Outside the New Xavier School:
An explosion tosses several of the students out. Walking up to young Cyclops, Goldballs enthuses that he lived through his first attack on the school. Calling him ‘man,’ Scott wonders where the others are. Goldballs takes offense at Scott forgetting his name as he helps him up. He wore a nametag for two weeks!
The attacker, a mocking Quentin Quire, joins them, displaying psionic Wolverine-like claws. He “stabs” Cyclops in the eyes. Goldballs panics. Quentin assures him he doesn’t want to fight him. In fact, they need to talk. Goldballs has to tell him how he manages to stay so simple in the midst of all this straining, clingy angst. It’s his gold balls, right? Does he ever swim in them like Scrooge McD—
That moment, X-23 and Marvel Girl join them. Jean orders Quentin to explain himself, while X-23 attacks, which Quentin admits turns him on. He creates psionic flowers and a card for her. While Laura is overwhelmed, he romances Jean with a kiss. Soon, she doesn’t resist.
Watching Quintin in the psionic illusion they trapped him in, the Stepford Cuckoos express their disgust. Adult Cyclops joins them, announcing they’ve seen enough. Enough to know that nothing has changed. Let’s see what kind of a mess Logan has made now…
The Jean Grey School:
Faithful John has shown the students still standing the future of Genesis, how he will become the evil Apocalypse. Oya refuses to believe it. She won’t let John hurt him! Hellion tries to hold her back. The two argue whether what they saw and felt was real.
Rockslide lifts Hellion up. Angrily, he demands what the hell is wrong with Julian. Hellion apologizes but they saw what Evan becomes. So he wants to kill him? Rockslide demands. Julian hits him with his bionic hands. He doesn’t want to, but he has to do something! He puts him down and turns toward Oya.
The other students watch from inside and Faithful John orders the Bamfs to find the boy. They teleport in and the kids run.
Back at the Phoenix Corporation, Storm and Wolverine fight their way through Younge’s disciples but find they are too many. Storm decides they must return to the school. Wolverine replies this doesn’t feel right. Those nutjobs haven’t got their hearts in stopping them. He ain’t buying this song and dance. There’s but one reason someone wants the Phoenix: power.
Edan Younge enters a room. His face reflected in a blade, he looks old.
Even if he is right, the school is still in danger, Storm reminds Wolverine. Logan isn’t proud to admit it, but he was ready to leave Quire to those freaks. But they saw how afraid he was. If Younge can do that, then maybe he can really bring the Phoenix back. Here and now he’s hurt and weak – they may not get this shot again. Leave him to deal with that.
Storm doesn’t want to leave him behind in his condition. He gives her a kiss and tells her she is the strongest person he knows. Storm flies back toward the school.
Back at the school, or more precisely in the World (which is in a room at the school):
Genesis sits in a cell. He tells Fantomex it’s just not possible. He could never do the things Faithful John claims he will do. Fantomex told him, if he came here, they’d be safe, that he’d figure out a way to help him. He won’t be able to keep him here. They can’t just hide! They are his friends! Family! This is cowardice!
Fantomex tries to calm him. He admits he has done a lot of bad things, even when he was trying to protect Evan, but at least here in the World time is on their side.
Outside, a beaten Rockslide barely manages to get up and begs Hellion not to do this. He reminds him they are supposed to be X-Men. Clenching his fists, Julian retorts they are supposed to be friends!
Faithful John slams Idie to the ground. He has given her every chance, he announces, but he can no longer allow sentimentality to stay his hand. The Apocalypse must not rise. That moment, the ground rumbles and Armor comes forth, grabbing him with her psionic armor’s fist. However, one of the controlled Bamfs teleports her out of her armor.
The Phoenix Corporation:
Wolverine has taken out Edan Younge’s servants but he lies exhausted on the ground. Is that all he has? he pants. Younge steps toward him, a golden blade in his hand. After all he has seen in this world, Logan has no idea how refreshing it is when reality exceeds the tale. He has indeed become all he pretended to be. Getting up, Wolverine threatens when he’s done a tall tale is all Younge will be…
Younge shows him the blade. Does he remember this? The blade of the Phoenix Wing. It recalls him, knows his story well. Once, in a different time, in a different form, their fates were entwined. Wolverine once carried it as the Phoenix Gun. Within it, the psychic echo of the Phoenix song. The holy word of Askani scripture. Dare to cut deeply enough and he would be reborn, would come to see the great truth about the fate of the universe… a fate only the Phoenix has the power to rewrite.
