The Story So Far-
After the adventure at the South Pole and returning with Ice Prince, the Champions experienced Weaponized World, an amusement park turned into a killing field by a billionaire named Jack Johansen. After Murderworld the Champions fought Dr Hephaestus and his genetically created ‘mythic’ Greek monsters. After that Slugger, Arsenal, and Prince had their minds swapped because of an insane egoist calling himself Super Ego, Captain Ego, and Kid Id (Freudian Slip). Then Cruel and Unusual Punishment (Jack Johansen and his bodyguard) attacked the Champions in Central Park, killing Phoenix (for the first time). After the Champions were all but beaten came an attack by the Carnies… the incident where Catzclaw, Gornak, and Bella all joined the team (to help save the day!)
Meanwhile, in Chicago at Dr. Discordia’s Institute, all her patients (mostly mutants, including numerous mutants who were in comas from an event that happened in the Silver Age) were moved to an unknown location. Dr. Discordia herself, a respected expert in paranormals/mutants— both their physiology and their psychology— went missing the moment her name became associated with the others involved in this secret conspiracy.
Because of help from the Carnies, a chamber was discovered under Murderworld. There, the Champions fought the Carnies along with Johansen, ultimately defeating them. In this underground chamber (which had a strange dampening field at its entrance that effected every kind of flight), there was Victorian Age hospital discovered.
After that, as the FBI worked to try to uncover more information about Discordia (and also Mark Morning, the former Champion called Cyclone who is also missing)— the Champions did some training in a junkyard in Manhattan.
The police arrive at the junkyard because of a flood of 911 calls by frightened and concerned citizens who witnessed death beams from Gornak’s satellite in space. Arsenal gives the police assurances that the authorities will be notified in advance of any training in the city that will include said death beams from space.
At Champions mansion, the Champion’s butler Morgan has a message for Gornak from his benefactor, Mr. Prophet, who asks Gornak to come home. (Gornak has been staying at Champions mansion since joining them.)
Gornak arrives at Prophet’s home. Prophet talks to Gornak, concerned about the negative PR of a “death beam from space” given Congress wants to investigate.
Prophet also confesses that his R & D department has been working on teleportation. He is concerned Gornak can’t keep up with the other Champions (does have a movement power.)
At Prophet’s urging, Gornak tries to fly and can’t. Prophet suggests he tie a handle to his mammoth’s tusk and throw it really, really hard.
Prophet also tells Gornak he has something new to show him… and also some documents for Gornak to sign.
That night, Gornak dreams of caveman times. He sees himself attacked by a sabertooth tiger. The ensuing fight lands him in a cavern filled with fire. A dark figure stands there with glowing eyes. Just as the sabertooth is slashing Gornak’s throw with its fangs, the dark figure cackles… and Gornak wakes up.
Bella is getting ready to attend a wedding rehearsal, a bridesmaid for her cousin. The night before the wedding, she dreams that she is hovering high above someone. She dives down, through a ceiling, and sees that she is above a sleeping Scott Branson. Her dreaming self takes his head in her hands and she experiences his dream.
At the same moment that Arsenal is dreaming— and Bella is experiencing his dream— Prince Paradigm is at the museum where he lives and he has a vision, experiencing the same dream… as does Slugger. The three heroes were linked (in Issue _).
Scott Branson (Arsenal) dreams about a pair of hands wielding cards. The backs of the cards have skulls and bones on them. Seven cards are laid aside (Cards #0-6)… and then cards are flipped.
The Seventh card of the Tarot deck is The Chariot. Arsenal (and the others) know that this card represents himself.
The 8th Tarot card is Strength, depicting a female with a halo. This face on the card is clearly Slugger’s.
The 9th Tarot card is The Hermit, a card representing wisdom—a wise man wearing tuxedo with tails and a top hat. This card foretold Monopoly Guy.
The 10th card in every Tarot Deck is The Wheel of Fortune. This card—with its Egyptian symbols— foretold Prince Paradigm. The Wheel on the card began to whirl, spinning up tendrils of darkness.
