Tony Stark, suited up in his Iron Man armor, hovers in the sky above Chicago with friend Johnny Storm, also wearing his own suit of armor. Iron Man holds in his hands one of his former employees, Hank Pym, who has just revealed that he has planted around Chicago many genetic bombs, which will cause genetic meltdown in anyone with the mutant genome. Iron Man questions Pym one more time on what he means when he says he planted the bombs everywhere.
The slightly eccentric Pym states that he wasn’t literal when he meant everywhere. Obviously mutant free places don’t have bombs like a cow pasture. He and the Human Resistance concentrated their bombs on the downtown area after mapping high mutant traffic. His program forecasted 47% elimination within the first five minutes. However, as the hour passes and air circulates, it should reach 79% within 24 hours. Having heard enough, Iron Man demands to know when the bombs go off. Not falling for Iron Man’s tough guy act, Pym refuses to inform him of where they are. Iron Man then pushes the barrel of his largest gun against Pym’s chest, telling the man that he can tell them.
Pym simply looks at Iron Man silently, almost daring him to pull the trigger. Iron Man knows that Pym has called his bluff and tries reasoning with the man that he does not want to kill four million people. Pym explains to Iron Man that he is just doing what he was put there to do. He knew one day he would serve a special purpose for something greater. He is saving the world. Actually, he has already saved it. He then tells Iron Man to shoot him; he is ready for it.
Angered, Iron Man throws Pym on the roof of a nearby skyscraper and tells Johnny that he isn’t going to talk. Storm tells Iron Man to shoot Pym for real, but Iron Man explains that he is tracking Pym’s vitals and it shows that the man isn’t bluffing. Johnny doesn’t listen and shoots Pym in the shoulder, much to Iron Man’s dismay. Pym taunts Johnny on the nick on his shoulder and tells him to finish him off. Frustrated as well, Johnny asks Stark if he cannot just use some advanced Stark technology to pull the data out of Pym’s head. Not in this universe, replies Iron Man.
Iron Man then gets and idea and contacts his advanced computer program, Jarvis, which informs him that his download is complete. His armor has done a constituent element analysis and has matched all the trace particles of the genetic bomb blown only a few moments ago against the House of M guards. Jarvis then displays a map after scanning Chicago and has matched the trace elements to various locales in the city, the locations of the bombs. Iron Man asks Jarvis when the bombs go off, and he learns that they only have 17 minutes and 57 seconds. Johnny is dismayed to learn this, but Iron Man asks Jarvis to patch him into his lab, but display an image of Tony Stark and not Iron Man.
In Stark Labs, Forge and Hank McCoy receive a transmission from Tony Stark, who informs them that he has been contacted by Iron Man. Iron Man has provided him with data that is being uploaded right now into their systems. It details the locations of 103 anti-mutant genetic bombs scattered throughout downtown Chicago. The two-headed dignitary from the House of M hears this and wonders what that filthy Iron Man wants. Tony tells Madame Envoy that someone else has planted the bombs and that Iron Man is helping out. McCoy, pessimistic, asks Tony why he would trust Iron Man. Tony tells him that he has no time to explain. The House of M must be informed and they must evacuate every mutant from downtown Chicago.
After Tony ends the communication, Johnny asks him if he thinks that they believed him. Iron Man informs him that Forge maybe believes, but Hank probably thinks it’s a terrorist trap. Nonetheless, when they process the data they will listen. Johnny, however, feels that it will be too late. He can call Flash Thompson and have him get MBC to put out an emergency call. Iron Man tells Johnny that it is their last resort. This city is full of angry humans and, if even one bomb got into the wrong hands, this would be worse.
He then asks Jarvis for an update to their mission. Jarvis shows them the map of the downtown again and shows various gold and blue dots. Tony is gold, Johnny is blue. They have ten seconds to defuse each bomb. Flames or heat will neutralize the organic compounds of the virus. Right now they have a 47% probability of succeeding. As the two heroes fly towards their respective bombs, Johnny tells Iron Man that he signed up to fight mutants not save them. Iron Man reminds him that, if he doesn’t save the mutants, he will have no one to fight. Johnny chuckles.
Soon enough, Johnny destroys three bombs, raising the mission probability of success to 52%. Iron Man raises it to 56% after destroying five more bombs. There are only sixteen minutes left. Johnny knocks off four more and asks Tony to beat that, but Iron Man finds and neutralizes his eleventh bomb, raising success to 68%, but only leaving fifteen and a half minutes left.
As Johnny finds his thirteenth bomb in a park, he jokes that they might even have time to get Pym to a hospital. There are only fourteen minutes left. Iron Man, somewhere else in Chicago, tells Johnny that Pym can wait. He then looks up at the sky in horror, as he sees an armor of very familiar synthezoids. It is the Vision Project, or rather hundreds of them and they are all streaking towards Iron Man.
