Rachel Summers AKA Phoenix and Kitty Pryde AKA Shadowcat, soar along the Thames River crossing over the heart of London on their way back to their lighthouse home. Rachel is in full Phoenix mode, complete with facial tattoos, and Kitty is carrying a mysterious bundle. The people of the city look up as they pass overhead. Among them, one Nigel Frobisher, a merchant banker, who has had run-ins with Rachel on two prior occasions, is stirred to the soul of his extremely shallow being. He gazes up at the superheroes and it could almost be said that he is in love.
Just then, Big Ben, London’s famous clock tower, bongs the nine o’clock hour. Nigel is startled out of his romantic feelings and back into reality. He rushes towards a building, shoving people out of the way and making no apologies for his behavior. As he rushes to catch a closing elevator he knocks a woman down as he thinks in his panic, “She said—I was to be – in her office – at the stroke of nine.” The clock continues to chime as the elevator doors close before he can reach them.
Since no other elevators are available, he rushes to the stairs, knocking down at least three people on his way. They yell after him, but he doesn’t notice because the clock is chiming six and he’s exerting himself to reach the executive floor on time. As he falls flat on his face on a landing he’s grateful that Fraser’s Bank is such a small building. He gets up again and continues climbing, exhausted, berating himself all the while for playing that stupid card game at London’s Hellfire Club. He had a king, but his opponent, his boss, pulled an ace.
Hoping his heart won’t explode, Nigel rushes through the door. He’s been counting the chimes and thinks that he just made it. As the clock strikes nine he collides with a tall woman with short red hair whose white business suit is emblazoned with a strange dagger-like symbol. The impact knocks him to the floor.
The receptionist, who really doesn’t like Nigel, comments from her desk that he is uncharacteristically punctual this morning. She introduces Brigitte, the red-haired woman who is still standing. The woman helps Nigel up and he, wheezing, shoves her away. The receptionist warns Nigel to be nice as Brigitte is security and he really doesn’t want to make her angry. Snidely, she asks Nigel if he’s been clubbing and wenching the weekend away. He replies, as he tucks in his shirt and makes his suit look more presentable, that he’s been walking mostly and hasn’t been home. The receptionist then tells him she’s sure that Ms. Ross will understand and tells him to go right in as he is expected.
Nigel walks into Ms. Ross’s office, hesitant and coughing. Courtney, who is really the villain Sat-yr-9 impersonating Courtney, spins around in her chair, away from the plate glass window she was just looking out of. She informs Nigel that he was to be in her office at nine, looking incensed, she shouts, “You’re late!”
At that very moment, roughly, at Excalibur’s lighthouse on England’s west coast, Phoenix and Shadowcat arrive and survey the damaged roof from a bird’s eye view. As she looks down at the extensive hole, Rachel wonders aloud if she really did that. Kitty says Rachel probably had more important things on her mind than using the door. Rachel apologizes and comments that this should teach her to react without thinking. Kitty replies that something sure better because it was allowing her power to overwhelm her that got the original Phoenix in trouble.
Rachel wants to know why Kitty is being so crabby, she said she was sorry. Kitty, reminds Rachel how when she made her impulsive and sudden departure from the lighthouse a few nights ago she simultaneously, and subconsciously, used her telekinetic power to rearrange the molecules of Kitty’s clothing and dress her up like a baby. Glancing to her right, she’s horrified to find that Rachel, unable to resist the strength of the memory in Kitty’s thoughts, has manifested an image of Kitty in the air between them, lying in a large bassinet, cuddling Lockheed and looking very unhappy. Kitty, who lost her favorite Aran cardigan when it was transformed into a yellow infant’s dress, pink bonnet and safety-pinned diaper, is not amused. She comments, “Some big joke, right!” Rachel insists that the state she left Kitty in that night was an accident.
Kitty relates how Cap especially couldn’t contain himself when the rest of Excalibur found her. “Some friends, they all thought it was so funny.” Rachel says that she hates to say it, but she can see why. As the two finally land on the lighthouse’s stone base Kitty remarks how they wouldn’t be so darn smug if it happened to them. “Now there’s a thought,” Rachel agrees. Kitty giggles as she considers this and suggests that Captain Britain would make an especially satisfying victim. “If only we dared--!” Rachel says she’s game and apologizes again for picking Kitty’s brain, she really didn’t mean to and Kitty’s right, sometimes her control isn’t what it should be.