The 11th card of the Tarot is Justice. The women depicted on the card looked exactly like Bella.
The 12th Tarot card is The Hangman, depicting a man hanging upside-down. The rope on this card doesn’t appear to be hemp, however. It looks more like the kind of webbing used by Black Spider.
Card 13th was laid facedown.
The #14 Tarot is Temperance, a figure that on this card looks like Phoenix. In the background of the card, what appears to be a flaming portal is depicted.
Card #15 was laid facedown.
Card #16 in the Tarot deck is the Tower. The tower depicted is being obliterated by what seems less like lightning and more like a death beam from space. This card foretold Gornak (and Mr. Prophet).
Card #17 is the Star, a gorgeous sophisticated lady… who looks exactly like Freeze.
Card #18 in the Tarot deck is The Moon. At first glance the creature howling up at the moon seems to certainly be a wolf but upon closer inspection, it’s revealed to be a cat. This tarot foretold Catzclaw.
Card #19 in the deck is The Sun. A baby on a horse is depicted, the baby’s face glowing too bright to recognize.
Card #20 is Judgement—and it’s placed to the side of the others… as is the final Tarot, #21, The World.
The World card shakes. The Judgement card covers it.
The original seven cards flip over. Two are The Devil and Death. These cards merge together… and on the resulting card is a Victorian era baron with a handlebar mustache and eyepatch. This card goes back to the original five.
The hero cards all flip over and start to bleed, except Arsenal’s… which begins to scream.
Arsenal awakens around dawn. Mandy calls. She’s also had a disturbing dream he had and wants to meet him.
At Bella’s cousin’s wedding rehearsal, Jenny Jefferson, age 22, one of the bridesmaids get the giggles. She is mentally impaired, slightly autistic, and when she can’t control her laughter, her embarrassed mother escorts her out.
Later at the dinner, Jenny tells Bella, “I know your secret!”
For a moment, Bella is naturally concerned that Jenny has found out about her super powers but then Jenny says, “You’re dead too, right? Just like me! He’s coming!”
Bella escorts the unhinged woman back to her parents.
Bella’s father is late. She calls him but gets no answer. She texts and he texts back: “We need to talk.”
He finally arrives and takes her aside to confront her about going to Champions headquarters. He had her followed. She plays it off saying that she is a fan of Freeze. He tells her to stay away from them, especially fearful now with everyone in all of New York City talking about how they now possess a death beam from space.
Monopoly Guy is on his way to the same wedding rehearsal dinner. As he approaches the hotel, he sees a large green sign that appears on the ground that says “GO!” He steps on it and collapses. He seems to rise above his body, to look back down on it as it lays on the street. A silver cat appears and climbs onto his chest. It says…
“THE WHITE KNIGHTS WILL STAND AGAINST DISORDER
“A MAN OF TOMORROW DEPENDENT ON THE PAST
“THAT WHICH IS MOST DEAR MUST BE SACRIFICED
“FIGHT FIRE WITH FIRE AND LAUGH
HE RISES AGAIN IN ROME!"
Monopoly Guy then awakens with $200 in his hand.
Prince Paradigm is at the museum. Dr. Danquitti is working downstairs. Prince is in the study they’ve provided him, sitting cruising the internet. “Death Beam From Space!” is all over the news. Through the mind link he shares with Danquitti, he becomes aware that she’s being attacked by an armed man.
Prince hurries downstairs to Danquitti’s office. The guy who is threatening the doctor is someone Prince recognizes. It’s a guy that has been to the museum before, always complaining about Prince being a zombie. Prince immediately entangles the man with an electric cage. The cage instantly knocks the man out.
Danquitti identifies the man as Rick Randolph, a former colleague of hers. When Rick wakes up, he starts ranting again about the “undead.”
At the same time Prince is rescuing his benefactor, Arsenal is meeting Mandy for lunch.
