The tunnels beneath the X-Factor compound: Dressed in radiation suits, Cyclops and Marvel Girl are cleaning the tunnels and are trying to get rid of any leftover radiation caused by the two irradiated mutants, Glow Worm and the Bulk. Jean regrets fighting those two. Cyclops agrees, wishing they could have helped them. They were dying, but… Jean completes the sentence: they were too dangerous to have around and at leas they were dying together.
Scott ventures that they could… Jean cuts him off. They could what? He has a wife now. She understands that he married someone else. After all, everyone thought she was dead and she’d have wanted Scott to get on with his life. How can she blame him for that? Does he have a picture of his wife? she suddenly asks. Cyclops reaches into his uniform and gives her a snapshot of Madelyne with their child. That’s the first Jean heard of the baby. A girl? she asks. A boy, Scott corrects her. She always thought they would have a girl, Jean muses.
She remarks that Maddie looks a lot like her. She should have been her, Scott replies. Taking off her helmet, Jean asks him not to torture the two of them like this. How could he just walk out on his wife and their son? The Scott she knew wouldn’t have done that, nor would he have taken advantage of her lack of telepathy and keep his marriage secret. He wanted to tell her, Scott assures her. Jean doesn’t buy it. Believing Scott was secretly laughing at her, she walks off.
In the complex above, the rest of the team, as well as Artie and Beast’s girlfriend, Vera, are watching the news reporting the recent battle in front of X-Factor’s HQ.
The TV replays the scene of reporter Trish Tilby interviewing Vera, who plays the featherbrain, beginning to discuss mutants’ sexiness. Watching the interview, Hank is amused. Vera reminds him that he wasn’t when he dragged her away from Tilby. The report shifts to a grimmer note, showing the “attack” on X-Factor by the radioactive mutants and the “X-Terminators.”
They are joined by a chipper Rusty, who asks if he has missed anything – as in his own TV debut. That moment on the screen, X-Factor heads out of the complex, Rusty among them.
Beast lets off steam about Trish Tilby remarking that she is the worst kind or sensationalistic journalist. Rusty turns sober when thinking about the destruction and Hank tries to divert him by reminding him of his training session. Rusty leaves with Artie to get changed.
On the way to their room, while Rusty confides to Artie how thrilling it was to work with X-Factor, they hear X-Factor’s PR agent, Cameron Hodge, arguing with an agent of city hall outside. Hodge states that the mutants’ attack wasn’t just on X-Factor but on all of humankind. He doesn’t see why X-Factor should pay for the damage. The boys are disturbed by this. Hodge may be saving X-Factor money by presenting mutants as menaces, but somehow it just seems wrong.
Rusty tells Artie bye and heads for the training room, where Angel and Iceman are already working out. Angel gets distracted when he sees Jean walking by, allowing Iceman to get the drop on him. Drolly, Angel remarks that he should have kept his eyes on the road. After all, he already has a girl. Like Scott has a wife? Iceman asks. They all loved Jean as kids, Angel muses but why is he so affected by her now? Because she’s so beautiful, Rusty sighs. The two grown men share an amused look. Rusty grows more sober remarking that he could never have a girlfriend with his powers. He recalls that the government is still after him and wonders of somebody could have recognized him on TV. Angel and Iceman tell him he has nothing to worry about.
Washington, within the Pentagon, Freedom Force has gathered. The team leader, Mystique, stands before the others in the shape of Rusty Collins, their intended prey. Destiny has seen that he may be connected to X-Factor… though a temporal-spatial anomaly surrounding the group makes it almost impossible to tell how, the blind precog adds. The members of Freedom Force don’t seem overly impressed by the idea of going up against a scrawny teenager. Mystique tells them to search through the tape of the news report, see if they can find any trace.
Avalanche mentions that he doesn’t like the idea of hunting their own kind. Blob reminds him that they could also thrash the mutant hunters, X.Factor, at the same time. The next moment, he kicks down the chair from down under Avalanche. Leering, he reminds Avalanche that he wanted to show him what a dangerous power could do. In response, Avalanche lashes out at the Blob, who loses his sandwich. The two men intend to fight until Mystique orders Pyro to use his flames to separate them. Spiral finally creates a hole in the floor beneath them. Mystique informs the combatant that the cost of repairing the room will be deducted from their salary. So they better attend to the problem at hand, seeing as how there is a bonus and they will need it.
Spider-Woman alerts them, telling them she has found Collins by magnifying a frame. But why would a mutant be working with mutant hunters. Brainwashing? Pyro suggest. Mystique reminds everybody that it is a bad time to be a mutant, which is why they joined the government. With the sentiments that those, mutant hunters are encouraging they may need the government’s protection to survive.
Back at the X-Factor compound later that night. Cameron Hodge alerts them to a call from the mayor’s office. Apparently, there is a battle between mutant factions and a giant robot in Central Park. X-Factor has been invited to make an appearance. Warren points out that they might be forced to use their powers. If they show up as X-Factor, their hands will be tied. And if they show up as X-Terminators, they’ll just be more evil mutants joining the fracas, Scott points out grimly. They have to go as X-Factor, especially as the press is wondering why it took them so long to react the day before. Scott agrees and tells them to get dressed.
