Enterprise is on a course for Risa to take shore leave when they respond to a distress call from a ship experiencing engine problems. Its leader, Zobral, invites Captain Archer and Commander Tucker to his home planet. Later, Enterprise is hailed from the planet by Chancellor Trellit of the Torothan government, who informs Sub-Commander T'Pol that they will probably never see them again. She hails Archer to warn him, and, as he makes an excuse to leave, Zobral explains the real reason for inviting him to the planet: After years of resistance against the oppressive government, he requests the use of Enterprise 's resources, noting Archer's recent assistance to the Suliban prisoners (as seen in episode Detained).
The Torothan government then begins bombarding Zobral's village. Archer and Tucker grab survival packs from their shuttlepod and leave, heading east across the desert towards another encampment. Eventually they take shelter from the heat in a deserted building, and Archer tends Tucker, who is now suffering from heatstroke. Meanwhile, on Enterprise, Lieutenant Reed detects weapons fire on the surface, and Ensign Sato can't hail Archer as the region is being jammed. Trellit informs T'Pol that any shuttlepod entering the area will be considered an enemy vessel and fired upon. The Torothans also erect a dispersion field to prevent Enterprise from scanning the surface.
Zobral rendezvous with Enterprise and is met by T'Pol and Reed, and he helps them sneak a shuttlepod past the Torothan defenses. While searching for bio-signs, T'Pol, observes the bombardment of the ruined encampment and orders that a new course be set, believing the Torothans to have located them. They land and collect the pair after destroying a Torothan mortar. Aboard Enterprise, Zobral prepares to leave, and Archer tells him that becoming involved in planetary conflicts is not the reason why Starfleet is exploring the galaxy. As they walk away, T'Pol tells Archer that he said the correct thing, but Archer replies that he has a feeling that Zobral's is a cause worth fighting.