Power to do a hundred times the damage he’d pin on Evan, Logan groans. On his would-be Apocalypse. He can’t really think this fire and brimstone covers his stench. Or that Quire’s ever gonna buy needing him to hold the Phoenix’s reins. Right now, he’s looking to talk ‘cause he realizes, if he kills Wolverine, Quire will never give him what he wants.
Such keen eyes he has even now, Younge mocks, but does he really think his silly little school affords him nobility?
Energy flares from the blade as Younge continues. In Logan burns a bright hatred, a self-loathing too terrible to die. Does he know why he still fights? Why he will always fight? Because after all he has done, hope is all he has left. Is there anything he wouldn’t do to see his sins atoned for? To witness it all given meaning? Like him he has travelled too far. Given too much to see this stand for nothing.
Younge turns young again, his troops stand restored as he announces tomorrow is all he has left and he will do whatever it takes to see it.
At the new Xavier School, Quire is still prisoner, lying on a table as the Stepford Cuckoos carefully monitor him. Quire protests to Cyclops that he comes to him for help and now he and the Olsens of the Corn are giving him the third degree?
In his mindscape, Cyclops warns him, if he gives him any more crap, he will toss him right back into whatever this mess is. He is clearly confused by Quentin’s recent memories. Quentin retorts Cyclops doesn’t get to judge his memories when Cyclops’ read like “50 Shades of Jean Grey.” This mess is a hustle. A scam. Edan Younge thinks he can sell humanity on the Phoenix. Get them to think that, if they buy in, they’ll have nothing to fear the next time it rises. But the Phoenix is dead, Cyclops points out. Like that’s ever stopped anyone from selling anything, Quentin scoffs.
Cyclops doesn’t buy that this is what has shaken Quentin up. It’s what he saw, Quentin admits.
Quentin’s narration / Younge’s memories:
He saw Younge’s psyche as he burned – it was old… ancient. He could read history in ever wrinkle. He has this insane Askani bible that fell through cracks in time. The Phoenix Blade. With it, he’s learned to catch tiny sparks of the Phoenix. To be reborn. At the expense of others.
He thought Future Quentin was just trying to scare him. But Younge, the Phoenix Corps… it’s all happening… like he said. Younge wants to save Quentin. To stop Apocalypse… kill Evan now. So when Quentin is the Phoenix, he won’t have to.
He doesn’t expect Cyclops to believe him. But he is the only guy Quentin knows who partied with both Apocalypse and the Phoenix and walked away from it. How does he do this? How does he stop Younge and Faithful John?
Cyclops asks him what he wants. Does he expect him to comfort him? Does he even have ears? Quentin shouts. Didn’t he just say that?
Cyclops explains Apocalypse is one of their deadliest enemies. He has evolved, become a genetic imperative, a mechanism beyond death. What possessed him was but a shadow of that and it still shattered him. Evan is a part of Apocalypse grown from the whole. Perhaps Logan is right. Without demons to prey on him, he might more easily overcome it. But everyone has demons.
He once thought that breaking Apocalypse’s hold was a great victory, that it taught him who he was. That he could handle everything. But the Phoenix isn’t some adversary that can be reckoned with or an impulse that can be denied. Next to it he was nothing. All his hopes and dreams, his plans, everything was meaningless. The harder he pushed back, the worse it got. All he wanted was to be himself again. And now, every day is a fight to be. He’s still got this gnawing. He knows none of this should have been about him or what he wants and the reason he failed is because he let it be.
The Jean Grey School:
A Bamf controlled by Faithful John enters a study and tries to grab the World. Before he can, another hand covers it. It’s quite the precious stone he set his eyes upon, but he’s sorry, Fantomex announces. This one belongs to him…