Jean opens her eyes, realizing she is dead. The last thing she remembers is losing against the Phoenix and pain as the stupid bird burned her up. Now demons surround her and she realizes she is in hell.
Angrily, she uses her telekinesis to throw them off. Realizing her powers still work, she flies away but is then tossed to the ground by a giant demon rising from the lava. What is it they say about the frying pan and the fire? a familiar voice asks. There is another fall after this one, the Darkchild informs her, standing in the demon’s maw. Welcome to the pit! she shouts and attacks Jean with her Soulsword.
Jean dodges and insists this doesn’t make any sense. She creates her own psychic sword. Darkchild states that Jean died and went to hell. Jean deflects her blow and asks why. She lost a fight. She died in a fire. Those aren’t sins. She has been judged! Darkchild insists. The blood of entire worlds drops from her…
That was the other Jean, Marvel Girl interrupts her. Finally, Darkchild shouts she is an abomination. Jean manages to hit her and informs her she is full of crap. Jean is pretty sure Darkchild runs Limbo not hell. What’s the difference? Darkchild demands. Jean doesn’t know, but she should. Darkchild turns into her human form Magik, wearing her Phoenix Five costume. Either way, she informs Jean, she burns.
Her punishment is eternal damnation? Jean asks. She said she did nothing wrong, Magik states. Jean stands by that but admits she and the universe tend to disagree. Good, she understands why it must be that way, Magik announces, bringing her Soulsword down on Jean, who protests she doesn’t understand any of this crap. She never did!
She doesn’t get hit. When she opens her eyes, the scenery has changed. She is in a wilderness, surrounded by some surprised cave people. One of them curiously tugs at her hair, the others seems scared. Jean wonders why. Out of the cave flies a red-haired cavewoman, who orders Jean to get out!
As they land on the beach, Jean realizes the other woman is some prehistoric Phoenix. She wonders if this is her personal hell, then what is personal about Captain Cavewoman? The other woman tosses her away and shouts that even her juvenile thoughts are deafening! She follows Jean into the water, tries to drown her and shouts at her to leave her be. Jean frees herself by telekinetically pushing the woman away and swims upward.
When she reaches the surface, it is no longer the sea but a fountain in a burning city. Sentinels swarm everywhere and Jean realizes this is Rachel Grey’s future. She’s seen this in about six mutants’ minds. If there is a hell for mutants, this is it. She wonders why she is here and is almost stomped by a Sentinel. The robot next tries to blast her. Jean is thrown against a building by the blast and lands in a dark alley where she is expected by four Hounds. Their leader is a familiar face – Rachel, who tells her she can run but not escape.
Rachel orders her Hounds to “sic her”. Jean tries to appeal to Rachel’s better nature. She reminds her she broke away. She is free! Straddling her, Rachel reminds her of what she just said. Nobody gets away. But the Rachel she knows did, Jean insists. She ran far away and she is happy. Rachel hesitates, then power explodes from her as she wears her Phoenix costume. She doesn’t know her at all! she screams.
Jean protects herself with a forcefield refusing to get out of Rachel’s face. Here she is, she points out. She’s not running, she’s not afraid, and she can’t burn Jean up, if she doesn’t understand, just tell her! Rachel slugs her and orders her to die! She already did, is Jean’s response.
When she gets up, she finds her surroundings have changed again. She is surrounded by Shi’ar soldiers, who are shouting they want to avenge the Majestor. Jean figures this is the Shi’ar Civil War, except not really, just like that wasn’t Rachel’s time before. The worlds are really detailed, but they all sort of smell the same. Metallic. Like ozone after it rains.
Jean stalks toward the man whom the soldiers are attacking, another flaming freakazoid burning up the scenery, as she puts it. In this case, it is the Shi’ar Rook’shir who orders his foes to bow or feel his Phoenix Blade. Then their dead eyes can watch as he builds a throne from their carcasses.
