“Not again!” says Emma Frost as Scott Summers shields her from the fury of the Phoenix-powered Stepford Cuckoos. Emma tells Scott that it is all right. They are her girls. They are Cuckoos, not the Phoenix.
Could have fooled me, says Wolverine, as his body heals after being incinerated by the Cuckoos, who hover menacingly in the air with the Phoenix Raptor around them. Wolverine pops out his claws, but Emma telepathically tells him to wait. Wolverine tells Emma that he heard what she said, but he just doesn’t believe that they aren’t the Phoenix. He then leaps at the girls, ready to kill Phoebe.
Emma begs Scott to stop Wolverine, but Scott agrees with Wolverine and tells Emma to just look at the girls. Suddenly, Scott’s head turns towards Logan and he takes off his glasses. He realizes that Emma is going to telepathically make him blast Logan away, and she does.
Wolverine is knocked away before he can reach Phoebe. An angry Cyclops asks Emma if she remembers what happened last time. The Raptor disappears from the girls and they take advantage of the X-Men’s disagreement to fly away and escape. Scott watches and tells Emma that the Phoenix fed off his optic blasts last time. He if hit those girls, who knows what would have happened?
Wolverine, who lies nearby still burning and healing, tells the two to stop arguing. The girls are getting away. Scott tells Logan to stay put and heal. He tells Emma to get Beast to lock down the mansion and to get Colossus to prep a jet. Emma complies and uses her telepathy to relay the orders. When she is done, Cyclops tells her that she can start figuring out how to explain what the hell she was doing back there.
Moments Later in the Hangar:
Cyclops is suited up and he and Emma reach the X-Jet, with Kitty and Colossus already on board. Someone calls out to the couple to hurry up, as the Cuckoos are almost out of range. The two board as Kitty secures the hatch, and Cyclops tells Colossus to punch it. The jet ascends into the sky, passing by the gold and blue Sentinel.
Cyclops asks Kitty how long they have to catch up, but is told that at this rate they won’t. Cyclops sees that Colossus is armored up, and tells him that they need to lose some weight. Colossus complies and turns back into flesh. He then brings up the last time the Phoenix came and how Scott didn’t think that Piotr would help well. Cyclops tells Colossus not to worry. Kitty and Piotr are there now, because Scott knows that they will do what needs to be done. The then turns to Emma and asks if she is ready to do what is necessary.
Emma tells Scott to trust her, as she knows these girls. Cyclops tells her that they manifested the Phoenix Raptor and incinerated Wolverine. It is safe to say none of them know anything about these girls. Jean Grey was one of the most powerful telepaths on the planet and she couldn’t even control the Force, so he doesn’t see how these girls can. He needs Emma to tell him why they shouldn’t blow them out of the sky the second they find them. He hopes she has a good answer.
Emma looks away and holds herself. The Phoenix took her over once and she knows how it feels like to hunger. However, the Cuckoos don’t feel that way. They have the fire, but not the hunger of the Phoenix. If the Phoenix is in them then it hasn’t awakened. All right, says Cyclops.
Shocked, Kitty asks if that is it. Emma mumbles something unverifiable and there is nothing to worry about? Emma repeats the question mockingly. She never said there was nothing to worry about.
Logan walks through the halls, still burned and with his clothes tattered. Beast follows him and tells him that he has run tests on the mansion and the Cuckoos are gone. They should just prep the next jet and go. Logan, however, asks Beast if he cannot smell it. Unfortunately, all Beast can smell is Logan’s burnt flesh. The two come across the entrance to the Cerebra chamber and see two figures outside it. There, says Wolverine.
Beast calls out to the two figures and asks them what they are doing there. The students are supposed to be in their rooms, not loitering. They aren’t kids, says Wolverine. They are not even alive. The two figures turn and the X-Men can see that they are literally walking zombies. Logan pops his claws as Beast mutters a “good Lord.” However, the two girls rush into the Cerebra chamber and close the door behind them before Wolverine can attack.
In the chamber, Sophie and Esme sit at Cerebra and say hello their sisters. Where do they think that they are going?
In the air:
The three Cuckoos stop flying. Phoebe, puzzled, calls out the names of Sophie and Esme. Of course, replies the voice of one of her dead sisters. Celeste, also confused, says that they are dead. One of the dead sisters replies that the three of them still don’t understand, do they?
