Excalibur (1st series) #45

Issue Date: 
December 1991
Story Title: 
Nightcrawler’s Technet

Alan Davis (writer / penciler), Mark Farmer (inker), Glynis Oliver (colorist), Michael Heisler (letterer), Terry Kavanagh (editor), Tom deFalco (editor-in-chief)

Excalibur created by Chris Claremont and Alan Davis

Brief Description: 

Nightcrawler and the Technet try to stop the invisible thief from stealing another artifact and run into Micromax. Due to the Technet’s inability to coordinate, they lose the thief and get into conflict with Micromax’s boss, brigadier Blott, an old enemy’s of Day Thomas. Nightcrawler tries to foster a group identity among the Technet with more rigid discipline and a set of X-Men style group uniforms. The tactic proves successful: at the next art gallery, the Technet are capable of catching the thief (an invisible demon) much to the dismay of its master Necrom. On otherworld, Captain Britain is saved when Saturnyne brings an edict from Roma, “asking” the Corps to let Captain Britain go. When Cap thanks her, she tells him off and states she doesn’t know why Roma considers him worth the attention. Talking with Captain UK, Brian realizes how much he doesn’t know about Otherworld and the Corps, including the mysterious energy matrix tat gives the Captains their power. He decides to stay a bit. In France, Rachel and Meggan are still looking for Meggan’s parents. When Meggan is bothered about their not using their powers, Rachel explains that she made a point of not using the Phoenix force since meeting the Scotts and, as a result, her fragmentary memories have slowly been starting to mend. Meanwhile on Ee’rath, the rebellion has reached Necrom’s last stronghold. The evil wizard is about to flee, but has left a last trap for Kylun and Sat’neen: the animated corpses of that world’s slain heroes: Excalibur…

Full Summary: 

The Major Mainwaring Museum – Warmington-on-Sea, England, the dark. The Technet are watching. Thug asks Nightcrawler to explain again why they are watching those artifacts. Nightcrawler patiently repeats that Miss Witherspoon, the clairvoyant friend of Commander Thomas, has predicted that something will be stolen from that cabinet tonight. He asks them to please be silent.

A few moments pass. Which is thing to be stolen? Chinadoll inquires. Miss Witherspoon’s perceptions focused on the vicinity of the cabinet, he explains again. She could not be more specific. Now be quiet.

A moment of silence. Why not hide cabinet so thief cannot find? Chinadoll suggests. Nightcrawler explains that it is bait. They want the thief to come so they can catch him. Thug dismissively calls her stupid. Chinadoll immediately becomes angry and Kurt shouts at them to shut up.

Before things can further escalate, Ferro shouts at Kurt to look. A goblet is moving through the air, seemingly by itself. Nightcrawler, still in a cast, orders them to go quickly but remember the plan and work as a team. Enthusiastically, the Technet throw themselves at the goblet and start punching. Their foe grows bigger and shouts at them to get off him.

Nightcrawler, he sighs. That figures. The man introduces himself as Micromax and tells Kurt that his bimbo teammate Phoenix wrecked his last stakeout. Now, Nightcrawler is here and the thief escaped again.

Nightcrawler explains that they are assisting Commander Dai Thomas of the British police force. Big deal, Micromax snorts, as he shrinks to his normal size. He is with F.I.6.

Fix? Kurt asks. Eff… eye… six, Micromax repeats and shows him his credentials. Meaning? Kurt asks. That’s classified, comes he reply. All he needs to know is that he’s blundered into an official government operation employing an extensive back-up team and the most sensitive surveillance equipment yet devised. As Scatterbrain latches onto Micromax, Kurt inquires why it then failed to detect his … err, team.

Micromax searches for an answer as he notices Ferro2 examining his gadgets. Angrily, he orders him away. Ferro apologizes. Though the primitive design is lightyears behind his homeworld’s technology, he can identify a significant flaw in the equipment’s operational dynamic. Which is? Micromax asks. The wires are cut, comes the reply.

Sabotage! Micromax shouts, instantly blaming Nightcrawler. He’s had it with interfering amateurs. Kurt replies that he’s trying his patience. There is no need for them to fight.

