Categories > Cartoons > X-Men: Evolution > Heart of the Phoenix

Child of Light and Darkness

by slickboy444 1 Reviews

While still struggling with the Phoenix, a mysterious force is plaguing Scott Summers and it's a force that's frighteningly similar. In addition, a powerful warrior becomes involved and the Xmen fa...

Category: X-Men: Evolution - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Angst, Drama, Romance - Characters: Colossus, Cyclops, Gambit, Iceman, Jean, Nightcrawler, Professor Xavier, Rogue, Shadowcat, Storm, Wolverine, X23 - Published: 2006/06/15 - Updated: 2006/06/15 - 6211 words

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Heart of the Phoenix
Chapter 5: Child of Light and Darkness


**************************************************

Logan's head was spinning when he finally came to. He was lying face down in a river of sewer water laced with rats and feces. Above him, the hole he had left from the sewer opening was gaping, showing how much sting his body had endured during his unexpected trip. But he didn't care about any of that. He was too angry at this point.

He knew something hadn't felt right about this 'social club.' From the abrupt invite to the shady people, there were too many things that didn't add up. And once again, his suspicions had been confirmed and now here he was waist deep in shit while the rest of the team was at the mercy of this shady club.

"The others! Gotta...Save...The others!" he growled as he fought through the lingering pain in his body.

Forcing himself to his feet, Logan scanned his surroundings. He assumed he was in the sewer complex just beneath the structure. Chances were, these guys wouldn't take any chances so there would be somebody sent down to confirm his demise. But Logan had no intention of keeling over when his friends and family were in trouble.

"Those sons of bitches picked the wrong team of mutants to mess with!" he growled as he waded through the filth and onto a stone maintenance walk, "When I get through with them they're gonna be begging for hellfire!"

No sooner had Logan made his solemn vow had a new presence joined him in the rotten corridors. And from the looks of it, there was more than one.

"Over here! I think he fell through on this side!" came a voice.

"Over there? Through all that muck? Ain't no way I'm going in that shit!" spat another.

"Quit your bellyaching! Come on, we have to get this guy! His majesty's orders!"

The frantic sound of footsteps heading his way forced Logan into a state of heightened awareness as he drew his claws and took cover. He assumed they were Hellfire's henchmen. And judging from the footsteps, there were quite a few of them. Normally, Logan wouldn't have hesitated to confront a foe directly, but given that he was outnumbered, he decided to go the stealth route.

Not making a sound, he leaped up onto a few pipes overhead and followed the voices. He went slow as to not give his presence away, taking note of his surroundings in case they became a factor. Down below, flashlights scanned the area, looking for what they hoped would be an unconscious body. But they were about to face a rather unpleasant shock.

"Anybody see him?" said one of the henchmen in a low tone as he carefully shined a flashlight into the water.

"It's sewage numb nuts. You can't see anything in it," answered another, who had what could only be described as a very high tech weapon pointed down at the water.

"Well keep looking. You know what'll happen if we don't give the inner circle what they want."

"Don't remind me. Let's hope that whatever's left of this guy is enough to keep us breathing."

Staying tucked away in the pipes, Logan took in his adversaries' appearances. They were definitely not casual thugs. They looked quite imposing in a physical sense and they were all packing heat. The guns they were carrying looked like something right out of a Star Trek movie, hinting that these goons were well financed and well trained.

"Come on! We have to hurry!" said one of them as they stepped up their efforts, "The Black King said he wanted this guy present for the ceremony!"

"I know! I know!" said the other one in an anxious tone, "But the redhead can wait! This guy can't! According to the information I received on him, this guy is a real loose cannon! He could potentially ruin everything!"

"So what? We still got that little girl locked up, don't we? Why can't we use her?"

"Because we don't even know if this guy is still alive! And until we find him, we keep searching!"

That last part was all Logan needed to hear. Now he was even more furious. Not only had they captured his friends, but they were about to use Jean in some freaky ritual. Add to that, the thought of Rachel huddled in the darkness, crying for her mommy and daddy was enough to set the feral mutant off like raging animal.

"Jean...Rachel..." he growled.

