The next day, everyone was prepping for the mission – sort of. Hank kept tabs on Phoenix's whereabouts, Scott and Cable had a danger room session with Kitty and Peter, Jean was meditating with Xavier, Rogue and Warren enjoyed a few rounds of flying with Storm as Gambit and Kurt watched from a distance, Bobby was posing in front of the mirror and Logan had a beer. It wasn't long before they had to gear up for the mission. They got to it and had a quick meeting before they headed out. Scott ran over the plan one last time for his team. Everyone listened and paid close attention. This was a very important task. They had to do it right. With Cable's life on the line, everything seemed more dangerous than ever. A few still questioned why Scott and Jean were so willing to sacrifice Cable's life. But it wasn't an easy decision. It was one of the hardest things they had to do, besides sending him to the future to even have one. Scott and Jean knew that merging with Phoenix wouldn't kill Nathan. It was just a gamble whether he would stay the same or become evil. Cyclops took one more look at his team and, with two words, everything was set in motion. "Let's move."
Two teams boarded two separate planes. Xavier stayed behind to monitor cerebro and so that he could keep tabs on the teams. One was led by Cyclops and the other team was lead by Storm. Cyclops had Jean, Warren, Bobby, Hank and Cable on his group.
"Just like the old X-Factor days, huh?" Bobby joked.
"Exactly – only this fella was still young then," added Hank. He was referring to Cable, who spent some time with them while they were still the X-Factor team. Nathan was still a baby then but now he's all grown up and fighting this battle with them. "Oh, by the way, we're closing in on Sophie."
"Good." Scott turned on the communicator and called the other team. "We're almost there. Go on ahead and start things up."
"Aye aye, Captain." Remy took control of the jet and increased its speed. "We'll see you guys later."
As soon as Storm's team saw Sophie, the jumped into action.
Ah,theX-Men.WhyamInotsurprised... Phoenix thought to herself. She threw a fireball at the jet and it headed for a crash.
"EVERYONE OFF THE JET!"
As soon as they got safely to the ground, they started to come at Sophie with everything they got. Logan stabbed her a few times when he got close enough. They were not trying to kill Phoenix's host this time, unlike what they did with Jean. They were just trying to make Sophie weaker so that they had a better chance to talk to Phoenix herself. But it was a tough battle. The time they gave Phoenix was enough for it to grow stronger. One by one, Phoenix knocked them out. The last one standing was Logan.
Cyclops' team stayed behind. They were waiting for the rest to give them the signal. They couldn't risk being there themselves. If Phoenix took out the others, at least they still had a shot. Just then, Jean got a nod from Logan and it was now time for them to move. "It's our turn."
Without hesitation, Cyclops fired an optic blast at Sophie. Jean tried holding her down with a TK grip so that Hank, Warren and Bobby could close in on her. Jean lost her hold on Phoenix and struck Hank on his head. He was knocked out cold. Logan still came at Phoenix with everything he's got.
Persistentfool. Phoenix took Logan and placed him in front of her. With one swift move, she ripped his bones from his flesh. "LOGAN!" Jean cried. Phoenix drooped his body. His bones and his flesh lay side by side. Phoenix was about to attack Jean, but she paused for a moment.
"Sophie's still trying to take control!" Angel said.
"No – run away! Mr. Logan – I tried…I'm sorry…But she took over for a moment…I got back just in time. I'm in control again." She demanded.
"Sophie! Let Phoenix take control!"
"Mr. Summers? She could kill you all!"
"No! Let her! Trust me. Everyone else, stay sharp!"
"I'm still strong."
"We'll fix that." Jean added.
"Attagirl, Sophie. Emma would be so proud." Cyclops smiled.
"Enough chit-chat." Jean launched a psi-bolt at Sophie. "Thank goodness she looks like Emma. This makes it a whole lot easier."
"Jean." Cyclops fired an optic blast at Sophie. "Now's not the time for that."
"I know. I know…"
By this time, they had been able to weaken Sophie and Phoenix emerged once more. "Cable! It's time!"
"Alright, Phoenix. Let's talk." Cable told her.
And who might this be?
"The name is Cable."
This is new. Are you supposed to stop me?
"No, I just want to talk."
Talk? To you? What makes you think I'd even –
"It's because I have an offer for you."
Is that so? Well then, I'm listening.
"Take me as your host."
"You heard me."
"Are you sure about that? I think you'll like me - It's because of who I am. It's in my blood. By the way, my name is Nathan Summers. I don't believe we've properly met."
Ahhh… A Summers boy…
"Don't forget – I'm a Grey as well."
Hmm? How intriguing.
