Excalibur (1st series) #90

Issue Date: 
October 1995
Story Title: 
Dream Nails - part 3: Blood Eagle

Warren Ellis (Writer), Ken Lashley, David Williams, Carlos Pacheco & Larry Stroman (Penciler), Tom Wegrzyn, Mike Miller, Cam Smith & Larry Stroman (Inkers), Joe Rosas, Ariane Lenshoek & Malibu (Colorists), Richard Starkings (Letterer), Suzanne Gaffney (Editor), Bob Harras (Editor in Chief)

Brief Description: 

Inside Dream Nails, Wisdom is tortured by a man called Shrine, who uses his telepathic powers to force Wisdom to relive certain memories, which cause him stress, such as various missions and the death of his mother. The stress caused by these memories then reacts with alien bacterium in the atmosphere, which begins to eat away at Pete. Elsewhere in Dream Nails, Kitty comes to a room where several aliens are being held and she discovers not only that Black Air have known about the Phalanx much longer than the X-Men and that the Hellfire Club have donated an alien, she wonders what the Club’s part in all of this is. The aliens taunt Kitty by boasting that they were created by God, but have since killed him, hence their name “the Uncreated”. Kitty escapes the aliens by phasing through them, and meets up with Pete, who had escaped and possibly killed Shrine, by countering Shrine’s inhibitor, and showing the villain some of the horrible things Wisdom has done in his past. They download information about Dream Nails and his deceased friend Culley’s involvement and death, as well as the aliens, and escape by blowing the complex up. Once aboard the Midnight Runner, Kitty, who had earlier on in their adventure decided that her first impression of Wisdom was somewhat wrong proposes that he join Excalibur, before they kiss. On Muir Island, Daytripper and Rory are reunited, and Amanda expresses her concern about the possible future they both saw in which Rory becomes a mutant torturer called Ahab. Rory assures Amanda that the day he stops caring is the day he becomes Ahab, and thanks her for caring, before returning to his psychoanalyzing of the mutant serial killer, Spoor. However, Spoor has learned that Rory has run out of mood-stabilizers, which makes him susceptible to his mutant powers, and Rory grows increasingly angry. Spoor begins to taunt him about his and Amanda’s feelings for each other, and Rory breaks a steel leg off a chair – and uses it to beat Spoor. The hostility that Rory is involved in then causes the sensors to go off, and the lasers flare up, and one cuts off Rory’s leg. Elsewhere on the Island, Moira’s foster daughter, Wolfsbane has arrived on Muir, on leave from X-Factor, Rahne has learned her mother has contracted the Legacy Virus and wants to spend time with her, Moira assures Rahne that she is fine, but she is lying.

Full Summary: 

Pete Wisdom sits trapped as a mysterious man sits opposite him at a dinning table. The other man reminds the badly beaten Wisdom of his recent exploits, that Wisdom is an operative for Black Air, the paranormality specialists for the British Intelligence and along with Katherine “Kitty” Pryde a.k.a. the X-Man and Excalibur member “Shadowcat” he broke into the Black Air controlled air base, Dream Nails, to establish the cause of death for an ex-partner of his that was killed at the base. The mysterious man tells Wisdom that he thinks it is important to have the reason for Wisdom’s execution out in the open.

‘Execution?’ asks the handsome British mutant as he comes to. The other man replies ‘Indeed’ and greets Wisdom to the land of the lucid. The other man smiles wickedly and introduces himself as “Shrine”. Wisdom asks if he is still at Dream Nails, to which Shrine replies ‘Maybe. Maybe not’. Wisdom clenches a fist as Shrine pours two glasses of wine and tells Pete that it doesn’t matter where he is, all that he needs to know is that he is sealed in the room with him. Shrine tells Wisdom that he needs to try the absolutely stunning merlot from ‘Bulgaria of all places and not a hint of peasant’s feet in it’.

Wisdom charges up his infamous mutant power signature, his “hot knives”: powerful beams of heat emitted from his fingertips. Shrine notes Wisdom’s power and informs him that the room they are in has been flooded with a virus, which is psychically active and reacts to stress. Which is why Shrine is remaining calm, because the bacterium reacts to the stress by destroying the flesh. Wisdom is attacked by the virus, and as Shrine points out he is not calm, and is cut on his face.