Rachel, who has lost her facial tattoos along with the Phoenix flare turns to look at her friend, “--Kitty, you’re pale as ice.” Kitty, with narrowed eyes, is looking at something in front of them. “Look there,” she tells Rachel in a low voice. “By the front door.”
In Excalibur’s absence, an ebony stone has been placed just outside the lighthouse. Embedded in it half-way is a sword. “Illyana’s Soulsword,” Kitty announces. She recognizes it as it has come to her twice before, when her old roommate Illyana, a mutant and a sorceress, was stripped of her magic. She’s surprised that the sword is real. She thought that it was part of Inferno and that everything that had happened there had been put right in the end. Kitty explains that the sword is a physicalized essence of Illyana’s arcane might and that the magic brought her old friend nothing but grief. Rachel asks her what she’s planning on doing about it. Kitty doesn’t want any part of it, she says she’d love to get rid of it, but if she touches it…
Phoenix tells Shadowcat to say no more as she flares up, gripping the sword telekinetically in the raptor shaped beak. She says that Kitty is her roommate now and she hopes, her friend. The Phoenix power flares brighter and higher around her as she strains at the sword, saying, “—and pals… look out… for… each… other!” Not even the power of the Phoenix can remove the sword from the stone.
“So much for that idea,” Rachel comments as she relaxes her efforts and the Phoenix flare disappears. She says that by rights she should have torn the whole rock out of the seabed. Kitty, whose sleeve is torn and who is still carrying the mysterious bundle, tells her to forget it. The blasted thing probably won’t budge for anyone but her. She airwalks up to a point near the upper floors of the lighthouse, saying as she goes, “And as far as I’m concerned…there it can stay! Forever!” Shadowcat disappears inside through the wall.
Still in the Phoenix voice, Rachel, who doesn’t think that it’s sensible for Kitty to ignore the sword, tells her roommate, “The sword came to you for a reason, kiddo.” She’s interrupted by a scream from Kitty. As she flies to the rescue her Phoenix tattoos and flare return and she thinks that Kitty’s thoughts and emotions are as ‘wild-- fierce and hot and out of control, as the heart of a newborn star.’
Phoenix enters the ruined windowed level of the lighthouse and alights onto the debris strewn floor. “Lockheed!” she shouts as she sees Kitty kneeling on the floor with the small purple beastie lying limp in her arms. “It was the Nazis who did this, Ray, I know it—“ Kitty declares. She hopes that all of them rot for what they’ve done to her poor little dragon.
Meanwhile, back at the Fraser Bank in London, Courtney stands up from her desk as she reminds Nigel of the terms of their previous wager. He owes her a million pounds. Nigel asserts that she can’t hold him to that. Courtney informs him that the bet was taken freely in front of many witnesses. Even if she can’t force him to pay, his reputation will be ruined if it gets out that he reneged on his word. And most importantly, his ambitions of becoming a major international banker will be finished.
Nigel hangs his head as he admits in a small voice that he can’t pay the sum. Courtney tells him that this should teach him to play outside of his league and suggests they come to some other arrangement. She tells Nigel that he has other talents. If he would agree to put those talents to her use, she’ll guarantee him the world he desires. She ruffles his hair and he smiles as she promises wealth beyond even his wildest dreams, power, responsibility, and social position.
Jokingly, Nigel wonders aloud who he has to kill to get all that. Courtney tells him not to make rash promises as they’ve gotten him in trouble before. She tells him that if he’s going to serve her he’ll have to make some changes. She wants him to stop wearing brown and to adopt a more assertive style. Nigel seems to be going along with all of this as Courtney adjusts his hair with a sweeping motion from one hand while with the other she reaches up to his ear.
Jumping back with an exclamation of pain, Nigel wants to know what Courtney just did to him. He touches a small pendent that is now piercing his left ear. It’s dagger shaped, the same symbol as the security guard just outside was wearing. Addressing him as pet, Courtney coolly tells Nigel that this is so that he’ll always remember who he belongs to. She warns him not to try and remove the earring as the consequences would prove most unpleasant.
