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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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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Issue 14: Choices

In response to Krauser’s threat against the mayor, the heroes start plotting. Spence and Ironlung set to work on a device that might keep the Chaos Force from teleporting straight to the mayor. Meanwhile, the others talk over a loose plan for keeping the mayor safe from harm, and they also call up their allies to assist them.

The foretold day of the attack arrives. Spence transforms into Aegis and hands the mayor the anti-Chaos teleportation device, which generates a field disallowing dimensional movement. The heroes wait. Then, reports come in of attacks all around the city! The Chaos Force are trying to draw the mayor’s guard away. Aegis organizes other supers all around the city, but there just aren’t enough to cover every emergency. A subway station and hospital are unattended, so Aegis, Bombshell, Red, and Max split into two groups to tackle them both. Aegis and Bombshell (with the mayor in tow) fly to the hospital while Max and Red dash to the subway. Max and Red find that Chaos soldiers and brutes have taken over the station! They’ve taken hostages, and they’ve planted a pair of timed bombs on the tracks, with 30 seconds on the timers! As Aegis and Bombshell arrive at the hospital, they spot Chaos soldiers waiting in ambush. The pair takes them out quickly and heads deeper into the building, only to find it infested with Chaos chimeras! At the same time, Max and Red fight their way to the bombs in the subway. With no idea how to disarm them, they snap pictures with their phones and send them to Aegis, who tells them which wires to cut while trying to avoid the wicked metal claws of the chimeras. Max forms his disc into a knife to cut the wires on one bomb, then throws his other discs down the tracks to sever the wires on the other. The timers stop at 5 and 3 seconds. Yikes!

Seconds later, the power in the hospital goes out! Aegis, Bombshell, and the mayor are plunged into darkness, with a pair of chimeras still viciously attacking. Aegis scans for a breaker box and finds one a floor below, so he uses his laser sword to cut a whole in the floor. Bombshell hurls gravity at the chimeras to keep them away from the mayor while Aegis plugs into the power grid and runs another scan to track the location of the generators and the severed connection. He discovers it on the other side of the building and decides to fly around the outside to avoid the Chaos Force. Bombshell grabs the mayor and teleports out to the front of the hospital with him to escape the chimeras. Max and Red rendezvous with Bombshell as Aegis fights his way into the generator room and blows up everything and everyone in it. He has to patch up the generator to get it back online, but luckily he has Chaos power packs as an energy source. Soon, the power is back online, and Ironlung and a few others arrive on scene to finish securing the hospital and rescue endangered patients.

The heroes take the mayor back to city hall. SWAT teams still occupy the street, and everything is quiet. However, as they reach the floor where the mayor works, they’re attacked by waiting Chaos soldiers! The heroes fight back, only to find themselves assaulted by a brute, a pair of chimeras, and a pair of Chaos energy controllers! They battle viciously, wrecking the floors and destroying most of the walls in the process. A blast from a brute’s arm cannon knocks the heroes around and knocks the mayor unconscious, and the chimeras strive to finish him off, but Bombshell and Red intervene and keep him safe. The heroes turn the tide on their attackers and defeat them, saving the mayor’s life. However, they soon witness a news report, and the news is grim. The Chaos Force has launched attacks all around the world, destroying much and killing many. In addition, the Vanguard, who entered the fray to stop the attacks, have gone missing!

What will become of the world? Can the heroes stop the Chaos Force? Find out next time – at Paradigm High!

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Issue 13: Chaos Rising

Senior year has arrived! The students are amazed to see Spence back on his feet after his massive spinal injury earlier in the year. It appears that he and Ironlung created a brand new spine for him. It also grants him enhanced physical capabilities, which he displays when he and the other heroes battle Replica in Advanced Actioneering. Bombshell has been training brutally with her all summer, and the work has paid off. The heroes manage to take her down, thoroughly impressing their peers.

