Unaware that he is being watched by Peter, a despairing Captain Britain sits next to the tube in which his beloved Meggan floats unconscious. The great Captain Britain, Peter sneers. Praying for the life of his idiot concubine. Desperate to atone for the injury he believes he has caused. Prepared to follow anyone who might lead him from his pit of guilt and misery. Pathetic, isn’t he? But Peter will model him. He will put iron into his spine. He will forge him into the true patriotic symbol of their great land, Peter vows. And his heroic reputation will give the RCX a public image to which the masses can rally.
Luke asks what about Nightcrawler. He distrusts him. Peter points out that, as a student of Charles Xavier, he may be able to contribute some if his teacher’s knowledge to their research. Ultimately, he is expendable.
That moment, one of the Warpies, the strongman Angus, comes rushing in. When Peter sharply criticizes him for that, Angus bursts out he is in pain and sick. He falls down. He suffers from destabilization, Luke states. That makes sixty-seven victims. Peter had high hope for him, but before their eyes the boy reverts to a normal human shape. Pete announces that, without his powers, Angus will be of no use to their cause. He orders to have him placed in stasis with the others.
He will prepare Captain Britain for his role in the defence of their realm. He knows this genetic destabilization is the first cowardly attack of some covert parahuman organisation. The public must be prepared for the invasion that will follow.
Meanwhile in one of Cloud Nine’s many labs:
The scientists are tired, as it is 3:30 a.m. Nicholas wants to finish work but suggests the three Excalibur members, Nightcrawler, Cerise and Shadowcat, should turn in as well. Kurt assures him they are fine. Kitty agrees. There will be time to sleep when they have discovered a cure for the genetic destabilization. Kurt agrees but secretly doubts her identity. He watches the tired girl sharply and notices that, due to her tiredness, she has trouble maintaining her shape. She is a metamorph. She spoke to freely of accessing Peter’s files in front of these cameras. The real Kitty wouldn’t have been so indiscreet. He figures he and Cerise cannot act as long, as the Warpies Syphon and Sponge are negating their powers.
He yawns loudly. Nicholas jokes that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak and sleep is essential. Kurt agrees and asks Kitty along. “Kitty” claims she isn’t tired. Walking to sleeping chambers with their two diminutive guards, a confused Cerise announces she isn’t tired. Of course she is, Kurt replies. He knows Siphon is. The boy agrees. He points to his room. It’s right next door to Nightcrawler’s. Their room, Kurt corrects and drags Cerise inside with him, shocking the kids. The last thing they see before the automatic door closes is the two heroes kissing passionately.
As soon as the door is closed Kurt begins to extricate himself. He apologizes but the ruse was necessary for their captors to believe they will be occupied for the next few hours. As Peter wants them to believe he is fair and reasonable, the cell is free of surveillance. Peter also knows Kurt is unable to teleport blind and everywhere they have been in Cloud Nine is monitored by security cameras.
What is he planning? He asks if Cerise’s stellar sensors can verify Kitty’s location. As they are not dependant on any powers, she can. Kurt explains when they left Kitty she was on this level, eighty-seven point five meters north north-east of this cell. Looking at her sensor, Cerise corrects him that Kitty is three levels down and over eight hundred and fifty meters to the south of their position. Kurt replies that his spatial awareness is infallible. It needs to be, so he can manoeuvre when he teleports. The Kitty they worked alongside is an impostor. Cerise’s device is detecting the real Kitty.
Cerise adds that she isn’t alone. Meggan, Kylun; Alistair and MicroMax are near her. Their readings suggest they are unconscious. Brian is also here on the level above.
As Kurt seemingly begins to disappear, Cerise exclaims that he is dematerializing. Merely invisible, he smiles, in darkness. Syphon must have fallen asleep. His powers have returned. Kurt believes from the data Nicholas collected that the entrance to the dimension he teleports through constantly surrounds him. It distorts light. Absorbing and displacing it, so he appears to be in shadow when he is in light and is virtually invisible in deep shadow. More importantly, he believes it is possible for him to teleport blind if he has the precise coordinates of a safe arrival point.
Cerise asks to come along. Kurt replies it is too dangerous. He could materialize inside an object, a wall, a floor, even another person! Nevertheless, Cerise insists she come along. She feels physical pain at the thought of never seeing him again. She has never known the fear of such emptiness. Cradling her face, he admits he feel it too. Which is why he can’t let her risk her life. Cerise whispers she’d rather die than live without him. Their lives are one! He admits he loves her. Whispered coordinates punctuate a final kiss and he teleports them away.
Instantly, they land in a room where they see their friends held in stasis tubes alongside several people they do not know.