After getting into position, Logan prepared to strike. There were six of them and he was only one man, but he had rage on his side, not to mention the jump on these luckless henchmen. He only hoped that those fancy uniforms they were wearing weren't too expensive because they were going to be a mess of rags when he got through with them.

"He's not here. Maybe we should..."

But before he could finish, the sound of a raging animal echoed all throughout the confined corridors and the feral cry of an angry predator sent waves of fear and dread up and down the spines of the six men.

"Hrrraaahhhhhhhhh!"

"Oh no! It's him! Shoot him! Shoot that mother-ahhhhhhh!"

Words turned to pained screams as the sound of adamantium slicing through flesh filled the area. The five other henchmen instinctively regrouped by aiming their guns directly at the source of the scream, but Logan's speed made that move a mistake as he ducked out of the way and grabbed another guard by the neck, putting him in a choke hold.

"Ack! Don't shoot! Don't shoot!" he yelled as he dropped his weapon and struggled against the iron grip of the Wolverine.

Unfortunately, his comrades didn't seem to think too much about their current predicament.

"Sorry friend...Hellfire's orders."

"Nn-NOOO!"

With a blinding flash of light, several shots of concentrated yellow beams hit the man head on, literally blowing the flesh off his body and turning his bones into ashes. Logan was lucky to just get out of the way, for he hadn't expected their weapons to be that powerful.

Yet weapons or no weapons, he wasn't about to let these pricks slow him down.

"Damn! Where'd he go?!" said one of the four remaining guards as they frantically shined their lights around the area.

Then suddenly, he got his answer in the form of a gruff voice coming from right behind his ear.

"Right here bub!"

Suddenly, another guard was impaled by the gut with three sharp claws, causing a fury of panic fire from the others. But this time, Logan was ready fo as he used the weight of the first guard to his advantage and threw him into two of the others who had stuck close by.

"OH SHIT!" they yelled as they were thrown off balance by the impact of their now dead comrade.

Stuck in their wounded state, this gave Logan enough time to pounce, hitting them right in their throats with his claws and taking them out of the fight. That left one more pesky guard to go.

"Stay back! I'm warning you freak! You have no idea who you're dealing with!" warned the final guard as he fired indiscriminately.

"Deal with THIS!" growled Logan as he leaped up to the pipes.

Using both the darkness and confinement to his advantage, Logan made his final move, leaping from his elevated position and falling directly atop the guard. He tried to aim his weapon back at him, but he was too late.

"Ahhhhhhhhhhh!"

Once the screaming stopped and the adrenaline began to wear down, Logan was forced to take a brief moment. The raging animal quickly subsided as his thoughts drifted back to his friends. While these goons hadn't revealed much, they had said enough to make him angry beyond description. Whatever this so called 'ceremony' was, he was going to put a stop to it.

With that in mind, Logan took the bodies and set them aside. Going through some of their pockets, he came across key cards and access codes. It was more than enough for him as he looked down the corridors from where they had come and made his way into the building where his friends and family were at the mercy of the Hellfire Club.

"Hang in there, guys. The Wolverine is comin' and he ain't in a good mood!"

**************************************************

The whole world was one big mess of pain for Jean Grey as her mind swam in the fragile area between dreaming in reality. She didn't know where she was, what had happened, or even how she had gotten here. All she could see before her was darkness.

Yet through that darkness, she managed to make out a fiery light. It was small, like the point of light at the end of a tunnel. But soon it grew until it was like a wall of fire surrounding her from all sides. She tried to close her eyes and tell herself that this was just a nightmare and any moment now, she'd wake up in her bed with her husband.

But that never came. Instead, all she heard was a single booming voice that sent shivers up and down her spine.

"Jean...Wake up. It's time."

Suddenly, she was jolted from her unconscious state into yet another nightmare. Her whole body felt heavy, as if there were lead weights on all her limbs. Her vision was blurred and her breathing was ragged. And as she struggled to ascertain what was going on, a frantic voice rang out from the side.

"Jean!" exclaimed Scott, sounding anxious and angry with what he was seeing.

"Scott? Scott where are..."

But before she could finish, Jean found that she couldn't move. Turning her head to the side, she saw that her wrists were bound by heavy shackles. She tried moving them, but they were too solid. She tried moving her feet, but she quickly found that her ankles were restrained too.

"No...NO! Get me out of here! Let me go!" she cried.

