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John Francis Moore (writer), Pascal Alixe and Alan Evans (pencilers), Czop, Milgrom and Pepoy (inkers), Mike Heisler / Revenge Graphics (letters), Gloria Vasquez (colors), Atomic Peintbrush (separations), Mike Marts (editor), Bob Harras (editor in chief)
Diamanda tortures Diogenes and gains the location of the Order of Witnesses. The Askani come too late to stop her from slaughtering the whole order, they can only rescue Diogenes and a group of children. It was another trap as suddenly Nero and her forces attack. Rachel sends the others to get the survivors to safety while she battles the villainess, who uses power after power and seems unbeatable. Finally Rachel hands over the Phoenix Force, but Diamanda can’t control it, and admits defeat if only Rachel removes the Force again. She does, sending it back to the cosmos, and additionally it leaves Nero powerless. Rachel gains more followers each day and they start calling her Mother Askani.
To get information on the Askani and the Order of Witnesses, Nero tortures Chang and Squy'rr; the boy breaks, and she hangs him in a bazaar for the Askani to find. Rachel comforts him with a beautiful mental image of Muir Island as he dies.
She gets Blaquesmith to repair an airship and takes her group to the Witnesses‘ biosphere in the old Savage Land in Antarctica. Too late : Nero has already been there and killed them all except Diogenes Chang, whom she left tied up to a wall. The Infinites attack, and Rachel sends Ozana and Lexii off with Blaquesmith, who finds children including Sanctity hiding in the complex.
Nero ambushes Hark with lightning, killing him; Rachel fights her, realizing that the villainess can use only one of her stolen powers at a time. Nero impales her with two molten spikes; Rachel nearly blacks out, and remembers being in the time stream (Excalibur #75). She realizes all of this is by design. As she dies of the molten metal in her veins, she separates the Phoenix Force from her and gives it to Nero. Diamanda is now even able to overthrow Apocalypse, but then the Force starts to take her over. She asks Rachel (freed of the molten metal in the instant the Force left her) to remove the Force from her, and she does, sending it to soar through the cosmos again.
Upon leaving, it also takes all of Nero¹s mutant powers away, so, angry, she activates one of Apocalypse¹s machines to destroy them both, but Blaquesmith gets inside and sabotages it. Rachel leaves Nero alive and gives her some rations and a survival gear.
Back at the Askani camp, Rachel decides that she has to leave and spend some time alone. Her followers start calling her Mother Askani, and she looks forward to the future, knowing that one day she will bring her brother Cable to this future, so that he can fight and defeat Apocalypse.
Rachel Summers / Phoenix III / Mother Askani
Blaquesmith, Lexii, Malachi Hark, Ozana (all Askani)
Diogenes Chang, Squy'rr (both Order of Witnesses)
High Councilor Diamanda Nero
In a DOFP flashback :
In Uncanny X-Men #minus 1 it was established that Sanctity is actually Tanya Trask, born in the 20th century, whose time travel power was out of control till Rachel brought her to the Askani future. How can she already be here as a little girl ?