Zero Hour

Issue 1: Gray Shades

A secret facility outside Chicago became the site of a chilling massacre and a clash between super-powered criminals and a batch of new heroes.

The water being Horizon returned to the Georgetown bar owned by her father, Jim Story, to find that he had left suddenly on unknown business. Sensing foul play, Horizon went through her father’s computer and tracked to the facility.

Daniel Heinz, the winged creature known to the press as the Gargoyle, spent weeks carefully hiding from curious eyes, only to find a crumpled note in his hand after waking in his secluded motel room. The note held the facility’s address.

Hazard Stone, detective and mind controller, knew the facility for what it was—a breeding and training ground for super-powered operatives. Hazard returned for a standard briefing to find the facility secretly under attack from a stealthy force of paramilitary mercs.

Heinz and Stone stumbled upon one another and agreed to work together against the group threatening the facility. Horizon, however, decided she was safer investigating on her own and entered the facility. She soon tripped a proximity mine, which splattered her watery form against the walls and brought Stone and Heinz quickly to her location. When they arrived, a large group of mercs pinned the heroes in a hallway by firing darts filled with an unknown toxin.

Heinz thought quickly and ripped an elevator door from its housing and used it as a shield against the darts, but not before taking two hits. While he fought off the dizzying effect, Hazard Stone ducked through offices and made his way behind the mercenaries, turning them on each other with a well-placed mental suggestion. By this time, Horizon had reformed and joined the battle against the facility’s invaders.

With the mercs in chaos and Heinz and Horizon holding their own, Hazard Stone ducked into the facility’s holding areas to find upwards of 80 facility employees suffering from the same toxin the mercs were firing. Stone freed them and made his way back to his new partners just in time to see the mercs retreating deeper into the facility and Horizon and Heinz giving chase.

The three made their way down a hidden staircase into the facility’s server room which sent Heinz, strangely terrified of computers, running in the opposite direction. Split up, Hazard and Horizon became targets of two supervillains leading the raid. One of the villains, a slick operative named Charge, fired explosive blasts of electricity at both heroes while a second villain, name unknown, showed a knack for mimicking powers and attempted to mind control Horizon into attacking her partner.

Meanwhile, Heinz arrived in a set of conference rooms where he discovered a presentation that had been interrupted by the attack. The presentation spoke of a mysterious “50 State Initiative”, with markers in seven states across the map. His investigation was interrupted, however, by a third villain—an absurdly obese bruiser dragging a captive. As the fight began, the villain literally absorbed his captive into his body, gaining superhuman strength and even more weight!

Hazard and Horizon finally managed to subdue Charge, but his strange partner disappeared into the facility. Charge took the opportunity to announce that the servers, and much of the building, were wired to explode. The heroes dragged Charge from the server room and ran right into a grisly sight—the facility employees had begun to die, poisoned by the toxin the mercs had given them.

Hazard and Horizon escaped the building, stopping only to help Heinz defeat his rotund opponent. As they knocked the villain cold, he released his absorbed captive—Horizon’s father, Jim.

The heroes escaped and alerted the authorities quickly surrounding the building to the dying employees. Heinz rushed to the hospital where he received medical attention for the toxin, after frightening the doctors with his horrific appearance, that is.

Wrap Up: -The heroes saved 12 lives by getting the dying employees to the hospital in time. The toxin is a synthetic compound often used as a “truth serum” before causing deep drowsiness and death.

-The mystery of the facility’s attack only deepened when Charge, supposedly running the attack, revealed under Hazard’s mind control that he didn’t know the mercs were carrying the toxin. He also claims to have been hired by an anonymous benefactor to carry out the attack.

-Jim Story suffered a great trauma, first from the toxin and then from the villain’s absorption. He is currently in a sustained coma which could last for weeks, months, or years.

-The facility’s employees are gone and the servers were all destroyed. The organization has been effectively wiped out, which was probably the plan to begin with. The side effect is that Hazard Stone is now without his parent organization and acting on his own.

-Of the employees on and off duty, only one is still unaccounted for. Nancy Wells, on the team that developed Hazard Stone and, unofficially, Stone’s liaison, was supposed to be on duty at the time of the attack but has not been seen since.



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