The Jean Grey School:
Evan Sabahnur holds a report on the topic ‘are you special?’ He suggests the search for what makes them unique begins by what they share. Let them compare Mr. Logan’s genetic ability to regenerate from injury to Ms. Munroe’s ability to psionically control the atmosphere. Is it possible that his subconscious plays hairstylist the same way as her mind forms a tempest? Guiding his power with a precision genetics cannot? Following the blueprint of a deep-rooted self-image building him into who he truly desires to...
The worst mutation is ears! Quentin Quire shouts. The answer is ‘yes, man!’ He can’t take this! Apocalypse is supposed to bring the end times, not the times that won’t end! Sit it. Shut it, Storm orders him.
Storm returns to Evan’s theory. If content and self-image are all that divides them, then of what context are the differences?
Storm lies injured on the ground, trying to fend off Faithful John’s psionic attack. She finds strength in her memories, then attacks him with lightning, warning him this is his last chance to surrender. To this, Faithful John warns he will never surrender. A moment later, Wolverine has gotten his second wind and attacks, but a Bamf has teleported John away.
Storm tells Wolverine, who is still on the ground, that that man knew of her life as if he had studied it. Logan points out that he probably did. He claims to be an Askani monk - future warriors and enemies of Apocalypse. With their Bamf out and their comm destroyed, Faithful John has covered all his bases. Wish he could say the same, Wolverine mutters. He recalls how X-Force murdered a young Apocalypse. He swore it would never happen again. He knows the Phoenix Corps nuts have Quire. They know his fate. He turns out to be an X-Man. If he’s gotta choose between ’em—
Storm helps him up and orders him to think. Even if they were fast enough to catch John, she still could not leave him in this condition. Yet knowing this, he baited them. Why? Someone is attempting to use his guilt to draw them into a battle they cannot win. For now, they must trust Doop and the students to protect Evan. No matter what they fear these children may become, they must fight for their right to choose.
Quentin awakes in an elegantly furnished white room. Above his head is a bust of his future self. The room is also decorated with pictures of several Phoenix incarnations (Jean Grey, Cyclops, Rachel Grey and Hope Summers). A graffito across the wall reads Dork Phony.
So, Edan Younge, Quentin remarks. The Phoenix Corporation. He bets Prince loves his catalogue. So what’s his plan? Keep him here until he cracks and gives in to his little Manson cult? Till he feels the beat of the rhythm of the night? Forget about the worries on his mind? Only do two days in prison: Day you get in and the day you burn it down!
Sorrowfully, Younge complains about the ideas that dreadful school has put into his head. He is no prisoner. This is Quentin’s head they are in, after all. That’s supposed to make him feel better? Quentin asks. There’s Oompa Loompas in here. Walking ahead, Younge muses Quentin reminds him of himself. What it was like to be so out of touch. So lost in his own desires and fears. He doesn’t possess his psychic powers but, thanks to the teachings of the Askani…
Quentin stops in front of a door named Black Bug Room. He walks in to find Logan, a mirror held in front of him by Quentin. Logan assures him he has come a long way. He’s proud to hand him the reins.
Shocked, Quentin leaves and shuts the door behind him. Younge assures him he is only here because Quentin wants him to be. All he’s done is walk through an open door (which he does).
The Jean Grey School:
Some students are sitting outside, while Doop is on the phone with his agent. Eye-Boy is the first to see something amiss in the distance – Faithful John coming closer. He suggests they head inside.
Doop and Krakaoa attack John but, with the help of the Bamfs, he takes both out. Shouting the Bamfs have “gone Cujo,” the kids run inside.
Edan Younge takes an exhausted Quentin up the stairs of a pyramid-like building. Quentin remembers it but the memory is off. This is her memory, Younge explains. A tiny part of the Phoenix that touched Quentin. This is a sacred place. Here they died to fan her flames… to be reborn in her service. Here and on countless altars across the universe they prayed, never knowing that what they searched had always been with them.
She was there at the beginning of all things. Their universe was forged in the cosmic fire that was the Phoenix… but as all was shattered and flung through darkness, so was she. Spread far and wide across this universe, she settled into the essence of all that is. Her spark is imprisoned in all of them. Evolution is the answer to that call. The search for one who can wield her flame. Who might burn away the cage of this existence and make her whole again.
Good stuff, “L. Ron,” Quentin mocks, but there’s one big hole he forgot to plug: The Avengers killed the Phoenix Force. Stake right through the heart. He walks toward a portal and suggests using a cheat code next time.
They return to the White Room. Edan assures Quentin he knows he is afraid, but he is the next Phoenix. Alone, the power will consume him. He’s seen how quickly humanity will rally behind Younge when the Phoenix rises. He can make them follow Quentin.
Quentin aims his psychic gun at Younge. If he’s gonna be a hack, at least be a memorable one. Introduce his evil dad. His long lost leather-clad twin with a mullet and eyes as hard as his abs. Seriously, make with something other than looped fart noises, or get out of his damned way!
Younge dissolves the gun with a touch and assures him he is not the one in his way. Quentin has been beguiled, neutered by the comforts of those whose time passed them by years ago. He needs the flame. He needs to be reborn!
That moment, with crackling thunder, Storm enters the room. Wolverine goes for Younge’s throat, as he announces that Jean Grey, the real Phoenix, was a good friend of theirs. He doesn’t like him forging her signature; about as much as his dancing bear deciding to play judge, jury and executioner on one of his kids. Why should he not do the same to Younge?
Telepathically, Younge tells Quentin, violence is all they have to teach him. All he has to do is open his eyes. Quentin telepathically takes Logan out, or rather is forced to by Younge, and Quentin gets a glimpse of Logan’s attitude to him and future Quire.
Younge warns him he knows what happens if he returns to that school, namely having to eventually confront and kill Evan / Apocalypse. Through how many sets of eyes must Quentin see it to believe it?
Quentin telepathically attacks Younge and informs him he should have quit while he was ahead. No one tells him who to be. Or what to do.
He takes a Bamf to teleport out, while Storm helps up Wolverine. The shock has made Younge turn old. Furious, he orders his sexy, killer nuns to kill the two X-Men.
In front of the Jean Grey School, Faithful John has calmed down Krakoa. He looks at the Jean Grey statue and vows that by her grace this will all be over soon.
Inside, the kids debate what to do. Armor advises caution. Angrily, Idie retorts she told her they’d come for them. She’s sorry if Hisako is not ready, but she is. Evan has silently joined them and listens.
Faithful John turns calmly around to see Oya, Hellion and Rockslide ready to confront him. Angrily, Rockslide demands to know who the hell he thinks he is. He replies he is Faithful John Break-Sky, hot knife of the Askani, servant of the Phoenix. And once long ago, he too was one of them.
While Rockslide and Hellion make fun of him, Idie points out he has chosen a strange way to come home, hurting their friends, scaring innocent children..
Innocent? He’s afraid not. She’s revealed herself as quite the opposite, he replies. Standing here as Wolverine’s soldiers, they become complicit in his crimes. They choose to turn willfully from the truth to deny that among them walks a demon. He attacks them telepathically, showing them images of Evan as Apocalypse.
Inside the school, Evan shares those images…
…as do the other kids…
… as does Quentin, somewhere in the mountains, where he sinks down in the snow.