Excalibur: The Sword is Drawn

Issue Date: 
May 1987
Story Title: 
The Sword is Drawn

Chris Claremont (author), Alan Davis (penciler), Paul Neary w/ Mark Farmer (inker) Glynis Oliver (colors), Tom Orzechowski (letterer), Ann Nocenti (editor), Terry Kavanagh (assistant editor), Tom deFalco (editor in chief)
Excalibur created by Chris Claremont and Alan Davis

Brief Description: 

Kitty Pryde has an awful nightmare in which the X-Men are still alive but slaves of Mojo and are trying to capture Phoenix for him. When they transform into monsters, Kitty wakes up. Comparing notes with Nightcrawler on his nightmare, she finds he had the same dream. At the same time elsewhere in Britain, Meggan finds her lover, Captain Britain, desolate after learning of the death of his sister, Psylocke, alongside the X-Men. Hoping to get some advice from Kitty, she arrives at Muir Isle at about the same time as a bunch of colourful interdimensional mercenaries, the Technet, who are looking for Phoenix. A fight erupts and the heroes are soon overwhelmed and captured by the Technet. Only Nightcrawler escapes and goes to find Captian Britain whom he finds as a drunken, self-pitying wreck. Disgusted, he leaves. In the meantime, Rachel Summers has fled from Mojoworld, with Mojo’s Warwolves hot on her heels. She arrives in London and is unsure what to do, when she is found and captured by the Technet, who are soon joined by the Warwolves, who want her as well. Nightcrawler attacks the aliens on his own (having tracked Rachel with Cerebro) but soon finds help from an unexpected corner, as Captain Britain has taken his words to heart and joined the fight. Kurt skillfully manages to free his friends and they play the Warwolves against the Technet. Both groups of aliens leave beaten. Kurt and Kitty are joyfully reunited with Rachel. Another night, the five reminisce about the X-Men. Rachel is not willing to leave things at that and suggests they start a new hero team. The others catch her enthusiasm and agree (though Captain Britain is a bit more reluctant about it), and so Excalibur is born.

Full Summary: 

Kitty Pryde tosses and turns around in her bed, unable to fall asleep. A slice of oblivion to take the pain away is all she wants. But because she hurts – her mind replaying the X-Men’s final moments – she can’t. She’d cry. If she had any tears left.

Kitty’s nightmare:
Suddenly hands grab her, dragging her out of bed. They put on her costume, make up her face, ask for autographs and finally shove her outside the door on stage. That moment, all her anger vanishes for before her she sees the X-Men.

It’s a set with the X-mansion in the background (owned by Mojo’s New World Pictures). Professor X sits in the director’s chair announcing time is money and telling everyone to get ready. He can’t keep his actors waiting for ever. Those include Colossus, smoking a cigar and playing cards with some co-workers. Havok is going over his lines. Rogue is reading and tanning. Storm, in a gown, is smoking a cigarette, Longshot and Dazzler are necking while Wolverine, reading a book on Japanese flower arrangement, is getting his nails done.

Kitty wonders if she has lost her mind. Or maybe found an answer to her heartfelt prayers. She cries with happiness. The X-Men are alive. She knew that it had to be a mistake, that they would beat the reaper. But what’s with the movie studio? Why is Professor Xavier playing director? She turns to Psylocke. Since when did the X-Men decide to go to Hollywood?

However, she is horrified when she sees her British teammate’s beautiful face. Where her eyes should be there are only empty sockets. They are magic people, Betsy Braddock replies with a smile. Where else would they belong but a magic town.

Workers ask her to keep quiet as they put devices onto her eye sockets. A moment later, eyes have been placed in there. Horrified, Kitty stumbles backward and falls over Rogue’s chair.

Kitty is astounded to find she is touching Rogue skin to skin but Rogue isn’t absorbing her powers. Rogue snorts to give her a break. None of that guff works, till the director gives the word. What is she talking about? Kitty asks.

Haughtily Storm reminds her she is supposed to be a professional. She could at least act the part. Part? She isn’t acting, Kitty protests. Why are the rest of them so different? Perhaps because they know the difference between roles and reality, Storm replies.

