The hills of An Morag in the Northwest of the Scottish Highlands. Moira MacTaggert is sitting there when, suddenly, she is startled by a wolf jumping over her. The animal seems to change its shape in mid-jump and falls to lie still. Moira realizes that this is no simple animal, but a shapechanger. Moira wonder if it – or more to the point - she has been hurt. Crying out that she’s a doctor, she runs towards the creature’s side. The shapshifter asks her for help and, before Moira’s eyes, she changes into the shape of a naked, young teenage girl, with oddly short-cropped red hair, and Moira recognizes her as Rahne Sinclair, a child she delivered years ago.
Moira examines the girl who has passed out and sees she’s been injured – someone’s shot at her, but the wound isn’t too dangerous. She remembers that Rahne’s blood was shown to be anomalous after her birth but Moira never had the time to check. Rahne’s reaching puberty now. Is she a mutant?
Suddenly, she is joined by a mob with torches and rifles, led by a stern-looking man who is holding a copy of the bible in his arms. He orders Moira not to make any trouble. They are merely interested in the girl. Moira sternly admonishes Reverend Craig and his followers that this is Kinross land. They are trespassing. They are doing God’s work, the reverend replies. Rahne Sinclair is possesses by the devil. They only want to save her soul. With bullets? Moira mocks. Over her dead body. The men relent and leave, though Craig warns Moira that God’s will be done. Unimpressed, Moira carries Rahne away, deciding that the only one who can truly help the child is Charles Xavier.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The championship soccer game between the Thunderbolts from the Vilar School and their rivals, the Dynamos! Scoring for his team is 14-year-old Roberto daCosta. Amidst the cheering crowd are his father, Emmanuel, and Roberto’s girlfriend, Juliana Sandoval, anxiously following his every move. Roberto nears the goal once more but two members of the rival team take him in their midst and hit him. For the audience, it looks like an accident when Roberto falls. But he knows better. Angrily he cries foul and takes matters into his own hands, by tackling one of the two ruffians. The taller boy hits him, informing him that he’s only waited for this.
Continuing to beat Roberto, he insults him with some racist slurs, telling him that Roberto’s father may be rich, but that doesn’t change anything about his skin color. Suddenly, Roberto crackles with black energy and, when he pushes the other boy away, he does so with superhuman strength. Panic starts on both the field and amidst the audience. Everybody runs for the exits, save for Juliana and Emmanuel, who are trying to reach the frightened Roberto. Juliana finally does but Roberto collapses in her arms and desperately she wonders whether he’s dying.
She doesn’t realize that they are being watched, as a man witnesses the display on a screen, announcing that every day more mutant appear, but he will kill them all.
Cameron County, Kentucky, in the heart of the Appalachians, coal miner’s country. For 16-year old Sam Guthrie, it’s the first day on the job. One of the older workers, Lewis, tells Sam that he’s sorry about his father dying of the Black Lung. Is everything ok with the family? Sam thanks him and explains that his dad’s pension helps but, with the current inflation, it’s not enough. But he thought Sam had a scholarship? Mr Lewis asks. His father was always so proud that his son would go to a college. He couldn’t, Sam explains. He’s the head of the family now and has to take care of his ma and the little ones. Maybe the dream will come true for one of his younger siblings.
Sam spends the most part of the shift learning the job that will now be his entire life. As the days pass, he finds that he is starting to hate his father, who had left him a dream. Then, one day without warning, a tunnel collapses and Mr Lewis is stuck in it. Against all reason, Sam races to Lewis’ side trying to help. Sam tries to move the weight from Lewis but, at that moment, the tunnel collapses around them. Despair races through him, adrenaline rises and, suddenly, he becomes a human cannonball, propelling himself and Lewis out of the mine.
They are found by other workers and Lewis can only exclaim that it was a miracle, but Sam realizes it was him. His legs seemed to explode and he was tossed out of the mountain, but now he’s normal again.
Sam, too, is watched by the mystery man, who decides that his power could be useful. And once he’s served his purpose, he can follow daCosta to the grave.
