derek to do his homework. Derek suggests that Zack can help Providence with her science project about draft and lift, by building cool model jets.
Max Schafer takes a missing person’s case working for Mary O’Harre. Her 17 year old son Peter O’Harre Jr went missing eleven days ago. Police labeled him a run away and have dropped activity on the case. Peter O’Harre Sr. was a State Police Officer who died in the line of duty 9 years ago. Her son Peter has had a rough time of it since. She says he is a good kid, but always had trouble keeping friends, hasn’t really had a best friend ever. Peter had been melancholy for some time, but he finally started to perking up during the last two months and going out with friends again. She works nights and didn’t ask who and risk upsetting him.
Max searches Peter’s room and finds that he has gone through a lot of different phases and styles over the last few years. His closest is a collage of stickers, ticket stubs and effects of his past phases. An overwhelming amount packed into a tiny space, most of which culture wise mind as well be alien to Max. According to file dates on his laptop Peter hadn’t used his computer in two months. Max also finds a writing kit, which is odd for a teenager. This was news to the mother.
Max goes to Peter’s High School FDR and speaks with students and teachers. Max discovers that Peter did try hanging out with emo, stoners and straight edge groups, but never fit in. He starting spending time alone in the library or in the science lab. The only student said to have hung out with him in the last four months is Christopher Rodgers. He has already left for the City All County Science Fair that’s going on today, actually right now. Max heads there.
The Grand City All County High School Science Fair is sponsored by OmniCorp and hosted at the Fairview Civic Center near Atlas Park. Any high school student in the county can participate, but the Governing committee chooses what areas they are displayed in. The better the exhibit the better the location.
Two of the three entrances has PVC pipe portals with hanging yellow towels that you have to walk through to get to the metal doors.
The exhibit hall is large and separated into a few sections. The more basic collections of underclassmen simple science fair projects like baking soda volcanos and potatoes batteries are grouped in the back. The more interesting ones are given more space towards the front halls. Providence and Zack arrive together to set up their booth. Providence decides to go have a look around. Meanwhile Alex is given her part to play in the sabotages. She is to paint the “Sign” onto retracted solar panel curtains and await Lainie’s orders to cut the cable and release them.
Max arrives and starts looking around for Chris Rodgers. Providence and Max stop at most booths to observe the exhibits. Some are simplistic while others are very impressive. They run into each other while observing David Kemp’s Static Electricity Clean Energy Battery. He was the student who set up the strange devices at the doors to capture static electricity. At the end of the day he will attempt to power a single light in the building to show it works. Max asks Providence about Christopher Rodgers and she leads the way to him, but she is distracted by Derek’s Air Pollution Chemical Scrubber entry being judged.
Max meets with Christopher who is showing the science of temperatures effect on molecules through magnetics. When asked about Peter Chris says that there were friends for several months and actually started this science project together. Then a couple months ago, he started being distant and said he didn’t want anything to do with science anymore. Their conversation is interrupted by the judges. Just then high above on the cat walks Lainie out of breath shouts for Alex to cut the cord and release the curtains. She does. The cheap mock up solar panel curtains made by Empire High senior Kevin Finkman drop down with hand painted versions of the Sign. This causes a reaction from some, but is ignored by many. Then a few lights go out and some students lose power. A super volcano display only pitifully spews out yellow foam. Lainie seems satisfied and pleased.
Then an explosion rumbles the hall as a gout of flame bursts through the false floor and sets a man’s cloths on fire. A second explosion follows seconds later. Alex looks around and can see pockets of fires spreading. Lainie swears this is not part of the plan, but she did plug the propane gas line that was running to several exhibits. A man runs to the door and is electrocuted into unconsciousness when he touches the door. Lainie is shocked and says Becca distracted David while Lainie switch his power source battery to reverse. The intent was for people exiting to get a small shock. Alex tells her to turn off the static power battery and Lainie agrees. Alex takes an arm glove and turns it into a make shift mask and leaps into action.
