A man is flying to Los Angeles aboard a charter jet. He searches computer databases for one name: Stingray. However, everything shows no available information.
A woman calls Ray and asks to meet him at a bar, hinting that she knows something about her superiors. He agrees to meet the woman, Debbie Sylvera, who claims to be a clerical assistant who has overheard a conspiracy involving her bosses. However, when the waitress delivers drinks, Debbie pulls out a gun and tries to kill Ray. He runs outside and she chases after him into an alleyway, but runs out of bullets. As he comes after her, she runs in front of a bus and is instantly killed.
Ray calls in Captain Riskin for his favor, having him identify his attacker. Riskin confirms that Debbie was a psych student at California State, and she's one of a half-dozen cases of psych students at that university who recently killed themselves. This is the first one who tried to attack someone, however. Ray asks Riskin to keep it out of the papers for the time being.
Ray then moves in to Debbie's room, claiming to be a Vietnam vet and grad student. Debbie's roommate, Lanie, isn't impressed but ray tells her that Debbie told the admissions office she was taking a leave of absence and they assigned him the room. Lanie figures it's a mix-up but Ray removes to move out that night. In the bathroom he notices that Debbie was using ear drops. The next day, Ray accesses the college records and determines that Debbie and the other suicides all shared one class: Abnormal Psych 2, taught by Professor Brainard. Ray gets into the class where Brainard lectures about sociopaths and suggests that all the students get in their ten hours of lab time. Lanie is also attending the class and Ray chats with her afterward. Debbie was part of Brainard's regular lab volunteers, as were the other suicides. Ray manages to get Lanie to get him into one of the lab sessions.
The mystery man arrives at LAX.
Brainard conducts a series of supposed eye-brain stress tests to Ray, first administering eye drops. Ray is subject to violent imagery but is unaware that Brainard is exposing him to subsonic programming. The readings aren't registering normal, and the mystery man arrives and recognizes Ray as his protégé.
Ray's Nemesis is working out of the American Historical Archives and demands a report from Brainard. Brainard says that his programming is coming along but he warned that the suicides were going to happen. Ray's Nemesis assures Brainard he has no choice but to go along, and he sent Debbie after Ray against his advice. He ignores Brainard's warning and calls in Jensen to take care of Ray if necessary.
Ray and Lanie go over Debbie's paintings, which show her going from color to black-and-white. Lanie notes her ex-roommate was increasingly withdrawn since attending Brainard's lab sessions. As they go back to their room, ray has sudden ear aches but quickly recovers, but they realize Debbie had the same problem. As Lanie prepares to go into their dorm, Ray hears the sound of a gun bolt being drawn and yanks her out of the way as Jensen fires through the door. The assassin comes out to chase and Ray manages to disarm him but the killer heads to the roof. Jensen manages to hold off Ray until he can launch a flying kick, but Ray ducks and the man falls to his death. Ray checks the corpse and finds ear drops. He gets Lanie out of there ahead of the cops and takes her to an expensive house. He explains that Brainard has been programming college students into becoming assassins: they have the perfect cover as no one would suspect them as they have spotless reputations. He has her stay there while he goes to see Riskin. Ray asks Riskin to put together a unit that he may need on short notice.
Ray then confronts Brainard, hinting he knows all about his arrangement and secretly placing a bug on the phone. Outside he gets the phone number as Brainard calls his employer, then traces the call to the American Historical Archive. As he goes there, Lanie is checking the house mail and finds it addressed to a Phillip Meeker. However, two men chloroform her unconscious and take her out.
Ray tries to get into the AHA as a computer repairman, but Ray's Nemesis recognizes him and takes him prisoner. He has his men tape Ray to a chair and leave one hand free. They talk about how Ray betrayed the man when he tried to feather his own nest with stolen money, and how Ray prefers to be his own employer. Ray's Nemesis offers Ray a glass of brandy, which Ray takes but declines to drink. He also shows Ray Lanie's necklace. Ray then passes out as Ray's Nemesis explains that the glass was coated a contact knockout drug. He orders his men to dump Ray in the ocean but Riskin comes in with a squad and demands to check out the place. Ray's Nemesis informs him it's a CIA safehouse and he needs to leave if he doesn't want to lose his job. Riskin leaves, but not before a now-conscious Ray convinces one of the policemen to switch places with him.
Outside, Ray pulls off a plastic film from his hands, having anticipated the drug. He tells Riskin that his nemesis might still be with the CIA but he's working on his own. They see him leave but have to go after Brainard at the university. Riskin's officers try to arrest Brainard but he orders two of his students to open fire while he escapes. Both of the men are wounded and Ray goes after the student assassins in the library. He's forced to shoot one in the shoulder and manages to get through the other student's programming long enough to take the gun from him. Outside, Riskin closes in on Brainard, who shoots him. Riskin shoots back and manages to take out the professor's car as Ray arrives and demands to know where his nemesis is.
Ray's Nemesis is at a small air strip by his limo waiting for Brainard near his helicopter when Ray arrives. However, the mystery man has Lanie and they have a standoff until he puts a C-4 charge in Lanie's lap with a 30 second timer. He releases the brake and lets the limo coast away. Ray is forced to go after the limo and get the charge and throw it away with seconds to spare, while Ray's Nemesis makes his escape.
Later, Ray visits Lanie at the college and she wonders if all he sees is the bad side of things because he never stops long enough in one spots. He kisses her and admits that he doesn't have a choice, and she gives him one of Debbie's early paintings as a reminder of how things can be.