The Medicine Bow Mountains, near Sundance, Colorado, dawn. A young Native American girl, dressed in buckskin leather, sits there meditating and appreciating the silence. A cougar rubs its head on her arm and she greets it as Ridge-runner. She senses the animal’s thoughts as it purrs: girl and cat are one. Meaning that both notice an intruder at the same time. The cougar smells the human and leaves.
The intruder addresses the girl as “Moonstar” and the girl realizes it’s her grandfather, Black Eagle. Happily, she jumps up and hugs the old man, who tells her that they have to talk. He has asked someone to come here, a teacher. She is supposed to go with him, as he will help her learn the gifts the Great Spirit has given her. His name is Charles Xavier and he lives in New York. The girl angrily protests: he wants her to leave with a white man?
Her sudden anger causes her power to go wild. Suddenly, she manifests images from Black Eagle’s mind: his being beaten to death by two men in armor. Moonstar apologizes. She was so angry she didn’t think so that she called up dream images, just like before when she fled into the mountains. Black Eagle repeats his plea. She should go to Xavier. He was her father’s blood brother. He’s part of the family and she should obey him. With a tear in her eye, Moonstar relents.
This display, too, is watched and mocked, by the mystery man who turns out to be Donald Pierce, who decides that, when Xavier arrives in the mountains without the protection of his X-Men, he will strike. None of them will survive. A voice pleads with him. It is Tessa, the assistant of Sebastian Shaw and now Pierce’s prisoner. The Hellfire Club won’t let him get away with this, she protests. He informs her that the Club will soon be his and Shaw and his mutie group will soon be no more than a memory.
The hour before dawn, Moonstar wakes, shouting out “grand-father.” Black Eagle death cry still echoes in her mind, as she finds his corpse near Sundance. For the sheriff, Black Eagle will just be another drunk Indian who was run over on the highway. His granddaughter knows better. He’d seen his death in his dreams, the image she manifested. She vows that she will avenge him.
Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, a school without a student body, as the X-Men are gone, believed dead. However, now there are two young women who need Xavier’s help. Rahne Sinclair, who arrived one week ago with Moira, and Xi’an Coy Manh, a young, Vietnamese woman who calls herself Karma and has the ability to possess people. Xavier’s attention is currently trained on her, as he has her undergo a battery of tests. Afterwards, he tells the young woman that she possesses a PSI-talent that resembles his own in terms of raw power. He asks for a demonstration but Shan is afraid. When she possesses somebody she becomes that person. She’d rather be normal but, as she has the powers, she understands that she has to master them.
Moira volunteers to play guinea pig. Karma possesses her and, one moment later, talks out of Moira’s mouth. Agitated, Rahne shouts that those are Shan’s eyes and voice. Her own body is weakened now, Shan explains, but it can still function independently. Turning into a half-wolf transitional form, Rahne demands she let Moira go. Shan panics and Xavier telepathically tells Rahne to revert to human shape. Shan releases Moira, who admits that she doesn’t remember anything. Her brain was practically dead while she was possessed, Xavier deduces.
As the four walk upstairs, Rahne admits to Moira how new this is to her. She shouldn’t be here. That’s nonsense, Xavier replies and turns to Shan, asking if she’s one of the boat people. Shan quickly tells her story: her father was a South Vietnamese Colonel, her mother a teacher. They were both killed by Thai-Pirates, when the family fled the country. Shan arrived in the USA one year ago with her younger siblings, Leong and Nga, and has been trying to build a new life since then. Her twin brother, Tran, shared her power. He died. They also have an Uncle Nguyen Ngoc Coy, but her father distrusted him. Shan never enjoyed using her power, but did so to survive. Tran, on the other hand, had no scruples. They did well, Xavier admits.
Rahne protests, asking whether mastering satanic power is a reason to be happy. Xavier explains that their powers have nothing to do with Satan. They are natural as any gift, but one has to learn how to use them properly. During lunch, Shan shares her concerns. Her brother used people as puppets. She doesn’t want to become like that. She asks Xavier for help. He can’t, he tells her. Is he afraid, Moira asks telepathically. Xavier replies that he can’t bear the thought of again gathering young people to send them to their deaths. He has to help those girls, Moira urges him. Yes, the X-Men died, but they were heroes. But his dream was to teach mutants and humans to coexist. The girls need him. The X-Men are less important than the dream that brought them together. If he gives up now, their sacrifice was in vain. Xavier relents. Turning to Rahne and Shan, he announces that he’ll help them.
