The Xavier Institute, late at night. The telephone rings and co-headmaster Scott Summers answers. It’s a call from John Grey, the father of Scott’s former wife Jean. He too had a visitation of Jean manifesting as Phoenix appear to him. Scott tells him he had the same experience, adding that the sense he got was that Jean was fine, but too far away to come home. He isn’t sure what it means.
As Scott’s co-headmistress and wife, Emma Frost, joins him, John Grey apparently says something nasty to Scott, who assures him he’ll keep him in the loop and will call him. Grey breaks the connection before Scott can finish his last sentence. Emma asks what he said and Scott tells her it was “for once don’t let it be to tell us our daughter is dead – again.”
That was harsh, Emma exclaims. Scott defends the Greys. They are Jean’s parents. How are they supposed to feel? To them, Scott will always be the guy who left their baby for another woman. Emma tells him that she doesn’t care about them or her. How does he feel? As he kisses her, he assures her it was the hardest decision of his life and the one that worked out best. They enter a bedroom, where three of their four children lie asleep.
The oldest girl, Meg, wakes up and tells her parents that the baby’s awake and upset. She heard him with her mind. Emma tugs her back in and tells her to go to sleep, but Meg is wary of having the nightmare again. Emma assures her she’ll keep her safe before joining her husband in the nursery, where he’s trying to calm the infant Alex. This is unacceptable, she announces. Bad enough his ex is ruining their sleep. It isn’t fair she can reach through him to terrorize their children.
At that moment, the astral form of Professor Xavier appears, asking if Scott is there. Emma’s had it with the breaches of their privacy. She shouts at Xavier to go away. He isn’t welcome here. She grabs Alex and tells Scott she’ll sit with the children. Jean’s his ex-wife. Xavier’s his mentor. Scott can deal with this.
Scott changes to his X-Man uniform and gathers the Stepford Cuckoos, the three surviving telepathic sisters, who are dressed and styled quite differently from each other now. Being powerful telepaths, they too sensed Phoenix’s power wave, but not the contents of the message, which were encrypted. However, with the help of their living Cerebra, Martha Johanssen, they can provide him with the message’s recipients.
In Chicago, mayoral candidate Kitty Pryde is back at her day job, tending bar at the Belles of Hell. Rachel is slumped on the counter. When Sean, a customer, asks after her, Ray explains that she had a call from her mother. Kitty tells her her mom was just the first, as the astral forms of Cyclops and the Cuckoos appear. Without looking up, Rachel tells Scott to go away. Scott replies they’d hoped she would want to help. Still slumped, Rachel states that her mom doesn’t know where she is. Does Scott? Not yet, he replies.
As Kitty strokes her hair, Rachel asks, assuming if they find out, if the X-Men have a chance of reaching her and help her? Not yet, Scott admits. Angrily, Rachel jumps up, the tiny Phoenix effect over her left eye glowing: he can call them when that changes, she shouts. Until then, she has Kitty’s campaign to run.
Scott and the Cuckoos disappear and Kitty observes that Ray’s taking no prisoners that night, is she? She phases through the counter, reminding Ray that Jean is her mom. And she can do nothing to help her, Ray announces glumly. Kitty draws her close and points out that maybe she just wants to keep Rachel safe. Rachel admits she wishes Jean hadn’t called. They were better off believing she was dead.
In the Hindu Kush, Cable and Irene Merriwether are busy battling terrorists. Has he come at a bad time, Cyclops asks. Not at all, Cable retorts still fighting. For him, it is just business as usual. He thanks Scott for bringing him up to speed. Scott admits he has an ulterior motive and Cable replies they had that conversation before. Suddenly, a tank points its weaponry at him. Scott asks if he should alert X-Corporation Mumbai. Cable takes out the tank with his telekinesis and replies that he never needed their help before. He doesn’t see any reason to start now. He demolishes a building with the tank and the terrorists scatter.
While Irene gets them under control, Cable admits to Scott that the fact is he doesn’t play well with others. Scott bluntly replies that the fact is he doesn’t really care. Nathan is too valuable an asset. He needs him. Cable makes the concession that he’ll think about it and Cyclops fades out.
