This week's Excalibur #13 from Tini Howard, R.B. Silva, and Nolan Woodward marks 'X of Swords' ninth chapter, and as the 22-part crossover nears its halfway mark, two new mutant swordbearers take their places – and a classic Marvel character takes on a brand new identity.
Spoilers ahead for Excalibur #13, 'X of Swords' chapter nine.
As Excalibur #13 opens, Jamie and Betsy Braddock arrive at the Starlight Citadel, where Saturnyne declares that any Captain Britain who hasn't made the choice between the Sword of Might and Amulet of Right is a "rogue Captain Britain" and an "abomination" that must be destroyed – including, by implication, Betsy Braddock, who refuses to return the Amulet of Right to her brother Brian Braddock, her predecessor as the core Marvel Universe's Captain Britain.
With a wedge driven between them by Saturnyne, Brian and Betsy clash over the Amulet of Right, with Betsy wielding her psychic sword and entreating Brian to draw the Sword of Might and fight her – but he refuses. They retire to their quarters no closer to obtaining the Starlight Sword, which one of them must wield in the Otherworld fight.
That night, Jamie Braddock is attacked by the rogue Captain Britain Corps that was created when Jamie fragmented reality, bringing in alt-universe versions of Gambit, Jubilee, Rogue, and Rictor from worlds where they picked up the Amulet of Right while Betsy was unconscious (back in Excalibur #10) – all of whom have seemingly escaped from Saturnyne's captivity.
As Betsy and Brian intervene, Jamie kills the alt-universe Jubilee and the conflict escalates – with the alt-Gambit setting the scabbard of the Sword of Might ablaze, forcing Brian to draw it.
Brian is instantly transformed – but not into Captain Britain. Having drawn the sword to defend his brother Jamie from the ersatz Captain Britain Corps, Brian swears himself to Jamie's Otherworld kingdom of Avalon - with Jamie dubbing him, appropriately, 'Captain Avalon.'
Saturnyne arrives suddenly to put a stop to the fighting, recapturing the Captain Britain Corps, and attempting to seize Betsy's Amulet of Right. But Betsy, unwilling to surrender to Saturnyne, destroys the Amulet instead. Saturnyne sentences her to the dungeons with the others, to be put to death in the morning. She entreats Brian to join her in her quarters.
In the dungeons, Betsy is led to freedom by Jamie, who secrets her away toward Saturnyne's chamber, where Saturnyne is in the midst of attempting to reclaim Brian Braddock as her champion by offering him the Starlight Sword.
Hewn from the same material as the very walls of the Starlight Citadel itself, the Starlight Sword is meant to be the new, one, true signifier of Captain Britain – bestowed by Saturnyne herself to her chosen champion, rather than that champion choosing from the Sword of Might and the Sword of Right.
As Betsy and Jamie arrive, Brian distracts Saturnyne long enough to allow Betsy to seize the Starlight Sword, effectively inverting Saturnyne's intended prophecy of Brian wielding the Starlight Sword as her one, true Captain Britain.
Bested at her own game, Saturnyne allows Betsy and Brian to leave with the Starlight Sword and Sword of Might, respectively, as Captain Britain and Captain Avalon.
The pair take their place on the Otherworld circle alongside Doug Ramsey, Magik, Wolverine, Storm, and Cable, to await the rest of the X-Men who will venture into the tournament.
Ominously, the narrative caption states that Betsy will "lose more than she planned for" in the conflict ahead.
'X of Swords' chapter 10 takes place in X-Men #13, also out this week. The crossover continues on October 28 with X of Swords: Stasis #1, the series' halfway point.
Getting caught up on 'X of Swords?' Here's everything you need to know about the massive mutant crossover event.