Nightcrawler trains in Excalibur’s gymnasium basement. Meggan watches him, almost swooning at his physical prowess, clearly enthralled. As she watches, her looks change to match his and she soon joins him in the acrobatics.
Nightcrawler admits that he finds her most attractive in her current form and they seem close to kissing when they are interrupted by the sound of clapping. Below them stands Meggan’s boyfriend, Brian Braddock aka Captain Britain, who grudgingly admits that they were excellent. No harm done, he tells them, that is exactly the kind of teamwork Excalibur has been lacking.
Kurt thanks him. With a challenging look, he adds that it felt quite good. He’s sure it did, Brian replies as he shoots him a dirty look and leaves. A little later, Brian flies away from the lighthouse, admitting to himself that they did look good together. What they were doing is exactly what Excalibur needs. He just doesn’t have to like it.
Meanwhile, holding her head with what seems to be a headache, Meggan excuses herself. She’s not feeling very well.
Kurt goes on training displeased when suddenly he takes a blow from something unseen. He tries to grab one of the handles as he falls only to be hit again. Even teleporting doesn’t save him. Beaten and broken, he dimly realizes the identity of his attacker. Not you! he moans, semi-conscious. The attacker steps over him and crashes outside through the lighthouse wall.
That moment, a still troubled Captain Britain returns to see the damage and immediately attacks the creature. He wildly hits it but his foe doesn’t go down until Brian gives it his all. Finally, the creature falls.
Phoenix and Shadowcat arrive only too late, as the fight’s already over. Rachel proceeds to fix the wall while Kitty takes a look at the injured. She only finds Kurt with no trace of Meggan. Perhaps, perhaps not, Rachel announces mysteriously and telekinetically influences the creature to show its true form, that of Meggan, displaying grey skin and red eyes.
She is possessed, Rachel announces. Worried, Brian asks Meggan to speak to him, but she only utters nonsense sounds before finally saying dead xxxx… X-Menggh! Leadr.. With that, she falls unconscious. The team wonders what to do and Kitty suggests contacting their friend Alistaire Stuart. Perhaps he and the Weird Happenings Organization will be able to help.
Unfortunately, Alistaire has trouble of his own, being called into the office of his superior, Mr. Kaplan. He’s got to be kidding, Alistaire remarks, annoyed. Doesn’t Kaplan remember that crazy old man? How can he forget someone like that? Not only did Kaplan think he looked like a whacko, he thought he talked like one. He warned them that all sort of unusual things would start happening right about now. He told them months go. There’s no way he could have known… unless… well he might be able to help them.
Unimpressed, Kaplan replies Stuart says this Meggan is possessed. He doesn’t believe in that kind of stuff. Nobody does anymore. This is all just a product of Stuart’s overactive imagination. No need to go fly off the handle because one of his girlfriends gets herself into trouble.
But he’s seen her… and lots of other things people don’t believe in either, Alistaire defends himself. Besides he took the liberty of having some readings taken in the area surrounding the old man’s castle. They defy description. He is convinced that what is happening there directly relates to what’s happening to Meggan.
Pointing a finger at him, Kaplan retorts that this is exactly the kind of behavior Stuart is being called here on the carpet for. Who does he think he is, authorizing field work without the appropriate paperwork? “Paperwork? This matter is too important!” Alistaire protests. That’s where he is wrong! So he remembers the old man. Name was Myrd, he thinks.
Then he’ll help? Alistaire asks. He’s not in charge around here. This is. He shows Alistaire a ledger. The annual budget! It ain’t in there, it ain’t happening. It’ll cost too much money. It can’t be done. Is that clear? Angrily, Alistaire walks out, figuring than they have just to do it without help.
Some time later, he and Excalibur arrive at the old man’s castle. Alistaire knocks, while Rachel keeps Meggan under control via psi-link. Rachel strains but realizes that, since they got there, she has managed to reach deeper and help reestablish Meggan’s own personality.
The doors swing open by themselves and energy rushes at them, seemingly ghostly. Phoenix senses a focus to them, something familiar, perhaps someone familiar. Before she can reveal more, she is struck down by a psi-blast and loses control of Meggan, who instantly transforms into a monster and flees. Captain Britain and Nightcrawler immediately follow.
Amongst those left back, Shadowcat discovers the old man, who seems stricken, while Rachel casts out the energy that has been holding her prisoner. She sinks into Alistaire’s arms. The old man tells them his name is Myrd, but beyond that he recalls very little, save that a profane malevolence has been disposed over the face of the Earth, a threat that must be driven out, lest they all perish.
In the forest, Nightcrawler searches for Meggan, fearing what will happen if they cannot cure her. He and Meggan have grown so close. He can no longer imagine his life without her. Less elegantly, Cap cuts a swath through the forest, also consumed by the drive to find Meggan. He doesn’t want to lose her. Not now, not ever. Funny thing is, until now he never realized just how true that is.
