Fifty kilometers outside of London, England. Ever since the advent of what British press so ironically dubbed the “Super Hero Invasion”, sights such as this supersonic hover car have become common-plane to the citizens of the Queen’s realm. So common in fact, that even a back-woodsman such as Nigel MacWhirter who sits along the roadside, might recognize the markings of the red hovercraft belonging to Britain’s premiere super group…Excalibur!
Though accustomed to their numerous appearances on the “telly” and in the tabloids, public opinion about this particular group of heroes, comprised predominantly of mutants - people born with uncanny abilities that set them apart from their fellow humans - has changed significantly since the loss of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four during the Onslaught debacle in the United States. Compounded with the tragic loss of a huge portion of London’s populace a few weeks ago, a situation for which the media has been none too forgiving of Excalibur - one might say that the heroes’ stock has dropped significantly in the eyes of the people.
As the hover car changes form and lands on the road just in front of MacWhirter, before speeding past him, the old man mumbles that he should have taken his cousin Angus’ advice and moved back to Scotland, away from all the silly “costumed sods” - ‘Especially those no-good mutants!”
Inside the hover craft are two of Excalibur’s founding members, Brian Braddock otherwise known as Captain Britain, and his companion, the lovely Meggan. Driving the vehicle is Meggan, who tells Brian that his new invention handles like a dream. Thrown back a little in his seat, the handsome Brian thanks Meggan, before explaining that it is just a prototype and is not ready to handle this kind of punishment yet. Brian sees that Meggan is driving at 280 kilometers an hour and asks her if she has to be so brutal to his baby.
Meggan replies that if anything happens to this car she is sure Brian will be able to home in on the problem and fix it in a jiffy, telling him that he is always such a whiz with his techno-toys. As the car literally soars down the road, Meggan exclaims that she is so excited, for today is going to be the happiest day of their lives.
Meanwhile, at Muir Island, a tiny landmass off the coast of Scotland, located here is the world’s foremost facility for genetic research, owned by renowned scientist Moira MacTaggert, and home to the men and women of Excalibur. In one of the laboratories, Russian mutant Piotr Rasputin a.k.a. the steel-skinned Colossus greets holds up a large piece of equipment and greets his former girlfriend, Kitty “Shadowcat” Pryde as she phases up through the floor and into the room. Colossus remarks that this is Kurt’s latest bright idea, before Kitty points out that the thing he is carrying must weigh a ton.
Colossus reveals that it weighs 35 tons, before asking who else on the island is strong enough to hold it steady while Nightcrawler and Wolfsbane make the necessary calibrations. Kitty asks what these “calibrations” are for, to which Kurt “Nightcrawler” Wagner, Excalibur’s leader, who is currently hanging upside down on the large equipment, informs Kitty that this is their very own Cerebro unit and explains that as team leader, he has decided now is the time for Excalibur to take a more active role in the future of mutant kind, muttering that it will be a huge coop if he ever gets the thing on line.
‘Keep at it, Kurt, ye’ll lick this techno-beastie yet!’ Rahne “Wolfsbane” Sinclair encourages with her thick Scottish accent. Colossus tells Rahne that he wishes he could share her optimism, but that they have been at this since dawn and have still had no luck. ‘Clearly, our little German Tovarish is no Forge!’ Kurt tells Colossus to keep up the jokes, and he will be holding this device till the coming dawn.
Kitty tells Kurt that this is all very industrious of him, but asks him how he expects it to function, as you need a psi, and none of Excalibur are telepaths. ‘Yer not bleeding kidding!’ declares Excalibur’s sullen Pete Wisdom as he enters the lab, muttering that a bloke needs a mind-reader to keep up with X-Men, and asks his lover, Kitty, where she has been, reminding her that she was supposed to meet him at the pub half an hour ago, ‘My little Yankee strumpet!’
Kitty tells Wisdom to do her a favor, to never let anyone tell him how to sweet-talk a lady. Wisdom tells Kitty to quit flapping her luscious lips and come over and give him a peck. Kitty phases up to Wisdom, and phasing through him she jokes ‘Walk much, Casanova?’ before causing him to trip up one the many wires and cords beneath his feet. Sitting on the ground, Pete tells Kitty it is a good thing he has already won her heart, because he sure as sod wouldn’t waste his time trying to sweep a girl who can become intangible off her feet.
After finishing his rant, Wisdom asks what all this talk of a “Cerebro” is, so Kurt teleports down to the ground, explaining that in not so many words, Cerebro is a lifesaver. Wolfsbane leaps down too, informing Wisdom that Cerebro is a cybernetic device that can recognize a mutants genetic signature, and help pinpoint their location as far as half-a-world away. Colossus simplifies Rahne’s explanation, ‘It’s a technological “bloodhound”’. Wisdom lights a cigarette and says that he thought this was their colonial cousin’s gig, asking since when Excalibur decided to play “mutant messiah” and lead all the wayward mutants to the “promised land”.
