Africa, a small village near the Selima Oasis in northern Sudan. A small team of X-Men, consisting of Storm, Cyclops, Cannonball and Phoenix, are there, fighting troops of Humanity’s Last Stand, a radical fringe group which perceives mutants as a plague that needs to be eradicated.
Humanity’s Last Stand has already initiated a full-scale attack against the village, populated exclusively by what mutants are left of what was once called Gene Nation, effectively conducting a merciless culling of its population. The H.L.S. troops are employing techno-organic constructs called Razors in their attack against the X-Men and Gene Nation. As the battle starts heating up, Storm tells the X-Men to hold their ground. “We must put an end to this butchery!” she exclaims. While releasing her lightning bolts against Razors and troops, Storm detects some Razors breaking through the lines of the X-Men. Ororo orders Cannonball to try and draw the Razors’ fire away from the several injured villagers. Sam nods reassuringly and leaves to the appointed task.
Meanwhile, Cyclops and his wife, Phoenix, use their powers of optic blasts and telepathy/telekinesis respectively against the attackers. Jean telepathically informs her husband that these Razors are beyond any cybernetic technology she is familiar with. Apparently, they are morphing and adapting to whatever form of attack the X-Men release against them. Jean laments that Hank McCoy is not there with them, as his scientific expertise would come in handy given the circumstances. Cyclops agrees; apparently they will have to make it on their own resources so as to prevent the Razors from turning this fight into a full-scale slaughter.
Nearby, Cannonball damages a Razor while realizing that, in spite of how invulnerable he is supposed to be while blasting, he is still unsure of how many more direct hits he can endure. Another mutant, of light purple skin and white hair, watches Cannonball being surrounded by several Razors and realizes that the young X-Man is in trouble. The mutant asks Cannonball if he’d like a boost and, without really expecting a response, he jumps onto Cannonball, essentially being absorbed in Sam’s body and boosting his powers.
Immediately, Sam feels incredibly energized; his power suddenly kicks into overdrive shooting him through the Razors like an unstoppable human battering ram. As excited as Sam feels, he can’t control the added velocity and finally blasts right onto some rocks, resulting in both he and the purple-skinned mutant lying on the ground dizzy and trying to get back on their feet.
When Cannonball asks him how he did that, the purple-skinned man tells him he’s a mutant. His name is Boost. Boost explains to him that he is sort of a living battering cell, able to augment other people’s powers by body-jumping into them after making physical contact. Boost remarks his power is pretty useful when he and his comrades come out in packs. Cannonball thanks him for his assistance, and introduces himself.
Suddenly, they are approached by a mutant woman of reptilian features, complete with green skin and a prehensile tail. She addresses Boost as “beloved” and scolds him for leaving her side and making her feel scared for him. Boost addresses his lover as Tether and apologizes, telling her he was helping out the X-Man. Sam realizes Tether’s tail is electrified and warns her to watch that thing, as her tail wraps around him. Tether remarks, in a hissing voice, that if the outsider can’t fend for himself, he shouldn’t be there. She then says that the time for talk is over and now is the time for battle. As Tether and Boost begin fighting the Razors, Sam joins them, telling Tether that he can fend for himself just fine. She responds to that by telling him he can still prove himself as there are plenty of enemies to slay.
The battle continues for some longer until finally the Razors start retreating. Tether suggests that they go after them. Storm declines, however, telling her to have a look around. They are in no shape to fight and there are many wounded to be tended to. Storm suddenly spots another member of the Gene Nation, D’Gard. “Thank the goddess that you are unharmed” she exclaims. She had begun to fear the worst when she couldn’t find him earlier.
However, D’Gard reprimands Storm by telling her that the “worst” has already happened. Carnage has taken place and Storm wasn’t there to look after them, like she had promised. D’Gard reveals that, ever since Storm condemned the Gene Nation in this bleak existence, he has come to serve as the village’s appointed leader in her absence. Faithfully and without question, they have strived to live under the guidelines she set for them after she freed them from Rasputin’s tyranny and brought him there. But, he continues, he can no longer hold back his tongue.
