This is E’erath, one of an infinity of alternate Earths, each on a different vibrational plane of the omniverse. In this reality, an evil empire has ended in bloody rebellion. The deposed tyrant Necrom gloats at the macabre irony of his revenge on the rebel leaders, the people’s champions, Kylun and the witch princess Sat’neen, now locked in combat with E’erath’s former defenders, this world’s version of Excalibur (Spider-Man, Thor, the Black Knight and a Captain).
Decades ago, this other Excalibur tried to end Necrom’s reign of terror, but failed and paid the ultimate price and in death were forced into Necrom’s service.
During the battle, Sat’neen realizes that the zombies are not obedient slaves but mindless shells, animated by Necrom’s will. So she drops her own guard to attack the tyrant and, even though he manages to erect a defensive shield, his concentration is broken and the cadaverous Excalibur crumbles. Thwarted again, Necrom unleashes the full force of his sorcerous might. Sat’neen draws on her own considerable abilities, but they are not enough. She is hit and sinks down in Kylun’s arms. Kylun throws a sword at the sorcerer and hits him. He screams… and falls.
As Kylun’ cradles Sat’neen’s broken body, he feels her spirit in his. The essence of all that they are merges and in a final tragic communion they bid each other farewell. Then the last vestige of Satneen’s lifeforce fades, leaving Kylun with a gaping vacuum at the center of his being. This void suddenly fills with blood-crazed rage as he turns to see that Necrom still lives and, supported by a demon creature, is being led away into the haunted edifice known as the Tower that Crosses Time. No one has set foot in this place in twenty thousand years, but Kylun follows Necrom racing up the stairs. The door slams in front of him.
Moments later, Kylun crashes through it and ends up in Excalibur’s bathroom where Nightcrawler is just brushing his teeth.
Kylun recalls another legend of an omen that heralded the enslavement of Eer’ath. In the very hour, Sat’neen’s mother, Queen Aish’a, was dethroned by Necrom, a blue demon emerged from the Tower that Crosses Time, spat out an alien curse, then vanished in a burst of flaming brimstone.
Eager to kill, Kylun strikes like quicksilver. Brutally, he attacks and tries to decapitate Nightcrawler with one of his mystic twin blades. Both of them are surprised to find it doesn’t work. At all. For the blades’ creator, Zz’ria, enchanted the weapons to make sure the blades could never harm one of true virtue and pure spirit.
Kylun sheathes his blades, asking a question in the language of E’erath. What is going on? Kurt replies puzzled. He speaks English! Kylun exclaims. Who is he and what is this place? Nightcrawler introduces himself and explains this is Excalibur’s lighthouse, England, wisely adding planet Earth. England, Kylun repeats, at which point Widget makes his entrance. They instantly recognize each other. Colin friend safe – Oh gosh oh golly oh wow! Widget exclaims.
Germany, the Black Forest. Rachel and Meggan have reached a dead end in their search for Meggan’s parents, a quest that has led them the length of Europe’s chain of itinerant gypsy camps. The travellers were positive that they had seen a caravan with British registration plates here, but the girls find nothing. Rachel informs Meg that she has scanned the area and can’t detect another mind for another five miles.
Suddenly, lightning illuminates the silhouette of a nearby castle. Welcome to spook central, Rachel laughs. And Meggan agrees that it’s like something out of an old horror film. All they need now is Dracula and Frakenstein’s mon-- She cannot finish her sentence before, behind them, exactly those two shows up.
The monster hits Rachel with a club, while Meggan’s features flow as she shapeshifts into a ferocious form. However, before she can attack, the vampire’s eyes glow and, due to her empathic nature, Meggan quickly succumbs.
The vampire orders her to reveal her true self. Totally mesmerized, Meggan obeys but, as she has no idea of what her true form is, she submits to the desires and emotions around her and turns into the Goblin Princess. Delightful, the vampire purrs. She has powers, yet she is soft as clay to his will.
Not fair, the monster protests. He found her first. Addressing the monster as brother, the vampire warns him that his control over the power is greater. If he crosses him, he will die like their father. He may take the other. They turn around but Rachel is gone.
Find her, the vampire orders. Looking for me? Rachel asks calmly as she steps out of the trees. The monster attacks wildly, but this time Rachel is prepared and slugs him. In response, the vampire turns into a giant bat, ordering her to bow before him or die. Rachel just slugs him, scoffing that his pathetic illusions don’t work on her. He falls and changes into his true form, that of an old man (as does his brother).
Rachel shakes Meggan awake and she returns to her ordinary form. Rachel explains that the monsters were based on the mental images they formed when they saw the lightning lit up the ruined castle. Weird is that neither of these old codgers possesses any organic or technological means of generating illusions or of evading her telepathic scan.
Meggan tells her to look, she found the caravan. But Meggan senses something else, lights. She ignores Rachel’s warning and opens the caravan’s door. Inside there is an old chained creature, crouching, begging them for help.
Back at the Excalibur mushroom, Nightcrawler, changing into his costume, asks Kylun for his story. Reacquainting himself with Widget, Kylun tells him his true name is Colin McKay. He’s from this Earth, Edinburgh to be precise. When he was seven, the crime queen Vixen heard of his mutant powers and had him kidnapped. But her men were overconfident and he managed to escape
Colin hid in a derelict factory. He was scared and lonely until Widget magically appeared. He made the boy laugh. They played games and, despite his hunger and fear, Colin felt safe. But then the Vixen’s henchmen tracked him to the factory and his capture seemed inevitable. Then, as if by miracle, Widget created a doorway and when Colin stepped through it he stood on the ice plains of Ee’rath.
