The skies above New York state are serene as Nina DaCosta and her son Roberto near the end of a very long trip. Nina is piloting her son back to Westchester County so he can return to the Xavier School. Their conversation is light and jovial, Roberto obviously anxious to see his friends at Xavier’s. Imagine his surprise when one of them, Sam Guthrie, taps on the cockpit window and asks “How’s tricks M’man?!” Sam apologizes to Mrs. DaCosta for startling her, mentioning that Danielle Moonstar is in tow with her winged steed Brightwind. Roberto explains that Xavier's is a unique school… for unique young people. Just then Illyana Rasputin teleports into the small jet and asks permission to simply 'port Roberto up to the school. Nina agrees and Roberto and Illyana make a short jaunt through the magical realm of Limbo.
Roberto and Illyana are greeted on Xavier's campus by their friends and teammates Amara Aquila and X'ian Coy Mahn with the others following shortly. The New Mutants are jubilant over the reunion and their questions abound about 'Berto's stay in Nova Roma - the nation caught in time combining elements of Ancient Rome and the Incan civilization. X'ian mentions Sam and mutant rock singer Lila Cheney are an item which makes a somewhat jealous 'Berto start some friendly teasing. When he powers up into his Sunspot form, Magma becomes concerned the play fighting may be less than friendly, so she uses her powers to encase Roberto in rock.
Bobby easily smashes his earthen restraints and smoothes over the situation by explaining he didn't mean what he said. Of course in typical Sunspot fashion he immediately starts doling out gifts - especially sentimental among them being a letter from Magma's father who lives on Nova Roma.
At that moment the school dance instructor and P.E. teacher Stevie Hunter comes gracefully striding across the lawn. She's very grateful to receive a gift from Bobby but grows somber at the mention of Tom Corsi and Sharon Friedlander. In the students’ absence from the school, Empath of the Hellions warped Tom and Sharon's emotions and now they are stuck in a deep depression.
Roberto, furious, claims that if headmaster Magneto won't seek vengeance for Empath's trespass, then the New Mutants should! They meet in the boathouse and after some debate decide to get a little payback.
The Massachusetts Academy:
Manuel de la Rocha - better known as Empath - trolls the grounds, noticing to his displeasure a group of rambunctious kids at play. They run amok with a variation on Cops & Robbers by playing X-Factor vs. Muties.
Offensive as that may be, Empath wrongfully takes his anger out on the kids using his powers to terrify the young girl’s (who is playing the mutant) friends into abandoning her-- presumably forever. Little does de la Rocha know the New Mutants are watching him from a nearby rooftop. "Nice piece of work Empath," sneers Mirage, "You're a real class act." Leaving a bemused Magik to happily announce, "I'm going to enjoy this."
As Empath sleeps sound in his bed, dreaming of bloody horrid conquests he hopes to achieve, Illyana teleports into his room and sucks him into Limbo with her. He quickly tries to ensnare her with his power but she just scoffs, "Naughty naughty boy… This is Limbo chump. My will-- my power-- reigns supreme!" With that she grows immense as demon hands clutch Empath tight to the bed. Magik smites him with her Soulsword and all Empath can do is scream.
Meanwhile at the Massachusetts Academy, Catseye has alerted the other Hellions to Empath's disappearance. Thunderbird tells her to shift into her cat-like form in which she detects the scent of Magik. Jetstream thinks aloud, "We're better off without him" yet the noble Thunderbird reminds him that abandoning him would be Empath's way - not the way of the Hellions.
As they mount their search, Empath cowers in what seems to be an abandoned hotel somewhere nondescript.
Magma catches him off guard with a volcanic eruption from the middle of the lobby out of which appears the form of The Lord of Demons. He flees the demon's grasp only to fall face first down a flight of stairs. He's met on the landing by Sunspot who volleys him to Cannonball. Cannonball blasts himself and Empath through a wall with his biopropulsion power. Empath is unhurt (thanks to Sam's shared invulnerability field) and growing in arrogance when Magik abruptly teleports Sam away, sending Empath rocketing straight for a wall of metal spikes!
He gets up unscathed somehow. He's quickly confronted by Mirage but easily bends her heart to fall in love with him. Or does he? "Dani" unexpectedly elongates her fingers, wrapping them around his legs. She lifts her horrifically monstrous face and the real Dani is seen telling Karma she used her power to show him his heart's desire (Dani as his slave), then twist it to reflect his deepest fear. In his terror Empath backs into the spiked wall.
The spikes don't pierce his flesh but rather constrict around him - it's Warlock. The alien angrily threatens to infect Empath with the Transmode Virus, thus stripping him of the exterior humanity hiding the emptiness of his spirit. A broken Manuel de la Rocha falls from Warlock's grip into that of Cypher.
Doug recoils his fist ready to deliver the final blow while Empath begs for mercy. He suddenly drops the whimpering bully and says simply, "This is wrong." Doug is correct in asserting that in playing eye for an eye they became no better than Empath and may have pushed their desire for retribution too far.
Impeccably timed, the Hellions arrive on the scene. After putting the hotheaded Sunspot in his place, Dani tells Thunderbird, "We've no quarrel with you-- or even with Empath anymore." Thunderbird understands completely and swears to do his best to rein Empath in because, however horrible he may be, he is still a Hellion. The Hellions, like the New Mutants, look after their own. The two teams part amicably.
Empath pulls himself together enough to start brandishing threats against the New Mutants. "I said I'd keep you in line," says Thunderbird, "And you know I'm a man who takes his word and his responsibilities very seriously!" With that Thunderbird delivers the right hook Doug Ramsey refused to, straight to Empath's mouth. "Surprise us, Empath" he warns, turning his back on him, "Learn from this experience. Cause if you don't… you'll have to deal with me!"