Max, jealous of all of the attention Spence is getting with his new rig, starts the rumor that Spence might be gay! The popular and beautiful Firebrand wants to know for herself, so she struts over to his table during lunch and does her best to get him to notice her curves. When Spence remains uninterested, Firebrand confirms the rumor to her friends, and soon the word spreads through the whole school! Bombshell hears about it and gives Spence a heads up. Bombshell suspects that Firebrand is the perpetrator and keeps an eye on her. Meanwhile, Spence takes the rumors in stride and doesn’t deny them to those close to him. Instead of battling them, he decides to start Paradigm High’s Gay-Straight Alliance, and Bombshell and Bridget sign up as the first members.

Later, while on patrol in New York City, the heroes hear a cry for help! A squad of armed and armored strangers is chasing down a man. The heroes intervene with extreme prejudice, knocking around the weapon-wielding foes. It turns out the men are Defenders of the Citizens’ Safety Alliance; they’ve managed to push some legislation through at the state level, allowing them to detain “hostile metahumans” in New York! Their quarry is simply a poor soul named Matt who can melt stuff, but the CSA think he’s dangerous. The heroes beat the Defenders down and send them packing, keeping Matt safe for now.

The following day, all television feeds are hacked, and Krauser appears on screen. He delivers a threat: his Chaos Force will attack Mayor Petrelli of NYC in three days! The heroes convene to make a plan. Red uses her family connections to get an appointment with the mayor the following day, and he accepts their offer of help. Spence sets to work creating a device that will hopefully prevent the Chaos Force from teleporting into the building. If it works, then the heroes might be able to fight the Chaos Force off and keep them away from the mayor. If it fails, then the enemy may succeed… They’ll battle for the life of the mayor next time – at Paradigm High!

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Issue 12: Showdown

The heroes prepare themselves for the final match of the tournament. They’re facing off against foes old and new: Roman Malcolm, Weapon XX, Viper, and the Alchemist. The two teams trade intimidating stares before the arena transforms into a forest! Under Spence’s command, the heroes converge on Roman and pummel him down before he can become a problem. Once he’s dealt with, they swiftly dispatch their remaining opponents. Paradigm High is victorious!

The next day, Bombshell has a chat with Blink, and he reveals that his power works by taking him through an alternate dimension he calls Nowhere. He’s seen strange people snooping around in there, and he suspects that it might be the Chaos Force, using Nowhere as their hideout and means of transportation!

The heroes bask in their much-boosted reputations. Juke apologizes to Spence and wants to be friends again. Prom is on the horizon, and everyone makes plans for the big night. Spence and Blue Beacon agree to go together as friends. Bombshell attends with Seraph, and Max goes stag. Nobody from school asks Scarlet, but Jace offers to be her date for the night.

Spence hijacks the DJ’s rig and transforms the terrible music into something dance-worthy. The night is young, and everyone is having a great time – that is, until the heroes’ dates start to disappear, one by one. They search for their missing dates, but they’re nowhere to be found. Then, Spence receives a video call from none other than Krauser! He’s kidnapped their friends, and they’re all going to perish in 30 minutes if the heroes don’t rescue them! Spence orders Reggie to trace the call. Reggie displays a trail leading to a skyscraper in New York City. Bombshell grabs Blink, who teleports the heroes to their destination.

The Paradigm students spend crucial minutes trying to hash out a plan, but tensions are running high! They kick in the door and find themselves facing off against soldiers of the Chaos Force! The heroes unleash their fury upon the soldiers, who stand no chance. Chaos Energy Controllers join the fray, but Spence and Max hold them off so Red and Bombshell can run toward the screams echoing from Seraph down the hall.

Spence uses his destructor gauntlets to shred and detonate one of the Chaos Controller’s energy packs. The explosion knocks the soldier unconscious, but everyone else in the area manages to avoid it. Max takes on the last Chaos Controller solo while Spence flies out the window on his hoverboard. He’s heading for the roof, as he’s the only one who can reach the victim on the top floor in time!

Meanwhile, Bombshell and Red fight through a Serum-powered brute before bursting into the room where Seraph is held captive. They find him manacled to the wall with a device holding a multitude of needles into his skin. His powers are running wild, casting soulfire out of his back in reflexive attempts to escape. Bombshell rushes in to free him, and Red heads back to the stairs to reach the next prisoner.

