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Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Mike Deodato & Will Conrad (artists), Rain Beredo (color art), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letters & production), Mike Deodato & Marte Gracia (cover artists), John Denning (assistant editor), Lauren Sankovitch (associate editor), Tom Brevoort (editor), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
Hundreds of years ago, Yu-Ti dreamed of a young redheaded girl. He stood beside her when the Phoenix Force tore through their farm. The girl created a fiery dragon which did battle with the Phoenix and wore the clothes of the Iron Fist. He woke and told an assistant about his dream, worried that they were all going to die. He left the temple and met Lei Kung, who was busy training some students. He informed Lei that he was looking for a crimson-haired girl, but Lei Kung hadn’t seen anyone around fitting that description. Yu-Ti left the temple and visited the scrying vessel of Bo-Ling. He asked it to show him the bird of fire and it did just that. Yu-Ti realized that the bird came from the cosmos. He asked the vessel to show him the girl but it failed to respond to his request. That night, he dreamed about the girl again, and the following morning he took a walk through the village and soon came across a red-haired girl. She had a chaperone who fielded Yu-Ti’s questions. Ultimately, he told the woman that the girl would be going with him to the temple to study to be the new Iron Fist. In the present, Yu-Ti has an amazed Lei Kung read a book which foretells the coming of the Phoenix Force.
(Yu-Ti’s dream)In a remote farmhouse, a redheaded girl looks out into the distance to an approaching orange glow. As it becomes brighter, she turns and says Yu-Ti’s name, wondering if he knows what it could be. Yu-Ti stands beside her and together they witness the arrival of the Phoenix Force, which tears through the land with massive, destructive ferocity. The girl stands before the flaming bird, unafraid and takes a preparatory stand. From her outstretched palm, a flaming dragon emerges and does battle with the Phoenix. The girl turns and is revealed to be wearing the green and white Iron Fist costume.
(K’un Lun)Yu-Ti awakens from his slumber and sits up in bed. He’s had this dream before but each and every time it becomes more vivid. He visits a woman and tells her about the dream, about a bird of fire and a girl with crimson hair. A dragon versus the bird. The girl becomes the dragon and she knows his name. She stands with the thunderer. They’re all going to die.
He dresses and breaks tradition by taking a walk through the village, thinking about the dream and what it actually means. He hears the villager’s whispers of disbelief and knows that they worry that something might be wrong. He would assure them that everything is fine, but he isn’t sure he can do that in all honestly. Some stare at him and some look away out of respect. All he can think about is the bird of fire and the girl with crimson hair. He tries to clear his head and get some kind of message from the city which will show him the meaning of the prophecy dream. Maybe it can reveal who she is.
He visits Lei Kung who is training a group of men in combat, running through positions such as the walking crane, the lotus standing and the panther rises. He notices Yu-Ti and informs the group of his arrival. They bow down in respect and Lei Kung asks if everything is all right. He replies that it is and asks Lei to continue his practice. Lei asks if he can help in any way. Yu-Ti tells him that he is looking for a girl with crimson hair; bright red like fresh spilled blood. “Here in the city?” asks Lei Kung. Yu-Ti asks if there is such a girl. Lei doesn’t recall one, but Yu-Ti says that Lei is among the people more than he is. He was hopeful that maybe he had seen someone like this. Lei says he hasn’t since his time on the Earthly plane but that was a long time ago. Should he start a group quest to find the girl. Yu-Ti turns and walks away. “Not yet,” he says.
He makes his way to a beautiful tranquil garden where he sits down, crosses his legs and meditates. Seated before the scrying vessel of Bo-Ling, he comes humbled and ignorant of all that he needs. He comes for the knowledge that he needs to possess. He asks it to show him the bird of fire and where it will come from. Soon, a sphere of water emerges from the pool and hovers before him. He looks inside it and is shown what he requires. “It comes from the cosmos. It is real. A force…” he ponders. The water drops back into the pool and he begs the pool to show him a little more, but no more is forthcoming. Who is the girl? Where is she? The pool remains still.
That night, he dreams the same dream and in the morning he once again leaves the sanctuary of the temple. Lei Kung asks why he’s left the temple again but Yu-Ti simply responds by telling him he does not need attending to. Not today. Lei Kung replies that it’s his job to protect and serve him and he humbly requests that he take his guards with him as with protocol. Yu-Ti turns and says he has his permission to go back to the temple and continue…
He breaks off mid-sentence when he spots someone a short distance away. He sees a young girl with a sliver of red hair showing beneath her hat. He approaches her and asks her name. Another woman informs him that she doesn’t speak. “She cannot or does not?” asks Yu-Ti. The woman asks what difference it makes. Yu-Ti asks her to get the girl to remove her headdress. She asks why, but then looks up to see who she is speaking to. She is shocked and apologizes profusely. He asks her to stand and to never apologize for protecting her young. He asks kindly for her to remove the girl’s headdress. This time she does so and her red hair falls around her face. Yu-Ti asks her to look at him, but she does so with a wary scowl.
He asks her if she knows who he is. The woman reminds him that she doesn’t speak. Yu-Ti asks if she is deaf as well. “No, master,” the woman replies. She doesn’t answer so Yu-Ti cuts corners and asks the older woman what her name is. “Fongji,” she replies. Yu-Ti knows full well that this means bird of fire. He asks the woman why the girl’s hair is like this and her complexion is as it is. The woman closes her eyes but does not reply. He mentions that she was part of the last pilgrimage to Earth and found companionship. She asks what this is about. Yu-Ti informs her that the girl will be going back to the temple with him. The woman asks why. He explains that she has duties and training. Lei Kung will help her gather her things right away, but he adds that she and her family will be allowed to visit. Someone will come and claim them at appropriate times. Lei Kung asks Yu-Ti who the girl is. He replies that she is to be the next Iron Fist. She will need to be trained and he will see to that. He is surprised and remarks that they haven’t had an Iron Fist for seventy-five years. “We haven’t needed one,” replies Yu-Ti as he turns and walks away.
(K’un Lun, today)Lei Kung is seated in front of a large tome and he scratches his head. He asks Yu-Ti why he wasn’t ever told about this. Yu-Ti replies that the guardians of K’un Lun before them declared that the secrets of the Phoenix were to be kept until the time of its return. That time is now. The heavy burden of these secrets has been his and his alone. He asks Lei Kung to keep reading as he needs to know everything. He needs to tell the Iron Fist what he has to do and, if he fails, the Earth will fall. And if the Earth falls, they cease to be. Lei Kung looks at the colorfully painted pages, looking at an image of an Iron Fist preparing to do battle with a Phoenix-like deity.
(hundreds of years ago)FongjiYu-Ti and an assistantLei King and his students
K’un Lun villagers
(in Yu-Ti’s dream)FongjiYu-TiThe Phoenix Force
This is part of the AvX crossover.
The book Lei Kung is looking at is called Forgotten Warriors: The Fallen Iron Fists.
Yu-Ti is the name given to the ruler of K’un Lun, so the actual ruler changes over time but the name remains.
Lei Kung is an immortal who is tasked with training K’un Lun’s potential Iron Fist’s.