The locals regarded the boy’s arrival as a good omen and so they took him to the exiled royal household. Queen Ai’sha placed him in care of her counselor, the mystic Zz’ria and he trained the boy to be a warrior. When he came of age, he chose the image of Widget as his totem and pledged his heart to the Queen’s daughter, the princess Sat’neen. They were so happy… but it was not destined to last.
Necrom was fearful of the growing strength of the exiled Queen’s army, so he launched a cowardly attack on their settlement. It was a massacre. Queen Ai’sha, Zz’ria and thousands of royal supporters died. Hundreds more, including Sat’neen, were imprisoned. Kylun was badly wounded and left for dead. But he survived to rally a new army. Nightcrawler already knows the rest.
He needs to find Necrom. All in good time, Kurt replies and shows him the miniaturized demon he and the Technet caught recently. Kylun recalls as he recognizes it as the slave creature of Necrom’s. Not a statue, Kurt explains. The real thing. Chinadoll reduced it to a petrified miniature ten days ago.
How can that be? Kylun wonders. Necrom and his creature passed through the door to his world seconds before he did. Kurt explains that time is not consistent across the dimensional planes of the multiverse. Kylun lived on Ee’rath for over twenty years, whereas barely a year passed in this reality since he left and Necrom and his creature arrived here over a month ago. Bodybag witnessed their materialization but they dismissed it as one of the unusual phenomena that plague their lives.
A month, Kylun repeats horrified. Necrom could be anywhere. Kurt promises they won’t rest until they find him. One of their number, Joyboy, disappeared as well after they defeated Necrom’s slave. He is lost if Necrom has him and, if he plans to establish an empire there, he is merely the first. Nobody is safe, Kylun threatens.
Back in Germany, Rachel advises caution. Something is very wrong there. She can see the thing, but it is invisible to her psychic probe. It must be an illusion. Meggan disagrees, claiming he is kind and beautiful. Beautiful? Rachel repeats in disbelief. The lights, Meggan replies smiling.
The old creature explains that Rachel hasn’t Meggan’s purity. The spirit plane is denied to her, but it is within his power to let her perceive its wonder. Behold the Alshra. The caravan’s dark interior dissolves in a kaleidoscope of pulsating color, as the world’s familiar spectrum of dull light gives birth to unseen horizons of shimmering life force. And Rachel sees the Phoenix force threaded through every cell of her mutant body, the terrifying potential undiminished by its current dormant state.
She catches a look of Meggan, a very different Meggan. Unable to express what she sees in words, Rachel forges a telepathic link between them to allow Meggan to see herself as a more elfin, lithe shape, wondrously aglow with black eyes. But she didn’t shapeshift, Meggan marvels.
The creature explains that this is Meggan’s true aspect. The Alshra is truth. To perceive it is the prize at her quest’s end. Meggan doesn’t understand. The creature continues that she is not destined to find her parents at this time. She followed a false trail. Madam Zelda told her of a magical creature thought to be hidden in a gypsy caravan. She assumed this referred to Meggan’s past, while in truth it grew from a whispered rumor of his presence.
A fairly amazing coincidence, Rachel remarks. Not so. They are pawns of fate and others who hope to manipulate the frame of live, the creature replies cryptically. He means they’ve been used, Rachel realizes. But by whom?
Their future holds the answer he replies, but let them come as they will or the lessons of the present will be lost. They have both learned much of themselves and each other on the road to this moment. He asks Meggan to draw strength from her new wisdom and accept her uniqueness.
He tells Rachel that she began this quest to help her friend find her family, identity and past, things Rachel believed she herself would never regain. But through her unselfish act she has found herself. The confused fragments of her past begin to form order from chaos. Soon, her memory will be complete.
How does he know so much about them? Rachel wonders. When the old men attacked them, they used his powers, he explains. To his eternal shame, he saw all they saw and shared in all they did. He is of the Neuri, an ancient race possessed of powerful magic. In the centuries past, they retreated from the realms of man, returning only to satisfy their occasional curiosity.
The Neuri’s tale:
So it was seventy years ago. He discovered a gypsy caravan snowbound… the family trapped within, starving. He freed them, but his kindness was repaid with treachery as the father, a minor sorcerer, shot him in the back. He bound the Neuri in mystical chains that compelled him to obey his captor’s every command. Thankfully, the family’s own greed prevented them from using his powers with any success. Jealousy corrupted them. Father slew wife, son slew father, brother slew brother, till only the two outside remained.
The Neuri apologizes for growing weak. He cannot maintain their presence in the Alshra. And the spirit plane fades. He’s dying, isn’t he? Meggan observes. The Neuri agrees and asks them to let him gaze upon open sky one last time. After they take him outside, he gazes at the sky, thanks them and turns to dust.
After some consideration, Meggan turns back to her default form. When Rachel asks why, Meggan replies she wanted to know what she really looked like. She’s used to this form, Meggan explains. It’s how everyone is used to seeing her but, more importantly, it’s how she chooses to be.
Now she’d like to get home as soon as possible. Rachel agrees, but Meggan will have to carry her. She can’t fly without activating the Phoenix force. Resisting using it is really tough, but from what the Neuri said, it’s paying off. Her memory has started to heal
As they fly off, the gypsy brother angrily stare after them, now merely two powerless old men.
Back at the Excalibur mushroom, strange clucking sounds coming from one room make them believe they are under attack. The Technet, Kurt and Kylun race toward the source of that noise to find Widget trying to grow himself a mechanical body. He’s still very clumsy, for example one leg is shorter than the other. Ferro is amused by Widget’s plight, causing Kylun to threaten him. Nobody makes fun of his friend!
Kurt explains they are merely relieved this was a false alarm. They have little cause to laugh these days. They never know what is going to happen next.
As if on cue there is a booming noise and a red flash and a creature dressed in an insect-like armor has appeared, and addresses them in a strange language.
“On ho no,” this is where he came in, Kurt mutters.