In the Danger Room, the Beast gives Hellion a simple task: lift a single paper clip. Seems easy enough. Hellions thinks he’s kidding but Beast replies that since Emma Frost temporarily removed the psychic limitations of his telekinesis, he’s had some issues controlling his powers. Hellion tells Dr. McCoy that that’s ridiculous and the Beast promptly reminds him of the recent incident when he put Rockslide through a wall, to which Hellion replies that he was annoying him. Beast then points out that he also sent his bed out a window. Julian says that it was annoying him too. Beast brings their debate back to the paper clip and tells Julian that he should have no problem lifting it then.
Julian assures the doctor that there’s nothing wrong with him and after further urging, relents to picking up the paper clip. He does so and then snottily asks if the Beast would like him to make it dance for him. McCoy glibly replies “Sure”. At that moment, Julian’s telekinesis flares up around the paper clip and gouges a huge hole out of the floor.
The Beast congratulates him sarcastically on his control of his powers. He explains that while his power levels have dropped from the level that he exhibited during the period when Ms. Frost removed the mental restraints on them, they have settled at a significantly higher level than before. As a result, Julian has lost some of the fine motor control he once had. Beast suggests some tutoring with Marvel Girl when she returns and steady practice, away from others until then.
As the two discuss this on the Danger Room floor, X-23 watches from the control booth with a look of deep concern. Emma enters and asks Laura if that is a genuine emotion or just something else she was programmed to do by her masters. X-23 tells Emma to get out of her mind and she says that she doesn’t need her telepathy to see how she has been acting around Julian since they got back from Dallas. Laura asks her to stop but Emma continues. She tells X-23 that she doesn’t hate her the way she thinks and that they are the same in many ways. Both have done horrible things and hurt people. Emma mentions that she killed her own sister. The difference is that Emma chose to do those things and can now choose not to, whereas X-23 is a programmed killing machine. All it takes is a whiff of the “trigger scent” her masters developed and she’ll kill whomever they command her to. Emma tells Laura that if she truly cares fro Julian she’ll leave now before it’s too late.
Cessily overhears this as she is entering the room and goes off on Emma. She asks how Emma can possibly say this after Laura saved them all. Emma tries to interrupt but Mercury won’t be dissuaded from ranting at the headmistress. She rails at Emma for abandoning Kevin, humiliating Julian and now trying to drive X-23 away. She asks flat out what is wrong with Emma to treat Laura this way after she nearly died to save them from Nimrod. Emma tries to explain that that are things Cessily doesn’t know but she tells Emma that she doesn’t care. X-23 turns and leaves as Mercury tells Emma that she knows all she needs to know about how Emma protects her students. She slams the door, leaving Emma Frost alone.
In a warehouse staging facility, a small army of heavily armored troops review data on the New X-Men. They are clearly preparing for a full-out assault on the team. One by one they view holographic images of the mutants and identify the best methods of taking each down. For Dust, they recommend concussion grenades and liquid, for Rockslide attacks on the eyes and mouth. Hellion is most susceptible to sonics and attempts to blind him.
They identify Surge as the leader and Hellion and Prodigy as other likely sources of leadership for the team. They note that Surge’s gauntlets are her vulnerability and that their uniforms will provide minimal protection from her electrical powers. They recommend just shooting her.
In their review of Elixir they comment on his new offensive capabilities and caution against allowing him to touch you. They discuss their strategy for this mission: grab the target and get out while avoiding a confrontation with the X-Men or Sentinels. As an image of X-23 comes up, the commander reminds them how dangerous these mutants are and urges them to use excessive force. Kimura stands above them, waiting.
At the Institute, Laura rushes past Loa and Trance making a beeline for the door. Mercury pursues her, insisting she wait up. She tells her that Ms. Frost was just awful but that Laura needs to know that they all want her to stay. X-23 tries to tell Cessily that Emma is right about her but Cessily is too busy apologizing for overhearing all this in the first place. She then registers what Emma was saying to Laura, that she has feelings for Julian. Laura says that she does not want to talk about this, which only confirms for Cessily that it’s true. Mercury insists that they talk. X-23 is not interested and asks Cessily to move aside. Cessily excitedly suggests that they go get some coffee in town and talk. Santo walks by and overhears and asks if they can leave the mansion now. He says that he wants to come along and Cessily promptly says “no” as she shoves Laura out the door. Rockslide replies “Awww. Hulk sad.”
