Times had changed for many people across the world but especially for the sub group of humans that called mutants. Some were mourning for the apparent loss of the mutant based team known as the X-Men. They had seemingly sacrificed their lives to save the world from a being called the Adversary and the world considered them as true heroes. But that did not fill the void that had been left in the hearts of many. This included former members Kitty Pryde and Kurt Wagner better known as Shadowcat and Nightcrawler. They had been recovering from injuries from an encounter with a murderous group known as the Marauders and had been absent from the team during their battle with the Adversary. Much like the rest of the world they had thought that their friends had all perished and so carried on their memories by forming a team based in the United Kingdom alongside fellow former X-Man Rachel Grey also known as the Phoenix, the powerful and patriotic Brian Braddock also known as Captain Britain and finally his girlfriend the beautiful but yet gullible Meggan. Together the group formed the team widely known by many as Excalibur.
Kurt Wagner was a German mutant who on the outside looked like a demon but on the inside was probably the nicest man that anyone could hope to meet. His blue skin, pointed fangs, elf like ears, yellow eyes and long blue tail made him look like something out of a fantasy novel but in truth he was much more of a man than most people could say. He was gifted with the ability to teleport himself but unfortunately due to the injuries that he sustained against the Marauders he was limited to teleporting only once per day. Despite that he was also gifted with fantastic acrobatic abilities along with excellent sword skills. Using his tail he could tackle an opponent with three swords at a time. His hands were very odd since they only had three oversized digits along with two digits on each foot but he had found a way around this little problem and had even turned it into an advantage. His faith in God is what he believed to be his greatest strength and he believed that as long as he had God on his side that he would never fail. His codename was Nightcrawler and it had been a name that he had been using ever since the days that he performed at his family's circus.
Brian Braddock was both a man of great strength and heart. He had been chosen to be this reality's Captain Britain, a corp of individuals from every reality imaginable that took the mantle of Captain Britain and protected the world for various inter-dimensional and deadly threats that had come to the Earth. His sister Betsy had been a member of the X-Men and had seemingly perished along with the rest of the team and he wished to carry on her legacy by forming this team. Out of all of the members of Excalibur he was the best known within the British Isles and although he tackled many thugs in the past the majority of the time he seemed to be facing adversaries that would defy contemplation. Already he had faced more unbelievable threats and beings than the entire series of Doctor Who. He was gifted with the power of flight and superhuman strength although at times he could be strong headed. He had long blond hair and was very tall and muscular.
Kitty Pryde was the youngest member of the team and by far the most intelligent. She was a child prodigy who had joined the X-Men when she discovered that she was a mutant. She was gifted with the ability to phase through solid objects like a ghost but much like her teammate Nightcrawler Kitty's abilities had become somewhat limited. Rather than having to concentrate on becoming intangible instead she now had to concentrate just to be solid and being intangible had become her natural state. She was extremely gifted with computers and thanks to rigorous training along with an adventure in Japan with Wolverine she was very skilled in hand to hand combat. She had taken down opponents many times her size with her quick and precise strikes but like she had been taught she never killed an opponent. She had long brown hair, hazel eyes and about average height but this made her the shortest member of the team. Over her time as a costumed hero she had used many different codenames before settling with her current codename, Shadowcat.
Her constant companion was a small purple alien dragon that she called Lockheed. He was roughly only the size of a common housecat but he was far more intelligent and loyal than that. Much like a typical dragon he was able to breathe fire but he had been told to only use it under special circumstances. He was highly intelligent and seemed to understand English perfectly although he didn't speak it. He also had wings that allowed him to soar through the air. Kitty saw him as being more than a pet, she was his friend and they had been very close ever since the pair had first met when the X-Men were in space.
The young mutant known as Rachel Grey was the daughter of two X-Men from an alternate future where mutants were hunted down by metallic monstrosities known as Sentinels. She had been able to make her way to this time and dimension and had stayed with the X-Men. She had disappeared just before the X-Men's confrontation with the Marauders and had only recently resurfaced. Her exact whereabouts at the time were not entirely clear but she was just glad to be back with her good friends Nightcrawler and Shadowcat. She was gifted with both telepathy and telekinesis but was also infused with what was called the Phoenix Force. This was a dark and terrifying power that she was learning to bring under her control. She was a fairly tall girl with tied up red hair. Since she was embedded with the Phoenix Force she called herself Phoenix.
The final member of Excalibur was a young woman named Meggan who had fallen in love with Captain Britain. She was what many considered to be very beautiful but due to a somewhat hermit like childhood she had little knowledge of the outside world. She was what was known as an elemental metamorph and she the ability to change both herself and the world around her. This allowed her to do almost anything that she wanted but she had yet to fully grasp her full potential. When Captain Britain had found her people had thought that she was a monster and due to her empathy she unwittingly took the appearance of a monster. Captain Britain had been able to show her, her true inner beauty and this caused her to transform into the woman that she was today. Nowadays her only somewhat inhuman trait was that she possessed elf like ears much like Nightcrawler but she could actually pass off as a normal human being.
The team's base of operations was a lighthouse located on the west coast of England. The each team member had made a living quarters off of each level. This lighthouse was no ordinary lighthouse however, it was a doorway to an almost infinite amount of different parallel dimensions which each had their own lighthouse. It had been the cause of some of the team's most memorable endeavours. More than once trouble had come to them due to this lighthouse but each time the team had risen up to the task and subdued those who would have caused harm to the world.
However soon the team would be facing a challenge that they didn't expect. Their world would be turned upside down and as usual for them the whole experience would be very bizarre. It all started on one sunny morning down in what was the lighthouse's kitchen. It was still early and not everyone within the lighthouse was awake. Kurt for example had been training for long hours into the night. Since he lacked the proper use of his teleportation abilities he was having to keep his body in tip top shape so that he wouldn't be a burden to the team in the field.