It was a feeling that sent waves of anxiety all throughout her body. Being bound like this had always brought out terrible feelings within her. They reminded her of how she had been bound in the asylum. And now it seemed as though she was back in a nightmare she couldn't get out of and at the center of it all were the finely dressed members of the Hellfire Club.

"Ah at last, our star awakens," said Shaw as he stood upon an altar surrounding by candles, "Please, don't struggle. You'll only make it harder for yourself and your friends."

His words were calm and his tone was dark, but Jean didn't care as she kept struggling. She tried using her powers, but they were somehow shut off. It then dawned on her that there was something around her neck. It was tight, uncomfortable, and had a flashing light. Whatever it was, it was holding back her powers and as a result, she was powerless in the same way she had been all those years ago.

Jean's frantic cries stirred the others as they all began to come to. It was not a pleasant sound to wake up to, but there wasn't much of a choice as they took in this new and dangerous situation.

"Oh my aching head," said Bobby, "Wha...What's going on?"

"See for yourself, homme," said Remy as the sight before them became clear.

Looking around the vast area, the X-men were struck with a mix of awe and dread. Wherever they were, it sure didn't feel friendly. They were under what looked to be a great dome that had an opening at the peak with a mosaic of mythological images etched all over the surrounding ceiling. There were also strange pillars supporting the surrounding structure, each of which bore the same kind of imagery, which seemed to center on a fiery bird that caused both destruction and creation.

In the center of the room, there was a large circular area surrounded by candles with a stone pentagram in the center where Jean was currently restrained, directly under the large dome, right in the shadow of the image of the fiery bird mosaic overhead.

It looked like something right out of an ancient Egyptian ritual. There were people everywhere wearing these dark robes that obscured their appearances. There wasn't a single unoccupied space as they chanted some strange hymn. It was almost as if it was some freaky cult and the leaders guiding everything were standing at an altar just in front of Jean.

For the X-men, however, their observation of this strange ritual stayed at a distance. They were all bound by their hands and feet in an area not far from the center. Like Jean, they had the same collars around their necks suppressing their powers. And all around them, there were masked guards with ominous weapons that seemed primed for action at a moments notice.

"Oh dang...What in the hell have we gotten ourselves into?" said Rogue.

"Something tells me I was better off unconscious," added Bobby.

"Quiet boy!" shot a scary looking woman from the altar with raven black hair wearing similar attire as Emma, "You and your friends had best relax because you're going to bear witness to this momentous event whether you like it or not!"

"Selene please...Ease up on the boy," coaxed Shaw in a humored manner, "Save your strength for the ritual. After all, I think it's only proper that our guests know just what it is they're about to see."

"I don't give a damn about anything you show us!" spat Scott in response, "What are you doing with my wife?! And where's my daughter?!"

"Take it easy, Mr. Summers. You're daughter is fine...For now, that is," replied Shaw ominously, "As for your wife...Well, I'm afraid that's a bit more complicated."

"Errrrrrr! Let her go you son of a..." yelled Scott as he attempted to lunge forth and break free of his confinement.

However, this earned him a rifle butt to the head, almost knocking him out cold.

"Scott!" yelled Jean as she saw her husband fall to the ground.

"Easy my sweet," said Shaw as he smiled down at the woman that now lay at his mercy, "Save your strength. You're husband shall not be harmed as long he cooperates."

"Spare us the sweet talk, pal!" yelled Jubilee, "Who the hell are you pricks?!"

Normally, people didn't talk that way to the Hellfire Club without getting a one way ticket to the bottom of the East River. But at this point, they had no time to deal with such pestilence. For in the end, both she and the rest of the world would feel their wrath with the power they were about to achieve.

Yet while this exchange was going on, the Professor was focused on Emma, who stood with the rest of the Inner Circle in an emotionless, yet stern manner. He knew it had been her that knocked them out. Only she had the telepathic capacity to do so. But that wasn't what bothered him. What concerned him was why she would do something like this.

"Emma! Emma what's going on?! Why are you doing this?!" he demanded.

"Don't bother, Xavier," said Shaw as he stepped forward, "Emma is with us. She is our White Queen. And I am the Black King. And we are the Inner Circle."