Max rushes into a restroom and changes into The Jaeger. Zack runs through flames catching on fire, but is unaffected as he absorbs the heat energy and busts into a maintenance room to change. Providence takes a fire extinguisher off the wall and puts the fire out on a male student.
The civic center melts into total chaos as people are trapped in this giant inferno. To make matters worse the super volcano is pumping out a cloud of gas that is causing the surrounding people to pass out. Derek shots its toxic chlorine gas. Alex leaps in to help the fallen and immediately her lungs and nose starts to burn. Seeing the doors aren’t safe Derek tells Stephanie, who is in a nearby booth to stay put and he goes to help the fallen people in the poisonous gas cloud.
The Jaeger starts leading people to an exit, once there he uses a blast of TK to blow away the doors and allow people to exit. Dynamo runs to another door to do the same. The gas cloud is growing quickly and taking down a lot of people. Alex tears it open and crimps the pipe before destroying the motor. It’s no longer pumping out new gas, but the existing cloud continues to spread, but grow weaker. Derek manages to get a few people out before temporary losing consciousness. Providence went under a table and changes into Ms. Mystic, confused why the fire sprinklers haven’t gone on yet, she fires a magic missile at an overhead spout. This releases a gush of water putting a fire out, but then the water pressure is quickly lost.
Lainie shouts for David Kemp to turn off the machine, he does but the power is still going as its connected to the building’s power. Dynamo smashes the battery to pieces and the doors are no longer electrified. The Jaeger uses waves of solid force to slow the spread of fire at the exit. Ultra-Girl using super senses detects two people that were in the gas the longest and need the most help she yells for Jaeger to assist. He determines they need constant chest compressions or they’ll die. As the cloud of poison gas approaches he can either get himself to safety or save the two critically sick people. He uses TK to slide them out of the building while he is over taken by the gas and falls unconscious, his shadowed face disappearing. Stephanie grabs him and drags him towards the door, seeing Max’s face.
Ms. Mystic is over taken by the gas while focusing on saving others and is rescued by Alex. Eventually everyone is evacuated from the building. Alex immediately bounds far away. A minute later she gets a call from Marcie asking if she is ok and that the gang needs to meet up and talk, she sounds very upset. Alex says she quits and hangs up.
Once EMS arrives and takes over the scene Jaeger heads to the crash pad along with Dynamo and Ms. Mystic. They observe the news coverage and wait for word on casualties. Ultra-Girl doesn’t respond to any hails from the team and The Spider says he is in the hospital checking on friends. The Spider arrive later and is told by Providence that Ultra-Girl was there, but know isn’t answering calls.
The casualty totals come in: 1 dead, 21 in critical care and 46 with minor injuries. The media and police are unclear on who is responsible, only that they left a calling card, the Sign. Ezekiel doesn’t have that Sign in the database, but Jaeger thinks it looks familiar, but can’t place it at the moment. Over the next few days the event gets less and less local coverage other than the New Guardians saved it from being a disaster.
The Spider drops into Alex’s room as she is packing a duffel bag. She says she will make good on her promise and tell him what happened with the bounty hunters, but for now she has to leave and trust her that she is safe from that. Spider asks her why she needs to go and she says its her fault people were hurt at the science fair, but she can’t say more right now. She needs to time alone and will be back in a week or two. Spider says he’ll hold her to that schedule and leaves.
A short time later Amanda Waller arrives at Alex’s house and drops the bomb that she knows Ultra-Girls secret identity along with The Spider. Waller insists that Ultra-Girl comes with her to talk about the aliens. UG agrees on one condition that she have gourmet French cuisine for every meal. Waller shakes her head and agrees.
That night Derek is awaken from bed by sounds in his closet, he opens the door only to have Shadow Dancer fall into his arms. She has grievous puncture wounds in her abdomen.