|Excalibur (1st series) # 81|| || |
Issue Date: September 1994
Story Title: Beginnings, Middles & Endings
Staff: Scott Lodbell (Plot), Chris Cooper (Script), Klebs JR. & Paul Abrams (Pencillers), Andrew Pepoy, W.C. Carani & Keith Champagne (Inker), Dave Sharpe (Letterer), Chris Malthys (Colorist), Suzanne Gaffney (Editor), Bob Harass (Group Editor), Tom DeFalco (Editor in Chief)
Britanic reveals to Meggan the things that happened to him in the Time Stream, and explains why he has changed so much as a person. Meggan explains how she too has changed, particularly with her expanded powers, and as they reacquaint themselves with each other, they remain lovers, knowing that their love will endure, no matter what changes take place. Shadowcat tries to get Douglock to open up about whether or not he is her dear friend Doug Ramsey resurrected, but Douglock has some trouble understanding human emotions and offends Kitty, before realizing that he wants to change, and become more human. Kitty agrees to Douglock remaining with Excalibur so that they can learn about him, and he can learn about humanity. Charles Xavier and Moira MacTaggert have arrived in Paris, where they spend a day reminiscing about their time as lovers, their current battle with the Legacy Virus, of which Moira is infected with, and discover that no matter what, there will always be a place for each other in their hearts where they are still in love.
‘Mine eyes have seen the glory’ begins Brian Braddock, formerly Captain Britain, Europe’s finest super hero, now known as Britanic, as he tells the tale of what happened to him while he was lost in the Time Stream to his lover and teammate, the faerie Meggan. Brian reveals that he witnessed creation in its infancy and the dying gasp of a universe in its doddering old age. Whenever he tries to speak of the things he saw as he plunged headlong through the ages, it starts the same way: ‘Once upon a time…upon a time…upon a time…upon a time’.
Britanic states that a billion years from now, he saw a new planet harbor the first stirrings of life. But he blinked and intelligent beings evolved and built civilizations before he opened his eyes. That made him afraid of what he would miss if he closed his eyes at all, so he saw everything that happened next - when their sun died. Trillions of lives, billions of years, every song, poem and dream swept away…in the blink of an eye.
But then he heard singing, and realized it was the very fabric of space vibrating from the sun’s pulse of gravity and light. Brian Braddock couldn’t bear to see anymore - and yet he had to see it all, simply because he thought it was the most beautiful, and most horrible, thing he would see in his entire life. But then a chronological wave swept him up and carried him somewhere else, another place, another time…and he found out how wrong he could be.
Britanic recounts these events to try and reunite himself with Meggan, as they have traveled to their old home, Excalibur’s former headquarters, the Lighthouse. Brian asks Meggan how could he help but be changed after seeing so many mind shattering things. Meggan tells Britanic that he obviously forgets that she is a elemental whose very shape shifts to echo her surroundings - so no one knows that can be wrought in mind and body better than she.
Brian realizes Meggan is true, and asks her of the rest of Excalibur, as they all seem to think he is crazy, and even he will admit that in some sense, he is. Brian boasts that no normal mind could have coped with the bombardment of events from his time journey, so he had to stop being “normal”, stop being Captain Britain, and become Britanic. Brian declares that he has known life and death on a scale denied all but a few, witnessed its patterns and cycles from an unimaginable perspective, and perceived a great force at work. ‘Call it the hand of…what? God? Fate?’ Brian declares that whatever one wishes to call it, it seems that having perceived it, he has become its instrument. Meggan puts her arms on her lover’s shoulders and tells him that it sounds incredible. Britanic smiles and replies ‘Not so incredible that I didn’t cross every barrier of time to come home to be here with you’. And the two sit and watch the moon.
Meanwhile, ‘Well? Don’t you recognize them?’ asks Excalibur member Katherine “Kitty” Pryde, a.k.a. Shadowcat as she hands her newest teammate, the techno-organic being dubbed “Douglock” a photograph featuring herself, as well as four members of the group once known as the New Mutants - Cannonball, Wolfsbane, Warlok, and the boy Douglock resembles, Cypher. The four New Mutants were kids, but not all were human, and while some of them went on to distinguish themselves with other mutant teams, some of them died.