Shrine smiles and informs Wisdom that the inhibitor injection they gave him earlier is starting to work, and Wisdom’s mutant powers are shut down. Shrine tells Wisdom that he is a psychic and in Black Air’s pay. Shrine puts his fingers together and grinning even more now he informs Wisdom that he is here to field-test the virus on him. The virus is called “Black Eagle” and is derived from the alien species named “the Uncreated”. Shrine tells Wisdom that he intends to pick through his memories and make him relive the worst ones, create massive stress – ‘and watch Blood Eagle slash you to ribbons’.

Elsewhere in Dream Nails, Kitty “Shadowcat” Pryde, founding Excalibur member and associate of Pete Wisdom runs through the Black Air complex, with Black Air agents on the hunt for her, she tells herself to get out. But part of her tells herself not to leave Wisdom behind in this place, for they killed his friend and will not think twice about killing him. The young mutant stumbles across some Black Air agents and Kitty realizes they are set up for a gas attack, wearing masks and everything. She decides all the alarms going off must be to find her and they have figured out that she still needs to breathe, even when she is phasing and thus intangible.

Kitty darts past some guards and slips through a wall before they can do anything about her. In the new room, Kitty is glad that it is quiet in there, but remembers that Pete said “very quiet” is too good. She hopes to God that Wisdom is okay, and swears that if he isn't she will show the one who hurt him everything Logan taught her…Kitty screams when lights come on in the room. She tells herself to calm down as they were probably activated by motion sensors when she came into the room.

Lights illuminate certain areas of the room, where some kind of tanks are holding some creatures. A recorded message sounds and informs Kitty that she has entered the orientation hall of the grey area, and that this recording, coupled with the displays mounted for attention will comprise her initial briefing. ‘Thanks’ says Kitty, not that it means anything. She walks over to a display panel, which informs her that all artifacts in the room are recovered or appropriated from crash sites and are classified at sixteen levels above top secret. Kitty tells herself that she can’t not look at what they have in the room and walks over to one of the tanks – where she sees the head of an alien!

Muir Island, Scotland, where Doctor Moira MacTaggert sits huddled against the freezing cold night on some rocks at the shore, watching the tempestuous waters. Moira is thinking, away from the others, all alone. She thinks that soon she is going to be spending a lot of time away from the others…for she has the Legacy Virus. A boat pulls up on the nearby dock and someone calls ‘Lady Moira?’ Moira looks up upon hearing the voice she recognizes but declares ‘surely not’ – however it certainly is. Rahne Sinclair steps into view and informs her foster mother that she is “sort of” on leave from X-Factor and thought she would come home.

Moira smiles upon seeing her daughter and as Rahne a.k.a. “Wolfsbane” leaps over to her mother, who tells her that it is good to see her, and that she is showing a fine degree of control over her shape changing too. Rahne, who is in a transitional half-girl half-wolf form replies that it is chilly out before informing Moira that she has heard about the virus, and as they embrace, Rahne asks Moira if she is going to die. Moira smiles and asks the ‘wee Bampot’ if she thinks she hasn’t been through worse than this before. Rahne doesn’t reply, and Moira leads her up the slope towards the Research Station and headquarters for Excalibur, telling her that they will go have some coffee and asks her if she has met all of Excalibur. Secretly, Moira tells herself that she is becoming quite the accomplished liar in her old age.

‘This cant be true’ says Kitty as she looks at one of the aliens – a Phalanx! Kitty recalls that they only discovered the Phalanx recently, and wonders how Black Air could have known about them before the X-Men – for the date on the panel says the Phalanx was recovered in June 1982. Kitty wonders if this means that Black Air knows anything about Douglock, when she comes across the next tank – one with a Brood combat drone donated by the Hellfire Club under the Information Exchange Treaty. ‘Terrific’ mutters Kitty as she wonders what the Hellfire Club’s stake in all of this is.

Coming to the next tank, she reads the panel: ‘Gene-specific attack swarmer, derived from recovered Uncreated technology, reacts to presence of X-Gene, burns out mutant brain cells’. Kitty wonders if Black Air is gathering all of this information to kill Excalibur, the X-Men and other mutants, when suddenly someone – or something – says ‘If you are Homo Mutatis, Mutant…yes’. Kitty gets ready for battle when gas pours into the room and a computer announces that with a breach in security of the contact suite the atmosphere is being flushed with neutralizing agents.