He addresses himself and his people as the surviving warrior castes of the former Gene Nation, the proud descendants of the legendary Morlocks. “Yet now we are people without identity” he adds. He feels that his people are now condemned to spend the rest of their lives in that harsh and barren region, vulnerable by their lack of autonomy. He believes humanity still sneers at them with contempt while devising nastier ways to decimate mutantkind. He always felt that his empathic powers were a blessing but he now sees them as a curse, as his soul is haunted by the anguished cries of those suffering.
D’Gard concludes his speech by exclaiming that it is Storm’s negligence that has lead to the decimation of his people, given that they were once numbered in the hundreds whereas now they have dwindled in the dozens. D’Gard insists that if Storm’s ways of leadership continue being followed, all of his people will be eventually eradicated.
A furious Jean telepathically tells Scott that all this is absurd, as what has happened here is not Ororo’s fault. Scott cuts her short, though, telling her this is Storm’s turf and they shouldn’t undermine her authority by intervening.
Nearby, Tether also verbally attacks Storm, by revealing that their transmission tower has been down ever since the initial attack by Humanity’s Last Stand. According to Tether, it is rather apparent that the X-Men were paying so little notice to them that they failed to notice their satellite communications with the African village - where Ororo placed them so as to live a peaceful life – had been severed almost a month ago. The X-Men’s procrastination has only led to many of them being wiped out prior to the team’s coming.
Storm apologizes, telling her that the X-Men were occupied with other pressing matters and there was no way she could have foreseen what happened. Tether finds this a pathetic excuse, though, and says that she holds her accountable for what has been happening to them ever since she abandoned them. Storm confesses that she hoped to take them from the hatred of the civilized world and make them live a happy life by bringing them to the Selima Oasis. She believed that place would be safe; she was terribly wrong and her mistake will forever weigh heavy in her conscience.
Tether retorts that nobody cares for her conscience and that it is her and her people that pay the price of her unfortunate decisions – with their blood. As Tether begins intimidating Storm with her electrified tail, Boost urges her to calm down a bit. However, Tether insists that Storm’s weakness will be their undoing. Their not hunting down the Razors was a mistake they are all going to pay when they will return in even greater numbers. Will Storm be there then or will she be conveniently absent, Tether asks?
Cannonball intervenes, arguing that dishing out blame isn’t going to help anyone right now. They should postpone this discussion until the wounded have been taken care of. Storm agrees, adding that everything and everyone will have to wait.
As night falls, the rescue works continue in earnest. By dawn, the field has been cleared of any living survivors, whereas the dead ones are to be buried in the morning. In one tent utilized as a shelter, Scott tends to the wounded when Cannonball walks in carrying another injured villager. When Cyclops asks him how he is holding up, Cannonball replies that he was going to ask him the same thing, as Cyke looks kind of drained. Cannonball asks him if the last of the shelters is in place to which Cyclops answers affirmatively. Cannonball is happy to hear that; they will be of no use if they push themselves to the point of collapsing from exhaustion. Cyclops walks out of the tent, informing Sam that once the perimeter is secure, they will take shifts. Cannonball tells him that he wouldn’t count on that.
Cyclops asks him what he means by that when he realizes himself what Cannonball meant. The terrorist group known as the Brotherhood have just teleported themselves in the midst of the African village. The trio consists of Scott’s brother, Havok, Dark Beast (a twisted alternate reality version of Beast) and the mutant assassin Fatale who was the one who teleported them there. Alex remarks that, judging by Scott’s expression, he wasn’t happy to see him.
“What are you doing here? And what are you doing with him?” demands an exasperated Cyclops, pointing at Dark Beast. Havok calmly replies that Dark Beast is part of his Brotherhood. “After what he did to Hank? After what he did to you?! What the blazes has gotten into you?” asks Cyclops. Alex reminds Scott that the X-Men themselves, not so long ago, brought Sabretooth into their home and tried to reform him – Sabretooth, of all people! Even more aggressively, he reminds Scott that Xavier himself had started turning into Onslaught at that time. Alex argues that if it wasn’t for the blind devotion Xavier’s students showed to him, the whole Onslaught catastrophe could have been averted.