For the moment only Excalibur's youngest member Kitty Pryde was present in kitchen and she was trying to make herself some breakfast. She was remerging through the cupboards and the fridge trying to find something that was both delicious and healthy. It was a somewhat difficult task but for someone like her it didn't take all that long for her to find what she was looking for. But one problem that she did have was that the plates that she needed were on the highest shelf in the cupboard. Even when she stood on her tip toes it was just out of reach for her. Normally in a situation like this she would ask Lockheed to fly up to the top and bring her a plate down but he was still in her room fast asleep.
She reached as high as she could be Kitty still couldn't reach the plate but suddenly she heard someone else enter the kitchen. When she turned her head she could see her teammate Meggan standing in the doorway. She was definitely one of the most beautiful women that Kitty had ever seen before but her lack of knowledge about people and the outside world did make her gullible but in a way adorable as well. She was wearing her green costume that she had only just begun to wear and unlike the other members of Excalibur Meggan liked to wear her costume even when they weren't out in the field. She pleasantly smiled at Kitty as she walked over to her.
"Good morning Kitty," said Meggan with much optimism in her voice. To her every morning was a reason to celebrate. "And how are you today?" This wasn't just a passing question for the young empath. She genuinely wanted to know how Kitty was doing at that moment in time.
"I'm wishing that I was a couple of inches taller," replied Kitty as she looked at the tall blond woman in front of her. An idea popped into her head and she knew that she would be able to get the plate with just a quick question. "Hey Meg you wouldn't do me a solid and get one of those plates for me would ya?"
"Sure thing Kitty." Her smile didn't fade as she walked up to the cupboard. Since she was only an inch shy of being six feet tall the effort was much easier for her then it had been for her much shorter teammate. With little effort she was able to grab one of the plates and then lower it down to Kitty.
"Thanks Meg." She did smile at Meggan for a moment to say thank you but it soon faded and she looked somewhat disappointed. "Sometimes I feel that I'm in a world built for giants."
"Oh you shouldn't worry about that Kitty." She was trying to be as sympathetic as she could. She never liked to see any of her teammates sad and she genuinely did want to make her feel better. "Brian told me that you're still growing, so maybe one day you'll be tall enough to reach the plate by yourself."
"That's true but I don't think that I should be planning a basketball career any time soon." She saw this as a joke but it seemed to go over the head of Meggan. She didn't fully understand what basketball was and she didn't realise that traditionally it was played by tall people. "Never mind."
As the minutes went by more and more members of the team began to stir. After only having a quick breakfast Kurt continued his rigorous training sessions. He was desperately trying to compensate for his lack of teleportation power after suffering injuries that had put him out of action for some months. His body naturally had great athletic and acrobatic abilities. There was no doubt that he was the most acrobatic member of the team but in a battle he would have to depend more on that to survive. He didn't have superhuman strength or the ability to fly. He thought that the only way to truly hold his own in the field was to make his body perform at its peak.
But after each long training session Kurt would take a few minutes to pray for the souls of his lost friends. Much like the rest of the world he thought that the X-Men were dead but they were still alive but operating in secret. This information had not made its way to him and thus he still believed that they were dead. Despite everything that had happened to him throughout his life from the highs of being an X-Man to the lows of being hunted due to his demonic appearance he would always pray to the almighty above for guidance. His faith in God had waned on occasion but it would never fade away. If he was not the heart of Excalibur he was definitely the spirit.
On another level of the Lighthouse Rachel was also awake but rather than going through training exercises or coming down for breakfast like the other members of Excalibur she was sitting on her bed meditating. She was one of the most powerful telepaths in the world and arguably the most powerful member of the team. If she had wanted to she could actually destroy this very lighthouse with but a mere thought but she would never do such an act. She had known what it was like to live in fear as the future that she had originated from had mutants being hunted down and killed on the streets. Those that were seen as some use were kept alive but worked as slaves, due to her telepathy Rachel had been amongst those who had been spared but she never forgot the fear that she experienced and she never wished that on another human being.
Rather than sitting on the bed with her legs crossed Rachel would float a few inches above her bed and remove all distractions and sounds. When she was calm she could focus more on honing her abilities, despite her vast power she too needed to learn how to properly control it and she thought that if she was able to fully grasp her abilities that her potential would be limitless.
The final remaining member of Excalibur to be doing his morning routine was Brian Braddock aka Captain Britain. He was performing some push-ups on the floor in his room. Although he was super strong he still preferred to work out so that he could keep himself in shape. He wore only his pyjama bottoms as he continued his push-ups and this morning he was attempting to beat his record. But much like Kurt, Kitty and Rachel he too had lost someone that he deeply cared about when the X-Men were seemingly killed in Dallas. His sister Elizabeth was a member of the X-Men and she too was a telepath like Rachel. She had also seemingly died along with the rest of the team and by forming this team Brian thought that he was honouring her memory. Unlike many humans Brian had no hatred of mutants and in fact promoted pro-human/mutant relations. He could not see why humanity would hate mutants in the fashion that they did but unfortunately he could not forcefully change the minds of people. He would have to try his best to show the world that humans and mutants could work together for both peace and prosperity.
But this morning was still very different for the team. Some miles away at the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham the early morning was about to reveal something much more sinister. The jewellery stores had yet to open but the staff had already begun their morning preparations. Each store had thousands of pounds worth of jewellery and most of them you could not just walk in and had to book by appointment.
The most prestigious store in the Jewellery Quarter was Marriott's which had been family owned for over a century. The current owner was inside with his couple of members of staff counting up the tills ready for the first appointment of the day to enter. They were expecting a visit from a baroness from Europe who had travelled a great distance to shop at this particular store. They would have celebrities from all around the world come to the store and shop for their jewellery, they were well known throughout the world and just the name of Marriott's would often turn heads.