That moment, Commander Thomas and his men enter. Nightcrawler introduces Micromax of F.I.6. Thomas instantly informs him that he’s trespassing on his turf. Those thieves don’t threaten national security. Not so, comes another voice as an elderly man, in many ways the opposite of Thomas, neatly dressed with an aristocratic air, enters along with several strongmen. He continues that here is a more sinister dimension to this affair. Inky! Inky Blott! Thomas identifies him.

Agitated, the other man corrects him: Brigadier Blott, calling him an insolent, insubordinate, slob. Very deliberately blowing smoke into his face, Thomas retorts that at least he doesn’t steal credit for other people’s work… Inky. Blott threatens to break Thomas should he cross him. He tried that, Thomas reminds him, made a real fool of himself too.

The two men begin to argue who has jurisdiction in this case and Nightcrawler orders the Technet to leave. He wants no part of this political posturing.

On Otherworld, moments ago Brian Braddock aka Captain Britain 616 was sentenced to death by a judicial court of his peers in the supreme headquarters of Roma’s omniversal police force. He is currently appealing against this judgment with both fists, aided by his defense counsel Linda McQuillan aka Capain U.K. 839.

Brian tells her she should have stayed out of this. They stand no chance. Linda replies they’ve been in worse spots. Something will turn up. And as if on cue, a herald blows his horn, announcing the arrival of the omniversal Majestrix Opal Luna Saturnyne. Saturnyne calmly apologizes for interrupting their little fracas, but their ruler, the Supreme omniversal guardian, Roma, has asked her to deliver a little decree. She reads the note: It would please me greatly if the Corps would cease its punitive action against Captain Britain 616 and restore him to freedom signed Roma, daughter of Merlyn.

Disappointed, disbelieving the Captains look at her. Why? Hauptmann Englande sputters. Do they question their liege, Saturnyne asks with a cold smile. Getting the message, Hauptmann Englande assures her of course not. Most sensible, she decides and walks out.

Captain Britain flies after her, shouting at her to wait. With a smile he lands before her and thanks her for bailing him out back there. Saturnyne gives him a withering glare and turns away, warning him not to get any ideas. She was merely delivering Roma’s edict. She has no idea why Roma considers him worth the effort.

Captain U.K has just landed next to Brian, catching the last part. She suggests they head outside for some fresh air.

Back on Earth 616 in the basement of Excalibur’s lighthouse, the Technet are training again, watched by Numbers and the dragon while Nightcrawler is discussing matters with Commander Dai Thomas and the clairvoyant, Emilia Witherspoon. Miss Witherspoon warns that the thief will strike again at the Brum arts gallery in three days. Thomas wants more info, but Miss Witherspoon chides him that clairvoyance isn’t a precise science. He’ll bet the F.I.6 esper division will know more, he goads her. Emilia doubts it. The precognitive wavelengths are being disrupted by the force that shields this ghostly thief.

It is obviously the same creature Rachel confronted when she ran into Micromax, Kurt adds. She described it as spectral… invisible and semi-tangible. Thomas suggests he call Rachel up and get a more accurate description. Kurt explains that Rachel is the one who forges the psi-link and she hasn’t checked in for more than a week. Brian is overdue too… He did not think this problem on Otherworld would take that long to resolve.

He’s not giving up, is he? Thomas asks. They can’t let Inky and F.I.6 beat them. Kurt points out that he is not interested in Thomas’ political disputes. He has his own reasons. Micromax, right? Thomas assumes. No, he has something to prove to himself Kurt replies.

He shouts out enough, and tells his team this was pathetic. Numbers agrees. Decibel level extreme. What? Kurt asks surprised. Numbers explains that his dragon love is unwell, experiencing audio sensitivity. Request volume reduction. Does he wish to contribute to this training exercise? Nightcrawler sighs. Negative, comes the reply. Self lover, not combatant. Then go away, Kurt tells him and orders the others to start again, as a team, not individuals.

As they begin, Kurt realizes what Professor X had to endure with them, the X-Men. Kurt always let the stronger members take the lead, content to be part of the team, cheerful and optimistic… like a mascot. Could that be how the others saw him… is that why they left him behind? He tells himself this is no time for self-pity or doubt. He must concentrate on the problem at hand, how to get the Technet to work together like a team, with team spirit and a group identity. He begins to smile. Of course, a group identity…

On Otherworld, Brian and Linda marvel at the energy spiral in the sky. She explains it is the energy matrix. It’s so concentrated here it creates an optical effect. Energy matrix? he wonders. He really should have attended the Corps training lectures, Linda chides him. There are weak spots in the fabric of space across the multiverse, an exchange of exotic particles at these interfaces generates energy fields that link and form the matrix. It’s not just a lightshow, Linda continues. They, the Corps members, all have the ability to absorb and metabolize the energy from the matrix. That’s what gives them their powers.

