Discovery has gone 930 years into the future through a wormhole, following Commander Michael Burnham in the Red Angel suit previously worn by her mother, in order to remove Discovery from the current timeline. The data contained within the ship is too dangerous to keep in the now in case Control gets hold of it.
In 3188, Aditya Sahil awakes each day to carry out an uninterrupted routine of manning an old Federation relay station.
Meanwhile, Cleveland Booker pilots his ship away from Hima, being pursued and fired upon by Cosmo Traitt, who complains that Book has stolen his own purloined cargo. The cargo “belongs to itself,” Book responds before his vessel detects a space-time anomaly forming. Trying to maneuver away from Cosmo, Book accidentally collides with Commander Michael Burnham, who emerges from the wormhole in her Red Angel suit. Both Burnham and Book’s vessel fall to Hima, with Burnham barely managing to regain control of her suit before impacting in a remote location.
After crash-landing, she emerges from the suit as it loses life support functions. Using a kit containing a communicator, tricorder, an emergency ration pack and other equipment, Burnham is unable to contact USS Discovery but confirms with elation that the suit detects life, indicating she successfully prevented Control from destroying all sentient life in the galaxy.
Before the wormhole closes, Burnham sends the suit back through to relay the seventh and final signal to Spock and subsequently self-destruct.
Realizing she is alone, Burnham walks toward the crash site of the ship she impacted by following its smoke trail.
Burnham finds Book’s ship crash upon the shore of a small lake. Book startles her by cloaking the vessel and attacking her. Burnham says she does not wish to fight him, but he engages her briefly in hand-to-hand combat.
They stop fighting, and Book chastises her for tearing a hole in space-time. Burnham asks if she is on Terralysium, but Book informs her she is on Hima, a planet unknown to her. Burnham apologizes for crashing into his ship and says without her crew, she must place her trust in Book.
He takes Burnham aboard his ship, where she is impressed by the advanced technology. Book says she cracked his dilithium recrystalizer when they collided. Book must get his cargo to its destination by a certain time but says he does not have the benamite needed to travel via quantum slipstream and that other methods of space travel will be unsatisfactory. The only place to obtain new dilithium would be to trade for it at the Mercantile, a courier outpost at Requiem, a nearby city.
Burnham asks if she could finds communications equipment at the Mercantile to contact her ship; Book says she would need to trade something for access. She offers up her tricorder as an “antique.” Before departing, Book also shows Burnham Grudge, whom he alleges has a thyroid condition to explain the cat‘s large size.
Burnham notices that Book’s cargo is temperature sensitive and also surmises that Book stole it. On the way to the Mercantile, Book notes her Starfleet badge and says that only a handful of “true believers” of the Federation remain. Burnham asks what happened to the Federation. Book tells her that it collapsed following the Burn, and is surprised to find out she does not know about the event, in which most of the galaxy’s dilithium exploded, destroying most warp-capable ships and killing many. The Federation did not know why it happened or if the remaining dilithium would explode, and eventually dissolved, a century or more prior. Burnham, astonished, says the Federation is about more than warp drives, and instead represents a “shared vision.” Book warns her to remove the Starfleet insignia before they arrive anyway.
Burnham and Book arrive at Requiem, where the Mercantile floats above the city. She is surprised to find the Andorians and Orions work together to run the facility. As she is not a courier, she is almost denied entry, but Book reveals she has items to trade and she is allowed in. Book explains that holo buyers and sellers strike deals that are confirmed and regulated by the Orions and Andorians, though some side deals such as trading her “antiques” are possible. Burnham is impressed by portable transporter technology, and gives Book her tricorder to trade for dilithium.
She enters the comms area only to be restrained by a stasis beam. Book has tricked her into walking into the facility’s vault, and remorsefully steals the rest of her kit to trade for dilithium.
Contained behind a force field, Ithyk, an Andorian, and Ithor, an Orion, interrogate Burnham about why she tried to enter their vault. When she proves reluctant to answer their questions, the pair spray Burnham with a purple gas meant to make people speak the truth. Burnham, under its influence, speaks about her experiences with Book and saving the galaxy from Control, but her answers seem nonsensical to Ithyk and Ithor.
