The Proletarian, Rogue, and Nightcrawler track down Wolverine, who’s being tortured by Omega Red in Siberia for a crime he no longer remembers. They are assisted by Thunderbird, temporarily on loan from the Hellions to aid in efforts to track down Apocalypse. Afraid to use her powers after the revelation that they are killing her, Rogue unsuccessfully attempts to bluff Omega Red. Thunderbird crashes down through the roof and executes an ambush that nearly disables Red, before the Proletarian finishes the job with a Colossal punch.
While they are recovering, they achieve a signal from SHIELD that Apocalypse has been tracked to a village near the Chinese-Russian border. With no time to secure Omega Red and reluctant to try to restrain him while facing a fight, the Proletarian throws Omega Red into a glacier that it will take him some time to escape from.
What they discover upon arrival is a Chinese village devastated by a missile attack and the Black Widow leading a S.H.I.E.L.D. team in a fight with the People’s Defense Force. There is a pitched battle in while the Chinese team proves itself tough. Radioactive Man contaminates the Proletarian with enough radiation that he has to flee the village so that he does not accidentally poison the villagers or his own allies. Wolverine, Rogue and the Black Widow are knocked out of the fight in a devastating area attack from the Lady of the Ten Suns.
However, Thunderbird disappears into the blasted village and executes a cunning ambush on Radioactive Man, using his mutant strength to knock the other mutant out. Then he jumps off a roof to slam the Lady of Ten Suns and cause the suns to set. Nightcrawler teleports to catch the Lady before she slams against the ground and makes an appeal to the Collective Man to stop the useless battle. The Collective Man agrees to let everyone else go if he can arrest the Black Widow as the responsible party for the attack. Nightcrawler agrees, intimidating the SHIELD agents into standing down. However before she is carted away, Black Widow whispers a message to the Proletarian. “It is confirmed.” She also rebukes the Proletarian’s naiveté. A village of Chinese peasants… or for that matter Russian peasants… would be a small price to pay if they could catch Apocalypse in a missile strike.
In the aftermath Wolverine offers Thunderbird his respect. He comments that if the Apache mutant wants a true resolution between them, they should make time to go into the desert after all this is over and have a contest to count coup on each other. Satisfied with having twice rescued Wolverine (as he sees it), Thunderbird agrees to this proposal to put an end to their rivalry.
The X-Men take the Proletarian to Moscow, where he delivers the message. The Russian general he delivers it to threatens to arrest the X-Men, stating the the Black Widow’s message confirms the United States is planning to launch a first strike nuclear attack on the Soviet Union. The X-Men protest that they are not agents of the US government and promise to intervene to stop any attack. At the Proletarian’s urging (and implied threat) the Russians release the X-Men. Some rapid investigation reveals that both the US and the USSR are being fed information through SHIELD suggesting the other side is planning an attack. Nixon and the Russian leader are planning to meet in Paris for a last attempt to lower tensions and negotiate out of the situation.
Then they receive notice that the Absorbing Man is breaking mutants out of the Raft. The X-Men realize that Apocalypse set Omega Red and Absorbing Man on their missions to distract them while he antagonizes a nuclear conflict between the United States and the USSR; and they reluctantly decide to ignore the Raft breakout while the concentrate on the greater threat. They agree to ally with the Brotherhood in send a team to Paris while Mystique leads an infiltration mission into the Triskelion. There they discover that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been infiltrated by Hydra; led by an analyst who is secretly. Madame Hydra. Overcoming her reluctance to use her powers, Rogue steals Madame Hydra’s memories. Rogue realizes that Apocalypse has been tutoring Baron von Strucker, leader of this secret organization that has been in hiding for the 25 years since the end of WW II. The Nazi mistake was to try to take freedom from people. Instead, show them why freedom is terrible; make them so afraid they’ll be desperate to hand over their freedom. Apocalypse uses Hydra to provoke nuclear conflict through S.H.I.E.L.D. Hydra expects to unite the remnants of humanity in the aftermath under their new world order. Apocalypse thinks if they can survive, they deserve it.
The plan was not yet ripe, but Apocalypse ordered it set in motion anyway due to the X-Men exposing him to the world. He thinks a nuclear war will erase him from history. Nightcrawler delivers Made Hydra to Nick Fury’s desk, telling him he should clean up his house.
As the X-Men prepare to depart, Wolverine receives a call from Sabertooth on the Blackbird’s phone. Apocalypse is sending Weapon X to attack the Xavier Institute….