Waiting for Captain Picard's return from a Federation conference, the U.S.S. Enterprise crew discovers a disabled 20th century Earth satellite containing three perfectly preserved bodies, frozen for over 300 years by cryogenics.
Upon his return to the Enterprise, Picard informs the crew that they are being sent to the outskirts of the Neutral Zone, where two Federation outposts have been destroyed. The ship has been chosen to investigate the potentially volatile incident, which may or may not have been executed by hostile Romulans as a prelude to war.
After Data beams back aboard with the three bodies, Dr. Crusher revives them. They are a housewife, businessman and entertainer from the 20th century, who must each struggle to cope with their new surroundings. Picard, preoccupied with the situation in the Neutral Zone, tolerates the visitors, but warns Riker to keep them at bay until a decision can be made about their future.
Arriving at the edge of the Neutral Zone, the crew discovers that the Federation stations have simply vanished. Just then, the captain and first officer of a Romulan vessel in the area hail the U.S.S. Enterprise and request visual contact with Picard.
In a tension-packed exchange, the Enterprise officers are warned that there will likely be war between the Romulans and the Federation. Furthermore, the Romulans reveal that they did not destroy the Federation outposts, but are in fact investigating the loss of some of their own outposts as well.
Convinced neither party is liable for the missing space stations, Picard negotiates a pact whereby each party will inform the other if they learn who is responsible. With the threat of war temporarily averted, the U.S.S. Enterprise heads for a rendezvous with the U.S.S. Charleston, which will transport the 20th century survivors back to Earth.