A little later, Warren catches up with Jean, remarking that she hasn’t said a word to them all day. What’s wrong? Angrily she reminds him that they all kept Scott’s marriage secret from her. So he should tell her what’s wrong! Warren agrees that they made a mistake, but they all felt that Scott had been cheated. If he had even suspected Jean was still alive, he would have waited for her forever… Scott and Maddie were having problems, in spite of the baby and when Warren told him Jean was still alive…
He grabs her shoulders, stressing that Scott loves her. Can she blame him for rushing to her side, for not wanting to lose her again?
Cyclops turns the corner, only seeing Jean and Warren in what seems to be an embrace, only hearing sentences that can be misconstrued as Warren stammers that they were wrong to wait. Cynically, Scott thinks to himself that Warren could at least have waited until the corpse was cold.
That moment, Artie and Rusty join him, Rusty again dressed in X-Factor togs. He wants to come along and help. Scott takes out his poor mood on the boy, shouting at him that he will stay. Bobby tells Rusty Scott is right, even if he is acting like a jerk, Rusty might be recognized. Can he never go out again, then, Rusty wonders. He thought they’d worked that out before. Apparently he was wrong. If this place is a prison, maybe he should just give himself up. He walks away, while Jean confronts Scott over his behavior. Shrugging her protests off, he tells them to leave.
Minutes later, Rusty confides in Artie. It was so great being a part of the team. And he wanted to protect Jean. Suddenly, Artie grabs him and shows him mental pictures of the X-Factor chopper. Rusty isn’t interested in watching, until the scene turns to another chopper following them. Artie grimaces and Rusty begins to understand: those are villains trying to get X-Factor. Rusty takes Artie by the hand and runs to find Hodge.
Over New York in said jet is Freedom Force. The team’s precog, Destiny, laments that she is still having difficulty reading X-Factor, but she is fairly sure Rusty is not with them at the moment. Blob suggests they still blow the mutant hunters out of the sky and Mystique sternly reminds him to play by the rules. Destiny predicted when and where the boy will meet the team and, when he does, Freedom Force will be waiting to arrest him and to accuse X-Factor of harboring a known criminal in front of witnesses.
Inside, the X-Factor compound Rusty and Artie run into Hodge`s office where the PR manager is in a phone conference with the mayor. He shouts at the boys to get out.
Grabbing a coat and a hat for disguise, Rusty intends to warn X-Factor himself. A harrowing cab ride later, Rusty arrives at Central Park and finds the team. He shouts out to them but their attention is diverted by an explosion at Sheep Meadow.
Before they can run there, though, a tidal wave of earth catches them. Freedom Force has arrived and demands they give up Rusty Collins. Mystique orders Spiral to take the boy but the mysterious witch’s attention is diverted, as she senses an aura of special power she has long sought. With the wave of her hands she disappears, causing Scott to caustically remark that Mystique`s troops are as disciplined as ever.
Do they know him, Mystique asks Destiny. The precog replies that she cannot see. Pointing at Jean, she claims that the probabilities are breaking down around her. She is a nexus of probabilities. Jean asks who they are and Mystique replies Freedom Force. They are the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Scott corrects them and tells everybody to use their “force guns” to take them, meaning Jean is to create a force field. Jean whispers to Rusty to run back, while he can. Rusty refuses. He may be stupid but he isn’t a coward.
Blob, having escaped Jean’s shield, shows Rusty their arrest warrant. The pyrokinetic burns it until Pyro takes control of the flames to attack X-Factor. They are, however, once more protected by Jean’s forcefield. Jean orders Rusty to run while the fireplay obscures their vision and Rusty finally obeys.
Among the crowd of spectator is the Morlock girl, Skids, who figures that, either way, Rusty will end up a prisoner. Rusty runs but is ensnared in Spider-Woman’s web. Wishing to help a fellow mutants, Skids finally acts by running right at Spider-Woman’s Psi-web and disrupting it with her own forcefield. Spider-Woman tries to tackle her but finds she cannot get a decent grip on the girl. The crowd decides to hunt the two mutants, much to Mystique’s glee. She orders Avalanche to keep X-Factor occupied and he does so with a tidal wave of rock. By the time they recover and wonder whether the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants is truly working for the government, Freedom Force is gone. They decide to follow.
Not far away, Skids keeps on dragging the smitten Rusty away but the crowd is right behind them. Skids is worried for Rusty alone, as things tend to bounce off her forcefield. She’s lucky, he muses. With his power he’s been hurt plenty and as hurt others.
Up ahead in the Sheep Meadow, Trish Tilby talks about the battle between a group of mutants and a robot when Skids and Rusty run past her. The next moment, she is almost trampled by the mob and looks after them stupidly.
Skids decides to distract the crowd and tells Rusty how to get into the Morlock tunnels.
Shouting ‘boo,’ she stops the crowd. Rusty starts running but looks back worried to see the crowd throwing stones at Skids. He decides to return telling her he couldn’t let her face this alone. Plus he isn't totally helpless. Flames emit from his body as he threatens the mob. A stone comes flying at him and he melts it. Rusty warns the admiring Skids to get back but she reminds him of her forcefield. Rusty figures that this might not be such a bad way to die, after all.
Not now, the Blob announces. Shifting into Uncle Sam, Mystique informs him that the government has something very special planned for him.
Elsewhere is the park, X-Factor tries to assess the situation and Scott fears the worst, realizing that this is all his fault.