It’s a dark and stormy night at the old pier, Brighton, England, where currently Gatecrasher’s Technet, a group of inter-dimensional mercenaries, are making their home.
Crazed laughter rings through the building accompanied by the shout It’s alive!
The members of the Technet stare critically at their leader, wondering if she’s finally lost it. Furious, Gatecrasher shouts at them that she heard that! They were all eager to join her Technet and share in the fat reward she negotiated when the Omniversal Majestrix Luna Opal Saturnyne commissioned them to capture Phoenix, she reminds her mutinous group. Thug angrily points out that Saturnyne exiled them to this mudhole. Only because they preformed so badly in their last encounter with Excalibur, Gatecrasher rejoins. But this time will be different… this time her genius will be recognized, she adds with a mad gleam in her eyes. She has a plan… and with her extensive skills in biogenetic nucleotronic splicing, she has created the ultimate super-secret mega-weapon. Excalibur doesn’t stand a chance, she announces and tells them to behold… an egg. They begin the operation at dawn.
The Excalibur lighthouse shortly after dawn:
The members are slouching tiredly and exhausted at the table while the indefatigable Meggan is preparing breakfast. A radio new report mentions the reason for the exhaustion: the team helped the passengers of a derailed train. The news report mentions government spokesman Mr. Nigel Orpington-Smythe claiming that the fortunate lack of fatalities was entirely due to Excalibur’s involvement…
Impatient, Nightcrawler switches off the radio, asking why Orpington-Smythe doesn’t give any credit to the other hundred and fifty rescue workers. Holding his head, Captain Britain mumbles that the novelty of their powers makes them newsworthy. But the others’ lack of powers makes them all the more heroic! Kurt insists. Looking at his teammate, Brian asks why he is so angry. The man is obviously a leech, using the publicity around their activities to get himself noticed. Exactly, Kurt agrees, It makes him feel like a … a…
Boiled egg? Meggan asks. Kurt looks up in surprise, until he realizes Meggan was talking about breakfast. Does he want one or two? she asks. One, he replies and thanks her. Meggan asks Kitty and Rachel as well but the two tired girls don’t feel up to anything more than toast, preferably liquefied.
Suddenly, one egg flies out of the boiling water, screaming hothothot!! in pain. The egg bounces against several walls, objects, Captain Britain’s nose and finally lands on the breakfast table. He’ll just have toast, Brian remarks.
Before their eyes the eggshell cracks. twied tew cook my goose, eh? comes a voice from within and a very angry cartoon chicken with a clock on its forehead hatches. Menacingly, it announces that yew don’t get wid of Hawd-Boiled-Henwy that easily and tells them to prepare to meet their doom. It adds that it has been chosen by Gatecrasher.
As it talks, Kurt notices that the clock on its forehead is moving backwards in a countdown. Kurt shouts at Rachel to do something quickly. A moment later, there’s a very powerful explosion in the lighthouse.
Some distance away, Gatecrasher laughs madly in triumph. Her Kamikaze chick really outdid itself. Overdid, Thug protests. No way Excalibur survived the explosion. They were commissioned to capture Phoenix, not kill her. Gatecrasher’s smile disappears momentarily as she realizes what she has done, but then she decides that it’s no problem. They’re bounty hunters… ruthless bounty hunters. Dead or alive… it’s the same thing. Saturnyne is a cruel, vicious coldhearted cow. She’ll understand. Kill us all, she will, mutters Thug, clearly speaking for the rest of the group.
Gatecrasher orders Yap to teleport them in so they can finish any survivors. A moment later, she swears at him as he teleported them into the tiny kitchen. He apologizes and blames some intrinsic quality of the stonework which distorted his perception of the spatial dimensions.
Where are Excalibur? she asks. Atomized, Chinadoll suggests. Blown up through the roof, Thug pipes in. Ferro informs them that actually they are standing on them. And Yap informs Gatecrasher with a giggle that her plan worked. She has literally crushed Excalibur. Annoyed, Gatecrasher orders him not to call her “mother” and get them out of there, before she takes a deep breath and crushes him. Yes mother, he replies in a little voice and teleports both the Technet and the unconscious heroes outside the Lighhouse.
Gatecrasher orders Bodybag to wrap up Phoenix. He begins to envelop Rachel in a narcotic membrane. While the Technet already dream about their bounty, Kitty reveals that she was just playing possum. She kicks Bodybag and grabs Rachel. However, while she can stay intangible to be protected from most of the team, Scatterbrain doesn’t need to make physical contact with her to fry every synapse.
