The door of the meeting room where the United Nations Security Council is holding its emergency session slams open and Hawkeye bursts in, followed by his fellow Avengers Spiderwoman, Vision, Hercules, Black Widow and Giant-Man. They are flanked by a group of SHIELD agents and two Mandroids, pointing their weapons at them. Hawkeye gets right to the point, yelling that they have agreed to come along, so they can call off the armed forces now and talk about Genosha. Giant-Man advises Hawkeye to be a bit more tactful and even Hercules agrees on this; that is, as soon as they stop pretending to be captives of these armored lackeys.
The secretary tells the Avengers to show some respect for the UN Council, as under the group’s granted UN charter, they are responsible to the United Nations and not the other way around. Hawkeye, now somewhat calmer, addresses the situation in Genosha. There are people dying, mutate and non-mutate alike, and when both teams of Avengers want to go and stop this senseless slaughter, the UN sends SHIELD to stop them – why? The secretary states that General Fury already explained it to them, they can’t allow a UN sponsored group to interfere without official sanction. Hawkeye, enraged again, tells the man to stuff his sanction.
Behind him, Giant-Man asks Spider-woman why does Hawkeye have to be so... but Julia stops him; she’s with Clint on this matter. Hercules is unsure what to make of it all and the Vision tells him that, when one is perplexed, the best course of action would be to remain silent. Hawkeye now brings up Bosnia and how long it took the UN to make a decision on that. Are they really going to stand around and watch Hammer Bay turn into another Sarajevo? Now, are they allowed to join their fellow Avengers headed for Genosha or do they have to scrap their UN charter?
One of the Council members whispers to the secretary that this ultimatum truly puts them into a quandary but the secretary is not. From the expression of the Black Widow’s face, who chairs the senior branch, it is quite clear that not all of these few Avengers are in full agreement with Hawkeye and, whatever may be happening to Genosha, they might actually be witnessing the end of the Avengers.
In Hammer Bay, the remaining Avengers (Black Knight, Sersi, War Machine, Captain America, Crystal and the Scarlet Witch) stand in front of an incredibly powerful being, who has just incinerated a group of human fighters. He welcomes the Avengers, who have no idea who he might be, and asks whether they have come to help them protect the mutates from the human garbage that threatens to overwhelm them. Next, he introduces himself as Exodus, servitor of the grandiose plans of Lord Magnus, while he is incapacitated, and hopes that the Scarlet Witch, as Magneto’s daughter and fellow mutant, will sympathize to his cause.
Cap is taken aback; does the villain truly think they will believe he had no other option than to kill these humans instead of merely rendering them harmless? Crystal is more concerned about her daughter though and asks Exodus wether he has seen Luna. Exodus declares that the Avengers are asking the wrong questions and that he sees no point in reasoning with non-mutants or corrupted mutants. Accordingly, he announces to leave. However, demanding her answer first, Crystal uses her elemental powers on him but a psionic eye blast knocks her into a wall. The Avengers check on her to see if she is still alive. ‘Naturally,’ Exodus answers for them, ‘I was but defending myself. Do you think I am some human barbarian?’ Wanda says that Exodus is a disgrace to all mutants everywhere and that he should better try to build bridges to humanity. Exodus, in turn, comments that she is unworthy of her father and, for once, he is glad that Magneto is in a coma, so that he did not have to hear her words.
As Exodus takes to the air, War Machine goes after him. Having had enough of his rap, War Machine slams both fists into Exodus’ chest. Unharmed, the mutant gets angry at War Machine; how does he dare to punish him for purging the Earth of a few paltry humans… but then he sees it. War Machine is human himself and one does not send a sheep to slaughter a lamb. Such a task requires a wolf or a tiger. Backing up his statement, Exodus again uses his psionic eye blasts, knocking War Machine back, though his armor takes most of the brunt and starts to fire projectiles at his opponent. Taking the metaphor even further, War Machine says that Exodus is more like a jackal, preying on one race at the expense of another. The mutant, disintegrating the bullets before they reach him, corrects War Machine; it’s one species against another. ‘Do men think themselves murderers when they shoot vermin?’ War Machine thinks to himself that he should have known by now that one can’t argue with a racist and alerts himself to not let his emotions get the better of him. As he tells Exodus that both discussion and battle will end here and now, War Machine starts using a flame-thrower but Exodus easily holds the fire at bay and declares that he was about to say the same to him.
In the streets below, Dane helps Crystal up while Sersi recognizes that more humans are coming towards them, while a group of angry mutates is approaching from another direction. Captain America tells the Avengers to prepare for an attack, though Wanda explains to him that neither side cares a thing about the Avengers. It’s each other they want to butcher. She uses her power to cause a gas pipe to explode, momentarily keeping the combatants apart and the Black Knight and Cap enter the battle. Dane complains that times like these show him the disadvantage of wielding a sword, as he doesn’t want to kill anybody and Cap agrees. Genosha is determined to rip itself apart and the few Avengers can’t stand in its way much longer.