Max has already reached the stairs, and the Chaos Controller is in hot pursuit. Max uses his prodigious leaping abilities to stay ahead of him, then takes him down with a well placed disc from around a corner. Max presses on, battles through more soldiers and a twisted amalgam of man and machine – the Chaos Force’s own version of a chimera. Max manages to slip past the Chaos Chimera and locate the door where the next prisoner is being held. He cuts through the metal with his discs and leaps through the hole to find his ex-girlfriend, Majestica, shackled to the wall. He cuts her free with a deft maneuver with his discs, and then he distracts the chimera so she can escape.

Spence reaches the top of the building, wrecks the rooftop door, and heads down. Just as he does, he is shocked by a massive charge of electricity, which fries all of his gear and knocks him out cold!

Red charges up the stairs, leaping up in the middle of the staircase to accelerate her movement. She dashes out onto the floor where another victim is held captive and takes some bullets from Chaos soldiers. With a mighty ground stomp, Red sends a kinetic wave at the soldiers, blasting them all around the hall. She walks past them and punches through a metal door to find Jace, restrained but otherwise unharmed. He kisses her after she tears him free of the wall, and together they head to the roof to see what has become of Spencer.

Spencer awakens to the bitter wind blowing over the roof. He pulls himself to his feet and finds himself face to face with none other than Krauser! Krauser stands at the edge of the roof, and he’s holding Blue Beacon by the throat. Spence notices that her power gloves lie on the roof, torn and crushed! She is powerless! Spence demands that Krauser lets her go, and he complies by tossing her off the roof. Spencer does the only thing he can – he dives after her, grabs hold, and shields her from the impact with his own body. There’s a loud crack, and everything goes black…

Spencer awakens to a splitting headache and numbness everywhere else. He’s in the hospital, and his father is at his bedside. Spence’s dad apologizes for everything he’s done; he realizes that his son is a true hero, and he promises to leave the CSA and defend Spence any way he can. Spence sleeps again. When he wakes up this time, Ironlung is there. He nabs a stretcher and carts his buddy out of the hospital, zapping a security guard who tries to stop him. Ironlung takes Spence home and promises to fix him – but he’s going to need Spence’s help designing the augmentations!

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Issue 11: Revelations

The game begins with the semifinal match of the tournament! Our heroes are battling against their close friends: Firebrand, Ironlung, Never, and Silhouette. For this match, the arena is configured into a warehouse. Never and Silhouette take to the shadows while Firebrand lobs flames from the air. Both teams fight valiantly, but first Never falls. Then Ironlung, Firebrand, and Silhouette follow.

Both Ironlung and Jace congratulate Scarlet on her victory, and it seems both boys have some kind of feelings for her. Scarlet’s father is there as well, and he takes her out for lunch. Meanwhile, Seraph has mixed news for Roxie. His team found an opening, so they’re going to get to be real superheroes. However, it’s in Chicago. Seraph promises to visit on weekends, but Bombshell fears that things are going to change. The pair heads off together to try to sort things out. They stop at Bombshell’s room so she can clean up after her rough fight, and she absentmindedly exits her bathroom wearing only a towel. Seraph, unprepared for the sight, is overtaken by his emotionally-fueled powers, and he approaches Bombshell and grips her by the shoulders. Just then, there’s a knock at the door! Bombshell tears herself away from Seraph and answers to find Spence there. Seraph shakes himself free of the episode and departs swiftly.

Spence apologizes for how he’s been acting lately, and he commends Bombshell on how she fought for the team. He also admits that he doesn’t like Juke romantically and he’s only with her because Max told him to date her. Bombshell forgives Spence and also shows him her notes she’s collected on the Chaos Force and other criminals during her vigilante runs. After that, they both depart – Spence for Juke’s, and Bombshell to find Seraph.

