I thought I was dead declares the omnipotent Phoenix Force as it soars through space. It was in a billion pieces, scattered across three galaxies, waiting to come together in the White Hot Room, incubating to be born anew, all in good time. But the Phoenix doesn’t believe it is time, yet here it is. Am?’ But it knows that something is wrong…it’s so hungry…something is missing…so hungry….
‘Destroy it!’ commands the leader aboard a Shi’ar vessel. The helmsman tells his commanding officer to wait, as he is scanning the Phoenix, and reveals that there is no trace of the X-Man, Jean Grey. The commander asks if the raptor is manifesting without Jean Grey. The helmsman declares that he didn’t think that was possible, as someone towards the back of the vessel reminds the men that the Phoenix was brought back before, without its host, its heart, and now they must accept the judgment of the Phoenix.
The commander asks if they accept the judgment of meteors and hurricanes, declaring that they do not, so they fight for life. ‘Now, helmsman!’ he bellows, ordering the helmsman to fire on the Phoenix. ‘But the Phoenix is life itself!’ protests the helmsman. The commander reminds his crew that the Phoenix killed billions, before declaring that they built this device and reconstituted the Phoenix Force for one reason only, and this time, host or no host, they will destroy it forever.
There is a loud noise that fills space - Wait…what happened? asks the Phoenix.
Soon, Here I am declares the Phoenix, but it is weak, so weak, and in such a strange little body…a firefly. It is so hard for the Phoenix to think, something is missing, it is not time yet. It’s cold…is it dying? But I’m never cold, and I can’t die. Can I? The Phoenix doesn’t feel that this is right, it is too early, fading away…what does it need? There is something…someone…
Sitting on a grassy hillside is the handsome X-Man Wolverine…I need…you? wonders the Phoenix as it flies around Logan. ‘Who-’ asks Logan as the firefly buzzes around him. Funny little man. The Phoenix knows Wolverine, Isn’t that me, aching for you? Wolverine…’
Logan begins to follow the firefly across the field, the Phoenix knows he is quick, fierce and angry…but only flesh. Wolverine mutters as the Phoenix flies away from him, knowing it is not he it is looking for.
Inside the Mansion of the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, in Westchester, the Phoenix enters a room where three identical girls, known as the Stepford Cuckoo’s - Celeste, Mindee and Phoebe - are sitting on a bed. What about you? The Stepford Cuckoo’s communicate with each other telepathically: ‘Stop thinking about him’, ‘I can’t help it!’ ‘You’re keeping us awake’. Funny little girls’ thinks the Phoenix as she buzzes around them. ‘So don’t listen!’ ‘It’s hard not to, you’re in our heads, and you’re so…overheated!’
The Phoenix remembers these girls, talking with their thoughts. She knows they are strong, though there used to be more of them. One of the girls tells the one that is keeping them awake that she only thinks she wants him, simply because he wants her. ‘Shut up!’ ‘You know who he reminds me of?’ ‘Who?’ ‘Quentin Quire, stupid. Xavier’s pet and peeve, the smartest boy in school, revolutionary wrecker of the open day, big fat dork’. ‘You remember, they say he died, but I can still hear him’.
And where is he? ‘Down in the basement in Dr. McCoy’s laboratory - wait…’ ‘Who’s there?’ all three girls speak in unison, all turning their heads to the direction of the Phoenix. No one. Go to sleep declares the Phoenix, flying over the girls and making them go to sleep.
Elsewhere in the mansion, Dr. Henry “the Beast” McCoy’s lab. The blue-furred founding X-Man is looking through a microscope and singing, when he senses a firefly enter his workspace. ‘Hello little bug’ says Beast as the Phoenix flies towards a tank in the middle of the lab. Beast. No, not you, never you. I’m here for…Quentin.’‘Sophie?’ comes the telepathic cry from within the tank. Shhh replies the Phoenix, before telling Quentin that she hears he is strong.
Beast opens a window as the Phoenix asks Quentin if he can come out and play. Trying to reform himself, Quentin replies that he has been trying to…his voice trails off, as the Phoenix realizes that he is all in pieces too. ‘No King’s horses can put Humpty…I…’ the Beast picks the firefly up and lets it out the window. ‘Wait! Sophie!’ cries Quentin, I’m not Sophie, and it’s not you.
It’s you declares the Phoenix as it approaches a room where the White Queen, a.k.a. Emma Frost is sleeping. The Phoenix buzzes over the sleeping, sultry White Queen. Yes, I’m remembering now, they always said you were cold. But I know better. The Phoenix turns its attention to where the handsome Scott Summers is sleeping next to Emma.
The Phoenix lands on Scott’s ruby quartz glasses as Emma rolls over so she is lying half-on Scott. Scott. I need…so much…so weak…can I even…? Yes! Can you hear me Scott? Open your eyes. ‘JEAN!’ screams Scott as he shoots an optic beam through the side of the glasses the Phoenix was resting on. He clutches his head as he continues to fire optic blasts. ‘Jean?’ asks Emma. ‘No!’ she screams. Images of Scott and Jean’s past together - their first meeting, their time as original X-Men, Jean becoming Phoenix and dying, their wedding - flash through Scott and Emma’s minds. ‘Jean!’ ‘Jean!’ Jean.'
Later, Scott tries to tell Beast that he had a bad dream and a freak accident, that is all, end of story. The Beast asks Scott not to make excuses for him, and that he is terribly sorry, as there may have been a flaw in the lens he created, so he takes full responsibility. Cyclops tells Hank to forget it, as a little plaster on the ceiling and everything will be fine. The Beast declares that they cannot afford these kind of mistakes, with powers like theirs, people could have been hurt. Scott jokes that he would love to fight about this all night, but that right not someone else has dibs on kicking his butt. Beast understands, and wishes Scott luck.
