Categories > Comics > X-Men > Phoenix Destiny

The Truth Hurts

by slickboy444 0 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.

Category: X-Men - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama - Characters: Beast, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Wolverine - Warnings: [!] - Published: 2006-11-04 - Updated: 2006-11-05 - 5242 words

Phoenix Destiny
Chapter 4: The Truth Hurts


After a tense entrance that nearly broke out into a full blown battle, Slayer and the X-men gathered in Hank's lab in the sub-levels. Luckily, Hank still had the old working prototype of the Phoenix egg they used last time Jean came back. It didn't have all the kinks worked out, but it would have to do.

With Jean resting unconscious inside, the interrogation began. Naturally, they weren't too trusting of Jack. He was a total stranger who just happened to show up at their door carrying someone who was supposed to be dead. But he didn't flinch, even when Logan threatened him.

For the next hour, he told them the whole story about how he ended up in the White Hot Room and met up with Jean. Even for the X-men, it sounded far fetched. But with the volatile Dark Phoenix in their midst, it was hard to doubt him.

"So let me get this straight, bub," growled Logan, still not trusting this guy, "You just happened to fall into some void that led ya to the White Hot Room where ya shacked up with Jeannie just in time for some crazy rift."

"Of which you are unable to explain," added Hank.

"Right," continued Logan, not helping with his suspicions, "So ya grabbed her, took her to some crazy place in the afterlife, and decided to drop in for a visit. Am I on the right track?"

"I would say so," shrugged Jack, "But could you put the claws away? I told you, I'm not here to fight."

"I'll believe that when I'm convinced," said Emma coldly, "And frankly, I'm not liking all the mental shielding you've got over your mind. It gives off the impression that you have something to hide."

Jack was getting a headache from all this. Sure, his story was far fetched, but he needed them to believe him if they were going to stop this. And he couldn't afford to waste time with the stakes so high.

"Look, you all don't trust me. That part I get," he said in a frustrated tone, "But in case you've forgotten, we've got Dark Phoenix here with us! Isn't that proof enough?"

"Shut up!" yelled Rachel, the symbol of the Phoenix eye flashing on her face, "You barge in here with my dead mom and expect us to believe whatever you say?"

"Funny, I thought you'd invite me in for milk and cookies for bringing you're mom back," said Slayer snidely.

"Why you..." yelled the angry redhead.

"Wow there! Easy Rachel!" said Kitty, trying to hold her back with Piotr.

Slayer may have been used to people wanting to kill him, but emotions were running high. He could see that a lot of people loved Jean, but she was supposed to be gone. They had all accepted that and moved on. And having her back was a major shock.

"You're definitely your mother's daughter, girl," said Slayer with a humored grin, "Only someone with Jean's flare can get that worked up."

Suddenly, Scott finally stepped in.

"That's not Jean," he said, standing over the egg with an emotionless expression.

"Huh? Are you high or something, Cyke?" exclaimed Logan.

"No. It's the truth," said Scott, turning to his friends with the same blank stare.

His tone left no room for argument. Having been closest to Jean, it was only natural that this would hit him hard. But whatever emotions he was feeling were being firmly suppressed. He had been down this road before. He knew where it would end. And he wasn't going to walk that path again.

"I know Jean better than anybody," he said strongly, "I shared a psychic link with her. But that link disappeared when she died in my arms. And she's still dead. What we've got here is just a shell."

"Right, a shell that just happens to be parading around as your dead wife," said Logan skeptically.

"He's right, comrade," said Piotr, "I know you've accepted she's dead. We all have. But she said it herself. She's always Phoenix. She's always Jean."

"Be that as it may, there's nothing of the woman I loved in there," he said in a low tone, "That part of her faded when she merged with the Phoenix last time. You were all there. You saw it."

"So then what do we have now?" asked Emma, gazing coldly at the egg-like structure that contained her rival, "Because Jean or no Jean, that's Dark Phoenix in there. And once it wakes up, it'll destroy us all!"

"No shit, Emma," retorted Kitty snidely, "So what do you suggest we do about it?"

A heavy silence fell upon the sterile room. The tension in the air was thick as they were reminded of the destructive power they were facing. The Phoenix was a dangerous force to be reckoned with. Five billion souls had already perished because of her. And the threat of more destruction grew with every time they confronted it.

