Paradigm High

Issue 15: The Hunt

The Chaos Force has unleashed their fury on the world! Without warning, they appear, strike, and then vanish. They destroy bridges, bomb buildings, and cause mayhem across the globe. Nearly all of the world’s heroes are on patrols, trying to stop them, but the attacks are so seemingly random and so quick that intercepting them is difficult at best. The Vanguard, the world’s protectors, have been missing for weeks and are presumed dead or captured.

To make matters worse for our heroes, the Citizens’ Safety Association has used the recent terrorist attacks as leverage to pass sweeping legislation. Now, CSA Defender Squads patrol streets all around the United States. Armed with stun guns and shock pikes, they prowl for any supers they deem “hostile.” Their activity hasn’t dissuaded Bombshell from her vigilante work, however. She and her uncle, Inferno, have been stalking New York’s streets in search of criminals who would use the lack of supers to their advantage.

Spence has been doing everything he can to track down the Vanguard. With Blink’s assistance, he recently traveled to their last known location in order to scan the area. He found evidence of Chaos energy and a conflict, but no evidence suggesting where the Vanguard might be. However, as Spence researches further online, he discovers on a forum an encrypted message from Chrome, the Vanguard’s tech specialist. Spence immediately sets to work decrypting the message, and he also constructs a device that will scan worldwide for Chaos energy, in the hopes of discovering the Chaos Force’s base.

As the heroes return to school after the weekend, they discover a mob of picketers outside Paradigm High. They are led by Maria Haskill, a lawyer who believes the school is a militant institution training dangerous metahumans in combat. The heroes exchange verbal blows with her, and Spence and Bombshell bring additional retaliation by detonating several well-placed paint cans around the mob. Enraged, Haskill calls the police, but Spence’s father arrives on scene to handle the legal matters.

Once inside the school, Principal Dumont addresses the students and informs them that, due to most of the teachers being currently occupied battling the Chaos Force, classes will take a brief hiatus. However, the principal and few teachers who are still present will be available should any students need anything. Scarlet decides to speak to the principal personally for more details, and after, as she heads back to rejoin her friends, she’s intercepted by Ironlung. He asks her how she feels about him, and Scarlet reluctantly admits that she only likes him as a friend. However, Ironlung isn’t hurt at all, and he seems glad. Spence soon learns why: Ironlung has eyes for Bridget. In a bold move, he asks her to the movies, and she agrees.

Max finally closes the door on his father’s bad attitude. To add insult to injury, he takes off for New York City in search of a crime to stop. As he patrols, he hears a shop’s alarm, and after leaping over a few buildings, he spies a gang of thieves dashing out of a jewelry store’s broken window. Max dashes down the wall of the building while unleashing a barrage of flying discs. The discs strike true, knocking all of the criminals to the ground. Moments later, a squad of CSA Defenders arrives on scene, and despite Max’s clear explanation that he just stopped the robbers, the CSA believes that he’s the real culprit and that he’s simply framing some poor bystanders. Fortunately, before things get ugly, the cops arrive on scene and see the truth of matters for themselves. They shoo off the CSA and thank Max, who soon finds himself on camera for a nightly news interview.

The next day, Spence gets a call from Ironlung, who is concerned. He called Bridget, but she won’t answer. Spence agrees to check her dorm. She isn’t home, so Spence shoves his way inside and scans the room. He discovers that she was there this morning, and she walked out, leaving her Chaos Gauntlets behind. Following her trail, Spence finds that it ends abruptly some blocks away. Next to it are fresh tire tracks. Spence calls in his team while he starts a search for all recent purchases of those tires in the area. The heroes band together and go through the list of people Spence turns up, and they settle on one man for a likely suspect: Jacob Gray. Bombshell and Max head to his home; Bombshell teleports inside while Max waits outside as backup. When Mr. Gray returns home, Bombshell gives him a lesson in intimidation, and he spills the beans: he’s part of the CSA, and they thought that Bridget was with the Chaos Force because of the gauntlets she wields. He gives up the address where they’re keeping her. Bombshell knocks him senseless before departing. The team closes in on the address, which points to a brownstone on the north side of NYC. Spence, Red, and Max pretend to battle on the front lawn, prompting the CSA within to emerge with weapons and attempt to detain them. Meanwhile, Bombshell takes Ironlung and teleports into the basement. Within, they spot Bridget bound to a chair and a single man, whom Ironlung quickly incapacitates. They free Bridget and take her out the back while the rest of the team keeps the CSA’s attention out front. With their friend freed, the heroes blast off.

Just then, Spence receives an alert that Chrome’s message has been decrypted. It’s a string of letters and numbers, but he realizes what it means. Chrome has provided him with his username and password in order to access the Bastion, the Vanguard’s floating base. Within lies a computer which is calculating the location of the Chaos Force’s headquarters! Spence accesses the IP provided in the message and finds himself looking through cameras on the Bastion. They show Chaos soldiers all through the base. Spence decides to call in all of his classmates. The senior class of Paradigm High meets in the arena behind the school, where Spence explains his plan: he’ll activate the Bastion’s teleporter to bring them aboard in waves. First, Bombshell and her sneaky friends go aboard and get in place on the command deck. Then, Stormcrow, accompanied by other fliers, bring a storm to the outside to confuse the Bastion’s operators. After that, Red, Tank, and Max head in and start wrecking everyone. Finally, Spence and the rest jump through, and Spence takes over the weapons systems from the command deck while his allies protect him. Then Max escorts Spence to Chrome’s chambers, where Spence finds a laptop running the algorithm that will discover the location of the Chaos Force’s HQ. As hard as the Paradigm students fight, more Chaos Force keep showing up through the Bastion’s teleporter. Spence manages to block their access, and Red and Max clear the hall to their exit with some magnetized discs and bone-rattling power stomps. The students flee the Bastion, and everyone makes it out safely.

Later, once home, Spence adds his own scans of Chaos energy to Chrome’s algorithm, and after a short while, the program is complete. It provides a teleportation vector into Nowhere. The heroes have the location of the Chaos Force’s headquarters. They’ll go in for the final battle next time – at Paradigm High!

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