"I know you hate my dad – he's beaten you before. And I have my mom's powers… You want power? I've got tons. I'm offering you myself on a silver platter, Phoenix. Take it or leave it."
Verywell… Phoenix left Sophie's body and merged with Nathan. Sophie's body fell to the ground and remained still. Nathan was now engulfed with the Phoenix flame.
"I am. I'm controlling you now." Nathan grunted. He was still trying to contain Phoenix. "You are life, right? I'm taking control of that."
How can you? Even Grey and Sophie couldn't!
"See, I've been infected with this virus when I was younger. I had to put all my focus and my powers on that virus so it wouldn't kill me. I'm older now… And I've got experience to boot."
You can't control me forever! Soon, I can take over – soon…
"And we're going to fix that. I'm taking you to my present – two thousand years into the future. I'm going to have some one on one time with you, buddy." Cable pressed some buttons on the machine strapped to his arm. He opened a portal to the future. "Goodbye, Sco- Dad…Mom… I'll see you when I sort this out."
"Bye, Son. Good luck." Scott looked up at his son. "I'll always be proud of you."
"Goodbye, Nathan." Jean waved farewell.
NO! I will not allow this! I am Phoenix!
"Wha?" Cable had just stepped in the portal and was forced to look back. Phoenix wanted to stay.
"Cable! Close the portal!"
"Already doing it! Stand back!" Cable pressed a few buttons on his control and the portal closed. Phoenix was still trying to stay. A third of its entity still visible in this dimension. Cable tried with all his might to take Phoenix with him. "C'mon!"
His efforts failed. The portal closed and split the entity in two. Now, a third of Phoenix stayed in this time. The X-Men looked in horror. Jean stepped forward.
"Jean! DON'T - -!"
"We've been here before – this moment… I know what you're planning to do. Don't leave me. We can stop Phoenix! You've seen what happens when we merge with these forces… I can't lose you again." (EN: See Chapter 1: Phoenix, Cyclops and Apocalypse battle, if you can remember. I told you the story revealed itself little by little in each chapter. This time, Scott and Jean reverse roles.)
"I can do this, Scott. You've seen what I can do. Whatever happens, if I get lost, I know you'll find me just like I found you. Just trust me, this process…I know I can make this work."
"Jean – I –" Scott reached for her hand and took it. The two shared a short kiss.
"I'll come back. I'm stronger now. You've made me stronger. I love you, Scott Summers." She forced a smile. She couldn't hide it. She knew she was scared. With one last kiss, she flew and faced Phoenix – alone. "Let's see what you've got."
Jean exposed herself to Phoenix. Knowing that it needed a host, it didn't take long for it to find the perfect one. Jean and Phoenix, in a weird way, were one. Phoenix was at best when it was merged with Jean. Two opposites matched. Jean was – is a beautiful person. She loved greatly and thought with wisdom. Phoenix was her opposite. It was a destroyer of worlds and selfish. With Phoenix weaker by a great amount, its will to fight lessened as well.
Jean Grey… Face to face once again…
"Phoenix…" Jean started. "I've merged with you, became one with you and I've found my pieces with you. You can't beat me. Not anymore."
I'm only weaker, Grey… Once I regain my strength - -
" - I know you're weak. I don't care if you get stronger. I know I can beat you."
Really?Then what makes you think you can ever defeat me?You're only just a mutant…
"Because I am finally beyond you. No matter how strong you get, I am stronger than you'll ever be. You've met your demise." With full concentration, Jean absorbed Phoenix. The others could only watch as Jean engulfed herself in flames just like the way she did before, only this time was different. It didn't seem so ominous or frightful – it seemed like a peaceful, radiant moment. With one last strain, Jean had fully beaten Phoenix and overtook her. Her tired body slowly came down. Scott readily came to her and caught her and knelt and rested her body on the ground, holding her up the best he could.
'Jean,can you hear me?Are you alright?' Scott sent through their rapport.
No answer was heard.
'Jean!JEAN!' Scott sent louder. 'Jean,come back to me… please…'
Scott looked at her through the red tint of his visor. It was getting foggier because he was holding back tears. For numerous times, both of them left and came back differently. When Jean died, she had come back a different person and even came back to a married lover. Scott left Jean when he merged with Apocalypse and when Jean found him, he was a changed man. He even died once and came back to Emma, but it seemed so conflicting that as he died, he thought of Jean – not Emma. This time, they only had each other. Jean came back to Scott just recently and he hoped she'll come back to him again. There was nothing holding them back but themselves.
Once upon a time, Jean died in the arms of her husband. With a twist of fate, it was happening again. Only this time…
"Jean?" Scott began to smile.
…She came back.
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