Rachel Summers is flying through space, or more to the point her body is, cocooned in the healing embrace of the Phoenix, after her mind and soul were shattered. The ancient celestial force is looking for answers, a reason for being. Relinquishing cosmic awareness to focus through Rachel’s primitive organic senses, it glimpses a truth. In seeing all, nothing is seen. A flawless overview of creation reveals the majesty of a grand design, but it is sterile. It ignores the subtle wonder and impossible beauty of existence.
Suddenly, a sun seems to dim as a new intense light rises on the horizon. This is no natural phenomenon, the Phoenix fears and witnesses how corrosive energy dissolves the ground moments later. Is it under attack? But then it sees a device draining the planet’s life force and now knows what it is up against. This machine belongs to Galactus, devourer of worlds!
Angrily, the Phoenix orders him to deactivate his device as the world bears life! Galactus, in turn, orders the Starchilde to leave. He will brook no interference. Phoenix insists it is wrong to murder a world to satisfy his appetite, however Galactus tells it he has no time for its hypocritical posturing. Angrily, Phoenix blasts the machine which causes it to release the harvest and the cosmic converter is vaporized by the explosive energy it sought to contain.
Phoenix asks Galactus’ forgiveness. It desired only to save this living orb, not the destruction of his machine. Galactus orders it to cease its prattle. He is who he is and does what he must to survive. While it, the chaosbringer of old, feigns superior morality as it parades its stolen humanity. He is weak, consumed by hunger. Its intrusion has cost him dearly and it will pay the price!
He lashes out with an energy blast, which Phoenix deflects. His obscene appetite has initiated this hostility, it reminds him. But its cause is just and it will fight him to the death!
Meanwhile, back on Earth in the caverns of Braddock Manor: Captain Britain battles Nightcrawler, who is encased in a hard light armour provided by Cerise. When Brian kicks him, Kurt grabs Cap’s leg and brings him down. He tries to follow this up with a blow to the face but Cap catches his fist and hits him in the stomach.
Kitty, Cerise, Lockheed and Meggan watch the spectacle. Meggan dislikes it. Kitty reminds her that Brian has now accepted his heritage as warrior of Otherworld and he’s prepared to enhance his brute strength with martial art techniques. But they could hurt another, Meggan fears. Kitty reminds her that the solid light suit protects Kurt and Brian’s near invulnerable.
Kurt strikes Brian, who stays down. Meggan rushes to his side. What went on? Kurt wonders while Cerise insists that the blow was well below Captain Britain’s endurance.
Brian regains consciousness but still feels weak. He apologizes. He hasn’t been sleeping lately. He can’t stop thinking about finding Sat-yr-9 and making her pay for killing Courtney. Nothing else seems to matter anymore. As if struck, Meggan turns around and icily suggests he go find her, before flying away.
Brian shouts after her to wait. Kurt suggests he let her go and give her a moment. Brian confides Meggan’s been very touchy lately. Perhaps because he has been ignoring her, Kurt suggests. No, he has just been preoccupied with trying to find Sat-yr-9. Meggan knows he loves her.
How does she know? Kurt asks. Love has to be expressed. He can understand the rage that drives him to avenge Courtney Ross. But it has become an obsession. It will consume him. He must decide is capturing Sat-yr-9 worth losing Meggan? Brian becomes pensive…
In the meantime, the battle between Phoenix and Galactus rages.
On Earth, at Broadcasting House London, residence of Britain’s top radio station, Radio One, its premier DJ Scott Wright is getting ready to leave. His boss congratulates him and Scott half-jokingly asks him to remember that when he bids to renew his contract. TV calls, he’s hot, the people love him. And who can blame them? a female chauffeur in a uniform asks. She explains she is to drive him to his 3 ‘o clock at S,T.Y. Television. Trying to flirt with her Scott follows her to the carpark where the lights are out. She leads him to the car. Again he tries to hit on her when suddenly tentacles engulf him and trap him. The chauffeur turns into a lumplike creature, explaining Mr Orpington-Smythe was not pleased that he ignored their invitation and sent them to collect Scott.
They obviously don’t know who they are dealing with, he scoffs, and turns into a giant – Micromax. They are not impressed, the lump replies. Two masked kids hit Micromax with electric blasts and Scott sinks down unconscious. No longer able to use his powers to manipulate his looks, his youthful built shape gives way to a paunch and semi-baldness.
Meanwhile, Phoenix and Galactus still fight.
On Earth, Kitty and Feron are in the caverns beneath Braddock Manor. Kitty explains that when Brian originally left the manor the Mastermind computer was still operational. She wants to find out what shut it down. She tells him to run the cables to the yellow terminal. Servile tasks are unworthy of his ability, Feron decides and refuses. He sulks that he cannot believe his guardians suggested he should remain here for this.