In Otherworld, Roma and Saturnyne watch the energy matrix collapsing upon itself. Saturnyne fears that without it the Captain Britain Corps will fall apart. Roma will lose control of the multiverse. Roma never desired to rule it and welcomes the death of the matrix. How can Otherworld survive without it? Saturnyne wonders. Roma explains that the matrix was a focus for the magical energy that permeates the multiverse. Now that it is spread throughout the infinity of alternate realties once more, it will be safe from plots by her father or any other who seeks godhood. The magic of Otherworld will sustain her and her starlight citadel. She has none of the ambition that drove her father. Nor will she interfere in the affairs of man as Merlyn did. Even now as Otherworld’s greatest champion faces certain death she is sworn to stay her hand. In a scrying pool, she watches an agitated Captain Britain.
Back on Earth, Brian tells Peter he can’t just sit there, watching Meggan die. He needs to do something! He will Peter assures him, but not as a soldier. His power is in decline, he is far more valuable as a public liaison. He could lead the campaign to outlaw renegade parahumans. He could explain the threat they pose to their nation. With the right presentation, the public will see him as the patriotic embodiment of Britain and rally behind his banner. The RCX banner, Brian corrects. He is not a propaganda puppet. He punches villains!
Peter angrily insists he has an obligation to the nation. He is a patriot. He makes no apology! Perhaps the Captain isn’t old enough to remember when Britain was an empire. Canada, India, Africa, Australia, all colonies of their proud democracy. But their glorious dream was interrupted by insidious forces intent on their destruction! They have reduce them to a curiosity. An insignificant Third World island off the coast of Europe!
Captain Britain slams his fist into a computer console, shouting he is not interested in his conspiracy theories, he only cares about Meggan! The console he hit controlled the hologram, and the image of Meggan disappears.
Furious, Cap demands what Peter has done to Meggan. As he is about to attack, the Warpies attack him in turn. They remind Cap his powers are gone. He can’t fight them. Stubbornly, he keeps on lashing out. Peter shouts at the Warpies to keep on hitting him every time he dares to stand. He must be made to understand that, if he is not prepared to serve his country, he is a traitor. Their enemy! And will receive no mercy!
Elsewhere, Kurt and Cerise have freed Kitty, Meggan and all the others in the tubes. Kitty and Kurt wonder who the strangers are. Alistaire explains they are RCX agents. Gabriel and Michael are old friends. Boozing buddies would be a more accurate assessment of the basis of their relationship, Agent Michael corrects him. Alistaire assures them that it’s good to see them after so long. Define “long,” Gabriel demands. It’s 1993, Alistaire reveals to the shocked agents. Orpington-Smythe has had them on ice for five years! Gabriel exclaims and Michael fears he’ll need a bank loan to pay the fines on his library books.
The last thing they recall is the explosion in the cavern beneath Braddock Manor. They had brought the Warpies there because Nigel Orpington-Smythe, minister for defence and confidant of Prime Minister Thatcher, wanted to build a Warpie army.
He succeeded, Kurt informs them. But some mysterious menace is attacking them. They are all losing their power. Meggan interrupts that Brian is losing his power too! But nobody did it to him, the light just went away. His energy aura!
Kurt figures there is no connection between Brian’s state and the Parahumans at Cloud Nine. Meggan interrupts there is. The Warpies have the same light as Brian and their aura is dimming too!
That can only mean they are not mutants, Kurt realizes. Gabriel agrees. The RCX was created in response to the sudden appearance of parahuman children after a reality warp event centred on the UK. They believed the Warpies were of mystical origin because of a coincidence between the location of births and ley lines. Their superiors dismissed this theory as new age hokum, Michael adds.
Kurt muses that this reality warp could have been caused by the recent cosmic convergence. It was caused by the contraction of an energy matrix that stretched from this Earth to Otherworld. The crosstime energy has been building for years. The resulting build up of mystical energy may have caused the reality war and the birth of the warpies. Now that the energy is dissipating, the Warpies’ genetic structures are reverting to their intended human shape.
Which means, Kurt never could have been suffering from genetic destabilization, Kitty adds. She knew she saw Peter press his belt stud as the alarm signalled his illness! Kurt agrees. The illness was contrived to ally them to Peter’s cause. Just like he made Brian think he’d hurt Meggan.
Meggan insists they help Brian. Kurt tells her Cerise has already given him Brian’s coordinates. He will teleport to him. However, Kurt quickly realizes that he cannot... as he finds his powers are gone.
They turn around to find Luke and a whole group of Cloud 9’s Warpies. Luke orders them to surrender. Their powers have been neutralized. MicroMax agrees they don’t stand a chance without their powers. Kylun whispers back the Warpies are misguided innocents. The swords of ZZ’ria showed him that. And since his jailers would never consider his talent to reproduce sound as a threat, he may be able to dishearten their less aggressive opponents with the roar of an Ee’rathian Gn’sgdagia. He growls loudly, scattering the kids and attacks a moment later.
Some of the Warpies – those who neutralize powers – decide to flee. Luke grabs one of them, about to hit him for deserting their posts. Nightcrawler teleports towards him and hits him. He tells the children to run and find a safe place to hide. Another Warpie blasts him from behind and the battle is on.
