Admiral Valdore gazes out a window on Romulus, while Senator Vrax complains that the mission has become a disaster. The Romulan Senate expected a political discord throughout the Alpha and Beta Quadrants but, for the first time, the Andorian and Tellarite governments have formed an alliance. Valdore thinks it won’t last, but the Romulan senate doesn’t share the admiral’s opinion. Vrax, who regrets supporting the mission, blames Valdore for weakening his position in the senate. Claiming that Vrax will eventually become First Consul , Valdore reveals that the second Romulan drone ship is now ready to be launched. Since it was the crew of Enterprise that brought Andorian and Tellarite delegations together, his plan is to use both drone ships to destroy Starfleet‘s flagship.
In a briefing room aboard Enterprise, T’Pol informs Archer, Reed, Tucker, Phlox and Shran that the drone ship is being navigated using telepresence. Shran comments that in the past, the Andorians experimented with telepresence for a short period of time, but without any results. Reed and Tucker realize that they were indeed alone on the ship. T’Pol suggests that the crew of Enterprise build their own telepresence unit to interfere with the Romulans’ navigation of the drone ship. She also states that the data which Enterprise gained from the Romulan vessel included a brain wave pattern of a highly telepathic individual – the pilot. T’Pol explains that telepathy is apparently required to operate the drone ship, and Phlox mentions that the pilot is seemingly related to the Andorian species.
On Romulus, Nijil reports that Tucker and Reed caused considerable damage to the drone ship. He is also concerned about the pilot, who is currently mentally fatigued, operating the vessel alone. The Romulan scientist doesn’t dare to imagine what might happen if Valdore orders the deployment of another drone ship. The admiral advises Nijil to increase the pilot’s stimulants, even though they are already at a dangerously high level. Nijil worries that the pilot may die, resulting in the end of their mission. Valdore shows little concern for the pilot’s well-being, however, but tells Nijil to be certain that the pilot survives until Enterprise is destroyed.
Meanwhile, Shran enters the captain’s ready room, where he tells Archer that Andorian scientists have analyzed the brain wave pattern and concluded that the pilot is Aenar – a blind Andorian subspecies of ice-dwellers. Due to their highly secretive nature, they were considered to be a myth, prior to their discovery fifty years before in Andoria‘s northern hemisphere. Shran thinks it is unlikely that they built the drone ship and even more unlikely that they deployed the vessel, due to their pacifistic beliefs. Obviously, the ethics of one Aenar differ from the majority, so Archer and Shran agree to find out whose. Contacting the bridge, the captain instructs Travis to set course for the Andorian homeworld at maximum warp.
In sickbay, Tucker and T’Pol work on Enterprise‘s telepresence unit. When Tucker exhibits signs of fatigue, T’Pol advises him to rest. The engineer argues that the Vulcan doesn’t have the same level of engineering expertise as he has, which will be useful in the construction of the telepresence unit. When Trip asks her if she has ever faced death like he did aboard the drone ship, she replies that she doubted her survival when Enterprise attempted to destroy Sphere 41. When Tucker asks what she thought about in that instant, T’Pol answers that she wondered whether or not to transfer auxiliary power to the starship‘s deflector array, leaving Tucker disappointed at her reply.
As Archer and Shran walk to the transporter, Reed is reluctant to let them leave without a contingent of MACOs. There is a dampening field surrounding the Aenar compound which will inhibit communications between the surface and Enterprise. However, Archer insists the MACOs stay behind, as the Aenar might interpret their presence as a threat and refuse to cooperate. Stepping onto the transporter platform, the captain and Shran beam down to the frozen Northern Wastes of Andoria.
When Archer remarks that it is -28 °C, Shran responds he is lucky it’s the middle of summer. The captain and Shran begin to search for the entrance to the Aenar compound. Shran tells Archer that Andorian cities are subterranean, and are designed to use geothermal energy. Nearing the entrance to the compound, Shran falls to his knees, experiencing balance problems due to his cut antenna. Notifying the captain that the tunnels ahead of them reach out for thousands of kilometers, he and Archer enter the Aenar compound.
On Romulus, Nijil reports that the pilot of the drone ship is resting. When he promises to ensure the pilot will be ready, Valdore comments that the scientist sounds like the soldier he really is. Nijil maintains that he is simply a scientist, but Valdore claims that mistakes occur when a Romulan forgets that he is a soldier from birth. The Romulan admiral recalls that he served as a senator early in his career, however, he made the mistake of challenging the precept of unlimited expansion and was expelled from the Senate. After Valdore lost his position as senator, he vowed never to repeat his error and never to forget his purpose. Satisfied that Nijil has learnt the moral of Valdore’s tale, the admiral orders the Romulan scientist to continue with his preparations.