Both men find her at the same time. Meggan transforms from the monstrous form to her true self. Naked, she seems almost sensual as she dances within the forest. She dances in what seems to be some pagan ritual. Both men try to reach her, but suddenly she disappears in smoke. What do they do now?
Cap takes the team, as well as Alistaire to Braddock Manor while Nightcrawler teleports himself and Myrd there. As Brian knocks on the door, he muses that things were different when he and Meggan lived there, back before Excalibur was formed. In many ways, he silently wishes that things had stayed that way. His sister, Bets, was still alive and Meggan and he…
His train of thought is interrupted as his housekeeper, Emma Collins, opens the door. She happily greets him. When she is about to ask about Meggan, Brian gently interrupts her and leads her inside. They’ll have to talk later. Right now, he and his friends have to get right to work.
Rachel suddenly sinks down, sensing something very wrong, but the spell passes. Emma takes Rachel along to make her a cup of tea and Brian suggests the old man go along. Myrd insists to stay with them though, believing he can be of help. Brian grudgingly agrees and leads them down the cellar into a huge cavern with a giant computer system.
Cap quickly explains that this was created by his father. She’d swear this technology exceeds anything Earth is capable of, Kitty enthuses. Brian agrees, but that’s a story for another time. He accesses the computer but its power can’t locate Meggan. However, it detects power surges beyond the realm of natural sciences. Power originating at Myrd’s castle. And according to the computer, there isn’t even supposed to be a castle at that location. What does Myrd have to say for himself?
The old man apologizes but he cannot remember anything that transpired. Kitty calms Brian down and mentions Myrd’s name. Hearing it for the first time, Brian suspects something. Myrd assures him that he is there to help and that he can lead them to Meggan. Alistaire adds that they have nothing to lose and Brian grudgingly agrees. But when this is over he wants answers!
Minutes later, they have reached the still demonic Meggan. Phoenix mentally attacks her and finds something different: This time it is easier to control Meggan. The psychic presence she encountered earlier is no longer a threat. Myrd gently takes Meggan’s head into his hands and Cap sourly states that he might have known he’d have something to do with it. He is right, Myrd admits, but he cannot say what his role is. Still, they must trust him. He can help suppress the evil inside Meggan, though he isn’t certain for how long.
Later at Braddock Manor, Excalibur and Myrd try for hours to locate the demonic presence within Meggan to no avail. Science has been unable to cast out the horror, Myrd states. Now they must resort to mystic means and confront the spirits directly. They must return to the castle – the nexus – at once and without further delay conduct a séance, an attempt to communicate with the spirit realm, the psychic plane.
And so a little later, all are gathered in a circle holding hands. Brian protests. He can’t understand how Myrd knows so much and so little. There are some things man was not meant to understand, comes the cryptic reply.
Rachel senses something happening. It is getting harder for her to control Meggan. Myrd senses the strain as well, as the arrival from a spirit from beyond. He addresses the spirit. It speaks though Alistaire, saying his name is Mickey. The others have no reason to know who he is, but the Captain hasn’t forgotten him, has he?
“No,” Brian addresses him, he’ll never be able to forget that day. Mickey’s death – a death he was responsible for – has haunted him for many months, but he thought the worst of it was behind him. Surely he has not brought this horror upon them? No, Mickey calms him. He’s here as a friend, as one of the mediums they will encounter on this quest.
Brian shouts at him to tell them what he means. But Mickey’s spirit form disappears, to be replaced by another elfish form. Could he be responsible, one of them wonders. Hey, how can you even think such a thing, the ghost protests vehemently and Captain Britain recognizes him as his former sidekick, Jackdaw.
“In the fle-” the elf begins and then breaks off. Well, he knows what he means. It’s so good to see him, Brian replies. He didn’t think that would happen again, as long as he lived. Jackdaw tells him to take it easy. He can still help him and he’s going to, but first they must be joined by another, one who will help to keep open the doorway to beyond.
Kitty protests. Enough is enough. Didn’t she see all this in Dickens or was it Dark Shadows? This can’t be real! They’re here to help a friend. She doesn’t want to “meet” anyone else!
Is she sure? Myrd asks. Perhaps their next visitor will change her mind. Not one of the X-Men? Kitty asks. Crying, she refuses to accept this as another ghostly figure appears. Rachel assures her this is real, as does the ghost, the dead Doug Ramsey. He tells her he has come to join with her. They must be the key between worlds, while others are called upon to do battle.