“Action!” Xavier shouts. That moment, the X-Men’s outfits transform into their costumes and they are in their roles, getting ready to attack some unseen foe. Calling her “kitten,” Ororo orders Kitty to hurry along or she’ll be left behind.

Kitty finds that she can phase again. This is sick, she shouts How could she dream something so cruel and why can’t she break out of it? She forgets that dreams are sometimes windows to other realities, someone tells her.

It’s her lost teammate Rachel Summers aka Phoenix, dressed in a red version of her Hound costume. And waking doesn’t always make things better, Rachel calmly continues. She doesn’t understand, Kitty protests. This has to be a dream, yet everything feels so real. And the X-Men, more puppets than people… travesties of the heroes she remembers. When the reality no longer exists, Rachel continues, exploiters can take the legend and make it whatever they want, good or bad.

Director Xavier has noticed Rachel. She’s not in this production, he shouts. She had her chance at stardom, “baby Phoenix,” and blew it. When her teammates needed her most, she ran out on them.

Her mistake, her shame, Rachel replies as the Phoenix raptor flares up around her. But now she has a chance to make amends.

The X-Men come running. As Phoenix tries to take off, Xavier shouts nobody leaves without his permission. Chains weigh her down and each of the X-Men grabs one of the chain ends.

Kitty protests, telling them to stop. They are tearing her apart! She’s their friend! If she stays or goes, it should be of her free choice! She touches Rachel, allowing her to phase through the chains. Rachel thanks her as she flies away, promising Kitty may be seeing her sooner than she thinks.

That was very naughty, Xavier tells Kitty, while the X-Men look at her angrily. And he’s sure she knows what happens to naughty little girls. Warwolves, manifest yourselves and teach the brat a lesson!

Silver wolf-like beings come out of the X-Men’s stretching mouths, shedding them off like old skins and attack Kitty who once again can’t phase.

Horrified, Kitty wakes up. Still scared she phases out of her room, the house. She is back on Muir Isle where she belongs. But if that was the dream, then reality is still the same awful...

She gasps as she sees the sun rise over the ocean, for in the sunrise she sees the Phoenix effect. Now what the heck does that mean? she wonders. The freaky afterimage of a very freaky dream or a harbinger of something worse? Rachel disappeared months ago. She hasn’t even thought of her in ages and feels pretty lousy about that but she feels lousier about that dream. Is she really so sick inside to imagine her dearest friends as slaves of one of the team’s most disgusting foes, is she so angry and resentful that they are gone and she got left behind?

She phases back to her room. Her dragon Lockheed is happy to see her. She tries to scratch his shoulders, but phases through him. She forgot for a moment that her natural state is now to be phased. To become solid she has to concentrate as hard as she can. She manages but realizes it won’t last long. She picks up pictures from the ground. She fell asleep with them in her arms. One shows her and Professor Xavier when she just joined the school, the other is a teamshot from right before everything fell apart (showing her, Rachel, Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, Rogue, Nightcrawler and Colossus). Xavier is now gone across the universe and the X-Men are dead! Again she cries, with Lockheed trying in vain to comfort her.

At around the same time: The Celtic Sea off the west coast of England:
Meggan had been swimming alone, when the dolphin pod popped up and asked her to play. She shapeshifted to become more like them and played, losing all track of time, until she sees the sunrise and the firebird in it. She tells the dolphins farewell and flies to the lighthouse she shares with her lover Captain Britain, hoping he won’t be angry.

She flies inside, calling out to him. She lands in the living room which is a mess. A battle? Meggan wonders. But upstairs was untouched. The lighthouse is undamaged, no sign of intruders.

She stumbles over photos on the ground, all showing Brian’s sister Betsy at different stages of her life, from her childhood with Brian to her model career to her life as an X-Man. Meggan then notes the TV is on. The latest news from America is shown. The mutant superhero team known as the X-Men has been slain in Dallas, Texas, among the fatalities the English mutant Psylocke.