They didn't have to wait long for the Baroness to turn up. She arrived right on schedule and rather than being an old woman who was buying jewellery to make up for her loss of looks this Baroness was nothing short of a stunner. She looked to be in her late twenties with long flowing red hair and emerald eyes. She wore a long cream dress which showed her figure off well and she entered with a large diamond ring already situated on her finger. She was not along however as there were two well-built men standing just outside the door. Both were around six and a half feet tall and heavily muscular, they were obviously her hired bodyguards and it was a deterrent for anyone who wanted to get too close to the Baroness.
The owner of the store stepped forward to greet this Baroness who introduced herself as Baroness Vettel. The owner showed her all the different jewellery that they had on offer and the Baroness seemed to like what she was seeing. He thought that he was going to make a good sale today and after around half an hour of browsing the somewhat elderly man needed to ask her the important question.
"Have you seen anything you would like to buy?" asked The Owner. He always made sure to sound as respectful as he could to this lady. He knew the importance of such customers to his business and if he lost the revenue it would certainly ruin the store.
"Yes I have," replied Vettel. She had been snooty the entire time and spoke with a thick central European accent.
"That is marvellous Baroness." He bowed slightly to show her respect. "Which one would you like?"
"All of it." Her voice was stern and sudden and the owner was caught completely by surprise.
"All of it?" He wasn't sure whether he had heard her correctly. There had been times when a person wanted to buy a large amount of jewellery from him but never had one asked to buy the entire stock. He didn't doubt that she probably had the funds for such a transaction but there was no doubt that it would put a severe dent in her fortune.
"Are you deaf or something?" She sounded more harsh this time and she spoke to him as if he were beneath her. "I want all of your jewellery, every watch, every ring, every necklace, everything."
"Oh I see, this is highly unusual but I'm sure that it can be arranged. But may I ask how you plan on paying for such a transaction?"
"With this." She placed her hand in her small handbag that was she was carrying and rather than taking out a purse or cheque book she took out what had first looked to be a hand gun but it seemed far more futuristic. The gun itself looked to be from a science fiction film as it was grey and instead of a bullet barrel it looked to have something that a ray gun would have. On the side it had a dial and a switch that at this moment in time was pointing down to a letter S that was inscribed. Above this switch was a G letter that the switch would point to if it was flicked up.
"W-what is that?" He had never seen such a device before but he didn't need to know what it did to know that it meant big trouble for him. He began to realise that she had no intent of paying for the jewellery. It was too late now that he realised that this was some kind of robbery but he had no idea what this gun actually did. At first glance he thought that it was merely a prop from some kind science fiction film.
"This is a high power shrink ray and if you don't step out of my way old man I'll shrink you to the size of an atom." There was a sadistic smile on her face and the store owner wasn't sure if she was being truthful or merely bluffing. He admitted that the gun in her hand did look impressive but he didn't think that it was an actual shrink ray. He knew that there were costumed superheroes who could shrink themselves but he still found the entire situation to be too fantastic to truly believe.
"Y-you're bluffing." He didn't think that it was truly a shrink ray and he thought by merely calling her bluff he could actually show that she wasn't a threat and he hoped that she would leave his store in peace. But instead of backing down the Baroness turned the dial on the gun and pointed towards a nearby clock that was hanging on the wall. Moments later she pulled the trigger and a yellow beam of energy fired out of the gun and struck the clock. Almost instantly the owner noticed that the clock was shrinking before his eyes. The process happened so fast that within seconds of being struck by the ray the clock had completely disappeared from sight. That was when he realised that he was looking at a genuine shrink ray and in the space of a few seconds everything had changed. "T-take what you want just please don't hurt us."
Without saying a word the Baroness signalled her two thugs to come inside before she turned the dial on the shrink ray again. One by one she fired the ray at the glass cases which held the jewellery. As soon as each of them were struck by the shrink ray they immediately began to shrink in size but unlike the clock these cases only shrank until they were handheld size. When each case was shrunk one of the thugs would pick it up and place it within a briefcase.
It only took a couple of minutes for them to completely empty out the store with all of the jewellery shrunk in size and thus easier for them to carry. The owner and his staff were in constant fear as they just stood there not muttering a single word. They thought that if any of them spoke up the Baroness would send them to oblivion much like she did with the wall clock. They were more than happy to watch her leave but it was still a terrifying experience for them and they even watched her turn to them just before walking out the door.
"You have been more than co-operative," said the Baroness. "This could have ended very ugly but the fact that you co-operated has saved your lives. But know this, if anyone so much as tries to contact the police I will find you."
This left the staff terrified as she walked out but she didn't realise that the police had already been contacted through a silent alarm that had been activated when the staff knew that the Baroness was there to steal from them. But the police had come too late to be able to stop them. The response time had only been a couple of minutes but by now the Baroness and her two underlings were long gone.
Some hours later Meggan was sitting down and trying to watch some TV. With all the craziness that been happening with the team recently it felt good for her to finally be able to sit down and be able to relax. For her the TV was much more than a simple form of entertainment. It was also her way of getting to know the outside world. Her upbringing had been both sheltered and traumatic but she had learned to get through all that. She watched almost all the soaps that was on the TV and it seemed that no show could bore her, she even watched shows that were targeted at pre-school children. But while she flicked through the channels she did eventually get to the news and something inside her told her to keep the channel on.
"Welcome to BBC News at lunchtime," said the Newscaster who was an aging man of Indian decent. "Roughly three hours ago Marriot's jewellery store in the Jewellery Quarter of Birmingham had their entire stock of rare and expensive jewellery stolen. The world famous store seemed to be hosting what they call to be a Central European Baroness but what is the most surprising about all this is that eyewitnesses claim that the suspect used what they call to be a shrink ray. Darla is at the scene, can you hear me Darla?"