"The Inner Circle?" said the Professor, his attention now divided between Emma and Jean, "What's the meaning of this? What are you doing to Jean?!"

"Oh come now, Xavier. You're the world strongest telepath. Don't tell me that you haven't seen this day coming."

"This day?! What are you..."

"Does the name Phoenix mean anything to you, Charles?" he asked with a snide grin.

Xavier's eyes widened. All of the sudden, the memory of the vision that he had seen 10 years ago when he had been freed of Apocalypse's control came rushing back. Every detail of every horrid image echoed through his mind and from this, he was consumed by a horrible feeling.

"Yes...I had a feeling that you would remember. After all, something like the Phoenix is not easy to ignore."

"The Phoenix?" said Scott, growing just as confused as the others, "What the hell is the Phoenix?!"

Shaw cast Xavier a suspicious look. Judging from his expression, the wheel chair bound man didn't necessarily want the others to know about this little matter. It was a shame really. And he thought Xavier actually trusted his students.

"You haven't told them, have you?"

The Professor didn't say a word. All he could do was glare at Shaw angrily. He had been hoping that this day wouldn't come. He had spent ten long years planning for it and now it was all about to blow up in his face.

"Very well, I suppose if you won't tell them, then I'll have to break the news," he shrugged as he walked back to the altar, "Although I have to say, Charles, I'm shocked at you. I was under the assumption that you trusted your students completely. I never thought you'd flat out lie to them after all this time."

"Lie? Zhe Professor vouldn't lie to us!" shot Kurt in response.

"Would he?" questioned Shaw, "Then riddle me this X-men, has you're precious mentor told you that your friend here is the key to a source of power that is all but incomprehensible to the human mind? Has your trusted teacher told you about the true purpose of the young woman you now see before you as was etched in stone the day she came into this world?"

"You're crazy, pal!" yelled Scott in response, "You're fucking..."

"Oh please, Mr. Summers," scoffed Shaw, "I'm not the one you should be mad at. Your anger should be on the Professor. He's the one who kept a secret from you and your daughter that you should have known ten years earlier. He's the one who lied to you about what was happening to your wife!"

Turning towards the Professor, Scott noticed he wasn't even looking at him. He was holding his head down in shame, not even wanting to look him in the eye. Scott didn't want to believe it. This was the man who gave him everything. He was like a father to him. How could he lie to him?

"Scott..." he said, unable to hold his head up in his state of shame.

"Allow me, Charles," grinned Shaw, "You look so tired. Why don't I fill them in?"

"You ain't got nothin' we wanna hear you..." but before Rogue could finish, Scott cut her off.

"Wait! Let's hear him out."

Scott's words evoked a wave of shock. Even Jean was surprised, but she was too desperate for answers to care. Whatever this man knew, she had a feeling that it had something to do with the dreams that plagued her. She could feel it in her bones. She could see it in his eyes. And the only thing she could think about now was that name...The Phoenix.

"Thank you, Mr. Summers. I do hope that I can be of help to you and your friends in clearing this up since your Professor has so selfishly kept it from you. But enough talk...Let me start from the beginning."

The Black King stepped up onto the altar and pulled the sheets off of a couple of shrouded statues on some stone pedestals. They were both made of solid gold, standing over eight feet in height. Each of them depicted a fiery bird soaring majestically through the air. And as soon as this sight hit Jean, she felt a wave of images inundate her mind as if to guide her along with Shaw's story.

"Billions of years go, the universe was created in a single moment we all commonly know as the big bang. From here, everything that makes up existence was formed. Yet unknown to most people, the seeds of life were also sewn in that very moment that the universe began."

Suddenly, the surrounding cloaked members lit more torches and illuminated the mosaic along the domed ceiling, depicting more parts of the story and guiding them along on the journey of the great power that they all so revered.

"In that fiery explosion, a single consciousness arose...A consciousness that would later affect us and every other form of life both large and small. This consciousness took shape in the form of a fiery bird...One that we call, the Phoenix."

"The...Phoenix," said Jean from the center ring, her voice distant and dazed.

"Yes..." said Shaw with a grin, "This consciousness was the force that guided creation, laying the seeds of life in a primordial universe with its holy flames. And after eons of traversing the vast nothingness of space, the Phoenix found its way to Earth. And it is here where your little friend comes in."