Suddenly, the silence was broken by a most unexpected noise. It was laughter, real honest laughter at a time when so much was on the line. And it was coming from Slayer, the one they trusted the least.

"What's so funny, bub?" growled Logan, annoyed by this man's reaction.

But Slayer just rubbed his temples and kept laughing.

"What's so funny?!" demanded Rachel, wanting to fry him on the spot.

"I'm sorry. I just can't help it!" said Slayer, shaking his head in amusement.

"Knock it off, samurai!" yelled Emma, "You're really starting to..."

"Oh can it, blondie!" said Slayer, despite her angry look, "You guys think you know the Phoenix? You guys have dealt with this thing more than anybody! Yet you're still this clueless?!"

"Oh, and you think you know it any better?" said Scott angrily.

"Well we do have a few things in common that gives me a pretty good idea," he said ominously.

"Huh?" said Piotr with a puzzled look, "Now you're just talking crazy."

"If only I had a nickel for every time I heard that," sighed Jack, "But believe me, I know more than you think. And I know how much Jean wants to find peace."

"So if we're all so ignorant, why did you bring her here?" said Kitty with sarcastic look.

"Because this is where her friends are," answered the mutant warrior, "Where else would I bring her?"

His reasoning was obvious, but to some it still didn't make any sense.

"But why is she back again?" said Scott with a confused look, "We already went through this. Phoenix came back, resurrected Jean's body, and merged with her. From there, she went to the White Hot Room and that was that."

"Yeah, that's what she thought too," replied Slayer, "But it turns out both of you were wrong."

This only confused them more. And for Emma, enough was enough.

"Alright, that's it! No more fancy talk, warrior boy!" she yelled, "I don't care who you are or what you know, but you've brought back something capable of killing us all in an instant! And if you don't start giving us some answers now, I'll..."

"You'll what?" scoffed Slayer, eyeing the blonde psychic without fear, "You'll mind rape me for the info? Don't bother. My shields can't be broken. And besides, my head is not a pleasant place."

"I don't care!" retorted Emma, "You don't scare me, Slayer! Now you better stop talking in riddles and start giving us some answers!"

"Emma..." said Scott, trying to calm his girlfriend down.

"Lay off, Scott! Either he talks were we make him!"

"Hate to say this, but I agree," growled Logan, still itching to teach this guy a lesson for messing with his Jeannie.

Slayer rolled his eyes at their aggressive stance. He had been hoping that Jean's friends would be more understanding, but so far he was just being put on the spot. And like it or not, he had to work with them if they were going to save Jean.

"Have you guys listened to a word I've said?" he groaned, "I don't know how to handle this any more than you do. If I had the answers, you think Jean would still be Dark Phoenix? You think I'd still come here and take this shit?"

"Then why are you here?" said Scott sternly, "Why are you so interested in my wife?"

"Because...I made her a promise," said Slayer strongly, "And I intend to keep it."

That silenced the room, but Scott continued to stare down the mutant warrior. Even if Jean was dead, this concerned his wife. And he never took that lightly.

But in looking at Jack's stern expression, Scott could see that he meant what he said. Stranger or not, he was every bit as dedicated as the rest of them. Otherwise he never would have come a million miles of Dark Phoenix. But he was here now and he was their only lead on this enigma.

"Okay, say I believe you," said Scott more seriously, "How do you propose we deal with this mess before Dark Phoenix destroys us all? You said she wants to find her missing pieces. But if they're here, why is she still like this?"

"That's just it. I don't know," said Slayer with a sigh, "I've been trying to wrap my head around it from every conceivable angle, but it just doesn't make sense."

"What do you mean?" inquired Hank.

"I mean there's gotta be something responsible for all this chaos...something that's been tearing her apart."

"But what could she be missing? She's supposed to have all the power in the universe," made Piotr.

"Try not to think of it in terms of power," said Jack, pacing about as he racked his brain for answers, "We're talking about something more abstract here."

"Abstract? What the hell are you getting at, bub?" growled Logan, not understanding.

Jack didn't know how to explain it. Being an immortal incarnation himself, it wasn't easy explaining these sensations. But they held the answers they were looking for so he kept on probing.

"This is not about power, X-men," he stated firmly, "This is about truth."

"Truth?" said Rachel, growing more curious, "What truth?"

"I'm not sure," said Jack, rubbing his temples, "Just because my eye can see everything doesn't mean I can understand it."

"Great, so what do we do?" groaned Kitty.

