An impossibly huge state of the art complex. On a platform, surrounded by odd, futuristic machinery, stand two alien, yet human-like tall pointy-eared beings, dressed in a mix of flowing robes and metal armor. Both seem ageless, yet it be quickly comes clear that the male with the thin, freely flowing white hair is older than the woman with the impossibly long black ponytail. The man informs the woman that the complex about them sings with the power of a thousand suns and asks if the relics are in their appointed place. The charred and pitiful fragments that are all that remains of Captain Britain.
The woman points towards a globe of light containing a rag, a bone a hank of hair. Addressing the man as "father," she wonders if there is any chance of success. There is so very little of him left. Nothing is certain, her father replies. If they had been able to pluck him sooner from that dire alternate world and bring him here... he muses. If that world had not been in the grip of a reality-storm that thwarted even his abilities... "If," an empty word, he chides himself and orders his daughter to proceed.
The woman explains that she will commence with the skeleton and rebuild it from the existing shard of thigh bone. She complains again, wishing they had something more central to use as a base. If they could have salvaged the central spine...
If her father mocks gently while gazing into a pool of light. He admonishes her about complaining too much. She only has to recreate a human body, after all. His is the more arduous task. He must piece together the splinters of a dead personality. He must rebuild his mind, his dreams, his memory... his soul. In the pool images form, most prevalent that of a screaming Captain Britain.
The woman announces that the skeleton is coalescing from the bio-fog and marvels that it is stronger and larger than she thought. He must have been a very big man. Indeed, her father agrees. And a very complex man as humans go. Let us see just how complex, he states as his fingers touch the face of Captain Britain in the pool. Who was Brian Braddock? he asks as ripples form around his slender fingers.
(narration / scrying pool)
As a child, Brian was one of twins with his sister, Elizabeth, born to a family who were no longer quite wealthy enough... Too poor to associate with his aristocratic peers, too proud to seek the company of the lower classes, he was a lonely child. As he grew, the loneliness grew within him. Gifted with a grasp of the scientific and rational, he immersed himself in the study of physics. A cold and exact science. There was little room in his life for the warmth of friendship or the ambiguities of love. He satisfied his needs with shallow relationships that left his private inner self untouched. He was pursuing one of these relationships the night his parents died.
Fascinating, is it not? the man muses. How death and destiny conspired to drive him further into the lonely alienated void within himself. One would almost think that it had all been planned. His daughter shoots him a glare. Yes, one would, she agrees pointedly, before remarking that the skeleton is completed. Her father commends her before pointing out another interesting episode in the scrying pool.
(narration / scrying pool)
Shortly after his parents' death, Brian had used his holidays from Thames University to work at the Darkmoor Research station, a job that dulled the pain inside him. But destiny was not finished with him. One cold night, the complex was attacked by a man called Joshua Stragg, known as the Reaver. Perhaps Stragg was the agent of a higher power, who can say? It was certainly the threat he posed that sent Braddock fleeing out into the October darkness. Otherwise, he might not have stumbled across the group of standing stones at the heart of Darkmoor. He might not have seen the vision of Merlyn and the Lady of the Northern Skies. He might not have been urged by them to take up that mystic amulet that was to change his very existence.
He might have remained human, the young woman seriously remarks. Does her father ever think about that? About what his life might have been had it not been interfered with? He could have been happy. Does that not concern him?
No, her father replies curtly. He was needed and one human's happiness matters little compared to the fate of worlds. Has she completed the DNA structure? Yes, she stammers, as she focuses on a DNA helix on a small energy globe. It was difficult, as Captain Britain apparently was genetically altered during his stay on that parallel world. The bonding irregularities are different. Her father orders her to proceed as planned while he returns to the pool.
(narration / scrying pool)
It must have been a strange life for the newly created Captain Britain; a rational and coldly scientific creature suddenly transmuted by an amulet that was the product of magic. Because he still didnï¿½t believe in magic. He clung desperately to his rigid scientific logic, despite what he'd become.
For the next few years, he defined himself as a superhero, losing himself in mindless battles with foes who were the spawn of an amok technology such as Lord Hawk, the Red Skull and Slaymaster. He was trying to deny the power that had touched him, but to no avail, for there was a side of him that responded to those eldritch instincts. And at last that dark side of his personality asserted himself. He became entangled with vampires and children of the shadowlands.
Thus did science and sorcery struggle for supremacy within his tortured mind. The breakdown finally came in mid-flight over the Atlantic. Fleeing from forces of darkness that may or may not have been there, he jumped out of the plane, quite mad at that point.
Thus he came to be washed up on a beach in Cornwall, all the pain and conflict in his mind lost within the fog of amnesia. He didn't know who he was or what foes had driven him to that place. He only hoped they would finally leave him alone.
But that was not to be, was it, father? the woman asks as she marvels at the miracle of the human body before her, whose muscles and nervous system are forming.