Looking over at his wife, Scott could see her dazed expression. She was drawn to this story and clearly believed every word of it so far. And Shaw wasn't done yet.

"Going back to the first seeds of human civilization, the Phoenix has garnered a wide array of reverence. From Ancient Egypt to the founding fathers, this being has evoked a great deal of influence on our civilization. Yet it is only through the Hellfire Club that the true nature of the holy bird has been realized."

At this point, the woman with the raven black hair stood. She was the one Shaw had called Selene. She bore a cold, heartless expression on her face that hinted at the level of darkness within her bleak soul. And from here, Selene took over.

"Hellfire has always had a history of using mystic arts to further our goals," she said in a cold tone, "And over the years, we've been home to some of the most powerful sorcerers in human history. But none have been quite as ambitious as me. In fact, this little ceremony is MY brainchild!"

Judging from her voice, this wasn't a very nice woman to say the least. She looked like something out of a vampire movie crossed with a dominatrix. Whatever uneasiness Shaw had caused, this woman amplified to a level many times greater.

"According to our text, the Phoenix itself is an immortal entity, yet because it is connected so deeply to life, it can manifest in mortal beings. As a bringer of creation and destruction, it requires a mortal conscious in order to properly balance its cosmic power. But I'm not talking about just any being here. The Phoenix is much too picky for that. It's rumored to have had many avatars, but none have fulfilled its deepest primal needs for balance and order. Until now!"

Selene then went on to pull off a white sheet that had been covering a pedestal. It revealed a shining red crystal that pulsated with great power. Nobody knew what this was at first, but the Professor recognized it without a moment's hesitation.

"The M'krann crystal!" he exclaimed, now starting to struggle as he saw what should have been an impossibility.

"Glad to see you've read up on your mythology," said Selene with an insidious grin, "This crystal was attained over the generations piece by piece through Hellfire mystics who painstakingly drew this ancient relic from the depths of the mystic realm. It is this sacred object that lies at the heart of the Phoenix. And he, or she, who controls this relic...Thus controls the Phoenix! The power to create, destroy, and control on a cosmic level...All within the palm of our hands!"

"But why me?!" cried Jean, "I've never even heard of this thing! I'm just a mutant! I don't want any part of this!"

"Ah, but you don't have a choice my dear," said Shaw as the inner circle gathered at the main altar amidst an increased level of chanting, "You see, through this crystal, we have seen the prime mortal vessel that Phoenix craves. From the moment of your birth, you reached out to it and it reached out to you. Do you honestly think all those nightmares and power surges were mere coincidence?"

Jean's blood went cold. For so long, she thought these were just images from her tortured mind, the result of her difficult past. But when she thought about it, she remembered how it felt as though something had been calling her. She had come to know that voice well, but she tried to suppress it.

Now there was no ignoring this voice. She didn't want to believe if, but she knew deep down that what they were saying was true. This thing...This so called Phoenix...It was a part of her.

"It's ironic really," said Shaw as they prepared for the final ceremony, "Of all the beings in the universe, the Phoenix settled on a young woman right here on this sleepy little planet. I don't know why, but that just makes our job easier. Since its inception, Hellfire has been working towards one goal and one goal only...Absolute power. And now, with the power of the Phoenix, our control will be complete now and forever. And you, my dear, are the medium that's going to make it happen."

"NO!" yelled Scott, earning him a rifle butt to the gut, "Let her go! Let my wife go!"

"Silence boy!" scorned Selene as she dawned a dark, purple robe, "You and your friends can't stop us! Nobody can stop us! This ceremony has been in the works for centuries! Now it's time to finally begin and usher in a new era of control by Hellfire!"

Suddenly, all the cloaked participants in the chamber bowed their heads and began to chant in a mixture of Latin and Persian. The member of the Inner Circle were all standing around the crystal with Selene, holding their hands above the blinding glow, each of them chanting a different set of hymns that seemed to echo over the others.

Scott kept struggling, but he was in too much agony to do anything and all the X-men could do at this point was watch.

"Professor! Professor, what's happening?!" said Storm over the noise.