Now that Courtney feels they have an understanding, she lifts a file folder from her desk and tells Nigel that she has an assignment for him. She wants him to go to a certain given location, find the people who are pictured in the dossier that she is giving to him, and engage their services at a price they can’t refuse. Nigel reacts to her calling them “people” as they all appear to be aliens. Courtney explains they are the Technet, intergalactic bounty hunters led by one Gatecrasher. From the ominous shadows, again seated behind her desk, Courtney tells Nigel that she is counting on him, so he’d better not fail.
A few days later, it’s pouring rain at the Excalibur lighthouse and the waves are crashing up against the rocks alongside. Rachel opens up the front door and is surprised to see a sopping wet Professor Alistaire Stuart. Alistaire, in words that conceal his admiring thoughts of Rachel, comments that it’s a lovely evening for a stroll. He claims he was in the neighborhood, saw their light, and thought that he’d nip over for a cuppa. Rachel invites him in before he catches his death and telekinetically evaporates the rainwater so that he doesn’t drip all over the lighthouse. Alistaire finds Rachel’s powers to be a ‘neat trick’ and comments how fun, handy, and ticklish they are as he flirts with her.
Professor Stuart asks Rachel to call him Alistaire and requests to call her Rachel rather than Ray. She tells him to suit himself and leads him upstairs to the living area where Kitty is. The windows have all been repaired, the furniture has all been put back in place and there is a fire going. In the center of the room there is a large circular hole and Rachel explains to Alistaire that even for the super-powered, it can take awhile to put this much damage right.
Kitty is less than pleased that Professor Stuart has shown up at the lighthouse without warning. She’s wearing a pink robe and is spoon-feeding Lockheed who is lying in her lap. She thinks that she looks terrible compared to Ray - who is God’s gift, as usual. Aloud she comments that they always seem to wreck where they live a lot more effectively than the bad-guys do. Alistaire says that they should just consider themselves the living embodiments of chaos theory. Kitty counters, “Fractaling our way to fun and glory, huh?” And not to be left out, Rachel adds, “Mandlebrot set, game and match?”
Alistaire asks Kitty if her dragon is ill. Angrily, Kitty informs him that her Nazi doppleganger knocked him for a loop. She then demands to know how the negotiations are going and is displeased when Alistaire confirms that they are going to let the Nazi’s go. Alistaire says that it’s a fair exchange as it’s the only way to get their own people back from the Nazi’s dimension.
Kitty is upset. She says she just loves how everybody just rolls over and trusts those Nazi creeps, even though they are Nazis. She asks what is to stop them from bringing over a conquering army and picking up where Hitler left off. Alistaire says that his sister (the Brigadier) and their Nightcrawler made the same point. But, evidently, the spell needed to travel between worlds takes an enormous amount of power and while it’s feasible to transfer people in small numbers, the same isn’t true for machines.
Throughout this conversation, Lockheed is unhappily surprised to find that Kitty’s attention has been diverted from him. He groans and places a small purple paw on Kitty’s wrist, but it doesn’t help. As Kitty exclaims that the Nazi’s have to be lying because it was two trains that were switched, Lockheed snorts in frustration. Kitty stands up suddenly and with a yeep! Lockheed flies off her lap. Alistaire says that they don’t believe that the Nazi’s are lying, in fact they seem as disconcerted as everyone else and what’s more, they’re worried about an invasion from Excalibur’s world. Kitty says that would serve them right then she stops as she suddenly makes a mental connection. Excitedly, she reminds Alistaire of the portal they saw in the Tower of London and the little robot head they found.
“Precisely!” Alistaire says as he drops the little metal robot head on the table. Referring to the device as a ‘wee perisher’ he says that it has thus far proved impervious to everything they’ve used to break the casing so far. They have no idea what makes him tick. Kitty offers to phase inside. Alistaire thinks that isn’t a good plan since Kitty has a tendency to disrupt electronic circuits, as she demonstrated before with the portal, and might inadvertently destroy what they are looking for. Lockheed humphs nearby, unhappy at being ignored.
Rachel offers to try and open it telekinetically, and Alistaire says they’ll keep that in mind as a last resort. Kitty thinks to Ray, have a heart, as she saw Alistaire first. This whole situation reminds her of Illyana and she wonders what her roommates have that she doesn’t. Then she thinks, “Be real, doofus. Look in a mirror.” Walking past Alistaire, Lockheed perched her shoulder, Kitty thinks hostile thoughts his way as aloud she pleasantly comments that it was probably a long ride from London.