Shadowcat tells herself not to talk, just to use the mist and the dark, not to let anyone find her until she is ready for it – whoever “them” might be. She doesn’t think it could be Black Air, they already know she is here and the recorded messages would not be running still. The strange voice sounds again, this time it tells Kitty that she should not hide, for there is no hiding on her own planet. The voice remarks that it has been said that humans are not evil, just stupid and scared.

The lights come on, and Kitty gasps, for before her are several creatures, broken out of their tanks. The leading alien remarks that the comment about humans being stupid and scared is not true, for what they are, are evil and pointless, for they have made them bleed so they can build better beasts of war with which to kill mutants. The alien introduces itself and the others as the Uncreated, and asks Kitty as they approach her if she has a God.

Elsewhere, Shrine tells Wisdom that he can see inside his mind, that his memories are spilling out like a tumbling stack of Polaroid’s. The first one is of one Wisdom was in America, sent to break into the premises of a New York cult. Wisdom smirks as he lights a cigarette and tells Shrine to take his best shot. Shrine reminds Wisdom that the cult worshipped an artifact that Black Air wanted, and it was late at night when Wisdom forced the door open, expecting the place to be deserted. And it was, in a manner of speaking at least.

For the cult had committed suicide some days earlier and no one had discovered the corpses yet. The air was thick with corruption and the poison they had used had spilled onto the floor, forming a vile scum on the bare boards – they had even poisoned their animals. Shrine points out that Wisdom particularly remembered the dead kittens trapped under their mother’s corpse. Wisdom pulled himself together and looked for the thing that Black Air had sent him to get. He stepped carefully across the carpet of rotting bodies for it, and there, inside a small casket it was, beating and making sucking noises. The heart of an immortal, worshipped by a doomsday cult, and Wisdom had to steal it.

Shrine finishes reminding Wisdom of the event, and Pete lets out a loud ‘No!’ Shrine gets up from his seat and grinning proposes to Pee that they talk about the day his mother died instead. ‘I’ll kill you, you scab’ proclaims Pete. Shrine ignores him and reminds Pete that he wasn’t getting on very well, and didn’t go to visit his mother, who lived in Hungerford on the day that he promised her he would. It was on that day that a man called Michael Ryan walked through Hungerford with guns and killed everyone that he saw. Wisdom’s mother was waiting at the window for her son to arrive.

Back on Muir Island, Amanda “Daytripper” Sefton the beautiful sorceress and member of Excalibur, feels bad. For she is the type of person who copes with things on her own, while her lover, Kurt “Nightcrawler” Wagner is a man who demands openness. Amanda wants to cope with the fact that she gave the Soulsword, an occult weapon of horrible potency, to her mother, Margali Szardos, who was not what she seemed. Amanda wants to keep her secrets secret, like the secret she knows about Doctor Roderick “Rory” Campbell, speaking of whom…

Rory walks up to Amanda and surprised to see her, as he was unaware she recently returned to Muir, he asks how she is. Daytripper replies that she is okay… ‘I guess…’ before revealing that she has heard Rory was having problems psychoanalyzing the mutant serial killer, Spoor. Rory declares that Spoor did break down in tears somewhat earlier, which is a good sign. He adds that Spoor’s mutant mood-altering ability was his way of controlling a world that hurt him greatly, particularly in childhood.

Amanda tells Rory matter-of-factly that he knows what she is worried about and reminds him that they both glimpsed into the possible future when Brian was rescued from the Timestream… Rory finishes Amanda’s sentence – where he becomes Ahab, Torturer of Mutants. He admits to Daytripper that he thinks about it everyday, that it is what keeps him in control. He declares that he cannot make a move without wondering if it’s ramifications will turn him and make him hate mutants.

Rory boasts that the day he stops caring is the day he becomes Ahab, but tells Amanda that he still does care. Amanda clasps her friends’ hand briefly and Rory thanks Amanda for caring, before they go their separate ways and he tells her he will watch his step with Spoor.