The Professor was probably the only one who didn't look shocked. He kept shaking his head in disbelief, not wanting to accept what he was seeing. But as he saw the glow of the M'krann crystal intensify, he knew that there was no turning back now.

"My God. They're really going to do it. They're actually going to manifest the Phoenix."

All the while, nobody was more affected by this than Jean Grey-Summers. She kept crying out in a fit of pain, anger, and desperation. Something in the chant was triggering a long dormant part of her being that had been suppressed over the years.

The ceiling above began to glow in a swirl of fire, all of which was fueled by the M'Krann crystal. And from this cyclone of holy flame, Jean heard the familiar she dreaded so much echo so clearly in her mind.

"Jean...It's time."

**************************************************

With the ceremony in full swing, Logan forced himself to work faster, tearing through any guard that dared stand in his way. As the activity in the central chamber began, he noticed that the lights were starting to flicker, hinting that he was running out of time.

The whole complex was laid out like a maze. It was like running through some elaborate medieval castle. But thanks to his acute senses and the key cards and pass-codes that some of the guards 'lent' him, he was drawing closer to the inner depths of the Hellfire Club.

"Damn! What in the hell are they doing?!" grunted Logan, "If they've hurt her in any ways I'll..."

Then suddenly, he heard something with his acute hearing that stopped his train of thought dead in its tracks. It was the sound that would have sent any trusted Godfather into a frenzy...The cries of little Rachel.

"Rachel..." he gasped as he stopped and sniffed the air for her scent.

Just then, a few guards came from down the hall fully armed and ready to take him down.

"There he is! Get him!"

Unfortunately, they weren't quick enough. They made the mistake of attacking the Wolverine when he was in search of his Goddaughter and anybody who stood in his way was signing their own death warrant. Even a few grazes by their weapons wasn't enough to stop him. He fought through the pain and sliced through each guard until there was only one left.

"The little girl!" he growled with the anger of a thousand raging grizzlies, "Where is she?! Tell me or I cut off every one of your limbs!"

With his claw to the guard's throat, he began cutting through his arm, but thankfully that was all he had to do in order to get him to talk.

"AHH! THIRD DOOR ON THE LEFT! CODE IS 536229!"

"Thanks."

And with that, Logan threw the man into a wall, knocking him out cold while he followed his directions to the door where he got a strong whiff of Rachel's distinctive scent, which was now mixed with tears.

"Hold on little Red. I'm almost there," he said under his breath as he punched in the code.

The click of the heavy lock sounded and the reinforced steel door opened to reveal a crying little girl huddled in the corner of a dark room. It was a sight that tore at the heart of the Wolverine. But as soon as Rachel's saw him, she shot up and ran to her Godfather.

"Uncle Logan! Uncle Logan!" she cried as she ran up and hugged him tightly.

Not a lot of things could get Wolverine emotional, but hearing the cries of his Goddaughter as she cried into his shoulder was enough to strike a chord even with him.

"Shh...It's okay, kid. It's okay."

But that didn't stop Rachel's sobs. She just kept on crying.

"They...They were mean to me! They hit me and threw me in this dark and scary place. And it hurt! It really, really hurt!"

Logan saw only red as he heard these words. It was bad enough that they had captured his friends and family, but to strike a poor little girl, who just happened to be HIS Goddaughter, was more than he could take.

"And they took my mommy and daddy! They said they were going to do things to them! Please don't let them hurt mommy and daddy! Please!"

Logan could see that she was getting hysterical. After all, how many four year olds had to deal with something like this? As enraged as Logan was, he had to protect Rachel before moving on. And besides, he didn't want her seeing the things he was going to do to these pricks for messing with his friends and family.

"It's okay little Red. I promise you, I'll save your mommy and daddy. I'll find the people who were mean to you and I'll be much meaner to them. You have my word," he said softly, "But until then, I'm gonna have to ask you to stay behind. It's too dangerous."

"But Mommy and daddy..." she began, still sobbing heavily.

"You'll see them again. I promise," said Logan as he picked her up and took her to another room across the hall, "Now I want ya to stay in here, hide, and not make a single sound. Can ya do that?"

Rachel was still very much traumatized by what was going on, but she nodded none the less, an act that hardly surprised Logan, given who her parents were.

"Okay, now just stay put and hide. I'm gonna go get your mommy and daddy."

