Excalibur (1st series) #66

Issue Date: 
June 1993
Story Title: 
Back to the Present

Alan Davis (writer / penciler), Mark Farmer (inker), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Dana Moreshead (colorist), Terry Kavanagh (editor), Tom deFalco (editor-in-chief)

Excalibur created by Chris Claremont and Alan Davis

Brief Description: 

In the future of the “Days of Future Past “ timeline, shortly after Rachel Summers travelled to the past, Kate Pryde was captured and is now being examined. The scientists hope to recreate Rachel’s time travel effect with residual temporal energy in Kate. She’d rather die, however, and uses an opportunity to phase during the process which merges her with an unsuspecting Widget, who reappears in the chamber two years later, only to phase out again and reappear in Britain to members of the resistance group RCX. In the present, Excalibur returns to Braddock Manor and Rachel intends to travel to the future t help her world. The others ask her to take them along to help but she refuses. As she begins the process, Kate / Widget reaches out to her from 2015. That moment, Ahab and the Sentinels attack the RCX and Widget. After a bridge between the two times is formed, Ahab manages to abduct Rachel and Widget and Excalibur are left stranded in 2015 with the RCX, Their only option of returning home: topple the Sentinel rule of the world.

Full Summary: 

The future, 2013:

A middle-aged woman hangs imprisoned in a device with Sentinel technology. Kate Pryde, female, mutant phaser, Ahab informs the rest. Arrested with other members of the outlaw X-Men organization: 10.7.2005. Found guilty of numerous counts of terrorism and violating the genetic purity act of 1994. Sentenced to life, imprisonment in the South Bronx mutant internment center: 10.8.2005. Escaped nine days ago. Five of her accomplices were terminated. But the sixth, Rachel Summers, is still free.

Another man, Professor Quinn, tells Ahab (who is crippled and sitting in a floating chair) that he understands his animosity. Ahab was lucky to survive Summers’ attack. He doesn’t want Quinn’s concern, Ahab snaps. He wants that harlot, Summers! Quinn promises she will be Ahab’s to do with as he wishes, when they find her.

Ahab has told them all he can. Summers was his prototype for his Hound program. She inherited telepathy and telekinesis from her mother. Quinn adds that files recovered from Xavier’s mansion indicated a further potential, the ability to project her consciousness through space and time. But not her physical body, Ahab stresses. Then how does he explain this surveillance video? Quinn asks. It was recorded when Pryde and Summers sabotaged cyber-robotics project Nimrod.

He shows Ahab the video of Kate and Rachel infiltrating the project. Quinn points out the sound and image distortion. Systems analysis suggests it was caused by a temporal flux emanating from Summers. It effectively stops them from hearing what the women are saying. And then Rachel vanished, the resulting energy pulse almost totally wiped out security transmissions. It may have activated the Nimrod prototype - they can only guess at its true potential, for though it successfully immobilized Kate Pryde, she had already detonated a bomb in the reactor plant, vaporizing the entire complex.

Only Kate Pryde survived. Even her phasing power could not fully protect her from a nuclear detonation. She has terminal radiation poisoning. They have interrogated her with a full mind-scan but it was unproductive. As a student of Xavier, she has unbreachable psychic shields.

Another scientist informs Quinn that the circuit check is completed. Ten minutes to optimum power surge. Commence countdown! he orders.

The suspect Rachel Summers has travelled back in time to change a significant event in the past in an attempt to alter the present. Is that possible? Ahab asks. Quinn replies the Hierarchy accepts the logic of anticipating such an attack. Physical examination of Pryde revealed residual temporal anomalies from exposure to Summers’ time warp. They hope to use the residue to recreate the time warp.

They begin the process. Quinn worries that Pryde’s inhibitor collar may be arcing. Pryde may be able to phase. Another scientist points out she is as good as dead.

But she knows that. Through senses ravaged by inhuman pain, Kate is dimly aware that her power returns and with it the chance to protect Rachel’s freedom. With the last vestige of strength, she phases, disrupting delicate circuitry.

For a moment, the temporal portal flares out of control, then it implodes, tearing savagely through the fabric of space and time. The post and future knot in a tangled instant without order. Then, at the center of ragged moments, a focus appears. Wounded time heals…

and two years later, in 2015, in the place of Kate Pryde the new metallic form of Widget appears. Status report? a metallic voice announces. Program parameters exceeded. Speculation: Psycho-cybernetic temporal fusion… Request external confirmation…

Quinn, now wearing a containment suit, wonders who it is speaking to. It doesn’t seem to be aware of their presence. The Sentinels have no idea what it is. The entity absorbs all scan wave lengths. Quinn adds the chamber has been a temporal hot spot since Kate Pryde and Monitor Unit Five disappeared. Stability returned with this entity three hours ago.

