“They think they know you,” says a voice.
Mindee, Celeste and Phoebe, better known as the Stepford Cuckoos by their peers, walk down the halls of the Xavier Institute late at night, dressed for bed.
“They call you the Cuckoos,” continues the voice, “Eerie little orphans with your untouchable hearts and your all-in-one mind.”
Their fellow student Hellion walks by with a glass of water and says hello to the three girls flirtatiously. Simultaneously, the Cuckoos tell Hellion to drop dead. Not disparaged, Hellions tells the girls that they can’t sleep, and neither can he. So why don’t they…
The three girls turn around and tell Hellion that they are not the droids he is looking for. Hellion, with his back turned to the girls, ponders their statement, and then realizes the perverse implications. He turns around to voice his annoyance, but finds that he girls are gone.
“Pretty little psychics… playing parlor tricks. They’re so sure they know you that even now, when their whole world is about to crumble, they never ask the obvious question. What is a cuckoo? The cuckoo finds a songbird’s nest. And lays her own eggs in the middle of the brood. And the stupid little warbler never notices the difference. Until it is far too late.
Out on the Institute lawn, Colossus, Wolverine and Kitty Pryde share some beers while staring up at the sky. They are monitored by the new Ogre Sentinel Unit, with a new gold and blue unit nearby.
In the sub-basement, Beast continues to do some research, unaware of the trouble soon arriving. Upstairs, Cyclops and Emma Frost are sound asleep in bed.
The Cuckoos, however, have arrived at the mansion’s cemetery. The three girls suddenly become worried and look around. Celeste holds herself and asks out loud what they are doing here. Dreaming, suggests Mindee. Celeste likes the answer and asks Phoebe if that sounds right. No, replies Phoebe. This is real. Celeste notices that they are at the graves of their dead sisters, Esme and Sophie. Celeste thinks that maybe they came out to see the deceased, but Mindee does not agree. There was somebody talking in their head. Celeste remembers, and babbles about how the voice said that they were…
Celeste does not finish her sentence, only saying that they are not what the voice said they were. Mindee tells Celeste that they have no idea what they are, but Celeste tells her to hush, as she is too loud. Phoebe beings to speak telepathically and tells her sisters to use their minds. They can feel it, can’t they?
Suddenly, the mysterious voice in their heads says, “Yes.”
Phoebe climbs on top of a tomb stone, trying to find the voice. She is calling. Suddenly, Phoebe begins to fly into the air, and tells the voice that it is time to hatch. “Wait…” says the voice, “Soon, yes. But now yet, not – wait! NO!”
Celeste and Mindee begin to fly off with Phoebe; Celeste mutters “Oh, dear” as she looks down, and realizes that they were standing upon the grave of Jean Grey-Summers.
Inside the mansion, the phone in Scott and Emma’s room begins to ring. Emma snaps awake and tells Scott to wait rather forcefully. Confused, Scott tells Emma that everything is OK. It is just the phone. He then gets out of bed and answers it. Emma tells him it trouble, and as Scott puts it down he says yes. It was Beast and he said –
Scott is shocked when he turns around to see Emma levitating above the bed. She tells Scott no. It is real trouble. Emma then bursts into flames, as a variant of the Phoenix costume appears around her. She burns Cyclops to death, who can only ask her why as he melts. Emma, however, smiles sadistically. She then makes her way to the hallway where she burns some students to death. Colossus and Shadowcat rush in, but Emma happily melts him in front of Kitty, before continuing her rampage. She then blasts her way out of the mansion and into the sky as the Phoenix escapes from the Xavier Institute.
Suddenly, Emma wakes up from her dream, confused. Scott puts down the phone and tells Emma that it was Beast. Something is wrong with the Cuckoos. However, Scott notices that Emma is not looking well and asks her what is wrong. Emma begins to dress and tells him that it is nothing and that they should go.
The two finish dressing and go into the hallway, Scott in normal clothing while Emma wears her uniform, but in diamond form. Worried, Scott tells Emma to talk to him. She is in diamond form, so that means something is bothering her. Sarcastically, Emma tells her lover that his powers of observation boggle her mind. All right, says Scott, what did I do? Nothing, replies Emma. He is perfect and he should never change. Realizing that this isn’t going anywhere, Scott tells Emma that she keeps on saying that he doesn’t trust her, but when he tries to talk to her –
The two are interrupted when they approach Hellion telling some other students that he doesn’t know how the Cuckoos are doing it, but they are going to be in big trouble. Cyclops and Emma reach a window, and on the other side are Kitty Pryde and Colossus. Kitty sees the two and asks Emma what she has been feeding the girls. Just the standard diet of suspicion, psionics and Pilates, replies Emma. Emma then looks out the window and sees what everyone is making a fuss of.