Almost immediately the news shifted from the newsroom to the scene of the crime. A black haired woman was standing just outside the world famous jewellery store but there was police tap over the entrance so no unauthorised access was allowed. The news reporter was as close as she was allowed to be but for what was needed this was fine. She was a youthful woman who Meggan had seen on the news several times.
"Yes I can Dalip, just hours ago the store was apparently robbed by a upper class looking woman armed with what eye witnesses are saying is a shrink ray," said Darla as she reported from the scene. "No this isn't a hoax or a storyline for a science fiction film but real life. We have been able to obtain CCTV evidence that does show the robbery in progress, the only reason why the police have even released this tap is so that the public can help identify the woman and the mysterious device that she used to commit this robbery."
Only minutes later the entire team of Excalibur were viewing the CCTV video on Kitty's computer. It was most likely the most powerful computer in the country thanks to the constant upgrades by the team's computer wizard. Since the tap was available to be viewed by the public Kitty had no problem finding it and uploading it onto the large screen. It wasn't like a supercomputer but it was still impressive with a screen that was slightly larger than a normal computer. The team could see the footage on the computer screen but the problem was that the footage itself was very grainy and low quality. It was hard to make out any particular person but they could definitely see the shrink ray in action. This had caught the team by surprise as they had not actually expected to see the shrink ray. They had thought that it was probably some illusion or simply some kind of explanation that the staff used to help them realise what had happened.
The entire team of Excalibur watched the short CCTV video three times before they discussed with each other what the best course of action was. If it had been a normal robbery Excalibur would have left it for the police to deal with but because a very unusual weapon had been involved it fell into their area. For a few of them it was not the first time that they had come across shrinking technology. During their time with the X-Men Kitty and Kurt had been shrunk during an adventure with another team called the Micronauts and Brian had also been shrunk in his early days as Captain Britain. In theory Meggan could also shrink herself but she had never attempted such a feat.
"So how do we deal with this one?" asked Kurt as he began to think about their options. This was an unusual situation but it was one that the team had found themselves in numerous times before. Although they had not been together for very long they still had enough experience with the bizarre to the actors from Red Dwarf a run for their money.
"I can't tell anything from these pictures," replied Rachel as she tried to take a closer look at the paused picture of the Baroness. The quality was so low that it was hard to make out anything. She thought that a store as famous as Marriott's would have installed better security and more up to date cameras. But she didn't think all was lost however. "Kitty is there any chance that you can improve the picture quality?"
"I should be able to," replied Kitty as she began to type away on her computer. "I have the necessary software, I'll just need a few minutes and then we should have a clearer picture."
For the moment the rest of the team left Kitty so that she could do her work, the only other member of the team that remained behind was Lockheed. He didn't want to be away from his beloved friend and so lay himself over her shoulders as she typed away. He never liked to be away from her and the bond that they shared was very strong. It was only a few months ago that he almost lost Kitty but she had been saved at the last minute so he didn't want to be away from her for a single moment.
To strengthen the quality of the video was very easy for the young mutant. Her mutant abilities had nothing to do with her computer talents and near genius level I.Q. She was nothing short of a prodigy and definitely a very valuable member of the team. She sometimes didn't like the fact that she wasn't as physically strong as some of the other super beings that she had served with but she felt that her various talents more than made up for her lack of physical strength. But already as the video began to be seen in a much clearer definition Kitty was also able to run a facial recognition software through it on the face of the perpetrator and what she found did surprise her.
The woman in the video was no stranger to the police. Through using the police database she was able to bring a name and face to the perpetrator. Her name was Tanya Crestmere and she had been arrested in the past for several minor robberies but nothing on this scale. She had robbed from a few corner shops and other stores on the high street but she had never robbed a jewellery store before and as far as the records had gone she had never used a shrink ray either. She was a young woman with a troubled background but it was still no excuse to live a life of crime.
The records also indicated her last known base of operation was a warehouse just outside of West Bromwich and it was likely that it was there that the team would find her. Normally with things like this Excalibur would leave it for the local police but they thought that they would be overwhelmed with the fact that this thief used a shrink ray to commit her crime. They thought if they could take Tanya by surprise they would be able to apprehend her and find out where the shrink ray had come from. Her files did indicate that she was intelligent but she wasn't smart enough to actually create her own shrink ray so it meant that she had gotten from somewhere else. There had been rumours of such devices being available on the black market.
As soon as Kitty had all the information that she needed the other members of Excalibur returned to her computer console and she showed them what she had found out. At first glance it looked to be a relatively easy mission that they were going to undertake. The risk level was low and if all the members actually went to this warehouse it would most likely be a quick and easy victory. Many of the members of Excalibur had faced villains who were as powerful as they were evil, they had faced beings with the power to destroy an entire planet and those who were mad enough to kill millions just to get what they wanted. Taking on a woman armed with a shrink ray and two hired muscles didn't seem to really register to them. But it was still something that they had to deal with. They thought that the police could possibly deal with it themselves but it was likely that some of them might get seriously injured or even killed during the whole operation and that was one thing that they particularly wanted to avoid.
Later that night Tanya was in the warehouse that she rented and already she was beginning to enlarge the stolen jewellery back to its original size. Her warehouse was full of stolen goods had been apprehended over the last few weeks. With the jewellery itself she did consider expanding past their normal size so that she could make a lot of money in the weight of gold, but most of her clients wanted the jewellery at its proper proportions so that it could be worn.
So far the police had yet to link her to the crimes since she had been wearing a clever disguise and had masked her voice with a European accent. When she had been younger she had tried her hand in acting but her personality made her hard to work with so she was forced to drop that part of her life. But she had retained some of the acting skills that she had acquired and used them for her life of crime. Even the clothes that she wore had actually been stolen.