In the Pen, Rory sits down at the table in amongst the hostility detecting lasers and asks Spoor if he is ready for another session. The serial killer mutant does nothing, just keeps his head in his hands, which causes Rory to lean across the table, and raising his voice he angrily says ‘Look at me when I talk to you, you little discharge’.

Back at Dream Nails, Kitty is backed into a corner and asks the Uncreated what it meant when it said, “Do you have a God?” and what it matters. The grotesque alien asks Kitty if she has a religion and if she worships a “creator” or a spiritual supernatural guardian. Nervously, Kitty informs him that she belongs to a religion called Judaism. ‘There is no God. We killed it’ The Uncreated replies.

Shadowcat watches intently as the Uncreated speaks to her, revealing that they were once named “the Works” for they knew they had been made by God and worked in its image. They could aspire only to being good creations, knowing that there was a superior being. In time, that became annoying to know that, for whatever they achieved, they would always be an inferior life. It became too much for their race and so eventually they acted as one and scoured space in search of God. When they found it, they proved that they could be the superior life, by exterminating God. With that action, “the Works” became “the Uncreated”.

The Uncreated reveals to Kitty that since then they have traveled, expecting some acknowledgment of the thing they have done, but instead, they find creatures still worshipping. The creature smashes the tank behind Kitty, sending glass fragments flying all over the place while it proclaims that the death of god is denied, and those who do not progress are an inferior life – dangerously inferior. With glass shards sticking out of its fingers it tells Kitty that unless people choose to withdraw their religion and grow, they must for the good of all be removed.

Shadowcat tells the Uncreated that she doesn’t think her God is the same as theirs, ‘and not wanting to be rude, but shouldn’t you be locked up somewhere?’ The creatures move closer to Kitty and say ‘God is God’ before revealing that they found a way to burn out their locks some time ago and took advantage of the lapse in security to execute it. ‘Come here’ they say to her.

Elsewhere again, blood dribbles from Pete’s nose as Shrine tells him that the internal bleeding will start soon and then his lungs will begin to fill with blood and eventually, he imagines he will drown in it. ‘Kiss my entire…’ Wisdom doesn’t get to finish what he is saying, as Shrine tells him he is being rude and suggests they find another memory, perhaps another token of his time with Black Air. Shrine searches through Wisdom’s mind and comes across the phrase “Cold Grey”, which holds a special pain for Wisdom, as Shrine can tell by the blood that spurts out through Pete’s gritted teeth.

Wisdom begs for Shrine to stop, but the evil man just smiles some more and reminds Pete of a fortress on British-owned soil in the Antarctic, which was overtaken by terrorists. The terrorists were armed with unusual technology, which is why Black Air was sent in. Wisdom was sent into the area via helicopter and entirely alone. In the huge castle, Wisdom was expected to disable the terrorists all by himself. Shrine sees the images more vivid now, as the terrorists spotter chopper came between Pete and the fortress entrance.

Pete recognized the pilot sitting in the chopper from the mission briefing. The pilot was a family man, involved with the group simply because he thought it was right – suddenly, Shrine’s tone of voice changes, ‘hold on – no, you couldn’t have –’ Wisdom unleashes a powerful blast of hit knives, both in the memory Shrine is viewing, and in reality, against Shrine. Nonchalantly, Wisdom admits that he drove a bunch of hot knives right into the fuel tank of the helicopter.

Shrine is starting to be attacked by the bacteria in the room, but he still watches the memory – Wisdom going inside the castle, ‘oh God, what are you doing to them?’ Wisdom narrows his eyes as he reveals he is killing them.

Back in Dr. Campbell’s “Pen” on Muir Island, the good Doctor leans across the table still and asks the villainous Spoor if he remembers how the Pen works. Spoor doesn’t answer and Rory tells him that the criss-cross of low-power lasers are slaved to motion detectors, and if violence is attempted in the room, the lasers focus on the hostility and power up. Rory tells Spoor that in this room he does not have any control.

Rory narrows his eyes and tells Spoor that he knows control s his thing, by controlling mood, Spoor controls life – by killing it, like any other serial killer. ‘Well, that’s over’ remarks Rory - but Spoor has other ideas. The evil mutant grins wickedly and tells Rory that he doesn’t think it is over – for he has been counting the mood stabilizers Rory has been taking to offset Spoor’s power, and Rory has run out. Rory frowns, for he knows Spoor speaks the truth. Spoor declares that if Rory leaves now, then he still has control, meaning Spoor wins.

