New Mexico – the secluded military installation once known as the Hulkbuster Base. It is a place of technological marvels and hidden terrors. Built years ago by the United States government to contain the destructive force of the monster known as the Incredible Hulk, the bunker extends thousands of feet beneath the desert floor, each level filled with the nation’s most guarded secrets. Today, it serves a purpose far, far more sinister.
As an aircraft approaches the base, it informs those below that it has arrived from Colorado with the neutralized mutant designates. They then request that they secure the perimeter and commence off-loading. As Prime Sentinels fly above, a captured Jubilee tells Bastion that he is really pushing the credibility envelope with this one. Bastion informs her that it’s true. The outlaw group of mutants she calls the X-Men have been brought to justice. The nest in Salem Center has been breached and very soon, their entire race will be extinct. No longer will mankind live in fear of their genetically-enhanced cousins. Jubilee answers by telling Bastion that he went over the top with that “Wolvy begging for mercy” bit the last time, but now she expects her to believe that he took out Storm, Cyclops, and Cannonball, and trashed the Xavier Institute – as if!
As Jubilee speaks, Storm, Cyclops and Cannonball appear before them with dampers on them. Bastion tells Jubilee that the time for charades is over. Operation: Zero Tolerance – the design by which he will destroy mutant-kind – is on verge of success and it is owned in part to the information he took from Jubilee’s mind. At that moment, Cannonball begins to stir and tells Bastion, a low-down gene Nazi, to take his dampers off. He challenges them to fight him one-on-one. From behind, one of Bastion’s guards smacks Cannonball in the back of his head, knocking him out.
Seeing this, Jubilee angrily tells him to leave Sam alone. When she charges the guard she discovers that they are only holograms – nothin’ but smoke and mirrors. As she tells Bastion that he can’t fool her she sees the next bodies being unloaded. The X-Men code-named Phoenix and Wolverine. She tells herself that is merely an illusion but when she sees Logan’s hand resting on Jean’s in a grip that their captors could not have mimicked. In her heart, Jubilee knows that at the end, Wolverine would reach out for Jean one last time. She knows that he would do that with his last breath. She knows that is a detail too subtle for the heavy hand of Bastion. With that knowledge, comes a dark and numbing despair.
Jubilee asks Bastion, this is the real thing, isn’t it? Bastion tells her that truth is self-evident, is it not. What she saw was a real-time holographic projection from the surface. He asks her if she has forgotten that she was ensconced far below the desert floor. He tells her that it is all true. Approximately an hour ago, the X-Men known as Cyclops, Phoenix, Wolverine, Storm and Cannonball were taken into custody by his forces. Yes, even the Xavier Institute has given up its secrets. Soon, they will break the encryption codes for the Xavier Protocols and the Mutant Underground files which hold the key to defeating every X-Man.
When Jubilee protests and tells him that he can’t, Bastion backhands her and tells her that he can and he will. Even now, her fellow X-Men are descending to their perpetual incarceration. He tells her that she will never understand this but he is sorry. It brings him no pleasure, no elation of victory knowing that their kind will perish by his hand. He must protect the human race and mutants are its greatest threat.
In another section of the base, Bastion’s guards are transporting the captured X-Men down to incarceration. A few of the guards notice that the short, hairy one is leaking something fierce. When they turn him over, they wonder what they are taking that freak down to security detention for. Nobody can take damage like that and still be alive. When the guards reach their destination, they call out that they are bringing the prisoners through for the ultra containment block. Some of the guards add the sooner they’re locked up tight in the hole, the better.
At that moment, Bastion exits his command center and tells his guards that he wants to look at them. As he peers upon Wolverine’s lifeless body, he thinks aloud – Homo superior, born with superior human power, yet so like mankind in their vulnerability. Why does he hate them? he wonders. Many of them appear no different than any other human. If he cuts them, they bleed. If he strikes them, they bruise and in times of strife, they take solace from those closest to them. So why does he feel in the deepest core of his being that he must eradicate them?
Frustrated, he storms away and mutters that he wastes precious time in contemplation for what he does, he does for the good of humanity. He then tells the guards that they may proceed.
Soon, Bastion arrives at Professor Charles Xavier’s holding cell and asks him if he ever thought it would end like this. When he formed the X-Men years ago, did he think his foolish dream of peace between the species would die so bitterly? Xavier simply replies that men die, dreams live on.
