Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the crew of the Federation starship Enterprise. In this episode, as Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) and his staff meet with the leaders of the planet Angosia III who are petitioning for Federation membership, they find themselves learning more than expected about the Angosians when they offer to help capture a local escaped prisoner.
The Enterprise is investigating the planet Angosia III as a candidate for entry into the Federation. Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) is approached by Prime Minister Nayrok (James Cromwell) who asks for help in apprehending a convict who has escaped on a transport ship from their prison colony on Lunar V. The Enterprise locates the ship which flies behind an asteroid, however only the drive section emerges from the other side with no life signs. Following it around they find the ships wreckage. Believing that the prisoner has perished the ship returns to the planet, only to discover the drive section they saw has disappeared.
Picard and Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) return to the Enterprise and following a hunch from Data (Brent Spiner) locate and beam aboard the prisoner. When security try to take the prisoner into custody he fights back, virtually unaffected by their phasers. He overpowers the guards and injures O'Brien (Colm Meaney) before he is subdued. Upon further examination the crew find that the prisoner does not emit any life signs on scanner.
The prisoner identifies himself as Roga Danar (Jeff McCarthy) a former soldier. Counselor Troi (Marina Sirtis) meets Danar and reads little aggression from him finding it unlikely that he could be so violent. Danar explains that he and others were genetically enhanced greatly increasing their abilities and affecting their responses when in danger. The crew also finds that despite being a prisoner Danar has no criminal record. Nayrok confirms Danar's story but says that the soldiers were unsuited for life in civilized society. He refuses to discuss the abuses Danar alleges, arranging for Danar to be returned to the colony. Danar tells Troi that the conditioning was never reversed or treated, and due to its effects small misunderstanding could often lead to murder. Rather than try to fix the conditioning the government imprisoned them all.
During the transfer from the Enterprise to the Angosian transport, Danar manages to escape. Easily evading security, he cripples the Enterprise by causing an explosion in one of the Jeffries tubes, disabling her sensor systems. With the Enterprise blind Danar beams aboard the Angosian transport vessel, taking control he attacks the Lunar V colony and rescues several of his fellow inmates.
Danar and the other inmates lead an attack on the capital and confront the Angosian government. Nayrok pleads with the Enterprise to help. Picard beams down with an away team but refuses to help, questioning the morality of how they've treated their soldiers. Nayrok explains the government's view on the matter. Seeing they will not help he reminds them it is an internal affair and they have no right to interfere, just as Danar and the escapees arrive and take them hostage. Danar demands that their conditioning be treated, and they be allowed to come home. In an act of brazen hypocrisy Nayrok pleads with Picard to intervene. Picard elects to depart, reminding him that the matter is an internal affair. He informs the government that they have to make a choice on what to do with their veterans. Danar smiles at the away team happy to finally be recognized as they depart.
On their return to the Enterprise, Picard notes that if the government survives, they will be given assistance in helping their veterans with their conditioning. He also notes that they may reapply for consideration into the Federation at a later date.