"We look at the facts," said Scott strongly, "First and foremost, why is Jean so unbalanced?"

"That's easy," said Logan, "Xorn killed her."

"But what about before that?" inquired Emma, "She had been growing unstable for a long time."

"Yeah, and it killed her more than once," said Hank, "Quite a brutal cycle if I do say so."

Suddenly, Jack had a brainstorm. It hit him like a ton of bricks. He should have seen it sooner, but he wasn't looking at it the right way. All this talk about truth had made him forget one of the most fundamental attributes of the Phoenix.

"Cycle..." said the mutant warrior with an intrigued look, "The cycle of death and rebirth! That's it!"

"Huh? What is?" said Scott, a hint of anxiety in his tone.

"Don't you see?" said Slayer as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, "Ask yourself, why does Jean keep coming back?"

"That's easy. She's the Phoenix," stated Logan.

"Exactly! And part of the Phoenix's greatest power is its ability to be reborn! It's supposed to be purified with each death, but that's not happening! It stays linked to Jean!"

"So it just keeps becoming corrupt again," said Hank who was beginning to understand, "I see. But that doesn't address why she keeps losing control."

From here, Jack had the knowledge from Yoshinto to go on. And with this, he began looking at this differently.

"Maybe it's not about control," said Jack, "Maybe that's only part of what's at work here. But what I want to know is why she lost control last time. She said something about sacrificing everything for the sake of her friends. I can't help but feel there was a very good reason why this instance required such a sacrifice."

With Jean's last death still fresh in their minds, it wasn't too hard to contemplate. For Logan, especially, it stuck out as if it just happened yesterday.

"You're right, bub," said Logan, "I remember how she was the day she died. She sure as hell wasn't stable. She was scared about everything that was happening to her. The X-men were falling apart, her marriage was falling apart, and she was falling apart."

Scott cringed at those words. Despite moving on, he still thought about it every day. And no matter what he did, he couldn't forget how he had failed her.

"I know," he sighed in defeat, his voice choked with emotion, "I could feel it too. That was the last thing I felt through our link. Everything that once gave us strength was fading. I was a mess and she was pushing everybody away."

"Don't blame yourself for it, darling," said Emma, attempting to comfort her boyfriend, "There was nothing you could have done. You were drifting apart."

Suddenly, Jack's eye flashed a bright red. His gaze was fixed on Emma Frost. Upon hearing her words, he saw something. He wasn't sure what it was, but his all seeing eye knew lies when they were presented to him.

"Wait a second..." he said as he ominously approached Emma, "Say that again."

"Huh? What are you..." she began.

"Say it again!" demanded Jack.

"Hey, back off, Slayer!" said Scott, stepping up to guard his girlfriend.

But Jack responded by grabbing his arm and throwing him aside as if he were a rag doll. This sudden show of strength caused Emma to stumble, but the mutant warrior caught her, fixing his penetrating gaze on her determined face.

"That's it! You've just crossed a line, bub!" growled Logan, ready to tear into him.

"Wait!" exclaimed Slayer, "I think I just found the missing piece to the puzzel."

Emma didn't like the way he was looking at her. Had he seen something? Did he know her secret? She tried not to panic, but this man had a strong hold on her.

"You're crazy! You've officially lost it, Slayer!" she exclaimed.

"Oh really?" said Kitty, still as suspicious as ever of Emma, "Please Mr. Slayer, enlighten us."

Looking into at her with his all seeing eye, he saw that Emma was struggling. She was hiding something deep within her subconscious...something big. And when Jack saw it, the mark on his eye turned bright yellow.

"You're resisting!" he said as she struggled, "What are you hiding? What are you..."

Then he had a vision.

"What do you want me to do, Scott? Pretend I don't feel your heart jump every time you think of Jean?" said Emma as she and her boyfriend had a heart to heart while searching through files on the so called cure.

"She's a part of me, Emma. Which you know."

"Yeah, yeah...she's a sacred cow. That woman was still no good for you."

Seeing something more just beneath the surface, Jack probed further.

Scott and Emma were lying in bed with a giant hole now in their roof. Out of nowhere, he had experienced a powerful mental flash. Images of Jean and the life he shared with her came streaming back, causing him to yell her name.

Emma picked up on it too, screaming out as well from the rush. But regardless, she was not pleased with what was going through her lover's mind.

