The Muir Island Research Facility, home to Britain’s premiere super team, Excalibur, off the coast of Northern Scotland. ‘Have at thee - you Siberian lummox!’ exclaims Kurt “Nightcrawler” Wagner to his best friend and teammate Piotr “Colossus” Rasputin as the duo engage in a sword fight. The handsome Colossus points out that his one sword may not be a match for Kurt’s three, but when he or his homeland are mocked, he will make up for in strength what he lacks in steel.
Nightcrawler tells Piotr that he is an immovable object as ever, before pointing out that if he is going to be become a dashing a swashbuckler as he, Excalibur’s fearless team leader, he will need to learn to be more adventurous in his technique. With that, Kurt begins multiple teleports, darting around the room, adding ‘Especially if your opponent is going to be more adventurous in his attack!’
Kurt reappears, and forces Colossus down onto some weights, holding his swords up to Piotr’s face. Colossus asks Kurt what happened to their “no powers” agreement, pointing out that teleporting during the match would seem a flagrant breach of those rules. ‘I know - I lied’ smiles Kurt, before telling Colossus that the only way for his fencing skills to improve is by challenging him to anticipate opponents move before he makes them, and adds that surely Colossus of all people know to expect the unexpected.
‘Funny that you mention it, tovarisch - but so should you!’ exclaims Piotr, turning into his steel form and telling Kurt that he should remember that underestimating your opponent and lowering your guard can be equally hazardous to your health! With that, Colossus uses his super strength to flick Nightcrawler to the floor. Kurt grins and tells Colossus that if he didn’t have to go and fix their “verdammt[es] Cerebro” he might just make a swordsman out of him yet. Colossus remarks that it seems like the old days at Xavier’s, to which Kurt jokes that Xavier’s Cerebro never broke down as much as theirs does, before bidding Colossus farewell and teleporting away.
Colossus returns to his normal form, and thinks to himself that once Kurt gets his upgraded mutant-detection system on-line, Excalibur will be able to seek out and teach fledgling mutants how to control their powers and how to coexist peacefully with fellow humans who hate fear mutants for the x-factor chromosome which gives them powers. Much like Professor Xavier taught them when they first became his students, when they became his X-Men. Colossus thinks back to his time with the X-Men, with Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Storm, Phoenix, Cyclops, Beast and Banshee, when suddenly, someone enters the room and tells Piotr to quit fooling himself, as it can never be like the “old days”.
Colossus turns and sees Amanda “Daytripper” Sefton standing in the doorway, Excalibur’s resident sorceress and his long time friend. Suitcases at her side, Amanda points out that in the old days she wouldn’t have left without saying a proper goodbye. Colossus asks the stylish Amanda why she is leaving, to which Amanda declares that she doesn’t belong here, and that things are not right between her and Kurt. Concerned about this, Colossus admits that he didn’t know, and asks how long it has been going on.
Amanda replies that it has been going on for a while now, and exclaims that she isn’t the same person she was when she first joined Excalibur. Amanda retracts what she just said, ‘I mean I don’t feel the same’, adding that it is about her and Kurt’s relationship, or about being “Daytripper” the sorceress - about a lot of things. She wishes that she had a good solid reason, but the truth is she doesn’t.
Amanda and Colossus hug as Amanda tells Piotr that this is something very personal and nothing she can share with anyone on the island. Colossus is surprised at this, and asks what about Kurt, as they have been together for so long. Amanda picks up her suitcase and declares ‘Especially Kurt’, before asking Colossus to give Kurt a kiss for her, and to tell him that this will all make sense - someday. With that, Daytripper vanishes in a burst of pink bubbles.
Meanwhile, at London’s Piccadilly Circus, the life of another Excalibur member is about to be altered - drastically. Captain Britain a.k.a. Brian Braddock holds onto his inured fiancée and fellow Excalibur member, Meggan, while the Dragons of the Crimson Dawn stand over him. A’yin tells Brian to rejoice as he gazes upon his glorious destiny, as Ra’al reveals that they have been through tedious centuries of anticipation, and Barak finishes, by boasting that the Dragons of the Crimson Dawn have returned to conquer their birth world once more. Brian tells the Dragons that he doesn’t care what they want with him, but that if they have hurt Meggan, then he will tear them all apart!