As the Visions begin to attack Iron Man, he contracts Forge as Tony Stark and demands to know when they started mass-producing homicidal Visions. Embarrassed, Forge realizes that Tony is watching the news and says that they wanted to surprise him. Forge tells him to hold on as he receives a transmission from the House of M. They have analyzed the data and trust Iron Man. They are not redirected the Visions to help him, not kill him.
Iron Man barely avoids a blast, as the time ticks down to thirteen and a half minutes. Apparently, the Visions haven’t gotten the message yet. Suddenly, he gets a call from Johnny, who has trouble keeping away from the Visions too. Before Johnny can finish relaying his message, he is blasted in the back by a Vision. Thirteen minutes and five seconds remain. Iron Man frantically calls out to Johnny.
In Stark Labs, Forge looks desperately at McCoy, who turns to Madame Envoy and demands to know why the House of M isn’t calling off the Visions. As Iron Man is surrounded by a few massive Visions, one of Madame Envoy’s heads uses her telepathy to double check what is happening, but learns that they cannot turn off the Visions for some reason. Suddenly, the Visions attack Iron Man between two skyscrapers, leaving nothing but a massive cloud of ash and smoke.
Forge calls Tony and asks him if he is there. Did he see what happened to Iron Man? As the time dips below ten minutes, a fallen Tony tells Forge he saw what happened. Forge then informs Iron Man that they are reviewing the Vision coding to see what is going wrong. They have found a few sleeper codes hidden in the programming. They didn’t add in the programming though… Howard Stark did.
Outside, as the time clicks down to nine minutes and thirty-seven seconds, Howard Stark hovers in the air in his blue and white armor and greets his son.
A massive Vision lifts up Iron Man, who tells his father, sans helmet, that he doesn’t understand. Howard, however, tells Tony not to whine. No one likes a whiner. Weakly, Tony tells his father that they must stop the bombs. No, replies Howard. Not we… only him if he can. Tony should remember that his father gave him an out but he didn’t destroy the armor. He chose this path. Realizing the truth, Iron Man calls out his father and realizes that he and Pym set up this whole thing. As the time reaches nine minutes, Howard tells Tony that they couldn’t have done it without him. He was so eager to dance for his mutant masters that he worked into the plan beautifully. Tony asks his father if he really is a monster. “No,” replies the apathetic Howard, “Just a different breed.”
Iron Man tells his father goodbye, but his father tells him not to over dramatize. He isn’t going to kill his son. “I’m not your son,” says Iron Man, as he shoots a repulsor blast from his chest into his dad.
Iron Man then disconnects from his back plate to escape the clutches of the Vision, but finds that he has to fight two more. Howard tells Tony that despite what he does he is still a Stark. Iron Man continues to destroy more Visions. Only eight minutes and fifty-one seconds remain.
At MBC studios, Flash Thompson receives a phone call. After hearing the story, he tells his friend that he is on it. Flash then makes various phone calls to the best of the Sapien Death Match contestants in the area, asking them to suit up and help out with the bombs. Flash calls Tony ignorant and tells him that Iron Man could use his help, but Iron Man informs Flash that he is a little tied up at the moment, all the while he fights three more Visions.
As five minutes remain on the clock, Iron Man is caught between two Sentinels, but he suddenly hears Johnny call out to him and tell him that he brought some friends. Iron Man escapes his captors to see various Sapien Death Match contestants suited up and battling the Visions. Iron Man thanks Johnny as Flash Thompson hits the airwaves, reporting that the Sapien Revolutionary Iron Man is joined by Johnny Storm and other regulars of Sapien Death Match. Thompson patches into Iron Man and asks if he has anything else to say.
Realizing that they must resort to their plan B, Iron Man announces on Flash’s program that there are 73 genetic bombs throughout the city and, if they go off, millions of mutants will die. He is now uploading maps to people’s video hard drives so they can see the locations of the bombs. If they are near one, please torch it.
Across the city, millions of people head to find the bombs near them. A chef informs his boss that there is one in the kitchen. A woman on the street finds one on a street lamp and uses her flame powers to torch it. Within two minutes, only thirteen bombs are left and they are all in a cluster.
Iron Man follows the map to a tower and finds Howard and an army of Visions waiting. The Sapien Death Match contestants wait for Iron Man to make his move. He then patches privately to Howard and tells his dad that the tower has been evacuated. It is all over. Yes, replies Howard, to his confused son. He then throws him a bomb. He calls his son a hero. Hasn’t he been listening to the news? He is not transferring control of the Visions over to his son. He then asks Jarvis if he is ready to receive the controls, to which the program affirms. Howard then calls his son savior of sapiens and deliverer of mutant kind. It is perfect. Only one minute and twenty five seconds remain.
Tony speaks up to voice his confusion, but his father tells him to shush, as there is not much time and he wants him to understand. He would have told him in the beginning but Tony was so weak that he used fear to make him grow. Iron Man stops his father and calls him a maniac. He was ready to kill four million people. What could he possibly say to defend that? Howard tells his son that they never were going to kill four million people, just one. That is what he raised Tony for.