The World – Cuckoo Clone Chamber:
“Mother!” screams the telepathic cries of dying Cuckoo clones, suspended in tubes now cracked open and surrounded by fire.
Emma calls out to Celeste, who now has succumbed to the power of the Phoenix, and tells her “daughter” that she knows that she can hear her sisters. Celeste tells Emma to be quiet, but Emma tells her that the other girls have done nothing wrong. They don’t deserve this. Celeste rockets into the sky in a blaze of fire, knocking Emma side, though luckily Emma switches to her diamond form in time to avoid injury. Celeste flies into the air and out of the dome, wearing a light blue variant of the Phoenix costume.
Above The World:
Celeste/Phoenix announces that she is life. She is fire. Her name is Phoenix. The Phoenix Raptor stretches out into the sky, but suddenly Celeste screams. The girl suddenly starts babbling that she is not the Phoenix. She is just Celeste. This is too much for her. She can’t stop it and needs help. The fire before Celeste suddenly takes on a form that just looks like her. The Phoenix Force, mimicking Celeste’s body, asks the Cuckoo is she is not any fun, is she?
Confused, Celeste asks the fire-woman who she is. The Phoenix, silly, replies the Force. Well, just a fragment anyway. The Phoenix was shattered into a billion pieces, but then she, the little fragment, heard the Cuckoos call. Celeste, confused, tells the Force that she didn’t call her. Oh, but you did, says the Force. Celeste’s hungry little mind called the Force. The Cuckoos were always wondering what it is like to feel and to burn and to live. How could the Phoenix pass them by? However, now Celeste is scared. She couldn’t even tell Jake Oh that she likes him!
Annoyed once again at someone teasing her for liking Jake, Celeste tells the Force that she must met the guy. Besides, Jake isn’t a boy; he is a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent! Realizing that she sounds a bit silly arguing with a universal being made of the fire of life about her boy troubles, Celeste cuts back to the important things, and reminds the Phoenix that she destroys worlds.
“Where on Earth did you get that idea?” asks the puzzled Phoenix.
An image of the Dark Phoenix appears between the two, and Celeste tells the Force that the Phoenix killed five billion people. And saved the universe a few times, adds the creature. Too much, repeats Celeste, over and over. Of course it is, says the Force. It is too much for any human to bear. The Phoenix then asks Celeste how can killing five billion people, or even a single person, ever be considered anything evil? How could this power, this hunger, be anything but evil? However, the Force could not have come to the Cuckoos if there wasn’t a reason for all of this. Celeste asks what the purpose is, but the Force tells her that she already knows. She spoke the words. She is life and fire. The Phoenix and Celeste unite once again, and the Force tells Celeste to stop fighting her and just do her job.
The World – Deformed Cuckoo Chamber:
Emma looks around and the burned bodies of several dead Cuckoo “daughters.” Suddenly, the Sophie and Esme zombies come to Emma and tell her not to cry. She still has them. Angered, Emma grabs both girls by the throats, and Sophie asks if this is any way to treat her favorite daughters. Emma tells the two that they are not her daughters. They are just Weapon Plus zombies filled with recorded memories and nano-tech!
Sophie rolls her eyes and says “whatever.” Their sister Celeste is about to destroy the world and the zombie Cuckoos don’t want to be incinerated. Are the X-Men going to help them or what? Cyclops turns to Wolverine and asks if the zombies are lying. Wolverine tells Cyclops that he can’t smell lies if the subject has been dead for more than a week. However, the zombies have a point.
Cyclops and Wolverine head off to rendezvous with the others, and find Beast, who asks where Emma is. Cyclops replies that she is flying with the zombies, and he doesn’t have time to explain. He just hopes Beast came prepared. Beast says that of course he came prepared. He wasn’t happy with the last Phoenix containment device he made, so he miniaturized the psionic inhibitors and put them in a dart. Here is the best part: there is a circuit to prevent the Phoenix from absorbing Scott’s powers. As long as Celeste wears the tag Scott can blast her away.
Kitty arrives and Cyclops tells her to phase Beast down through the floor. Beast, however, interjects. He knows Celeste and thinks that she trusts him. They need every advantage that they can get. Cyclops ignores Beast and interrupts, telling him that he has another job for him. They need to tap into the Weapon Plus systems and figure out the purpose of the Cuckoos and their vulnerabilities. Beast complies and he and Kitty head off.