In the ultra containment block known as the Hole, the guards begin to sort out their prisoners so they can get them in their specialized cells. The red-head goes into number three with the psi-shields. The tall one gets the bunker with ceramic armor and blast-dampers. When the guards pick up Phoenix they notice that the short one caught some heavy damage and that he saved the red-head by absorbing the crash impact. They then determine that there’s no use locking him up – he’s a stiff. He is to be taken down to incineration and stripped of his containment gear before they throw him in the furnace. As two guards drag the short one to incineration, another unlocks all of the cells with the master switch.
In Xavier’s holding cell, Bastion shows images of his “best and brightest” in their respective cells. He tells him that the students he spent so long preparing for this very future have failed utterly. They will be kept there for the remainder of their unnatural lives. Xavier tells him that as long as they still breathe, there is hope. Bastion tells him to spare him the platitudes. He’s heard enough of them in the months since he came to be in his custody. Showing Xavier an image of the animal he calls Wolverine, he tells him that he is a perfect symbol of what humanity fears in mutants. A fear that, deep in his heart of hearts he shares. Ever since the day he took him in, he’s known the moment might come when despite his efforts, he would no longer be able to control his bestial nature. Bastion then adds no matter. Apparently, he did not survive the crash of the aircraft. With that Bastion clicks off the image. Angrily, Xavier calls out the name Logan.
Down in incineration, the guards turn the gas jets on and wait until they build up before they hit the ignition. Inside, Wolverine awakes to the smell of gas. He recognizes that he is in some kind o’ furnace. The last thing he remembers is their plane goin’ down. Body functions must’ve shut down while the ol’ mutant healin’ factor was kickin’ in. Just the, the guards fire up the ignition. Wolverine reacts the only way he knows how – violently and quickly, killing all of the guards.
Soon, Bastion arrives back at the command center and informs Daria that she had better have a good reason for calling him back there. He was beginning to pry a wedge into Xavier’s vaunted mental armor. Daria informs him that Jubilee went into a depressed state once he left. Then, a number of images of raw and unrestrained violence started showing up on the memory scanner. All of the images are of Wolverine. Daria adds that he is like some elemental force of destruction. Bastion replies that the child, Jubilee, is merely acting out. They are less memories than projections of her own frustration. Bastion then says they are of little concern to them. Besides, Wolverine is no more than a mound of warm ashes by now…
Down in the ultra containment block, the guards are smacking around Cannonball, telling him to beg. They tell him that a little earnest pleading will stop the pain. Cannonball is able to mutter out “never” before being kicking again. Just then, a new guard arrives on the scene and inquires as to what is goin’ on down there. Another guard tells him they got them a right surly mutant prisoner. Another adds that the prisoner is disrespectful to his betters, he is. The guard that just entered asks better at what, floating on top of a stagnant pond. Just then, the guard excuses himself while he shoots out the cameras. The guard then removes his mask to reveal himself as none other than Wolverine. He then tells all the sterlin’ examples o’ humanity to drop their weapons, open the cell doors, and pick up the surly young mutant and brush him off, real nice.
As Bastion continues to view images of Wolverine and the violence that he brings, he is interrupted by one of his guards who tells him that have a problem. They’ve lost all visual surveillance on the ultra containment block and now the main board shows them all the cell doors have been opened and relocked. Bastion, shocked, asks what. He demands to see the video feeds from inside the cells. His guard tells him that the main cell cameras are all down, but they still have a feed from the hidden cameras. What he shows Bastion is that the guards are all dead. Upon seeing this, Bastion calls out full security alert, the X-Men are free inside the base.
Down near the containment block, Bastion’s guards run into Bastion, Daria and three Prime Sentinels. Bastion tells the guards that they have reason to believe that the mutant escapes have procured body-armor and weapons. They may be disguised as security troopers. He tells them they have an open clearance to fire upon any trooper – weapons set to “stun” – whoever cannot supply the proper password which is “ninth circle.” The guard confirms the password and lets Bastion and his minions pass. Once on the elevator, Bastion gives the order for them to go to the surface.
