Appearing in "Of Birth, Death and the Confused, Painful Bit In Between"
- Cloud Nine/R.C.X.
- Agent Peter (Nigel Orbington-Smythe)
- Agent Luke (First appearance)
- Doctor Jordan (First appearance) (Cloud Nine medic)
- Warpies (Main story and flashback)
- Advocates (First appearance)
- Seraphim (First appearance)
- Serpents (First appearance)
- Alysande Stuart (Mentioned)
- Betsy Braddock (Only in flashback)
- Mastermind (Only in flashback)
- Betsy Braddock (Only in flashback)
- Michael (Only in flashback) (Apparent death)
- Joshua N'Dingi (Only in flashback)
- AC-DC (Only in flashback)
- Jackdaw (Horse) (Only appearance)
Synopsis for "Of Birth, Death and the Confused, Painful Bit In Between"
As consciousness returns to Alistaire Stuart, he sees two men, dressed as vicars, looking down on him. As they try to comfort him, one announces himself as Peter, but Alistaire calls him out as a liar. He knows he is Nigel Orpington-Smythe, the head of R.C.X and its base, Cloud 9. He continues, telling him he framed his sister. But Nigel shrugs it off as ancient history. Alistaire makes a grab form him, but he ducks away and presses a button on his belt. As a wall swings open, Alistaire is grabbed by a group of Warpies, who Nigel calls his Advocates. They are Aberdeen Angus, Mustard, Shrew, Salt and Celery. Nigel apologises for the names, saying that after having nearly 400 warpies in the Cloud 9 base, they ran out of names fast. Alistaire tells them that he has phoned Excalibur, who will come and shut the base down. But Nigel smiles, telling them that he wanted Excalibur to come to cloud 9 all along.
On the surface, Nightcrawler, Kitty and Cerise search through the ruins of St Oswald’s for any sign of an entrance into the base Alistaire told them of. Kitty suggests she should phase down to it, but Nightcrawler tells them to stick together, as they are few without Brian and Meggan, who are still on holiday. From the darkness, a voice emerges. As its owner emerges into the light, it calls itself Peanut, being shaped like one, and riding a mechanical, spiderlike device. As another of the Seraphim, a team of Warpies, emerges, catching Cerise off guard and knocking her unconscious, it names them as Weasel. It names the next member of the Seraphim that grabs Kitty Cyanide, as he temporarily stops her moving. Nightcrawler kicks a rock at Cyanide, but then he too is attacked by two large members of the Seraphim, Pumice and Cabbage. As he flails, his hand catches on peanut, who tells him his power is to break concentration, so he can’t teleport away. As Cabbage knocks out Nightcrawler, the Seraphim, gather up the heroes and take them into the Cloud 9 base. But as they enter, Nightcrawler opens his eyes, as he is only faking at being unconscious.
In space, drifting across a galaxy, The Phoenix Force struggle with the knowledge that they have become a parasite of life energy.
Inside Cloud 9, Nigel is taking Alistaire to meet Excalibur. As they walk, Nigel explains that it was built by the Warpies, who used their unique abilities to create the enormous underground complex. Alistaire sees Micromax, connected to a series of machine. Nigel tells him that he is undergoing tests on his abilities, abilities he believes have been wasted. Alistaire tells him that Micromax works for F.I.6, not R.C.X, and so shouldn’t be their concern. Nigel responds by announcing that with the deaths of Brigadier Blott and Alysdane Stuart, F.I.6 and W.H.O have been absorbed into R.C.X, and as such, Alistaire is now one of their employees. As Nigel tries to persuade Alistaire of the benefits of the facility, which is designed to contain and educate parahumans, they are forced aside by a medical team, who are sweeping one of the Warpies to the medical bay. He is Beetroot, a telepath, and as he looks into Alistaire’s eyes, Alistaire begins to see Beetroot’s memories.
In a house long ago, Alistaire sees Beetroot and his mother. Suddenly, 2 men arrive, and whisk Beetroot away to a large building with barred windows. He sits in the darkness, as other strange forms surround him. But they care for him, and become his friends. From a distance, the men who took him whisper, saying that Orpington-Smythe is intent on building an army. The men vow to hide the children away, so he can never use them. They are moved to a big house- Braddock Manor. There they are cared for by the Braddocks, Betsy and Brian, as well as their butler Jeeves. But then one day, the Braddocks leave, and only the mysterious men who took him are there to care for him. Then one day, in the Mastermind cavern, he spies a bomb being planted. He tries to warn everyone, but then it detonates, and Mastermind stops working. A group of people cloaked in shadow come to take them away, and Beetroot finds himself at the Cloud 9 facility. Then the visions stop, and Beetroot is no more. Alistaire cries out in agony as he experiences Beetroot’s final moments, and punches Nigel square in the face. In response, Angus knocks him unconscious. Nigel orders the doctors to care for Alistaire, and conduct an autopsy on Beetroot to find what is causing the Warpies to destabilise and die.
On the English coast, Meggan rides a horse, Jackdaw, down the beach as she dreams of the future. Brian flies alongside her, but as Meggan watches him, he begins to become unsteady, before dropping to the ground. She leaps from Jackdaw and goes to his aid, as Brian realises he is losing his powers.
In Cloud 9, the Seraphim carrying Excalibur continue deeper into the complex. Nightcrawler senses his opportunity has arrived, and he teleports. He arrives, knocking Weasel into Cyanide, who in turn knocks Peanut from his contraption. Pumice turns to hit him, but as he puches, Nightcrawler pulls Cerise out of harm’s way, and Pumice hits Cyanide right in the face. As Cabbage comes for him, Nightcrawler uses his martial arts prowess to throw him onto Pumice, and together, the two Warpies tumble through a computer terminal. Peanut starts to worry, warning Nightcrawler he has unleashed serpents from the snakepit. Nightcrawler is unconcerned, until he realises just how many there are. Peanut begs Nightcrawler to save him and himself, but Nightcrawler refuses to leave Kitty and Cerise. Peanut decides to escape, but decides that as Nightcrawler won’t take him, then he’ll block Nightcrawler’s teleporting abilities. As Nightcrawler fights off the creatures, he realises for the first time that Cerise means more to him than just as a friend and ally, but as a lover. The serpents tear his costume, but he continues the fight, and gets to Kitty and Cerise. As he stands over them, the serpents back away, and Nigel arrives with his advocates to congratulate him. Nightcrawler angrily shouts at him for trying to kill them, but Nigel says that the serpents aren’t his problem. He then puts Nightcrawler, Kitty and Cerise under arrest, and disbands Excalibur…
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