Lovingly, her father tickles her chin, remarking that they are not very alike. Where she sees beauty, joy and pain he only sees necessity... and when he first became aware of the terrible threat that faced the omniverse, he saw the necessity of a champion to stand against it.
(narration / scrying pool)
ï¿½ but creating that champion, shaping a whole being whose soul stood on the borderlands of both science and supernature, that was the difficult part.
Difficult and slow. For two years, Brain Braddock existed as a hermit on the Cornish coastline, while his psyche settled into the required shape. Before he was called upon to fight alongside the champion known as the Black Knight in service of Merlyn. Braddock saw Merlyn as a fatherly old man, an image he responded to with all the dedication he felt he had denied his natural father.
It was his rational side that was suppressed during those adventures, as he fought trolls and ogres, demons and nightgaunts. In fighting, he died, his spirit drifting almost to the jaws of extinction before it was rescued by the all-wise being called Merlyn.
Captain Britain was taken to the realm called Otherworld, which he saw as a place of ancient towers and tranquil medieval splendour. Here, the two opposing halves of his warring soul were at last reconciled. He was at peace. But that was not the end of his duties. It was merely the end of his apprenticeship. Of course, he didn't know that. Before he could face the task for which he had been created, there was still one final test. He was returned to Earth...
... but not his Earth, the man recalls with gleaming eyes and a thin smile. His daughter touches the floating quiet body, which now has skin and is nearing completion. Could he not at least have been told what he was being prepared for? she asks her father. It seems like so much wanton cruelty. Not cruelty, my pale flower, her father corrects her sadly. Necessity. Should they succeed here, the greatest battle of Captain Britain's life is still before him. It is vital that he approaches it with an open mind. All that could be done was to give him hints of its nature and hope that he learns from them. That was why he was sent to the alternate world with only the brave and noble elf Jackdaw as his companion.
He touches the face of Jackdaw in the pool, regretting the elf's death. If only he had been able to save him without endangering the chances of saving Captain Britain... If...
(narration / scrying pool)
But Jackdaw was fated to perish on a world gone mad, albeit not before he had served his purpose by assisting the Captain against its strange inhabitants: The brutal Status Crew, the extra-dimensional meddler called Saturnyne. And the very heart of the horror: the reality-warping mutant known as Mad Jim Jaspers.
It took Captain Britain some time to realize that Jaspers was the cause of the lunacy he was experiencing. And when he finally did, he fled in terror straight into the arms of Jaspers' most deadly creation. It was called the Fury - wholly indestructible and entirely deadly. It had been designed by Jaspers to kill all superbeings, save himself. Captain Britain became its only remaining target. It hunted him down like a dog, waited until his morale and strength were at their lowest ebb and thenï¿½ it killed him.
And there they have it, the man announces; the short and fascinating life of Captain Britain... the jigsaw pieces of his mind locked together in order once more. He only prays it is the correct order. That he is not made forever insane by his experiences, for all their sakes.
His daughter announces that his body is complete as well, as the costume is being recreated. As per his requirements, the power now lies within the man, with the costume merely acting as amplifier. His forcefield has been limited and his perceptions enhanced. He is ready.
The man reaches into the pool with both hands, bringing forth a glowing globe which he holds over his head, Brianï¿½s spirit, his soul. With the cry let there be life! he pushes it into Captain Britain's chest...
and Captain Britain begins to fall through darkness.
He was in a graveyard; he was in despair. Death took him from behind, a searing bolt of blistering flame. He didnï¿½t have time to scream. He screams now. The scream begins on a plane beyond space, beyond life and death. The scream ends...
... on Darkmoor, September the 8th, 1982.
A satchel beside him, Captain Britain crouches in the grass, surrounded by a circle of runestones he recognizes. Darkmoor. He is alive and he is on Darkmoor, he repeats like a mantra. Getting up, he remembers. The graveyard, pleading for Merlyn to save him from that nightmare world... then the sudden flash and hideous pain. It must have been Merlyn. He must have heard him and transported him home. He sinks against one of the stones, sobbing in relief. Thank god, oh thank God, he babbles. Home!
Elsewhere, the two beings watch him in the scrying pool. The woman shakes her fists at her father. He is grateful, she shouts. He thinks her father saved him! After all he's done to Captain Britain, he is grateful! Why couldnï¿½t you show yourself to him, Merlyn? Why couldn't you explain?
Show myself, Roma? her father asks, amused as he points at himself. His shape shifts and before her stands the threatening shape of black-bearded Merlin the Mad in his dark starry robes. But which self?
Another change to white-bearded wise Merlin, Captain Britain's mentor. This one?
Another change to an alien insect like being. Or this? A pointy-eared, elderly Ming the Merciless look-alike rubs his hands. He wouldn't have known me.
Back to Merlyn again, his face obscured by shadows. And in the end, that is for the best.
With those cynical words, he strides off, leaving Roma to stare into the pool. A tear falls from her eyes into the pool, as she sees a happy Captain Britain, carrying the satchel, moving out of the stone circle. Poor thing, she laments. Poor, doomed thing...