Rachel Summers screams. The X-Men respond to Summers' cries of distress. They find their home surrounded by desert. In the distance, they see their junior member, Kitty Pryde, trying to drag the mailman towards the mansion. Nightcrawler teleports out to Pryde, only to immediately teleport back, clearly shaken. The Wolverine is sent out to render assistance. The Wolverine finds himself rapidly undergoing physical changes associated with starvation. Pryde, and the mailman, are suffering the same ill effects. The Wolverine guts the mailman, restoring the surrounding environs to normal.
After establishing a safe perimeter around the mansion, the X-Men regroup to determine what just happened. Hours later, Peter Rasputin, the X-Man known as "Colossus", takes the edge off with a quick swim. Rasputin is forced to switch to his armored form, when his towel tries to drown him. Towers of gleaming metal burst from the ground, destroying the mansion. Rasputin is confronted by his fellow X-Men, who have all become living metal. The X-Men convince Rasputin to willingly trade in his humanity to forever be protected from pain. Rasputin breaks down.
After Rasputin has been tended to, Pryde excuses herself to the kitchen. Pryde encounters the living embodiment of famine, and barely survives the encounter. Nightcrawler comes to Pryde's aid, only to be struck down by a crisis of faith. The remaining X-Men scour their surroundings for any sign of their unknown foe. Magneto uses Cerebro to try to locate their attacker. Magneto is thrust into a horrific world where mutants have wiped out all of humanity, and Magneto holds say over the world. The magnitude of Magneto's feelings of guilt and remorse bring him down.
Summer's telepathic search draws her into her own past, when she served as a mutant-hunting hound for her human masters. Summers embraces her legacy, as the Phoenix, and destroys the world. Hunting in the woods, the Wolverine finds himself split into two beings, one fully human, the other bestial. The Wolverine faces himself in lethal combat. The Wolverine's humanity triumphs over the beast inside. Storm is drawn into a house of mirrors where various aspects of herself are revealed to her. Storm refuses to be forced into choosing a singe aspect to build her life around.
Drawn further into the circus-like environment, Storm is tempted into a food fight, but offers the food instead to the starving masses of humanity. Slowly, the X-Men recover from the terrible psychic onslaught. Rogue wonders why she was never targeted. Summers tracks their attacker to Africa. The X-Men journey to a refuge camp for famine survivors. When one of the famine relief planes threatens to murder several of the refuges, the X-men quickly resolve the crisis. The X-Men spend the rest of the day assisting the refuges, in whatever way they can.
Looking to take the fight to their unseen foe, Rogue steals all the powers of the X-Men, to confront the entity alone. Rogue traces the creature to an ancient temple, buried in the desert for centuries. The creature attacks Rogue, who tries to absorb it's essence. Rogue is overwhelmed, as the entity takes control of her. Storm fights a desperate battle against the creature, keeping it occupied long enough for the X-Men to revive, and regain their stolen powers. Nigthcrawler is the first to join the fight, followed by Colossus, the Wolverine, and the rest. Summers telepathically separates the creature from Rogue.
The entity, which exists as pure psychic energy, however, cannot be destroyed. As long as there is human suffering in the world, it will continue to exist. The X-Men continue to render aid to the refuge camp, disheartened by their hollow victory. The X-Men draw some small comfort in the knowledge that though the entity will always exist, so, too will the X-Men, to stand against it.