Categories > Comics > X-Men > Phoenix Destiny0 Reviews
The power of the Phoenix is shaken to it's core and Jean Grey must face all her old demons or the universe itself will burn to ashes in cosmic flame.
Chapter 3: Answers
Ascending through the tunnel, Jean Grey-Summers followed the mutant warrior known as Slayer to wherever it was he was leading her. He said he knew someone who could give them some answers, or at least point them in the right direction. And while she was uncertain who he was talking about, it was as good a place to start as any.
She was still the White Phoenix, and despite all her power she was lost. She should have fallen apart back in the White Hot Room, but Jack got her out before she faced the same fate as the rest of the Phoenix Corp. The stability of her power was still in question, but as long as she held herself together, she was going to fight this.
Taking Jack's hand, the two beings drew closer to the light. Soon, it was completely surrounding them. But just before it completely overtook them, Jack diverged from their path and descended to their destination.
"Where are we, Jack?" she asked, looking around at the blinding light.
"You'll see," he said mysteriously, "Just give it a moment."
Slowly, the light began to fade and before her eyes, an enchanted world formed.
They now stood atop a massive plateau surrounded by lush field under a perfect, star filled sky. Gentle breezes filled with cherry blossoms swept across the field, giving it a profound sense of peace. And at the center of it all was a huge temple that looked like a cross between a monastery and a shrine.
It was a beautiful sight for Jean. It had been a long time since she had been in a place that felt so peaceful. And even as a cosmic entity, she couldn't help but be taken by this serene world.
"Amazing," she said with a look of awe, "What is this place?"
"A place between life and death," explained the mutant warrior, "A place where the spirits of great warriors gather. Neither Heaven nor Hell, it is a place of peace for those who have dedicated their lives to endless battle."
Standing atop a massive flight of stairs, Jean couldn't help but be entranced. With her infinite Phoenix powers, she could feel the radiant aura of this holy place. And naturally, it drew her tortured soul in.
"Come...it's high time we get some answers," he said, leading her in.
Stepping into the grand structure, Jean was awed by this imposing temple. She could sense many spirits here, but they were all at peace. Yet there was also a sense of immense power, as if the spirits still bore the heart of a warrior. It was strange for a place filled with death, but that made it all the more intriguing.
"What is this? Some kind of shrine?" inquired Jean.
"Not exactly," said Jack, "A shrine is just a place. This is more a realm of sorts. And this temple, which we call the Temple of Great Warriors, is the center of that realm. Sort of like the White Hot Room within the M'krann crystal."
"I see," she said, taking in the large decorated pillars that supported the massive structure, "So this is where warriors go when they fall. But how did you get us here? Don't we have to be dead to come here?"
"It's...a bit more complicated than that," said Jack awkwardly, "I'm not too good at explaining these sorts of things. I'll leave that to Yoshinto."
Walking through the main entrance, Jean and Slayer made their way through the great hall. Everywhere, there were stained glass images and marble mosaics on the floors of warriors fighting epic battles. There were also statues of epic figures from all over the universe, standing tall and proud of the path they had chosen.
It was a structure worthy of titans. It made them feel like insects. But Jack wasn't too taken by the grandeur. It was almost as if he had seen them before.
Together, they navigated through the wide open areas until they were at the core chamber. There, two massive doors guarded the interior, each of which bore a symbol similar to the ones Jack had on his hands. And as they approached, they started to glow.
"Ah, looks like he's expecting us," said Jack.
"He is?" said Jean with a surprised look.
"Yep, although I can't say I'm surprised," he shrugged, "Come on, best not to keep my mentor waiting."
Jean was about to ask about the mentor comment when suddenly, the doors opened by an invisible force. Taking a step back, the room before them was littered with candles and incense. On the far side of the wall, there was a large column of white light which pulsated with a gentle glow, enriched by the spirits of fallen warriors.
And before this light, a large figure sat motionless in meditation. He bore elaborate armor that covered his form from head to toe, all of which was covered with mystical imagery. He was also very tall, towering at nearly nine feet and appeared heavily muscled.