Meggan cries out in grief. She finally finds Brian sitting in the cellar drinking. This is terrible! she cries out. No, comes with the costume, he slurs. Crying, he asks her to look at him. Captain Britain, some hero. Couldn’t even save his own sister!

Kneeling in front of him, Meggan reminds Brian that Betsy and the X-Men were half a world away. How could he possibly have known she was in danger? That’s the point! he cries. What use is he if he doesn’t know such things? She was a grown woman, Meggan reminds him. She chose her life. She’s responsible for her decisions and her deeds. He’s not to blame.

Enraged, he tosses his helmet at the table and bottle. The devil she says! he cries. What does she know about anything? She never had a family, never lost anyone she cared for! He orders her to go away. He doesn’t want her sympathy. He only wants to be left alone, he adds in a small voice.

Crying and apologizing, Meggan flies up to their bedroom and curls up on the bed, feeling whatever she does and says is wrong. She does understand and care. Betsy was gentle and kind to her. She was her friend. She misses her, too. Maybe though he doesn’t care anymore about Meggan. At that, though, she momentarily loses all her beauty and literally wilts. The moment passes and she shifts back, telling herself to stop it. He’s lashing out because he’s in pain, same as she used to be. He got her past that awful time. Now she must return the favour.

She sits to write a note, though she cannot write. It shows their lighthouse with the words “Meggan go” and an arrow showing a house with an X above it and a cat sitting next to it. Only one place to go for proper advice, she decides and takes off.

Meanwhile, in the Muir Isle gymnasium, Nightcrawler is training in his own special way. His robot foes number half a dozen, wearing fedoras and are armed with swords as he is.

Have at thee, foul recreants! Nightcrawler orders with a grin. Numberless they may be, still they are no match for one with the heart and soul of a true musketeer. Ah, noble D’Artagnan, valiant Cyrano, Scaramouche and Captain Blood, if only they could see him!

However, that moment, one of his many foes cuts him. Nightcrawler instinctively teleports away and downward, chiding himself for that dumb move. He teleported instinctively when he was injured. But now he feels weak as a baby, and his foes are coming down for him!

Where are his quips now? he thinks bitterly as he tries to get up to reach the control panel.

The next moment, the panel short-circuits as Kitty phases inside. The robots all fall down.

Kurt thanks her as she lifts him up. After making sure he’s okay, she angrily demands what the heck he was playing at there? Testing himself, comes the reply.

A full bore combat exercise, she summarizes, with the safety interlocks disconnected, so soon after his release from hospital? Is he crazy? Lucky for him, the back-up alarms sounded in the house the minute he started!

He had to learn if he had lost his edge, he answers evasively as he grabs a jacket.

Doesn’t it matter if in the process he loses his life? she presses, Does he feel left out because the rest of the X-Men got killed and the two of them didn’t? She keeps on after him as he walks out. Does he figure on this being the perfect way to catch up to them?

She has no right to say such things! he demands. He has no right to give her a cause!, Kitty shouts back.

Chastised, Kurt admits she’s right. When he awoke from his coma he was so… happy to be alive. She cannot imagine! All he remembered was the pain of being wounded, and the next thing he knew he was here in Moira MacTaggert’s research facility and it was months later. And he thought he’d had a taste of death, but survived… he beat the reaper. His time will come, but not today. He wanted to share that joy with those he loved best – Kitty and Peter and Logan and Ororo, with all the X-Men, only he couldn’t because they were dead.

She knows how he feels, Kitty replies. And then last night, Kurt continues, he had this… dream… Say what? Kitty exclaims.

He never had the like, Kurt confides. When it was done he felt ashamed, almost physically ill. He was in a movie studio with twisted decadent version of the X-Men as the cast and Herr Professor Xavier the director and Rachel was there too. Kitty chimes in, some kind of prisoner and he helped her escape? Ja, Kurt agrees, only he was left behind to behold the X-Men transform into monsters. The prof called them Warwolves, Kitty recalls.

She also then, Kurt states unsurprised. If they both had the same experience, maybe it wasn’t a dream, Kitty muses. Ray’s a telepath… maybe she was trying to send a message. Question is, why now after staying out of touch so long. And what does it all mean?