In the headmaster’s office, Cyclops confers with Prodigy and Surge about the Nimrod incident. He tells them that he asked them there to apologize to them. Surge asks if they can record it or get it in writing maybe. Cyke tells her not to push it. He informs them that O*N*E is furious about the incident in Dallas but they were right. He tells them that they suspected that Nimrod had returned but didn’t want to broadcast it to O*N*E. Instead, he had Cable, Husk and Archangel searching for it and Ororo had even commissioned Wakandan agents to do the same. He didn’t tell them because he suspected that they’d go after Nimrod themselves if they knew about it.
He tells them he should have been there to protect them but that he’s proud of what they accomplished in defeating Nimrod. He tells them that together they managed to defeat a foe that the X-Men never could and that even Wolverine was impressed.
He tells Nori that he disagrees with how Emma selected the team but doesn’t fault her choice of squad leader. He tells Surge that the team is hers but will train under and report to the X-Men. She can add members if she sees fit and they will rely on the New X-Men to help protect the student body. Surge agrees and Prodigy states his desire to stay. Cyclops tells him that they’ll work something out and David apologizes for wanting to punch him in the face. Cyclops is taken aback by this.
Elsewhere, Kimura checks in with Dr. Adam Harkins, the new research head at the Facility. He reports that they’ve captured the mutant called Mammomax and are using him for some sort of “live test”. Kimura ensures that he has made the payment for her services and assures him that their mission will succeed. As they are talking, one of her troopers comes in to report that their target is on the move and leaving the Institute with only one other mutant. Kimura smiles at their good fortune.
Back at the school, Beast and Hellion head to the locker room following their training. Beast teases Julian by suggesting her focus on destroying another wing of the mansion tomorrow. They are interrupted by the arrival of Elixir who is looking for the Beast. Julian hits the showers as Josh asks the Beast a favor: he wants him to teach him everything there is to know about anatomy, biology and human physiology. Dr. McCoy is a bit surprised and simply replies “Oh, well…good?”
Cessily takes Laura to the Grind Stone Café in Salem Center. They are served by the owner, Luna a friend to the New Mutants squad and other Institute students. X-23 asks why Cessily orders a drink since she doesn’t need to eat or drink. Cessily is surprised that Laura knows this and tells her that holding the coffee makes her feel more human and makes others more comfortable around her. She adds that she’s one of the least human students at the school. Laura tells her that none of them are human and Cessily confesses that she likes to look human and do human things. She tells Laura that Julian is the only other person she’s told.
She adds that they don’t know anything about Laura because she doesn’t talk much. Laura just looks at Cessily quietly. Cessily admits that they do know that she could kill all of them, at least that’s what Wolverine told them. Cessily thanks Laura for saving her life, even if she had to cut her hands off to do it. Laura says “You’re welcome” and Cessily asks if she likes Julian. X-23 says that she does, adding that he saved her life. Cessily asks if she “likes him, likes him” and this confuses Laura. Cessily asks if she has a crush on Hellion. Laura tells her that she doesn’t want to talk about this as she pops a claw under the table and cuts an X into her wrist. Cessily tries to tell X-23 that it’s okay if she does and that she totally understands about having feelings for someone who doesn’t necessarily return them.
Laura stops suddenly and rises. She tells everyone to get out. Cessily thinks that she’s upset Laura and tries to talk to her, but Laura shouts to everyone to get out now and run. Mercury asks what’s wrong and X-23 replies that she has to go; they’re here to try and take her back.
At that moment, the Grind Stone explodes. Mercury looks around and asks X-23 what happened. A trio of troops enters and X-23 immediately engages them. She tells Cessily to run but Mercury comes to her side and the two square off against the troops back-to-back. Again, Laura tells Mercury to leave but Cessily refuses to leave her.
X-23 is then hit by a volley of arrows. Kimura appears, taunting them by asking if they were out for some “girl-talk.” Kimura glibly says “hi” to X-23 who again tells Mercury to run. She tells Kimura that Cessily has nothing to do with this. Kimura smiles and mockingly asks when X-23 learned such nobility. Kimura tells her that arrogance has always been her problem as she tells X-23 that they didn’t come for her. She levels her gun and fires a specialized missile at Cessily who cries out in pain as it bombards her with an electrical shock.