The Proteus Room, buried deep within Muir Island. The room was given as a gift by the Island’s owner, Dr. Moira MacTaggert, to her new residents, Excalibur. The Proteus Room houses sophisticated virtual-reality machinery capable of creating for the viewer a world indistinguishable from the real one. Rachel Summers studies the digital records from her last Proteus Room session. She is searching for any signs of aberrant manifestations of her mutant powers, which she carries as part of her genetic heritage. She is hoping for some explanation for her recent momentary losses of memory which have been accompanied by the events truly at the center of her quest.
Body parts of Rachel’s time-lost teammate, Captain Britain, keep switching with her own. Is it merely some high jinx in a timeline, which have caught Rachel, or is it something more - something she is far too afraid to face - the realization that she holds all the answers within her, if she would be willing to look. But as Rachel begins her exploration, she cannot deny that something’s wrong - its about to happen again - the return of…Captain Britain!
Captain Britain has been lost to Excalibur for some time, trapped in an errant temporal loop. He has been desperately trying to contact Excalibur through Rachel, with little luck. All his attempts have been blocked, but by tapping the temporal power that is Rachel’s birthright, this time he might be successful - but at a price that is too great for Rachel to pay. Rachel calls out to Brian, who tells Rachel that she has to help him. With power surging around the room, Rachel tells Brian to stop it, as she cannot control the amount of power that he is drawing out of her.
Rachel, exclaims that she is being drawn into the future, as Brian is coming back to the past. ‘The pain!’ they both scream in unison. Brian disappears again as Rachel realizes that they cannot both exist in the same time zone. Rachel decides that she has to stop it by finding some other way to free Brian. Rachel powers down as she wonders what she has done, and exclaims that she has failed Brian, Meggan and all of Excalibur. She thinks that if she has to go through that ordeal again, it may kill her, or worse, hurl her headlong throughout time into her worst nightmare - the future. She wonders what to do - how can she be so selfish - how can she keep Captain Britain from the one he loves…Meggan!
In another room. The moment Kitty Pryde saw the state of her friend and long time teammate on the comm link, she rushed to Braddock Manor and brought Meggan back to Muir Island. Kitty knew that next to Professor X, there is no one lese on Earth, other than Dr. Moira MacTaggert who could even have a chance of saving the metamorph. Kitty has lost too many friends recently to risk losing another. Kitty holds her once physically beautiful friends hand, for now Meggan has transformed into some creature. Kitty tells Meggan that it is all right, that she is among friends, and that she understands she misses Brian.
Kitty informs Dr. Moira MacTaggert and Dr. Rory Campbell that she remembers the first time Meggan told her of how she met Brian: They met in a deserted warehouse and fought tooth and nail, as Meggan was in a similar state to the one she is in now, only much more in control of herself. The comely Moira MacTaggert adds that as a far as Meggan’s medical history goes, she does not have much to contribute, for all Meggan told her was that she felt overwhelmed by her powers - she didn’t know her strength, her limitations, how to control her newfound abilities.
Moira explains that eventually, Meggan’s love for Brian gave her personality, a singular focus, and over the years she seemed to find her identity in her love for him, and she became beautiful. Rory mutters ‘that was then, this is now’ and suggests that the question is, is this a defensive mode, and if so, what is she defending herself from? Or is this a cathartic state that she has no control over. He asks what is it that could antagonize an otherwise placid creature.
Angrily, Kitty tells Rory that Meggan is no creature, but her friend. Kitty tells Moira that she knows how much of a family they all are, and asks her how she can be so calm. Moira tells Kitty to get a grip on herself, as she and Rory are doing all they can. She tells Kitty that they cannot just snap their fingers and get all the answers, heal all the wounds, that as scientists they have to observe, analyze then theorize. She explains that part of doing their job is to discuss all the possibilities.
Kitty apologizes, and tells Moira that she knows she is doing her best, but that she is worried, she feels so helpless, that she would rather go up against Magneto than sit here and watch this. Moira tells Kitty that she knows the feeling, and that she too has had to watch so many dear ones slip away, she would wish it on no one. Examining Meggan, Rory exclaims that he doesn’t even know where to feel for a pulse, but thinks that they should contain Meggan anyway, as they have no way of knowing if she will become excitable again. Rory puts some restraints on Meggan, and Moira sedates her to be on the safe side.
Rory declares that his brain is running dry and needs a caffeine shot. He asks Moira how she takes her poison, to which Moira replies ‘black, to go with my mood’. Rory asks Moira if they even know how Meggan’s morphing powers work, to which Moira explains that Meggan has mutagenic genes that in some form have been with her since birth, which is unusual, as most mutant abilities manifest themselves at puberty. Moira reveals that Meggan’s basic power is as an empath, sensing the emotions of others, she can also alter her shape at will, where she not only takes on the physical appearance, but the powers and abilities - even her internal anatomy changes.