In the meantime, the other three members of Excalibur have begun stirring although they are still groggy. As Captain Britain tries to engage the Technet brawlers Ferro and Thug, he is targeted in turn by Joyboy, who can perceive the heart’s fondest wish and make it nightmarish reality. Fortunately, the process requires concentration, which he doesn’t have, as Nightcrawler kicks him away. He in turn gets into trouble, as Waxwork’s touch makes his body lose all rigidity. Meggan who wants to help is shrunk by Chinadoll.
Cap bravely battles on as he stumbles upon Numbers, who instantly states that he is non-combatant, seeing as how he is only the accountant. Well, he’s never met an accountant who didn’t expect a percentage of everything his client got, Cap quips and hits him. Oh, the burden of leadership, Gatecrasher moans as she grabs him and repeatedly hits him in the face.
Suddenly, Cap notices the pain has stopped, the beating has stopped, Gatecrasher and all the Technet members are suddenly frozen statues. Kitty asks if Rachel is responsible. Wasn’t her, the other girl replies helplessly. It was I, comes a voice as two men step out of a gate of light.
One looks like a quintessential old-fashioned British Office worker, while the smaller scruffy one is dressed in workclothes with several tools, a wife-beater shirt and a bandana that keeps on changing its message.
The taller man introduces himself as Horatio Cringebottom, from the ministry for crosstime transport regulation monitor and control, sanction implementation department authorized by Majestrix Opal Luna Saturnyne. His companion is Bert.
As Bert quickly builds up a device, Cringebottom continues that they are charged to prosecute a writ concerning numerous violations of interdimensional transit regulations. He placed the Technet in stasis to prevent any unpleasantness.
Nightcrawler takes charge, suggesting Cringebottom take the Technet away. Cringebottom interrupts. He isn’t there about the Technet, although Gatecrasher has caused his good self considerable irritation in the past, but their imperative is Widget. Bert grabs him.
Hold it, Kitty protests, but Cringebottom warns them. He would not relish putting them in stasis. Rachel protests that Saturnyne already reprogrammed Widget when they were on the Hub months ago. Coldly Cringebottom begins to reply that the entity has continued to disrupt the continuum. However, when he gets a good look at Rachel his tone changes. Bowing, he greets her as Lady Phoenix and informs her that he is honored to make her acquaintance. He meant to say the initial programming was insufficient.
Puzzled, Bert asks him to come take a peek. Rachel is equally puzzled, as she turns to her friends. Cringebottom treated her like royalty. What’s going on? Saturnyne employed Gatecrasher to capture her for some reason she doesn’t know. But when she succeeds this guy who also works for Saturnyne freezes the Technet and acts like she’s royalty.
Bureaucracy in action, Brian decides. The right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing. Kurt disagrees, certain there’s more to it than that. Saturnyne saw through Rachel’s disguise when they met on the Hub, he points out. That’s crazy, Kitty protests. If she let Rachel go, why are the Technet still trying to capture her?
Cringebottom interrupts far more politely than before, asking them for some information regarding Widget’s origin, for his internal composition has Bert baffled. Floating in an energy field taken apart, it is easy to see that Widget’s entrails consist in effect of junk. Meggan shouts that they killed Widget. Bert explain that it’s safe in a nulltime suspension field. He continues to explain that the outer casing is composed of lowgrade chromed steel. Stress analysis suggests it was shaped by hand - no welding, pinning or joints.
That puzzled her for months, Kitty agrees. What held the plates together? Hot babe Bert’s shades flash as he explains to her that it was a fluctuating hyperwave pulse in an eccentric magnetic field. Oh right, Kitty replies nonplussed. Pointing at the junk, Bert explains that the casing contains a sludge of organic soup – primarily decomposing baked beans and an apple core - primitive transistor components, a rubber spider, a key… what could animate this conglomeration? Cringebottom wonders.
There is a highly active energy matrix, Bert replies, while his shades admit awesome, nothing he can quantify. It has no reliance on the arrangement of the components. Is it lifeforce? Cringebottom wonders. That’s a job for the metaphysics department, Bert replies- The only life he can categorize is the fungi and bacteria in the goop. Best bet is to implant a G/9543/CV#7 and put Widget back together.
Kitty protests. If Bert can’t understand how Widget works, how does he know that thing won’t harm him? While his shades express Yum Bert replies that it’s a passive nexus with a logistic integrity. In English, Kitty interrupts. Dumbing it down, Bert explains that she should consider radio stations. The air is filled with their transmissions but each broadcasts a different wavelength. To receive a particular station you match the wavelength of the receiver with that of the transmitter. A similar principle governs the multiverse. All of the alternate realties occupy the same physical space, but each resonates on a different vibrational plane. Moving from one plane to another is simply a matter of synchronizing an individual resonance with a particular plane. The device remains dormant unless it perceives crosstime flux, then it simply concentrates the entity’s resonance within this reality, preventing transit But in every other way Widget will be exactly the way he was.