They enter the house. Probably some new and transcendent disaster, Kurt states. That isn’t funny, she chides him, shouldn’t they do something about it? Kurt reminds her of their crippled state. Doesn’t means they stop being X-Men she replies.

A moment later, there’s a knock on the door. She asks him to duck out of sight and opens it. She’s in for a big surprise. Before her stands a giant, light-blue, alien woman, very reminiscent of a sentient Hippopotamus, who greets them jovially. The thin reptilian being clinging to her shoulders calls her “mother” and warns her that two paraforms are present.

She grows wear of endlessly repeating herself, she announces. Don’t call her mother! “Yes, mother,” he replies. She sighs. If he weren’t so infernally useful…

She introduces herself to Kitty and Kurt as Gatecrasher and reaches out her hand going straight through the phased Kitty’s face. Could they please inform the master or mistress of this domicile of her presence. Would she mind taking her hand out of her face?! Kitty snarls. Terrestrial paraforms come in such stimulatingly spirited variety, Gatecrasher remarks. It never fails to amaze. Kitty remarks that this is Dr. MacTaggert’s house and island and she is away right now, if she’d care to leave a number or address…. Regrettably, time is pressing and delays cannot be countenanced.

The lizard warns her that an intruder is arriving. A moment later, Meggan flies in through the window, greeting Kitty, who quickly introduces her to Nightcrawler as Captain Britain’s girlfriend (which doesn’t help much, as he doesn’t know Captain Britain).

Meggan makes an angry face as she sees Gatecrasher, calling her “hippopotamus.” Gatecrasher greets he as “swanling.” Meggan warns her to leave Brian alone. Gatecrasher assures her she has no interest in her dear Captain.

So why is she here? Kitty reminds her. Believing Kitty is talking to her, Meggan states she needs to talk with her, it’s important.

Gatecrasher activates a psyche-com crystal and the hologram of a regal blonde woman appears who introduces herself as Opal Luna Saturnyne, Omniversal Majestrix, responsible for the maintenance of order and reality in this sector of creation.

Unglaublich! Kurt exclaims, certainly taken by her beauty while Meggan scoffs that she never understood what Brian saw in her. Boy, she can, darn it, Kitty remarks sadly.

The Saturnyne hologram continues that Gatecrasher’s Technet are her duly authorized agents responsible for the apprehension of this threat to reality. The picture changes to show Rachel Summers aka Phoenix. Saturnyne continues that Phoenix is believed to be en route to Sol III, the planet Earth. She hereby charges and requires that the inhabitants thereof offer all appropriate assistance in this endeavour.

What does she want with Rachel? Kitty asks. Gatecrasher mildly lectures her that Saturnyne neglected to take them into her confidence and to be honest one simply doesn’t subject the Omniversal Majestrix to that sort of examination. Her responsibility is merely to capture the fugitive and deliver her.

Angrily, Kitty calls her a stinking bounty hunter and a blimp. She doesn’t know her! And she sure as heck doesn’t know her (referring to Saturnyne) but Rachel’s an X-Man, and until she knows the score, nobody takes her!

Her loyalty is touching but sadly misplaced. Suddenly, the room is lit up by a teleportation effect and eight more diverse aliens appear to surround the three heroes. Gatecrasher informs them the Technet by nature abhor violence but if provoked they’ll happily indulge in whatever level of physical confrontation they desire!

Sounds like fighting words to him, Nightcrawler decides and the mutants choose their foes. Kitty boasts they can’t catch what they can’t touch, as she phases through Gatecrasher. She is mistaken, though, as Scatterbrain takes out her mind and Kitty falls unconscious. A strange reptile, Bodybag, covers Meggan with a transparent paralysing membrane and then swallows her.

Ladies first, Gatecrasher announces as she takes Kurt into her grasp; now it’s his turn.

He teleports away. No scanning anywhere, the lizard announces. Bodybag gathers up Kitty. Gatecrasher decides they’ll keep the girls as bargaining chips and be on their merry way.