Irene asks if everything is okay. News from home, Cable replies. Perhaps it’s time for a visit. Irene is happy about that. Strangely enough, she secretly schemes to use Cable to get to Phoenix – then years of waiting and patient planning will at long last have borne fruit.
The Kishani Highlands, East Africa. Standing on the porch, Wolverine asks Cyclops if he has any confirmation on Kurt’s whereabouts. He’s working on it, Scott replies. Any way they can get to her? Wolverine asks. With the collapse of the Shi’ar stargate net, they don’t have a lot of options, but they are working on that, too, Scott explains. He begins a question about Ororo. Wolverine curtly interrupts that nothing has changed without meeting his eye. He asks Scott to stay in touch and Cyclops disappears.
Logan enters the house, where Ororo lies in an Iron Lung. He should have told him, she states. That she is dying? he asks. He won’t accept that. He reminds her of how he once burned up in the sun and was brought back to life. Some rules don’t apply to the likes of them. She wishes they did, Ororo states sadly. She can’t even felt he touch of his hand, she complains as he touches it. Logan kisses her and assures her he isn’t trying to be cruel. It just isn’t her time. From his mouth to the goddess’s ear? she jokes. Absolutely, he assures her.
At Xavier’s, Emma, dressed in her White Queen uniform, laments that things had been quite for so long they thought it would last forever. They may yet get lucky, Scott replies and they both look out of the window. Opposite the mansion stands what appears to be an ice or glass palace. On the balcony, waving at them, are Alex Summers, Scott’s brother, his lover, Annie Ghazikanian, and a young boy, possibly Annie’s son, Carter.
On the other hand, they’ve been wrong before, a voice reminds them. Facing them stands a hologram transmission of Vargas, the X-Men’s former enemy and now a member of the X.S.E. He reports to them, explaining that they have confirmation on Nightcrawler. He was demonstrating teleportation on the Letterman show. Residual energy signature suggests he was grabbed in transit. Scott commends Vargas, who continues that they may also have a lead on Sinister. Scott tells him to make sure this time it’s really him. Emma coldly adds that he is also to make sure he doesn’t take him alive.
Las Vegas, a high-tech complex, where two other X.S.E. agents are at work. Passionately kissing him, Rogue asks Gambit if he is ready. Shouldn’t she do this, she asks, as they both don their glasses, which allow them to see infrared. Between them and their goal is a combat strength laser system. Gambit announces that a question so silly doesn’t deserve an answer. Carefully, he starts to make his way through the laser grid, avoiding the light beams. Holding up her wedding ring, Rogue reminds him she has something to lose. So does he, he replies, calling her ‘Anna,’ as he nimbly climbs, ducks, contorts and saltoes his way through the grid.
Having made it to a certain point, Remy gives Rogue the thumbs-up and she extends a small metal plate on the ground towards him. Remy makes it through another part of the later grid, landing on his hand and on the plate, which keeps him from touching the part of the grid on the ground. She raises the plate up, enabling Gambit to get high enough to touch the button that switches off the grid.
Does he think that’s a lock he can pick, she jokes, as they stand before a high security vault. Remy steps back, bowing toward his wife, silently allowing her to do the honors. Rogue runs towards it shattering the door with her full superhuman strength.
Inside, they find what they were afraid of. The corpses of Domina and Mr Sinister. Rogue observes that, while Sinister dealt Domina a mortal wound, she still managed to finish him, at least that’s the way it looks…
Elsewhere, taking in the scene, Sinister admits that Rogue is clever, but one cannot blame a man for trying. He turns to his cronies, as well as the member of the slaver race he deals with and announces that, as one who loves to play the angles himself, he cannot blame others for trying the same. He can still be disappointed, though. The slaver asks what he is talking about and demands to be treated with respect.
With a nasty smile, Sinister informs him that courtesy is a given. Respect on the other hand has to be earned. Did they think him so clueless that he wouldn’t find out about their arrangement with the Shi’ar? That was business, the Slaver feebly attempts. All traces of a smile wiped away, Sinister reminds him that was not their arrangement. For years, he provided the slavers with prime material, including the occasional X-Man. All he asked for in return was first claim on the person of Jean Grey. Is that a way to treat a “valued client?” Sweating, the slaver admits they may have been in error. How can they make it right? They know what he wants, Sinister states. Or his compatriots will suffer even more than him. And the slaver begins to scream…
Aboard the Starjammer on the far side of forever:
In the infirmary, Kurt Wagner loudly muses that he never though he’d see her again. Is he talking about her, Jean Grey asks, or about Nocturne, who is lying on the other bed. Both, Kurt admits, before pointing out that T.J. is still in a coma. That may be for the best, Jean states. The slavers had her for a long time. But Jean is a telepath, Kurt ventures. They got her too, Jean gently reminds him.