Put back together again, Widget “eeps,” slightly traumatizes. Kitty’s concerned. Compassion, he likes that in his women, Bert states. Cringebottom orders him to come along and reminds him of the regulations forbidding fraternization with lower lifeforms. Later babe, Bert tells Kitty. Both she and Lockheed growl angrily.
Cringebottom apologizes to the team. Actually, their intervention was perfectly timed, Captain Britain remarks. They were taking a beating. And they are a bit puzzled by Gatecrasher’s attack. This may explain, Cringebottom replies, as he hands Cap a holographic matrix which he is to present to Gatecrasher when the stasis wears off in five minutes. They teleport away.
Cap orders the team members to get into position, but Nightcrawler has an even better idea. They rearrange the members of the Technet still in statis and when it wear off the bountyhunters use their powers against each other. The members of Excalibur laugh. Furious Gatecrasher snarls that nobody laughs at her and lives. Lighting up the Phoenix effect, Rachel suggests Gatecrasher give them a real laugh and try and take them while they are conscious.
Before the Technet can act Captain Britain hands Gatecrasher the matrix crystal Cringebottom left. The psychocom crystal is activated and an image of Saturnyne appears, haughtily informing Gatecrasher that the warrant concerning the Phoenix host is rescinded. Under the termination clause of their contract, the Technet have no entitlement to monetary compensation and the Technet’s exile to Earth 616 is extended indefinitely. The hologram interrupts Gatecrasher’s string of “buts” to order her not to be stupid enough to plead with this holographic recording.
The rest of the Technet is getting angry and Gatecrasher chooses the better part of valor, teleporting herself and Yap out.
Relieved, Kitty tells Rachel that this mystery is solved. Saturnyne has left her off the hook. Rachel is less sure. Why did Saturnyne first want her and then cancel the warrant? Kurt suggests they worry tomorrow. They will all think more clearly after a long sleep. Pointing to their ruin of a lighthouse, Brian stresses if they have anywhere to sleep.
The Technet member Numbers speaks up, suggesting a compromise. They can’t still want to fight, Rachel sighs. Cap threateningly remarks that he doesn’t trust that big one. Getting defensive, Numbers instantly pleads no pain please. Thug orders him to stand back. They want no trouble. They’re beat but they were wondering if Excalibur’d like them to repair the damaged tower in exchange for some food and shelter.
Cap shouts at them that they’re nuts. The Technet blew apart their home, tried to kill them, and now they are meant to adopt them? But they are homeless… destitute… Thug replies. Joyboy begins to cry, at once awakening Meggan’s pity. All the more reason not to have him around, Brian shouts at her. And anyway it’s not a baby, it’s a superpowered alien. That is why they must care for the Technet, Nightcrawler interrupts. Until they devise a more satisfactory solution. Who knows what mischief the Technet might create left to their own devices? They are unpredictable and potentially very dangerous. Rachel and Kitty agree and Brian gives in, though stubbornly insisting that he thinks it’s a big mistake.
Meggan gives Kurt a kiss on the cheek. Kurt laughs, telling her she will give her boyfriend the wrong idea. She carries Kurt ahead to the lighthouse, telling him not to be silly. Brian isn’t the jealous type. Both of them miss the furious glare Brian is giving the two of them.
Meanwhile, on a slightly different wavelength is Ee’rath, one of the chain of infinite alternate Earths that coil through the multiverse. Time flows more quickly here than on Earth 616, so this is an ancient world in the twilight of planetary life. But age does not bestow serenity, the eternal conflict between good and evil continues.
A floating hooded creature demands homage for Necrom of a group of people in a burned village. They protests. Why has he burned their homes? They have done no wrong. The hooded being orders them not to question their master’s desire. They are to follow him or die where they stand.
Suddenly, a voice from the shadows tells the druid that it’s not polite to threaten folk. The druid threatens to scorch the flesh from his bones. The newcomer throws a sword at him and says “Go ahead, Punk, make my day!” The sword hits him and the druid sinks down. “Th-th-that’s all folks” the newcomer, a tall warrior with catlike features and eyes, remarks.
Who is he that he can slay a druid, the fearful people asks. He lifts the druid’s cloak, revealing nothing underneath. Cold steel and a brave heart are all it takes. The druids are nothing but hot air, he explains. He is Kylun.
They thought him legend, the people say in awe. He is real, but he is one, Kylun replies. It will take an army to breach the tower that crosses time and defeat the tyrant Necrom. He asks them to join him. They have nothing left there. The people ask him to teach them to fight and lead them to freedom. Yes, victory will be theirs, Kylun promises, and Excalibur will pay for the devastation they unleashed on this world.