Sovereign sent Mindblaze back to St Trilliums Hospital to further examine the strange device that Dr Jordan had built, hoping that some psychic residue would provide some hints. Talabar, in his human alter ego of Terry Anu, was sent to find the local Aboriginal society and see if they had any information that would help. Lastly, Andromeda and Sovereign would meet with Constable Murphy at the sight of the shooting to explore the area together.
It didn’t take long to Terry to discover the local Aboriginal Center, where he spent some time asking questions that all pointed to the same answers. People about town did begin to act strangely for no reason, but soon their behavior returned to a semblance of normality, and the area known as Swagman’s Grove was a dark and evil place where local Aboriginals refused to go.
Mindblaze again gained access to Dr Jordan’s device, and received from it a disturbing postcognition image of a black robed, purple-skinned figure exiting a portal and attacking the Dr with long mouth-tipped tongue. Immediately he accessed the computer back that the Hall of Vigilance remotely and discovered the only creature in their files that matched the description of what he saw was a Skreel, but the match wasn’t perfect.
While Sovereign and Andromeda waited for Constable Murphy to arrive, a school bus drove by, but once past the heroes screeched to a stop. A young boy leapt from the doors and ran towards the pair of heroes, calling out for them to help. His teacher followed, yelling at him to return. Andromeda took the boy aside to discover that the problem was while Sovereign tried to calm the teacher. It didn’t take Sovereign long to learn that the teacher was acting oddly – not only was she exhibiting minimal facial expression despite her anger, her body language was also slightly out of synch with her conversation. The teacher demanded the child be returned, but quickly gave up and returned to the bus and drove it away, leaving the distressed boy with the heroes.
Andromeda learned the boy’s name was Carson Hunter, and that he was terrified that the townsfolk had been turned into aliens, including his parents. Now his teacher, Mrs. Cravitz, was taking his class to Swagman’s grove where all the children would be turned into aliens too. Taking the boys claims seriously, Sovereign had Andromeda take the boy onto the Gladius and to follow the school bus while he waited for Murphy.
Constable Murphy finally arrived, and helped Sovereign with his questions, but it quickly became obvious to him that the police officer was also acting oddly, much like the teacher, Mrs. Cravitz. At that point, Andromeda called Sovereign and told him that the school bus has stopped on the other side of Swagman’s Grove that the children were being led out. Not willing to let the kids come to any harm, Andromeda said she would stop them, and Sovereign ordered Mindblaze and Talabar to join him and head towards the Grove.
The heroes arrived in time to see the bus returning to the road with a full load of children while Andromeda stood blocking the path that led into the Grove. She told Sovereign that she has stopped Crivitz from taking the children into the undergrowth, but the encounter was “tense”.
Deciding it was time that they saw exactly what was going on in Swagman’s Grove, the heroes followed the path into the undergrowth. Quickly, the plant life became bloated and disfigured, almost as if they had stepped into another world. In the centre of the Grove, they discovered the bank of the river looked odd – too shiny, as if it had been covered with a thin layer of slime. A sudden noise caused the heroes to hide, and they saw Constable Murphy walk towards the glisten bank and wave his hand over a section. An organic opening appeared and he stepped though. The heroes came out of hiding only to be surprised by a little girl stepping out of the foliage. Before they could react, she attacked them with a mental stun blast, and rendered them all unconscious.