In the sky, the three Cuckoos fly around, but are approached by one of the newly redesigned Sentinels. The pilot tells the girls that they are unidentified fliers and reminds them that this is a restricted military zone. If they do not surrender, they will be dealt with accordingly. Celeste screams at the presence of the large Sentinel, but Mindee and Phoebe fly on without a care.
Below, Cyclops is shocked that the Cuckoos can fly. No, says Emma, before telling Hellion to cut it out. He is the only telekinetic there, so he better set the girls back down or else. Confused, Hellion tells her that he isn’t doing this and she can read his mind to verify. Realizing that he is telling the truth, Emma switches back to her flesh form and tells the Cuckoos that they are bad girls. Celeste telepathically contacts Emma and tells her that she didn’t want to do this. Mindee and Phoebe made her.
“No one likes a tattletale, Celeste,” says Emma. She then uses her telepathy to forcefully disable the Cuckoos, who scream in pain and fall to the ground, though the Sentinel catches them.
Some time later:
The three Cuckoos wake up to find themselves in darkness. Each is in her own windowless and door-less cube. Celeste is confused and calls out to her sisters. In their respective cubes, Mindee and Phoebe do the same. Emma telepathically tells the three that their sisters cannot hear them. Emma tells the girls, who each think they are alone, that she will dive into their brains to find out what is happening, unless they tell her.
Phoebe, who is in the middle cube, is not impressed by Emma’s scare tactics, and punches her fists through the sides of the cube and grabs the hands of Celeste and Mindee. Emma tells the girls not to be stupid. She trained them. They are not strong enough for this. She will break them.
Phoebe tells Emma that they will break her. Emma suddenly realizes that the Cuckoos are now in her head, and fights them off. She tells them to get our. Coolly, Mindee asks Miss Frost what is wrong. Suddenly, they are pitched into total darkness. Mindee calls out to Miss Frost, but Phoebe tells her that she is gone. The three girls realize that they are back in their room and on their bed. Celeste begins to cry as she can feel her sisters again. Phoebe tells Celeste to shut up.
Celeste replies back telepathically and asks Phoebe why she is –
Suddenly, Celeste can no longer speak telepathically to Phoebe and has to resort to talking out loud. Why did she pull her mind away? Miss Frost, let them go! Why? Phoebe tells Celeste that she closed off her mind because she is tired of her whining. Ha, says Mindee.
Still crying, Celeste tells Mindee not to go too. Mindee tells Celeste that something has happened to them, but Celeste pretends nothing has happened. They have no idea what they are capable of. Phoebe gets up and walks away, stating that they will find out.
Back in Emma’s study, the White Queen explains to the senior staff X-Men that she separated the Cuckoos. They are not used to that and fought back hard. It hurt. They are free now, but still apart and confused. They will come to them vulnerable and the X-Men must use that to break them. “Okay,” says Kitty, “its official. You really are a psychopath.”
Emma pleads with Kitty that they have to find out where the Cuckoos new powers came from. Kitty reminds Emma that secondary mutations are nothing new and come during a time of great stress. Beast agrees and tells the group that the tests he has been able to fun so far reveal no outside energy signatures from the girls. Cyclops asks Emma what she thinks is going on. Emma admits that she had a dream where she killed them all. She burned the whole world.
Cyclops pauses, and then tells Emma that it is over. No, says Emma, confidently. Jean is gone, reiterates Scott. Emma will not bear her burden. They are my girls, says Emma. If Emma could not control it, how could the Cuckoos? Hold on, says Kitty. She cannot believe this. Does Emma have any evidence other than this dream that these girls have anything to do with the Cuckoos?
Emma, sweating, whispers for the X-Men to hush. They’re coming. Beast asks Cyclops what the plan is. Cyclops tells him that the Cuckoos are as confused as they are. Let them come to him. See what they have to say. However, they should be ready for anything.
Beast runs some tests on Celeste, who tells him that she has no clue what is going on. It is like when Esme left, or when Sophie died, but only worse. No one is dying, consoles Beast, just changing. He has done it a few times himself. This is different, says Celeste. However, according to Beast’s readings, she is the same girl she was when she walked into the mansion. There are no new psionic signatures or ectoplasm energies or alien symbiote or lighting-bolt forehead scars. This is just an average secondary mutation.