Moira reveals that Rachel once told her that when she and Meggan were hiking through Europe, they cam across an ancient mystical creature, who at last revealed to Meggan her true form. Rachel had said that it was one of the most amazing things she had ever seen. Moira and Rory look at Meggan as Moira retells that Rachel said Meggan was beautiful in a way that denies definition, that begets and confounds words - a beauty of form and spirit.
Rachel enters the lab, about to tell everyone that they will not believe what has been happening, when she sees Meggan, and thinks to herself that she looks so sad and helpless. Kitty suggests to Rachel that she could scan Meggan’s mind. Doing so, Rachel reveals that there are no signs of active thoughts, but there are lots of emotions. Rachel doesn’t want to probe too deep, as she doesn’t want to cause Meggan any pain, in case she raises thoughts of Captain Britain.
Rachel and Kitty hug, Rachel thinking how everyone is trying to help, while she feels like such a fake, for she has failed to rescue Brian, she wonders what kind of torture she is putting Meggan through, before wondering about Kitty, who has been through so much already, losing Illyana and having to trick Colossus, and is now watching another dear friend slip away.
Rory Campbell is watching Rachel closely, thinking that Rachel is hiding something. He wonders what she is hiding back and why, and decides to get to the bottom of this. Moira suggests that this is like treating someone in a coma, you know their mind is locked away deep inside, and all you have to do is figure out a way to reach them. Moira switches on a computer console, suggesting that if Brian had such a positive effect on Meggan before, then if they set up some videos of him in action as Captain Britain, they might get some reaction.
With Captain Britain displayed before Meggan, an eye flickers, a hand moves under the restrains, beckoning - and then to Rachel, a look, deep and full of pain - pleading - to the one person in the world who can help. A look that no one else notices, save one - Rory Campbell. ‘Interesting’ he thinks to himself.
Elsewhere in the Research Station, Kurt Wagner enters a high-containment section, where cautions must be taken to make sure that no air escapes from the confinement center, lest in pollute the entire station. Nightcrawler hesitates at the first sign of Spoor - not because he is afraid, but because weeks ago he tried to kill him, egged on by Spoor’s mutant power to release chemicals so powerful as to alter a persons behavior and mood. Irritation turned to anger, a fight to subdue became a fight to kill.
Spoor asks Nightcrawler if he is slumming it, but Kurt ignores him and tells Spoor that he came to see if there was anything he could get him. Spoor declares that he wants out of this hole, to which Kurt suggests he brings him something to read, as Moira has a book that talks about a utopia where men and mutants live together. Spoor snaps that this is garbage, that it is one or the other - to the death, and tells Kurt to go back to his friends, if he has any. Kurt asks Spoor why he will not let them help him, to which Spoor tells Kurt that if he wants to help him, then let him be deported, as he will pay for his crimes, even plead guilty and take the punishment due for his little massacre.
Kurt explains to Spoor that Virginia has the death penalty, and tells him that if he is asking to hurry up and help send him to death, well he cannot do that, as all life is sacred. ‘Even mine?’ asks Spoor. Kurt leans against the glass that separates him from Spoor and exclaims ‘As much as you want me to hate you, I wont, I wont’.
On this bleak tip of Muir Island, all the elements converge - the land, the wind, the sea and Phoenix - fire of the universe. A point where time stands still and the birds, held in the relentless grip of the wind, hang motionless in the sky. It is a place to be alone, to contemplate what’s right and what’s wrong. But even to the most desolate of places, others follow, and in as Rory Campbell walks up behind Rachel Summer, who stands on the edge of the cliff, she answers his unasked question, informing Rory telepathically that she appreciates his concern, but needs to be alone.
Rory asks if the telepathic communication gets more comfortable as time goes by, as it is such a strange feeling having another person enter your mind, willingly or not, something about the invasion of the most private places is hypnotic, yet chilling. ‘Speaking of invasions’ says Rory as he tells Rachel he didn’t come to invade her privacy. Rory proclaims that he is no telepath, but knows that there is something going on between Rachel and Meggan. He reminds Rachel that he has been asked to help, and tells her that he cannot do that until he knows all the factors involved.
‘Come closer to the edge, Dr. Campbell, believe me, I won’t let you fall’ exclaims Rachel, and soon, together, they walk, perhaps a little more trusting than when the day started. Rachel tells Rory that Meggan is her friend, but what Meggan wants of her, she is not sure she can do it. The handsome Dr. Campbell tells Rachel that she sounds nervous, and that she doesn’t strike him as the type who is easily frightened. Rachel tells Rory that she is not, and that she has survived a lot in her life, but that is just the point - she has survived, and that has made her, what she thinks anyway, selfish.