On the bridge, Aliyah eavesdrops on their conversation, muttering that there must be something they can do. The hologram of Carol Danvers appears and she explains that that isn’t always the case. Her sudden appearance startles Aliyah and Carol reminds her to always be on guard. Being on the Starjammer doesn’t automatically mean she’s safe. Especially given their present condition, and that’s the least of their worries. She calls up a hologram of the creatures Aliyah fought on the planet. It’s an evolution of the Brood, she explains. Thanks to Carol and Storm, they should actually be extinct. It was her last mission as Warbird before…
Carol breaks off, as Kurt teleports himself and Jean on the bridge. Kurt is surprised at Carol’s presence and her current energy form, as he greets her, before admitting that he doesn’t even know what he’s here for. Her fault, Jean apologizes. She reached out blind for someone she could trust. Can they send him home? he asks. Should they? Carol retorts. He’s not an X-Man anymore, he explains, he’s an actor.
Aliyah chimes in, pointing out that this isn’t just about him. The Shi’ar Empire’s been in chaos for years, ever since a monster masqueraded as Charles Xavier and drove Empress Lilandra insane. Kurt remembers. Cassandra Nova. Aliyah continues that, under the new chancellor, central authority has been gradually restored… along with the empire’s aggressive expansionist foreign policy. To fulfil those ambitions the empire need a new stargate network.
The slavers are the perfect solution, Carol adds. Their transit net stretches across entire dimensions. She continues that she and Aliyah discovered that the Kree were after an ultimate weapon to use against the Shi’ar – control of the Phoenix. But suppose, Aliyah suggests, the Shi’a knew nothing about that. Perhaps they only were after the stargate. So where do the Brood fit in, Carol wonders. Aliyah reminds her of the Broods’ landing patterns. They were after the gate as well.
Nightcrawler realizes the implications: if the Brood got ahold of the gate and its controllers, they could spread everywhere. That’s why they can’t send him home, Aliyah drives home her point. They have to warn the empire. Does she know what that means, Carol asks her ominously. What does it mean, Kurt inquires. Who is Aliyah anyway, he asks not unkindly. Her father is the X-Man Lucas Bishop, Aliyah explains. And her mother? Kurt asks.
The Shi‘ar homeworld. Under a statue of Deathbird stands Lilandra, Majestrix Shi’ar, next to a young Shi’ar boy and receiving a report by her chancellor, a large lavender-skinned humanoid, whose features are obscured by a helmet. The chancellor explains that imperial fleet units engaged an intruder force of Kree in the system. Apparently, they were winning, when, suddenly, without warning, that star went supernova. Both Shi’ar and Kree were annihilated. He points towards a screen showing what happened. They are still processing telemetry but the power signature is unmistakeable: on the screen they see a huge phoenix raptor.
Addressing Lilandra as ‘mother,’ the boy asks if Phoenix is there alone or with the X-Men. A pertinent question, Lilandra agrees. There is no greater threat to the empire or to the cosmos than this creature. She orders her chancellor to find the Phoenix and destroy it. As well as any who stand beside it. Lilandra and her son leave the chamber.
Turning to another Shi’ar woman, the chancellor asks if Lilandra suspects. The woman replies there is nothing to suspect. The cataclysm eliminated all evidence. What happened? he demands. She doesn’t know. The ambush was perfectly executed but, just before the end, they received garbled impressions of some new attack. Who or whatever they were, they were formidable and their assault overwhelming.
The chancellor tells her to make learning what she can her foremost priority. In the meantime, she is to alert her cadre on Earth. He wanted to avoid premature contact with the X-Men, but circumstances force his hand. If the X-Men prove a threat, they must be eliminated. Addressing him as ‘majesty,’ the woman promises to obey his order. Left alone, lord chancellor Khan ponders the situation.