The Xavier Institute for Mutant Education and Outreach:
A hologram of the galaxy. This is here, Beast informs teenage Jean Grey and points to Earth. And, as she can plainly see, the Phoenix is nowhere even remote nearby. They are talking about vast expanses of space, completely devoid of a firebird god creature. Jean stubbornly crosses her arms. So he doesn’t believe her? Cool.
Carol Danvers, who is present as well, along with Kitty Pryde and the young Beast, is more diplomatic. It isn’t disbelief so much— There’s just no empirical evidence to support her claim, Beast continues.
Jean tries to argue that, if there is any chance at all she is right, doesn’t it make sense to prepare? Last time this thing dropped in, they had a big stupid war. The moment that thing shows up on a scan, they’ll scramble the Blackbird and they’ll assemble every Avenger, Kitty promises. But beyond that… Carol agrees. They’ll have to wait and see.
Jean protests they think she is crazy. Adult Beast assures her no one questions her sanity and asks her to take a seat. He shines a light into her eyes. Think back before she encountered this vision of the Phoenix. Did she experience any pain? Perhaps a headache or twitching eye? Was she anxious or experiencing emotional distress? he continues.
Jean has had it and she shoves him away telekinetically. Just forget it! she announces and leaves the lab along with Pickles They join the throng of students outside. No empirical evidence! she fumes. She’ll just run along then pretending she didn’t have a ‘you’re screwed, girlie’ conversation with a smug flaming spacegod.
She decides he can’t do that. Because if Beast is wrong, she gets to live out her worst nightmare. And then maybe kill friends and friggin’ planets. She is sure her vision was real. They are talking about a giant bird made of fire that brings people back from the dead! she addresses Pickles in frustration. She shouldn’t have to find it on a map for them. There has to be somebody she can talk to. Who understands the Phoenix! Then she has an idea. She enters the Cerebro chamber and then uses Cerebro to find former Phoenix hosts.
The first is Colossus, who is currently painting. He informs her she is doing something wrong. Cerebro does not usually give headaches. She apologizes. This is harder than she thought.
Next is Prestige, currently embroiled in a battle who asks if everything is okay. She has her hands full with a big fracking minotaur. What does she want? Magik, who is battling a demon, asks curtly.
Quentin Quire, spending time on the sentient island Krakoa, laments her lack of courtesy. Nobody cares, she replies. Krakoa and he find her honesty refreshing.
Jean explains her situation to them. She believes the Phoenix is coming for her and she needs info from them as past hosts. Maybe they can tell her what to do.
Cross her fingers and run like hell! Quentin scoffs. Colossus is more empathetic. Rachel asks for more details and Illyana announces a little fire never hurt anyone. She suggests Jean embrace it.
Jean asks them to hold on. She is trying to get this Hope girl on Cerebro. The mutant messiah or whatever. Then she gets that Hope is in danger and races off.
Some baked desert town in Arizona:
A Reaver referring to himself as Lundy enters a room, babbling how he succeeded where the others failed against the Red Ring of Death. Getting out a drill, he announces he is ready to perform the impossible assimilation.
The person he is threatening is Hope Summers, strapped to a chair. Enough monologuing, junkheap! she shouts. She doesn’t scare easy and he doesn’t have the tongue for it! Closing in, Lundy leers that his strength is biomechanical engineering.
That’s convenient, Jean remarks as she enters and telekinetically hits him hard. She’s been itching to hit a science bro since after breakfast.
With Lundy out, Jean introduces herself to Hope, releases her and explains she had this vision she wanted to ask her about but Hope’s thing seemed a bit more pressing.
Hope thanks her as she gathers her rather big gun. She misread the sitch’, firefight went pear-shaped and she somehow let that Poindexter get the drop on her. She asks Jean to toss her the pistols in the corner. Hope looks at her critically. People always say they look alike. Both decide that they don’t see it.
Looking at the knocked-out Lundy, Jean remarks Hope probably won’t need all those guns at once. Their boy looks down for the count. Amused, Hoper replies that, if Jean thinks one Reaver chumped her all by his lonesome – she fires her guns at the side where a group of Reavers is suddenly coming from – she’s never met Hope’s father.
What the hell is going on? Jean demands. Where are they coming from? While she fires at the first ones, Hope explains she got word of a little Reaver activity in town. Reavers almost killed her dad and her once. She hates Reavers. So, she came here to clear them out. Turns out her intel was bad or a set-up. There is a little town built on a massive Reaver underground hive.
