To end a centuries-long war, the peoples of the planet Krios and Valt Minor have agreed to participate in a Ceremony of Reconciliation to be hosted aboard the Enterprise. Kriosian ambassador Briam arrives first, and asks that special care be given to his cargo as it is considered irreplacable. As they travel to meet the Valt delegate, the Enterprise encounters a failing Ferengi ship and brings its two crew aboard, which Captain Picard assigns security to watch closely. Despite this, the Ferengi manage to enter the cargo bay where Briam's cargo has been kept, and inadvertently deactivate a stasis field on one of them, revealing a young Kriosian woman. Commander Riker helps to secure the Ferengi and helps the woman, who reveals her name as Kamala, a empathic metamorph that can sense what males around her desire and react appropriately. Her body is soon to be at the cusp of her ability where she will bond with the Valtian representative, and as such, she is generating pheromones that can affect males around her, which was why she was kept in stasis until the Ceremony.
Briam tells Kamala to stay in her assigned quarters until the ceremony, but Captain Picard takes note of her disappointment, and allows her to venture through the ship, with Commander Data, unaffected by her pheromones, acting as her escort. After avoiding altercations in Ten Forward with the ship's male civilian passenger, Kamala goes to visit Picard. Her empathic nature causes Picard to become closer to her. The Ferengi attempt to get Briam to turn Kamala over to them, but he refuses; when he turns to leave, the Ferengi attempt to restrain him and injure him. The Enterprise turns the Ferengi over to the nearest starbase, but Briam is too injured to participate in the ceremony. Kamala suggests Picard take on Briam's role, and she helps him to prepare, strengthening the relationship between them.
Soon, they meet with the Valtian ambassador, Chancellor Alrik, who is less worried on formalities and more interested in assuring trade agreements are signed. Picard and Alrik establish the necessary agreements to end the war. With Alrik ready to depart as soon as the negotiations are completed, Picard goes to Kamala to say his goodbyes. He is surprised when she reveals that she has bonded with Picard; though she still possesses her empathic abilities and will be able to please Alrik, some of the aspects she gained from her bond with Picard will carry over such as his love of William Shakespeare, and will keep this their secret. Following their departure, the Enterprise returns Briam to his home planet. Befrore being transported home, Briam confines in Picard that he was impressed that he did not fall for Kamala's charms, but Picard remains quiet on the matter.