That is the reason Kitty waits anxiously inside a pub in Aberdeen, Scotland, for an answer as her companion reviews those fresh young faces - she is so disconcerted to find one of those faces staring back at her. Douglock hands the photograph back to Kitty and tells her that this serves no useful purpose, adding that neither do any of the other activities, such as drinking this beverage that seems common in such establishments. Douglock adds that he does not hear the appropriate music.
‘Music?’ asks Kitty, before Douglock explains that it is a theme of specified duration after which time he must give a response but only in the form of a question - Kitty cuts the techno-organic off and tells him that this is not jeopardy. Kitty gets straight to the point and tells Douglock that the real Doug Ramsey was a very special friend to her, and that when he died she hurt for a very long time. Kitty continues - now Excalibur finds Douglock, a techno-organic construct in Doug’s image, and that her wound opened all over again.
Kitty boasts that she is sure he is not Doug Ramsey reborn, but that she has to know if there is anything of Doug in him. Kitty clasps Douglocks hands and asks him to try and remember who the people in the photo are. Douglock stares down at the table top, proclaiming that he is trying but that it is so difficult, that the strain is almost unbearable. Suddenly Douglock looks up at Kitty and asks her if that was an effective simulation of the emotional dynamic that she craves, and if not, he can intensify it.
‘That won’t be necessary!’ snaps Kitty before she informs him that when Forge bailed them out of the hot water they landed in at the Pentagon, Forge wanted to keep him for study - rip him into little pieces and find out what makes the Phalanx tick. Kitty informs Douglock that she convinced Forge that she might be able to learn more about him by keeping him whole and observing him up close. ‘I won’t make that mistake again! Kitty gets up and storms off with Douglock telling her that he regrets the emotions and memories she seeks do not exist within him - but before he can continue, Kitty phases through a wall, telling Douglock to save it and to not bother getting up, as she can see herself out. A waitress brings Douglock his and Kitty’s order, asking him where his ‘fine young lassie’ went to, before supposing that he will be dining alone tonight. ‘Alone…’ mumbles Douglock rather forlorn.
Meanwhile, in Paris, Professor Charles Xavier and Doctor Moira MacTaggert - teammates, friends and once ago much, much more, find themselves revisiting old haunts. Looking up at the Eiffel Tower, Moira asks Charles if he remembers what she said all those years ago, the first time they were at this very spot. Charles repeats what Moira said to him: “…But more than anything else, I’d like to see the two of us standing here again someday”. Moira begins to cry and tells Charles that he has a better memory than that, as she never said the word “someday”, she said “Before the day I…” her voice trails off, and Charles takes the good Doctor’s hand and tells her to remind him again when they are here forty years from now.
Moira wipes her tears and agrees, before telling him that he may be a brilliant scientist and a visionary for founding the X-Men, but that this is a daft idea if he has ever had one! Moira reminds Charles how he dragged her from Muir Island without a word as to where they are going or a moment to change out of her lab gear, so that they can sightsee in Paris - ’We’ve got work to do!’ Charles tells Moira that indeed, finding a cure to the deadly Legacy Virus that is devastating the mutant population is more urgent than ever. ’Now that you, a non-mutant human have become infected’.
But Charles points out to Moira that they are both exhausted, emotionally and physically, that they were not thinking clearly and asking the right questions. He wonders if Moira’s situation is unique, or a terrifying new phase in the epidemic, and once they learn more, how do they make such volatile information available to the public? He declares that they must act quickly but with the utmost caution, but that they cannot do either if they are half-dead with exhaustion. ‘No pun intended?’ asks Moira, before telling Charles that she will play along with his game - for now - but that if he ever pulls a stunt like that again without at least letting her get some decent clothes to wear, then she will dump him in the Seine, chair and all!