Suddenly, a ghostly form of Professor X appears, ordering this is enough. Rachel admits she didn’t want to believe it but this is who she sensed at the castle; who she suspected all along. This is not Professor Xavier, “Doug” remarks calmly and Phoenix agrees. She “sees” that now and she recalls that there was one to whom the professor once imparted some of his mental abilities. That knowledge will be of no use, “Xavier” replies as he tries to attack Doug.
Doug calls him and tells him he is wrong. Changeling takes on his real form. They’ll see who is mistaken. Talking through Kitty, Doug tells him he already made his first mistake by allowing their spirits to merge. This link will prevent his closing the doorway behind him in his attempt to permanently occupy the body of another.
Jackdaw, in the meantime, silently takes the spirits of Nightcrawler and Captain Britain to the astral plane, while Doug keeps on distracting Changeling, who rants why he is doing this in spite of having reformed before his death. Revenge! Instead of spending the last few months of his life looking for a way to cure himself, he posed as the X-Men’s mentor, enabling Professor X to accomplish his goal, whereas he was left to rot in the grave. He wants revenge against the man who lived, while he was forced to die.
Then why did he attack them? Phoenix asks. Coming from Meggan’s monstrous body, he replies he wants nothing from them. He merely sought the perfect corporeal conduit through which he might reenter this world and seek out the one he would destroy. He would already be about his business if Meggan’s will hadn’t proved so formidable. She would not be immediately expelled. But, he assures them, that will end in time and time is certainly on his side. Nothing is going to stop him.
In the meantime, Jackdaw has led Nightcrawler and Captain Britain’s astral form into the world between the living and the dead and he can go no further. They must continue on their own. With that, he disappears over Cap’s protest.
A moment later, Changeling appears and attacks them, announcing that he has power beyond their comprehension. That’s what they always say, Cap mutters as he gets up. He just never believes it. With that, he shatters Changeling, who only laughs. He admits they are quite good for someone untrained in psychic battle.
Untrained indeed, Nightcrawler thinks to himself. He doesn’t even know where he got that sword to from. He tries to use it on Changeling but again to no avail. He informs them that Meggan is at long last losing the battle. He feels her lifeforce slipping away. The moment has come. Yes, it has, Nightcrawler and Captain Britain agree grimly. Together, they strike for Meggan with one psychic blow, the repercussions of which are felt in the world beyond.
“Now!” Myrd orders as he and Phoenix mentally attack Meggan. Attacked from both sides, Changeling’s resolve weakens. The battle is coming to an end. And Doug tells Kitty goodbye. Changeling disappears, Nightcrawler and Cap are restored to their bodies. They immediately look towards Meggan whose body is ordinary once more. Moments later she too awakens.
The gateway is closed, Myrd announces, and just as order is restored, so too is Merlin. He changes into the kind old wizard Merlin, whom Brian has always known. Also restored is Meggan, who asks what happened, before moaning that she has a splitting headache. Answers can wait.
Cap turns to Merlin, asking what kind of game he was playing. Was it necessary to deceive them, deceive him? Wasn’t there already enough for him to think about… like Mickey… all that guilt! The way he first met Meggan - all that happened when he returned to Earth shortly before the formation of Excalibur… It’s all come back to him… old wounds reopened, new wounds realized. Why wasn’t he there to help him?
Merlin touches his shoulder. Brian’s words are harsh, but not heartfelt. Perhaps it is because he knows Merlin is, as ever, his friend. Perhaps it is because he knows the very fabrics of reality have been stretched to their limits. Perhaps it is because he knows this is in fact little more than a test… and the true obstacles in his life are yet to come. Is it so surprising to him that Merlin’s actions are always going to be beyond his comprehension? Hasn’t that always been the case? Brian’s life, their lives, cannot be treated as if ordinary.
Alistaire too wants some answers. Merlin apologizes if Brian feels he hasn’t been honest with him. If he had known Merlin didn’t really die, but rather altered his body and sent it there to await this unprecedented occurrence, would he truly have believed? Would he haven been able to comprehend? No man is able to understand all. Still, all must try. All must learn through their own experiences… their own fates.
Has he ever wondered why Excalibur was truly brought into being? Just as the Changeling took advantage of the special mystic opportunities created on this world recently when the Darkhold – the most powerful tome to exist within this reality was recreated there are other similar forces and trials ahead. Captain Britain and likewise Excalibur are an inherent component of all that has transpired. All that they have experienced can be explained by the words of his daughter Roma, who has fulfilled his duty as protector of the multiverse while he posed as Myrd. Merlin begins to disappear as he speaks his words. “There is a natural order to things. There are things reality will not tolerate. There can be no breakdown of the laws of life and death.”
Suddenly, Merlin and his castle seem to fade within the eye of a storm and Captain Britain stands alone… united again. No other words are spoken. No other words are needed. The wind itself – or is it merely the wind seems to speak out loud? And, as well it would be, Excalibur will always be there, to answer its call.