An ambulance drives through midtown Manhattan. In it lies teen Jean Grey, close to death, barely breathing, heart beating like crazy and, according to the thermometer, she is on fire.
Also sitting in the ambulance is Emma Frost, who is glaring at the ghost of adult Jean Grey whom only she can see. The only silver lining she sees here is that, for once, Jean Grey can’t claim the moral high ground.
Everything is always a competition with her, Ghost Jean replies. Yeah and today psychic arson wins the cup, Emma snarks, as teen Jean momentarily breathes fire, shortly burning the paramedic.
His partner at the steering wheel asks what’s going on. He doesn’t know. She must be a mutant. Skin’s hot and she’s microwaving the electronics.
She did what needed to be done, Ghost Jean insists. Emma mocks she needed to invade her home in the dead of night, incapacitate and take over her body like some sort of creepshow succubus and allow a stonefisted infant to rifle through her mind…
Does she want an apology? Ghost Jean asks and admits that was a huge invasion of privacy. It was last ditch, desperate and gross, but she’s not sorry. Emma was hiding the one thing on Earth that might help Jean survive the Phoenix Force. She set the child on fire! Emma shouts.
They arrive at the hospital. If Jean can’t handle that little touch of flame, she was already dead to begin with, Ghost Jean replies. She’s a lot colder than she remembers, Emma observes. Ghost Jean reminds her she died since the last time they spoke.
While the medical personnel take teenage Jean, Ghost Jean asks Emma if she remembers being that age. Nothing but question marks between the ears. A little freckled fawn in the headlights. Playing at full adulthood because that’s the expectation. And she has to prepare her for battle. What battle? Emma asks. The battle she lost time and time again when she was older, wiser and surrounded by better, Ghost Jean replies. So yes, she’s cold and blunt and impatient. She’s playing fast and loose with this child’s wellbeing, but only because she’s intimately familiar with what comes next.
One doctor examines Jean and is almost hit by a burst of flame coming from her body. In fact, her whole body emits flame. Hospital personnel try to extinguish it.
Imagine that, Emma remarks calmly. All it took was fear and desperation to turn Jean into Emma. She enters the elevator. Where is she going? Ghost Jean asks. There is only one thing that can help them and they keep it on the roof, is Emma’s reply.
Ghost Jean turns back to see Jean still burning and tries to possess her to douse the flames. Jean screams and ejects her and Ghost Jean wonders if that was their soul screaming. Luckily, the sprinklers start dousing everything including Jean.
Emma grabs Jean and leaves with her over the doctors’ weak protests. She takes the unconscious girl to the roof to a helicopter. Ghost Jean berates her for stealing it. Emma coolly replies she would have preferred a jet, but it will have to do.
In the meantime, in an airplane graveyard in the middle of nowhere Hope Summers is busy cleaning a weapon when her system alerts her to a significant cosmic event. She gathers some weapons including her psimitar and carries them to her flightbike.
Aboard the helicopter, Ghost Jean checks on her younger counterpart. She is no longer burning and trashing but has gone corpse-white. Emma replies they will be in Westchester shortly. She has called ahead. There will be help on the ground.
Dejected, Ghost Jean admits she didn’t mean to torture her. In her defense, it’s more self-harm than child abuse, Emma snarks. Ghost Jean continues she thought Jean could take that tiny bit of Phoenix flame. She thought it would toughen her up. How did she know it was in her mind? Emma demands. Ghost Jean replies she knew because Jean knew. She sensed it when Emma trained her in Canada. Though she didn’t know what it was.
She never could keep her nose to herself, Emma sighs. She can’t help it, Ghost Jean replies with a sad look at Jean. Too much. Too fast. Too soon. It’s all so overwhelming and she’s just made it worse.
She turns back to Emma. She is in no position to judge but what was Emma thinking keeping that thing inside of her? Power, Emma admits, recalling the time when she was one of the Phoenix Five. Glorious life-giving power, only hers for a moment, but what a moment! She kept a tiny flicker. Ghost Jean figures she kept it in that nightmare of a memory just in case Jean came and— Emma scoffs. Not everything is about her. Jean’s nightmare was her love story.
They land somewhere in the forests near Westchester. Emma reminds Ghost Jean that she is not on great terms with the X-Men right now. They’ll take her all the way if they have to.
The help Emma promised are the three Stepford Cuckoos, who cannot perceive Ghost Jean. They snark about Emma seemingly talking to herself and one of them adds they hope she hasn’t killed another Jean Grey. Rolling her eyes, Emma assures them she is alive and they can skim the whole story from her brain in a bit. Drop the snark and help her!
They form a circle around the unconscious Jean. Emma refers to their mistrust of her. Repeated incompetence and betrayal will do that to young people, Phoebe shoots back. Yes, she’s sure their ongoing tantrum is well and truly justified, Emma replies, but for the moment let’s pretend they are mature enough and move on. It will take all four of them to pull Jean from the flame. They must link their minds fully. Because that’s always gone so well in the past, Irma points out. Nevertheless, they comply and focus. Jean screams and the flames move upward into the sky.
Nearby, Quentin Quire sees this and becomes curious. Capable of seeing Ghost Jean, he explains he came all the way from Central Park to tell them they were making a psychic ruckus, but they probably know that already. The four don’t know what to do. Quentin tells them to think outside the box, manifests a psychic gun and shoots Jean in the head.
Jean drops down, the flames extinguished. Angrily, Emma berates him. Quentin points out that the flame was feeding on Jean’s psychic energy. So he shot her in the head and put that big red mind to sleep. Emma examines Jean and reluctantly admits Quentin’s stunt seems to have worked. Jean is much cooler.
Quentin turns around and warns the others: incoming. It’s Hope Summers on her skysled. She crash lands and gets straight to the point. Big bad news. She grabs her weapons and tells them not to kill the messenger. She’s spectacularly well armed.
She quickly erects a computer unit and suggests they wake up Jean so she can explain. And that’s why they shouldn’t let Cable raise kids, Celeste observes tartly. Hope continues that satellites have been showing surges of power popping up around the planet the last few days. This morning she got pinged again. This was a lot bigger – cosmic-level. Vaguely bird-shaped. And headed here. While the others still try to process the news, Hope figures the Phoenix is –
Here! Jean who has awakened states. The Phoenix is here!
And that’s how you steal a scene, Quentin grins. Ghost Jean and Emma instantly want to make sure she is all right. Jean just repeats the Phoenix is here. Unimpressed, the Cuckoos remind here she keeps on saying that the Phoenix is coming. Repetition makes it seem less impressive. They get it: the Phoenix is coming.
Hope grimly corrects them. Jean didn’t say the Phoenix was coming. She said it’s here. She points upward to the Phoenix raptor closing in.