The furious Doctor frowns and turns to have his back to Spoor and shouts ‘You’ve won nothing!’ Spoor grins and tells Rory that he heard him talking to ‘That Sefton hen’ outside and asks Rory if he fancies her. Rory ignores the comment about Amanda and sits back down at the table, stating that he has control in the Pen. Spoor declares that Amanda is a ‘pretty wee thing with nice lips…and that tight costume…’ But that Amanda is all wrapped up in ‘yuir clarty wee nyaff of a team leader’.

Rory reaches to the steel legs of the chair he is sitting on as Spoor supposes that Daytripper is not interested in Rory, that she is only interested in an ugly blue monster who doesn’t treat her right. Spoor declares that it is funny how Amanda must think the mutant gargoyle is more of a man than Rory…. Rory snaps the steel leg off of the chair.

Elsewhere again, Wisdom tells Shrine again that he saved this memory especially for him. He tells Shrine to keep looking around in the memory and he will see some entrails lying in the snow, and to remember them, steaming. Shrine drops his wine glass and declares that there is such carnage, but that Wisdom’s mind is so calm. ‘You’re a monster’ Shrine tells Wisdom. Shrine cries out as the bacterium in the room begins to eat into him some more, and mockingly, Wisdom asks him if he is a little stressed. Wisdom tells Shrine that he is a ‘miserable little button pusher’ who has never had to deal with an honest emotion in his life.

Wisdom revels when he informs Shrine that he specifically dug this memory out of his own mind and arranged it in his head by pushing it to the front so that Shrine had to find it. Wisdom proclaims that he has to accept what he has done and move on by trying to become someone better. He tells Shrine that he tries to control and experiment with emotions, which is not the way it works. ‘How real does life taste?’ Wisdom asks.

‘Kill you Spoor! I’ll kill you!’ shouts Rory as he beats Spoor with the steel chair leg.

Outside the Dream Nails complex, helicopters have surrounded the area and someone reports that they have flooded the complex with a neutralizing agent so there is no chance of an alien infection. Someone else asks if the aliens are still loose, and someone else declares that they have six other contact suites and should wait for the “kill” order.

In the Pen, Rory cracks the steel bar against Spoor’s head again, and the evil mutant falls to the floor. Rory looms over Spoor’s unmoving body when out of the corner of his eye he sees the hostility detector charges up – and a laser suddenly fires at Rory, and he falls to the floor as one of his legs are cut right off. He lets out a mighty ‘NOOOOOO!’.

Shrine lies on the ground, his body motionless as Pete drinks some wine and declares that if one spends their entire life watching, then they will never develop the stuff to live it. ‘And you wine was horrible’ he ads while pouring it over Shrine’s body. He uses his hot knives to blast an exit out of the room while exclaiming that the inhibitor wasn’t too clever either. ‘Guess you were expecting me to be dead before it wore off’.

Pete starts to run through the corridors, realizing as he goes that he is still in Dream Nails for he recognizes the layout. He thinks that Kitty must have gone, but decides he cannot rely on getting help as he wonders where all the soldiers are. He tells himself to concentrate and hears the sound of someone breathing around the corner. He charges up his hot knives and turns the corner – only to run into Kitty Pryde.

Kitty leaps into Wisdom’s arms and Pete reminds Kitty that he told her to get out – Kitty cuts Wisdom off as she tells him she has been looking all over for him, but got tied up with some aliens. Pete asks about the aliens and Kitty informs him that they are the ones who got Culley and that they broke out of their containment units when Black Air caught the two of them. She adds that the aliens were completely mad and she thinks they were going to kill her.

Kitty smiles and tells Pete that he should have seen the alien’s faces when she just phased through them. Pete rubs his head, ‘Aliens, right. Do you know where the soldiers are?’ informs him that the soldiers have pulled out, but that there is a load of helicopters overhead, before touching Wisdom’s face and asking him what they did to him. ‘You should see the other guy’ Wisdom just remarks before telling Kitty that they do not have much time and need to find the intelligence office that the broke into. Kitty cuts of Wisdom before he can finish talking and grabs his hand, telling him that if they don’t have much time they should probably go in the right direction.