His face was obscured as Slayer and Jean approached him, shrouded by a samurai hat. The gentle sound of his soft chanting filled the room with heavenly echoes of peace, yet at the same time there was a strong aura of power in this being, almost as if he was less a being and more an entity.
"I have been expecting you, Jack," said Yoshinto in a calm tone.
With a humble poise, Slayer respectfully bowed to his mentor.
"I know," he replied, "It's been a while, master."
Getting up from his sitting position, Yoshinto stepped down from the shrine and approached the mutant warrior. Jean didn't know what was going on, but she didn't say a word as she watched these events transpire.
"Your battles as of lately have been trying, have they not?" he said.
"Yes master," said Slayer, still bowing, "And now things have become grown very complicated and your help is needed."
"I never offer help, my pupil. That you should know," said Yoshinto indifferently, "But I do offer guidance. And it seems as though you have lost your way."
Yoshinto then bowed to Slayer, prompting him to rise to his feet. He then turned to Jean, who wasn't sure what to make of this being. She couldn't be sure of his expression, for it was covered in a golden mask. Yet as she felt his gaze upon her, a strange sense of calm fell over her.
"The White Phoenix," said Yoshinto, standing respectfully before the cosmic entity, "This is quite an honor."
"Thank you," she said, bowing in the same manner as Jack had.
"Please, there is no need for such formality. I know who you are and I know why you're here. But first, allow me to introduce myself. I am Yoshinto, the collective embodiment of the warrior spirit, past and present alike. And this is the Temple of Great Warriors, center of the realm for all those who have fallen in their path to uphold the warrior spirit."
"Yoshinto..." said Jean, taken by his calm voice.
Suddenly, her Phoenix arose from its silence.
"Yes, I remember you. I felt your presence as I passed from the mortal world to the White Hot Room."
"As did I, Phoenix," said Yoshinto, "As did many other holy entities. Only your passing was not a peaceful one, was it not?"
Jean cringed at the memory, flashing back to the moment she first sacrificed herself on the moon, unable to accept what she was becoming.
"And even after that passing and others proceeding it, you are not complete. Is that so?" he went on.
More memories of the other times she died as Jean Grey only to be reborn as the Phoenix came rushing back to her, from the moment she died in Scott's arms at the hands of Xorn to her forced resurrection at the hands of the Shi'ar. They were all so painful in their own regard and Yoshinto clearly saw this as he approached her.
"I...I don't think I've ever been complete," she said with a strained tone.
"I thought we were. By merging Jean Grey and Phoenix as one, my destiny was fulfilled and my being was whole."
"Yet you are still not at peace?"
Jean took a moment to contemplate that. Looking at herself and everything she had been through, she wondered if she truly was whole. After coming out of her grave and reuniting with the Phoenix, did that bring her peace? Did that grant her what she desired most?
There was a lot to think about, but the answer was clear.
"No. I'm not."
Turning around, Yoshinto walked back to his shrine. Now Jean was even more confused. She was supposed to be Phoenix, a force of creation and destruction. She wasn't supposed to be this frustrated. She had the power to destroy and remake the universe. So why did she feel so distraught?
"Look, could you just tell me why I'm here!" she demanded, "I...I'm sick of this! I've been struggling with this power for so long! I can't take it anymore! Jean Grey is supposed to be dead, but I'm still her and the Phoenix is still a part of me! Isn't there anything you can do to help?!"
"Help is not something I can give, Phoenix. You are the cosmic power here. It is you who must help yourself," said Yoshinto indifferently.
"But I've tried that! I've tried for years! But I just can't control it! And it's cost me everything! My life, my family, my husband...EVERYTHING!"
"Easy Jean," said Slayer, stepping in to calm her down, "Losing your cool here isn't going to help."
With Slayer's comforting hands on her shoulders, Jean took a few deep breaths and calmed herself. This conflict had been haunting her for so long. It had destroyed so many things in her life. Yet all Yoshinto could do was stand there stoically.
