The police at the mobile barricade marking the edge of the nightmare area cheered for Guardian Angel, Tipping Point, Basilisk, and Pitfall as they emerged from the devastation.
A rush of wind accompanied the appearance of Jet, followed moments later by Adam and Plateau- the team’s heavy hitters. Guardian Angel ignored them. His face remained passive as Tipping Point told them the news. The expressions on their faces mirrored his own emotions: disbelief, grief, shock.
A paramedic rushed up to the heroes at some point and bustled around them, checking for injuries. Guardian Angel ignored her. A cameraman from some news station or another shoved a lens in his face, documenting his reaction, or lack thereof. His first instinct was to walk to the Wardens’ building, and he did so without thinking, trailed by news crews.
When he entered the building, the secretary at the desk looked at him, confused, then scared. He tried to walk past the desk to the elevator up to the briefing room and was stopped by a pair of police officers who sprung out of a nearby alcove.
“Sir, you’re not allowed back there,” one of them said.
Guardian Angel struggled against them for a moment, then allowed himself to be escorted out of the building.
A few days later, Sean entered the warehouse to find Dr. Mind watching the news feeds on the console, which had been moved in from the old Wardens’ building.
“I heard the news,” Dr. Mind said. “They’re already voting to give him a local holiday. Can you imagine how he’d react to that?”
“I can,” Sean said.
They were silent for a few long minutes. Sean sat on a rolling stool from Dr. Mind’s workbench, still numb.
“I-” Dr. Mind began, voice soft. Then stopped. “Guardian Angel- Sean- Paragon is… was…” Dr. Mind stumbled over his words. “He was your father.”
“You knew?” Dr. Mind asked, voice still gentle, but betraying a hint of surprise.
“Yeah,” Sean lied. It was easier than remembering Paragon’s last words. “Ever since Dad… Since my mother’s husband sent me to live with him. He let it slip. I thought it was just his denial and his hate of metas, but after a while…” Sean paused. “I started noticing similarities. I look a lot more like Ben does- did- than Dad-” he paused again and sighed. “John. And the way Ben acted… He was busy, but he was protective. To the end-” Sean cut off as his throat tightened. He forced himself to keep talking. “He was more a father to me than John ever was. My mother deserved better.” Sean paused.
Sean stood for a few minutes without making a sound, attempting to regain his composure; attempting, but failing. He began to sob, still silent.
Dr. Mind wrapped his arms around Sean and did his best to comfort him, and after a few minutes, Sean became quiet.
“Mind,” Sean whispered, not trusting his voice.
“I’m gonna get the motherfucker who did this.”
“Sean, Davy Jones is dead. You can’t-”
“Not him. Not Davy Jones.” He scowled and spat the name, “Randwulf.”
Dr. Mind was silent as Sean struggled to become stoic.
“Fuck!” Sean burst out, unable to contain it. “I need to do something. I need to… I need…” Sean trailed off. “I need to talk to the Bureau.”
Dr. Mind watched Sean walk out of the room, then finally allowed himself to cry.
“You have our condolences. Paragon said he wanted to talk to us,” Translocator said. “Do you know what about?”
Tipping Point looked like he was about to speak, but Guardian Angel silenced him by speaking first. His eyes were bloodshot, but his voice was strong and steady now.
“I do. We know who was behind this.”
“Besides Marée du Ciel?”
“Yes. Tide of Sky was once a low-powered metahuman who called himself Davy Jones, leader of the Anchor Boys gang.”
Translocator steepled his fingers and lowered his brow, puzzled.
“We have seen this before. The Nightmare Traum vom Morgen, Dream of Tomorrow, was similar.”
“He was?” asked Basilisk, surprised. Guardian Angel raised his eyebrows, equally surprised.
“Yes. He was a hero known as ‘Voraussicht;’ it means ‘Vision,’ or ‘Foresight.’ He could… Well it is difficult. He could, with a touch, send someone back in time to wake up that morning. Used offensively, it was useless- the enemies would simply come back, prepared. But he was also able to send back warnings with his allies if something went wrong.”
“We aren’t certain. His team was gearing up to fight a villain called Cybot when he vanished. The next day… was the same day, for his team.” Translocator stood and started pacing, eyes troubled. “Everything had reverted back to how it had been the previous morning. They fought the villain again, and it happened once more. It kept happening, until the villain won- and then it stopped.”
Translocator stopped pacing and turned to face the heroes. “The next week, the first large-scale Dream of Tomorrow event occurred. Our assumption is that he sent himself back while overloading, and this triggered some kind of feedback loop, which combined with an advanced form of precognition psychosis to make him into a nightmare. It’s… just a theory, really. We don’t have any hard evidence to go off of. Precognition psychosis is a well-known phenomena, but it usually passes if given time.”
“He just disappeared?” said Tipping Point.
“Yes. It’s all very unclear. There’s no way to know what really happened, and we can’t just ask him, though believe me, we’ve tried.”
“How do you know this?”
“I was on the team with him. His… transformation is why I joined the Bureau.” He stopped, looking like he was about to say more, then thought better of it and changed the subject. “But tell me, why do you suspect an outside agent may have provoked this?”
“Davy Jones recently acquired a power enhancer who called himself Randwulf. Over the last few weeks, Davy Jones had a massive increase in power, until this happened.”
“This is disturbing, to say the least,” Translocator said. “That a human entity could be deliberately behind this -and perhaps other Nightmare events- is a possibility we had dismissed years ago. Perhaps we were too optimistic.” Translocator paused before speaking, looking thoughtful. “We will find as much information as we can on this Randwulf and share it with you. Any insights you can share with us from your experience would be appreciated.”
Jamisson sat upright in the hospital bed, tablet resting on his knees. He had called Sean in an hour earlier, saying he’d gotten the files on Randwulf from the ITAB.
“We have a couple of guesses, but this one is the most likely,” Jamisson said. “‘Randwulf’ is actually his name- or more specifically, an ancient version of it. His real name is Randolph Ermen; he used to work at SMART, the SuperMassive Aperture Reflecting Telescope in Liechtenstein.”
“He was an astronomer?” Sean asked as he stared up at the ceiling tiles.
“Actually, no,” Jamisson said, peering at the tablet. “He was the resident psychiatrist. Huh, an on-site psychiatrist. I’d bet good money that unless they were looking at some seriously disturbing nebulae, the telescope facility was just a front for more questionable research.”
Jamisson scrolled through the file he had open. “He went missing years ago, after the telescope had been damaged beyond repair by a solar flare and the facility was shut down, or so the news reports say. The missing person case was never solved, not even a closure notice, but… oh this is odd.”
Jamisson paused to leaf through a series of related documents. “There are a number of other missing persons reports filed in Liechtenstein that have been similarly ignored.” He paused. “Many of whom were known to be metahumans. It looks like they may have been up to some illegal metahuman research. The ITAB will want to have a word with them about that.”
“So Randwulf is using technology invented through illegal metahuman experimentation,” Sean said, wrinkling his nose in disgust.
“Possibly, but there’s no way of knowing that for sure. He’s never even been sighted until the Anchor Boys picked him up a few weeks ago, so we don’t know how he would have gotten here, either.” Jamisson rubbed his temples in exasperation. “There are too many unknowns.”
“We’ll find him,” Sean said, voice hard.