Suddenly, Ahab, now master of the hounds, teleports in, announcing this is not Quinn’s affair. He is the guardian of time. Quinn criticizes his vendetta against Rachel Summers and reminds Ahab he is the authority of this laboratory. Ahab reveals that, since last they met, he encountered Summers not in their past but in that of a parallel dimension. She was marshalling an army of mutants to attack them. He believes this entity to be a probe to test their defenses.

Ahab orders a Sentinel to remove the entity to his pantemporal nexus. The Sentinel complies. Suddenly, Widget looks disturbed, shouting he is being used to find Rachel. It won’t betray… Rachel must be free! It creates a temporal flux and disappears.

Ahab notes it mentioned Summers’ name. He knew she was behind this and that they would meet again. When he has finished with her this time, she will beg him to kill her, he vows.

Earth, the present, where Excalibur has just returned to Braddock Manor after their adventure in Cloud Nine. Kitty asks the newly returned Rachel why she is so glum. She thought she’d be glad to be home. Rachel reminds her she only knows the lighthouse as their home. She’s never been here before. So much has changed while she was gone.

Kitty agrees. She finds it hard to keep up. Kurt and Kylun’s costumes got shredded and Silkworm made them new ones. She should have had him work on her. She’s been thinking about a new look. Now that Rachel has a new costume, Kitty is the only founding member who still has her original gear. It’s bad for her image!

Rachel replies it’s not the image. Look at Kurt and Cerise. Kitty agrees they look pretty intense. But they hardly know each other. It can’t be serious. Because they fell in love so quickly? Rachel chides her that she is too young to be a cynic. They should all live in the moment. It could be their last.

Brian asks Meggan to wait. She explains she wants to accompany Kylun to Sat’neen’s grave. He asks her to stay. They need to talk. Meggan is clearly uncomfortable with this. He points out she’s been avoiding him. Has he done something wrong? It’s her, she replies. Does she have second thoughts about marrying him? he wonders. Meggan replies she loves him, but she has always been able to see the Matrix energy that gives him his powers. It’s beautiful. When he lost his powers, it went away and she realized it had attracted her to him.

They are more than how they look! Brian insists. Are they? she asks. She made herself look this way for him! She returns to the monstrous hybrid shape she spent most of her life in. Would he love her if she still looked like this? Would he really? Brian looks down, unable to answer.

Kitty and Rachel see the two arguing but figure they will work it out. That moment, Feron spies Kitty and shouts at her for leaving him to stay in his haunted edifice. Not that he was scared of the Widget spectre’s ranting, he adds. ”Yess’e wos,” Lockheed tattles.

Seeing Rachel, Feron angrily berates her for stealing his inheritance, then notes the Phoenix is gone. It returned to the stars, Rachel replies. The power should still be his, he argues. Rachel points out the Phoenix didn’t see it that way. She couldn’t give up the power if she wanted, and she doesn’t! She needs it to get back to the future. To get them back to the future, Kitty corrects her. Rachel tells her that her innate power can project her astral self through time, but it takes the Phoenix force to carry her body. The force is in short supply. She’ll need it when she gets to her Earth. She can’t afford to take passengers.

2015 – The chamber of the Sentinel Hierarchy:

Ahab stands before the Master Mold, demanding help to chase Summers. He is told that the Sentinel prime directive is to ensure the genetic purity of the human species. They will continue purification in tangential timelines when this Earth is purged.

Ahab protests they can’t wait. Summers could attack at any time! The Master Mold informs him that they don’t have the current unit capacity. The Sentinel forces are committed to combat the Soviet Super Soldiers, Asian Alliance megarobots plus pockets of resistance in Europe and South America. Their immediate strategy is defence. The entity’s energy signature is registered. Their orbital monitors are realigned to intercept further temporal trespasses. Immediate response is assured. Stage one Nimrod Project, estimate production capacity in 45.7 days. Functional mobilization in 160 days. Stage two; Sentinel colonies stationed in all tangential timelines. Stage three: all mutantkind will be eradicated.

In the present at Braddock Manor, Rachel informs her teammates of her plan. Kate Pryde sent her back in time to give her a second chance at life. But she can’t live here in comfortable security while her world is still suffering. What can she do on her own? Kitty points out. She is Phoenix, she has to try, Rachel replies. Kitty asks her to take them along. Even if she could, she wouldn’t, Rachel replies. It’s too risky. She just came to say goodbye. Travelling in time is like diving into a vast ocean. You can’t navigate, you are swept along the tide of destiny.

