Necrom unleashes his magical, evil powers and Kylun reflects the deadly blow about to kill his lover, Sat’neen, with his magical swords. The two deadly enemies are face to face and finally Kylun impales Necrom with his blades. The evil wizard turns to dust and Kylun turns to Sat’neen whom he has saved. He embraces her but, in his arms, she turns to a corpse and shrivels.
“No!” he cries, first in the language of E’erath, then his own as Kylun wakes up from his nightmare. Not again! Always the same dream! Why does Sat’neen haunt his sleep? he wonders. He would have gladly died for her. With a sundered heart, he must live on this world of his birth, familiar and strange in equal measure.
He has been resting outside against a stone wall and now gets up. Nearby, he sees a house, the one belonging to his parents. He arrived here at dusk, last evening but hasn’t approached them so far. He steps over the stones in a river, recalling that having a mutant son forced his parents to have broad minds, but will they understand he travelled across the multiverse? Little over a year has passed here while he spent twenty on Ee’rath. Reborn in magic and tempered by fierce combat, he is no longer the freckle-faced child his parents lost.
He stands before the door, wondering if they will accept him. Or will they run screaming in terror? He dreads their reaction more than any foe he ever fought. The Vixen told him she had killed his parents. A cruel lie to rob a child of hope. What did she tell them of him? Do they think he is dead? Perhaps it would be better.
He decides he has to do it and lifts his hand to press the bell. That moment, an energy beam hits him and he is transported several feet away where another team of Warpies, the magnetic Lodestone, the feral Ocelot and Oak, are waiting.
The strong guy, Oak, praises the shy Lodestone, and reminds them they mustn’t let the target make contact with the public. Ocelot states Peter won’t be happy if they’ve hurt him. He steps closer to Kylun who kicks him and hits Lodestone, then dodges Oak’s blow. Oak angry at his “unprovoked” display of violence. Then why have they attacked him? Kylun asks. Ocleot jumps on his back. He is an outlaw!
Angrily, Kylun fends him off with his wrapped up swords. When Ocelot claws at them, Kylun drags them out warning him that no evil can defy them. He cuts through Ocelot’s arm… or would if the boy was evil. Since he is not, the magical blades do not harm him. Confused, Kylun hesitates, allowing Oak the chance to hit him. He sinks down unconscious and the boys decide to deliver him to Cloud Nine.
That’s where several of Kylun’s teammates already are. Nightcrawler is being bandaged for his injuries. Peter assures him, Shadowcat and Cerise that they are all civilized people, so he does not propose to imprison them. However, since the security of the establishment is paramount, they have each been allocated a guide, Siphon, Sponge and Static, who possesses the ability to neutralize their mutant powers.
Glaring at Static, Kitty announces that, however he dresses it up, they are still his prisoners. Peter tells her that despite their heroic reputation, under British law, the members of Excalibur are still criminals. As a representative of Her Majesty’s government, he cannot ignore that fact nor can he condone their unauthorized infiltration of this establishment.
Nightcrawler announces they came to help their friend Alistaire Stuart and Kitty asks where he is. Peter replies he was preparing to take them to him. He is in the very next room.
In said room, they see Alistaire unconscious in a medical bed. Peter explains that Dr. Stuart is making a very good recovery. He was injured during containment. Kitty scoffs Alistaire isn’t violent. He’s no threat to anyone; there was no need to beat him up.
Apologetically, Peter offers hat he knows this looks bad. His agents overreacted. Their current crisis has made them all very paranoid. He explains that Cloud Nine was created to be a haven for parahumans and so it was, until two months ago when a mysterious malady struck. He shows them a room with superhumans kept in stasis tubes. The illness has claimed 63 of the mutants in Cloud Nine so far. They are held in suspended animation until they can find a cure.
How? Kurt asks. Terminal genetic breakdown. Kurt points out that they look less deformed than many he has seen in Cloud Nine. A symptom of the malady, Peter assures him. The disease always begins the same way. Loss of parahuman abilities, then a spontaneous reversion to a normal human form. Then death!
Kurt muses that, if it were possible to isolate the humanizing factor, it could be used to positive effect. Grotesque and hideously deformed mutants could lead normal lives. Peter agrees, but saving lives is their first concern.
Cerise wonders why two of the Warpies are smaller than others. With a grin, Kitty informs her that they are children. Cerise has no idea what children are. Kitty tries to explain: surely Cerise must have been smaller once. No, the other woman explains. She emerged from the source as she is. Is Kitty still a “children?” Child! Kitty corrects her and protests that she isn’t. Though she is still growing. Cerise admits she had wondered why Kitty is so small and puny.
Peter tells Kurt that, despite their resources, they have not been able to ascertain the cause of this genetic destabilization. Does he suspect an enemy? Kurt asks. Ever possibility must be considered. He will not fail these children! He turns to the members of Excalibur. He realizes they have gotten off on the wrong foot. But…
He needs help, Nightcrawler states. Peter agrees. And cooperation may be in their own best interest. As para-humans, they are all potential victims. If he truly understood their motives, he would know they were bound to help in any way they can, Kurt explains. So spare them his further political posturing and let them get to work!
Lightyears away, the form of Rachel Summers drifts in space when the Phoenix is suddenly drawn from her. Agitated, it fears Rachel will perish without it, but then realizes that Rachel is safe as they are hanging in timeless limbo. How came they here? By its own will, the grim reaper replies and tells the Phoenix that it sought oblivion. Has she come for Rachel? Phoenix demands as Death changes into the Skrull death god. He tells it where Phoenix goes Rachel must follow. Then he wants it? Phoenix states. But if it surrenders, the universe will be his. Is that what he hopes to gain?