Is the matrix contained to Britain? Brian asks, as they walk through the meadows and hills passing warriors and elves. Yes, Linda explains. There are interfaces all around each alternate Earth but it’s only the unusual quantity and close proximity of the fields on the British Isles that allows them to link up. If they need to operate outside the matrix, the arcane circuitry in their uniforms acts an amplifier. That explains why his powers began to fade when his original costume was destroyed in America, Brian realizes.

Linda reminds him that he really should have attended the training course. Brian replies he never felt comfortable with all that olde worlde magic hokum. Turning to rune stones, Linda reminds him that arcane science and old knowledge are important. Ancient man understood the multiverse and his place in it. They could sense the energy matrix and mapped it with ley lines, marking each interface with monoliths, stone circles. And towers, Brian muses as he sees one that reminds him of his lighthouse. It’s the same tower, sort of, Linda admits. The spatial configuration of that tower exists in every plane of the multiverse simultaneously. It’s unique. Merlyn built it. Why? Brian asks. Who knows why Merlyn did anything? Linda replies.

Roma’s certainly following in her father’s footsteps, Brian agrees. He wonders why she stopped his court martial. Linda suggests he ask her. She’s up there in her floating starlight citadel.

Brian looks around. The whole place is like something out of a fairy tale. Linda agrees. She’d love to stay and explore but the stone circle over there is her earth’s interface and she really should be heading home. The Red Monarch has stolen the crown jewels again and she has to retrieve them before Princess Madonna’s coronation in three days. Brian decides to stay for a while. Things aren’t going too well at home. He needs time to think. She tells him to keep out of trouble and teleports away. Brian looks up at the Starlight Citadel.

Earth 616, the Rhone valley, a remote picturesque landscape of elemental beauty. Wandering through it are Rachel and an increasingly dissatisfied Meggan. Why must they walk instead of flying? she demands. They are working undercover, Rachel replies. Angrily, Meggan throws down her backpack. She isn’t stupid, she shouts. Rachel is just like the others, treating her like a simple-minded child! Something’s wrong. Rachel hasn’t used her Phoenix power since they left London ten days ago.

Rachel apologizes. She didn’t mean to hurt Meg, but she isn’t used to sharing her thoughts. They sit down on a fallen tree. She reminds Meggan of when they mindlinked. They have similar fragmented memories. Meggan’s are natural, Rachel’s are caused by her memories she was programmed with. It’s like having two complicated jigsaws mixed together. The only way to separate the bits is to complete both pictures, but every time she got more than a few bits together they fly apart. Or at least that’s what she thought until they went to the Scotts’ house. But nothing happened, and they are such nice people, Meggan protests.

Exactly, Rachel agrees. She could sense the genuine warmth of their emotions when they met. It shocked her. She suddenly realized she’s met so few ordinary people. She had started to regard them as part of an anonymous crowd. She became conscious of the destructive potential of her powers, of her psychic armor and the defensive probes that violate the minds of all around her, so she willed the force to be dormant. What happened? Nothing at the time, but the moment she reinstated the Phoenix Force the confused sensation her fragmented memories cause intensified. The two things were obviously connected. So she’s decided to keep the Phoenix force dormant to see if the memory might repair itself.

It’s not been easy. There is a seductive thrill to wielding so much power and it has become instinctive. She’s not sure if it’s working. There’s a new sensation, like a sharp pain spreading into a dull ache. It mans something, but only time will tell. Rachel apologizes for not telling Meg before. She didn’t’ want it to interfere with their quest for Meg’s parents. It won’t, Meggan replies and gets up, but if they don’t step lively, they will miss their train.

England, the Brum-Art-Gallery, Birmingham at night. Micromax is meant to stand guard, though he doesn’t know over or against what. He protests to his superiors, adding that it’s got to look well tonight. There were too many missed opportunities. He’s starting to look bad. No one had better interfere this time or he’ll… Brigadier Blott speaks back to him and orders radio silence.

A moment later, Micromax is attacked by someone invisible from behind. As he sinks to the ground, a crate is opened and a piece of jewelry is levitated out of it.

