Three people walk through what appears to be a fiery, demon-filled hell. In the middle is Captain UK, blindfolded, led by the other two, Agents Michael and Gabriel of the RCX. Onward Christian soldiers, Gabriel suggests somewhat nervously at the sight of the demons. Spectacular stuff, eh? Michael replies. It’s the real thing Gabriel adds, looking at his scanner. A totally malleable holographic field, concealing Braddock Manor.
They stop in front of a threatening space alien. Shall I? Gabriel asks. Feel free, Michael replies. Gabriel reaches up into its fanged maw and presses the tongue. The next moment, the hologram disappears and what he is holding is actually the knocker.
Jeeves opens the door. May they see the master of the house? Michael asks. Unsurprised, Jeeves asks them to follow. Party from the government Jeeves tells Brian (by now in civilian clothes) er… Resources Control Executive.
Michael shakes Brian’s hand, addressing him as Captain, and asking him to forgive the lateness of the hour, but time is short. It’s always later than you think, Gabriel mutters.
Michael introduces the two of them. Brian greets them politely but immediately points out he has no rank. It’s plain Mr., he’s afraid. He is too modest, Michael retorts. He has already met their similarly shy colleague, Captain UK.
Linda steps in, greeting Brian. It’s good to see her again, he tells her. But he thought she was going to retire. Why is she with this bunch now? It seems she has no choice, she begins.
Having heard Linda’s voice, Betsy comes rushing in. Gabriel greets her, asking if she remembers. Matthew? she asks surprised. What on earth is he doing here? Not Matthew anymore, he corrects her. It’s Gabriel now, still biblical though.
Well, this seems to be quite a reunion, Brian remarks while he pours himself a drink. Perhaps a toast? he suggests. To auld acquaintance…?
He’ll drink to that, Michael agrees, and to their future association. Gabriel refuses though. He’d rather smoke if they don’t mind. She sees he hasn’t changed, Betsy remarks. She explains to her brother that she used to work with… Gabriel. He was with STRIKE – sci-tech division. Gadgets are a foible of his, he explains.
So what brings them to his home in the middle of the night? Brian asks. Simply, at the risk of sounding trite, the nation is in peril and they need his help, Gabriel replies succinctly. Dire straits, man, Michael adds. Perhaps they should put their cards on the table, Gabriel continues.
The RCX is the phoenix that arose out of the ashes of STRIKE. They have their origins in troubled times. They were all touched by the Jaspers Warp, he continues, the very words bringing back painful memories to Brian, Betsy and Linda, some harder than others. Fortunately, most people remember nothing. Nevertheless, the warp kinked the entire population’s subconscious, building nests of fear and confusion. Couple this with the historic cycle of the rise and fall of empires… and you have trouble big trouble.
Meggan sits outside on the window sill, her thoughts wandering into the night. Something fierce and frightened finds her. It calls with an irresistible siren sound and she soars upward. A wild link of infant rage fills her mind, sending her spilling back down the short slope of years to the pain of childhood.
Her parents were travelers, an old race. When it started getting cold, they found that their newborn daughter had grown fur. Her father asked his wife what she had born. A changeling? A wolfchild! She asked him please not turn her out. They can hide her!
But others listened in and soon others of their community knew, as rumors started and got worse from wolfchild to stating she had bulging eyes, ears like batwings, fur, fangs, talons. And Meggan became what they expected.
In the daytime when the men went trading and the women and children took things to sell, she lived for the glitter of the television world, dreading the night which brought the silver dreams that flared her nostrils and pricked her ears.
But her worst nightmares were realized that terrible time when Jaspers’ men took her away and locked her up.
Her horror of confinement is instinctive. It numbs and engulfs her. She lands next to the RCX’s van.
Child minds clamor for succor in silent pandemonium. The blind need of their minds is irresistible, uncontainable, unquenchable. She opens the van. And five children, looking like infants with beaks and bug eyes and wings fly out.
Inside the house, Brian summarizes what the two agents told him. According to them, although Captain UK and he defeated the Fury and contained the Jaspers’ Warp, the continuum was sufficiently damaged to allow the problems which the nation faces to arise, eventually resulting in an attempted overthrow of the democratic system?
It’s already started! Gabriel claims. But gentlemen, this is England! Brian replies disgusted. Betsy admonishes him not to be so bloody-shortsighted. Things have changed. He hasn’t kept in touch. Linda states that she is right. She’s been living among ordinary people. The hatred is growing.
Even so, Brian continues, why should he join with them? Why should the RCX have his facilities and his name behind their faction?
If he doesn’t know, it’s no good telling him, Gabriel replies. Michael adds that they are the revolution. They are the salvation of the land. They will give him a place of honor and purpose in the future. The people will unite behind him as a symbol of freedom and strength. Together they can breed a new era. What does he say? Gabriel asks. All freaks together, eh? They are the good guys, Michael urges him. He has no choice!
Brian refuses. He will not be manipulated, nor will he manipulate others. The free will of man is the only basic truth. They always have a choice!
Captain UK disagrees. Sometimes fire must be fought with fire. They have a chance to prevent persecution and suffering. Principles must be sacrificed. Betsy agrees.
While a very interested Jeeves eavesdrops, Michael calls Brian a pompous fool. In a pinch, they can do without him, but they must have his computer and fortifications. If he must, Michael threatens, he will use force to get them.
Force? Brian scoffs. With what? Michael orders Linda to tell him. Linda explains they got powerful mutant children in a van outside. They’d use children against him? Brian asks angrily.
That moment, there is an alert and they are informed by another agitated agent that somebody let the Cherubim out.
Gabriel explains they are a secret weapon they never meant to use. There is a storm wind outside. Gabriel looks outside, suggesting the Captain better take a look.
Brian orders Meggan and Jeeves to come inside the room. Jeeves explains Meggan left a short time ago, via the window. Getting into uniform, Brian tells him to take Emma and Alison into the basement.
The wind is courtesy of a tornado created by a group of the Cherubim. All the strange mutant children are about to attack. Brian admits to Betsy and Linda he might need some help with this.
Momentarily unconscious, Meggan wakes with her senses scorched by the memory of chaos unbound. What has she unleashed upon her friends… her family? She flies upward toward the tornado. With a final desperate deathwish, she hurls herself at the heart of the hurricane. It is as if the wind touches her… peels her skin from her as she sees the five strange children at the heart of the storm. She recalls a conversation with Alison.
Alison assures Meggan she is beautiful, like an iridescent butterfly. Meggan can’t believe that. Alison explains it’s her aura, her potential. She doesn’t need to appear as she does.
But she was born like this, Meggan protests. She’ll always look like this. Alison tries to explain that Meggan was like soft clay, molded by the fear and superstition of her people. They misunderstood her powers, her instinct to protect herself from the cold.
Meggan doesn’t understand. Perhaps not now, but when she does the caterpillar will become a butterfly, Alison promises.
Light energy dances through her, she is rainbow of colors. At last she understands, as she flies through and above the hurricane, she changes, becoming a breathtakingly beautiful young woman with pointed hair and hair like energy.