"Your heart is heavy with burden, Jean Grey-Summers" said the warrior entity, "Clearly, the heights of unlimited power have yet to silence the connection you feel to your life."
"I know...I know," sighed Jean, tears forming in her eyes, "I gave up my life for the good of the universe. I sacrificed everything because I couldn't control myself."
"Control? Is that what you think this is all about?" questioned Yoshinto, "Did you die all those times because you couldn't control the power that was growing inside you?"
"Well..." she began.
"No, this is not about control," said Yoshinto firmly, "This is about something much more...connection."
"Yes...connection to that which Jean Grey treasured and connection to that which made the Phoenix powerful. Control is only a matter of managing that connection. And so far, you have done poorly in that regard."
Jean hung her head low upon hearing that. As much as she hated to hear it, she knew it was true. But Yoshinto was just beginning to scratch the surface.
"You've known it since the day you were born. You, Jean Grey, are connected to the Phoenix. But as a human being, you failed to comprehend the power that you are a part of. And ironically, the Phoenix also failed to comprehend that which it is a part of."
Jack took a step back upon hearing this, but Yoshinto persisted.
"Indeed, and quite miserably so. Jean couldn't handle the power of the Phoenix and the Phoenix couldn't handle the sensations of a mortal. Naturally, you fought to control them when in reality, they were controlling you. The sorrow you experienced, the loss you felt, and the chaos that consumes you...it was all your fault because you failed to understand the truth."
"The truth? What truth?" asked Jean, growing more confused.
Yoshinto let out a deep sigh. Sitting down before the shrine, he began meditating as he explained what only a being of peace would know.
"I'm afraid that's the problem with beings such as you, Phoenix," he said callously, "Because of the power you wield, truth is a fallible concept. Slayer will tell you as well as I that there is never such a thing as absolute truth. But a being of your power has the ability to shape the truth as you perceive it. In other words, if you believe it to be the truth, then that is how it's going to be."
Jean was growing frustrated with these mind games, but she did understand what he was trying to say. However, it still didn't help her situation.
"So what's truth got to with all this?"
"It has everything to do with this and then some," retorted Yoshinto, "You and Jean believe that you are one. You believe you've always been one. But the problem is there's no way to be sure because as long as you both feel that way, then your state will not change."
"But that's how it's always been," argued Jean, "Ever since the Phoenix and I touched, we've been coming together in every way. I resisted it, but in the end I had to accept it. It was the only way for me to be whole."
"Or so you thought," quipped Yoshinto, "Perhaps it is, perhaps it isn't. But let me just ask you one thing...are you happy?"
Jean looked back at the warrior entity with a confused expression.
"Am I happy?"
"Surly you jest."
"I never jest," said Yoshinto in a low tone, "Just answer me...are you happy in this state? Does being one with Phoenix and Jean Grey grant you peace? It's a simple question, but it answers almost everything concerning this matter."
It was an alien concept to a being of destruction and creation. But as a part of Jean Grey, there was no avoiding these conscious thoughts. For so long now, these feelings had been a source of great conflict in the both of them. Only now were they actually being forced to confront it. And as powerful as they were, they couldn't avoid the truth.
"No," she said sadly, "I'm not."
"And because of that, can you say this is the way you want to be for eternity?"
This time, she didn't even have to contemplate it.
"No. I can't," she said, her voice further strained, "I miss my life. I miss my friends. I died on all of them because I just couldn't handle this! I just...I don't know what more I can do. After everything I've endured, what else is left?!"
Raising his hands to the column of light, Yoshinto responded as casually as ever.
"I think you already know that, Jean."
"What do you mean?!" she demanded.
"That, I cannot tell you."
"Because I do not know."
Jean calmed herself down once more with Slayer staying close just in case. But it was at this point where she was finally beginning to understand what Yoshinto was trying to do.