Spence confronts Juke and tells her the truth: he doesn’t like her, or any girl, more than a friend. He doesn’t like girls like that at all. Juke does not take the news well, and she blurts through her tears, “You’re gay?!” The venom in her voice as she says it hits Spence deeply, as though Juke is sickened by the fact. They are both broken as he leaves.

Meanwhile, Maximillian has been up to his own shenanigans. After enjoying Majestica’s “congratulations” for his big win, Max calls up Celeste, a.k.a. White Arrow, for some more action on the side. Unfortunately for him, Majestica returns to his room and finds them together! She flips out and blast Max straight through the wall. Then she hits him with another wave of light, halfway burying him in the ground, before flying off in a rage. Spence and Bombshell both see the spectacle, and Spence sticks around to help Max get back on his feet.

Bombshell tracks Seraph down to a cathedral in New York City. They both feel terrible and responsible for what happened but agree to stick it out and keep their relationship going. Seraph says that he needs to clear his head and that he’ll be gone for a few days. Then he takes off into the skies and disappears.

Max, wanting to clear his own head, starts hopping from rooftop to rooftop in town. He surprises Blue Beacon when he finds her sitting on the edge of a roof. She’s depressed about Stormcrow and Firebrand being together. Max, realizing he’s been a sleazy guy, focuses on turning over a new leaf and drops some encouragement for BB. They have a nice talk, and he agrees to cook her some delicious food.

The next day, Bombshell wakes up to find a strange note on her floor. It simply says “Meet me. Come alone. 1460 Reed St.” Bombshell ditches school and races to the address, which leads her to an old warehouse in NYC. She blasts a door open and enters, receiving an eerie reminder of the tournament fight she just won. A man greets her from the shadows, and as he steps out, she finds none other than her father, Krauser! He tells Bombshell that he designed her to be the ultimate weapon, and that it is her destiny to stand at his side. He also reveals that he is the mind behind the Chaos Force! Bombshell loses it and attacks, but Krauser is too fast! He sidesteps the blow, grabs her by the face, and slams her through several rows of shelving. He leaves her there, lying in debris, and it’s a long while before she can collect herself and return to school.

What choices will the heroes have to make? Who are they fighting in the final round of the tournament? What are the Chaos Force and the Citizens’ Safety Association going to do next? Find out next time – at Paradigm High!

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Issue 10: Fight

Bombshell receives an anonymous letter slipped under her door from someone who claims to be able to help her master and strengthen her powers. Mysterious…

The tournament has arrived, and our heroes are in the first round! They’re up against Gold Team, composed of Alphagirl, Omegaman, Tank, and Eagle Eye. Our heroes enter the fight (taking place in a small, artifical city) with a plan, but things change, and they have to adapt. Alphagirl and Omegaman team up on Bombshell, Red faces off with Tank, Eagle Eye launches trick arrows all around, and Max and Spence provide assistance where they can. The battle is fierce, and one by one, the enemy combatants drop. Our heroes emerge victorious, but Spence is not pleased that his allies threw away his plan, which they all agreed upon beforehand. He vents his anger on his teammates, and the whole ordeal is a big blow-up. Spence threatens to quit the team and storms off. The others find silver linings in friends and family. Max and Bombshell run off with their significant others, and Red finds her father waiting for her in the stands. Happily and awkwardly, she accompanies him for lunch.

The next day, Spence confronts Blink about his teleportation and its relation to the Chaos Force. Spence slams Blink up against a dumpster and accuses him of some kind of involvement, but Blink denies everything before teleporting away. Then Bombshell arrives to hash out her grievances with Spence, but it only turns into a shouting match. Bombshell’s words bite hard into Spence, and he warps home to get away from the hard truth.

The heroes decide that something needs to be done about Spence, so they ask Principal Dumont for help. He calls Spence into his office to speak with his teammates and dishes out some advice on how they can communicate and work together. It remains to be seen whether they can overcome their issues or not.