"Okay...I'm sorry," said Scott.

"Sorry about what?" said Emma with a scorn.

"I'm sorry I had a dream about my dead wife that was so intense that I broke my glasses and trashed the place with my optic blasts in my sleep. How's that?"

It was the full, honest truth. But Emma knew it was only half the story.

"Your her jumps every time you think about her."

"Sure, because she was my wife. Because we never really got a chance to say goodbye," said Scott sadly, "Because the rediculou, apocalyptic, mind-blowing drama we went through year after year kind of sticks with you. But come on, Emma. You're a telepath. You know this already. And you know I chose you. So why are we fighting?"

Emma laid back in the bed and smiled.

"I just wanted to hear you say it," she said, sounding accomplished.

"Ah Emma," sighed Scott, pulling her into an embrace, "We're so screwed up."

"I know," she conceded.

"We ever gonna get better?"

Suddenly, Emma had an idea.

"I want to see your face, Scott. All of it."

Turning to diamond, she reached for his glasses. And naturally, he was hesitant.


"It's all right," she assured him, "I'm a diamond. You can't hurt me."

Opening his eyes, he unleashed his powers. But because of her tough outer shell, she was not hurt and she could see his beautiful face.

"You have beautiful eyes," she said, pulling him into a deep kiss.

Suddenly, Scott felt something.

"Something's wrong...You're cold...Like you're not even..."

"I know," she admitted, "I'm sorry. It was a nice idea, but in this form I just can't...feel it."

Putting his glasses back on, Emma thought of another idea.

"Try again?" she said, embracing him again, putting her powers to work.

'Is that your inside my head, Emma?' he sent via his thoughts.

'Yes. Do you mind?'

'No. Feels nice. But you're probably going to see some stuff that...oops.'

Suddenly, she got another flash of Jean. He was imagining that he was holding her instead of Emma.

'Sorry,' he sent her.

'It's all right. You can't help where your mind wanders.'

'You're the best, Emma,' sent Scott affectionately.

'Don't push it.'

'She did this once. Held back my optic beams with her powers...No, Emma. Don't..."

But Emma persisted.

'These are your thoughts, Scott, not mine.'

But Scott stills struggled.

'No, I don't want this. I don't...I want you.'

'Then why do you look so sad? And why are you only seeing me in my diamond form?'

'Oh Emma,' Scott sighed.

Leaving each others' minds, they got serious again.

"You only love me because I'm hard and cold and mean," she said, scorning him again.

"No..." said Scott in denial, but he wasn't fooling Emma.

"Yes. That's all you want, isn't it? A woman you can't hurt?"

"Emma..." he said, trying to break her words.

"You know at this point, Jean would be blowing a hole in the wall and flying away. But stick around. You bug me, drive me crazy. You're pushing me places I don't want to go, but I should...You're good for me, Emma Frsot. That's why I love you."

Emma relished in hearing those words. Even if he still thought of his dead wife, hearing them made her feel so warm inside. It gave her everything she wanted from him.

"Now you're going to make me cry," she said warmly.


"Kiss me again," she demanded.

However, before they could share another moment, Wolverine came barging in with an ominous message.

"She's back."

It was a clue. Jack could sense it. Then he saw something else.

"I didn't just see her, Scott. I smelled her. It's Jeannie, all right," said Logan as they all stood over a now open grave.

"Yeah, she was here. Alive," affirmed Hank, using his animal senses.

But Scott refused to believe it.


"What's going on, Miss Frost?" questioned Kitty Pryde, "A little mind control?"

"Call me Emma, Katherine. It's ever so much nicer between friends."

"Enough," said Scott sternly, "Jean and I were psychically linked, but that ended when she died. She's been on my mind, but not in my mind. You might be smelling her body, but she's not in it. She's dead."

But Logan remained unconvinced. He knew what he smelled and something ewas definitely amiss here.

"Or just protecting you..."

That was what Jack needed to see. From here, he saw what he had suspected.

"Why me?" said Emma, standing in the ruins of Genosha with the enigmatic Cassandra Nova.

"Because you're a predator, Emma. Because at the end of the day, you will do what's best for you," she said ominously.

"It's still sounds risky," said Emma, not liking her idea one bit, "Hellfire will be playing a dangerous game. Infiltrating the X-men and messing with the Phoenix is no small feat."

