While delivering medical supplies to a planet involved in a lengthy civil war, Dr. Crusher is taken hostage by Finn, the leader of a radical separatist organization. Although at first fearful for her life, Beverly soon learns that she has been kidnapped to provide expert medical care for terrorists dying from the effects of an interdimensional transporter. Although the nuclear-powered device allows the rebels to move at high speeds and to escape detection by Rutian sensors, its end result is fatal internal damage.
Certain that Finn and his followers will use Beverly as a bargaining chip for their cause, Picard asks Riker to rescue Dr. Crusher with the help of Alexana Devos, the leader of the Rutian police. Alexana, determined not to compromise her hard-line position with the terrorists, is furious when Riker tells one of Finn's men that the Federation is willing to negotiate for Beverly's release.
Alexana's skepticism is justified when Finn, certain that the U.S.S. Enterprise has joined forces with the Rutians against his people, launches a deadly assault on the U.S.S. Enterprise. Although Geordi is able to remove a bomb from the vessel before it detonates, several crew members are killed in the skirmish and Captain Picard is taken hostage with Beverly.
At his hideout, Finn tells Picard that he welcomes Federation involvement in his cause, since that will force the Rutian government to make important concessions. On board the U.S.S. Enterprise, Riker plots a surprise attack on Finn's underground headquarters.
But when Riker, Worf and Alexana show up in the hideout, Alexana shoots Finn to death after the terrorist leader appears ready to execute Picard. Riker chides Alexana for her actions, but she tells him that Finn's death will result in less bloodshed than if he had been taken prisoner and his followers attempted to free him. With Beverly and Picard safely released from captivity, the U.S.S. Enterprise leaves the outcome of the Rutian conflict to Alexana and her advisers.