With her latest heist she knew that she was going to make a lot of money off it and that she would be able to lay low for a while. She had always dreamed about pulling off a heist that was big enough for her to retire from a life of crime and buy an island out in the Caribbean. She wanted to live her life like a rich person on many of the reality shows that she watched, more than ever she wanted to live that life but fate had not been kind on her at that front. She had lived a meagre life and had only been able to afford this warehouse because the previous owner had gone bankrupt and she had gotten the warehouse for cheap.
Her two hired thugs literally lived from day to day but they had already made a small amount of money through working for Tanya. They already knew that she was the brains behind the operation and that she would have the majority of the proceeds but they would still receive a nice and healthy cut which would set them up for life. They had helped her during some night robberies on electrical stores and other minor jewellers. The robbery of Marriot's had been the first that had taken place during daylight hours and where they actually confronted the owners.
The shrink ray that Tanya carried around with her always had been something special that she had picked during a particular heist. When she had found it she had little idea exactly what it was but when she pulled the trigger and accidentally shrank a car she realised exactly what it was. But she didn't use it straight away on a heist after picking it up, she did a series of tests first to see the limitations of the shrink ray. At one point she even tested it the shrink ray on a dog and accidentally shrank it so small that it could no longer be seen anymore. She had wanted to test it on living things and after a short while she had been able to understand the workings of the shrink ray, the only thing she had not properly tested was the limitations of the growing settings. She had tested it plenty of times on inanimate objects as well as reverting living creatures back to their normal size but she had yet to truly test the growing capabilities on living creatures. She had been worried that she would accidentally turn a normal hamster into a towering colossus that would destroy both her and everything around it. She had no idea exactly who owned the shrink ray and the technology behind it, all she cared about was that it was in her possession and that she could use it as she saw fit.
But aside from all the crime and stolen merchandise around her Tanya was taking some time to sit down and watch some of the reality TV that she had become obsessed over. The warehouse wasn't just to store her stolen goods but was also where she lived. She had her own bed along with various other personal effects around the place. The majority of her stolen goods were shrunk and hidden away so that if the police did search the warehouse they would have a very hard time finding the tiny stolen goods. She had shrunk them to near microscopic size so only someone who knew exactly where they were would be able to find them.
The program she was watching was another of the many programs about rich people in Los Angeles. When Tanya watched these programs she always wished that she could be like them, to live out in the sunshine with enough money to buy a small country. All the so called problems about going out with certain men and falling out with friends only strengthened her fantasy to be like them.
But her peace and quiet was interrupted by a loud knock on the main door. At first she ignored it but as the knocks continued it began to annoy her and she looked over to her two hired muscles who were in the middle of a game of poker. They had been playing for hours and neither of them had the upper hand on the other.
"James answer that why don't cha?" commanded Tanya. Now that she wasn't in her disguise her accent was back to her everyday normal English accent. "It's interrupting my tele time."
"But we're in the middle of a game here," replied James from where he was sitting. He had a good hand and he didn't want to get up in case his partner looked at his cards while he was away and know whether to play or fold.
"I don't care if you're licking the feet of the Queen. I don't pay you to sit around on your arses all day and play poker. Now get onto your feet before I terminate your employment permanently."
With much reluctance James did get up and walk towards the main door. Much as he feared when he was gone his partner Daniel took a quick look at his cards while he was gone. But the worst thing for James was that he had no idea who was exactly knocking on the door. They weren't expecting any guests and at first he feared that it could be the police. But even so they probably would have heard a group of cars and police vans coming but they had heard nothing. With each step that he took towards the door the knocking grew louder and louder. It almost sounded like the person knocking was trying to break the door down.
After a few seconds James was able to reach the door and he opened it to see who was on the other side. He was expecting to see a uniformed police officer telling them that they were surrounded. But instead he saw a tall blond woman standing there wearing an orange suit with no shoes. She had a polo like collar and her clothes had no sleeves either so her arms were bare. She smiled at James and for a moment he thought that he had hit the jackpot, the woman was the most beautiful woman that he had ever seen and many perverted thoughts were running through his head.
"Hey there baby," said James in a deep and flirtatious voice. "What's a fine little lady like you doing in a place like this?"
"Oh nothing much," replied the Woman. She was smiling at him and her smile was enough to warm anybody. He didn't realise that this was Meggan of Excalibur, if he did he would have known that he was in big trouble. "I'm just here to cause a distraction so that my team can enter without you guys knowing."
James was taken back with what he had just heard and at first he didn't think that she was being serious. He couldn't believe that someone would just walk up to the door and admit that they were just a distraction but he didn't know about Meggan's straight forwardness. She was still learning how to properly talk to people after her sheltered upbringing. If she had more social skills she definitely would have come up with a better excuse to keep James busy but her actions right now were all Excalibur needed as the rest of the team began to enter the warehouse itself.
Suddenly from through the roof the rest of Excalibur entered into the warehouse. They had not actually broken through the roof but Shadowcat had used her phasing abilities to get them through as if they were ghosts. Each one of them were now in their costumes and so went under their codenames rather than their real names. Although they could still speak to each other using their real names they did like to be called by their codenames although their identities weren't all that big of a secret.
Each of the members of Excalibur were holding hands as Shadowcat phased them through the roof. They needed to stay in contact with her so that they would remain intangible. If any of them had lost their contact with her they would instantly become solid again and if that happened while they were travelling through a solid object the results would be disastrous. It was a feat that was easy for the young mutant who had come a long way in using her powers. It was a far cry from the girl who kept phasing through the floor of her bedroom in Illinois and finding herself in her basement.