"Oh fear not, my queen," said Cassandra confidently, "You will have plenty of help from the shadows. We'll be behind you every step of the way. All you have to do is play your part. It'll all come together in the end."

Emma Frost was still skeptical. This whole notion seemed ludicrous. But the Hellfire Club had always been for ambitious ventures and this was without a doubt the biggest.

"Well for all our sake, I hope you're right. But what if it backfires?"

"We'll be prepared for it," assured Cassandra, "We'll even give you a few new tricks to help in your task."


"Yes. Tell me, how do you feel about diamonds?"

That was all Jack needed to see. He managed to piece together the rest with ease. Emma was grunting in frustration as she tried to shut out this man's probe. But no matter what she did, there were no hiding lies from the all seeing eye.

"Stop it! Stop it!" she said, turning diamond and pulling away.

But the damage had been done. The grin on Jack's face confirmed that he knew the truth. And nothing would silence him now.

"It all makes sense now," said Jack, still eyeing the White Queen, "It was you, wasn't it? You're the reason why this is happening! It's because of you! All of it!"

Scott's heart was racing. He didn't want to believe it, but a part of him yearned to know. This had been eating him up for so long. He needed closure. He needed the truth.

"What are you talking about?" he demanded.

"Don't listen to him, darling!" urged Emma, "He's full of lies!"

"The only lies bigger than yours are in your tits, Frost," said Slayer ominously as he and the rest of the team surrounded it, "X-men, I hate to break it to you, but your blonde friend here has been playing every one of you."

"I knew it!" said Kitty, joining Slayer in his stance against Emma, "I knew she couldn't be trusted!"

"Don't believe him!" shot Emma hysterically, "He's trying to..."

"SHUT UP!" yelled Rachel, wanting to burn this bitch away on the spot, "What did you do to my mother?!"

Now Emma was the one on the spot. She was surrounded by a mob of angry X-men, all of whom she had deceived. And up until now, it had been flawless. But Slayer's all seeing eye revealed the horrible truth.

"You really are a predator, Emma," said Jack sternly, "You take whatever fear and insecurity someone has and exploit it to get what you want."

"Stay back! I'm warning you!" she yelled.

But Jack pressed on, backed by the rest of the X-men.

"After Apocalypse, you knew Scott was doubting himself. So you used that, made it worse, and pushed him into his own isolated world. And Jean was afraid. She was afraid of losing the man she loved. So you made it worse! You, Cassandra, and Hellfire used your powers to make them fear their love! But that wasn't enough, was it?"

Emma was shaking her head frantically. He was blurting everything out. She couldn't believe this was happening. Everything was falling apart.

"No! NO!" she yelled, getting more aggressive.

"You went for their link, didn't you?" said Slayer with a dark expression, "You attacked one of the very things that kept Phoenix balanced. That's why he and Jean drifted. It was destroying them both. And she knew the only way to save Scott was to make her greatest sacrifice."

Scott's heart was shattering into a million pieces. His head was throbbing. Could this really be true? Could the loss of his wife be the result of him succumbing to influence from Emma and the Phoenix?

"It all came together, didn't it?" said Jack confidently, "You got what you wanted. Jean died because she lost control. She died because you HELPED her lose control. And if she was to save Scott, she had to make him love you. That's why she brought you back from the dead. That's why you two fell in love. She didn't just push him to you, she pushed you to him!"

It made too much sense to be a lie. To Scott, it was a painful revelation. He thought he had moved on from Jean. But as it turns out, he never left her behind.

"It's not true! It's NOT!" she yelled, falling to her knees in defeat.

"But it is, Emma. Even though on some levels you wanted it to be," said Slayer with a hint of sympathy, "You may have got what you wanted, becoming his lover and headmistress and all, but I can see that you did love Scott on some levels. That was the price Jean made you pay when she brought you back to life. But the lies end now! Jean lost her way because she lost the love that guided her. Now she needs it more than ever."

"But...but how?" said Scott, grasping his head in a fit of frustration, "If this is true, then what happened to my link with Jean? Is it even there anymore?!"

Turning to Scott, Slayer's all seeing eye glowed the same fiery color of the Phoenix. This was the key that he had been looking for. This was the piece Jean had been missing. She had been deceived last time. But this time, there were no more lies.

"The link is still there, Scott," said Slayer, placing his hands on Scott's shoulders, "It was never gone to begin with. Emma and Hellfire were just suppressing it with lies. But now Jean needs it and so do you. So look me in the eye...look into the eye that sees no lies and let that which was once shrouded become clear again."