Elsewhere, Rachel Summers, still in chains, falls fleeing through nothingness / everything, until transcendence gives way to reality. She lands in a cake and finds herself surrounded by bizarre figures, from Frankenstein and barbarians to characters from Alice in Wonderland.

The crowd don’t know what to make of her and Rachel is disoriented by the many thoughts she senses. She realizes this is a stage set and wonders if all her pain was for nothing. Has she not escaped at all? Is she back where she started?

Where’s her invite? the Mad Hatter demands. She can’t crash their gala without one. Angrily, she announces she has nothing to do with their party. Popped out of nowhere, one of the guests insists. Is she a mutie then? another asks.

Rachel begins to fly away and the guests hold onto her chains. Panicked, she shouts at them to let her leave!

Suddenly, a light flashes and the Warwolves come attacking. Rachel manages to break loose in the confusion. She realizes Mojo has sent the Warwolves after her. She attempts a telekinetic blast to find they are immune to it. She cannot get a firm grasp on them. Joke’s on her, one of them announces as he jumps on her. Rachel reminds him that while her mind powers can’t clobber him directly, there is no reason she cannot use every other object in the room. And proves it by hitting him with plates of food, followed by tumbling the other Warwolves with the furniture.

However, she loses sight of one Warwolf, which slashes across her back. She turns around, snarling that he doesn’t have the slightest notion what he is up against. His master used those chains to bind her, only fair they serve the same purpose for him. Telekinetically, she ties the Warwolf up and moves him by moving the chains, smashing him into the wall.

She’s managed to create a hole and sees a way out. Just to make sure she clobbers the Warwolves again with two barrels, then runs outside (a potter on the wall announcing a Fancy Dress benefit – which apparently was the party Rachel crashed). And finally she realizes this is no longer one of Mojo’s settings – this is Earth – London more specifically.

The Warwolves gather their wits and follow Rachel to the astonished comments of the bystanders. Rachel runs down a tube station. She manages to get aboard a train and the door closes in front of the Warwolf. He protests that this is unethical behaviour. She was under contract. Mojo made her star of stars. She was his slave! Rachel shouts back as the train begins moving.

The Wolf holds fast to the train and smashes inside the compartment. The Phoenix effect flares around Rachel as she smashes the train and repels the Warwolf. “She’s free!” she announces, and no one’s ever going to cage her again! The Warwolf is thrown back by her telekinetic attack, lands on the third rail and fries. Her only regret, Rachel shouts, is that it was the Warwolf that was fried and not its bloat of a boss. Someday, though, she swears it will be his turn.

She becomes aware of the thoughts in the carriage. The people are pressed to the other side. She senses fear. With good reason, she thinks.

In the meantime, the other Warwolves surround their fallen comrade and howl.

Elsewhere, atop a tower in London stand the Technet. Yap informs Gatecrasher he senses the Starchilde.

Meanwhile, back at a certain lighthouse, a stranger has arrived and disgusted declares the place is a mess. He drags the Captain who is still in a drunken stupor to the doorway and throws him into the water. Should he fail to resurface, he figures sourly, based on what he just has seen, no great loss!

Captain Britain awakes in the water and flies inside, figuring someone tried to kill him. Hardly that, comes the acerbic reply as Nightcrawler busies himself making coffee. He was doing well enough on that score by himself. What’s the meaning of this? Captain Britain demands. Simple, Kurt replies. He needs him awake and sober and he’s not in a mood to be polite about it. That’s the explanation. If he wishes an apology, earn it!

Over coffee, Nightcrawler relates the day’s events. By the time he returned to the house after teleporting away Gatecrasher was long gone. With both Kitty and Meggan. Kurt dug up their file on Captain Britain and spent the rest of the day getting there. He cannot take on the Technet alone. He needs his help. Quite right, very sensible, Brian replies sarcastically. Get on it directly.

Angrily, Kurt remarks he’s wondering if he’s made a mistake. What’s wrong with him? Friends are in danger, among them the girl he supposedly loves. Doesn’t that matter, doesn’t he care?