Suddenly, Storm cuts Havok’s outbreak short by unleashing some intimidating lightning bolts around him. She tells him that this is enough and he has made his point clear. Havok contemplates that Storm is right and he shouldn’t come out as an obnoxious terrorist – after all, he considers himself one of the good guys! However, he realizes that every time he’s with Scott, he just becomes infuriated.
Through their mindlink, Scott and Jean argue over Alex. Jean pleads Scott to let cooler heads prevail and leave this matter into Storm’s hands. Cyclops retorts that the last time he saw Alex, his own brother tried to kill him.
Storm, rather angrily, demands that Havok tells them what he wants there. Havok replies that he wants nothing; he has only come to give them a warning and offer protection against the coming invaders. As the mutants of Gene Nation begin gathering around him, Havok addresses them all as the harbinger of bad news. Humanity’s Last Stand has authorized final sanctions against their nation, by releasing another attack with a full regiment of Razors in the way. Havok offers protection from their enemies and a guaranteed victory in the coming battle. He also offers freedom from their oppression for those willing to follow him and pursue a better life, something entirely better than anything Storm and her X-Men could ever hope to provide for them.
As the crowd starts fussing, McCoy stands nearby, locked in his own thoughts. He deems the way the gathered masses cower at Havok’s words to be pathetic. The birth of Gene Nation was the result of his own genius and it disgusts him to see his elite strain of genetically engineered warriors reduced to pitiable, cowardly creatures. McCoy believes that Storm and Mikhail Rasputin are to be blamed for turning these mutants into such pathetic creatures. He will hunt them down and kill them one day for doing so, but not yet. He must have patience; nobody should suspect his plans. While he keeps thinking, Fatale looks at him and realizes that McCoy must be scheming something.
Storm questions Havok’s motives, wondering whether this could be another deception on his part. Cyclops doubts that, telling her he has nothing to gain. D’Gard’s empathic abilities confirm that Havok speaks the truth. Cyclops adds that they will have to be mobilized immediately as they don’t know how much time they have before the forces of Humanity’s Last Stand arrive.
Meanwhile, Tether discusses with her lover, Boost. She tells him she is sick of Storm and her empty promises. She believes that once this crisis is over, Havok and his Brotherhood may be the ticket out of that godforsaken place. Boost doubts that, though, arguing that Storm has earned the right to lead them, time and again. Tether disagrees, since, as far as she’s concerned, Storm lost the right to lead them the day she dumped them to Africa. Boost claims he doesn’t see it like that and he won’t be bullied off his own land. Tether accuses him of being stubborn but adds that she loves him and as long as he wishes to remain there, she will stay next to him.
Storm finally welcomes Havok’s involvement in helping in the coming battle and shakes his hand, calling a temporary truce. Havok agrees, after which Storm adds that they will discuss some of their disagreements once the crisis is over. Right now, though, they have much to prepare for.
In a pensive mood, D’Gard wonders whether Storm’s persistence of keeping them outside the affairs of the outside world was an attempt to shelter them or rather keep them in check. He starts wondering whether it’d be wiser to seek a permanent alliance with the Brotherhood.
Overhead, several specially-modified transports maneuver into position as they enter their designated drop zones. The anxious assault troops squirm at their posts as support crews perform last-minute diagnostics checks on the Razors’ weapon systems. Commander Jared McGee’s authoritative voice booms over the communication array, urging the other pilots to be ready for battle.
McGee angrily shouts that the people of Gene Nation have made no secret of their hatred for humanity. Their publicly stated goal reveals that all they wish is to bring about the destruction of all humankind, thus, the troops of Humanity’s Last Stand should show no mercy to them – every last Gene National should be eradicated.
