By the time they reached Homestead, Dragon was furious. He was controlling it, but everyone could see that he was at his boiling point. He stormed into the base and went to the Teacher's quarters.
When he got inside, he sat down and began trying to control his breathing. The Teacher stood next to him and reminded him of the techniques he had been learning. Within fifteen minutes, he was ready to talk. Kim was there, looking worried.
"I've been manipulated," Dragon explained. "PSI has been controlling my mind and leading me along, using me to hit VIPER. And when Solitaire's spell wears off, they might be able to control me again."
"Memoir has a lead," Kim said tentatively. "He thinks he picked up on John's thought patterns somewhere in Kansas. He's in his room, waiting for you before he makes the next move."
Dragon squeezed her hand gently and bowed to his teacher. He left and walked to Memoir's quarters. He knocked and went inside.
Memoir was sitting on the bed, talking to Schizo. Schizo seemed to be listening with total attention.
"Come in, Dragon," Memoir said. "I'm trying to explain to Schizo everything I know about John. He said his memories are hazy."
"PSI has been controlling me," Dragon said. Memoir looked up and nodded.
"Defender told me. I'm a little nervous about this, but I feel I can trust you." Memoir produced four brown metal boxes connected by black wiring and linked in to a brown headband. He handed it to Dragon and showed him some buttons on one of the boxes.
"This is our Anti PSI gear. Every member of the Freemen wears one. It automatically protects you from mental attacks and stops the draining effects of their Psiphon grenades. When you press this button, it activates the force field. That'll stop serious damage from their blasters on kill and all damage from blasters on stun. It should ward off mind control, at least to some extent."
Dragon strapped the gear on over his costume. "Where are they?" he asked.
"In a small town in Kansas. It doesn't even have a name, it's just a farm. We're pretty sure PSI is using the farm as their base right now. That's probably where they have John stashed."
Dragon nodded and asked, "Are you coming with me?"
"No," Memoir answered, "I think they're up to something in New York, and that's where we're going. Schizo wants to go with you."
"We leave now," Dragon said. Schizo stood up and shook Memoir's hand. Dragon did the same.
"Thanks for your help. If you need me...call."
Dragon found Dave in the kitchen, bent inside one of the counters. "Dave! We need to go!"
Dave stood up and he had aluminum foil molded around his head. "All set, Dragon. This'll stop those psionic guys."
Dragon walked off to the hangar. When he got there, he found Solitaire there waiting. She slipped a gold bracelet on his wrist.
"This locks the spell I put on you earlier. It will add to your natural mental defenses. I've got another one for Dave. Good luck, Dragon."
Schizo walked into the room and up into the Vagabond. Dragon kissed Solitaire on the cheek and followed. They heard a slap and then Dave came up the ramp, rubbing his cheek.
"Friendly kiss," he mumbled. "She's not married yet."
Then they were off. Dave engaged the stealth mode and then turned back to Dragon. "What's the plan?"
"Teleport me and Schizo down," Dragon said. "Then be ready to hit the place with the meson cannon if I order it. Oh, and Dave, take us out past Venus."
Dave smiled and lifted the Vagabond into space. He crossed his fingers and engaged the faster-than-light drive. They felt a jolting sensation as the space plane accelerated towards Venus. When they got there, Dragon ordered Dave to put them in orbit.
"Okay, now if whatever they've been using to monitor us can reach out here, we're already beaten. But I don't think they can see us. So here's the plan. As soon as we enter the atmosphere, above Kansas, Schizo will take us into the astral plane. Then you'll blast the land around the farm with the meson cannon. While they're concentrating on you, we'll enter real space and find John. Schizo, you'll have to mind link us. Can you maintain that in the astral plane?"
Schizo shook his head. "Okay, then we'll have to time it."
They worked out a schedule and headed back towards Earth. As soon as they entered the atmosphere, Schizo took Dragon and faded them both into the astral plane. They counted, and when the time was right, entered real space.
A large section of cornfield went up in flames as Dave blasted it with the meson cannon. Dragon accelerated at full speed with Schizo and landed at the farmhouse, the only structure in view.
Inside, Darke was preparing a syringe. He turned to Soulfire and said, "Go. We can't win with the resources we have right now. Besides, this prize is no longer worth fighting for."
Soulfire teleported away and Darke turned on the frail form tied to a chair in the center of the room. He walked towards him, and John realized that if Darke injected him, he would die. In desperation, he lashed out with an ego blast.
The ego blast was no more than a distraction to Darke. It felt like a light tap, and John felt a surge of excruciating pain and screamed as Darke's power created a backlash.
"Fool," Darke said, "your powers can't hurt me."
"I know," John responded weakly. He pointed behind Darke. "But he can."