In time, the guards happen upon another crew of guards and ask them to identify themselves. The second crew gives the password: “seventh circle.” The first guard calls out wrong and orders his crew to take out the other guards. Upon viewing the destruction, Bastion tells the guard to cease fire; they are firing on their own men! The lead guard informs him that he personally gave them orders to shoot anybody who didn’t know the password. Bastion calls him an idiot. Phoenix, the telepath, entered their minds and made them see his form. From the side, Jubilee laughs about the order given to shoot anybody that looks like Bastion.
Inside the elevator, Storm tells Logan that she cannot bear it. Her claustrophobia, the very thought of being this deep below the surface… Wolverine tells her to hand in there, they’ll have her up in the daylight in no time. Jean then tells Cyclops that it was a strain before, but now, the effort of keeping up the illusion within their psyches… Cyclops tells her to take it easy. It’ll be up to him and Cannonball to blast through the final barriers at the surface. He adds that, by now, they must be alerted to their escape. They’re bound to run into Sentinels – the newer, deadlier version – that took them out before.
Cannonball pipes up that he expects to give as good as he gets. He then tells Jean that was some quick thinkin’ givin’ every group o’ guards they passed a different password. Cyclops adds that she did indeed do good. He then asks Storm if she is going to be able to… Storm tell him that she will be fine. Wolverine, holding her hand tells him that Storm ain’t lettin’ the team down in the bottom o’ the ninth.
In his command center, Bastion reconfigures the monitors to command post mode and activates interactive control surfaces; he’s sealing the facility. With his commands, the surface blast door is sealed. On the monitors, he views Storm, Phoenix, Wolverine, Cannonball and Cyclops taking out Bastion’s guards. He realizes that they are only one level from the surface. He wonders how they got that far and then activates all Sentinel prime units, and orders them to proceed to the blast doors. Their orders are to contain the mutant designates.
When they reach the surface blast door, Cyclops and his crew realize that the exit door is closed on them and are faced with a number of Prime Sentinels. Cannonball looks behind them and points out that there ain’t no turning back either. Wolverine tells him there ain’t never no turning back. Cyclops says that Wolverine is right. They take the offensive, even if it means…
Storm tells Cyclops to stand aside. It is time for her to put her fear behind her and unleash the power that is her namesake. As a child, Ororo Munroe was buried alive – a trauma that left her hopelessly claustrophobic. Confined deep underground, she has fought the primal urge to lash out with her mutant ability to control the weather. But now, with freedom – and open space – close at hand, she releases the fury that is hers to command. When she does, the Prime Sentinels before her are destroyed.
When she is done, Wolverine tells her to just lean on him while Cyke does his thing on the blast door lock. Cyclops tells them all to avert their eyes as he prepares to unleash the full power of his optic blast. Rarely has Scott Summers, also known as Cyclops, allowed himself to use the unrestrained might of his optic blasts less they harm anyone near him. At this moment, however, he is a desperate man – a leader upon whose shoulders rest the lives of his closest friends and of many innocents in the outside world. Innocents who will suffer greatly at the hands of Bastion if the X-Men do not escape and stop him.
Once Cyclops has unleashed his optic blast at the door, it does nothing. Cyclops is disappointed and tells his comrades that he failed. Wolverine tells them that the fat lady ain’t sung yet. With that, they turn to face the onslaught of Prime Sentinels and guards approaching behind them.
In the command center, Daria, Bastion and Jubilee witness the carnage on the screens before them. Daria says that it’s so, so… Bastion asks, “Futile?” Daria says tragic. Bastion tells her that it’s more so than she can imagine, more than she can imagine, but that is their purpose. That is why they exist. Besides, it will be over in a matter of seconds.
Suddenly, Jubilee calls out not if she can help it and proceeds to slam her head into the controls for the blast doors, opening them. Bastion responds by smacking her away. Daria then informs Bastion that the mutants are cutting off the pursuit of the Prime Sentinels by blocking the blast door and collapsing the entranceway around it. Jubilee gets up and says to Bastion that he thought he’d broken her and calls him a loser. Bastion tells her that if he does not succeed, all humanity will be losers. He then orders Daria to prepare a transfer module – he must return to the Xavier Institute.
Outside the base, Cyclops, Storm, Phoenix and Cannonball all get into a vehicle. Cyclops tells Wolverine to come on. They have to get out of there and get some answers. However, Wolverine tells him that somebody opened that door for them and wonders would’a done that for them. Cyclops tells him to never mind that now. If Bastion has declared open war on mutants, they may be the only ones who can stop him.