Suddenly, Charles thinks ‘Clothes? Uh-oh’ Moira turns to him and tells him that she knows that look and asks him what it is that he did. Charles mutters that he wasn’t thinking when he made the reservations, but asks ‘who really cares about clothes’ and declares that Einstein only had one suit. Moira asks if he made reservations for lunch, and if so, where. Charles reveals that he made reservations for the place he took her the first time they were here, but they couldn’t really afford it then. ‘you didn’t…you couldn’t possibly…’ begins Moira, before she raises her voice and asks Charles if he really expects her to eat at La Cremaillere, the finest restaurant in the fashion capital of the world, dressed like somebody who got pulled away from house-cleaning. ‘The Seine’s too good for you’. Charles asks Moira to calm down, and tells her he has an idea.
Back along England’s rocky coast, Britanic and Meggan walk along the shore, hand in hand as Brian asks Meggan if Excalibur are going to live in this Lighthouse someday. ‘Pardon?’ replies Meggan, before Britanic elaborates, explaining that the Lighthouse is not an ordinary Lighthouse, as realities meet there, and dimensions inter-change. Meggan informs her lover that they have already lived in the lighthouse, that they lived their before moving to Muir Island and became part of Moira’s research facility. Meggan suggests to Brian that he is confusing his memories with what he saw in the Time Stream.
Brian apologizes, and declares that it is sometimes difficult separating what was from what is from what will be. Meggan tells Brian that he has raised an interesting point, as he can put his experiences to good use by telling them what to watch out for in the future. ‘Tell the future?’ asks Britanic before laughing, and smashing a rock, telling Meggan that he will show her the future, in a manner of speaking. Brian carves a line in the rock with his finger, explaining that it represents the future, the past, everything he experienced from the dawn of eternity to its ultimate end.
Drawing a line beneath the first, Brian explains that it represents the life line of Earth, billions of years from birth to death, it is a mere fraction of the time line made above. He states that their entire lives compared to that are about the width of a grain of sand. Brian tells Meggan that for the most part, he has as much chance of telling them what will happen to whom, of knowing individual days in individual lives, as of knowing how many rocks are on this shoreline. ‘Twenty thousand and ninety-seven - not counting the stone fragments from your diagram’ replies Meggan.
Brian asks Meggan if she is joking, but Meggan replies ‘Hardly’ and informs Britanic that her elemental bond with nature gives her total awareness of her surroundings - to such an extent that she now not only shape shifts in response to the environment, but can apparently shape the environment to her will as well. Meggan wraps her arms around Brian’s shoulders as Brian puts his hands on Meggan’s hips. Meggan tells him that he is not the only one who has changed. Meggan reminds Brian how he called out to her across all bounds of time and space, and in answer, their love pushed her power to expand in its ultimate degree. Brian asks then, if they have changed so fundamentally, what does that mean for them, for their love? ‘Can we find out…together?’ asks Meggan before they kiss.
Back in Aberdeen, a thug knocks over an elderly man trying to sell flowers. The thug tells the man that he was warned, but the man is more concerned about his flowers that have been ruined - what will he sell now? The thug kicks the flower seller in the face, telling him to sell himself - if he can find a buyer for damaged antiques. The thug declares that every night they leave the pub they have to look at the old bag of bones begging for a handout, blighting their university, he tells the old man that this is a place of learning, a place for decent folks, not the likes of him.
Kitty steps out of the shadows and tells the thug that he is right - they only let decent people live here…’so you boys must just be passing through’. The thug tells Kitty to mind her own business, and lunges his arm at her - but it goes right through! The thug is surprised and exclaims she must be a sprite, but Kitty replies ‘Try Shadowcat, I haven’t gone by the name Sprite in years’. The thug realizes that Kitty is a mutant, and lunges at her again, declaring ‘I’ll see you dead, mutie!’ Kitty tells the thug that for a college guy he is not too bright, and asks if they didn’t just go through this, literally.