"Look into your heart, Jean Grey," he told her, "Look at everything you've lost and gained. Is this the way you want everything to be? Is this how you want your story and that of your loved ones to end?"
Jean's thoughts drifted back to her friends back home. At this moment, they were living life without her, facing great challenges that she couldn't help them with. Friends and family like Rachel, Logan, and Scott were all still hurt by her death. And there was nothing she could do to take away their pain.
Her thoughts then drifted back to her husband and how she lost him. Now, he was in the loving arms of her rival, Emma Frost. She had to push him to be with her. She had to make him love her so he wouldn't just keel over and die. Yet even if he was happy, it tore at her heart.
It was then she finally began to come to terms with what was she had done.
"All my life, I've only wanted to protect my friends and family from what I was becoming," she said, choking on her own voice, "I...I let this power consume me. I hurt my loved ones whenever I died. Others suffered because I couldn't handle myself. And worst of all, I drove my own husband away because of what I was becoming."
Slayer took her hand as she started crying tears of sorrow. It was so painful, yet so profound to finally let it out.
"I thought I was doing the right thing...sacrificing everything so everybody would be live on and be happy. I drove Scott into the arms of another woman. I pushed my friends away when I needed them most. And I thought by pushing them to live on, everything would work out. But it just keeps hurting!"
"And it will continue to hurt, Jean," said Yoshinto strongly, "It will continue to hurt as long as you pursue this path, trying to control that which cannot be controlled. The Phoenix needs Jean and Jean needs the Phoenix. And until you understand that, you will never be at peace."
His words were harsh, but true nonetheless. She couldn't go on like this. It only led to more suffering and heartache. She was tired of this endless cycle of tragedy. She didn't want to accept it, she wanted to change it. And with that resolve, she swallowed her anguish and found a new sense of determination.
"You are a very powerful being," he went on, "Yet power is chaos unless there is balance. As an immortal entity, I understand your torment."
"You don't understand anything!" she said angrily.
"But I do," retorted Yoshinto, "Like you, I sought a mortal avatar to reassert my balance when I felt world become too obscured. Like you, I reached out to a special being that embodied everything I sought. Yet I did not become that being. I merely connected with it. And together, we seek peace on our own terms."
"You lie! If you have an avatar too, then where is he?!" she demanded.
"You're standing right next to him," grinned Slayer.
Jean froze as she turned to the mutant warrior. She was about to scoff at such a notion, but looking into those enigmatic eyes of his, she knew it was true. She could feel it in his aura, the connection he had with Yoshinto. It was unlike anything she had sensed before. They walked side by side, yet they were so closely bound.
"You...but how?" she said in disbelief.
"Come on, you didn't think all those skills and abilities were completely mortal, did you? And besides, how else would I be able to take you to this place?"
Slayer may have been crass, but he got his point across. Looking at him and then at Yoshinto again, it finally became clear to her. This whole concept of connection and truth wasn't just some babble he spewed off, it was something he and Slayer experienced.
And from this, Jean was finally starting to understand the chaos that had consumed her.
"I...I understand. I see it clearly, now," she said with strong affirmation, "All this time, I've been seeking out my destiny. I thought I knew what I had to do. But I was wrong, wasn't I?"
"Try not to think of it in terms of right and wrong," said Yoshinto calmly, "You have simply diverged from your path. And part of being strong is finding it again when you've diverged from it for so long."
"Yes, and I assure you I'll find it again!" she said in a determined tone.
"Then you know what you have to do."
"Yes...I must go back to where I left a part of myself behind. I have to rebuild myself before it's too late!"
"Does that mean what I think it means?" said Slayer with a knowing look.
Turning to the mutant warrior, the beautiful redheaded woman actually smiled.
"Don't tell me you're surprised, Jack? After all, I am the Phoenix. Rebirth is kind of my thing."
Jack couldn't help but smile as well. She was finally coming to terms with who she was. It may have taken a while and a few deaths along the way, but she knew what she had to do now and nothing was going to stop her now.
"You do realize that returning to your world would be very dangerous," warned Yoshinto.