At the sidelines, Crystal asks Sersi what became of Exodus. The Eternal answers that War Machine is taking care of him, or at least trying to, overhead. She then says that she needs to help Cap and the Black Knight before the mob tears them apart but Crystal asks her to let her handle it. The Inhuman gestures with her hand and, using her control over wind and water, each group is blown away, leaving only the two Avengers standing on their feet. Wanda asks Crystal to let the Genoshans down easy, though she answers that she’ll let them down – period. It’s Luna she is after and if Exodus can’t tell her anything, she will have to go off on her own. Knowing that the others can handle the situation in the street by themselves, Wanda says that she’ll accompany Crystal. She thinks to herself that she will have to watch over her sister-in-law, so that she doesn’t kill anybody in the mood she’s in.
At the same time, Professor Xavier, Beast and U.S.Agent are in the tunnels beneath the city. Xavier tells the Agent that they are happy that he caught up with them, though Hank says that the Professor only speaks for himself; they don’t need a non-mutant’s help to accomplish their mission. Xavier alerts Hank that he begins to sound like some of the misguided Genoshans. U.S. Agent says that the Beast doesn’t bother him but he would like to know what they are looking for in these tunnels. Telepathically sensing something behind the wall, Xavier says ‘Hank – here!’ ‘Hear what?’ U.S.Agent asks. Punching into the wall where the professor pointed, Beast explains ‘Not hear, Avengers – here!’ The Avengers helps Beast to break through the wall, all the while they bicker at each other. However, when they finally break through, they fall quiet because of the sight in front of them.
It’s a large underground hall, filled with hundreds of mutates, held captive under inhumane conditions. U.S.Agent finds this unbelievable, though Xavier reminds him of films of Auschwitz. Jack wonders why they don’t use their powers to break out of the complex and he receives his answers in a blinding flash of light, courtesy of some energy weapon. A group of soldiers, equipped with special armory and weapons, announces that they are, what President Cortez likes to call them, the Magistrate Elite.
Just outside Hammer Bay, the X-Men are fighting a group of mutates called the Unforgiven, who protect their lord Fabian Cortez. Quicksilver has defeated one of them but another has stunned Rogue with a force-burst. A third one, shooting energy beams from his hands, manages to hit Cyclops. Levitating in the air, Jean sees her husband being hit and calls out to him but Archangel, flying above her, tells her to watch her own back. Jean replies that Scott might be hurt, though her fellow X-Man says so might she. As if to prove him correct, Jean is hit by a beam of energy that disrupts her concentration and falls out of the sky, too fast for Archangel to react. Jean lands hard on the ground, right in front of two Unforgiven. One of them, Syth, congratulates his teammate, Skelter, on the job well done. While he cut her out of the sky with his null-grav beam, Syth now will cut her up.
Gambit steps in front of Jean, telling the Unforgiven that this is no way to treat a lady. He throws one of his charged cards into Syth, knocking him backwards but Skelter uses his power on Gambit, disrupting gravity around him, and sending him up into the air. Fortunately, Rogue is there to catch him and Gambit says that he is glad that she wasn’t badly hurt by that blast before. Storm deals with the remaining Unforgiven with a few lightning bolts but she is concerned about Jean, who is lying so still. The redhead, however, says that everything is all right; it’s just that she has mentally locked onto Luna and she didn’t want to risk losing contact.
Bishop and Iceman have secured the last of the Unforgiven, leaving Cyclops free to confront Fabian Cortez. Holding his fist into his face, Scott threatens to wipe that arrogant smile off his face but Cortez answers that he can do better than that – he can wipe off his entire face. The features of “Cortez” change, and the X-Men realize that this one was just a shapechanger. The mutate explains that the true Fabian Cortez was speaking through him, just as he can hear their words right now. Cyclops then tells him, and the absent Cortez, that the X-Men will bring this dirty war to Cortez’s door and down his lying throat.
Meanwhile, back in the currently red-glowing sky above the city, Exodus asks War Machine if he is ready to admit defeat. He gloats that the Avengers should not be ashamed that Exodus proves to be his better. After all, he is a mutant, homo superior, while War Machine, despite his vaunted armor, is just plain human. Some species are born to be masters, while others are destined to be slaves. Exodus advises War Machine to accept his inferiority, as this act would liberate him from his futile attempt to prove his equality. Now majorly annoyed, War Machine puts all into one gamble and rams into Exodus at full force, yet to no avail. The mutant is tougher than War Machine thought and he now brought himself closer into his range. Exodus triumphs, he manages to play the human’s emotions like a musical instrument and, now touching his helmet, he uses his psionic powers to turn him into a flesh-and-blood vegetable, spiraling downwards, totally out of control to his inevitable doom.
Just as one Avengers plummets out of the air, another makes his presence known to Exodus. It’s Sersi and, hovering dangerously behind Exodus, her eyes crackling with energy, she announces that he has managed to defeat a human, but what about a different species. ‘How about going a few round with an Eternal?’