When the Scarlet Witch had a mental breakdown and destroyed the Avengers (Avengers Disassembled), her brother Quicksilver convinced her to alter reality. In a flash of light the world was changed. Mutants were no longer the minority, hated for the way they were born. Instead, normal humans were subjugated by the powerful mutagenic and super-powered population under the rule of Magneto. Everyone lived content in this new world, knowing nothing of their original histories, only aware of this new world that the Scarlet Witch created. Slowly the Earth's heroes were awakened to what actually occurred by Wolverine, the mysterious young mutant named Layla Miller, and a small band of rebels. Things came to a breaking point during a battle at a celebration at Magneto's palace when the rebel group attacked. After Magneto's eyes were opened to what had actually occurred the world flashed bright white again and the Scarlet Witch changed reality back to how it was with a major exception--over 90% of the world's mutants were now de-powered and a population of mutants that once numbered in the millions now only totalled in the thousands.
Mutants are an even smaller minority than before. Many are taking the opportunity to target the remaining mutants. Few are aware of what actually occurred during this House of M (referred to commonly as M-Day). Speculation as to the reason for the mass de-powering range from a government conspiracy to an act of God. The once proud and mighty Magneto was one of the many mutants left powerless by his daughter. A being called the The Collective, composed of the powers of all the de-powered mutants was born, came down from Alaska to locate Magneto. Telling Magneto that the mutant world needed a leader and that they would follow him, the Collective re-powered Magneto. Controlled by the Collective mind, Magneto is forced to battle the Avengers, who were able to remove the Collective from him. Magneto's weak body was taken into SHIELD custody, but the helicopter he was on exploded in mid-air. He has not been seen since.
Further reading: House of M, Decimation
A young Mutant named Landru is dead. He was not a member of a super-powered peace keeping team. His powers were relatively unimportant. His death was not even out of the ordinary. Landru was hit by a motor vehicle and subsequently died. Still with the number of surviving mutants now numbering in the hundreds rather than the millions that once existed, the death of any mutant is a solemn occasion for mutant-kind. Most of the current X-Men as well as the members X-Factor paid a visit to Landru's funeral. Even Sebastian Shaw, concealed by an image inducer, attended to pay his respects. All who attended the funeral understand some of its implications but perhaps more than Beast. Beast reveals that since the events of M-Day not a single mutant child has been born. It is as if the mutant race was simply removed from the equation.
Beast has sought help from some of the world's brightest minds including Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, and Hank Pym to no avail. None were able to help discern the root of mutancy's disappearance. Still determined to understand the root cause of mutant-kind's endangerment, and possibly restoring the species, Beast summons the nerve to invite some of the X-Men's greatest adversaries into the picture in hopes that such a team could discover what is happening. He initiates talks with the likes of Doctor Doom, Arnim Zola, Dr. Kavita Rao, Mr. Sinister, MODOK, Spiral, Sugar Man, Pandemic, and the High Evolutionary by way of a video conference in hopes that the competition between them would bait at least one of them into giving some form of assistance. Beast offers that in his research he has already discovered several important facets of their race which anyone who helped would become privy to, less some finds which he felt were too dangerous which he "took off of the table" by destroying. Contrary to Beast's hopes and expectations interest in teaming up remained low in the group. M.O.D.O.K. said that A.I.M had their own plans for exploiting the situation. Still recovering from having his life's work thwarted by the likes of the X-Men, Pandemic offered no assistance and hopes for the extinction of mutants. Always arrogant, Mr. Sinister says that there is nothing scientifically that Beast has to offer him. Despite the mass rejection, Beast finds himself curious at the comments of one--the High Evolutionary--who remarked that he should not attempt to embark on such a journey when starting in the wrong direction.
Needing elaboration on his earlier comments, Beast embarks on a journey to meet with the High Evolutionary face-to-face in his hidden home high at the top of Wungadore Mountain. With the assistance of a team of locals that he hired (and with his appearance altered by an image inducer) Beast works to scale the mountain. Toward the top they are stopped by the Knights of Wungadore--the High Evolutionary's personal guards, who intend to turn Beast around. After fighting with the Knights and attempting to plead his case the image of the Evolutionary appears before them and commands his servants to allow Beast entrance to his fortress. There Beast pleads his case to the High Evolutionary himself, begging for some assistance in his quest to save mutants from the brink of extinction. Rather than offer assistance, the Evolutionary tries to talk Beast into abandoning his cause as he believes that the Extinction of mutant kind may simply be natural selection in action--regardless of its catalyst. The Evolutionary also divulges that Beast is not the first person to come to him in search of these same answers, but without elaborating on who else has taken up Beast's quest before him the High Evolutionary fades away revealing that Beast was again talking with a image of the Evolutionary as he continued his work elsewhere. The High Evolutionary commands his subjects to escort Beast out of the compound so that he may leave. With little more to go on than before, Beast must seek help elsewhere.
The next stop in his journey is at the research laboratory of Dr. Kativa Rao. With the scientific help of the extra-terrestrial enemy of the X-Men Ord of the Breakworld, Rao had developed a "cure" which would permanently remove the mutant X-Gene from a mutant's genome making them human. Rao had fallen out of favor in the scientific community when it was revealed that her research and data was not her own but was instead provided by Ord. A laughingstock, Rao was now giving what help she could to one of the very mutant that even considered taking her "cure". Rao informed Beast that little was to be learned from her data. She informed him that she was done her quest, and that Beast could take anything from her that he needed, although she knew that she had nothing that would help. She revealed a refrigerator which held gene samples taken from thousands of mutants prior to M-Day which were provided to her by Ord. Even these genetic samples no longer contained any trace of the x-gene, just like their previous owners. Beast learns from this that the Scarlet Witch had not only de-powered millions of mutants around the world, save for the few remaining members of the species she eliminated all traces of the mutant x-gene which gave them their unique powers and abilities.
Hank's next stop was at the rumored Neverland facility, a compound in Canada created by the Weapon X program for unethical experiments on mutants as well as eventual termination. This place, as Beast would discover, was not very unlike the camps used by the Nazi's during World War II. All that remained of the facility was the remains of the buildings as well as the impeccable daily records records kept by those in charge. Beast notices evidence of "the other" which the High Evolutionary had alluded to having already been there. Not only did this other rifle through the same records which Beast needed, he searched step by step in the same manner that Beast would, only days earlier. There was even evidence of the same search protocols having been used which Beast himself would run. Beast read through the horrific accounts of Neverland--from the experiments conducted, to the prevention of riots, to the collection and final extermination of its inmates as the facility would be closed down. Leaving the buildings to attempt to recover the mass-graves of the once occupants of Neverland Beast is confronted by a face he did not expect to see--the evil and infamous doppelganger of himself from an alternate version of Earth where Apocalypse ruled--Dark Beast.
The Endangered Species Story Arc is slated to kick off June 2007 with the Endangered Species One-Shot and is supposed to continue through October 2007.
Related Story Arcs
House of M - The catalyst that created the M-Day, Endangered Species, and several other story arcs when the Scarlet Witch altered reality and de-powered over 90% of the Earth's mutant population.
Decimation - The events following the House of M, occurring between the House of M and Endangered Species story arcs.
Messiah CompleX - The events that occur after the events of Endangered Species following the first mutant child born since M-Day.