Paradigm High

Issue 16: Endgame

With the location of the Chaos Force’s secret base in hand, the heroes assemble their classmates and tell them the plan. They will break up into three teams. Two will assault the stronghold from opposite ends to draw out and divide the Chaos soldiers while the rest punch through the front. After Spence delivers a speech explaining the gravity of this mission, they all jump through a portal and emerge on a round pad in Nowhere. A path leads up to a black, spiky fortress of rock and metal. The two diversion teams split off and begin throwing everything they have at the impenetrable walls. Then, a huge mass of soldiers emerge from the mouth of the fortress and confront the attackers. The heroes and their allies plow the soldiers down and enter the base.

Once inside, they find themselves in a huge, cavernous room with stalactites hanging from the ceiling. Krauser himself greets them, but he dashes away, and a heavy door crashes behind him. The elite soldiers and Chaos energy controllers in the room attack. They fight hard, but they are no match for the heroes, who put them down. The heroes follow after Krauser. They ascend a winding staircase and emerge in a smaller room, which quickly begins to fill with knockout gas! Spence uses his ice attack to freeze the nozzles as fast as he can. Bombshell jams her staff into one to plug it, and Max warps his discs to fit inside a few. Spence, Bombshell, and Max manage to fight through the effects of the gas, but Red and the others with them succumb and pass out. Just as they stymie the gas, the walls fire a barrage of electrically charged discs! Max manages to duck and flip around them, but Spence and Bombshell are hit and stunned. Then, Chaos soldiers pour into the room and ambush them. However, Spence still has use of his arm cannon, so he ices them to the floor, and Max wipes them out with a flurry of discs. Once the threat is neutralized, the heroes shake off the effects of the traps and press onward.

They climb another staircase and enter a circular, domed space. Lining the walls are vats, and within are the Vanguard and other missing heroes! Krauser introduces his newest creation, a young girl named Alexis. She’s a clone of Bombshell with altered genetics. She unleashes a massive wave of gravitic force and Chaos energy, blasting all of the heroes and their allies back against the wall. Max, Bombshell, Spence, and Red manage to stay conscious, but their friends are all knocked out. Spence’s systems are fried from the attack, but he notices something across the room that might help him: the Skyhammer, Thunder’s signature weapon! While the others engage Krauser and Alexis, Spence jets over to the Skyhammer. He quickly pieces together how it functions, and as he grips it, its energy surges into his own suit. Thunder’s Lightning Armor, which is on display nearby, breaks into a thousand pieces and flies over to Spence, augmenting and stabilizing his own armor. With it, he rejoins his friends in battle.

They all fight furiously. Krauser and Alexis are exceptionally strong, but the heroes are holding their own. Then, Max spots a strange device attached to the back of Alexis’s neck. With a pair of masterfully thrown discs, he severs it, and Alexis snaps out of her murderous trance! She falls to the floor and begins to cry. In response, Bombshell teleports her to safety. Once she returns, the four heroes focus their efforts all on Krauser. He is filled with rage as he tries to take them down, but they are too much for him! Spence freezes him in place, and the others unleash a series of devastating blow, culminating with a kinetically-powered haymaker from Red, which explodes the ice encasing Krauser and bounces him across the room. He has fallen.

The heroes free the Vanguard and the others who were captured, and they check on their friends. Those outside are battleworn but alive. They’d held the entrance against countless reinforcements who continued to arrive from the physical world during the assault. The Vanguard take Krauser into custody personally until more permanent arrangements can be made.

Weeks later, the senior class of Paradigm High walks across the stage at graduation as they close this chapter of their lives. They all have bright futures ahead of them. Spence looks forward to college, while Bombshell has a new sister to care for (though acquiring some of her father’s worldly assets should help with that!). She and Alexis leave New York for Chicago. Max’s father comes to his senses and apologizes for his ego, and the two make amends. Red realizes her family is crazy, and she’s thinking about taking her dad and Jace to Europe for a fresh start.

While they will surely have more adventures in the future, these four will never forget their time at Paradigm High!

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