Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet and Maquis crew of the starship USS Voyager after they were stranded in the Delta Quadrant far from the rest of the Federation. In this episode, the Voyager crew discover a ship sent from Starfleet that could take them back to the Alpha Quadrant in just 3 months, but it will mean abandoning their vessel.
Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) continues to struggle in deciphering an encrypted Starfleet message that they previously obtained through the Hirogen relay system. Neelix (Ethan Phillips) returns to Voyager with a guest, Arturis (Ray Wise), who helped Neelix obtain supplies for the ship. Arturis learns of the encoded message, and reveals that his people are adept at such codes, and offers to help decrypt it. He is successful, and finds that the message is from Starfleet Command, pointing them to a nearby set of coordinates in the Delta Quadrant where their means of getting back home can be found. Though the rest of the crew is elated at this news, Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) remains cautious, given that the Borg have never been able to assimilate Arturis' species.
Voyager arrives at the provided coordinates to find an unmanned Starfleet vessel, the Dauntless, of unknown design. Aboard, they find the ship uses quantum slipstream technology, which will allow them to arrive back in the Alpha Quadrant within a few months. Janeway begins to share Seven's suspicions and warns the crew to stay alert, but remains optimistic with Arturis' assurances. Though the slipstream technology could be adapted for Voyager's warp core, the ship is not designed to withstand the stresses by the drive. The crew would have to abandon Voyager to use the Dauntless to travel home. Seven states to Janeway that she would opt to stay behind, feeling that she would not be able to integrate among the billions of individuals on Earth.
Janeway, still cautious, reviews the message decoded by Arturis, and discovers the message to be fake. Janeway transports to the Dauntless to face Arturis. Arturis tries to pin the blame on Seven, but Janeway rejects his claims. Suddenly, Arturis activates a panel on the ship, igniting the slipstream engines. All but Janeway and Seven are able to be transported out before the ship enters the slipstream. Commander Chakotay (Robert Beltran) orders Voyager to follow the Dauntless into the slipstream, aware that the system has not be fully tested yet. The Dauntless is revealed to be Arturis' own ship, masked as a Starfleet vessel. Arturis explains his motive to Janeway: his homeworld had been recently assimilated by the Borg, an event that might not have happened if the Borg were still at war with Species 8472. He directly blames Janeway and her crew for interfering in that war and vows to bring as many of Voyager's crew as possible to the Borg for assimilation; Arturis sets the navigation for his homeworld, now a point deep in Borg space, and then destroys the controls.
Suddenly Voyager appears and destroys the shields on Arturis' ship, allowing them to transport Janeway and Seven off the ship. Voyager breaks off pursuit and alters slipstream trajectory away from Borg space, while Arturis finds himself deep among an array of Borg cubes approaching his position. Though the slipstream technology is deemed unusable for the immediate future, Voyager's brief use of it has shaved 300 light years off their journey home.