Addressing Moira as Mylady, Rahne announces that the doorbell is ringing. Moira gets it and tells Rahne to stop calling her that. ‘Yes, mylady” Rahne replies. She thinks to herself that Moira is the Kinross heir and, as such, far above her in station. They’ll never be equals. Shan, in the meantime, tells Xavier that she has to take care of her family. Between work and school, there won’t be any time. Xavier finds a solution. She can help him with administrative work. She’s intelligent, well-educated and multilingual. Her wages should be high enough so she can study and work at the same time. Shan happily accepts and Moira brings Charles a letter from Colorado.
Xavier tells the others that the letter is from the father of an old friend. Black Eagle’s granddaughter is apparently a mutant. So, who wants to accompany him?
The next day at the continental divide, Xavier, Rahne and Shan find Black Eagle’s body, prepared in a native ceremony. Xavier grieves for his friend and Shan announces that, with him dead, they have no chance of finding his granddaughter. A moment later, however, highland Colorado seems to transform into Vietnam at the height of the war. Shan screams in horror, as her nightmare becomes reality once more. Xavier tries to protect his protégé from the psychic attack but suddenly finds that some of the explosions are real. Danielle Moonstar, who caused the psychic attack, makes the same experience, as armored mercs, same as the ones from her visions, chase her. She finds that her power cannot touch them. The cougar, Ridgerunner, comes to his mistress’ side to attack but the merc easily tosses the cat down the mountainside, killing it. He then grabs Moonstar, floating up in the air with her on his hover-platform, intending to do the same to the girl.
Suddenly, however, he is possessed by Karma. Moonstar doesn’t understand what’s going on, as her attacker suddenly attacks his compatriots and tells her that she is among friends. Karma/ the merc informs Xavier that she has gotten rid of the others and will now take off the helmet, so he can question her prisoner. Moonstar psychically attacks the merc, but Xavier telepathically intercepts her, calling her “Danielle.”
She asks how he knew her name, as only she and Black Eagle are aware of it. Xavier replies that he was there when she was born. He has come to help her. The girl announces that she doesn’t want a white man’s help. Xavier points out that he cannot leave her alone with powers she can’t control. She needs training. Danielle asks why she should trust him, then screams in pain from her injuries, as she touches her arm. Shan joins her and puts her wrenched arm back in the socket. She too calls her Danielle. The other girl tells her that her name is Moonstar and she is a Cheyenne. She shouldn’t have cried out.
She turns to Xavier, asking if Black Eagle’s enemies are his foes as well? Apparently, Xavier admits. He just found out that they are working for Donald Pierce. His goal is to kill all mutants. His other intended victims are two boys in Brazil and Kentucky. He suggests they split up in order to reach them both as soon as possible. Danielle draws her knife, intending to kill the captured merc. Xavier telepathically stops her, telling her to leave this to the police and she decides that she’ll take her revenge on Pierce. Therefore, she’ll work with Xavier. He may save the boys if he wishes to but she is in it for vengeance.
The next day, Moira, Shan and Danielle are in a hotel in Rio de Janeiro. Suddenly, the police violently enter the room, telling them they are under arrest. Moira protests and one of the cops brutally slaps her. They know that she called Senor daCosta because of his son. Yesterday, somebody tried to abduct Roberto and, soon thereafter, his girlfriend Juliana Sandoval vanished. Dani wants to act, but Shan tells her to stop. She possesses one of the cops and makes sure that he doesn’t properly cuff them. The three women are being led out and, finally, Karma forces her puppet to attack the other cop. However, he doesn’t relinquish his grip on Moira and she orders the two young women to find Roberto daCosta, while she’ll try to talk to the police.
Outside the daCosta mansion at night, Roberto sneaks out and climbs over the wall. The two girls who have been led there, thanks to Moira’s mini-Cerebro, decide to follow.