On Andoria, Shran notices holes in an ice tunnel roof that were left by burrowing ice-bores – worms that generate warmth through a chemical reaction. When Archer and the Andorian reach a steep incline, the captain suggests that they look for another way to the bottom of the slope. Shran disagrees and foolhardily starts his descent. Suddenly, he falls to the base of the slope. Seeing an icicle jutting through the Andorian’s leg, Archer hurries down. In agonizing pain, Shran insists on freeing his own leg from the ice. Bleeding and moaning, he lies on his back after hauling his leg free. As inquisitive Aenar observe Archer and the Andorian, the captain provides Shran with emergency medical aid, unaware that they are being watched.
Archer tells Shran that the Andorian’s leg has stopped bleeding. If he and Archer stay where they are, Shran fears that they will freeze to death. Archer attempts to contact Enterprise, they are well inside the dampening field. When Archer asks how far they are from the Aenar compound, Shran indicates that they are not as far as they thought. An Aenar female, and other members of her Andorian subspecies, step out of the shadows toward Shran and Archer. The captain informs the Aenar that Shran requires their assistance. A young female agrees to provide the Andorian medical aid.
On board Enterprise, Phlox comments that he wishes he had more information on the neural interface which connects the pilot to the telepresence unit. Due to this, he states that connecting someone to the unit will be dangerous, possibly caussing brain damage. Trip seems certain that there must be some way to make the interface safer, although the doctor responds that they have learned everything they can from the diagnostics of the Romulan drone ship. Trip voices his wish to be the first to try the unit. T’Pol reminds him that he is not telepathic, and that the trial wouldn’t be a true test of the unit’s effectiveness ; but the engineer argues that the experiment would at least give an indication of whether the neural interface is dangerous. When T’Pol coldly states that she will test the unit, Tucker maintains that she is the highest-ranking officer on board the starship and is not expendable. The engineer asks her to wait until the captain returns but T’Pol is intent on having the unit ready by the time of his arrival. She declares that their discussion is closed and walks away.
In one of the Aenar city’s rooms, Archer watches as an Aenar female enters and walks to Shran. She tells him that he will soon be fully recovered. The Andorian thanks the physician shortly before the doctor leaves. When the Aenar female tells Archer his name, the captain believes it is proof of her telepathic ability. However, she explains that the Aenar strictly prohibit telepathy without permission. She learned the captain’s name when the Andorian chancellor contacted her species. When Archer asks to speak with an Aenar leader, the female replies that she has been chosen as “Speaker” in this particular case. The captain wonders if she knows why he and Shran require her species’ assistance. She answers that the Andorians have told her that Starfleet believes the Aenar are involved with attacks on the alliance ships. When the captain says that it’s more complicated than that, she asks permission to read Archer’s thoughts. He accepts, and the Aenar female soon believes that the evidence which has been gathered to prove that an Aenar was in control of the Romulan drone ship appears irrefutable. However, she is extremely disturbed by the thought that a member of her race could cause so much death. She postulates that Gareb, an Aenar citizen who disappeared the year before while collecting ice-bores, may have been abducted and forced to control the drone ship. She reminds Archer and Shran that they need someone to control the telepresence unit on Enterprise and leaves the room, telling them that she will consult with the other Aenar.
As Enterprise continues its orbit in the Andorian system, Tucker enters the mess hall and orders a strong coffee. Walking through a corridor with his mug, he wanders past T’Pol. When the Vulcan calls his name, he eventually stops walking. T’Pol informs him that his concern for her is appreciated. He claims that he is only trying to make sure Enterprise doesn’t lose a good officer, although T’Pol believes that his emotions are interfering with his duties. Trip disagrees and retorts that his feelings are completely professional. He walks away as the Vulcan looks on.
As Shran lies in his quarters, a young Aenar female stands over his body. She is surprised when she realizes he is awake and, fascinated by Shran, explains that she has never met a blue-skinned Andorian before. She adds that she can’t explain how she can tell he has blue skin when she is blind and asks about the Andorian’s home. Shran tells her that, every few years, the temperature rises above freezing for several weeks. She regains a serious expression when she remembers the reason for her visit – she wanted to apologize to Shran for unintentionally sensing his thoughts when she first saw him. She relates to how he must feel to lose Talas when she divulges that she is Gareb’s sister. She seems certain that her brother would never intentionally harm anyone. The young Aenar female confesses to having experienced recurrent nightmares concerning her brother.
Meanwhile, two Romulan officers lead Gareb to the telepresence unit on Romulus. Nijil asks for his forgiveness shortly before he injects the pilot with stimulants.
