In 1999, a war between the Pan-American Confederacy and the Eurac Monarchy (comprising Europe, Africa, and Asia) resulted in a nuclear holocaust. 20 years later, radiation has rendered all remaining humans sterile, and the victorious Euracs have occupied Manhattan and hunt survivors for genetic experiments.
After winning a motorized deathmatch in Nevada, an ex-Confederate soldier named Parsifal is abducted and taken to the Confederacy's secret base in Alaska. The President of the Confederacy tells him there is a fertile woman somewhere in New York City. He offers Parsifal a place on a Confederate rocketship bound for Alpha Centauri if he can infiltrate the city and retrieve her; otherwise, he will be killed. When Parsifal proposes sending in a cyborg instead, the President reveals the Confederacy eliminated all its cyborgs.
Parsifal is accompanied by two Confederate agents, Bronx and Ratchet. After entering Manhattan through the sewers, they are attacked by the Harlem Hunters, a street gang. They escape and come upon the Needle People, a group of scavengers led by the Rat Eater King, preparing to kill a dwarf named Shorty. Parsifal intervenes, and the three agents are captured. Eurac troops raid the scavengers’ hideout and bring Parsifal, Bronx, and Ratchet to their base along with a scavenger girl, Giara.
Parsifal escapes and rescues Bronx and Giara. Bronx stays behind and is killed, while Parsifal and Giara are saved by Ratchet. The three escape into the sewers and find refuge in a subterranean dwarf colony with Shorty, who claims to know the location of the fertile woman. The colony is attacked by Euracs using sonic weapons, and Parsifal, Giara, Ratchet, and Shorty flee. They are saved by a group of ape-like mutants, led by Big Ape. When Parsifal explains their mission, Big Ape reveals he is also fertile. That night, Parsifal protects Giara from one of Big Ape's mutants, and they have sex.
Shorty leads them to an underground vault, where they find a deceased professor and a life support chamber containing Melissa, the professor's daughter, who entered hibernation before the bombs fell and thus remained fertile. They also find a station wagon to escape through the Lincoln Tunnel. Big Ape and Giara stay with Melissa while Shorty, Parsifal, and Ratchet leave to find armor plating for the car. Big Ape then knocks Giara unconscious and impregnates Melissa.
At a junkyard, Shorty distracts the Euracs and sacrifices himself to buy Parsifal and Ratchet time to salvage. They return, collect Melissa, and drive through a cave wall into the tunnel. Parsifal manages to navigate the armored car past several minefields and barricades to freedom, but Big Ape is killed by a laser trap. While driving through the desert to their rendezvous, Parsifal deduces that Ratchet is actually a cyborg. Ratchet attacks him and stabs Giara before Parsifal kills him. Giara begs Parsifal ensure humanity's survival as she dies in his arms.
Back at the Confederacy's headquarters, the President reveals that he is terminally ill, and gives Parsifal his place on the rocketship, which is revealed to be the base itself. As the ship blasts off, Parsifal watches Melissa finally awaken.
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