Kitty exclaims that her power is intangibility, and begins to spell it out, but decides it would be better if she spelt it out in terms someone like he can understand - and kicks him right in the crotch. ‘Tangible terms!’ Kitty adds as she does a high-kick, hitting his head too. As the thug falls to the ground, Kitty exclaims that that is their lesson for today, and that she hopes they don’t have to repeat it for their friends, who are running away. Kitty sits down on the unconscious thug, thinking to herself that she didn’t have to bust heads to resolve this, and realizes that the whole situation with Douglock, their argument in the pub has her more wound up than she would have thought. ‘So what the heck am I going to do about it?’
Back in Paris, ‘I canna believe ye did that!’ laughs Moira, before Charles reminds her that she wanted to appear well-dressed, so he telepathically planted an illusion in the waiter’s mind of Moira as an internationally famous, well-dressed woman. ‘Sure…but Princess Diana?’ asks Moira, suggesting that she may be a little too famous, even for this place, as the waiter nearly had a heart attack. ‘Besides, isn’t she touring the US now?’
Charles realizes that he is a little out of touch, as he hasn’t picked up a paper in weeks. Moira smiles and agrees, as they have been pushing the work a bit lately. Moira tells Charles that he was right, she did need this break, and that she had forgotten how much she missed traveling…’how much I missed you’. The waiter approaches Charles and “Diana” and hands Professor Xavier the bill. Charles telepathically informs the embarrassed Moira that the waiter thinks she is a femme fantastique, to which Moira asks what he means. ‘A hot babe’ Charles explains.
Moira tells Charles that the waiter must be seeing one of his mental illusions, but Charles smiles and replies ‘hardly’ before adding that he is shocked at Moira’s lack of confidence. Moira scowls and tells Charles that it is almost as shocking as him eavesdropping on an unsuspecting waiter’s thoughts. ‘Touché’ replies Charles, before admitting that it is harder for him to screen out other people’s stray thoughts when he is a bit tipsy.
As Moira and Xavier leave the restaurant, Moira asks Charles if this “femme fantastique” is as “fantastique” to more familiar eyes - eyes that have known her a long time. Charles replies that he wouldn’t know - since every time his eyes see her, it is as if he is seeing her for the first time, and that is the way it will be, forever. ‘Forever…isn’t so far away is it?’ comments Moira.
Back near the Lighthouse, Meggan flies out of the water, smiling, she tells Britanic she the warmth of his skin as it heats the water droplets she is splashing - and even feel his face as the drops trace a line down his cheek. ‘Oh, Britanic, isn’t this wonderful?’ Brian replies ‘absolutely’ before suggesting it is time they returned to Muir, as the others will soon worry about them. Meggan replies ‘let them’, for after so long apart, she wants to relish every moment they have together. Britanic tells Meggan that she does not then understand the most important part of what he has been trying to explain to her - for they have more than just mere moments together’.
Brian draws a circle around the two lines he carved into the stone, and as he kisses Meggan on the neck he tells her that from the beginning to the end of time, there was one thing that encompassed all, like an unbroken circle…’our love’. Brian boasts that their love has truly stood the test of time, for nothing else could have brought him back across the ages, which is why, no matter how much each of them have changed, or will change, he knows their love will endure, and that is the way it will always be. ‘Forever’ finishes Meggan.
Aberdeen, Kitty is still sitting on the thug, when Douglock comes up behind her and says ‘Rahne Sinclair, Katherine Pryde, Douglas Ramsey, Samuel Guthrie and Warlok’ Kitty asks Douglock what he is talking about, to which Douglock reminds her she wanted him to identify the persons in the photograph, which he has just done. Kitty asks why then is he all of a sudden Mr. Cooperative and asks him why he came after her and what he wants. Douglock declares that he wants what is in the photograph.
Douglock explains to Kitty that when his existence began, he was one with the Phalanx, their many voices joined with his. But then Zero freed him and Zero became a constant presence, his companion, in place of the Phalanx. But of course, Zero is no more, and for the first time admits Douglock, he finds himself…alone. Douglock too sits down on the thug and exclaims that Kitty and the other people in the photo do not seem alone. He asks Kitty to forgive him, as he should not waste time with such vague notions, for none of this makes sense empirically.