Sophie tells her sisters that the fire has her hooks in them. The Phoenix woke them up too early and now she is trying to lead them away. Esme, however, tells the girls that they have a different destiny. Sophie tells them that they must fulfill it.
Scared, Celeste realizes that the fire her sisters are talking about is the Phoenix. It must have resurrected Sophie and Esme and now it wants to take over the rest of them. They are going to go nuts just like Professor Grey and destroy the whole world.
Sophie tells Celeste not to be stupid. It isn’t what the fire brings, it is what they bring. It is what they have all been hiding this whole time. In our bones, says Esme.
Kitty tells her teammates that there are Zombie Cuckoos in Cerebra. She patches Beast in to everyone else.
As Wolverine, now healed and in uniform, tries to slash his way into Cerebra, Beast tells the others that it is Esme and Sophie. Confused, Scott asks Beast what they are talking about. The two girls are dead. Beast corrects Scott and tells them that the girls are holed up in Cerebra. Is Emma sensing any of this?
Scott asks Emma, who tells him that they are talking with their sisters. It is too fast for her to understand, though. Wait… it’s… data? It is ones and zeros. Emma cannot read it. The Cuckoos are not thinking… they are processing. Pentium Cuckoos, jokes Kitty. Great.
Beast asks Kitty if she can scan for any wireless signals. Kitty is already on it and finds an encrypted stream. She asks for a moment, but then suddenly Colossus visually spots the Cuckoos.
In the air:
As the X-Jet approaches, the Zombie Cuckoos ask their sisters if they see. In unison, the three girls tell their dead sisters that it is too much information. They are overloading. The Zombies, however, tell them that they will process it all. It is what they were made for. It is time.
Emma opens up a psychic channel for Cyclops to speak to the girls. The girls finish Scott’s thoughts and tell him that they hear him. They then mock what he is thinking. He is thinking “great, they are reading his mind with their stupid psychic girl games.” Now they must be thinking that the Cuckoos aren’t telling them what they are thinking. They are telling them what they are thinking before they even think it. Scott turns and, instead of Emma, he sees the Dark Phoenix. The Cuckoos tell him not to worry. They are not Jean Grey. They are much worse.
Wolverine breaks through and attacks Sophie.
The Cuckoos tell Cyclops that he is going to hit the flash bomb button in .7 seconds. As their words register in his head, he will try and stop since they told him that they know it’s what he’ll do, so no doubt they want him to do it. However, by then he will already have pushed the button.
Everything the Cuckoos say comes true, and Scott pushes the button, too slow to stop himself. However, the girls are long gone.
Sophie and Esme crawl on the walls of the mansion to escape. Esme teases her sister about dropping her arm again. Sophie tells her that she didn’t drop it. Professor Logan cut it off. Esme tells her that their sisters are almost there and they still need them. She hopes Sophie is ready. Sophie tells her that she has been ready since her second burial.
Beast and Wolverine catch up with the girls, and Wolverine has Sophie’s arm stuck in his claws. Beast tells the girls to get down off the walls. Sophie apologizes and asks if this is better. The two girls then fly out the window.
Cute, says Wolverine. Beast asks Logan if he is ready to go to the second jet. Yeah, says Wolverine, but then looks down at the Sophie’s arm that he has. He tells Beast to pack his microscope, as he discovers that the arm is laced with metal bones.
Beast and Wolverine take off. Wolverine calls Cyclops and tells him that they can’t find the flying zombies. They talked about finding their sisters, so the two will come to Cyclops’ coordinates. Cyclops understands and then asks about the bones. Beast explains that it is some kind of nanotech laced throughout the skeleton. That explains how the corpses can move. He can’t confirm it yet, but this substance might have a virtual neural net and the capacity for memory. That explains how the Cuckoo Zombies are able to talk. Confused, Cyclops tells Beast that every student in the school had a complete physical. Why didn’t they notice this before?
Beast agrees. He doesn’t even remember asking. He doesn’t even remember thinking of asking. Wait… what are they talking about again?
Stuttering, Cyclops can’t seem to remember. Clever little girls, says Emma. From the moment they came, none of them, not even Jean, ever wondered. Using her powers, Emma finds the problem. Psionic blocks in all their minds kept them from asking the appropriate questions. This might sting a bit as she removes the blocks.