In Mandy’s dream, she saw the same Victorian baron dressed in purple, with his black eyepatch and handlebar mustache. Arsenal attacked this villain alone in her dream, to no avail. Then he called the other Champions, who were all promptly killed upon their arrival. The villain stole something from Arsenal, something precious but unseen. After defeating all the Champions to came to Arsenal’s aid, the baron made Arsenal’s armor disappear.
After that, the Champions became zombies and tore Scott Branson to pieces.
Mandy is very upset by the dream, which basically annoys Scott. He gives no credence to such ‘cryptic shit’, would never allow it to influence his actions, and doesn’t seem to even understand why Mandy would allow a mere dream to unnerve her so.
Gornak, meanwhile, is taken to one of Mr. Prophet’s testing facilities. A team of lawyers meet with them. Prophet takes Gornak into a private study where he tells Gornak that “They” are going to shut Prophet down. Prophet babbles, paranoid visions of the government—apocalyptic visions of the near future. He calls Gornak: “the Messiah.” He talks about how by reviving Gornak and bringing him into the mix, Prophet has done his part to stave off the end of the world.
Prophet seems completely unhinged. He talks about different degrees of craziness. He identifies Johansen, Hephaestus, and Olmstead as “first generation crazy.”
“We knew we were doing wrong. You can’t raise the dead without being crazy! Insanity is REQUIRED, you see? The first generation lunatics—they grokked that. They got with the program. Eventually. And then they started cutting deals.
“It’s all too late. It was too late centuries ago. It can’t be stopped now. It’s inevitable. Nothing is certain by death and madness!
“I knew I couldn’t stop the end of the world. My participation with the others—it was marginal, you know? I mean, yeah, I benefited. Not saying that doing business with devils isn’t lucrative! Not saying that at all. But I didn’t actively seek global insanity! Still, yeah, I knew and I know that I’m damned. But understand: it wasn’t MY idea to bring about the Apocalypse! I never wanted any of this to happen!
“But I think maybe God gave me a second chance: you! You’re the Messiah! You’re my REDEMPTION!
“The giggling dead are coming. The time travelers will make it right. Won’t you? You’re the ones they never expected!”
Gornak takes all this ranting and raving in stride, as if it’s really quite normal.
Prophet tells Gornak he needs him to sign some papers. Gornak is okay with that.
Mr. Prophet leads Gornak outside the facility to large field. In the middle of the field is a tarmac, where a desk is set up with a desk top computer on it. Around the desk is about a dozen lawyers dressed in expensive suits.
Mr. Prophet says, “Time for the test. I do wish, though, that we’d had more time to perfect the teleportation.”
The papers are signed, then faxed to various lawyers and banks. Prophet and Gornak move off to the side. Prophet gives Gornak a small globe that emits a force field… but will only work once… It will only work for what Prophet then activated: a true Death Beam from Space! The beam vaporizes everyone on the tarmac, all the lawyers and Prophet himself. Only Gornak is saved by the force field.
Gornak collapses to his knees, screaming to the skies: “NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!”
A man then steps out of the building and crosses the field to meet Gornak, introducing himself as Lucius Fox. He tells Gornak that he has just inherited everything Prophet owned. Gornak is now a billionaire!
At that moment, everyone then hears a telepathic BRAIN BLAST. Across the East Coast, millions of Americans all heard the same mental message….
“THIS IS A TEST OF THE EMERGENCY FRIGHTCAST SYSTEM! This is ONLY a test! In the event of the actual Apocalypse, this brainblast would drive you bat-shit insane. You would be terrorized to the extreme of probably peeing yourself. And puking. Basically, there will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. And giggling, of course. Because, you know, the whole world ending and literally EVERYONE dying except the mentally unstable— that’s freaking hilarious. So yeah, in the event of a world-wide calamity— which is coming by the way and really, really soon— SPOILER ALERT!— in the event of the dead walking the earth, this brainblast will drive YOU insane too… at which point you die… and then your snickering corpse will join the zombie horde destined to rule the Earth!
“HAVE A NICE DAY!”
After the brain blast— ‘heard’ by all— Arsenal heads to Champions headquarters to scan for weird frequencies.