The team's decent was relatively slow and again this was thanks to Shadowcat's phasing abilities but almost no sooner had they touched down Tanya leaped from her chair and grabbed the shrink ray that was near her side. She had expected police to come and try to arrest her but she never considered that Excalibur would turn up. She had read about them in the paper and watched them on the news but she never thought in a million years that they would be coming down on her. In a way she couldn't help but feel honoured that they had actually seen her as a big enough threat to have to deal with her. She felt that she had come a long way from being just a minor thief on the streets, she was now important enough to actually be the concern of a superhero team but she knew what was at stake. Even with her hired goons she knew that she stood little chance of victory. However in her hands she had the tool to even the playing field. But she had options in her mind, she wasn't sure whether to shrink the team or try to turn herself into a giant. She only had a very short amount of time to come up with the decision.
As soon as Excalibur had dropped in Daniel had stood up from the poker table and went to pull a knife out of his pocket but before he had the chance he felt the sharp pain of a fist in his face. He hadn't seen it coming but Nightcrawler had leaped his way and struck him with enough force to knock him out. In the past the mutant would have just teleported to him and struck him from behind but due to his injuries he still unable to teleport himself indefinitely. He was still limited to one jump a day and he wanted to use it only for an emergency.
At the main door James had fully turned around and saw what was happening but by then Meggan had walked through the door and already she began to increase her muscle density until her physique was similar to Captain Britain, she had grown several inches in the process and when James took a moment to look back at her he saw that he was now looking up to her and that her muscles were much larger than his.
With very little effort Meggan picked up James and threw him across the warehouse, although she now had the strength to cause him serious harm she was able to limit how much strength she actually used. She only wanted to use enough force to take him out of action but not hurt him. Practically as soon as she threw him she started to revert back to her original form which was still tall but a lot more slender.
Already the team of Excalibur had begun to fan out in search for Tanya. Phoenix's telepathy had told them that there were only three people within the warehouse. Two of them had already been taken down so that left the ringleader. Without her these two hired muscles would be nothing more than a couple of thugs on the street. But already she was making preparations for her fight back. She had already made all the necessary adjustments to the shrink ray and was ready to fire when ready.
Tanya couldn't hide from the team since Phoenix's telepathy was pinpointing them to her exact location and already they were closing in on her. They were intelligent enough to keep themselves wary of her shrink ray. They had all seen her use it during the robbery of Marriott's and they didn't want to experience the receiving end of it.
Lockheed had also came with the team and he was flying through the air. He didn't want to wonder too far away from the team and Shadowcat in particular. But he was the first member of the team to actually spot Tanya as she hid behind her sofa like chair, almost immediately she began to fire the shrink ray at him but he darted through the air attempting not to be hit. It was a difficult task since Tanya was firing at him rapidly but his agile flying capabilities were making the task somewhat easier than it could have been. As he came closer towards her she did back away from her chair and she continued to fire but off her shrink ray away from beyond their notice the rays were striking several other items causing them to shrink in size. This ranged from a wide range of different items such as light fittings, furniture and even a couple of stolen goods. But one thing to notice was that they didn't shrink indefinitely and instead stopped at a certain proportion.
Lockheed's endeavour against Tanya hadn't gone unnoticed by the rest of Excalibur who all rushed towards him to help him. But there was only one member of Excalibur who had the capabilities of attacking someone from a distance but with everything that was going on Phoenix could hardly concentrate on using her telekinesis. Much like Lockheed she was having to move out of the way of oncoming shrink ray blasts as Tanya continue to shrink the small purple dragon. But one person who couldn't get out of the way of the shrink ray was Meggan, she had been momentarily distracted by the unconscious body of James. She had taken a moment to check if he was seriously harmed when the shrink ray blast struck her and almost immediately she watched the world around her grow at an alarming rate. She didn't even have time to scream as she continued to shrink smaller and she feared that she would shrink into nothingness. She had seen a science fiction show that had the villain shrinking out of existence and she feared that the same fate would happen to her.
But after a few seconds of uncontrolled shrinking Meggan did eventually stop but now she was no more than three inches in height. Her world had been completely turned upside down and she felt that she was living in a world ruled by giants easily powerful enough to crush her into oblivion. But her plight had been noticed by Captain Britain who began to race towards his now shrunken girlfriend. But he failed to see another shrink blast race towards him and as soon as it struck him he too began to shrink and within moments he was reduced down to a mere three and a half inches.
The remaining members of Excalibur who had all formerly been a part of the X-Men had not noticed what had happened. They themselves were trying to deal with Tanya who was firing on all cylinders. Her concentration was on Lockheed and not the other members of the team. She was fixated on shrinking the small dragon who was proving himself to be a menace to her, she had rarely failed anything in her life and she didn't want to start now. She didn't want to head back to prison and this dragon that she was trying to shrink seemed to be the cause of her problems in her mind. She had failed to truly notice the other three members of Excalibur closing in on her along with noticing that she had already shrunk two other members of the team.
The plan to take Tanya by surprise had failed and already Excalibur were two members down. They were still getting used to working together since it had not been all that long ago that they actually formed. But already Shadowcat was starting to become angry at Tanya for trying to shrink Lockheed, she thought that if he was actually shrunk by this shrink ray that he would end up no larger than a fly and she would have difficulties finding him. She wanted to get to Tanya as soon as possible so that she could disarm her and save the rest of the team before they too were shrunk.
But almost instantly Shadowcat noticed a beam strike Phoenix who had just lifted up into the air and much like Captain Britain and Meggan she also shrank in size and within mere moments she was no taller than three inches. This only left Nigthcrawler, Shadowcat and Lockheed at full size and with the rate that things were going it was not going to be long before they too were shrunk.
Tanya herself had completely failed to notice that she had shrunk three members of Excalibur and carried on trying to hit the agile Lockheed who was still flying through the air. She had fired in practically every direction and had shrunk so many different items that it would be very difficult to return them all to their normal size. But her main target Lockheed had still eluded her and she was becoming angrier with each passing moment.