Back on Enterprise’s sickbay, T’Pol is wearing the neural interface helmet. She gasps as Phlox activates the telepresence unit, but her condition stabilizes and she seems to be doing well. When, Phlox reports that her synaptic response has become erratic, T’Pol insists that she will recover. However, her condition deteriorates and Trip orders Phlox to power down the unit. Trip removes the interface helmet from T’Pol’s head and, scanning her, Phlox makes a positive diagnosis – T’Pol is relatively unharmed. T’Pol informs Tucker and Phlox that she will rest for a few minutes before testing the unit again.
In a room within the Aenar city, Archer attempts to convince the Speaker to help bring an end to the Romulan drone ship’s violence. When she tells them that the Aenar won’t participate in the use of violence against the drone ship, Shran believes that he and the captain are wasting their time and leaves. Archer reluctantly follows.
With their systems ready, Valdore gives the order to launch two Romulan drone ships. They depart Romulus at warp speed to intercept Enterprise.
On Andoria, Gareb’s sister advises Shran to rest, as they walk with Archer through an ice tunnel, but the Andorian refuses. Archer informs them that they will soon be out of range of the dampening field. When Shran asks Gareb’s sister if she is sure that she wants to leave Andoria, she replies that she wants to help save her brother and wonders what Enterprise is like. Captain Archer describes the starship as warm, which makes her smile.
In Enterprise‘s sickbay, Tucker asks Phlox if the doctor thinks it is wise for T’Pol to test the vessel’s telepresence unit again. Phlox replies that T’Pol knows the risks of using the unit and is simply doing her job. When he advises Tucker not to interfere with T’Pol’s duties, Tucker suspects that perhaps the crew of Enterprise have lost their sanity. Phlox believes Tucker is crazy to attempt to have both a romantic and professional relationship with a member of the crew. Tucker blames the doctor for the Vulcan neuro-pressure which initiated the engineer’s relationship with T’Pol. However, Phlox reminds him that the Denobulan recommended neuro-pressure simply because Tucker was experiencing problems sleeping. When Tucker asks Phlox how he should deal with his feelings for T’Pol, the doctor states that he will simply have to suffer through it.
On Andoria, Archer looks up at the roof of an ice tunnel which he, Shran and Gareb’s sister are traveling through. There, the captain realizes that they are running in circles. Gareb’s sister exclaims that “they” are not letting them see the path to the surface. A holographic projection of the Aenar Speaker appears in a tunnel opening before the group and tries to persuade Gareb’s sister, Jhamel, to return to the city. Archer protests that Jhamel is acting of her own conscience. Using her telepathic ability, the Speaker discovers that Jhamel is doing what she believes to be right. Accepting Jhamel’s choice, the Speaker’s projection disappears, revealing the tunnel behind her to also be a projection. Following Jhamel, Archer and Shran walk through an opening, to the surface of the planet.
Back on the Enterprise, T’Pol informs the captain that they are too far from the Ticonderoga, a cargo ship that has been missing, to detect the freighter on long-range sensors. She adds that Enterprise will arrive at the cargo ship’s last known coordinates in approximately six hours. Archer tells T’Pol that he wants Lieutenant Reed to finish upgrading the targeting scanners so that Enterprise will make more effective shots if they encounter the drone ship again. T’Pol leaves the captain, heading for the armory.
As Archer enters sickbay, Tucker reports that Jhamel is ready to test Enterprise‘s telepresence unit. At first, Shran thinks Jhamel is uncomfortable using the unit. However, she describes the experience as “strangely enjoyable” and rises the unit’s power to maximum. Archer tells her that she is doing incredibly well, and Tucker suggests simulating a course correction. Suddenly, Jhamel’s breathing becomes erratic. Phlox reports that she is having synaptic trouble. As the Aenar’s whole body starts to shake, Shran demands that the unit be shut down. Tucker removes the interface helmet from around Jhamel’s head and Phlox administers the Aenar with a mild sedative.
On the bridge, T’Pol reports that the starship’s sensors are detecting debris, consisting of hull fragments, nacelle casings and several Human bodies. Archer orders her to search for the drone ship’s warp signature. When T’Pol asks the captain about Jhamel’s condition, Archer replies that the Aenar will recover. However, it would be too dangerous for her to try again. Archer comments that his visit with Shran to Andoria may have been a wasted journey.
In sickbay, Jhamel regains consciousness and asks Shran, who is standing over her, what happened. The Andorian replies that she had a convulsion, and that she is now recovering. Jhamel reveals that she had a dream about her brother, and appears to be annoyed with herself when she recalls that she failed the experiment. Shran answers that she should be proud of her courage. Jhamel smiles and comments that Talas must have been a fortunate woman to have had a relationship with Shran, although the Andorian boasts that he was the fortunate one. When the Aenar claims to think her brother will die, Shran refuses to let her believe that.