Colossus states that it was Professor Xavier’s dream, when he asked them to leave their lives behind and become his X-Men, as he wanted to teach that being born a mutant need not be a curse, that having powers which set you apart from others can give you an advantage that perhaps your neighbor lacks, and a chance to make a difference, for one’s friends, family, or for the world. Colossus is alluding to the time his powers manifested, when he ran in front of a tractor to save his young sister, Illyana, and his body transformed into inorganic steel to protect himself, and how Xavier convinced him to leave his homeland, that his powers were needed for the whole world.
Kitty exclaims that she remembers when her mutant powers first kicked in, as she kept getting really nasty headaches. At times when the pain got so sever, she would pass out upstairs in her bedroom and wake up half an hour later - downstairs! Kitty explains that she was totally scared and had no idea what was wrong with her - until Professor Xavier came and told her she was a mutant. ‘Talk about a buzz kill, huh?’ She recalls that it was at first, but while Xavier taught Kitty how to control her phasing powers, she realized that being gifted, being different, was totally rad and nothing to be scared of!
Wolfsbane remarks that it was not so easy for her to get used to the face that she was a mutant, for it took her lots of practice and discipline to learn how to control her ability to morph from a human girl, to a lycanthrope, to a bloodthirsty wolf! Rahne reveals that she was a little girl when Moira MacTaggert took care of her, while her…Rahne cannot bring herself to say “dad”, the dishonorable Reverend Craig, had convinced the entire town, herself included, that she was the spawn of Satan himself! Rahne adds that it was not until she came to America, to the School for Gifted Youngsters in Salem Center, to study with Professor Xavier and her friends in the New Mutants, that she realized how much of a lie that was.
Nightcrawler speaks up, informing Wisdom that like Rahne, he too suffered society’s blind bigotry, yet unlike Rahne, he was unable to hid his appearance in a “transitional” form, all eyes that beheld him saw only one thing - a demon to be destroyed at all costs. Attacked by a mob, the shouted things at him like he will burn in the fires of hell, that Satan shall claim his soul forever more/ With a stake, they were ready to strike it into Kurt’s heart, and in the very moment Kurt thought they would make good on their threats, Professor Xavier defied his own conscience and broke his most sacred personal oath by using his telepathic powers to assume control of the howling mob, preventing Kurt from being slain, and giving Kurt the most precious gift of all, a chance at life, and for this, he shall eternally remain in the debt.
Nightcrawler declares that when Xavier was taken into custody by the U.S government, he decided to continue the search for young mutants requiring training in the use of their powers, mutants like themselves, who once needed guidance, or at the very least, ‘a helping hand’ suggests Wisdom, before asking if the four of them are about to ask him to join them on this cockamamie crusade, just because old “cue ball Charlie” once pulled their fats out of the fire. Kurt remarks that it needs doing. ‘Codswallop’ mumbles Wisdom, cigarette smoke billowing out of his nostrils.
Back in London, at Picadilly Circus, Londoners begin pointing out the young couple, recognizing them as Captain Britain and Meggan, who are treading closer to what may be the most important hour of their lives. Unfortunately for Brian and Meggan, the mood in this city-under-reconstruction is not as jovial as their own. Things haven’t been the same in old London Towne, especially for Brian Braddock. ‘Ought to be locked up for what they did, those two!” one man mutters, to which another agrees, exclaiming that he doesn’t care what the Queen said, before telling Brian and Meggan that they have got some nerve showing their faces in public, especially after what went down in the United States with that “plonker” Onslaught.
‘Killed all the real heroes, he did!’ shouts another. This causes Brian to turn towards them, ready to fight them, ‘Why, you tattooed - ‘ he begins, until Meggan pulls him away, pointing out that it is only a boy. Brian and Meggan walk away, with the goon shouting ‘Ya ask me, the government oughtta gas the lotta ya freaks!’ behind them. Meggan tells Brian that they shouldn’t let anyone ruin their special day - for her sake. ‘Fine’ mutters Brian.
Soon, Brian and Meggan are seated at a posh café. Brian sits unmoving, while Meggan starts chatting away non-stop, telling Brian that the last time she spoke to his sister, Betsy, she informed her of what a sensation coffee has become in the States these days, and jokes that it is too bad Moira doesn’t seem to grasp the concept of a “good cup of Joe”, before asking Brian how Betsy is these days, adding that she has heard word that her recent near-death experience has had some rather interesting changes on her, and suggests that the pay her a visit, as a trip to the United States might make for a lovely honeymoon!
‘Wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more…hullo! Earth to Brian, come in Brian! Oh, by the by - did I ever tell you that I was really Onslaught?’ Meggan exclaims, trying to get Brian’s attention. ‘What more do they expect of us?!’ exclaims Brian, declaring ‘We put our lived on the line for them every bloody day - some of us dying so that they can sleep safe in the knowledge that their lived won’t be too disturbed the inconvenience!’ Brian exclaims that he is sick of it, and ever since he has returned from the Timestream the only thing he has wanted to do is to go back to being Brian Braddock: Scientists, and from now on, that it is exactly who he is going to be!