Rachel informs Rory that her life is precious to her, and reveals that a few months ago she battled an entity called Necrom, and they both died in the conflict, but because her body is a template for the Phoenix, it was able to recreate her and give her a second chance. She tells him that kind of stuff changes people, before revealing that Meggan thinks she is the key to Brian’s return, and she thinks Meggan is right.
Rory asks Rachel why she thinks this, and Rachel replies that things have been happening, she hears Brian calling to her, but someway, somehow, she knows if she answers, everything she has gained here will be lost. Rachel solemnly tells Rory that she feels a chapter in her life is coming to a close, just when so much was beginning. Rory puts his hands on Rachel’s shoulders and tells her that it may be a bit forward of him, considering they just met, but that whatever happens, she won’t face it alone.
Elsewhere, in one of the monitoring stations of the Gamemaster, a mutant telepath incapable of blocking out the world of thoughts. Billions of fragile dreamers, all their desires, worries and whines, cascade through his brain, for not a mutant who would not suffer fools gladly, he displays a surprisingly benign countenance, compared at least to the death-warmed over features of Mister Sinister. Sinister has paid a surprise visit to express his disapproval in person. The Gamemaster is reminded of a stray thought that once passed through his mind: “An ally has to be watched closer than the enemy“.
The flawless Mister Sinister tells the Gamemaster that failing him does not bode well for his long-term future. The Gamemaster tells Sinister that he misunderstands and explains that he only sets the games up, that his players are on their own after the rules have been stated, and introduces Sinister to Siena Blaze. Powers ready, the Upstart Siena tells Sinister that he can take his „bode“ and stuff it, that they both make her sick, claiming that she was on the sharp end of losing, that it is not so incidental.
Sinister tells Siena that her concerns are nothing to him, and pulling out a frightening knife reminds her that she was charged with retrieving the DNA information of Moira MacTaggert’s dead mutant son, which could have been of great use. He states that as she failed, she must now pay the price. Siena claims that she tried, and declares that she almost had it, but that nobody had told her Rachel Summers would be there, and that Rachel hit her while she wasn’t looking. Siena smiles when she declares that Rachel thought she was out cold, but she outfoxed her and scratched her face.
Mr. Sinister is shocked, ‘What? You scratched Rachel Summers?’ he asks, and Siena shows him her hand, stating that Rachel got under her skin, so she got under Rachel’s. ‘Excellent’ exclaims Sinister before grabbing Siena’s hand, and bringing his knife close to it, as Siena asks him what he is doing, telling him to watch her manicure, she adds that he is a real sicko and asks what his game is. ‘My game? I don’t play games - I plan, I scheme, I overcome.
‘Fascinating’ Sinister thinks to himself after removing some skin from under Siena’s fingernails and examining Rachel’s DNA he reminds himself that the samples are from an alternative timeline, a different genetic path - one that at some point, diverted from the Summers’ time line on this earth. Placing the data in his computer, he is amazed at how his computer modules may be able to tell him exactly when and where the divergence occurred. Sinister tells Siena that she is free to go, and to be glad that he made some use of her, as she would not like the alternative.
Later that evening on Muir Island, the islands inhabitants are settling in for the night, and entering her quarters, Rachel wonders if she has done the right thing, confiding in Rory the way she did. After all, she hardly knows him, but thinks it is funny how their lack of history together actually helped the situation. She recalls how Rory was so formal, and she makes some jokes, but realizes that her jokes do not mask her fear. She wonders if she should not have babbled on about Brian, for once she started she couldn’t stop. Rachel reminds herself that she does not trust many people, but with just one look into Rory’s soulful brown eyes and she would have told him anything - but she doesn’t know if that is a good thing.
Rachel decides that the time ripples with Brian have shown her a possible path, a possible future, one that she does not want to tread. She knows that this is her home, with friends, her place is with them, as she has gone through too much to lose them now. Rachel touches a photo of Cyclops and Jean Grey, reminding herself that they are getting married. She wonders if their coming together, like they did in her timeline, means that she could be born soon, that she could be real. ‘So why, when everything is finally coming together do I feel so miserable?’
Rachel wonders what Rory would make of a future that holds murderous beasts like Ahab, master of the Hounds, and master of her. Rachel recalls how Ahab brainwashed her into servitude, scarring her for life with the marks of a hound. Ahab taught her how to kill those she loved - he brutalized her in body and soul, forcing her to witness the Sentinels kill her family. There is one thing he taught her well - hate. First she hated him, then she hated the world, and finally she ended up hating herself.
There is a knock at Rachel’s door, Rory stands on the other side, telling himself that after thinking about what Rachel told him, he cannot sleep. He wonders if it is too late for supper with a friend.