One of the troops, a man called Sean, tells another one of his colleagues of his suspicions that one of those Gene Nationals assassinated presidential candidate Graydon Creed. After all, the Gene Nation did disrupt one of Creed’s rallies once while they were terrorizing New York City. Sean also reminds his interlocutor that the Gene Nationals slaughtered thirty-three people in a disco once. Instantly though, Sean realizes his goof and tells the other troop, Lieutenant Commander Coral Trent, to forgive him: he had forgotten her sister was among the casualties in that disco attack. Coral tells him it’s okay but she starts weeping, remembering how her 21-year old sister, Eve, died in that particular attack. Coral launches into an angry mood, telling Sean that today is the day of retribution – today is the day the Gene Nation will pay for all the innocent blood they have spilled.
At that moment, with synchronous positions, the transport’ bay doors slowly gape open, unleashing the deadly Razors. Miles below, the villagers brace themselves for the battle as they witness dozens of Razors making their way to the ground.
As Havok cries “incoming,” the battle commences. McCoy tells Cyclops that using solely their strength against these technological monstrosities is crude and practically useless. “Do you have something better in mind?” Cyclops asks. Dark Beast answers affirmatively, adding though that he will need the telekinesis of Phoenix. As Cyclops realizes how unnervingly similar Dark Beast’s speech patterns are with those of Beast, he tells Jean to go with him, only watch her back.
Meanwhile, Fatale is in trouble as she is approached by one Razor but is feeling too dazed after being hit to teleport herself out of its way. Cannonball appears, though, and saves her. Witnessing this scene, D’Gard realizes that Cannonball put his own life at risk to save Fatale, doubting whether she’d have done that for him.
Nearby, Storm watches in horror as some Razors fire their weapons at the cluster of rocks that overlook the settlement, bringing tons of boulders crashing down on top of several villagers. As Ororo hears their screams, she retaliates by lashing out with unbridled fury, permanently disabling those Razors’ systems with several well-placed lightning blasts. Storm, along with several Gene Nationals rush towards the aid of those trapped underneath the debris, as D’Gard can sense many entombed and crying in despair. Storm does not dare use her elemental powers to clear away the debris out of fear she might do more harm than good to any survivors buried below. Thus, Storm, D’Gard and other Gene Nationals are forced to use their arms to clear piles of rubble while crawling through cracks and makeshift tunnels to reach the entombed villagers.
As Ororo crawls through one of those tunnels, her claustrophobia starts getting to her but she tries to fight it away. D’Gard senses her suffering, even though Storm assures him she’s fine. D’Gard realizes that Storm is a warrior of true courage and selfless compassion, willing to overcome her phobia in order to rescue his people. He also realizes that perhaps he has misjudged the X-Men, as he feels somewhat inspired by their innate nobility.
Meanwhile, inside the huge Razor he controls, Commander McGee contacts Lieutenant Trent, telling her he has detected a large group of mutants sitting all together under some makeshift shelters at the far side of the camp. As McGee starts transmitting the coordinates to Trent’s Razor modules targeting scanners, Trent begins preparing the systems to launch an attack against the unsuspecting wounded villagers hiding in the shelter.
In horror, Cannonball realizes those two Razors are headed for the wounded. With his powers amplified by Boost and carrying Tether with him, Cannonball rushes to them but it is too late: they can just watch as the Razors release their blasts on the shelter, obviously killing anyone present. Amidst the smoke arising from the place of the slaughter, a shocked Cannonball can only cough while Boost and Tether are driven feral by this ongoing genocide.
As news of the latest massacre spread among the rest of the Gene Nationals, they are all driven into killing frenzy. Cyclops realizes that everyone is out for blood. Havok tells him that he can’t blame them for that. Neither side will surrender. Humanity’s Last Stand won’t be satisfied until their “ethnic cleansing” is over. Alex concludes that that it’s a nasty world out there and they can only survive if they play as rough as the bad guys. Scott is astonished by the bitterness in his brother’s voice and protests that there has to be another way. Alex tells Scott that if he believes that he must be a bigger fool than he ever imagined and then rushes back into the battle.