‘Course he does, Brian whines, it’s just what’s the point? Save them now, watch them sacrifice themselves later. They are supposed to be heroes but they never really make things better. They have no lasting effect on people or the world.

The devil he says! Kurt hisses and slams him against the wall. When he says he is a “hero,” he means it in jest. He hasn’t the right to truly call himself one. And Cap has even less. All he is is a man, trying to live life as best he knows how and be true to what he was taught. Those beliefs got his sister killed, Brian states. Ja, and his dearest friends with her, Kurt reminds him. His “family.” Sometimes all he yearns for more than anything is to have been given the chance, the privilege, of standing with the X-Men and sharing their fate. It isn’t fair they are dead. It is far worse that he remains alive to grieve for them because the pain is more than he can endure! But he is alive and he must remain true to himself, to their memory. He lets Brian go. If that is more than he can handle… he is sorry to have troubled him. He turns away.

He doesn’t understand! Brian calls after him. He doesn’t know what it’s like to actually die!

But does he have even the slightest idea what it’s like to truly live? is Kurt’s parting shot. He has no right to judge him! Brian snarls after him as the memories resurface. Lying broken and bloody, more ragdoll than man. Watching the executioner’s hand rise, so afraid! And then waking up, reborn, whole but never healed. Knowing death must come again. Haunted by the certainty that this time will truly be the end. Terrified by the fear that it won’t! Brian cries in agony as he relives the memory of his death and rebirth.

A London street. Rachel has managed to scrounge a fringed leather jacket to hide her costume. She wonders what to do, where to go. She’s the prodigal girl who ran out on the X-Men when they needed her most. She betrayed their trust. Serve her right if they slam the door in her face.

She stands before a shop window of a fantasy shop, inside are several articles on King Arthur. She decides there is no sense in moping. The X-Men are her family. She has nowhere else to go. Mirrored in the window, she suddenly sees faces behind her.

She’s run them quite a naughty race, Gatecrasher announces. But it’s over. She orders Bodybag to do the honours. The large reptile instantly covers Rachel with neural-toxin, paralyzing her and swallowing her. She then reappears in an opaque prison sack on his back (two bags already full with Meggan and Kitty).

Gatecrasher announces that now they have their prize they can dispense with the other two prisoners And no, that does not mean dinner. They’ll leave them here. She so loves it when a caper comes together.

“Trouble!” Yap announces before a moment later the Warwolves attack. While her team is already fighting Gatecrasher angrily tells the Warwolves they are interfering with duly authorized representatives—O bother! she snarls the next moment when one Warwolf has managed to kill one of her employees, Ferro. She never should have kept him on the payroll after his warranty expired. She blasts the Warwolf with a phaser. Does it have the slightest notion how infernally difficult it is to find good help? For good measure, she stamps on the Warwolf, while Yap hides in a hole.

Almost invisible in the shadows, Nightcrawler watches the fight, hovering on a streetlamp. Almost a shame to interfere but the prisoners might get hit in the crossfire. Nice thing about Rachel, she broadcasts such a powerful and distinctive biopattern that the portable Cerebro sensor pack he brought from Muir Isle led him right to her. He figured Gatecrasher would catch up sooner or later. Pity he didn’t have a chance to warn Rachel, but this is his chance to make amends.

He jumps onto Bodybag’s head, then dodges the Warwolf he was fighting in such a way that its claws slice through the top of the prison sacks atop Bodybags back – just as Kurt planned. The three girls are free. Meggan and Kitty are totally limp thanks to some narcotic, but Rachel is mostly conscious.

Still dodging the Warwolf, Kurt shouts he needs a hand. Rachel moans the Warwolves are immune to her psi-powers. Just what he needed to hear!

Gatecrasher tears the Warwolf away. Pissed off now, she intends to tear Kurt apart herself!

He strongly suggests she restrain herself, a newcomer suddenly announces. An angry Captain Britain is floating above them. Gatecrasher reminds him the Technet have seen him in action. Thug hits him in the back with a Warwolf, announcing they were not impressed.