In his own quarters, Nightcrawler reflects on the upcoming wedding of Jean Grey and Cyclops. He thinks the wedding is not surprising, but is unexpected, and recalls that they were a couple from the day he first met them, and no matter what pain and anguish the world through at them, they came through together, the marriage is a testimony to that. Kurt wonders if he will ever have a normal life, and a wife, but decides he cannot even think about having a normal life, as he does not even know who his parents were, they were killed soon after he was born, before he was brought up in a circus.
Kurt remembers how his former girlfriend, Amanda Sefton turned out to be the daughter of his adopted mother, whose son he killed in self-defense. ‘Normal? I don’t think so’. Looking at a book called Skull Island, Kurt wonders if when Excalibur are in New York for Jean and Scott’s wedding, if he should try to find Mystique, after all, she was always playing with his mind, taunting him about his real mother - maybe she really does know something.
Kurt walks over to his window, for it is getting to crowded for him lost amongst his thoughts, but looking up to the stars, he finds he cannot escape this evenings melancholy musings so easy, and remembers his recently departed girlfriend and former teammate, Cerise. He wonders if he will ever see her again - or is she just another unfinished chapter in his life, in a book that seems painfully fill of such entries.
Kitty Pryde is using the evening to finish unpacking, and comes across a photograph of her dear friend Illyana Rasputin. Kitty wonders what Illyana is thinking about, and decides that seeing Jean and Cyclops get married would have made her happy, as she always loved a good party. Kitty’s pet dragon, Lockheed, pokes his head into some boxes as Kitty thinks it is amazing how when everyone is so sad, something like this happens, that it is good to have something to look forward to, something to remind them all that life goes on - most times at least.
Kitty asks Lockheed if he misses Illyana as much as she does, and believes he does, as Illyana was something special. Kitty sighs before declaring ‘Look at this mess!’ and mutters that she hates living out of boxes, but that unpacking seemed really unimportant after Illyana died. In fact, a lot of things didn’t seem important anymore. Kitty snaps herself out of her current state, by telling herself that Illyana would have hated seeing her moping around like this - if there was one thing that Illyana was, it was a fighter, and it is time to get on with things.
Kitty looks around the room for her travel bag, realizing she hasn’t opened it since she got home from the funeral, and hopes that if she leaves it longer, her clothes will start walking themselves to the laundry. She begins unpacking the duffel bag, and in it she finds the Bamf doll. Kitty thought she had left it behind for Jubilee, who was so upset but too tough to ask for help. Kitty is sure that the X-Men see through that, hopes they do. Kitty finds a note attached to the doll, and reads it in silence, emotions that she thought were conquered rally again for another assault.
Thanks, it got me through the night - I thought you should have it, besides, it’d ruin my image, Jubilee.
Lockheed looks up at Kitty from where he is resting on her lap and Kitty tells him she has been so selfish, and apologizes for thinking about herself so much, as she wouldn’t know what she would do without him. Kitty tells Lockheed that he, Rachel and Nightcrawler are her family, and that they have to be there for each other, but wonders about Colossus - who is there for him? She reminds herself that Colossus has lost so much, he must be such a lonely man she thinks, adding that for a man who is as hard as steel, he is as soft as they come.
After a restless night, a wild cry breaks the dawn. Moira walks into her lab only to find that Meggan has gone crazy. Moira watches as Meggan transforms, this time with strength and ferocity that she has never seen. Moira reaches for the stun gun and hopes that it will have some effect - but Meggan knocks Moira to one side after she is stunned. Free from her restraints, Meggan knocks Moira to one side, rendering her unconscious so that she cannot see how ineffectual the drug was. However, Meggan senses that her real tormenter is approaching.
Nightcrawler teleports into the lab, asking if Moira is okay. Rory examines Moira briefly and replies that as far as he can tell, she will be fine. Kurt tells Rory that he can teleport both him and Moira out of here, as Rachel was close behind and should be able to deal with Meggan. Rory declares that Rachel mustn’t come in here, as it is too dangerous, but as Rachel enters the room, Kurt points out that they are too late for that.
Meggan grabs Rachel by the throat, and in a horrible voice cries ‘Help me! Help me, Rachel! Free Brian!’ As Kurt takes hold of Moira, ready for teleportation, he tells Rory to stay close, but Rory asks Kurt if he is blind, and points out that Rachel needs help. Kurt declares that he knows that, but that Rachel can take care of herself. Rory picks up the stun gun, thinking that if he can get a clear shot at Meggan’s neck, straight to the jugular, she will be out in seconds.
But when Rory comes up behind Meggan and strikes her neck with the stun gun, thus weakening Meggan, Rachel asks him why did he interfere? As Meggan was holding back. Rachel declares that Meggan would never hurt her, and angrily tells Rory that he had no right to interfere - no right at all.