Pryde and Wisdom run side by side as Pete declares that he wants a download on the alien’s schematics and on the complex also, and asks Kitty if she can do that. ‘Ask me a serious question’ mumbles Kitty before Wisdom asks her how much time they have. Kitty doesn’t answer as they enter the information room and sits at the computer. Wisdom looks out the window and tells Kitty that he thinks the soldiers outside are waiting for the aliens to leave the building, as the helicopters are in a spotter position. He wonders why the soldiers don’t want to come into the complex, perhaps it has something to do with not using their guns inside?

Kitty tells Wisdom that Black Air doesn’t want to kill the aliens, as they are deriving anti-mutant technology from their biology. Wisdom replies that he knows. Kitty brings up Wisdom’s map on the computer screen and Pete asks the techno-whiz to find him a place marked “war generators” adding that all air force bases have them. He grits his teeth as he exclaims that the aliens killed Culley, and Black Air let them, and now they want to kill him and Pryde. But what it boils down to is that they killed Wisdom’s mate, and he is not having it – they are going to leave.

Shadowcat retrieves a disk and asks about the choppers, for she doesn’t think they would get the chance to escape and get to the Midnight Runner. Pointing to a location on the ma, Wisdom tells Kitty that they will, as there is a separate generator in case the national grid gets knocked out in wartime. As Black Air agents surround Dream Nails, and helicopters wait in the sky, Wisdom tells Kitty that they will get downstairs – ‘I’ll phase us downstairs, yeah carry on…’ Kitty remarks. Wisdom tells her they will get downstairs, and get the generator running, which will be easy, and then he will ram every hot knife he can generate into the middle of the generator – which he does.

The result is a spectacular explosion, which knocks out a side part of the complex. Wisdom sarcastically tells Kitty that it will be interesting to see what Black Air can derive from a ‘pile of bloody alien soot’. Kitty adds that it should destroy the stuff on site and scatter the choppers, ‘and then we just walk out’. Which they do – hand in hand.

As shards of debris and spurts of flame phase through them, Wisdom says ‘This phasing thing…you know since this pretty much constitutes my resignation from Black Air, maybe we could turn to a life of crime or something’. ‘The Mutant Bonnie and Clyde’ Kitty jokes and asks him who would buy it. Wisdom jokes that they will be the Dynamic Duo, “Pryde and Wisdom”, like Starsky and Hutch or Butch and Sundance. Kitty suggests Ren and Stimpy.

They take off in the Midnight Runner, and Kitty suggests to Wisdom that he could ‘You know, join Excalibur full time’. The Runner leaves just as Dream Nails explodes behind them, and Wisdom tells Kitty that ‘That Scottish Harridan wants my guts for garters, you can see it in her little Scottish eyes’. Kitty tells Wisdom that she thinks he could find an advocate for him staying with the team, and suggests they sit down in the back of the aircraft so they can talk about it some more…the auto pilot is engaged.

Kitty sits in a chair, and after taking off his jacket, Pete leans towards her…and they kiss.

“Beneath them, machines spin and chatter in high pitched modem baby talk. Harsh ideas clatter down phone lines. A bad dream has been nailed to the wall tonight, and the people who dreamt it are in silent angry retreat. But its blood is not yet dry. And dreams can recur”.

Characters Involved: 

Daytripper, Shadowcat, Pete Wisdom (All Excalibur)

Dr. Moira MacTaggert

Dr. Rory Campbell

Wolfsbane / Rahne Sinclair



Agents of Black Air

The Uncreated and other aliens at Dream Nails

In Flashback

Members of a cult

Wisdom’s mother

Terrorist pilot

Story Notes: 

Kitty and Wisdom’s “adventure” into Black Air occurred in Excalibur (first series) #88-89.

Moira learned that she had contracted the Legacy Virus in Excalibur (first series) #81. The members of Excalibur learned individually over the course of issues #86-88 that Moira had contracted the virus.

Wolfsbane, a founding New Mutant and then member of the government sponsored X-Factor team was adopted by Moira after her abusive father, Reverend Craig tried to kill her [Marvel Graphic Novel #4]. Rahne will remain with Excalibur until the team disbands.

Daytripper and Rory discovered the possible future in which Rory becomes Ahab in Excalibur (first series) #75.

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