Alistaire agrees that it was, especially the hike from the cliff road. Kitty thinks to herself that if Alistaire catches pneumonia than maybe she can nurse him back to health! Rachel helpfully speaks up, noting as they all head downstairs, that Kitty makes a killer chicken soup. Kitty says it’s her Aunt Nina’s recipe and some is already on the stove. Alistaire says that sounds delightful and asks her to lead the way. Behind them, unseen, the little robot head opens his eyes with ping and a flash of light.
At the headquarters of the Weird Happenings Organization, based at the Tower of London, the figure of Brigadier Alysande Stuart, W.H.O’s commander, stretches as she enters a small bedroom with a blazing fire. She tosses her cap aside as she announces aloud how she is looking forward to a bath and bed.
Suddenly there is a flash of brimstone and a crouching shadow appears on the wall. As she realizes she’s no longer alone in the room the Brigadier tries to draw her gun, but the intruder, the Nazi version of Nightcrawler, snatches it from her with his tail and knocks her back onto the bed. He tells her to fight by all means because the stronger the struggle the sweeter the surrender.
Just when he thinks he has her restrained, the woman begins to shape-shift. Perceptively, Nazi-Nightcrawler says, “You aren’t the Brigadier!” Meggan grabs her attacker and hurls him towards the wall. She tells him that he is nothing like their true Nightcrawler who is a gentleman. Meggan is understandably upset and hurls her attacker with much more force than is necessary.
The split-second before he smashes against the wall, however, Nazi-Nightcrawler teleports, and upon materializing outside, collides with a surface only slightly less unyielding – Captain Britain. A tall and muscular Meggan tears off the chamber door as she shouts for that ‘arrogant little –‘ to come back here. Brian, who’s picked up a new black uniform since his last battle, tells her not worry as he has the wretch by the neck. Meggan thinks that’s a pity, she wanted a piece of him.
Brigadier Stuart congratulates the real Nightcrawler on his assessment of his doppelganger’s character. Apparently, he was able to anticipate the other man’s actions. Nightcrawler tells her that he wishes he had been wrong. He thinks to himself that this is a cruel and twisted version of the kind of light-hearted, swashbuckling stunt that he himself might have tried.
The Brigadier next turns to the rest of Lightning Force who are standing in the hall under armed guard. She tells Reichminister Mactaggert that if this is the kind of behavior they can expect from them then maybe they would prefer to stay in a maximum security prison. Alysande is informed that the Nazi Nightcrawler was acting without authorization and this kind of incident will not happen again. The Brigidier warns that if it does, it’s the Reichminister who will be held responsible. The Reichminister tells Nazi-Callisto to chastise the culprit severely. Hauptemann Englande proves that he did know what his teammate was up to, as he says in an aside to his girlfriend, that he knew he’d be caught, the fool.
Meggan is still riled up as she shrinks to a height that fits neatly just to Brian’s shoulder. Captain Britain comments that it’s a nice change to be turning the tables on the villains for once. Nightcrawler still questions whether the Nazis can be believed. Alysande is equally skeptical about trusting them. She says the quicker they are rid of them, the better.
The next day, back at the lighthouse, Rachel and Alistaire are having a nice early morning walk. Kitty peeks out intangibly through the outer wall as Alistaire asks about the sword. She thinks, “Thanks, Ray,” as she falls back on the bed, “Tell him all my secrets, why don’t’cha?!” In a negative mood, Kitty complains to Lockheed that considering the way his eyes pop out of his head every time he sees Rachel, it probably won’t matter what her roomie says to Alistaire about her, he won’t hear a word anyway. Behind Kitty there’s a Cat’s Laughing and a Katherine Hepburn poster on the wall and clothes scattered on the bed and floor.