But, I can feel, says Celeste. That is normal, replies Beast. But we are not, retorts back Celeste. Nothing can touch them when they are together. Now that Mindee and Phoebe have pulled away, everything is confusing. Beast explains that there is a technical term for that. It is called growing up. When he did it he couldn’t stop mewing for hours. Celeste doesn’t notice the joke, so Beast tells her to feel free to laugh when she is ready.
Unhappy, Celeste tells Beast that he does not understand. At first, she thought it was Phoebe, but now she realizes that it is in her too. Something wrong and dark is growing. Beast tells Celeste that almost everyone he knows feels that. He beckons Celeste to go into his mind to see for herself. She does, and pulls out images from Beast’s head. He explains to her that Jean trademarked the feeling when she became Dark Phoenix. However, Cyclops, Wolverine, Marvel Girl, Shadowcat, Emma and even he have all lost it!
Celeste pulls back, and Beast tells her that she will learn to fight it and to control it. Here is another dirty secret: This school isn’t just about learning to defend ourselves from others, but protecting others from ourselves. Emma will help her. Celeste looks at Beast and asks how Emma can help them when she has the same problem?
As the sun rises, Wolverine squares off against Phoebe in a jousting exercise, while the gold and blue Sentinel watches. Wolverine bids Phoebe a good morning and gives her five points for coming to class early, but deducts ten for showing up in her pajamas. Annoyed, Phoebe holds her stick and tells Logan that she thought he taught combat, not comedy. Wolverine lunges at her, but Phoebe takes off to the sky. Wolverine asks if she is reading his mind, but Phoebe, still in the sky, tells him that she might have tried that yesterday, but he isn’t consciously thinking about every time he strikes. She is picking up on something else. There is all kinds of information that she is starting to see.
While Phoebe babbles, Wolverine slaps her with his stick and she falls down. You come here to talk, or fight, asks Wolverine. Angry, Phoebe flies right at Wolverine.
At the main plaza, Emma sits on a stone bench and greets Mindee. Mindee tells Emma that she is afraid of them. No, scared for you, replies Emma. Mindee demands that Emma tell her about what is happening to her. Emma tells her that if Mindee won’t let her in her mind, then she won’t know anything. However, it is clear that she cannot control it. You don’t think I’m strong enough, Mindee asks. Emma realizes that Mindee wants a fight, and tells her pupil not to do this.
Emma stands up and the two begin a rather silent psionic struggle. A humming sound is heard, as the two still women use their unseen psionic energies against one another. The ground between them begins to crack.
Nearby, Wolverine hits Phoebe down with his stick.
At the memorial, Mindee tells Emma that she can’t teach her anything now. She is beyond Emma. She can break things with her mind.
“Well, that’s very interesting, dear,” says Emma, “But I just break minds.” She then overpowers Mindee.
Wolverine examines his stick and mutters that Phoebe is just another fly girl with a big mouth. Angry, Phoebe tells Logan that he thinks he is so smart, as her eyes begin to glow with fire.
“No,” says the unearthly voice that the Cuckoos had spoken to just the night before.
I’ll show you, screams an angry Phoebe!
“NO!” screams the psionic voice again.
Beast watches as Celeste throws her hand up in the air and says that this isn’t the right…
“WAIT!” screams the voice.
Goodbye, Miss Frost, says Mindee.
Suddenly, Mindee and the Phoenix Memorial are surrounded by flames.
Phoebe, in the field, bursts into flames.
Celeste, down in the lab, bursts into flames.
The golden Sentinel along with the Shrapnel unit and another unidentified Unit approach the united Stepford Cuckoos, who fly in the air as the Phoenix Raptor emanates from the trio. As the Ogre Unit and another unit head on over, Phoebe channels the fire of the Phoenix and incinerates Wolverine.
Cyclops finds Emma weakened in the Memorial, and she calls out to her girls.
In the sub-basement, Beast puts out the fire with an extinguisher, but notices that the tank of green liquid that houses the psionic remains of Quinten Quire give way as the boy reforms himself, eyes open.
A badly decomposing arm breaks out of the earth. As the deceased creature pulls itself out of the ground, another similar figure follows suit. The skeletal remains of the dead Sophie Cuckoo commands her equally dead sister Esme to come. Their sisters need them.