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John Francis Moore (writer), Pascal Alixe (penciler), Czop, McKenna and Stucher (inkers), Mike Heisler / Revenge Graphics (letters), Gloria Vasquez (colors), Mike Marts (editor), Bob Harras (editor in chief)
In long months Rachel has assembled some superpowered beings and formed a group called Askani. Diogenes Chang tries to help her, but the Order of Witnesses forbids to much intervention, as they predict that Rachel will die in battle against Apocalypse. Diamanda Nero finds a new weapon in the deadly mutant Plague; she has her Prelates Ch’vayre and Luminesca keep the Askani busy long enough for Plague to use his abilities. Despite fearing that it wakes Apocalypse, Rachel unleashes the Phoenix Force to purge Plague’s disease. She dies and is reborn. She sends Ch’vayre back to Nero with a warning, unaware that the villainess has captured Diogenes Chang in the meantime.
Two years have passed. Nero has tested a new deadly mutant: Plague, who unleashes a virus. She celebrates the carnage.
Hellhole is the power plant for Crestcoast: it taps geothermal energy. The workers there are slaves, including Blaquesmith. In the last months, Rachel has established the Askani (= outsiders) as a resistance cell : Hark (a beast-like mutant), Qua (a liquid Atlantean), Lexii (a clone warrior), and Ozana (a rare Gibson-9 warbot) .They sneak into Hellhole but are discovered and battle with the plant’s overseers. Ozana is disabled, but Blaquesmith can fix her, so the Askani take him along, disabling the plant as they escape.
At the citadel, Nero is mad about the Askani. Luminesca is rebellious but Ch'vayre is scared of Nero.
Elsewhere the Witnesses observe. Mui predicts Rachel will die bringing down Apocalypse.
The Askani see that Nero has unleashed Plague on Blaquesmith¹s adopted colony. Believing herself immune in liquid state, Qua investigates and is killed among the people living there.
Nero sends Ch¹vayre and Luminesca to attack the Askani, but it’s a set-up. Nero wanted the siblings to keep the Askani busy long enough for Plague to kill everyone in the area. Ch’vayre and Luminesca team up with Rachel to fight Plague; Luminesca fails to change the chemical structure of the toxic gas and is killed. Rachel has to unleash the Phoenix Force, even if it alerts Apocalypse. She purges the disease from Plague, but dies from the virus, and is reborn, phoenix-like. They send Ch¹vayre back to Nero with a warning.
Meanwhile Nero captures Chang and Squy¹rr to interrogate them.
Rachel Summers / Phoenix III
Lexii, Malachi Hark, Ozana, Qua (all Askani)
Diogenes Chang, Mui, Squy'rr (all Order of Witnesses)
High Councilor Diamanda Nero
Ch’vayre, Luminesca (both Prelates)