As he crashes into a shop window, Cap curses himself for posturing. Thug follows.

Gatecrasher orders Ringtoss to capture their quarry. He manifests energy bands from his head binding Rachel fast. Kitty who has awakened figures she may be able to disrupt them by phasing. But as Kitty lungs forward Joyboy takes her fondest desire, to become solid once more, and makes it rude reality by turning her grossly overweight.

China Doll touches a Warwolf and shrinks it. Meggan awakes and sees Cap in trouble. She tries to run to his side but, when a tentacle of Waxwork touches her body, it loses all its firmness.

Seeing her plight, Cap is distracted. A momentary thing that Scatterbrain turns into an eternity as her touch fires all his neural synapses at once.

Still fighting, Warwolves, Nightcrawler realizes they are being slaughtered, because unlike the Technet they are not functioning as a team. He tosses the Warwolf into Ringtoss. Once free, Rachel takes out Joyboy, thus restoring Kitty.

Nightcrawler kicks Chinadoll into Gatecrasher and she inadvertently shrinks her boss. Kitty uses all her concentration to turn solid and hits Gatecrasher. The Technet teleport away and the Warwolves have disappeared in the sewer.

The relieved Captain Britain and Meggan hug each other and kiss, while Kurt asks how Kitty is. Rachel looks around at the destruction they left, including the broken shop window with the Arthuriana. One thing about them X-Men types, she muses, one can always tell where they’ve been. If not from the mess, then from the faces of innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire. And yet…

She doesn’t finish her thought as Kitty hopefully asks if it is really her. Warts and all, she replies with a shy smile… a bit worse for wear, she is afraid. They believed her dead, Kurt remarks. They forget she is Phoenix. If she dies it’s only to be reborn, hopefully better and brighter than before. Crying, the three friends hug.

Another night after the mess has been tied up and explanations to the proper authorities have been made. Atop the Scots highlands, the five heroes sit around a campfire and exchange stories.

Kitty tells of her first time in the Danger Room. Professor Xavier spent weeks programming her initial session and she walked through it with eyes closed.

Kurt shares how Wolverine challenged him to walk down the main street of Salem Center undisguised, in his natural shape. She’d have loved to see that! Kitty gushes. It was an experience he admits. And those were the days.

Rachel’s turn, he tells her. Any memories of the X-Men she’d like to share? Not the kind they mean, she replies sombrely. The facts in her head, they’re so jumbled up she doesn’t know anymore what is real and what isn’t. What actually happened and what’s a lie. But that doesn’t matter. Because the clutter doesn’t affect her emotional reality, perhaps because the Phoenix by nature relates better to feelings than to rationality. She knows who she is, who she cares for, who she doesn’t - that’s what matters. The rest she can take or leave.

Speaking of leaving, Brian uses the segue, it’s awfully late. He and Meggan intend to leave. Is that it? Rachel asks agitated Pack up, call things quits and go their separate ways?

They accomplished what they set out to do, Brian reminds her. Now while he deals with the Warwolves the rest of them can go on with their lives. What about those lives, how are they supposed to live them? she presses. What does she mean? he asks. She speaks about Charles Xavier’s dream of a world where all Earths’ children, mutant and otherwise, live together in peace and harmony. Where people are judged for who they are, not what they look like or how they’ve been born. That’s why he created the X-Men, to exemplify that dream. Should they give up because the X-Men are dead?

Kitty reminds Kurt of the dream they had when this caper began. In it, Rachel said to her “when the reality no longer exists, exploiters can take the legend and make it whatever they want… good or bad.”

Are they suggesting they take the X-Men’s place? Kurt asks Rachel. Nobody can do that, Rachel replies, looking into the fire. But King Arthur had a dream too… She shapes the flames to form the shape of King Arthur… Of a world where might served right, instead of subjugating it. His Knights of the Round Table were the agents of that dream and his sword Excalibur the symbol of it. Arthur died, the table was destroyed, his knights mostly slain – yet the dream survived. They became a legend and the sword the means of keeping the legend alive and vital through the ages.