Colossus armors up and meets up with Wolverine and Cyclops. Wolverine wants the dart so Colossus can toss him to Celeste, but Cyclops says no. Jake Oh gets first dibs. Wolverine and Jake are both confused. Cyclops tells Jake that Beast was right about needing every possible advantage. The zombies say Celeste has a crush on him. Embarrassed, Jake rubs the back of his head and informs the three men that he assures them that his dealings with the civilians have been nothing but professional.
Colossus grabs Oh, now armed with the dart in his gun, and chucks him at Celeste.
Above The World:
Celeste begins to hover closer to the ground of the world, and notices Jake Oh flying right at her. She smiles at him. “Don’t kill me!” says Jake. Celeste tells Jake not to worry. The Phoenix isn’t there to –
Sorry, says Jake, as he pulls out his gun and shoots the dart into Celeste’s chest.
Cyclops then unleashes his optic blast and hits Celeste square in the face.
The World – Ground Level:
Celeste falls to the ground as the Phoenix Raptor disappears and she returns back to her pajamas. Before she can recover, Emma, who is being carried by the flying zombies, lands on her and tells her that they have her now. No, screams Celeste. They don’t understand. Emma tells Celeste to let her into her mind so they can solve this problem like they talked about before. Snip, taunts Esme, referring to Emma’s plans to lobotomize Celeste. Sophie tells Esme to hush, as she is scaring Celeste. No, says Celeste. She will never be scared again.
The World – Sub-basement Area:
Kitty and Beast arrive at the entrance of a chamber. They are met by a video display of John Sublime, who welcomes the X-Men. He recommends that they leave, as the car-cops are on their way. Beast tells Sublime that there are one or two more deadly things in The World than car-cops right now, or hasn’t Sublime noticed. Why doesn’t Sublime come out in person? Because there is no person, says Kitty, as she examines the technology around her. Sublime tells Kitty that he has no clue what Kitty is talking about.
Kitty explains that this isn’t Sublime, but a recording. To be more precise, it is a massive interactive databank of recorded powered by automated response program. Kitty tinkers around with the controls, and pauses “Sublime.” Beast is pleased and tells Kitty to give him a moment so he can reprogram it to give them the answers that they need. Kitty obliges Beast and tells him that, in the meantime, she’ll look behind this door to see what is there. She then phases through, and sees something that could possibly make her crap her pants.
Kitty hears Beast call through the wall that she can open it anytime now. Kitty opens the door and Beast stands with the monitor, asking Sublime what they are looking at. The reprogrammed Sublime console tells the X-Men that it is Ef Protos Batch 121 through 1123, but for short they can call it Weapon XIV!
The two X-Men look into a massive cavern area that extends further than the eye can see, and is littered with literally a thousand tubes, all containing Cuckoo clones.
The World – Ground Level:
Celeste becomes the Phoenix again, Raptor and costume including. She suspends Esme and Sophie in the air with her, while the other X-Men watch below. Esme begins to feel weird and asks what is going on. Celeste tells her that they are dead animated corpses with artificial intelligence. Now they are alive for real. With that said, Celeste restores the two zombies back to their human forms.
Actually, no, says Sophie. They aren’t alive again. All Celeste did was layer fresh cells over their dead bones. Not that they aren’t grateful, says Esme. However, says Sophie, the Phoenix isn’t the savior that Celeste likes to imagine. You all think you know the Phoenix, says Celeste, but they don’t understand her. She didn’t come to destroy. She is life incarnate.
Tell that to your sisters, says Emma, as she looks around at the shattered tubes and dead Cuckoos.
Celeste descends to the ground with Esme and Sophie. Emma explains that this used to be a lab full of Weapon Plus experiments. These were her daughters, and Celeste’s sisters. Now she killed them when she manifested the Phoenix Force. Didn’t she even notice? Celeste tells the group that it is okay. She can fix them. Celeste then raises her hand to resurrect the other clones, but nothing happens. Confused, Celeste tells Emma that she cannot. Sophie tells her that this is because Celeste now understands what the Phoenix came here to do. She is here to kill them all, but it will be all right. Esme interjects and tells Celeste not to listen to Sophie as it isn’t all right.
Celeste grabs head, and as tears of fire stream from her eyes, she tells her sisters that she is life and fire. She is sorry. Celeste then incinerates Sophie and Esme. Celeste flies back into the air, realizing now what must be done.