That weekend, the news stations are abuzz with new terrorist activity committed by the Chaos Force! More public officials have gone missing or been killed. The police are tightening security, and they are considering curfews. On top of it all, Spence’s father appears on TV as the leader of the Citizens’ Safety Association, a group that seeks to control the threat and danger of supers! What’s the CSA’s plan? Where will the Chaos Force strike next? How is Blink wrapped up in all this? Will the heroes be able to bring their team together in time for the next tournament battle? And who sent the mysterious letter to Bombshell? Maybe the heroes can find some answers soon – at Paradigm High!

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Issue 9: Chaos

Junior year has arrived! Our heroes kick off the new semester by kicking the crap out of the Blue Bombers, a gang that stirred up trouble with Bombshell over the summer. The Bombers try to pull off a bank heist, using the threat of a bomb placed in a distant apartment complex to keep the heroes at bay while they make their escape. However, Spence spoofs the remote’s signal and keeps the bomb from detonating while Max and Bombshell take down Johnny Badwick.

That weekend, Spence helps his best friend Davie (a.k.a. Ironlung) replace his eternal ironlung apparatus with an internal one! The surgery goes without complication, though Spence isn’t eager to repeat being wrist-deep in someone’s chest any time soon. Later, Spence helps Davie again by getting him a slew of confidential DNA records. Davie runs a search on the information in order to discover for Scarlet who her father is – and he finds a match!

Meanwhile, Bombshell and Seraph make their relationship official, and Maximillian and Majestica do the same. Romance is in the air!

Davie brings the results of his search to school in a manilla envelope and gives it to Scarlet, who gives him a heartfelt thanks. The gravity of the situation breaks her well-practiced emotional mask, and her true self shines through, if only for a moment. Needing time alone, she ditches school and has her butler/bodyguard Jace drive her home. There, in her room, she opens the envelope and sees the face of her father – Hugh Messmann, once known as Captain Psyche! Once she collects her wits, Scarlet calls him and sets up a meeting. She has Jace drive her to his house and confronts him with the information, but he assures her that he can’t be her father! He and Scarlet’s mother were never intimate, he explains. Distraught, Scarlet tells Jace what happened. After he drops her off, Jace disappears for several hours. When he returns, he has Messmann in tow. Messmann explains that he believes he is Scarlet’s father after all. He had used his psychic powers to block that particular memory from his mind, as it was too painful to keep. Jace had convinced him to quickly get to the bottom of this mess, and a thorough search of his own mind revealed the truth. They decide to tell the rest of the Rothschild family. Scarlet’s mother, who already knew, of course, freaks out once the truth is out and kicks Messmann out of the mansion. Before departing, he tells Scarlet that he is there for her if she needs him.

At school, Scarlet is clearly disturbed by something but does not speak of it. After she gaffes in Actioneering, Mrs. Knight informs the class that the no-longer-secret Exemplar Academy and Paradigm are having a tournament in order to bolster community between the two schools! The students rush to the cafeteria to look at the brackets for the tournament, and our heroes’ first fight is against Paradigm’s Gold Team: Alphagirl, Omegaman, Eagle Eye, and Tank!

Before the school day is over, Spence gets an urgent message picked up from police radio. An unknown armed force has taken city hall, and the mayor is still captive inside! The heroes book it to downtown to find that the cops have been pushed far back from the scene. Men in dark coats have cut a circle of destruction around city hall with futuristic weapons that fire a strange blue energy. The heroes make quick work of the four outside, but just as Red is about to charge through the front door, a hulking brute explodes out of the doors and sends her bouncing back down the steps. Bombshell, noticing that the brute appears to have IVs full of a super serum juicing him up, gets angry and cuts loose with a storm of explosive blasts. The brute, sizzling, falls to the ground. The heroes enter through the gaping hole in the front of the building and battle several more energy-gun soldiers and one super-powered individual wielding the same energy with his hands. Red takes the mooks down with a super stomp that sends shrapnel everywhere, though the energy controller deftly avoids the attack. The heroes advance, and Max flings his discs with deadly accuracy, amputating both of the bad guy’s hands! Red kicks in the door to the mayor’s office, but they’re too late! The mayor is dead in his chair, and a note is pinned to his chest with a knife. The note reads, “We are the Chaos Force. We are terror. Despair, for the end has come.”

