(S.T.R.I.K.E. headquarters, London)
A medical team finds itself astonished, for the brain of their patient, Captain Britain, seems to be dead, yet his pulse is strong and rapid. Commander Hunter tells them to hang the medical report. Just keep him alive.
Captain Britain’s soul finds itself in deadly danger, for he is threatened by a monster and his leg is trapped.
The two godlike beings who once granted Brian Braddock his powers anxiously watch the young hero’s plight. The young woman is moved, begging the man, Merlyn, to spare him. He has done all that can be asked – and more. Surely his Earthly deeds have proven him worthy of Merlyn’s protection.
No, Merlyn deciides coldly. He must first survive the final test… which seems most unlikely.
Flames scorch the young hero, but he refuses to give in to the pain, looking for a way to escape. He finds that, while his clothes are burning, his body remains unharmed. Though he feels on fire, he is not burning.
Hunter demands to know what the medical team has been doing. The patient isn’t treatable at that point, one of the doctors reveals. He’s obviously at the mercy of forces beyond human understanding.
The young woman begs Merlyn to end Captain Britain’s torments. He has endured ten times the mortal threshold of pain. What more must he prove? His worth, Merlyn replies. The savior of Britain must never accept defeat. If need be, he must battle onto death. But death most noble, not death without purpose, reason or benefit to the common wealth, the young goddess pleads. He seeks not death, but fortitude, Merlyn amends, and such he has witnessed. Thus shall he return to the human his weapon.
Just as Captain Britain is about to give up, he sees his quarterstaff hovering above him. He grabs it and activates the forcefield, which pushes back the flames. But he is still trapped in this nightmare, he realizes as the monster attacks again.
The test is finished, Merlyn, decides. As he gestures, Captain Britain is drawn through time and space to arrive on Otherworld, where his two benefactors welcome him. The young goddess wishes to greet him but Merlyn bids her to hold her tongue. He has much to tell Captain Britain and he has little time to hear.
In Jamie Braddock’s Chelsea flat, Brian and Jamie’s sister, Betsy, awakes startled, calling out her twin’s name. Jamie runs to her side and she discloses that she had a nightmare about Brian bleeding and looking almost dead. Jamie tries to comfort her, while he wonders whether it only was a dream. He last saw Brian when he was doing his Captain Britain thing. He had tied Jamie up so his brother wouldn’t get the idea to endanger himself by helping him. When Brian didn’t return to free him, Jamie knew he was in trouble. He worked himself free and headed back to his flat, hoping to hear news of him on the car radio. But the radio was on the blink, so all he could do was wait and worry. He doesn’t want to turn the news on now. If Brian’s had it, he doesn’t want Betsy to know, so he assures her that he’s sure Brian is all right.
Captain Britain recognizes the two mystic figures from Darkmoor. Angrily, he accuses them of choreographing this nightmare he’s just been though. Merlyn orders him to curb his temper. For, if he has the power to summon him, he surely can restrain him. An energy hand appears, threatening Cap, who complies.
Merlyn tells him he regrets the agony Captain Britain had to endure. But it was not for naught. It had purpose most noble. He tells Cap to seat himself and listen. Even while he speaks, Captain Britain’s physical body lies gravely wounded on Earth and he must return to it soon if his flesh and blood are to survive. He shows Cap an image of the lab, where his body lies. He is here only mentally, Merlyn explains.
That means the battle he fought minutes before, the fire that engulfed him, they weren’t real? As real as the human mind, Merlyn replies. Had he been beaten, his mind would have been destroyed, leaving his earthbound body a lifeless shell to wither in the wind.
Merlyn conjures another image of a Medieval castle and asks him to pay heed, as he shows him he past when he walked the Earth, disguised as a mortal magician in the court of King Arthur. Time grows short, he announces, and his physical body cannot survive without his mind much longer. And should his body perish, he would be trapped here for eternity.