As he turned to leave her, he did a quick check of the hall in order to make sure that nobody was coming. Once he was satisfied, he renewed his search. The lights were still flickering and the guards were becoming more scattered. He knew he was close and he wasn't about to let it go any further. He made Rachel a promise and he was going to keep it.

But unknown to Logan, Rachel Summers wasn't about to just hide in the shadows while her mommy and daddy were in trouble. And since both her parents had been known for their innate stubbornness, part of it resided strongly with her. She needed to find her mommy and daddy. She didn't care if she disobeyed what her Uncle Logan had told her. Mommy and Daddy needed her and she wasn't going to let them down.

"Mommy...Daddy...I'm coming!"

**************************************************

Back in the chamber, the activity was nearing its peak as the chanting intensified and the light show continued. Selene, being the expert mystic, guided them along as her screeching voice echoed through the vast halls. The more she chanted, the more the M'krann crystal seemed to react. Beams of light shot out from all sides and collected atop the opening of the dome, creating a whirlwind of golden yellow flames.

Jean's movements were becoming more erratic. Her pained cries echoed throughout the area. Nobody was affected more by this than Scott, who kept trying to reach out to her through their link, but the collars and the spell made that all but impossible. He couldn't bear to see his wife suffer like this. This was the woman he loved and the mother to his little girl. He didn't want to lose her...Not now, not ever.

"Jean..." he said, feeling completely powerless at this point.

Then suddenly, from the dome above, a deafening cry shot through the whirlwind of flame and began to take on a life of its own.

"YES!" said Selene as she raised her hands up while the rest of the Inner Circle continued to chant, "From the depths of the eternal void...From the nexus of all realities...I call upon the holy force of creation and destruction! Child of light and darkness...I command thee! Embrace the power of the Phoenix! Bird of the holiest of flames! I command thee! Embrace your mortal vessel! And from the ashes...ARISE!"

"ARISE!" the rest of the Inner Circle repeated.

From this single command, a figure took shape in the fires above. It was unmistakable, matching everything from their darkest of nightmares. The immortal bird of mythology and lore, flying right over them.

"Mien Gott!" gasped Kurt as he and the others were forced to shield their eyes from the intense brightness.

"No...It's happening. It's really happening," said the Professor in despair.

"JEAN!" yelled Scott, unable to take his eyes off the scene unfolding before him.

Then, with a pained cry, the fiery bird descended towards the center of the circle where at long last, its mortal vessel was waiting for it. Untold eons of waiting were coming to ahead. At long last, it would find the being that would bring it the peace it so sorely craved.

"Jean Grey. Come! Embrace me!"

In the depths of Jean's mind, she could feel herself flying through the empty void, struggling to get away from this overwhelming force. She could see the fires chasing her and she kept trying to shield herself from it. But it just kept coming. It was overtaking her on every level of her being.

"NOOO!" she gasped, not wanting to let it end like this.

But it was too late. As much as she fought it, there was still a part of her that embraced it. And with no more strength to resist it, the fires of the Phoenix finally consumed its mortal vessel.

"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"

Jean's pained cries burned a hole in the souls of all those close to her. For Scott, tears formed in his eyes as he saw the blinding light consume his wife. He couldn't believe this was happening. After all this time and all these warning that could have been heeded, it was over. The Phoenix had his wife.

"YES! Embrace the power! EMBRACE THE FULL UNABATED POWER OF YOUR DESTINY!" yelled Selene over the burning noise.

Suddenly, a shockwave shot through the whole room, nearly knocking everybody off their feet with the exception of Shaw and Selene. The heavy shackles that had bound the young woman snapped like twigs as a new figure emerged from the blinding light.

"No...Jean! Come on! You can fight it! Please! Don't let it take you over!" yelled Scott into the fiery swarm.

Yet despite his pleas, the figure that had once been his wife was no longer there to respond. Instead, there was something much more horrifying. And it arose in the midst of a booming voice.

"At long last! The child of light and darkness has fulfilled its destiny! Now, there is no more of the woman there once was! I am fire made flesh! I am life incarnate! I AM PHOENIX!"

**************************************************

JUST REVIEW ALREADY! PLEASE! I'M BARELY LIVING AS IT IS!
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