Brian gets up and starts to walk off. Meggan finishes her drink and calls to the waiter for their check, before following Brian. She thinks to herself that in all the days she has known him, she has never seen this strapping man - the symbol of a nation’s hope - so vulnerable. So much so, it seems, that the sight of him hurts Meggan to her core.
Meggan finds Brian sitting by a large fountain. Brian says to Meggan that he knows she wanted this day to be perfect, and now it looks like he has gone and made a complete mess of it, muttering that it seems to be par for the course for Captain Britain these days. Meggan tells Brian not to be ‘such a silly’ and hugging him, she exclaims that he could never ruin her day, for just being with him each and every moment makes her day and her week, her month and her year for that matter. ‘I hate seeing you like this’ she says, to which Brian smiles, and looks Meggan in the eyes, telling her that is why he loves her. The couple stand up and kiss, with Meggan telling Brian that she loves him too, eternally.
Back on Muir Island, the techno-organic known as Douglock enters one of world famous Doctor Moira MacTaggert’s labs and points out that she has been down here for days, asking her if she doesn’t think it is time she rested. Moira replies that it isn’t, for there is too much work to be done. Douglock offers to attend to it, as his techno-organic body doesn’t require sleep, while Moira’s organic body does. Moira takes off her glasses and rubs the bridge of her nose, admitting that she wishes she could, but that ever since discovering that the genetic similarity between Cable and Nate Grey, she has not been able to let go of the idea that what is going on here is more than just a coincidence.
Moira’s computer suddenly informs her that she has received mail, and sliding across the lab floor on her chair, Moira wonders if it could be from Charles. ‘Poor Dr. MacTaggert’ Douglock thinks to himself, deciding that she continues to “glitch” because of the severed connection to her former love. Opening the message, Moira is surprised to see that it is from Excalibur’s good friend Alistaire Stuart, and reads it out loud:
Thanks so much for all the fine hospitality, looking forward to popping by for a visit someday - but for now it’s off to Japan to get Rory fitted for a prosthesis and considering how crotchety he’s been ever since the accident, this comes none too soon! Regards to the gang! Always, Alistaire.
Moira remarks that Alistaire is such a nice lad, before Douglock wonders how Dr. Rory Campbell is holding up, after all, the loss of his leg really hit him hard. Douglock states that such a malfunction is bound to have seriously traumatic effects on an individual, before turning Moira’s attention back to her work, pointing to something about the helixes that he does not understand and asking Moira if they are exactly the same, what new data does she hope to glean?
Douglock begins to tell Moira what her obsessive behavior is going to exacerbate, but as she slides back over to her work station, Moira tells Douglock that she has to do this, there is no two ways about it. Moira explains that the cure for the Legacy Virus may be locked away somewhere inside these genetic codes, and while she may end up killing herself hunting the key to that lock, if that is the price to pay so that no one else need ever fear this parasite again, whether human or mutant, then so be it!
Back in London, this time in the “Diamond District” Meggan is pressed up to a cabinet which holds a ring with a massive diamond, ‘Brian - it…is…sooooo gorgeous!’ ‘Cash or Charge?’ asks the jeweller. As Brian places the ring on Meggan’s finger, she exclaims that she doesn’t know what to say. Brian tells Meggan not to say anything, to just listen to him and know that from this moment on, they shall be together forever - ‘That is, if you will have me for your loving husband…?’ A gushing Meggan is about to reply - when she senses something wrong, and informs Brian that she can feel an enormous electromagnetic wave of otherworldly energy building up outside the shop, and nothing can contain it - suddenly Meggan screams as she is propelled through the front window of the shop, shattering glass everywhere and landing in the middle of a busy road, causing cars to brake, just in time.
Brian calls to Meggan, before rushing to her side, telling an angry motorist to back off, as she needs air. He tells Meggan that everything is going to be fine, while wondering why this is happening, and of all times, why now. Suddenly, a voice declares ‘She is the least of your concerns right now, Braddock!’ Brian looks up to the now pink sky and upon seeing the six-armed time-witch dropping to the ground, he shouts ‘Spiral! What have you done to Meggan?’ Brian leaps up to Spiral and demands to know what has happened to Meggan, and swearing upon his father’s soul, he tells Spiral that she will wish she never danced her way back into this world.
Shoved up against a building, Spiral tells Brian to hold, revealing that she is not responsible for his lady love’s condition. A slightly frightened Spiral asks Brian if he doesn’t recognize the markings on her face, ‘This is the brand of the Crimson Dawn!’ Spiral warns Brian that his family is in danger, that they will come and stop at nothing until the power is theirs. Brian tells Spiral that he has had enough of her dissembling and wants to know who “they” are. Spiral points to the sky, where a rip in the fabric of space-time opens, and she informs Brian that “they” are his executioners!
Three beings emerge from the rip, ‘Our sleep of ages is over at last!’ the large multi-limbed one remarks, while the green-skinned one boasts that since they are now free from their otherworldly prison, this mortal coil is once more theirs for the taking. The scantily-clad woman declares ‘The Dragons of the Crimson Dawn have returned!’