Two hours ago and half a world away, it was summer. At the moment, four members of the X-Men wish they were at home enjoying it, rather than flying into the heart of the nastiest Antarctic blizzard any of them has ever seen. Nightcrawler, at the Blackbird’s controls, announces that, the further they are going in, the worse it gets. Does Storm want him to turn around? Storm tells him to go on. According to Angel’s message, the situation is serious. She thinks the plane can handle the strain.
Wolverine complains about Nightcrawler’s flying and Nightcrawler snaps that Cyclops would be a better pilot but he’s ill. So either Wolverine settles for him or he can climb out and walk. Storm tells them to relax and focuses on the storm trying to moderate its effects. Gently, she molds the elements creating a bubble of quiet air around the Blackbird and guiding it safely to its destination. However, she realizes, there’s something unnatural about this tempest. It resists her, as though it had a mind of its own. Nevertheless, the X-Men finally manage to land on the Antarctic UN base’s landing pad and the platform descends downward with the plane. Storm, in the meantime, finds she is exhausted. Worse, she has sensed a wrongness in the biosphere and doesn’t know where it’s coming from.
Inside the military base, they are greeted by their old teammate, Angel, who at once asks where Cyclops is. He is ill and Sprite is caring for him, Storm replies before stressing that she is the team leader now. Angel apologizes. Old habits. He still automatically thinks of Cyclops as the boss. He quickly relates why he called them.
Karl Lykos’ lover, Tanya Anderssen, had visited him in his New Mexico chalet. Convinced that Karl Lykos aka Sauron was still alive, she asked Angel to help her find him. Accompanied by Daily Bugle photograph, Peter Parker, they flew to the Savage Land, where they were ambushed by warriors loyal to Zaladane and the Neo-mutants created by Magneto years ago. Angel and Peter were captured and devolved into horrible monsters. Tanya, in the meantime, had found Lykos. Tanya was abducted too and Ka-Zar and Lykos tried to save her. In the battle, the transformer was destroyed. Lykos sacrificed himself – absorbing the mutant energies from Angel, Peter and Tanya and thus reverting them to human form. He, however, was transformed once more into the evil Sauron.
Suddenly, the base is shaken by a series of tremors. There’s a cave-in and only Colossus’ strength keeps the ceiling from collapsing. Hampered by her claustrophobia, Storm nevertheless senses that the earthquake was as unnatural as the blizzard. Some power or mechanism triggered the shock.
After the X-Men have helped rescue the base personnel, Colonel Cathcart informs them that this isn’t the first earthquake they’ve experienced. Every time, the epicentre was near a deep ice station. Their defenses are being tested by some power. He has sent patrols to contact Ka-Zar but they’ve all disappeared without a trace.
Later, after Alpha Base has been restored to a semblance of normalcy, Cathcart shows the X-Men the entrance to a cave system that leads to the Savage Land. If the X-Men fail, he says, and Sauron is really that dangerous, the great powers will have no choice but to use military force against him, which would mean the end of the Savage Land. The X-Men move ahead, intending to find the village of the Fall People, where they’d stayed before.
Angel, who has scouted ahead, returns excitedly reporting trouble. He shows them what’s left of Chief Tongah’s village. Burnt down ruins and several crucified corpses as a warning.
Wolverine alerts the others to a nearby scent and orders Nightcrawler to teleport there and check it out. Kurt notifies the others of it being Gaza, the blind giant who belongs to the Savage Land mutates. Together, they overwhelm the giant, only to be attacked by his compatriots a momet later. As Vertigo’s power turns the heroes’ world inside out, Amphibius, Timberius and Barbarus attack them. Nightcrawler, however, has an advantage over his friends. He learnt to cope with vertigo in the circus on the trapeze and highwire. He focuses and throws a stone at Vertigo, hitting her head. The vertigo effect stops and now the angry X-Men retaliate.
Brainchild, who is watching the battle on a screen, moans that his fellows are being defeated. A voice tells him to be patient. He will yet be triumphant.
Having won the X-Men question their prisoners.
Amphibius explains that, shortly after Sauron’s reincarnation, Ka-Zar, Zabu and, finally, Shanna all vanished from the Savage Land. Their disappearance, combined with the death of Tongah, chief of the Fall People, removed the only major obstacles to their conquest of the land. The mutates provided the power to smash any foes, Zaladane the armies to hold what they had won and Sauron the leadership to make it possible. Under his direction, they built an impregnable citadel in the center of one of the great lakes. If they want Sauron, they must seek them there. They will even show them the way.
He’s being awfully cooperative, Wolverine mocks. Amphibius freely admits that he’s certain the X-Men will find their doom there. Wolverine threatens him and Storm orders him to sheathe his claw.
Their captives in tow, the X-Men set off through the jungle. The heat, as well a Amphibius scathing comments, are getting to them, while Storm is beset by doubts over whether her decisions are correct.
Suddenly, Sauron appears above them, ordering them to yield. The next moment, he uses his hypnotic gaze on them. Horrified, Angel, who’s been through this several times before, finds the strength to flee, while the others are helpless against Sauron’s armies that are closing in on them. Angel tries to lure Sauron into the chilling upper atmosphere, as cold is the villain’s weakness, but he doesn’t fall for it. Mockingly, he calls after Angel that, for as long as he has his friends, he has nothing to fear.
Angel silently admits that he’s right and wonders how Sauron could take them so easily. They all felt it before his attack: they were tired, bored, exhausted. Suddenly, he screams in pain, having flown into an Antarctic jetstream. His wings are coated with ice and he falls. Further down, the warm air revives him somewhat and he instinctively tries to save himself but ends up on the ground before that.
Some time later, in the throne room of Sauron’s citadel, Sauron and Zaladane confront the captive X-Men. Sauron informs them that he has a horrible fate in store for them. Sauron points out that they are unable to free themselves, as his citadel is surrounded by a field that saps the will of all who approach. His troops are shielded from the effect. The X-Men are not. The closer they came, the more helpless they got.
The X-Men are strapped to slabs and Sauron shows them the mutant energy accelerator capable of evolving or devolving beings. He will reduce them to Neanderthal states. This will strip them of their ability to think rationally and it will also give him the possibly of repeatedly absorbing the mutant life energies, thus providing him with an inexhaustible supply of food. And the will destroyer will keep them from escaping during their brief periods of normalcy. It begins with Colossus and the other X-Men can only watch in horror.
Elsewhere, Angel wakes up in a camp to discover that he is still very much alive and