*MEANWHILE*—Spitfire is asked to escort a former FBI agent, Edgar Evers, who is believed by some in the Bureau to have prophetic powers, a man who is regarded by most everyone in the Bureau as crazy. This man has information about the sanitarium beneath Murderworld but first needs to go there to examine it more thoroughly. Spitfire bitches a great deal about having to babysit.
On the way back from Chicago, their plane is shot down over Niagara Falls. Emerging from the wreckage, Spitfire sees an unconscious woman. Joey goes to her, kneels next to her, and she suddenly turns over and grabs his arm. The strength leaves his body. She pulls him into a kiss……….
Arsenal is called in to find Spitfire. He argues with Maxwell, then sends Slugger, Bella, and Phoenix to the crash site to investigate.
Gornak sends all Prophet’s files to Arsenal, who is surprised to hear about Prophet’s connection to Johansen, Hephaestus, and Olmstead.
The three Champions arrive at Niagara Falls. The local cops tell the women what they know: the FBI agents are all dead. Spitfire and Evers are gone. The agents who died had their brains explode.
Back at Champions Headquarters, appearing just outside the front doors are Edgar Evers and Spitfire. After some initial questioning by Arsenal, Spitfire hits Evers with a spitball!
Arsenal scrambles the heroes who are here. Gornak arrived earlier in a limousine wearing a new three piece leopard skin suit. Gornak, Catz, Prince, and Monopoly Guy head outside.
Catz flings blades at Spitfire, who melts them in mid-air.
Prince fires a photon push at Spitfire but next to Spitfire, a woman appears. She’s dressed like an owl; she is Screech Owl, one of the Black Sisters; and she uses a sonic blast to deflect Prince’s blast.
Monopoly Guy teleports himself and Edgar Evers into a nearby pool, putting out the fire burning Evers.
Gornak saves. Arsenal saves.
From around the corner of the mansion bounces Sabertooth, the second of the three Black Sisters. The man-eater snarls at Catz and Gornak.
Catz calls Sabertooth, “little kitty cat”, infuriating Sabertooth. Gornak says, “Cat fight!” Catz attempts a move-through but misses. Sabertooth retaliates by swiping at Catz but she also misses.
Prince flies toward Spitfire and Screech Owl, unleashing a photon wave, which spreads and hits them both. Spitfire is knocked back 5”. Screech Owl flies back 1” and instantly reorients herself.
Screech Owl then deflects Arsenal’s unibeam.
Spitfire reorients himself in the air and misses Arsenal with a flame blast.
Monopoly Guy slams Screech Owl with a locomotive, knocking her straight down, slamming into the ground.
Gornak swings club at Sabertooth and misses.
Appearing near the pool, out of nowhere, is Succubus, the phenomenally beautiful final Black Sister. She grabs Monopoly Guy and kisses him, thus controlling his mind. She then tells him to kill his teammates.
Bella arrives on the scene. Arsenal tells her to concentrate on taking out Succubus.
Catz saves, waiting for Gornak.
Prince flies toward Spitfire and unleashes a photon blast. Spitfire barely manages to dodge it.
Monopoly Guy teleports into the air next to Prince, trying to grab Prince but he misses and falls to the ground.
Screech Owl, still prone, screams up at Prince, doing 55 stun, sending him more than 40 feet straight up.
Sabertooth swipes at Gornak, raking his chest with her claws, causing 7 body and 14 stun.
Arsenal blasts Spitfire, sending him careening backwards 50+ feet. Spitfire slams into the ground, stunned.
Bella punches Succubus in the head, 52 stun, and knocks her 40+ feet, where she lands next to Spitfire.
Monopoly Guy summons his train again, missing Bella.
Gornak and Catz coordinate on Sabertooth: Catz does eviscerate. Gornak swings and misses. Catz claws strike once, doing 9 body and 9 stun.
Catz follows with a leg sweep, doing 31 stun. Sabertooth is knocked down but she pops right back upright (breakfall).