Nightcrawler was the closest member of Excalibur to Tanya as he leaped over various obstacles to get closer and closer to her. He wished that he could teleport as many times as he liked, like back in the old days but his wounds were still too severe for him to perform the feat more than once a day. But today he had not teleported yet and he knew that now was probably the best time to teleport since it was a very dangerous situation.
For a moment he was distracted as he looked towards where to teleport. He couldn't blind teleport and had to see where he was going before he could make the jump but this moment of distraction was all that was needed for one of the shrink ray beams to strike him and the world rushed past him as he lost the vast majority of his height and he became no bigger than a child's toy. Much like the other shrunken members of Excalibur he was only around three inches tall.
Shadowcat was horrified to see her best friend Nightcrawler shrunk along with Phoenix and when she took a quick glance towards where Meggan and Captain Britain had been she saw they too had gone and she could only suspect that they had also been shrunk as well. She and her dragon Lockheed were the only members of Excalibur to still be at their full size and for a moment she was actually the tallest member of the team but unfortunately it was a title that he didn't hold onto for long.
She did spot the shrink ray beam shoot towards her but rather than trying to get out of the way she shifted her body into her intangible form and she expected the beam to harmlessly pass through her but this was not the case at all. She had no problems phasing through solid objects although a few denser items had given her some trouble but energy related attacks worked much differently with her. It had been the same when she had last fought alongside the X-Men. An energy based attack had severely injured her and if it had not been for the combined efforts of both the hero Reed Richards and the villain Doctor Victor Von Doom she would have completely evaporated and ceased to be.
The same happened when Shadowcat's body came into contact with the shrink ray beam. Rather than the beam passing through her like she expected it still affected her as if she were solid and quickly like the others she began to rapidly lose her mass. It had affected her on a molecular level much like the others and she too shrank quickly. She hardly had time to gasp as the world rushed past her and within moments she was just as small as the other members of Excalibur, in fact she was actually a little smaller than the rest of them. She wasn't even two and three quarter inches tall when she finally stopped shrinking and just like when they were all at full size she was now officially the shortest member of the team again.
It was only when Shadowcat had stopped shrinking that Tanya had noticed what had happened. At first she couldn't believe that she had actually shrunk the entire team. She had not been trying to shrink the team but instead trying to get to Lockheed but she still couldn't be happier with her achievement. She had taken the greatest superheroes on the British Isles and shrunk them to nothing more than dolls, if anything they were even smaller than dolls. And the worst part was that for the moment they were separated from each other. It wouldn't be too much effort for them to reunite but their problem was that there was a woman out there armed with a shrink ray who if she used it on them again would likely shrink to nothingness.
Lockheed had also seen what had happened to the team and rather than try and evade any more shrink blasts he flew down to the ground so that he could find his beloved Shadowcat. He had feared that he lost her again but his sense of smell told him otherwise. Despite her loss in size he could still smell her and it only took him moments for him to land on the ground right next to her but to her Lockheed seemed very different. To her he was the size of a monstrous dragon from mythological tales of old. But she felt no fear around him, despite now seeming to be at a monstrous size Lockheed was still her friend and she knew that he would never harm her.
But Tanya wasn't done with the team just yet, sensing victory she began to step forward towards where Lockheed was and an evil smile appeared on her face as she thought about what was going to happen next. In her mind she had won a major victory today and rather than wanting to destroy the team she wanted to keep them as trophies so that people would know that she meant business. But now her task was to actually capture the team and then imprison them. Since Shadowcat was the closest to her it was her that was going to be the first to be captured but the young mutant wasn't going to go down without a fight. She had been through too much over the last couple of years to fold now.
"Well, well how the mighty have fallen," said Tanya as she stepped closer towards the shrunken Shadowcat and the still full size Lockheed. The tiny woman could feel the shudders of the ground with each step that Tanya took. In her eyes this normal size woman looked to be around one hundred and fifty feet tall. This goliath in front of her was intent on putting an end to her career as a superhero and making her nothing more than a trophy. "And I guess you are going to be the first to enter my collection, but don't worry you'll soon have plenty of friends to keep you company."
Lockheed moved in front of Shadowcat as Tanya took a few more steps towards her. The mutant would have liked to fight back but she knew that at her size there wouldn't be much that she could do to overcome someone with such a size advantage over her. But one thing that Tanya didn't expect was for Lockheed to breathe a fire ball in her direction. It had happened so quickly that Tanya had only just enough time to dive out of the way. Lockheed had not intended the fire ball to actually strike her but instead it was a distraction that would give them a few valuable seconds to escape.
With almost no notice at all Shadowcat quickly climbed upon the back of Lockheed but it was something that she had not experienced before. She had always been used to seeing this dragon be the size of a cat compared to her but now he was like a full size dragon and it did take her a moment or two to climb onto his back. She sat down on the back of his neck and held onto his two horns that grew out of the back of his head. No sooner had Shadowcat sat on her back Lockheed began to flap his wings and he began to fly into the air. It was one of the most amazing feelings that the young woman had ever experienced actually flying on the back of a dragon. But it was not in the way that she expected and for Lockheed there was almost no hindrance to him. He could barely feel the weight of the tiny woman on his back as he gracefully flew through the air.
But it didn't take long for Tanya to recover from her near burning but in the process she had dropped the shrink ray and it landed quite hard on the ground. It received some minor cosmetic damage but it was still perfectly functional and ready for use when ready. But as she got back up to her feet she saw that both Shadowcat and Lockheed were gone. She looked around in the air but couldn't see her targets and she began to become angry but she knew that this wasn't the end of her plan. She still had four more shrunken members of Excalibur to find and it wouldn't be too long before she would find them.
Unseen to Tanya Lockheed had hidden himself away in a hole in the wall right up near the ceiling. It was impossible for the villain to actually see or even find him up there and with them now safe for the moment Shadowcat climbed off his back and she gave him a little kiss for his bravery.