Re-entering their bedroom, Scott reminds Emma that she is a telepath and asks her to read his mind, so she will see that it was just a dream. ‘Featuring the unforgettably intense highs and lows you shared with the greatest love of your life - who incidentally, is clearly not me!’ snaps Emma. Emma tells Scott that she wants him to focus on one simple fact and asks him if he can do that for her. Scott pauses, before saying ‘All right’. ‘Jean Grey is dead!’
”Jean”. How could I forget? wonders the Phoenix as it flies to the graveyard at the Institute. He always wanted you. Maybe that’s why…I like being you so much! The firefly becomes a woman…Jean Grey…but keels over, Ungh…what did they do to us’ it wonders. The Phoenix is having trouble thinking, it cannot remember, and it cannot hold the form it is in. Please…Jean Grey…Help me! it pleads as it sits by the grave of one of the most powerful mutants in existence.
Beneath the ground, Jean Grey’s coffin opens. ‘No….let go of my hand…too early…not ready…’ pleads a decomposed Jean Grey as she crawls out of her grave and onto the earth. ‘Can’t you see…I’m still dead?’ But I am life! declares the Phoenix. The skeletal form of Jean Grey gasps and declares that this is all wrong - but the Phoenix reminds her she is life incarnate, and the Phoenix’s flames envelop her. ‘No!’ screams Jean, resisting the Phoenix, she crumbles to the ground.
The Phoenix asks Jean why she fights back, to which Jean points out that they are both dead. ‘In the crown, stepping into the White Hot Room’. We’ve left already’ points out the Phoenix as she flies around Jean. Jean declares that they are at the door and asks the Phoenix why it isn’t with her. The Phoenix repeats the same words and asks them to Jean, who resists again, declaring that this is not the way.
Jean admits that she doesn’t understand, that this is impossible, that the Phoenix is obviously sick, blind… the Phoenix reminds Jean that she called for her once, in her hour of need, that she wanted her to save him. ‘Scott!’ thinks Jean, as the Phoenix reveals she needs Scott, so is calling for her help. Give me your hand exclaims the Phoenix as its power flows through Jean Grey, who is rejuvenated with the Phoenix’s power - and a huge power flare can be seen all over the surrounding area.
‘That wasn’t no firefly!’ mutters Logan before rushing through the woods towards the power. Logan arrives, to find Jean standing naked before him. He can barely say her name, until Jean tells him to say it. But he declares that he won’t, as Jean is dead. ‘Then why’s your heart pounding?’ asks Jean.
Logan unsheathes his claws as Jean asks him if he knows her scent. The beautiful woman smiles and tells Logan to come closer, to make sure. Logan smells Jean at her neck. ‘Hello again’ ‘Hey’. Jean asks Logan what is wrong, to which he replies that he is dreaming. Jean tells him he is not, to which Logan mutters ‘Stupid lying in the meadow, playing with fireflies, school-boy stuff’. ‘Wake up, wake up!’
Logan stares at Jean and tells her that she smells and looks real, but doesn’t feel real. When Jean asks why, Logan replies ‘Cause you only look naked in my dreams’. ‘Cute’ says Jean as she uses her powers to create the green and gold Phoenix costume, before Logan asks her if this is really her. Jean replies that it is, so Logan asks her what she is doing talking to him, what it is she wants.
Jean looks away, ‘Yes, I keep forgetting…let me think…’ Logan frowns and asks Jean who is in there with her. Funny little man…. Logan reminds Jean that she told him the Phoenix has a purpose, that it burns away what doesn’t not work. ‘So what’d you come to burn?’ Trying to remember. Logan tells Jean that he doesn’t like this, that maybe she will save the universe again, but maybe instead she will fry another five billion people - and then she will have to be stopped, and everyone will pull their punches cause they love her so much. ‘Except me right? I may look tough, Jeannie, but I’m getting tired of killing you’.
Suddenly, Jean trying to fight Phoenix’s control transforms the colors on her costume to red and gold. The Phoenix notices this too, Ah, a message for the funny, little man. Logan asks Jean if those are the Dark Phoenix colors, to which Jean sarcastically replies ‘You think?’ Very clever, Jean Grey. Logan asks Jean to do him a favor next time - ‘get Scott to do your dirty work!’ Logan rushes towards Jean, arms outstretched and claws ready.
Suddenly, the Phoenix remembers. Scott. Oh, yes. I came for Scott. The Phoenix brushes Wolverine aside easily, before taking flight, realizing that Jean Grey is fighting it, making it forget. The Phoenix is so weak, but now it remembers - except Jean continues to resist, she calls Logan and tells him that he has to kill - but the Phoenix asserts control again, and Logan calls out to Jean, telling her to keep forgetting. Tell Scott I need him! exclaims the Phoenix as it heads off into the sky.
Back in the Shi’ar vessel, the helmsman points out a faint remnant of the Phoenix. The commanding officer declares that it escaped an Eleka’an event horizon, to which the helmsman suggests that it might be injured, or even dying. ‘We’ve done it, commander!’ However the third member of the crew tells the others that they have no idea what they have done. Reminding them that they wanted to snuff the Phoenix’s flames, but the Phoenix only burns so that life may grow anew. He declares that they forced it into a premature rebirth, while it was separated from it’s very self, and then it was shattered again. ‘You have taken a creature of cosmic destiny and untold power and driven it insane!’
The commander declares that it is at a fraction of its original strength, so they can easily - the older man cuts him off, asking what exactly is a fraction of infinity. The commander orders ‘Enough’ and for them to be taken to Earth…and pray.