On the bridge, T’Pol detects what appears to be a Tellarite freighter dropping out of warp. Archer orders Sato to hail the ship and Lieutenant Reed to target the vessel’s engines. T’Pol suggests that the ship may simply be a freighter, although there is no response to Sato’s communications. The vessel is at 100 kilometers distance from Enterprise when Archer gives the order to open fire.
As the two vessels exchange fire, the unidentified freighter loses its form, revealing that it is, in fact, the drone ship.
The bridge of Enterprise shakes as the enemy craft fires at the starship. Archer orders Reed to target the drone ship’s weapons but the vessel is moving too fast and the lieutenant can’t get a lock.
In sickbay, the Aenar sits up, and insists that she use the telepresence unit. Jhamel claims that she can sense her brother and is certain she will be able to make Gareb stop his attack. Shran advises the doctor to allow her to use the unit again, although Phlox is not too keen on the idea.
On Romulus, Nijil informs Valdore that Enterprise is suffering extreme damage. The admiral orders Nijil to use the second drone ship to target the Starfleet vessel but the Romulan scientist believes that more force may not be required. Valdore demands that Nijil follows his orders and the scientist eventually complies.
On Enterprise‘s bridge, Reed detects the arrival of the second drone ship, which appears as an Andorian battle cruiser. Scanning the craft’s power signature, T’Pol confirms it is not an Andorian vessel and Archer demands that Reed target the ship. When T’Pol recognizes the telepresence unit in sickbay has been activated, the captain contacts Phlox. The doctor informs him that Jhamel is insisting on an attempt to use the unit again.
Enterprise trembles as the second drone ship sheds its holographic skin and joins its counterpart to exchange blows with the starship.
In sickbay, Jhamel is not doing too good. However, the Aenar maintains her belief that she will be able to save her brother and stop the attack against Enterprise. When Phlox’s equipment signals an emergency, the doctor instructs Shran to disconnect Jhamel from the telepresence unit. However, the Andorian has faith in Jhamel and refuses to comply with the doctor’s orders.
In the Romulan command center, Nijil notes that Enterprise has lost warp power. He also exclaims that someone is hacking into the telemetric array.
Sensing Jhamel’s presence, Gareb is confused that she is still alive. When he asks her where she is, he learns that Jhamel is aboard the ship which he is targeting. The pilot instantly stops his attack, which Valdore notices.
On Enterprise, the crew also realize that the drone ships, which are now defenseless, have halted their assault.
Meanwhile, Gareb telepathically communicates that the Romulans had told him he was the last living member of his species. He feels guilty that the Romulans lied to him and forced him to destroy so many ships. Jhamel appeals to him to end the violence now.
Nijil is alarmed when the Romulan drone ships attack each other. When Valdore directs the scientist to disengage the ships’ weapons, Nijil states that he has lost control of the vessels.
When Reed notifies Archer that the drone ships have become suicidal, the captain instructs him to fire a full spread of photonic torpedoes at the ships.
On Romulus, Valdore threatens Gareb that if the drone ships don’t target Enterprise again, the Aenar pilot will be killed. Nijil tries to stop Valdore, but two Romulan officers hold the scientist back. Gareb asks his sister to remember him after his death, as one of the drone ships explodes. In his frustration, Valdore kills the Aenar pilot.
Meanwhile, Phlox and Shran disconnect Jhamel from the telepresence unit in Enterprise‘s sickbay.
Firing photonic torpedoes, the Starfleet vessel destroys the remaining drone ship.
On Romulus, Valdore realizes that the mission is over. He stands as Gareb’s head falls to one side and Nijil removes the interface helmet.
In Enterprise‘s sickbay, Jhamel is relieved that the drone ships have been destroyed and that they won’t be able to do any more damage. However, she is also saddened by her brother’s death and embraces Shran in both despair and relief.
As they near the transporter, Archer thanks Jhamel for lending her assistance to the crew of Enterprise. Jhamel concludes that if she hadn’t accompanied Shran and Archer to the starship, her brother would have died alone. Shran reveals that the Andorian Imperial Guard rarely rewards a commander who has lost his ship with another one and suspects it may be a long time until he sees Archer again. T’Pol offers to provide assistance to the Andorian in any way the crew can, an offer which Shran appreciates.
As Enterprise continues its journey, Tucker enters Archer’s quarters. With the engineer’s report displayed on a PADD in his hand, the captain says that he feels Trip is being too negative about his own behavior. Tucker blames himself for missing a ten degree variance in the telepresence emitter, but Archer tells that Phlox doesn’t believe the variance is related to Jhamel’s near fatal seizure. However, Tucker argues that he should have been paying more attention to his duties, and informs Archer that he is interested in a transfer to Columbia NX-02. Although Archer finds Tucker’s decision difficult to accept, the captain eventually does, and dismisses the engineer. Tucker exits Archer’s quarters, leaving the captain alone in quiet reflection.