Changing again, Death points out that he is without desire or favor. He is transition. Phoenix resists. It cannot allow the universe to perish! Yet, it seeks oblivion, Death points out, changing into an Indian death god. Phoenix admits it is in torment. Beyond redemption! It forsook godhood to become a parasite and can never go back. The universe has paid a heavy price that it might taste humanity.
Turning into Norse death goddess Hela, Death replies that life is choice. Phoenix points out that in living, it steals from the future of the universe. If it succumbs to death, the universe dies. What choice is there in that? Turning to the builder which Phoenix once met years before, Death tell it that it is like a monkey whose hand is stuck in a cookie jar, screaming that it is trapped by a hand full of cookies.
Phoenix realizes that to be free it must release that which it covets. Is it really that easy? No, Death replies, restoring it to Rachel’s body, it is really that difficult.
Back at Cloud Nine:
Nightcrawler is impressed by Cloud Nine’s resources. Peter explains they owe all this to their parahumans. Fortunately, not all mutant powers develop as martial skills. They have super engineers who can manufacture, weld, fabricate, even alchemists who can transform rubbish into building materials!
More kids come and seeing the heroes, ask for their autographs. One kid asks Kurt where his costume is. Shredded, Kurt replies, a casualty of war. Introducing himself as Silkworm, the boy offers to make a new one and immediately transforms Nightcrawler’s body suit into something new. It’s is a sleeker version of Nightcrawler’s original costume. Wunderbar! he exclaims and thanks the boy. Peter shoos the kids away.
They truly have a diverse army of ability here. That very diversity prevents them from identifying the cause of the destabilization, Peter explains. There is no standard form for mutants. This is where Kurt comes in. Comparative analysis, Peter explains and leads them into a large bare room. By comparing every parahuman to discover common features and thereby determine what is normal. The chamber generates holographic scenarios to exercise a person’s power to its fullest extent. He points to five kids: Iris, Scope, Sonar, Lens and Scan, who can monitor the total spectrum of metabolic activity. None of their parahumans is an adult, Peter states, neither is Shadowcat, and Cerise is an alien. As a mature mutant, Nightcrawler’s genetic pattern should be set. It could supply them with a key to decode the mutant gene. Shadowcat and Cerise can observe the process from the observation booth to make sure there is no foul play. Kurt agrees.
The program begins with the Terminator appearing and trying to shoot Nightcrawler. Kurt dodges, clearly enjoying himself. He is showing off, the big ham, Kitty sighs. One of the scientists, Nicholas, remarks he is remarkable. A perfect physical specimen. Phenomenal agility. Not a mutant ability. Just lots of hard work. He is most curious about the unusual assortment of adaptations: tail, fingers toes, eyes, ears, blue skin and, of course, his ability to adhere to walls (which Kurt demonstrates against “Arnie”). They don’t really connect to his teleportation power, so he could be a second generation mutant. Nicholas continues that if his parents were mutants, he inherited their warped gene as well as developing one of his own. Another scientist, Zebedee, marvels that he isn’t even breaking a sweat.
Nicholas switches programs. An alien creature tries to grab Kurt and he teleports away. On the screen, two virtually simultaneous dimensional rifts are shown. An exit and an entrance. Quickly, the electronic back-up detects Nightcrawler, remarkably almost invisible by merging into shadows, camouflaged by his blue coloring, or so it seems. Nicholas corrects himself. He is becoming invisible in the shadows. Is there no end to his gifts? he exclaims.
Suddenly, the alarm klaxon rings. Nicholas gives orders to stop the program. What’s wrong? Kitty asks. He is one of us! one of the kids mutters. Kurt asks why the program stopped. He was beginning to enjoy himself. Peter apologizes. His safety was their first concern. How was he in danger? Kurt inquires. Peter replies evasively he doesn’t want to alarm him. Nicholas’ initial diagnosis must be verified by a thorough medical examination. Kitty adds that they say he is suffering from the destabilization. Kurt refuses to believe that… he is not ill. Peter sincerely hopes not, but the onset of this disease is insidious and, if Nicholas’ diagnosis is correct, he only has two months before it becomes terminal.
Meanwhile on Britain’s Cornish coast, Captain Britain tries to test his powers by lifting a huge rock, and is failing. Meggan pleads with him to stop before he hurts himself. He grunts and tries to move the rock. This began in Africa just like the last time in America. But then he recovered his powers as soon as he returned to Britain. Now, even with his amplifier costume on he can’t… Suddenly, his strength returns and he pulverizes the rock. And he can fly again. He feels wonderful, like waves of energy are coursing through his body.
Meggan agrees that she can see it. The light has come back! What does she mean, “come back?” he asks. She explains that the light that always surrounds him. She saw it go away when he fell into the sea this morning. Why didn’t she tell him? She was scared, she admits, eyes averted. Why? He presses when she doesn’t answer. Answer him! he shouts. He looked… different, she admits.
Oh dear, a lovers’ tiff, comes a new voice. The heroes turn around to see their old foes, the Cherubim. What do they want? Cap demands. They are legit now, Quill replies. Secret agents like. Card carrying members of the RCX. Remember them, do they? Get to the point, Cap orders. Their superiors have requests that they accompany the Cherubim to their headquarters. It’s their choice: surrender or else. Or else! Cap shouts and hits Quill…