Kitty informs Douglock that it is the first thing he has said that does make sense, and declares that she has a proposition for him. ‘Very well, I am capable of simulating human male responses’ replies Douglock, before Kitty tells him she doesn’t mean like that and tells him to be quiet and listen. Kitty tells Douglock that she wants him to stay with Excalibur, work with them, that way they can learn about the Phalanx, and how much of Doug Ramsey is in him, and in turn, Douglock may find just what he is looking for.
‘So you want this simulation to involve the entire team?’ asks Douglock. Kitty smiles and wonders what she is going to do with him. ‘I could generate a list of safe practices complete with illustrations’. ‘I’m regretting this already; Kitty mutters under her breath in response to Douglock’s offer. However, Douglock states that first, he has a question: ‘Are unconscious humans commonly used for seating purposes?’
Back in Paris, Moira reveals to Charles that it was his intensity for his dream, for life, for the two of them - it scared her, which is why she called their relationship off. Charles suggests that perhaps Moira actually sensed what he had yet to learn - that with such intensity, something would have to give, and the dream would always come first. Charles admits that sometimes he wonders how their lives might have turned out if his priorities had been different - if he had been willing to grab their little bit of happiness and - suddenly, Moira trips over a brick jutting out of the pavement, and falls straight into Charles’ arms. ‘Honestly, Moira, you’ve got to stop throwing yourself at…me…’ jokes Xavier - which leads to a passionate kiss between the two friends.
For a moment, they are twenty years old again, wandering through the city of lights with all their love and all their lives ahead of them. Moira and Charles separate, and begin laughing. Moira asks Charles if he knows that he is insane, to which Charles smiles and tells Moira that having her in his arms has always had that effect on him. ‘I remember’ exclaims Moira. Moira asks Charles if he realizes that all this was, is just memories.
Xavier declares that they are some of the best memories of their lives, and asks if it is so wrong to relive them just for a day. ‘Wrong? It was magnificent fun!’ exclaims Moira, before telling Xavier that she cannot think of anything she needed more than a trip to Paris, and the knowledge that come what may, there is a place in their hearts where they are still in love. ‘And that’s the way it will be…forever’.
Britannic, Douglock, Meggan, Shadowcat (all Excalibur)
Dr. Moira MacTaggert
Professor Charles Xavier
Patrons in bar
Cannonball, Cypher, Warlock, Wolfsbane (all New Mutants)
Brian was lost in the Time Stream on Excalibur’s return from the future [off-panel between Excalibur (1st series) #67-68]. Brian returned to real-time in Excalibur (1st series) #75, but not without the loss of teammate Rachel Summers.
Douglock is not Cypher, nor an amalgam of Cypher and Warlock, but actually just a resurrected Warlock, as revealed in his own short-lived solo series.
New Mutants that have gone on to other X-teams include: Cannonball (X-Force, X-Men), Moonstar (X-Force, X-Men), Wolfsbane (X-Factor, Excalibur), Sunspot (X-Force, X-Corporation), Warlock (Excalibur), Magma (X-Corporation), Skids (X-Corporation), Rictor (X-Force, X-Corporation), Meltdown (X-Force).
The New Mutants that have sadly passed away are: Magik [Uncanny X-Men #303], Cypher [New Mutants (1st series) #60] and Rusty [X-Men (2nd series) #42.
Shadowcat, Meggan, Britanic and Douglock found themselves in the Pentagon, surrounded by dozens of guards, ready to shoot. Forge bailed Excalibur out off-panel between Excalibur (1st series) #80-81.
Moira MacTaggert was revealed to be infected with the Legacy Virus in Excalibur (1st series) #80.
Excalibur lived in the Lighthouse from Excalibur: The Sword is Drawn until Excalibur (1st series) #50.
Meggan’s expanded powers were first displayed in Excalibur (1st series) #80, making her one of Excalibur’s most powerful members.
Zero sacrificed himself to save Excalibur, Douglock and an innocent family from death in Excalibur (1st series) #80.
Issue Summary written by: Daytripper (Steven Bishop)