Kurt asks her to accept her life here and stay. It’s too late, she is committed, she announces and begins to glow. Suddenly, she screams in pain as she seems to merge with Widget.

2015 AD:

A wasteland in Britain: Rachel must be free! Widget keeps repeating to the confusion of the British heroes who have discovered it. A man in an Iron Man-like suit referred to as Arthur, asks their telepath Tangerine to scan it. Killpower wants to blow it away but Dark Angel replies it isn’t a robot. She can sense a biogenetic aura. Tangerine senses fear, love sadness and a consuming thought: to protect someone named Rachel, but she cannot read its mind. It’s fragmented… diffuse. She senses another mind inside. Dark Angel warns her back. The aura is intensifying.

Suddenly, Widget flares with energy and looks around questioningly. Tangerine senses another human soul inside, albeit in shock. Sentinels! Widget begins to chant. A moment later, Sentinels teleport in, only Gamma and Delta class luckily, along with a few hounds. Killpower shoots the first one.

They are just Ahab’s retinue, Grace reveals as she tackles a Hound. She figures they aren’t the target. One Sentinel identifies the heroes as six members of the RCX. They are not equipped to fight them, Ahab decides and orders it to send trackers to discover the temporal portal.

While the others keep fighting, Tangerine makes contact with the mind inside the probe, finding Kate Pryde. She sees Kate’s memories, her husband, children and finds all dead. Only Rachel survived. Can’t hide, Kate replies. Sentinels like a virus… adapting… spreading. They know where Rachel is. She must warn Rachel!

It begins to teleport away. With Albion’s attention on Widget, Ahab kills him and swats aside Tangerine. Ahab closes in on the probe which shouts it’s her, Kate! Rachel must trust her! That moment, the Sentinel notes it is a multi-dimension presence bridging space time. Kate feels unendurable pain.

In the present, a timequake shakes the heroes as they are torn out of their time. Kurt tells Rachel to stop. She is tearing the manor apart. She shouts it isn’t her; she hadn’t begun the time warp. She had just projected her mind. She sensed Kate’s presence. When she touched her mind, she woke up.

That moment, Widget appears shouting it’s her, Kate Pryde! Please trust her! Widget / Kate is dragged back by the Sentinels. Kate’s last words to them are ”Sentinels massing …final confrontation! Mutantkind doomed!

Through the interface Ahab sees Rachel and orders the sentinels to stabilize the interface.

Tangerine awakes to notice some kind of timewarp. She realizes Ahab is using Kate to create a doorway to Rachel. She senses his hatred. She decides an enemy of the Sentinels is an ally to her group and attacks Ahab’s brain.

Rachel sees Ahab.

Kate / Widget tries to warn Tangerine of the trackers.

Cerise announces the interface is stable. Kitty jumps to the other side and phases Tangerine to protect her from the flying trackers.

Widget / Kate shouts a warning as Ahab gets ready too harpoon Kitty, boasting her phasing power will not protect her from the peerless power of his energy harpoon. Rachel slams him telekinetically, melting his bionic hands. He doesn’t know the meaning of peerless power, she retorts.

Not again! he moans, looking at the stumps. The Sentinels call for a tactical retreat, but not before the trackers secure the primary targets: Widget / Kate and Rachel. Together with them, they teleport out, leaving the rest of Excalibur stranded.

Kitty asks Tangerine if they can help them find Rachel and Widget. Tangerine explains that is impossible. They were teleported straight to Sentinel HQ Where is it? How do they get there?

Arthur warns them they’d have to be insane to go there. The Sentinels dominate this Earth. There are millions of them, each learning from the others’ experiences. Each capable of overwhelming any foe.

They have encountered Sentinels before, Kurt announces. Then they must know their friends are lost, Arthur states grimly. Kurt refuses to give up hope. Besides they need their power to return home. They are stranded, so their choice is simple: they either defeat the Sentinels - or die trying!

Characters Involved: 

Captain Britain, Cerise, Feron, Kylun, Meggan, Nightcrawler, Phoenix III, Shadowcat (all Excalibur)



in the future:

Kate Pryde

Albion, Arthur, Dark Angel, Grace, Killpower, Tangerine (all RCX)


Professor Quinn



Story Notes: 

The dates, of course, doesn’t work anymore thanks to Marvel’s sliding timeline.

Kate teammates were killed in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #141-142.

Rachel travelling back in time was shown in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #192, an issue that hinted that Kate died in a suicide attack on Project Nimrod.

Nimrod survived and followed Rachel to the present.

Ahab encountered Rachel in Uncanny X-Men annual #14.

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