That very moment, Nightcrawler and his Technet (now dressed in X-Men like uniform with the letter N instead of X) appear and begin a coordinated attack. Ringtoss emits a focused energy pulse that renders the thief – a demonlike creature – visible and tangible. Waxwork turns its leg to the consistency of soft putty, Thug and Ferro immobilize it and Bodybag begins to coat the creature in a neural toxin that instantly paralyzes all central nerve functions except this time it doesn’t.

Scatterbrain understands why, as she grips the creature’s head in an attempt to blast its consciousness across infinity and finds a dead mind guided by another too far away for her power to affect. Joyboy uses Scatterbrain as a conduit to contact the controlling mind.

Elsewhere sits a vampire-like being furious at being attacked that way. Let them taste real power, he decides with a smirk as he sends energy into his servant. Quickly, Chinadoll uses all her power to compress the molecules of the demon, killing it.

Elsewhere, the Sorcerer screams in rage. This world has changed much during his exile. He has misjudged the power of those who would oppose him. No matter. The convergence is near. Soon, he shall be as God. And none shall stand against him.

Afterward, Chinadoll happily looks at the miniature demon she’s left with. Thomas warns her she can’t keep it. It’s evidence. Thug adds that trophies aren’t important. They’re a real team now. That’s their reward. Nightcrawler commends Thug for his words and adds he’s proud. Even Thomas agrees, smugly adding that they made F.I.6 look stupid as he watches the scene of Blott chewing out Micromax. He thinks he’ll go and see if Inky wants to congratulate them.

Miss Witherspoon warns him not to succumb to euphoria, This was merely the first encounter. The worst is yet to come. What’s going to happen? The fog of uncertainty that conceals the future grows more dense as it approaches. She cannot see beyond it. Maybe because there’s nothing left to see. End of the world is nigh, eh? Thomas remarks. Quite possible, she replies without his levity.

As they board the plane, Thomas remarks this isn’t their usual aircraft. Kurt explains it belongs to W.H.O. They mislaid their Blackbird. “WHO be stupid!” Thug announces. Nightcrawler’s Technet’d never lose anything. They are unaware of the fact that they left Joyboy behind, who is suddenly snagged by someone.

On Ee’rath, Kylun’s rebels are close to victory as they storm the last stronghold of Necrom, the dark citadel.

Sat’neen and Kylun race to the demon’s chamber of infinity, the sanctum to the tower that crosses time. His diabolical scheme is thwarted, so he makes ready to flee. Kylun believes this is all too neat… too easy… like a trap!

Suddenly, they find themselves separated from the others. Yes, he dislikes crowds of blood-crazed savages, comes a voice. A tall bald man with pointed ears identical to the mastermind behind the thefts on Earth 616 stands before them, introducing himself as Necrom. He could not depart this world without meeting the leaders of this silly rebellion. It has cost him dearly, but their cause is lost.

Kylun scoffs. Ee’rath is free from his tyranny…Necrom calls him a fool and explains that he has sucked this insignificant world dry. It is a dying husk. He plays for the ultimate power, the power of the Multiverse. Dream on, Kylun replies. Does he wish to fight him? Necrom mocks. He rallied his rebels with the boast to kill him and those he called traitors, the guardians of Ee’rath, Excalibur. But he’s afraid, Kylun’s a little late for that. For Excalibur never betrayed Ee’rath. They would rather die than deny their heroic ideal, so he killed them and now they are going to kill Kylun.

At his command, animated corpses of Spider-Man, Thor, Black Knight and this world’s version of Captain Britain begin to rise from the ground…

Characters Involved: 

Captain Britain, Meggan, Nightcrawler, Phoenix(all Excalibur)

Bodybag, Chinadoll, Ferro2, Gatecrasher, Joyboy, Numbers, Ringtoss, Scatterbrain, Thug, Waxwork (all Technet)
Commander Dai Thomas

Emelia Witherspoon

Brigadier “Inky” Blott

F.I.6 agents
Captain U.K.

Hauptmann Englande and other members of the Captain Britain Corps
Luna Opal Saturnyne



rebels of Ee’rath

Necrom’s invisible thief

Story Notes: 

Brian lost his powers starting with Excalibur #7.

The Blackbird was stolen (by Charles Xavier himself) in Uncanny X-Men #278.

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