Catz slashes at her again, this time doing 17 body and 17 stun— he severs her right arm!
Sabertooth screams and grabs Catz with her one remaining arm. She then takes a bite out of Catz, doing 5 body and 5 stun.
Prince rights himself in the air, drops down to about 20" off the ground and fires a photon blast at Monopoly Guy, doing 62 stun and 19 body. This stuns Monopoly Guy.
Bella runs to the prone Succubus, grabbing her.
Arsenal lands next to Screech Owl, warning her not to get up. On her hands and knees, she screams at the ground, tunneling down into it.
Monopoly Guy recovers from being stunned.
Gornak swings at Sabertooth, missing again. Catz tries pulling Sabertooth off of him and succeeds. Catz follows up with a slash of his claws which Sabertooth manages to dodge.
Prince shoots at Monopoly Guy but misses.
The ground beneath Catz and Gornak erupts in an explosion as Screech Owl comes back to the surface. The 58 stun that they both take stuns both Gornak and Catz.
Spitfire gets to his feet and saves, warning Bella to release Succubus.
Bella shoots straight up into the air, flying high, carrying Succubus. Spitfire takes to the air after them.
Arsenal opens up his unibeam full-bore on Sabertooth, blasting her into the mansion wall and through it.
Monopoly Guy throws a thimble over Arsenal.
Catz recovers from being stunned.
Prince fires his photon phaser at Screech Owl, hitting her. 52 stun. She is thrown back 9", also slamming into the outside wall of Champion’s mansion.
Screech Owl orients herself and screams back at Prince, doing 58 stun and 14" knockback. He’s also deafened for four phases.
Spitfire hurls a spitball at the flying Bella, hitting her for 6 body. His napalm-like spitball continues to burn on her.
Bella drops Succubus and drives into the pool in front of the mansion, putting out the fire.
Arsenal punches the thimble but doesn’t affect it.
Monopoly Guy gets up and hits Catz with his race car, to no affect.
Catz stands and yells at Monopoly Guy before rushing over to him (but with claws retracted). Monopoly Guy goes into a martial dodge but Catz hits him anyway with a leg sweep, doing 36 stun. Monopoly Guy uses breakfall to remain on his feet.
Catz runs to the thimble encasing Arsenal and slashes it, utterly destroying it.
Prince Paradigm fires at Spitfire, who aborts to dodge.
Succubus is falling and now hits the ground. 33 stun.
Screech Owl flies across the courtyard, landing next to Succubus. Screech Owl grabs Succubus and blasts another tunnel into the ground.
Arsenal takes to the air and fires a unibream at Spitfire, missing.
Bella moves to Monopoly Guy and swings at him, missing.
Gornak gets up, enters the hole in the wall of the mansion, going after Sabertooth. He fines her prone but she’s getting up. And her wounds are no longer gushing blood. She is already regenerating.
Catz attacks Monopoly Guy, who does another martial dodge. Catz misses him.
Prince shoots at Spitfire, hitting him. Joey Spilva goes flying 9" and slams into the ground. This blow is sufficient to end Succubus’s mind control of him.
Arsenal and Bella coordinate attacks on Monopoly Guy. Bella misses. Arsenal hits for 51 stun and 3" knockback.
Inside the mansion, Gornak feels the ground quake. A hole appears beneath Sabertooth and she disappears into it. Gornak moves to the hole but it’s already rapidly filling in with dirt.
Catz moves to Monopoly Guy and punches him, doing 48 stun and 8" knockback, but Monopoly Guy stays on his feet.
Prince shoots at Monopoly Guy, knocking him out, freeing him from the mind control.
The team searches the mansion but finds no sign of the Black Sisters. Ambulances arrive for Edgar Evers and Bella. Bella refuses a trip to the hospital, afraid the staff will touch her and pass out.
That night, breaking news from Georgia hits the airwaves. Zombies have arisen, several hundred of them. Not all bodies everywhere are rising, only certain bodies from certain graveyards in an area around Rome, Georgia.
The champions are off to deal with the undead!