Suddenly, Scott and Slayer were engulfed in a yellow flame. The whole team was forced to step back.

"What's going on?!" yelled Logan.

"I'm not sure, but I think it's affecting the Phoenix as well!" said Hank.

The egg containing Jean began to shutter with activity as Jean felt Slayer undo the shroud of lies that had torn her and Scott apart. They were both feeling great pain in their minds as the clutter was stripped away by the force of truth. And the only one desperate to stop this was Emma Frost.

"NO!" she yelled, running towards Slayer in a rage.

But Piotr wouldn't let her stop this. Using his metal form, he knocked her out of the way, sending her flying into a wall and knocking her out cold.

"I don't think so, Miss Frost," said the Russian Colossus strongly, "You will not deceive us a moment longer!"

"That's my Petey!" grinned Kitty, feeling a strong satisfaction in seeing Emma as the traitorous bitch she was.

All the while, Scott's face was contorting with pain as Slayer's penetrating gaze probed his mind. Images of his failure to save his wife flashed before his eyes, including the times when he gave into Emma's psychic seduction.

It all ended with the image of her dying in his arms at the hands of Xorn just before flashing to the moment over her grave where her greatest sacrifice was made.

"Live Scott. Live."

"Oh God...Jean. I...I can feel you."

"AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" yelled Scott, grasping his head as he fell to the floor unconscious.

"Scott!" exclaimed Rachel as she and Logan caught him, "Scott! Dad are you okay?"

"He'll be fine," assured Slayer, "It was a lot to take in. But he saw the truth. Now it's up to him to use it."

"Use it?" questioned Logan, "How in the hell does he use it?"

Helping them lay Scott on a gurney, Slayer let out a tired sigh. This was a complicated issue. Both he and Jean had a lot to work out. And in dealing with a dangerous force like the Phoenix, stability was never assured.

"I'm afraid this is all I can do, Logan," said Jack, looking back at the egg containing Jean, "Dark Phoenix is still a threat. All we can do now is be ready to support her."

"So what? We just wait?!" exclaimed Rachel.

"For now," affirmed Jack, "But we have to keep watch. There's no telling what could go wrong if..."

Suddenly, Jack was cut off by the sound of a familiar 'bamf.' It was Kurt, appearing in the sub levels via teleportation. And the look on his face was definitely not good.

"Mien friends! You better come take a look outside!" he exclaimed.

"Outside? What's going on, Kurt?" asked Kitty.

But before he could explain it, Jack's all seeing eye flashed dark red, hinting that what he was seeing was far from pleasant.

"Oh shit."

"I hate it when somebody says that," groaned Rachel.

"That better not be who I think it is!" said Slayer as he ran out of the lab at speeds that would have put Quicksilver to shame.

"Hey! Wait up, bub! What's this all about?!" demanded Logan.

Jack didn't answer as he ran through the levels, shot up through the emergency elevators, and ran through the foyer. And as he stepped out through the front entrance, his eyes widened with horror.

"Heya Jack!" grinned the demonic monstrosity known as Hotshot, "Miss me?"

"Hotshot!" scowled Slayer, drawing his sword.

He was every bit as hideous as before. His face was truly that of a demon. His body was ripped with blackened muscles, resembling roots on a tree. His hands were huge with fingers like claws. And instead of hair, he had fire burning from his skull.

But this time, he was packing even more heat. On his chest, the ominous emblem of the Phoenix burned brightly as a halo of flame shrouded his body. He stood confident, his arms folded across his chest as he hovered a few feet off the ground, showing off his new power.

With his all seeing eye, Slayer saw what Hotshot had done. And it spelled doom for him and reality as they knew it.

"No..." he gasped.

Behind him, the X-men arrived, this time with Psylocke as backup. But when they saw the demonic figure hovering with the halo of the Phoenix, they stopped cold in their tracks.

"Holy...what in the bloody hell is that?!" exclaimed Betsy.

"The last thing we need at this point," answered Slayer ominously.

Hotshot shot his enemies a sinister grin. After falling through that void, he was looking forward to a little vengeance on his armored enemy.

"You got that right, runt!" bellowed Hotshot, the cosmic flames surrounding his body erupting in a flare of activity, "And get ready because I've picked up some new power and I'm lookin' to test it out!"


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