The Dragons leap at Brian, with the Albino Ra’al telling Brian that he makes a proud boast, before exclaiming that as they are free of their otherworldly prison, not only shall the ancient ways reign supreme over this realm, but it is he, Brian Braddock, who shall be the instrument of its destruction - then she spits some black liquid at him. Brian is knocked backwards, and realizes that the woman’s bile is some sort of corrosive acid, and if not for his supernatural resiliency as Captain Britain, he would have been burned to a crisp!
Brian remembers that Spiral warned him that the Dragon’s presence here meant that his family was in great danger - but how, and why? The gigantic Barak approaches Brian, pointing out that mystical energies course through Brian’s veins, that the very fiber of his being is power, and if what the Dragons suspect to be true, then Brian Braddock shall bleed magic! Looming over Brian, Barak claims that to know for certain whether Brian is the one who is to usher in the Crimson Dawn, he must make that blood flow!
Brian watches in gawking disbelief as and can scarcely twitch as he watches the demonic beast before him grow to twice its very size. Barak hefts his mystical scimitars high, and preparing to deliver a killing blow to Brian’s skull, twitch Captain Britain does indeed. Instead, the blades cleave over ten meters of solid concrete and a subterranean water main as if they were paper, soaking Barak in flowing water.
A’yin announces that he is shamed by Barak’s incompetence, causing Barak to growl and boasting that he is not yet finished with Braddock, and to rest assure that he will kill him. As Barak throws several shurikens at Brian, Ra’al points out that Braddock’s death holds no value for them, not just yet anyway. As Brian is smacked up against a wall, Barak declares that he shall simply maim him, for now.
Brian tells the Dragons to do their worst, as they will simply find out that he is more than match for them, while thinking to himself that he can taunt away all he wants, but he is still pinned to the wall by the shurikens, Meggan is still unconscious, and the living mountain is still charging like a runaway express train!
Barak gets closer to Brian, who is his first, last and only stop, meaning he has ten seconds to turn his handicap into a rather unconventional advantage. Standing over Brian with some kind of sword, Barak tells him that his soul belongs to them, and if he relinquishes it now, he will not suffer - as much. ‘How kind of you’ replies Brian sarcastically, while preparing himself for his maneuver, knowing that his timing must be perfect, and swimming himself upwards using the shurikens, Brian smacks Barak straight in the face, powerfully enough to force his helmet off and send him flailing back across the street.
‘One down, two to go’ Brian thinks to himself, but feeling that with Meggan incapacitated and Spiral’s questionable allegiance, the odds are clearly stacked in the Dragon’s favor. Brian thinks that something strange is going on, and is positive that the double-dealing Spiral knows the truth, only Spiral is no where in sight.
Ra’al tells A’yin that Braddock possesses a true warrior’s spirit, but points out that martial arts skills are not all they seek of him. A’yin takes to their air, telling Ra’al that he will make Braddock their’s. A’yin snags Brian easily, taking him high above the streets, A’yin points out that Brian obviously fails to comprehend the endless possibilities lying dormant inside him, and explains that the three of them saw the potential within themselves and seized it centuries ago, and now, with Braddock’s help, they are posed to be architects of the mystical renaissance they have toiled so long to build!
‘Sorry, sunshine, but I’m not particularly partial to “architecture”. Apocalyptic or otherwise’ replies Brian, to which A’yin says that it is terribly ironic that one such as unenlightened as Brian shall be the foundation upon which that apocalypse is built.
Back on Muir Island, Excalibur’s loner-member, Pete Wisdom, sits at a desk, thinking that he cannot remember the last time the island was this quiet, and after the ridiculous debacle with the M.L.F. he half-expected some other “Wannabe Brotherhood of Evil Mutants” knock-off to take pot-shots at Excalibur and Muir Island. He remarks that it is nice to see things do actually settle down every now and again, ‘Not like it’s gonna last…’
Pete’s computer suddenly lights up, announcing that he has mail. Wisdom reads the message out loud: ‘“To: Wisdom, Peter. From: User Unknown”, Now that’s annoying, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah - huh? “Peckham”?’ ‘No, not her, not now!’ Wisdom exclaims, when suddenly his computer shorts out with the arrival of his lover and teammate Kitty “Shadowcat” Pryde who phases into the room through the computer. ‘Hey hot stuff - what’s the haps?’ asks Kitty, lunging at Wisdom and causing him to fall backwards in his chair.