Spence goes back to grab one of the energy guns in order to analyze it, but all of the Chaos goons are gone! When he checks city hall’s camera feed, he sees a disturbing sight. The Chaos Force appeared in a flash of the blue energy when they started the assault, and a few came back, picked up their fallen comerades, and departed the same way. Spence realizes that he’s seen this kind of teleportation before – from one of his classmates, Blink! The heroes don’t know what this means or what the Chaos Force is after. Perhaps they’ll find out next time – at Paradigm High!

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Issue 8: Fallout

Paradigm High’s Winter Masquerade Ball has finally arrived! Scarlet is going with Ironlung, Max with Gwendolyn, Spence with Juke, and Bombshell with Seraph. Spence hacks the DJ’s rig and takes over, adding some good music to the dance. During a slow song, Juke tries to kiss Spence, but he dodges her lips! Embarrassed, Juke slips off and finds a seat. Spence consults Ironlung and Max for advice, and Max informs him that he’d be stupid not to go for her. Even though Spence doesn’t feel that way about Juke (or anyone, really) he goes back to her and briefly returns the kiss. Then Spence’s mask (with built in eye lasers!) malfunctions, firing deadly beams at random. Juke kicks them off his face, and Spence orders his robot to disable the mask. Confused, Juke asks Spence to take her home.

The night is interrupted by a surprise visit from the Alchemist. He has slipped into the dance with a tux and mask of his own. He informs Bombshell that he needs to speak with her and her team. Bombshell gathers her teammates, and they meet the Alchemist outside. He tells them that Meltdown has indeed gone rogue, and she’s heading to the prison – to break out her father, Warbringer! Warbringer is a nuclear supervillain who once nearly bested the entire Vanguard!

The heroes call the tip into the cops as they rush to the prison, but they are too late. They’re knocked down by a shockwave, and then they witness a mushroom cloud rising in the distance. When they reach the prison, they see rubble. Dazed prisoners stumble out, some of them heading for freedom. Suddenly, a blazing blue portal opens in the sky, and the Vanguard pour out! Their leader, Thunder, orders our heroes to take out a pair of would-be escapees. The heroes take down Crush and Disruptor. After, they relay what they know about Meltdown and Warbringer to Chrome. Spence and Chrome scan Warbringer’s radiation signature and link it through the Vanguard’s satellites. They use it to narrow his location down to somewhere in the lower half of Manhattan Island. Spence creates more finely-tuned locators, which he and the team use to track Warbringer to a building at the center of Lower Manhattan.

The heroes bust in to find Warbringer and Meltdown charging up for a full-scale nuclear blast in the center of New York City! Bombshell, Replica (having copied Bombshell’s powers), and Spence (with a special gravity invention) stay ready to neutralize Warbringer’s blast. Red and Maximillian take the fight to Meltdown. The pair of heroes knocks Meltdown out just before Warbringer unleashes 65 megatons. There’s a flash and a roar that blocks out all else. Bombshell, Replica, and Spence struggle to keep the blast contained. Then, it fades. Warbringer falls, exhausted. The heroes save the day.

Stay tuned to see what happens next year – at Paradigm High!

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Issue 7: Allies and Adversaries

The Saturday after getting hit by a nuke, Bombshell meets with Gabriel Lightstone, a.k.a. Seraph, for coffee. They talk, and Gabe lets Roxie get a few things off her chest. She learns a little about him as well. Out of the blue, he asks her to the dance next Friday. Though he is kind, genuine, and very attractive, Bombshell has to put him on hold until she figures out what’s going on between Stormcrow and her.

A new PC approaches! Maximillian, the discus master, arrives in New York City and taxis to Paradigm, where he finds the dorm that will be his home. After unpacking his bags and lining his walls with pro- and super-sports stars, Max heads out to the stadium behind the school for some light training. It’s there that he meets Gwendolyn Norling, a Junior girl who operates under the name Majestica. She chats with him for a while and seems impressed with his amazing discus skills, though she isn’t sure whether he’s simply confident in his abilities or he’s arrogant.

