- Complete Monster: Dr. Zander Rice, one of the lead scientists of Weapon X's X-23 project, has X-23 kept in a padded room except during training sessions or assassination missions, almost kills her with radiation poisoning to trigger her healing factor at the age of seven, and surgically removes her natural claws one at a time, coats them with adamantium, then re-implants them-all of this without anaesthesia-at the same age. He develops a pheromone "trigger" that activates her berserker rage and uses it to get X-23 to kill her martial arts instructor, and leaves her behind on a mission to be killed after he murders the other members of the team so he can claim they were taking fire and had to retreat. After X-23 shows back up alive, Rice then manipulates the head of the X-23 project, who had raised Rice after his father's death, into granting Rice control of the project, at which point Rice then sends X-23 to kill the man, his wife, and son - even though Rice knows the boy is his own son, from an affair between Rice and the wife before her marriage; X-23 leaves the child alive. Upon taking over the project, he begins the development of embryos X-24 through X-50, which he intends to sell to the highest bidders, and then taints the one remaining person X-23 cares about, the project scientist who was her surrogate mother, with the trigger pheromone, which causes X-23 to fatally injure the woman - just as she was about to take X-23 and disappear after destroying the project complex. Rice's reasoning for all of this is that his father, who worked on the original—Wolverine—Weapon X project was killed by Wolverine when he escaped, and Rice held X-23, who is Logan's genetic double, responsible for Wolverine's killing of his father.
- Crowning Moment of Awesome: The No-Holds-Barred Beatdown X-23 delivers to Rice at the end is not only incredibly brutal, but incredibly satisfying to see as well. Look at the time on her mission clock when she begins, and again when she's done. She's pounding on him for ten minutes. Laura could easily have killed him within less than a second, but she put away her claws so she could go to work on him with her bare hands. She's giving him back the thirteen years of abuse she suffered at his hands in the space of less than thirteen minutes, and he deserved every second of it.
- Crowning Moment of Heartwarming: X-23 defying her off-book orders from Rice to kill Martin Sutter and his family, when she chooses to spare Sutter's ( actually Rice's) son. After all the effort the Facility went through to break her, that one moment proves her humanity hasn't been completely destroyed.
Sarah: But then you showed me hope. Not when you saved Megan, but when you saved Henry. You showed me that we can chose to be something other than what we are forced to be that we can be something better than we believe we are. And, in that moment, you saved my life, all that matter to me now is that I save yours.
- The implications are especially poignant when Sarah discusses this in her letter. This event, more than any other, is what triggered Sarah's final Heel–Face Turn, and led to her decision to rescue X.
- X-23's training sessions with her sensei. Rather than being the stereotypical Drill Sergeant Nasty Old Master putting her through Training from Hell, the old man shows X almost grandfatherly affection and she responds in kind. He's even openly defiant when Rice tries to warn him against treating her like a person. Unfortunately, this last part probably plays a key role in Rice's decision to test the Trigger Scent on him...
- Fridge Brilliance: Rice is just getting out of the shower when X-23 begins her rampage through the installation. It seems an odd bit of timing, until you remember the last scene in which he appears is revealed to be the moment in which he contaminates Sarah with the Trigger Scent. He immediately jumped in the shower afterward to clean the scent off himself!
- Genius Bonus: A minor detail during X-23's training scenes with her sensei is the color of her belt. The first time we see her train she's wearing a white belt. We then see her progress to yellow, then brown, and finally, by the time she kills her sensei, she's wearing a black belt.
- Moral Event Horizon: Rice was a bit of a Jerk Ass from the start of the story, but if he doesn't cross it when he sticks seven year old X-23 in a radiation chamber to forcibly activate her Healing Factor, it's when he performs the surgery, by himself, to extract her claws for bonding with adamantium without even attempting anesthesia a few weeks later. And then he just keeps going from there.
- Tear Jerker: Hoo boy, where to even start:
- The letter that narrates the story. All of it.
- Just seeing the suffering X-23 was put through.
- As noted above under Heartwarming, Sarah's comments about X-23's decision to spare Henry.
- Sarah successfully manages to rescue X-23 from the Facility and shut down their experiments, but at the cost of her own life. Just before she dies, she gives X-23 a proper name, Laura, and tells her she loves her.
X-23: Please don't leave me.
- And afterwards, Laura kneeling next to her mother's dead body in the snow, fully aware that she killed her. For just a moment she stops being a weapon, and is just a little girl again in need of her mother.
- X-23's stunned reaction to having killed her sensei, one of the only people to treat her like an actual human being.
- The followup story Target X manages to make an already sad story even worse in its flashbacks.