The U.S.S. Enterprise makes way to a nearby Starbase that has recently lost contact with the Vico, a research vessel sent to explore the interior of a Black Cluster. Upon locating the vessel, Picard sends an Away Team to investigate the situation. Data and Riker are shocked when they discover a little boy trapped in the wreckage of the small ship.
After several unsuccessful attempts, the crew is finally able to rescue and transport the boy back to Sickbay. The youth, Timothy, is immediately drawn to Data. Meanwhile on the Bridge, Picard and Geordi study the details of the events that led to the vessel's explosion. Timothy told the crew that the Vico was attacked by an alien ship. But preliminary research indicates that Timothy lied about what happened on the ship, as the Vico was not boarded by the aliens as he had reported. Troubled by this revelation, Picard and Troi instruct Data to spend more time with the boy in hopes that he will tell Data what really happened.
As Data and Timothy spend more time together, the boy becomes increasingly intrigued by his new friend and his exceptional mental and physical capacities. He soon begins acting and talking like Data, simulating some of his android mannerisms. Later, Troi is troubled when she visits Timothy and finds him dressed in clothing similar to Data's and calling himself an android. Troi discusses her concerns with Picard, advising him that Timothy's behavior is probably the result of the traumatic experience of losing both of his parents in the explosion.
Continuing his investigation, Picard orders the crew to direct the Enterprise into the Black Cluster. Once inside, the ship begins to be hit by shock waves. As the intensity increases, Picard summons Timothy to the Bridge. The boy initially maintains his story that the ship was attacked, but when Data reminds him that androids do not lie, he reveals that he believes he is responsible for the ship's destruction. However, the crew is able to convince him that the ship was destroyed by natural causes. This does not completely ease the boy's mind since the shockwaves hitting the Enterprise begin to increase in intensity. Data is able to guide the ship through the bombardment, indicating where the Vico's crew made the mistake that caused the ship's destruction. Later, out of danger, Timothy is able to resume his life as a normal little boy. However, he and Data agree to remain friends.