Soon , in a slum area - Roberto announces that he has come and fulfilled his part of the deal. Now they have to let Juliana go. The man in the red Hellfire Club garb brutally hits the boy, informing him that he has no rights. They’ll do whatever they want. Juliana worries about her bleeding boyfriend. He tries to calm her and asks the men what kind of ransom they wish. The mercs tell him they don’t want money; they want blood. They draw their guns. Robert orders Juliana behind him and transforms into his superstrong form. He creates a shockwave by hitting the ground and then attacks the men. However, they aren’t normal men, not since Wolverine almost killed them. They are cyborgs now and they hold their own against the boy, who find that his strength is running out. Running out of solar power, he transforms into his human form and begs them to let Juliana go.
The merc nearest to him mocks him but, suddenly, Karma possesses him. Karma / the merc whispers to Roberto that she’s trying to save him. She’ll divert the others but he has to save Juliana. S/he shoots at the other mercs but, being faster than humans, they evade the bullets. The real Shan tells Danielle that she can’t keep this up and Dani reaches into the men’s minds pulling out their terror: an image of Wolverine, attacking them. While three of the men are horrified, Dani attacks the fourth. A mistake, since he is Shan’s host.
Shan tries to assure Juliana and Roberto that they are friends, but the panicked boy hits her, momentarily switching to his solar-powered form. In that moment, Shan loses control over her host and the Hellfire Club merc wildly shoots at them. As Roberto only stands there confused, Juliana covers him with her body. Dani takes care of the merc with a spirit form of his greatest fear – Wolverine – but the damage is done. Juliana is dead.
The crying Roberto blames his own stupidity and arrogance. Shan tries to comfort him and asks him to join them. Xavier can teach him to use his powers. Roberto isn’t interested. Right now, he wants vengeance on the man behind all this. Dani and Shan offer their help.
Elsewhere, Xavier and Rahne are driving in a jeep through Cameron County. Xavier had phoned Moira before, who at least is free now. Suddenly, something smashes into the car like a cannonball. Telepathically, Xavier tells Rahne, who instinctively turned into a wolf, to flee. Rahne does just that. As she looks behind, she sees the car catching fire and remembers now that Xavier can’t walk. She wants to return but Sam Guthrie, now dressed in a Hellfire Club guard uniform, is already there and drags the unconscious Xavier out of the wreckage. Rahne debates with herself whether to attack or not. Sam isn’t acting like an enemy right now.
A helicopter with two more guards lands and Sam tells them that he thought there was a girl as well; maybe she’s been thrown out of the car. The men tell him he is wrong and Sam now wants to know why he was ordered to attack Xavier. Boss’s orders the other men curtly reply. Sam is paid well, so he’d better shut up. Minutes later, the helicopter flies away and the wolf howls – until she catches Xavier’s scent, strong enough for her to follow.
Hours pass, as she runs for many miles, finally reaching a secure complex. This has to be the place where Xavier is held. It is surrounded by a series of high, barbed wired fence - too high for either her wolf or her human form. But, for Rahne, there’s an alternative: a transitional shape, combining the best of both. She uses this advantage and jumps over the first fence. The watchdogs are confused for long enough for her to jump over the second lower fence. She’s in. Xavier’s scent is strongest next to the roof. She peers through the window. Inside, Xavier and Tessa are being held with Xavier’s powers negated by the chair he’s strapped to. Donald Pierce boasts that the Hellfire Club will soon be his and the chair Xavier is sitting on will enable him to use Xavier’s powers as well as all the information in his brain. The process will cause irreversible damage to Xavier. After that, Tessa’s next.
Rahne wonders what to do. She can’t free them on her own. Suddenly, a telepathic voice reaches out to her. Nearby there are Dani, Shan and Roberto. As Moira had suggested, Dani’s telepathic rapport with animals allows her to telepathically reach Rahne in her wolf or transitional form. Rahne informs them about everything. They have to attack. Suddenly, Rahne is attacked by Cannonball. However, as he sees the half-human wolf on the roof, he is surprised and loses control, both of them fall off the roof, Sam being protected by his powers, while Rahne shifts to wolf form and lands on all four.
Sam doesn’t know whether to attack Rahne or not. He doesn’t get a chance, as Dani pulls out an image of his fear – of being buried alive in the mine. Panicked, Sam flies away, crashing straight through the building.