Does he know how you can tell someone has gone completely Dark Phoenix? Jean asks. Megalomaniacal monologues. Rook’shir is taken aback. Only crazies want dead people to watch them build stuff, she adds. Rook’shir slugs her and orders her to be silent. He is the fire and the light and she is nothing but a fading ember. He puts his boot upon her face. It is past time he stamped her out!
Jean’s eyes glow in anger and the next moment the whole planet explodes. Floating in the nothingness, Jean only has time to wonder if that was him or her before she passes out.
She awakes on her bed back at Xavier’s school, dressed conservatively. She figures this is from before Old Beast took them to the future.
She steps into the hallway, where Hank greets her and Scott awkwardly tries to compliment her. She tells them “no” as she passes them by.
She walks down the stairs. Downstairs, Warren and Bobby are watching baseball. Bobby invites her to watch Warren shout at the TV. She has no time for their crap, she cuts him off. What did he do? Bobby protests. He doesn’t exist, comes the reply. She can smell the friggin’ ozone. She’s onto this stupid game. Get out here! she shouts.
A telepathic projection of Professor X appears and asks her why she is agitated. Did she have a bad dream? Jean snaps he isn’t Professor X, so don’t patronize her! He would never… Xavier protests. She’s not doing this anymore! she screams and lashes out. He warns her she will hurt herself. No she’s hurting it! she screams back as flames begin to engulf her.
Xavier turns into the Phoenix Force. Jean demands what this place is. Where is she? The White Hot Room, she is told. A nexus between all Phoenix hosts and their flame. A place of rest and contemplation. A home to every being with whom it has merged. Every host leaves a piece of themselves here. But she is no Phoenix, she is no host. It didn’t choose her. She doesn’t belong.
Hey, it came at her, Jean points out. Jean Grey is the perfect vessel, it continues. The power and influence she wields as the Phoenix is unmatched. She is NOT Jean Grey!
Jean snaps, that that’s what she’s been saying from the beginning! She wasn’t trying to be another her. But it was all “Jean Grey is Jean Grey is Jean Grey!”
The Phoenix claims the true Jean Grey bonded quite willingly. She embraced its flames with arms wide open. Young Jean on the other hand has conspired against the Phoenix from the beginning. Fought and kicked it at every turn. Forced its hand. Forced it to find another way. So it murdered her with fire? Jean demands. And from her ashes another Jean Grey has risen, it replies. Her time is done, and yet she lingers here. Why?
At first, Jean doesn’t understand, then she realizes that the Phoenix didn’t bring her here. This isn’t some punishment or hell. This is the Phoenix’s mindscape and it has been using fragments of the others hosts to push her out. But it can’t, because for some reason Jean is in control here.
She figures that maybe Ghost Jean’s plan to inoculate her with Emma’s Phoenix spark worked somehow. She decides she is done with this stupid thing.
The Phoenix crows it has defeated her. The wheels have been spinning for some time. Its plan has already succeeded. It is the Phoenix. It is forever.
Cool, is Jean’s unimpressed reply. So here’s what’s happening now: It’s gonna shut that big flaming beak for once, swallow however much pride it takes to acknowledge she has won and then focus those death-bringing space god fire powers on fulfilling the one part of her stupid nightmare that has not come true yet.
And it does, as Jean reconstitutes from her ashes back in the wilderness of Canada where the Phoenix killed her.
Sometime later, Jean arrives back in Madripoor. At their home, Iceman awaits her, eager to tell her everything she’s been missing. Jean isn’t interested and walks on. She passes Warren, who announces she was right. Jean’s home. Cyclops adds with all the Phoenix stuff going on, they were afraid. Yeah no, Jean interrupts. Later!
Hank also tries to tell her something, but she doesn’t want to hear, even when he mentions someone waiting for her.
She enters her room and plops down on her bed exhausted. Jean? she cries a moment later. “Back at’cha!” the woman in the doorway replies with a grin. They should probably talk, a very much alive adult Jean Grey continues.