Darke turned and saw nothing but a red dragon against a gold field. He looked up and saw Golden Dragon looking down at him. And he did not look happy.
Darke twisted his ring and vanished as Dragon swung his fist at the empty space. John was gasping heavily, and Dragon rushed over to him. Schizo was right behind him, and Dragon actually saw concern on the creature's formless face.
"Dragon, take care of my wife and daughter," John said. "They've been staying with her mother in Las Vegas. Schizo will know where to go."
John locked eyes with Schizo and concentrated. "No!" Dragon yelled. "Fight this, John! It doesn't have to be this way."
"I'm dying, Dragon," he answered. "This way, Schizo can carry a part of me with him. That last blast took a lot out of me, but the look on Darke's face when he saw you there was worth it."
John closed his eyes and his breathing grew shallower. Dragon watched as his friend's breathing slowed and, a minute later, stopped. Tears fell down Dragon's cheeks.
"Dragon," came a voice behind him. "We need to take care of my wife and child."
"John?" Dragon asked, looking behind him.
Schizo was standing there, but he didn't look as confused as he had before, and his eyes had softened, taking on a light red glow instead of a harsh one. His voice was a duplicate of John's before he had aged.
"Part of him. I'm whole now, Dragon. I still have questions, but I feel complete."
Dave's voice crackled on the comm. "Hey, did we get the bad guys?"
"They got away, Dave," Dragon answered. "Three to beam up."
When they beamed up, Dave looked at the limp body of John and said, "Is he okay?"
Dragon shook his head and Dave turned away. "Take us to wherever Schizo says," Dragon said.
Fifteen minutes later, they were in Las Vegas. They landed outside a home on the outskirts of the city. Schizo's eyes flared red and he dove out of the plane. Dragon jumped up and followed him out, catching him before he hit the ground.
"Are you crazy?" Dragon yelled. "You can't fly!"
"Harding," Schizo said in an even voice.
Dragon landed and kicked in the door. Stephen Harding, the insane psychiatrist who was hunting Twilight, had nearly killed John once. If he was here...
Inside the house, an older woman was lying on the floor with a bullet hole in her head. The blood was still wet around her. Dragon heard a young boy screaming in the back room. Both he and Schizo rushed into the house.
When they reached the bedroom, the first thing they saw was John's wife, naked and bloody, on the bed. She was clearly dead. Tied to a chair on the opposite side of the room was John's six-year-old son, Christian. Above him, the crazed Harding was cutting with a butcher knife. He had already cut out one of his eyes and was horribly scarring the boy's face.
Schizo went berserk and grabbed Harding by the neck. When the man turned and looked with wild eyes, Schizo twisted the neck. Harding's eyes bulged and the knife fell out of his hand.
"No!" Dragon yelled.
Schizo twisted again, and a sharp crack resounded through the room. Harding fell to the floor. Before Dragon could move, Schizo disappeared, leaving his borrowed Wildside comm on the floor.
Dragon grabbed the comm and pinned it to Christian's shirt. "Dave, two to beam up, now!"
When they were in the plane, Dragon put Christian in one of the freeze tubes and turned it on. The boy passed into a peaceful sleep. "Dave, get us to Homestead," Dragon said.
It was a week later when they finally held the funeral. The Freemen were all there, and Dragon gave the eulogy. He felt it appropriate that it was pouring down rain.
"John Dormer was the last true founding member of Wildside, save myself and Shivite. We've lost Jason Stone and Jazz to Mechanon, Jack and Abadon to Doctor Destroyer, Torchlight to GENOCIDE, and now John, to PSI. Why is it that the good guys die and the bad guys come back?"
"But it doesn't matter. For every one hero they manage to destroy, another one will rise to challenge them. And I would rather die as a hero than live forever in evil. I know John felt that way. He kept fighting until the end. And I'll miss him."
The reverend said a few words as they lowered the casket into the cemetery next to the graves of Vincent and Jack. The headstone read, "Twice a hero. John Dormer."
As they walked back towards Homestead, Defender asked, "What about Christian?"
"He's a mutant," Dragon answered. "The doctors told me that. That's why he survived what that bastard Harding was doing to him. I've asked Lifeline if he and his organization will take him in, and he's agreed. As soon as he's better, he'll go."
Dragon looked back at the grave and saw a misty, blue figure standing over it. "And I think he'll have a guardian angel to watch over him."
"What about you?" Kim asked him. "How will you find Alex now?"
"I asked Garrison, but he said that without a familiarity with Alex's mind, he didn't think he could do it. John was my last shot at doing it that way. So it looks like I'm going to have to learn some old skills."
"Where?" Defender asked him.
"Chicago," Dragon answered. "From Brimstone."