"It always is," sighed Jean, "But I have to go back. I have to fix everything before it all falls apart. The White Hot Room is torn, the M'krann Crystal is cracked, and I've left my friends behind one time too many!"
"In that case, you won't be alone," said Slayer with a determined gesture, "I'll help you every step of the way."
"All for a pretty girl?" joked Jean.
"Well that...and for the honor of fighting beside a fellow immortal embodiment."
Jack and Jean smiled as they took one another's hand in a show of solidarity. With this new resolve, the two beings were more determined then ever. And Yoshinto knew the rest was out of his hands.
"Thank you, Yoshinto. Thank you for showing me my path."
"I only gave you the knowledge, Jean. It is up to you to use it."
Her body flaring up with the heat of the Phoenix, Jean cast the warrior spirit one last smile.
Her heart pounded in her chest as the weight of the universe once again rested on her shoulders. All of reality was at stake. But with her new understanding, she had what she needed to rebuild what had been shattered.
Taking her hand, they symbols on Jack's hand began to glow as the area around them began to fade into nothingness. He may have just met this being, but he was honor bound to see this through to the end.
"Are you ready, Jean?" he asked her, preparing for the next fateful step.
"I'm ready, Jack," she said, grasping his hand tightly.
"Then go," said Yoshinto, "Just remember that even when all hope is lost, your greatest strength is remembering who you are."
Yoshinto's words echoed through the realm as Jean and Slayer faded back into the void, the path before them finally clear.
"I've got a lot to make up for, Jack," said Jean, mentally preparing herself for the challenge.
"I know. But you'll pull through," said Jack, giving her hand a firm squeeze, "There's a lot worth fighting for out there, even for a guy like me who has nothing. But I promise you on my honor, we'll fight this battle together."
"Yes...together," said Jean strongly.
"Now come. Focus your power with mine and hold on. It's high time I am reborn."
Using their collective power to open up a gateway in the rift, Jack Robinson and Jean Grey descended into the light filled void. Their greatest challenge awaited. And they would find it in the world they called home.
In the warm waters of Jamaica Bay, hot bubbles rose to the surface in an ominous sign of activity. But not as soul was present for this mysterious event. Only the still waters bore witness under the warm light of the rising sun. Soon, the bubbles soon grew larger and a fiery light formed just beneath the surface.
Then, in a moment of dazzling creation, two beings broke the surface and gasped for the sweet air of their home world.
"Ugh!" choked Slayer as he arose from the waters carrying the body of Jean Grey in his arms, "Oh man that sucked!"
Coughing up a load of seawater, he kicked towards a nearby shore. The harsh saltwater wrought havoc on his skin and armor, but as soon as he reached the sandy shores he fell to his knees in a fit of exhaustion.
"We're here, Jean...we're here," he gasped as he laid her out on the sand.
But much to his horror, her appearance had changed. She was no longer wearing the white and golden outfit of her White Phoenix self. Instead, she bore the ominous red outfit that was distinctive of the malevolent Dark Phoenix.
Knowing this was bad, Jack pulled himself together and acted swiftly.
"Oh shit. Hang in there, Jean! I'm with you!" he said, picking her unconscious form up in his arms, "Just hold it together! You have to remember! And I know just where to go to help you find what you've been missing."
His all seeing eye glowing bright yellow, Slayer disappeared with the unmoving redhead in his arms, knowing they would have to act fast if they were to save all of reality. And the first step resided in a humble place known as the Xavier Institute.
It was a quiet morning at the Xavier Institute. The sun was just rising over the horizon and many of the residents were still asleep. In wake of House of M and the whole Danger ordeal, everybody had been restless. But they all needed sleep, even those who disliked the nightmares it brought them.
But down in the lower levels, there were two restless souls who had yet to give in to their need for sleep. It was Scott Summers and Hank McCoy, two people who defined themselves by overcoming their limits when it came to rest.
But even when they were fully alert, their restlessness showed. And for Scott, it was painfully apparent in his dark mood.