Cyclops speaks into his intercom and calls Beast. He tells Hank to hurry up with whatever he is doing, as Celeste is ripping up the ground and is heading their way!
The World – Original Cuckoo Clone Chamber:
Beast walks around the cavern and tells Scott that he understands, but he needs a minute. Cyclops tells him that he doesn’t have a minute. However, Beast tells him that Cyclops needs to hear this, and he patches Scott in.
Kitty then asks Sublime what the Cuckoos are. Sublime responds that they are a thousand psionic mutants raised from the eggs of Emma Frost. What do they do, Kitty asks. Sublime responds that they are meant to collectively process information at an exponentially greater power level than any living telepath. That power can be controlled and unleashed via three focal points. Two of those focal points have come home and been integrated into the machine. However, the third is infested with the Phoenix Force and is now incompatible with the machinery.
So Weapon XIV is a bust, Beast asks. Not quite, responds Sublime. Even with just two focal points, Weapon XIV can shatter a person’s mind merely by thinking about him, which is an excellent way to destroy all mutants.
Suddenly, Celeste arrives in the chamber. As fire begins to slowly spread, Celeste finds the containment eggs that Mindee and Phoebe were earlier taken into. The two girls peer out of the cracked containment vessels and see that their sister has come back. Celeste asks her sisters if they are ready.
The other X-Men arrive, and Wolverine realizes that the first problem is solved. They will let the Phoenix take out the Cuckoos. No, wait, interjects Emma. Wolverine interrupts her and tells her that she heard Hank. They are death machines. My little death machines, retorts Emma. She then sends Cyclops an image of her plan, which Scott understands, but isn’t sure if she is up to it. Emma isn’t sure herself, but she knows that she has to be.
Celeste approaches her sisters and tells Mindee and Phoebe not to struggle. She has come to burn them away, so life can grow again. Suddenly, Cyclops blasts Celeste away. Celeste gets up, but Cyclops hits her again. She then flies above him and tells him that his dart has burned away. His optic blasts just make her stronger.
But not smarter, says Cyclops. Before Celeste can realize that she was just being distracted away from the Mindee and Phoebe, she sees Colossus chuck Emma into the air over her. Celeste is hit by another optic blast. The third containment vessel senses Emma, and confusing her for Celeste, reaches out with tentacles and takes her in, much to the confusion of Mindee.
Phoebe tells Emma that it wasn’t made for Emma, as she isn’t like them. Emma, now in the vessel, tells the two girls that they are right. She is much stronger than them. Now if the girls would kindly follow her, they have much work to do.
The three women burst out of their containment vessels, just as Celeste grabs Cyclops by the throat. They confront Celeste and use their psychic powers on her. Emma tells Celeste that it will only sting for a moment. Celeste reels back and tells Emma to stay away from her brain. They are killing her!
No, says Emma, crying. They are only disconnecting a few parts of her mind. Emotionally, Celeste tells Emma that those are the parts that make her… her! And the parts that make you Phoenix, says Emma sadly. Celeste screams in agony.
The Phoenix Raptor disappears, as does the costume. Celeste falls to the ground back in her pajamas. Emma approaches Celeste, who can only just make a few incoherent sounds, like a newly born baby. Emma, crying, tells Celeste to hush. “Mother is here.”
Colossus asks what they will do to the Weapon Plus machines. Aren’t they designed to kill them? Kitty watches Emma kneel by Celeste and tells Peter that Emma is in charge of them now. After all, she is their mother. They don’t have anything to worry about, do they Mr. Sublime?
Nothing this instant, says Sublime to Kitty. Emma’s powers give her total control of the Cuckoos in this present state. Of course, there are some mechanical aspects of the system, which he himself can access. Confused, Kitty tells Sublime to hang on and explain himself.
Suddenly, mechanical tentacles come out of the machines and latch onto Celeste, pulling her away from Emma. The tentacles lift Celeste into the air, and she suddenly wakes up and screams, fire erupting from her body.
The fire spreads and begins to envelope the thousand Cuckoo clones. Beast tells Sublime that he made a stupid mistake. He just realized Celeste’s Phoenix fire and it is burning away everything that he created.
Not quite, says Sublime, as suddenly the thousand Cuckoos open their eyes, which glow the hint of fire. Confused, Beast tells Sublime that he said the machines couldn’t possibly handle the Phoenix.
“I know…” says Sublime, as the three Stepford Cuckoos stand united with their sisters, now raging with the power of the Phoenix. “I lied.”