Kitty gets up to look at herself in a full-length mirror. Compared to her teammate, she feels woefully inadequate at getting Alistaire’s attention. In order to remedy that she starts tearing through a pile of clothes, thinking to herself that she needs to do what works for Ray, make the package look irresistibly attractive. She may be more comfortable in sneaks and sweats, but when it comes to romance, comfort doesn’t cut it. She tosses clothes in the air as she looks, and Lockheed, hovering behind her, gets tangled in them. Finally she finds the dress that Phoenix made for her with her molecule-manipulating powers. Unfortunately, it shrunk in the same telekinetic wave that dressed her in baby clothes.
Since she can’t use her own stuff, Kitty decides to borrow some clothes from Rachel. She opens up her roommate’s wardrobe and finds a closet filled entirely with red outfits of varying lengths. She wonders aloud if Ray is embarrassed by anything. Trying on a short-skirted one piece with a short jacket and tall boots, she wishes that she had Rachel’s chutzpah, and her body. She wonders to herself if she dares go downstairs dressed like that. Then decides that she definitely doesn’t want to. With an exclamation of frustration she sheds the clothes all at once with her phasing power.
Opening her eyes, Kitty sees that she’s no longer standing in her bedroom. Instead she unexpectedly finds herself in a cavernous throne room of a forest palace. Intertwined arboreal turrets line the long wall and a giant tapestry of a rose is centered on the wall. Among the throngs of strangely shaped people standing and facing the horned, purple-robed figure on the throne are animal-like doppelgangers of Excalibur.
Kitty realizes that the animal-people in the room can see her and wonders why they are staring. She approaches what she calls Excalibur’s analogues and reaches towards a purple dragon girl with a brown mane and small horns who is dressed in an outfit much like Shadowcat’s. Kitty says to herself this is fantastic, she must have crossed over to another dimension. Just as she says hi and introduces herself the world goes to white fog.
“We know who you are, Kiddo.” A very surprised looking Rachel tells her. “Oh my goodness!” says Alistaire. “Why’re you staring?!” Kitty questions, “What the heck’s the…” Then she looks down and with a blush realizes that the problem is that she isn’t wearing any clothes. Wanting to die of embarrassment, Kitty phases down through the floor to her basement computer lab to collapse at her desk.
“Rachel – did we *ahem* just see what I *koff* think we saw?” Alistaire asks. “Nope.” Rachel matter-of-factly answers. “Thank heaven for that.” Says Alistaire.
Considerably later, Kitty is still downstairs in her lab, but she’s dressed now. She’s glad that Alistaire went back to London because she was blushing absolutely crimson every time she saw him. She’s contemplating the little Widget head and telling it that now the only thing she has to drive her buggy is him. She’s still stumped on how to activate the little guy as there are no switches or access ports, and wishes that she had a manual.
Still in a bad mood, Kitty thinks that if her previous act of phasing through the portal permanently trashed the widget’s systems than Alistaire will probably never forgive her, and she’ll have a difficult time forgiving herself. Even though she only did it to save his life, not that she thinks that he cares. With a burst of frustration because she can’t figure out what makes the infernal little widget work, Kitty stands up and with an angry sweep of her arms, clears her desk of its papers and knocks over the coffee can the little robot head was sitting on. Lockheed leaps up with a surprised ‘awkk!’
Rachel telepathically pops in and the image of her disembodied head tells Kitty that Nightcrawler called and they are needed. Kitty says she’ll be right up as the Widget rolls off the table and clatters to a dark corner of the room. She says to herself that she has a nerve dumping on Ray for her temper, considering the way she just behaved. If she wants to be taken for a grownup, she’ll have to do better.
A strange sound of munching from the corner causes Kitty to wonder if more weirdness is going on like what happened upstairs. She’s thankful that at least this time she’s dressed. She asks Lockheed to light up the corner. Lockheed complies, blowing a small flame like a candle. Kitty kneels down and is surprised to see that the Widget has sleepily opened his eyes and is crunching and munching on small, metal objects.
Later in the day, in the North of England, at an abandoned spur line where there is plenty of privacy, most of Excalibur, WHO, Dai Thomas, and Lightning Force gather near the Reichrail Englande train. The Brigadier tells her twin brother to restrain his enthusiasm, personally, she’d prefer things to go smoothly rather than spectacularly. Alistaire exclaims that he can hardly wait for the exchange to start. Captain Britain speaks up to tell the Brigadier that things had better start happening soon as their “guests” are getting restless.
