Returning from a scouting mission, the shuttle manned by Chakotay and Ensign Kaplan picks up a Federation distress call from a planet. Launching a buoy to let Voyager know where they are, they land the craft, but are quickly attacked by a hostile group of humanoids. Kaplan is killed, and Chakotay injured before help arrives in the form of another group, led by a woman named Riley, who gets Chakotay to safety. Riley explains she's part of a cooperative of different species who were kidnapped by aliens and left to fend for themselves. However, not all of them are friendly.

Back on Voyager, the crew finds a Borg vessel floating in space. When they board it, they find 1,100 dead Borg. An investigation reveals the ship ceased operation five years earlier.

On the planet, Chakotay is shocked to discover that Riley and the others are all Borg — or, at least, they were. They weren't kidnapped; they were assimilated by the Borg. But five years ago, their ship was damaged by an electro-kinetic storm that severed their link to the Borg Collective. Those who survived settled on the planet, but they quickly began fighting each other for food and supplies. Riley is hoping Chakotay can help them. However, right now it is Chakotay who needs help. His only option is to temporarily join his mind with Riley and the rest of her small "Collective" in a healing link. Afterwards, his injuries are much improved, and he feels far closer to the group, particularly Riley.

Tracking Chakotay's buoy, Voyager locates him and beams the First Officer and Riley up to the ship. Riley asks Janeway to help her use the generator on the dead Borg vessel to re-establish a neural link among all the former Borg on the planet. She believes this will stop the fighting and allow them to work together to build a true community. Janeway refuses, fearing that activating the Borg ship and creating a new Collective could be dangerous to all. Riley returns to the planet, but she and her group use their former link with Chakotay to solicit his help. Chakotay takes a shuttle to the cube and does as they ask. As soon as the link is re-established, the new Collective destroys the Borg cube and releases Chakotay from their link, thanking him and the ship for their coerced help.