The other X-Men feel a wave of nausea, but it passes. Cyclops asks Beast if he got the treatment too, and the other X-Men confirm that they did. Cyclops is pleased, and now wants to ask the questions. Who are these girls, asks Kitty. Where they came from, asks Emma. And where they are going, asks Beast. Wolverine tells the group that he has the answer to the last question, because now he remembers where he smelled the scent on the arm before.
Special S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Jake Oh reports back to the Hellicarrier from The World. He speaks into his intercom and explains that, three months ago, he was sent to the Weapon Plus headquarters, where super-soldiers were created. It sounded cool, and it was for the first few weeks. Where else can he see time stopped, literally in the middle of an explosion, with debris hanging in the air, while giant whale-brained war machines are frozen in mid charge? However, after a while, frozen time gets boring. He is there to monitor the facility while scientists figure out how it works, but he is trained for active combat duty. He is submitting a request to be transferred to anywhere where something might actually happen.
Suddenly, Oh is cut off as three firry females descend into The World. Jake whips out his gun and tells the girls to freeze as they are in restricted area. Phoebe is curious, but Jake tells her to drop their guns. Calling him by his name, Phoebe tells him that they don’t have any weapons. He then tells them to put their hands up in the air, before wondering how they knew his name. He’s cute, says Mindee. You think so, asks Phoebe. Celeste does, says Mindee.
“Ohmygod!” screams Celeste, “Shut up!”
As the three jump off the whale-brained war machine they are standing on, Jake tells them to stop moving and he is not kidding “you guys.” Phoebe tells Jake that they are girls, to which Jake replies that he knows as they are in their pajamas and everything. He then tells them to stop moving again. Phoebe walks away, agreeing that he is cute. Mindee tells her that it is too late. Celeste already called him. No I didn’t, shouts Celeste.
Annoyed, Jake tells the girls that, in three seconds, he will shoot sleeper darts that will leave a nasty bruise. Scared, Celeste tells Phoebe to stop playing around. They will get in trouble. This whole place feels wrong. She wants to go home. Phoebe turns around and tells Celeste not to fight it anymore. This is where they belong. She then tells Jake Oh that he better duck.
Jake turns as time returns back to normal around him. The explosion completes and the debris shoots around. The whale-brained war machine attacks him as he ducks for cover. One of the war machines announce that the sterile environment has been breached. Jake shoots the creature and tells the girls not to worry and to stand behind him. However, the girls are already gone by then, and Jake finds himself surrounded by three war machines.
Suddenly, the three Cuckoos descend from the sky feet first and land on the war machines, destroying them. Jake speaks into his intercom again and cancels the request for a transfer.
Emma telepathically speaks to Cyclops and tells him that he is very quiet. Scott tells her to get out of his head. Emma pauses, and speaks out loud that she did not plant those psionic blocks. The Cuckoos did. Right, says Scott. The last time he went to The World he fought an artificially evolved super-soldier who could disintegrate people by looking at them. He was part of a team of monsters created to exterminate mutant kind. They were bred in The World, where the Cuckoos are from.
Emma tells Scott to look on the bright side. Three little Weapon Plus manufactured killing machines should be a bit easier to subdue than a trio of Dark Phoenix channeling apocalypse bringers, yes?
Scott looks at Emma, dumbfounded. Emma tells him that it isn’t love in his eyes. Emma tells her that she is wrong. He loves her, even now. He can’t help it. He just doesn’t trust her.
The three Cuckoos descend down a large tunnel, with Phoebe in the lead. Mindee tells her that they have to slow down as Celeste’s boyfriend cannot keep up. Annoyed, Celeste reiterates that Jake Oh is not her boyfriend. She then sees bugs and freaks out, asking if they can go home. Phoebe tells the girls to shut up. Celeste begins to argue, but Phoebe asks if she was not listening. They have a function. I don’t want a function, says Celeste. A purpose, says Phoebe. You sound like Sophie, says Celeste. She wanted to be a super hero and look what happened to her. A power, says Phoebe.
The three reach the bottom, with Jake Oh not too far behind. They reach a computer console with a hand print analyzer. Phoebe puts her hand on it and says that they are going to claim that power.
A video monitor flashes on, and John Sublime appears, welcoming the girls back home.
The giant doors before the Cuckoos open, and before them they see a giant labyrinth filled with thousands of green containment vessels, filled with liquid, and thousands of girls that look just like them!
“…We’ve all been waiting for you,” says Sublime.