As Able Squad is making preparations for the Ceres operation, some Jumptroops enter the hangar. Bronski decides to "welcome" them, and Takagi tags along, prompting DeLeon to wonder if they'll ever grow up. Weston asks O'Reilly about a modification she is making to her com unit. Bronski tells Pelligrino that they'll save their butts again, but Pelligrino points out Alpha 627 as an incident where the Jumptroops took heavy losses because the Exosquad units chickened out. Bronski responds to this comment, which was accompanied by a small shove, by punching Pelligrino, who is caught by two fellow jumptroopers. Weston is surprised by O'Reilly's assertion that the Neos broke the jumpcom scrambler codes, but O'Reilly maintains that they did, despite the fact that ExoFleet Intelligence call it an impossibility. The fight between Wolf and Vince is broken up by Longfeather. Torres then arrives to criticize Bronski, and Avery Butler makes his appearance.
The Jumptroops make their final preparations, and enter their pods. Butler remembers the briefing Admiral Winfield gave about the mission. Winfield is conducting the operation to provide a little practice for the Jumptroops, as well as pressuring the Neos. He hope to get them to divide their forces in anticipation of an attack on Mars, while his real target is Mercury (see "The First Step"). Butler asks when they'll get some real action, and is simply told he'll be the first to know.
As Butler puts his helmet on, he remarks that he hopes it's still lucky. He asks his platoon, "Any heros on board?" to which the reply comes, "No sir!" Butler says, "Good, the only heros I ever saw weren't breathin'. Now let's jump!"
Both e-frames and individual dropships are launched. The dropships release the Jumptroop pods without any problems. Captain Butler's gets scout detail, and before they proceed the e-frames take off, leaving them on their own. O'Reilly notes that their on their own now, and Pelligrino says that he always thought they were. Since there is no cover available between them and the target, Longfeather wants to blast it from long-range. O'Reilly is not picking up any activity inside the complex, so they move in for a look. They blast their way in, and look around. They find nothing.
Butler reports back to mission HQ. He is asked, "Have you secured the outpost?" to which he responds, "There's nothin' to secure here, sir. It's empty. We've been suckered. I recommend we pull out, and fast!" The response is interrupted by a Neo e-frame assault on mission HQ. Butler barks orders designed to assist the attacked jumptroops and determine the situation, while letting the fleet know what is going on. O'Reilly is unsuccessful reaching HQ, so she concludes they have all been killed. Butler assumes command and orders all units back to the crater line.
His platoon notices three guns on the ridge, Longfeather's mortar troops take them out. The platoon investigates the situation, and O'Reilly finds a strange Neo that staggered out of the wreckage. The Neo claims that he is not a soldier. They then notice the remnants of their battalion coming down the ridge. Pelligrino notes that they're easy targets, while O'Reilly declares that the incoming is heavy and out of their range. The Neo says, "Perhaps you should consider yourselves my prisoners." to which Butler responds, "Not in this lifetime!" while Pelligrino ponders, "Hey, did that Neo just tell a joke?"
Their cover is being destroyed, so Butler calls for an emergency evac. O'Reilly notes that the cruisers will be unescorted, and therefore unable to withstand the Neos well enough to arrive in one piece. She says she'll disconnect the scrambler she installed and send fake evac coordinates, which the Neos will assume are real. Butler congratulates O'Reilly on a good job. O'Reilly disconnects the scrambler, and blasts it (don't ask me why, maybe she didn't build it with an off switch, and is afraid she'll drop it where the Neos will find it). Butler notes that the trap is too elaborate just for some jumptroops, and asks the Neo what is really going on. The Neo is silent.
The next scene is in the Neo sapien HQ on Ceres. As the jumpcom evac message is being intercepted, Praetorius enters, complaining to Drusus. He says, "General Drusus, who gave you permission to send the Neo megas into battle?!" prompting Drusus to explain, "I needed every available --" which Praetorius interrupts by saying, "The Neo megas have been created to think, not to fight." Drusus angrily responds, "Then let them think in battle!"
The battle rages on, as the platoon reaches the real evac coordinates. Pelligrino goes to Butler and the following exchange occurs:
- Pelligrino: "Captain , about that weird Neo we captured, there's good news and bad news."
- Butler: "I could use some good news."
- Pelligrino: "The good news is that, uh, his air supply is holding out."
- Butler: "What's the bad news?"
- Pelligrino: "He's stopped breathing."
- O'Reilly: "You call that bad news?"
The battalion has dug in well, and incoming e-frames are detected. They turn out to be friendlies. While the rest off the jumptroops cheer their arrival, Pelligrino calls them show-offs.
Back at the Neos' Ceres HQ the report comes in that their forces are attacking the evac site, but no one is there. A Neo mega tells Drusus he may have been deceived, but he respond that the ExoFleet doesn't know the code has been broken. With the report of the arrival of four exophibious cruisers at a different site the Neo mega surmises that he was right. Drusus orders his troops to the new coordinates.
The jumptroops are boarding the shuttle just as the Neo frames arrive. ExoFleet e-frames arrive at the same time to destroy most of those Neo frames. They then provide cover for the withdrawing cruisers.
In the hangar afterwards Bronski chides Pelligrino about how they saved them again, but Pelligrino asks where they were when most of Baker and Fox companies were lost. When Bronski says he was just joking Pelligrino points out that there are a lot of people who aren't laughing.
In the medical facility the Neo mega is getting put into hard-freeze. After Butler, who theorizes that the weird Neo is what the trap was about, leaves the med-tech alone, the Neo wakes up.
We then see Longfeather armwrestling another jumptrooper, and he wins. When he challenges O'Reilly she tells him, "Nah, it'd just be bad for your ego." and all the jumptroops get a big laugh out of it. DeLeon approaches her in a way that makes O'Reilly think he's hitting on her. But when DeLeon mentions the new Neo, she becomes interested. When they arrive in sick bay they notice that the Neo has escaped, and the med-tech frozen instead.
Bronski is talking with Weston in the hangar about Pelligrino. The intruder alert is sounded, and as they are about to leave the Neo mega enters the hangar. He proceeds to shut the door and climb into DeLeon's e-frame. Takagi covertly activates something, likely an alarm. When asked, the Neo mega reveals that, "My superior mind has total control over my physical body. Neo sapiens were an improvement upon mankind. Neo megas are man perfected. We are new force in the universe." Weston quips, "Hmm, too bad they left out the gene for modesty." The Neo mega says, "Modesty is a Terran weakness, like pity." at which point Pelligrino comes blasting in.
He and the Neo engage in a little firefight, while Weston moves in to attack him at close range. Although she initially knocks him off-balance, Weston is soon knock unconscious by the Neo mega. The Neo tells Pelligrino he won't shoot for fear of hitting Weston, but Pelligrino responds, "Only if I miss." and shoots the Neo. The Neo falls backward onto a control panel that opens the hangar door, and the air begins to blow out into the vacuum.
The Neo mega is blown out into space. Weston, who quickly reawakened, is barely able to avoid the same fate by getting a grip on the groove the doors vacated upon opening. Pelligrino is almost blown out, but is grabbed by Bronski. Weston (who apparently has a phenomenal arm) throws a wrench into the strong wind to hit the control panel and close the doors, just in time to prevent both Bronski and Pelligrino from being blown outside. Pelligrino thanks Bronski, and the two then shake hands.