Pete informs Kitty that her phasing shorted out his PC and asks her if she can ever use the door. Before the couple hit the floor, Kitty uses her intangibility to enable them to float weightlessly to the ceiling, and after kissing Wisdom, Kitty tells him not to be such a grump, as she has fixed enough computers in her day, so his should be a cinch. Kitty then ask why she should waste time with doors when she can just become intangible, phase right into his arms and literally sweep him off his feet.
Kitty asks Pete if he is afraid of heights, to which Wisdom looks out of the corner of his eye, nervously to the ground, and tells his lover not to be daft, before asking her what happens if she loses her concentration, won’t they become solid? ‘What do you mean “we”?’ asks Kitty, as Wisdom falls to the floor with a loud thump. Kitty looks down at Wisdom as he gets to his feet, boasting that he is going to get her for this someday, to which Kitty exclaims that she is counting on it.
Wisdom just grunts, before lighting a cigarette and pointing out that Kitty is “awful chipper” today and asking her what the scam is. Kitty floats down to the floor and replies that there is no “scam”, before admitting that she was just thinking about how things are really starting to change around here since Kurt got all humanitarian, and how maybe change would be a good thing, not just for the team, but for the two of them as well. ‘Can you be a bit vaguer, please?’ Wisdom asks, before adding that he hopes she isn’t thinking about the “M” word.
‘Don’t flatter yourself, you silly sod’ Kitty replies, before motioning to Wisdom’s wardrobe, ‘I’m talking about this’ she remarks at the sight of his wardrobe full of the same suits. Kitty exclaims that even Moira, who has zero fashion sense, has a more diverse wardrobe than this. Wisdom slams the door to his wardrobe and asks Kitty if she wants him to wrap his bum in spandex, adding that he likes these suits. Kitty tells Wisdom that she likes his bum, and that just like in the old days, she is feeling particularly stylish for this time of year ‘And that spells T.R.O.U.B.L.E for the fashionable challenged!’ With that, Kitty slaps Wisdom on the butt and phases up through the ceiling.
Phasing into another room, Kitty thinks to herself that Pete has no idea what is in store for him, and spies Rahne “Wolfsbane” Sinclair, and Douglock, and supposes that they are talking about Moira again. Douglock suggests to Rahne that this isn’t the best time to disturb Moira, to which Moira’s foster daughter mutters that there is never a “good time” to disturb Moira, as all she ever does is work.
Rahne begins to remind Douglock that Moira is ill and needs rest, when Kitty approaches the, Kitty trying to offer Rahne some comfort by suggesting that Moira is too much of a type-A personality to rest until she has found a cure for the Legacy Virus that is killing mutants. Rahne is quick to reminds Kitty that the virus is killing Moira too - and she isn’t even a mutant. Shifting from a transitional-wolf form to her human form, Rahne admits that she feel so powerless, not being able to help Moira, before supposing that this trip away from Muir will help herself at least.
Kitty takes Wolfsbane’s hand and tells her that some time away will do her the world of good, and Douglock assures her that he will keep a close eye on Moira. Rahne thanks the Techno-Organic, saying that it really means a lot to her. ‘Hey, as you non-Techno-Organic types say…”No prob, dude!”’, remarks Douglock, while thinking to himself that Rahne’s concern for her mother is not unjustified, for behind closed doors, the good doctor has been noticeably preoccupied with her own mortality of late, and Douglock fears that Moira MacTaggert’s condition may soon take a turn for the worse!
Minutes later, after a hypersonic ride to Dublin, Ireland, Kitty and Rahne walk through a book market, and Rahne comments on how Douglock is such a nice laddie, and how it must be so hard for him to have all those human thoughts and feelings, but to have the look of a machine like he does, and she thinks that it is a sin for anyone to suffer like that, as he can never go out in public as himself, at least not without an image inducer.
A man selling newspapers suddenly shouts out ‘Get your daily editions here! Read all about it!: British government rethinks mutant policies after London Blaze! Parliament assumes hardline towards Excalibur!’ Kitty and Rahne look at each other nervously, and Kitty remarks that if Excalibur keeps getting that kind of bad P.R., none of them may be able to go out in public!
Shortly, Kitty and Rahne have arrived at a hair salon, and are getting their tresses washed. Rahne asks Kitty if she thinks that they will be asked to leave the country, to which Kitty asks her why she thinks they would do a thing like that. Rahne replies that things seem so different since Onslaught, what with people blaming the X-Men for the deaths of the Avengers and Fantastic Four, it feels like the water is rushing against the dam, and it is waiting to burst.
