During a surprise birthday party for Kes at Sandrine's Bar in the holodeck, the U.S.S. Voyager encounters a peculiar spatial distortion wave in space, which surrounds the ship. The phenomenon disables the vessel's main systems, including communications and the warp drive, and also seems to change Voyager's structural layout. As a result, Janeway can't find her way to the Bridge, Torres can't locate Engineering, and everyone in the crew is confused and frustrated.

Finding a small group of her staff near Sandrine's, Janeway calls an impromptu meeting to discuss their situation. Then Paris and Torres team up to find Engineering; Chakotay, Neelix, Janeway and Kim pair off to locate the Bridge; and Kes and the Doctor await word in Sandrine's. Paris and Torres manage to reach their goal but the others aren't as lucky. Chakotay finds Tuvok but loses Neelix, and Janeway is nearly dragged into an internal distortion by an unseen electromagnetic force.

Kim rescues Janeway and he gets her back to Sandrine's, where she loses consciousness. The spatial distortion continues to squeeze the ship, and Tuvok estimates that the unstoppable ring will crush the vessel in little more than an hour.

With Janeway still unconscious, Chakotay takes command. Torres attempts to trigger a warp shock pulse to save the ship, but instead of dispersing the spatial ring, it pulls it in even faster, surrounding Engineering and even the sanctuary in Sandrine's Bar.

Lacking any other options, Tuvok advises the crew to do nothing and allow the anomaly to twist its way through the bar. After it does, Janeway regains consciousness and explains that the distortion was trying to communicate with them. The ring leaves the ship as it originally found it, with no damage, then moves out into space. In its wake, the crew discovers that it left 20 million gigaquads of new information in the ship's computer.