Nearby, Phoenix maintains a protective telekinetic bubble around herself and McCoy, so that the latter can carry out his theory without having to waste time and energy watching his back. As Dark Beast examines a fallen module, Phoenix argues that she can’t really understand what he hopes to accomplish by dissecting it. McCoy explains that every one of the Razors is equipped with an emergency override system, a built-in fail-safe in case someone tries to use the weapons of Humanity’s Last Stand against itself. McCoy intends to insert a command function of their choosing onto one of the routine test signals of the Razors in order to disable all Razors simultaneously, given that the F.O.R. system on every unit is tuned to the same frequency. Jeans tells him to hurry up, since, as he may have noticed, people are dying around them.
Suddenly, though, Dark Beast realizes that the safeguards make it impossible to access the Razors’ weapon systems. However, he hopes that he may be able to gain entry into the lesser subsystems. Indeed, he does so within seconds. Jean informs him that she has telepathically contacted Storm and briefed her on their progress. Storm will be ready to commence Phase Two once she makes a quick pick-up.
Indeed, a flying Storm grabs Boost and hurriedly tells him of their plan. Storm heads for an elevated vantage spot overlooking the battle zone. There, on her command, Boost body-jumps inside the X-Man increasing Ororo’s control over the elements to a level beyond her normal limits. Ororo feels amazingly energized. As her body starts glowing, the boost to her powers allows her to conjure up a raging sandstorm wide enough to engulf the area above the entire settlement.
At the same moment, McCoy utters the magic word “done” and transmits a simple flight command to the Razors, which sends them all suddenly flying up into the skies and straight into the sandstorm that awaits them above. As Ororo maintains the sandstorm, she thinks that they should have done this as soon as the Razors raided against them but they were caught unawares, without time to properly prepare for their attack. Storm vows that no more lives will be lost: it’s time for a strike back.
As Storm maintains the huge sandstorm, the X-Men, Brotherhood and Gene Nationals all strike in unison, with the Razors’ pilots being helpless to do anything but clench tightly to their consoles in paralyzed fright.
By mid-day, the fighting has ceased. The Razors have either been routed or destroyed and the troops have been captured and corralled together in pens. However, tension is in the air as concerns the fate of the captives. On behalf of the Gene Nationals, Tether tells Storm that they seek justice. The humans should pay for the heinous way they slaughtered Tether’s people and the only suitable form of punishment is death. However, Storm states that the X-Men do not condone death. Tether angrily asks whether they are supposed to just let them go so they can come back with twice the firepower and slain them. Tether proclaims how obvious Storm’s weakness is by failing to do what needs to be done and then turns to Havok, teasing him whether his boasts of playing hard were merely boasts. She asks him to prove the better way of life he promises by using his plasma bursts to carry out the well-deserved executions of the human butchers.
As Alex silently contemplates that, Scott tries to convince him to no, reminding him that he will be no better than the troops if he goes for it. Alex tells Scott that he does need him to serve as his conscience and he is perfectly capable of making his own moral judgments as he has made for years now. Scott angrily doubts that, reminding Alex that he tried to kill him the last time he saw him. As Havok insists that, unlike during that earlier event, he is in his right mind now, he punches Scott, urging him to shut up. As the Summers brothers start fighting, D’Gard realizes that it is stupid to propose they are striving to find peace with humans when they cannot find it amongst themselves. Storm remains silent to that, unable to offer a response.
Unnoticed in all the confusion, Dark Beast approaches the captives, carrying a makeshift weapon he just made by reconfiguring some of the discarded Razor hardware. As the troops watch in horror, McCoy exclaims “sayonara, suckers” and blasts them all, seemingly wiping every last one of them off. D’Gard kneels on the ground, sensing all those voices suddenly being silenced. A horrified Cyclops lashes out against Alex, asking him whether he is upset that McCoy killed them first. Alex tells him that he just feels relieved someone was willing to show some backbone and do it. In truth, though, Alex is thinking that he can’t allow Scott to realize he isn’t into McCoy’s deceptions and thus risk his undercover.