Sunday, Bombshell meets with Stormcrow after he returns from his trip back home to Iowa. They both agree that their personal issues are interfering, and it’d be best to break things off. Stormcrow flies off, leaving a bitter wind in his wake.

At Actioneering class on Monday, the heroes are surprised to learn that Gomer has left for good! However, the new student, Max, will be joining their team in Gomer’s place. Unfortunately, things start out rough between Maximillian and the others, as he tries to do a team-coordinated strike exercise himself – and fails! Bombshell is upset by his actions, and the two exchange nasty words until Bombshell clocks Max upside the head with her staff, knocking him unconscious. Spence takes Max to the nurse’s office, and Mrs. Knight marches Bombshell to the principal. Principal DuMont explains to Bombshell that Max comes from the Exemplar Academy, which has very different views about excellence and methods of education. Namely, each student there is competing to prove him or herself. Principal DuMont expects that Bombshell will keep Max’s background in mind, as she herself has had to deal with her own past to fit in at Paradigm.

Later, Spence gets a text from Davie, who is trapped in his locker. Spence gets out of class to free his friend, but he finds out the situation is a lot worse than a simple pranking. Davie’s ironlung, the device that keeps his respiratory system functioning normally, has been taken, leaving Davie weak and wheezy! Spence hefts his buddy up and portals him into the nurse’s office, where Nurse Bonnie gets Davie situated into a large, stationary device reminiscent of an honest-to-goodness ironlung in order to stabilize the poor boy. Davie tells Spence that Amp and Tank took it, of course. In a rage, Spence stomps over to the Science room, where the pair are currently in class. He whips up a powerful electromagnet that he intends to use on Tank, but before he enters the room, he masters his emotions and decides to handle the situation properly. Spence reports the incident to Dr. Vori, and she takes them to the principal. Nobody sees them after that. Davie, exhausted and weak, heads home for the day. Later, Scarlet and Spence check in on him, and when they leave, Davie’s mom gives Spence a heartfelt hug for taking care of her son.

After her breakup with Stormcrow, Bombshell lets Gabe know that she’d like to go to the dance with him. Bombshell’s friends are quite impressed. The other heroes are making their dance plans as well – Spence and Juke are going in formal chinese wear, and Scarlet and Davie are going in red, of course.

Gwen speaks with Max after his altercation with Bombshell, but Max is arrogant and defensive. Gwen deals him a deep blow when she tells him she had thought that he was different from some of the others at Paradigm. This gets Max to thinking – and cooking, which he does quite well. As he prepares his lunch for the next day, he realizes that he needs to square things away with Bombshell, though he doesn’t feel particularly motivated to try to be her friend or anything. During their next Actioneering class, as they fight a big scorpiobot, Max demonstrates his capacity to work with the team by severing the bot’s claws while Bombshell takes off its tail. He also recognizes Bombshell’s skill, and the two of them seem to develop a truce for now.

After school that day, Maximillian gets a text from Dwight Pembleton, an old acquaintance from Exemplar who goes by the handle “The Alchemist.” He wants to meet with Max and his new team at an empty lot in Paradigm City. As the heroes arrive, Max notices one of the Alchemist’s signature transmutation circles covering the ground of the lot. He advises his new allies to avoid it, and since the trap is now ruined, the Alchemist emerges from the shadows. He accuses the heroes of capturing other Exemplars – Roman Malcolm, the psychokinetic boy, Weapon XX, the human weapon, and Meltdown, the radioactive girl. The heroes deny having any part in their disappearance – in fact, they didn’t even know they were missing. Another Exemplar, a girl named Sumner, steps from the shadows as well, and her brief conversation with the Alchemist reveals that it is uncharacteristic for Malcolm to be gone for so long without reporting in. They fear that Meltdown may have gone rogue, whatever they mean by that. At that, they depart. Maybe our heroes can get to the bottom of this mess before something crazy happens. Find out soon – at Paradigm High!

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