Uh-oh, Hope mutters when a massive Bombhead comes at them. His bomb explodes and the two girls barely make it out. Bombheads suck! Hope announces. Clearly Jean agrees as erects a TK shield to hold off Reaver fire. What did she want to know about the Phoenix? Hope asks.
Suddenly, Prestige is in front of them, attacking Reavers and explaining Jean is terrified. Of the bird. Of her destiny. What it all means. Quentin joins the fight with telepathic guns. She wants to dodge it. Or fight it. Or run the hell away. It’s a deep dark destiny and Grey’s Anatomy there wants no part.
Magik teleports herself and her brother Colossus in and scoffs. Dark destiny? Trade ya! It is not a contest, Colossus chides her as he finishes off a Reaver. Jean is scared. She should be, Magik smirks.
Jean explains she is looking for a little guidance, as she and Hope join the fight. Everyone knows what it did to the other her. She means Dark. Phoenix. Saga! They named a whole saga after her crazy. And that Jean was a full-grown woman. Experienced. Battle-tested. She’s just a kid. So yes, she’ll run if she can run. Avoid the Phoenix like the plague. But if she can’t, how does she keep from losing her whole damn mind? What’s it gonna look like? What’s it gonna feel like?
Quentin holds his psychic gun against her temple and fires.
Kid Omega’s mindscape:
Jean awakes in a surprisingly sophisticated library. Quentin sits in a comfortable chair beneath a huge portrait of himself. Psychic weapons don’t kill, he explains. They just let him mess with her head. He’s answering her question. She wants to know what Phoenix flame broiled brain meat looks like. Peep it!
Jean is distracted by the fact that his mindscape is stained oak and leatherbound books. This one corner is, he explains. Used to be this was his peace and quiet. His all alone, his stare at the wall boredom. He walks toward a window. Now it’s more of a fireproof safe.
Outside the window are a bunch of burning Quentins wanting in. Brain damage, he explains and points toward his head. Phoenix fire burns.
Quentin throws her out and she lands in Colossus’ mindscape, a huge, Siberian farm. She asks why he is plowing. He replies everything is fine, why does she ask? She looks at the farmhouse, burning with Phoenixfire
Rachel asks Quentin pointedly if this battle wouldn’t go better if one of them weren’t catatonic. What doesn’t kill them, makes them stronger, he replies philosophically. Colossus points out that these people are trying to kill them. Quentin replies Jean had questions. And they could have answered them, Prestige snaps. With their mouths! But then he’d be catatonic. Besides a picture is worth a thousand words. He fires at Jean again. And that’s a big thing when the words are ‘oh no, you’re totally screwed!’
Nothingness. Rachel rests in a fiery cocoon. That firebird saved her. Plucked her out of hell and gave her a new life. Death will always be part of the equation. But so is rebirth.
Jean points out her life isn’t hell and she doesn’t particularly want to be born again, thanks.
Quentin fires again.
The mindscape is joined by Hope jumping in guns ablaze at the Phoenix. Dad says, wars don’t end, they just change clothes, she informs Jean. The Phoenix sucks, sure. But it’s just an enemy like any other. She might have Jean’s number. Maybe Jean has hers. But if she keeps her guns loaded and her triggers moving, she’s got herself a fighting chance which has always been good enough for Hope. Jean admits Hope is surprisingly hardcore.
Jean awakes suddenly. The battle is almost over and she thanks Quentin sarcastically. She asks about Magik’s mindscape. Quentin hesitates. “Be my guest, snowflake,” Magik scoffs as she finishes another Reaver. Quentin points out he doubts there is anything in there to make Jean feel better. Point taken, she agrees and smacks a Reaver. So, she’s totally stuck. There is nothing she can do but wait. And burn. It’s gonna mess her up just like it messed her up. Like it messes everybody up. Best case scenario: It burns her down to ashes before she kills anyone.
Nobody is saying that, Rachel tries to calm her. He sorta said that, Quentin points out. Nobody had to! Jean replies. She is an omega level psychic. She can read between the lines. She orders Pickles to her side. She thanks them sarcastically. Rachel tells her to wait - they can talk about this. Later, she replies. Now she has to talk to the one Phoenix host awful enough he might actually know how to do this. She has to talk to friggin’ Namor! Pickles teleports her away.
Rachel snaps at Quentin. He suggests they look on the bright side. Maybe the big brains are right, the Phoenix isn’t coming and Jean is just crazy…