The X-Men thought enough of Professor Xavier’s dream to offer up their lives. Is it so much to ask that they preserve it? The sword Excalibur represented hope. It was a light in the darkness of fear and ignorance and hate. Do they want – have the right – to snuff it out? She’s run her whole life. She can’t remember a time when she wasn’t afraid. She let people tell her what to do – it’s easier that way. Saves you from having to take responsibility for anything. Well, she’s tired of running. She wants to take a stand. Because if she doesn’t, then maybe she better let the Warwolves carry her back to the make believe slaveworld where she belongs. A world of illusion and artifice where whatever sells best gets the glory, whether it’s lie or truth.

With a smile Kurt assures her he stands for truth and stands by her. Meggan too walks toward Rachel. Her life sounds so much like her own, she explains to Captain Britain. She won’t have anyone else endure such horror. She likes this dream. It’s worth fighting for. Kitty too joins them as does Captain Britain, even though he seems to be a little more doubtful than the others.

Characters Involved: 

Captain Britain, Meggan, Nightcrawler, Phoenix III, Shadowcat (all Excalibur)
Lockheed, Kitty’s pet dragon

Bodybag, China Doll, Ferro, Gatecrasher, Joyboy, Ringtoss, Scatterbrain, Thug, Waxworks, Yap (all Technet)

as hologram:
Opal Luna Saturnyne, Omniversal Majestrix

in Shadowcat’s dream:
Colossus, Dazzler, Havok, Longshot, Psylocke,Rogue, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)
Professor X

Phoenix III (former X-Man)

Story Notes: 

The X-Men’s “death” occurred in Uncanny X-Men #227.

Psylocke’s eyes are artificial and were given to her by Mojo in new Mutants Annual #2.

Rachel disappeared and was abducted by Spiral in Uncanny X-Men #209. Since Spiral works for Mojo, it is not too long a shot that Rachel eventually ended up in his hands.

More about her time as a prisoner was supposed to be shown in a proposed Phoenix Limited series by Chris Claremont and Rick Leonardi, parts of which were drawn already, but it was never published.

Phoenix “betrayed” the X-Men by abandoning them during their fight with Nimrod. [Uncanny X-Men #208-209]

Kitty’s phasing power is permanently “on” since being injured during the Morlock Massacre in Uncanny X-Men #209.

The Phoenix effect in the sun isn’t explained here but was created by Roma. [Excalibur (1st series) #48]

Xavier is in space with the Starjammers since Uncanny X-Men #200.

How does Meggan know Kitty? When she met the X-Men (in Uncanny X-Men Annual #11), Kitty wasn’t a part of the team anymore.

Meggan’s awful time refers to her state at the beginning of the second Captain Britain series.

Nightcrawler loves his swashbucklers. D’Artagnan is the hero of Alexandre Dumas’ Musketeer novels. With “Cyrano” he refers to Cyrano de Bergerac from the play by Edmond Roston, Scaramouche is a historical novel by Rafael Sabatini, as is Captain Blood.

Nightcrawler’s limited teleporting ability is a result of injuries sustained at the hands of Nimrod and the Marauders (Uncanny X-Men #209 & 211).

He awoke from his coma in Uncanny X-Men #211.

Captain Britain recalls his death at the hands of the Fury (Marvel Superheroes #388). However, in that story, he never saw the Fury coming. It caught him by surprise.

Gatecrasher’s Technet already appeared in various Cpatain Britain issues of Marvel UK, Bodybag, China Doll, Joyboy and Waxworks are new members and make their first appearance.

The Arthuriana that Rachel sees in the shop window are Morte d’Arthur by Thomas Mallory, The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White, Knights of the Round Table, The Once and Future King also by White and Camelot 3000 by Mike W. Barr and Brian Bolland.

"I love it when a caper comes together” is a line used by Hannibal in the TV show “the A-Team.”

Kitty crossed the Danger Room blind in Uncanny X-Men #141.

Kurt took up Wolverine’s challenge in Classic X-Men #4.

Widget appears on the back cover, though not in the issue.

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