As Jean discusses with Cyclops through their mindlink, Scott tells her it’s hard to accept Alex’s newfound cold-hearted nature. Jean tries to console him by telling him she doesn’t believe Alex could carry out the execution on his own, plus he was unaware of Dark Beast’s intentions.
Meanwhile, Dark Beast approaches Fatale, asking her if she got them all. Apparently, Fatale used her powers to teleport all the troops out of there, even though McCoy made it seem as an execution so as to fool everyone present. Fatale reveals that she only helped McCoy so that he didn’t really execute the people, adding that the masses seem to have bought her “performance.” Fatale is unaware, though, that she has delivered them into a possibly worse fate. The human captives will be used for the biogenics experiments secretly conducted in McCoy’s gene-pools – although McCoy himself does not intend to reveal that to either Fatale or Havok.
A furious Storm approaches Dark Beast and uses her powers to levitate him in the air, telling him that nobody gave him the right to pass judgment. Dark Beast tells her she should get over her self-righteous pedestal, given that everybody knew those murderers deserved to die.
D’Gard suddenly shouts that this bickering is pointless, as none of these two has any right to claim the title of authority over the remnants of Gene Nation. Storm reminds him that she has repeatedly earned the right to lead them by right of combat. However, D’Gard insists that, despite the newfound respect he has gained for the X-Men, her word is no longer law among his people. He also tells Storm she had better release McCoy.
As Storm complies, she asks D’Gard if he condones Dark Beast’s actions. D’Gard clarifies that he does not; he just refuses to take sides between the two of them and allow any more outsiders to dictate their lives. From now on, they want no involvement with the outside world; they just want to be left alone. He informs her that they have chosen to remain in Africa under their own terms, rebuild their settlement and surround the perimeter with the remains of the Razors as a warning for future assailants. Hearing this, Boost feels it’s stupid of them to remain here and keep on being hunted down. He tells Tether that if she still wants to leave, he’s with her.
Speaking with Havok, McCoy suggests that they leave quickly before things get messy with the X-Men. Havok agrees and tells him that he’ll deal with him later for the stunt he pulled earlier, the fake. However, Fatale informs them that she’s now too weak to teleport them out of here. Boost intervenes, telling them he can enhance Fatale’s powers, thus ensuring the trio’s exit as long as Boost and Tether leave with them. Boost and Tether, though, have no desire to join the Brotherhood’s ranks and wish to be dropped off in a place of their choosing. Havok agrees and they all prepare for departure, unnoticed by the X-Men. Suddenly, Cannonball notices them preparing to teleport and blasts towards them but is too late as they are all gone.
Storm turns back to D’Gard, telling him that he doesn’t hold McCoy accountable for what he did. D’Gard replies that blame is not so easily cast and are all at least partly to blame for what occurred that same day. Storm confesses how reluctant she feels to abandon the Gene Nationals to fend for themselves but also acknowledges her inability to effectively lead them while maintaining an active role in the X-Men.
D’Gard assures her that he will rule in her stead with wisdom and compassion and try to put an end to the violence that has plagued his people for generations. The Gene Nationals no longer desire to perpetuate the war between humans and mutants, they only want to live their lives in peace. However, they will not hesitate to defend themselves with the use of lethal force against any further attacks from Humanity’s Last Stand or any other extremist groups of their kind. Storm accepts D’Gard’s terms.
A short while later, D’Gard sees the X-Men off, telling them he regards them as allies and hopes they feel the same. He also tells them that they should see their village as a sanctuary if they ever need it. Cyclops reciprocates the support and informs D’Gard that they will contact Muir Island so as to have them send over food and medical supplies until the Gene Nation is back on its feet.
As Storm discusses with Jean, she confesses her belief that D’Gard is a remarkable man and will prove a good role model for his people and perhaps succeed in offering them the spiritual guidance Ororo herself failed to provide. Jean tells Ororo she made the right decision by leaving things in D’Gard’s hands. Storm appreciates Jean for her vote of confidence and believes that leaving him in charge is for the best, although only time will tell for certain.