Teenage Jean Grey and her allies run from the fury of the Phoenix Force, which breathes down flames at them, causing a forest fire. Jean realizes that she isn’t ready for this but that there probably is no way of being ready for this.
Hope Summers asks Jean for the plan. Retreat, she is told. Hope points out they have been running away and it doesn’t work. What now?
The ghost of adult Jean reminds her younger counterpart that the Phoenix is only attacking the others to get at her. She needs to say the word. She has to pick the fight. They are now surrounded by a ring of fire.
Jean manifests a psychic sword and shield and addresses the Phoenix. She knows it is here for her, but she won’t be its host. It can try to force her but then it needs to prepare for— Waaaar! the Phoenix screeches and breathes fire at her, which Jean barely manages to deflect with her shield. She calls for Pickles and asks him to get them out.
A moment later, Pickles has teleported them to the abandoned Xavier School in Canada. Hope is the only one who doesn’t know the place. She was thinking remote and cold, Jean explains. Higher ground. Hope takes charge, figuring this place has satellite imaging. So at least they can track the damn thing.
Unseen by the others (except for Emma), Ghost Jean urges Jean to go. They need to leave the others. This is her fight or flight. Not theirs. The Phoenix will scorch the Earth and anyone on it to get to—
Emma rudely interrupts and asks if death has turned her dim or suicidal by proxy. She orders Jean to get her butt inside. They are all helping Jean.
Inside, Hope has managed to set up satellite imagining and announces the bird is headed here in a hurry. She asks for ideas. Ghost Jean again tries to convince Marvel Girl that fighting it alone might seem like madness but think about the stakes. The Phoenix needs a living host. Worst case scenario: Jean will still survive. But will they? Hesitatingly, Jean promises not to let that happen.
Emma explains to the others they need to corral that thing. So follow her lead. They’ll hold it stead so bangs’ n’ bob can strike her blow. Quentin points out that he prefers Jean’s hair that way.
Look alive, people, Hope warns. A moment later, the Phoenix breaks through the wall. Hope hands Jean her psimitar and explains it focuses and amplifies psychic energy. Just point and shoot. Jean does so and shoots a hole inside the Phoenix. Hope fires her guns at the raptor and shouts “let’s twist this damned chicken’s head off!” The raptor grabs her in its beak and throws her against the wall.
Ghost Jean urges Marvel Girl to fire again but Jean points out the Phoenix is too close to Hope. Another shot will disperse the flames and endanger Hope.
Emma, the Cuckoos and Quentin team up and try to psychically cage the Phoenix. Watching them, Jean realizes they’ve helped her as much as they can. Everybody helped her as much as they could, but old Jean was right. This is her war. Nobody can fight it for her.
Emma shouts at Jean to take her shot. Jean runs toward the Phoenix while the others pass out from the stress. She lands on its back. “Gotcha!” she shouts as she strikes with the psimitar. The Phoenix takes to the air and asks “or do I have you?”
It flies high to the air. Jean is confident that no matter what happens the Phoenix will not kill her. She will survive this. Ghost Jean follows them, urging Jean not to let up.
Jean still has the psimitar buried in its back while protecting herself with a forcefield. She doesn’t believe it has come to kill her. Not Jean Grey. Not its favorite puppet. She creates a psychic lasso. She figures if she doesn’t win and lets the Phoenix do this, what would be even left of her? She did her Phoenix homework… smelled the burned flesh… seen the scars. She’s seen what it left behind in the minds of those other hosts.
She begins to strangle it with the lasso. “Nobody ever survives you!” she shouts. So they’re gonna find out… The Phoenix drops and Ghost Jean screams in panic as it crash lands… “If you survive me!” Jean states as she walks from the landing.
She realizes she is not the girl she was when this started. That girl wouldn’t shut up about nightmares. She would have shattered in the crash. She would have burned in the flight. Maybe she’s not full-grown, fully powered, bad-ass Jean Grey. But she gave the Phoenix every single thing she got. And when it crashed, she heard it scream. She felt its fear.
The Phoenix rises with an angry screech Jean is not surprised. Nobody thought she could win this fight. And it’s sure looking like she won’t. But so what? She can’t control if she wins or loses. Nobody can. All you can do is stand and fight. The firebird took her best shot but it’s not over till it takes her last. Jan screams defiantly as she manifests more psychic weaponry for her last stand.
Ghost Jean manifests in front of her and shouts at the Phoenix to stop it. She tells the Phoenix to look at how strong Jean is, far stronger than she was at her age. Look at how hard she’s battled. She is only fighting the Phoenix because she is too young. Because she is not ready. She can’t handle it. She is not her. Not yet. I know, the Phoenix replies. If it merges with her now it will burn her up, the ghost continues. The Phoenix agrees. The ghost realizes the truth and shouts at Jean to run.
But it is too late, as the Phoenix enters Jean and she realizes they were wrong. About the worst case scenario. About the bird and why it came. Makes sense, if you think about it. People tell her all the time. She has her face. She has her hair. She has her name. But she is not the real Jean Grey. The Phoenix never wanted her. It wanted her out of the way.
And with that, the Phoenix burns Jean to ashes. Its work done, it rises triumphantly leaving the ghost to kneel amidst the ashes.