‘Or it could just be the water and shampoo in your hyper-sensitive ears’ suggests Kitty, before telling Rahne that she knows this is tough, but they should try to enjoy it. Rahne replies ‘I guess so’ before pointing out how often one could get a haircut from the Molly Fitzgerald - the most sought-after hairdresser in all of Europe?
A stylish woman with a broken leg, propped up by crutches approaches Rahne and Kitty, exclaiming with her thick Irish accent that there isn’t a single head of hair she couldn’t make into a work of art! With a quieter voice, Molly mutters that that was before the accident that shot her superhero career to high Heaven, before asking the girls ‘Who is ready to become a bonny goddess?’
Rahne and Kitty look at Molly rather nervously and Kitty asks Molly if she is sure this is a good idea, before Rahne asks Molly what happened to her. Molly admits that she wishes it was a long story, but her luck just seemed to run out when she slipped in the loo the other day. Taking a pair of scissors, she asks Kitty what is on the menu for her today. ’Change!’ smiles Kitty.
Back in London, the powerful Meggan finally wakes, ‘Ohhh…my aching head!’ with the last thing she remembers was being in the jewellery store with Brian, he was down on one knee with a gorgeous diamond ring - and they were to be wed. ‘Now I’m face down in a gutter and Brian is nowhere in sight’. Meggan notices the giant brute lying in a pile of rubbish next to her… ‘Ohhh…my aching head!’ Meggan holds her head in her hands, when suddenly, a strange barely-visible figure approaches her, trying to say something. Meggan turns and asks who is there - but there is no one. Slightly confused, Meggan thinks that was peculiar.
While Meggan gets her bearings on the ground, her beloved Brian battles for his life high in the air. A’yin admits that Brian fights well, but claims he will never defeat the Dragons of the Crimson Dawn. ‘Can’t blame a chap for trying, can you?’ replies Brian, to which A’yin informs Brian that he will never escape. Brian asks A’yin what he wants with him, pointing out that the Dragons are clearly all beings of power themselves, so how much power do they need?
‘As much as it takes to lose the tide of Crimson’ A’yin replies, before asking Brian to show him his strength and he releases some colored beam from his mouth, which engulfs Brian. Brian begins to stagger, but A’yin cannot sustain the link, and he releases Brian, screaming as he does, for the feedback is of a power far greater than his own.
As Brian pummels towards the ground, Meggan takes to the air and grabs hold of him. ‘Oh, darling - what are these beasts doing to you?’ she asks concerned. Wearily, Brian tells Meggan that she has to get away from here as soon as possible, to get back to Muir Island and rally Excalibur. Flying towards the ground, Meggan tells Brian that she is not leaving him to fight these nasty things alone, adding that as long as they are together, they can stop anyone!
Nearby, the six-armed Spiral thinks to herself that Meggan was not supposed to recover so quickly, as her presence could very well stem the tide in Braddock’s favor - which is something she cannot allow. Spiral supposes that she should make her escape, and begins to open a portal, but ‘Tsk, tsk, Time-Dancer’ exclaims Ra’al as she appears through the shadows, grabbing Spiral and telling her that she is not going anywhere.
Spiral demands to be released, pointing out that she has fulfilled her end of the bargain. A’yin agrees that Spiral made good on her promise to deliver them to the power they seek, but points out that she must complete her other obligation to show them the way to harness the power. Spiral agrees, before stating that this satisfies only half of the agreement - the Dragons still need to uphold their end.
A’yin tells Spiral to fear not, for as she wears the mark of the Crimson Dawn now, they are all eternally obliged and bound to one another. ‘You to me…myself to Barak…Barak to A’yin. And soon…we all to Brian Braddock!’ All the Dragons and Brian Braddock suddenly vanish, leaving Meggan once again perplexed.
Dropping down on the pavement, Meggan sees Spiral, and exclaims that she knows her, before asking her if she is in league with those creatures. ‘Me? With them? Of course not!’ boasts Spiral, before telling Meggan that she can help her liberate her love from those “creatures”, before pointing out that they are outnumbered and need assistance. Meggan suggests that they return to Muir Island, as Excalibur will help rescue Brian! With a wicked grin, Spiral remarks ‘Yes…Excalibur…’.