Siphon and the others meet more Warpies and tells them there is a real big fight between the Advocates, Cherubim, Seraphim and Sky Pilots against Excalibur. The other Warpies think this unfair. They like Excalibur and they decide to even the odds.
Elsewhere, several Warpie strong men continue to hit Captain Britain. They ask him to stay down but he keeps on getting up again, refusing to surrender.
Angrily, Peter orders Oak to hit him again. Reluctantly, the boy does so and Cap stays down. The boy fears he killed him. Butane enters shouting about the battle between Excalibur and Luke’s troops. Peter orders him to call all the off-duty elite from the barracks. He and the kids leave.
Oak and Pumice are horrified at what they’ve done. Reluctantly, they leave afraid Peter would otherwise consider them traitors like Captain Britain.
Once they are gone, Roma manifests at Brian’s side. Weakly, he apologizes for not getting up, but he thinks his neck is broken. Gently she reminds him she could easily repair his injuries but for her oath to never interfere in his life. Smiling weakly, Brian tells her he could overlook a little interference this time. But what’s the catch? Excuse his cynicism but she doesn’t usually make house calls.
She explains she is paying her debt to him. His present state is due in part to her past manipulations. In recent times, he did not need the arcane circuitry in his uniform to collect and store mystical energy because he was being supercharged by the condensing energy matrix. But the matrix is no more and, since the costume he wears was synchronized to the metabolism of Captain Marshall of Earth 998, his powers were beginning to fail. She has corrected this deficit.
She hands the restored Captain his helmet. If she knew all this, why did she let him take the beating? It was his choice, Roma replies. He could have surrendered. No, never, he replies; she knows that. But he did not, she replies. Roma smiles and touches his cheek, he has grown. His is the heart of a warrior, it honours his father’s memory. He would be very proud. She wishes him farewell and disappears.
Elsewhere, his friends are still fighting and get help from some of the other Warpies, one of whom, Prune, clearly has a crush on Shadowcat. Nightcrawler tells Silkworm he shouldn’t be here. The boy explains he and many others are fed up having to work while Peter’s elite gets special treatment. They are taking over.
Peter arrives with reinforcements, causing Nightcrawler to decide he must protect the innocents. He teleports to Peter’s side, intent on taking him as hostage. However, “Peter” turns out to be Lump, who changes his shape, allowing the real Peter to blast Kurt with a device. Peter orders Nightcrawler to tell his comrades to surrender or he will die a slow agonizing death.
At that moment, the device is crushed (possibly along with some of Peter’s fingers) courtesy of a very angry Captain Britain. Peter gasps for help from the Warpie strongmen, but they refuse. He’d told them they would be heroes, not killers. Peter retorts that desperate times call for desperate measures, but the kids refuse.
Peter uselessly hits Cap, refusing to give up. He will not betray his country! Undeterred by the blows, Cap explains that he was given his name and costume along with the powers. He is not a patriot. He doesn’t care about countries or governments. He cares about people… justice… right or wrong. And Peter is wrong. Very wrong! He holds his fist under Peter’s chin. If he was his enemy, he’d push his flapping jaw through the mass of scheming paranoia he calls a brain!
Kurt warns him that Peter wants to be a martyr. He no longer poses a threat. He is a misguided fool, driven by dreams of becoming a patriotic champion. He is not an evil man. Calling him a filthy kraut, Peter sputters at him not to judge him. Hitting him hard, Kurt adds he is also an insufferable, arrogant bullying swine.
Kitty announces they have a problem, namely the hundred parahumans of Cloud Nine. Alistaire explains he and the renegade RCX members will take care of them. After all, that is what they were doing before Orpington-Smythe interfered. Alistaire will stay to ease the transition. Most of Cloud Nine’s personnel are good people.
Suddenly, they hear a wooshing sound coming closer, followed by light. Finally Rachel appears before them, smiling. The heroes don’t know what to say. What’s wrong? Rachel asks. Kurt reminds her the last time they saw her her mind was dead and her body inhabited by the Phoenix, and she was wearing the green costume, the aspect of the good Phoenix…
Powering down, Rachel realizes they thought she was Dark Phoenix. Sorry she scared them, but green isn’t really her colour. And while the Dark Phoenix may have been a threat to all life in the universe, she had really great taste in costumes. Relieved, Kitty hugs her, followed by the others. Who but Rachel would be so outrageous just to make a fashion statement?
Kurt asks how she is and what happened. Kitty orders him to back off. They are together, that’s what counts. Rachel tells her she isn’t staying. Her memory is intact now. She can’t look at them without thinking of the Kurt Wagner and Kate Pryde she knew on her Earth. They are dead, and those responsible still enslave her world. She can’t live here, knowing that the power of the Phoenix could make a difference. She has to try! She is going back to the future…