Meanwhile, Book finds no success in trading the items for dilithium before Cosmo finds him. Ithyk and Ithor finally deduce Burnham arrived with Book. They find Cosmo beating Book in an effort to find the stolen cargo, though Book refused to give it up. Burnham then punches Book for stealing her items. With both Mercantile officials and Cosmo training weapons on them, Burnham — still under the influence of the gas — signals Book, and the pair start fighting the others, taking their handheld weapons.
Burnham grabs several dilithium crystals before she and Book use portable transporters to escape to the countryside.
Beneath a waterfall, Burnham strikes Book again, complaining that she needs to contact Discovery. Several Mercantile officials suddenly appear; Burnham and Book fight them off before transporting several more times across the landscape. Pinned down and waiting for the transporter to recharge, Burnham apologizes to Book for hitting him, and the pair jump off a cliff before transporting away, where they land in the lake near Book’s ship. He starts to explain that they cannot track them because they landed in water, before she punches him in the face once more.
Burnham and Book dry off next to the water, but Book warns that the aliens will find them soon. Burnham has been injured by a shot to her arm. Book uses his telepathic abilities to call a Hima water plant forth from the water; a liquid extracted from its leaves will prevent infections. The liquid had “a bite to it,” Burnham replies, and Book covers her wound with a handkerchief.
He then reveals he carries a device that can communicate via subspace, annoying but also bemusing Burnham. However, she is unable to contact Discovery. Book asks if she is a time-traveler, which Burnham confirms. He notes time travel was outlawed after the temporal wars.
The pair return to his ship, where they are surrounded by Ithyk, Ithor, Cosmo and several henchmen. Annoyed by Cosmo for letting his cargo be stolen, Ithor kills him. Ithyk demands the ship’s access code, which Book reveals to be “sticky.” The ship decloaks and a cargo hatch opens to reveal a large creature, Molly the trance worm, resting inside. Ithyk and Ithor discuss eating it “served fresh.” As it emerges, Book warns Burnham to close her eyes. Having lulled the Mercantile officials into a trance, Molly kills and eats Ithyk and Ithor before the rest beam away. Molly then eats Burnham whole, but Book, using his telepathic abilities, convinces her to spit Burnham out onto the beach. “I really, really didn’t know how this day was going to turn out,” a startled Burnham, coated in saliva, says.
Book’s ship travels at warp.
Book reveals he has been working to save trance worms since the Federation’s fall left no one to enforce the Endangered Species Act. Burnham asks about his connection to plants and animals. Book says his family are “killers” and “poachers” but that occasionally someone like him is born, “something to do with balance.” Book reveals he is not welcome in his family, but does not wish to be like them. They deliver Molly to Sanctuary Four, where Molly joins other trance worms swimming in a lake. They arrived just in time for her breeding cycle, Book says. He reveals he knows someone who might be able to help find Discovery.
He takes Burnham to a courier way point, an old Federation space station, where they find Sahil sitting at his desk. Burnham identifies herself as a Starfleet officer and Sahil identifies himself as a “Federation liaison.” Burnham asks him to search for Discovery. Sahil is unable to locate it, but notes he can only scan a 600-light year radius because long-range sensors failed decades prior, leaving the remaining Federation outposts isolated.
Sahil asks how Burnham is unaware of the current state of the galaxy. Burnham reveals she time-traveled from before the Burn and collapse of the Federation. She posits that Discovery may have arrived well out of range, or could arrive at some point in the near or distant future.
Sahil says he is not a commissioned officer as no one remained to officially swear him in, but that he maintained the office waiting for someone representing hope to arrive — such as Burnham. Sahil says the Federation flag can only be raised by a commissioned officer and asks Burnham to raise it. Burnham commissions him to serve as an acting communications chief to search for Discovery, and they raise the flag as Burnham promises to find her ship and others who believe in the Federation.