Kitty replies that Brother Francis wants him to be integrated into society, to live in the real world. Lord knows why Kurt agreed to take him on. She thinks it’s a big mistake. Feron agrees. Kitty gets in his face, calling him an obnoxious jerk! Those old monks pampered and protected him since he was born. The let him think he was something special. Did not her adopted family, the X-Men, nurture her in the same manner? he shoots back. Kitty gets angry, then realizes he has a point. They treated her like an equal while at the same time guiding and protecting her. She was a real brat, too! He knew it was so, Feron gloats. His mind is superior, that is why he will not soil his hands in her service. Wrong, she warns him. Move the cables or Lockheed will singe.
Sentinels! a new voice shouts. It’s Widget in his new humanoid body. Again he screams: Sentinels massing, final confrontation… mutantkind doomed! then disappears.
This is getting stupid, Kitty sighs. Feron agrees, they should begin working on this immediately. No way, Kitty warns him. She’s going to see Kurt. He is going to stay here and follow her instructions to the letter. Feron refuses. Kitty tells Lockheed if the whining punk doesn’t obey orders, scorch him. Lockheed cackles. Feron gulps.
In space, the battle still rages on.
Captain Britain and Meggan in the meantime have taken a vacation at the Braddock summer cottage on England’s south coast. The two are playing tag in the water, using their superpowers before kissing. Meggan tells Brian how happy she is. It’s been so long since they’ve been together like this. She wished they could stay for more than a week. It would be nice, he admits, but they have obligations. She asks him not to spoil it.
Brian apologizes. He truly wishes there was some other way. He wished he was an ordinary man, but he’s not. He’s Captain Britain. For years he tried to deny it and hated himself. Now he knows what he is… who he is. He’s accepted himself. Can she accept him? He’s not really different. He admits this is difficult. He’s been trying to pluck up the courage to say this for the last two days. He searches for something in his backpack, continuing that he has a duty and without it he’s half a person but he can’t conceive living without her. He asks her to sit down. What he’s trying to say … and he can understand if she declines… he kneels in front of her… is he’d be honoured if she would consent to becoming his wife. Will she marry him? He offers her a ring.
Crying happily, she hugs him and says yes. They are unaware that they are being watched by a monstrous being who cackles there won’t be a happily ever after.
In space, Galactus finally weakens and falls. Phoenix advises him to let it end and renounce his evil ways. Angrily, he tells it to spare him its hypocrisy. The stench of death clings to it no less than to him! Phoenix retorts that any destruction it has wrought pales in comparison to the stars and civilizations that died by his hand. He only does what he must to survive, Galactus insists. And for choice, he would feed on barren worlds or civilizations in decline. But what price has the universe paid to indulge the Phoenix’s vain glory? What life has perished so that it may prance and strut among lesser beings in search of admiration?
Phoenix admits that in mindless passion it destroyed a sun and the world it warmed. It acknowledges its sin. But Galactus speaks not of a single sun but of that from which it steals its power! It has no need to steal, Phoenix protests, it is the embodiment of life! It is indeed unique, he admits. Born of the void between states of being. But it is an expression of the universal lifeforce, not a well-spring. The universe is finite. In birth and death, there is transition… and in living advancement. But nothing new is created. Life but feeds on life. Phoenix is no different. It is sustained by the warmth of life’s fiery cycle, Phoenix claims. In its natural state perhaps, Galactus agrees, but it is not sufficient to maintain its activities on this plane.
He tells it to look around upon t is world it sought to save. An ancient, dying world, dead now. Victim to the titanic forces they unleashed. And he hovers near to death, his strength depleted and exhausted while Phoenix is neither weary nor hungry. Because it taps into a source of near limitless potential. The sea of life yet unborn! Who is the greater evil? The devourer of life that has run its course or it who denies existence to generations of the future?
Phoenix is horrified to learn the truth and stands in silent torment as with a gesture Galactus reconstitutes his cosmic converter and begins to feed. Like an ashamed child, caught in a lie the Phoenix flees. Galactus seems not to notice, yet deep within his ancient being is an emotion akin to sorrow mourning lost innocence. For he, above all others, has reason to know that the Phoenix can never escape the guilt that now consumes its tortured soul.
Earth, Braddock manor where the rest of Excalibur (without Cap or Meggan) have gathered. They discuss Widget who has made nine appearances to date. Each progressively clearer and more focused, possibly as they near the encounter of which he warns. They should prepare themselves, Cerise suggests. How? Kitty wonders. They don’t know what form the threat will take or where it will come from.
The phone rings and Kitty answers it. It’s a panicked Alistaire Stuart, who explains he tracked down the electronic fingerprint Colonel Fury gave them. He knows who framed Alysande… but now they are after him. He calls from a dark office.
Kitty asks where he is. In Liverpool, he replies. He’s infiltrated the headquarters of the RCX. It’s under a derelict church, Saint Oswald’s… A moment later he is hit by a clawed fist and falls down, surrounded by inhuman beings while Kitty calls out, “What’s happening?”