From the sky, Phoenix and Shadowcat spot the group. Rachel reminds Kitty that she didn’t have to come, considering how much she dislikes the Nazis. Kitty says that while she hates the Nazis guts, she’s part of Excalibur and no matter what, she stays with the team. With a startled ‘Waiowh!” Lockheed leaves Kitty’s shoulder and flies down to the train.
The little purple dragon roars as he nears the train’s engine and is answered by an earsplitting roar that causes everyone to turn in surprise. Dai Thomas questions, “What-the-devil-was-that?” Alistaire, as he steps to the train, reminds Commander Thomas of their earlier conversation regarding how the power source of the train was unique. He looks for the switch that turns the hull transparent, and when he finds the deuced thing, reveals a giant purple dragon in the engine.
“That dragon – he’s a slave!” Rachel cries out as she drops down to join them. “What of it? A beast’s portion is but to serve,” counters the Reichminister haughtily. As the two women argue about this, Kitty puts down the bag that she’s carrying Widget in and tells him to keep out of trouble.
Meggan comments that Rachel is starting a royal rumpus. Kitty replies, “Good for her!” as Rachel, in the background, says that the dragon is requesting political asylum and offers to create a psilink to prove this. Kitty continues to talk to Meggan, asking why they chose this godforsaken place for the exchange.
As it turns out, they are in Fenborough, a place near where Meggan was born. Meggan explains that the station was built on the site of an ancient fortress which was tied to dark sorcery and where nothing ever prospered. The site is reputed to be haunted and because of that curse, and because of Meggan’s appearance when she was a baby, her people, the traveling people, thought she was a demon. Kitty tells Meggan that Nightcrawler was raised by gypsies too. She doesn’t know about the place being evil, but she does admit that it gives her the creeps.
Rachel continues to emphatically advocate on behalf of the dragon. Professor Stuart very helpfully makes a logical argument that since the high mass of the Reichminister’s private train makes the transportation spell all the more difficult, Lightning Force should leave it behind. Callisto, since it’s her responsibility to secure the Reichminister’s security, agrees with Alistaire. Very reluctantly, through gritted teeth, the Reichminister agrees to leave the train.
One of the soldiers calls out that there is activity on the line. He gets the troops alerted and ready for the transfer. Nightcrawler draws the Brigadier’s and Excalibur’s attention to a portal that has just opened up on the line in front of the train.
Meggan, Captain Britain in a borrowed uniform, Nightcrawler, and Phoenix leap on top of the train, ready to deal with any potential treachery. Meggan is feeling ‘twitchy’ but she doesn’t know what’s wrong. In the portal in front of them their people, Moira, Callisto, and the crew of the Highland Flyer appear to be safe and sound and ready to cross over.
Shadowcat, still on the ground near the station, thinks that things are going well so far and tells Lockheed that they should keep their fingers crossed. She picks up her rucksack and finds that it’s empty. She wonders where that pesky Widget went and walks over to the armory car of the train where she hears munching. Entering, she hears a large burp and sees a Widget grown so large that he is bigger than she is tall.
Back at the exchange, one of the Brigadier’s majors hears the burp and draws the Brigadier’s attention to it. She disregards it as she welcomes Doctor Mactaggert home. Lady Moira is happy to be back and Callisto seems disturbed by the place they’ve been held, she never wants to go back. The crew is concerned about their back pay.
As the portal begins to close, Reichminister MacTaggert orders one of her own world’s soldiers to give her his grenade. He reminds her of the agreement but she, as the portal begins to close completely, says it means nothing to her. The grenade, which turns out to be a micro-nuke, clears the opening just in time. Phoenix sees it and tells the others to hit the deck as she tries to contain the force of the explosion.
The force is considerable and even Phoenix is strained to her limits. In the armory car Kitty yells, “Oh crumbs!” as she sees Widget’s eyes widen and with a flash that turns everything white-pink, the train starts to glow and then with a foomp, to everyone’s surprise, completely disappears.
Moira, horrified, exclaims that Excalibur was aboard the train and wonders if it blew up. Callisto says there was no shock-wave or debris, what happened makes no sense. The Brigadier is upset about her brother, who was also on board. She says that the train didn’t explode and whatever happened wasn’t caused by the grenade as that detonated before the train disappeared. All are at a complete loss as to where the train and missing people could have gone.