"Are you finished yet?" asked Hank as he looked over some of his experiments.
"Almost," said Scott in a monotone voice.
"You said that three hours ago."
"I know. But rebuilding circuitry for the Danger Room isn't an exact science," he quipped, closing one of the main console panels.
"I understand," retorted Hank, "Probably better than you. But I thought I was the one who lived down here. Why are you upstairs handling the others and spending some quality time with your lady love?"
Scott didn't respond to that at first. He never responded directly when someone asked him about his relationship with Emma. Ever since the whole Danger ordeal, they had been distant. And after M-day, it was even more so.
They had been arguing about everything lately. From X23 to the Professor, there was no shortage of tension in their relationship. Sure, there was still love there, but it had always been under a lot of strain. And aside from Logan, commenting on it was sort of taboo.
"I'm out of here, Hank," he said, not answering his question, "Are you coming up?"
"Answer my question and I just may."
"In that case, see you later."
Ascending to the upper levels, Scott crossed Piotr and Wolverine. Both still looked tired and Piotr was still in his sleeping attire. But neither seemed surprised by Scott's appearance.
"Up all night again, Cyke?" grunted Logan.
"Not all night," he said, following them to the kitchen where Kitty, Kurt, and Rachel were already eating.
"Sure," said Logan, unconvinced, "Where's Frosty?"
"Upstairs," he said callously as he grabbed an apple.
"Have another fight or something?" said Kitty, rolling her eyes.
"Don't start, Kitty."
That earned him a growl from Logan, but he couldn't care less. Frankly, Logan liked him better when his growls got a reaction. But lately, Scott had been stone cold.
"You're going to give my metal form a run for its money, comrade," commented Piotr, "Is anything bothering you?"
"Anything more than usual?" added Wolverine.
"Will you guys give it a rest?" sighed Scott, "We're all a little tense...some more than others."
"Whatever Scott," said Rachel, unconvinced of her father's reasons, "Just keep saying it and maybe we'll get board. But that doesn't mean we won't believe you."
Scott didn't need this. His mood was bad enough. He hated it that his own daughter called him by his first name, even if she was from an alternate universe. He was still her dad. And he didn't need any more disrespect.
"You really need to lighten up, Cyke," made Logan as he got some coffee, "I don't know how Frosty puts up with ya. Must have a thing for stiffs."
"Logan, I'm serious!" said Scott, getting more irked, "Don't push me or I'll..."
Suddenly, he was cut off in mid sentence by a frantic knock at the door. And with sentinels surrounding the school, that was very rare nowadays. So naturally, the team's curiosity was peaked.
"Who the hell could that be?" wondered Kitty, "I thought the giant robots in our front yard scared everybody away."
"I don't know," growled Logan suspiciously, "Maybe they need somethin' scarier."
"Easy Logan, let's just check it out," said Scott, trying to be the level headed one.
Emma joined them from the stairs as they all gathered in the foyer.
"What's going on?" she asked, joining up with the rest of the team.
"That's what we're going to find out," said Scott, not making eye contact with his girlfriend, "The only visitors we usually get are from the Government."
"Or punks who want to pick a fight," added Logan.
"Well for the sake of being civil, Logan, I think we should..."
Suddenly, Scott was cut off as the door was abruptly kicked down. The whole team took a defensive stance in response, but as soon as they saw who was standing outside the door and who he had in his arms, they all gasped in shock.
"No..." gasped Scott, "It's not possible!"
"Who...who are you?!" demanded Logan, drawing his claws as he saw an armor clad stranger holding his Jeannie.
Slayer was not one for warm welcomes, but he couldn't care less. Still dripping with water from Jamaica Bay, he had plenty of other concerns, not to mention a promise to keep.
"Sorry about the door, X-men," he said, holding Jean securely in his arms, "But I need your help. Ya got a minute?"
JEAN'S BACK! STAY TUNED TO SEE THE TENSION BUILD AND DON'T FORGET TO REVIEW!