While investigating a distress signal on the Federation planet Galorndon Core, Riker, Worf and La Forge discover the wreckage of a crashed Romulan vessel and a dying Romulan officer, Patahk. Due to the fierce electrical storms on the surface, beaming up and down to Galorndon is restricted by brief "windows," or breaks in the storm, which occur sporadically throughout the day. Unfortunately, Geordi loses contact with the Away Team and is trapped in a pit, from which he is unable to contact Riker and Worf before they are forced to beam back to the U.S.S. Enterprise with Patahk.
Dr. Crusher's examination of Patahk soon reveals neural degeneration caused by exposure to the planet's magnetic fields, which increases the crew's concern for Geordi. Tensions rise when the U.S.S. Enterprise learns that a Romulan warship intends to cross the Neutral Zone and enter restricted Federation territory to rescue any crash survivors. When Picard informs the Romulan captain, Tomalak, that Patahk is aboard his ship, Tomalak insists that the two ships rendezvous and that Patahk be returned.
Meanwhile, the crew launches a signal probe to locate Geordi. As he frees himself from the pit and makes his way toward the beacon, Geordi is ambushed and taken prisoner by Bochra, a second survivor of the Romulan crash. Before long, however, the electrical storms on Galorndon wreak havoc on Bochra's nervous system and render Geordi's visor inoperable, temporarily blinding him. Geordi is able to convince the critically ill Romulan that their only hope for survival is to beam aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise, and the two enemies join forces to locate the beacon.
Back on the starship, Dr. Crusher informs Worf that a transfusion of his ribosome's is the only hope for Patahk's survival. But the Klingon officer refuses to help because his parents were killed by Romulans years earlier. Although Picard explains the drastic political implications of a Romulan dying in Federation hands, Worf stands firm. When Patahk dies, Tomalak prepares to retaliate by attacking the U.S.S. Enterprise. Tomalak's actions force Picard to raise his ship's shields, preventing transporting activity, just as a window in the storm appears.
With time running out, Picard informs Tomalak that the U.S.S. Enterprise is lowering its shields to beam Geordi and a Romulan officer aboard. Knowing that an aggressive response could lead to an all-out war between the Federation and Romulans, Tomalak allows Picard to proceed. Geordi and Bochra return to the U.S.S. Enterprise, where they regain their neural functions and bid each other farewell.