"Thank you Lockheed," said Kitty hugging his head as well. She still couldn't believe just how large he was in comparison to her but it was not because he was bigger but because she was smaller. "You saved my life back there and when I'm big again I'm going to give you as many cuddles as you want." The purple dragon responded positively to this and Shadowcat looked down from where she was standing and could see the entirety of the warehouse.
From where she was standing Shadowcat could see Tanya looking for her friends while her two hired muscles were still on the ground unconscious. She could see all the stolen goods that were around but one thing that she couldn't see was the other members of Excalibur, she was too high up and they were too small for her to see but that didn't mean that they couldn't communicate with each other. Phoenix was a high level telepath and Shadowcat began to clear her mind and reach out for her friend. If she concentrated hard enough she knew that Phoenix would be able to pick up her thoughts.
On the ground Phoenix herself was still getting over the fact that she had shrunk. Her world had been turned upside down in the space of a few short moments and she was taking a moment for everything to sink in. Unlike most of the members of Excalibur she had not been shrunk before so this experience was completely new to her. But she wasn't alone where she was standing. Within her cone of vision she could see Nightcrawler but for the moment she couldn't actually move towards him. She was still taken aback by everything that had happened and barely noticed him run towards her. She was still in shock as she felt Nightcrawler's three digit hand touch her shoulder and it made her snap back into reality as she saw his blue skin and yellow eyes.
"Rachel, Rachel can you hear me?" asked Nightcrawler as he tried to bring her back around. It did take her a few moments to finally respond to his question and she looked at him for a few seconds before she could mutter any words.
"E-Everything's so big," replied Phoenix. That was all that she could say at this moment in time. She was still getting over exactly what had happened to her but she was returning to normal over the initial shock.
"Snap out of it Rachel." His voice was stern but still somewhat pleasant. "If we start panicking then we have already lost. Now we need to hide and formulate some kind of plan before we do anything rash."
This was the wakeup call that Phoenix desperately needed and quickly the pair of them moved behind a nearby sofa that was often used by Tanya's hired muscles. For the moment they had not been seen by Tanya so they at least had a good chance to hide. This was not a sign of cowardice on their part but rather it was a tactical retreat. They hurried behind the sofa and although Phoenix could have flown them there Nightcrawler thought that it would be much safer for them to run the distance. It was more likely that they would be spotted if they decided to fly and since Phoenix lit up when using her Phoenix Force it would only draw attention to them.
The sofa that they hid behind was old and was falling apart. There was no gap underneath it for the shrunken Nightcrawler and Rachel to crawl under if need be. But Nightcrawler still had one teleport jump at his disposal and he would use it if he really had to. But when they did get back there Phoenix began to hear something in her head. At first she was too disorientated to know exactly what it was but after a few moments it sounded like someone was calling out to her, a voice that she recognised. It took her a few additional moments to realise that the voice belonged to fellow Excalibur member Shadowcat but since she was nowhere in sight Phoenix knew that her teammate was trying to contact her through her telepathy. Phoenix focused her mind and tried to concentrate on Shadowcat's thoughts and it took her several seconds to finally reach out to her.
"Rachel are you there?" asked Shadowcat with her thoughts. It was not the first time she had tried to contact someone with her thoughts only. When she had been stuck in her intangible state she couldn't speak and only the X-Men's telepath Betsy had been able to speak with her. In that time she had learned how to properly communicate with her thoughts and body language rather than her words.
"Yes I'm here Kitty," replied Phoenix finally tuning into Shadowcat's thoughts. "Are you alright?"
"I'm fine from where I am but the entire team's been shrunk, well except for Lockheed but either way we're in big trouble if you pardon the pun. Where are you I can't see you from up here."
"Kurt and I are behind an old brown couch but I have no idea where Brian and Meggan are. If they've been shrunk like you said then we might have difficulty finding them. I can try and telepathically reach them but I don't know if my powers are affected at this size. Can you see the brown couch from where you are?"
"Let me see." Shadowcat began to scan the warehouse with her eyes and from her vantage point she could see the brown couch where Nightcrawler and Phoenix were hiding behind but she couldn't actually see her friends. "Yeah I see the couch but I can't see you."
"Ok that's a start but what can we do? We're barely three inches tall and we're separated." She took a moment to think about their options. "I think the first thing we should do is try and regroup and then go from there."
"I do have an idea myself. If I can somehow get to the shrink ray I can see if I can reverse its effects and return us to normal size."
"That's if the shrink ray can make things bigger."
"Tanya's not insane, she wouldn't have shrunk all that jewellery if she didn't have some way of returning it back to its normal size. She most likely would have tested it before using it on a raid so there's a good chance that we should be able to return to our normal sizes. I just really need to get to the shrink ray."
"Can you see Tanya from where you're hiding?"
"Yeah I see her." It wasn't difficult for the tiny woman to spot the normal size Tanya surprisingly walking away from Phoenix and Nightcrawler's hiding place. It took her a couple of moments to realise that the villainess was actually heading towards the unconscious bodies of her two hired muscles James and Daniel. Shadowcat realised what was happening and she immediately tried to relay it back to Phoenix. "Rachel we have a problem, she's going to wake up her two thugs and there's nothing we can do to stop her."
"There is something that we can do. I need you to be our eyes from above and I'll telepathically link all of our minds up."
"Can you do that at your size?"
"Kitty I'm one of the most powerful telepaths the world has ever seen. I think I should be able to cope with something like that."
Already Phoenix's mind was reaching out to her fellow members of Excalibur, linking with Nightcrawler was very simple since he was practically standing right next to her but for Captain Britain and Meggan it would be slightly more difficult. She didn't know their exact location but given time she would be able to sense them out. But despite her words of confidence she wasn't too sure whether she could actually link up their minds. It would take more concentration than the norm to be able to reach out to her two lost teammates.