The guards appear and are in for a fight, as the wolf and Roberto, in his solar-powered form, attack. Shan tries to hold back the vengeful Roberto, while he asks Rahne to lead them to Pierce. Cannonball tries to attack once more but so poor is his maneuverability that Roberto simply steps aside and Sam crashes into the ground.
Shan wonders why a mutant-hater like Pierce would hire a mutant, especially as he seems to be a boy their age instead of an experienced merc. She tries to possess him but can’t concentrate. Instead, she grabs a gun and fires at the mercs, forcing them to run. She orders the others into the building and Roberto to destroy the machinery.
Inside, Pierce is certain he’ll finish the process before the kids arrive. The next moment, he is attacked by Rahne, in her wolf form. Using his superstrong cyborg limbs, he brutally tosses her aside, causing her to break some ribs in the process. Dani climbs down from an opening above and tries to attack the villain with her spirit forms. However, his bionics include a screen against psionic attacks and she passes out from the strain. Rahne can barely move and Xavier worriedly notes that her lung must be punctured. Nevertheless, he needs her and orders her to move to the console behind him.
Roberto smashes through he wall, intent on attacking Pierce. Cannonball smashes into Roberto from behind, trying to stop him, but ends up taking out some of the machinery himself with his poor maneuverability.
Gasping for breath, Rahne pulls the lever Xavier asked her, while Shan enters intent on possessing Pierce despite his screen. Pierce acknowledges her as the most dangerous of the kids and zaps her with an electric bolt from his hand. He turns to Sam, ordering him to first finish off Roberto, then the girl. Sam doesn’t quite understand: Does Pierce want him to make them leave the grounds or -?
He’s supposed to kill them, Pierce shouts impatiently. Shocked, Sam refuses. Pierce draws a gun, deciding to kill them all by himself – including Sam. Cannonball tries to use his powers but nothing happens. He’s too exhausted. Pierce mocks him and tries to shoot but finds some force preventing him from pulling the trigger. It is Xavier, his PSI-powers no longer hampered by the device, thanks to Rahne’s sacrifice. A battle of will ensues between mutant and man-machine, a battle finally won by Xavier, as he takes control of Pierce and forces him to release himself and Tessa.
Dani looks after the unconscious Rahne and announces that she needs a hospital, while Shan takes over controlling Pierce. What to do with Pierce, Xavier wonders. They can’t risk taking him along, nor can they leave him behind. Tessa interjects, telling him to leave Pierce to the Hellfire Club. He’s as much a danger to them as to Xavier’s mutants. Xavier doesn’t trust Tessa or her masters but he sees no choice, as they need to hurry to save Rahne’s life.
Sam nervously asks Xavier what he’s supposed to do. Roberto informs him that his boss went that way with the lady. He should go after them. Wordlessly, Xavier and the others leave.
In his study, Xavier wistfully looks at the pictures of both incarnations of the X-Men. Mentally, he addresses his new students asking them to join him.
The mutants are all in their own rooms, trying on their new blue and gold training uniforms. Shan thinks about how her siblings are taken care of and that she may learn how to use her powers for good.
Roberto admires himself in the mirror and realizes that he’s glad Pierce didn’t turn him into a killer.
Dani realizes that she chose life over death when she chose to help Rahne, rather than take vengeance on Pierce, and wonders if she’ll be happy here.
Rahne admires the costume that disappears when she changes.
All of them join Xavier in the study and the Professor silently notes that Rahne must possess a sort of healing factor, considering her rapid recovery. However, he also notes Dani’s silver belts and her boots and asks what the meaning of this is. Dani replies that she’s Cheyenne and won’t deny her heritage. Plus, this is her way f expressing her individuality. In the past, Xavier may have forbidden this but now he sees Dani’s point. They are individuals.
He asks Rahne to open the door. A visitor is approaching. It is Sam Guthrie, whom Xavier has invited. Xavier asks the others to trust him but Roberto still carries a grudge for Sam attacking him from behind. Sam apologizes and offers his hand and the girls urge Roberto to give Sam a chance. Roberto relents, haughtily informing Sam that he is welcome here. Dani jokes whether it’s Roberto running the school or Xavier. Xavier, Roberto replies, for now. Seeing his new students laugh, Xavier himself smiles for the first time in weeks. Life goes on.