On stardate 41503.7, the USS Enterprise detects a battle in progress and heads into the Neutral Zone to investigate. They find a crippled Talarian freighter, The Batris, and lingering weapon signatures, possibly Ferengi or Romulan. Data indicates that all systems including life-support are failing and he detects three life signs toward the ship's engineering section.
Commander Riker leads a boarding party consisting of Lieutenant La Forge and Mr. Data. Captain Picard believes this is the perfect opportunity for Geordi to test his new "visual acuity sensor", a device that attaches to his VISOR and relays what he sees back to the bridge viewer.
The party beams over to the freighter, and Geordi activates his sensor. What he sees is revealed to the bridge crew. Picard finds it difficult to make out anything in the kaleidoscopic array of images and color. Geordi can see stress lines forming and warns the freighter could break apart any minute.
Data leads them back to engineering and Geordi's transmission from his VISOR eventually ceases. The group reaches engineering and finds a jammed hatchway. Data pries open the door. Riker sees humanoid figures move from the shadows; Klingons, and one is badly wounded. The first speaks, identifying himself as Captain Korris, but Riker tells him they have to get out of there. With the Klingons in tow, the group heads out. Outside the Enterprise, the Batris explodes in a shower of debris as the away team barely makes it back.
The injured Klingon, Kunivas, is rushed to sickbay while Korris and his lieutenant, Konmel, follow. Picard and Worf head down and find Dr. Crusher working urgently to save Kunivas' life. The Klingons raise their brows when they see a fellow Klingon, dressed in a Starfleet uniform, enter the room. Picard asks Korris why they were aboard a Talarian freighter in the middle of the Neutral Zone. Korris explains the Talarians were transporting them to Outpost M-Zed Five. They were attacked without warning by a Ferengi vessel. During the course of the battle, they must have unknowingly drifted into the Neutral Zone. Worf indicates the weapons used were not Ferengi. Korris states the ship was Ferengi, but they were using Klingon weapons.
Picard asks what precipitated the attack, but Korris says he doesn't know. He states the Talarians couldn't handle the situation, so they took charge. They tricked the Ferengi into lowering their shields and when they did so, they attacked them with a battery of old Merculite rockets, destroying the Ferengi ship. Worf escorts the Klingons to their quarters. Once there, Konmel orders Klingon food and ale from the replicator. Korris says he didn't know there were Klingons serving aboard Federation starships and asks, "How does the hunter feel lying with the prey?" Picard later calls Korris to notify him that Kunivas' condition is worsening. They head to sickbay and approach the dying warrior. Korris holds Kunivas' eyes open with his thumbs and stares into them. The three Klingons quickly look to the ceiling and bellow a fierce roar as Kunivas gasps his last breath and falls limp. Then they lower their heads quietly for a moment.
The three Klingons leave and, as they walk, Konmel mentions Kunivas' death would have been more glorious had he been killed by an enemy. Worf is confused and asks if he wasn't killed by an enemy, who was it that attacked them? Korris switches subjects however, asking Worf to explain his reason for joining Starfleet. Worf tells his tale of how after the Romulans attacked the Khitomer outpost, he was left for dead in the rubble. A Starfleet officer found him and took him to Gault to raise him as a son. Konmel realizes Worf hasn't spent much time among his own kind.
Korris admits lying to Picard about their situation. In fact, they had commandeered the freighter to search for a place they could live their lives as true Klingons. It was one of their own ships, sent to bring them back, that they had battled with. Worf is stunned that they would dare to attack one of their own ships, and Korris admits they didn't want to battle their brothers; they had no choice. He says their leaders have been corrupted by the illusion of peace. The Klingons continue their tour of the ship while Konmel muses about the magnificent battles they could wage at the helm of the Enterprise.
On the bridge, Picard is still thinking about the Klingon death ritual. He wonders about the howl they made at the moment of death, to which Data replies that it is a warning to the dead; "Beware. A Klingon warrior is about to arrive." Data reports a Klingon cruiser is approaching. Picard opens a channel to and receives a reply from Commander K'Nera who wonders why the Enterprise is in the Neutral Zone. Picard explains that they were investigating a battle, and have brought three Klingon survivors aboard. K'Nera asks if they are from the cruiser T'Acog, but Picard says they were aboard a freighter, and their leader is Captain Korris. K'Nera reacts with anger and explains that Korris is a criminal. He demands that Picard return them as soon as they are within transport range. Picard has Lt. Yar locate the Klingons and she finds them on Deck 17 near the battle bridge. He tells her to send a security team down to arrest them.
Tasha leads an armed detail to Deck 17 and finds Worf and the fugitive Klingons. She indicates they are to be taken into custody and tells Worf to step away. Worf hesitates for a moment. Suddenly, a lift door opens behind them and a little girl runs out and right into Korris. Korris picks up the child as the mother gasps in terror. Tasha informs Picard a hostage has been taken, but Korris shoots her a glance then hands the child to Worf, who hands the child back to her mother. Tasha relaxes, and Korris and Konmel peacefully surrender. Tasha approaches Worf who appears confused. When she expresses her relief that Korris didn't take the child hostage, Worf replies, "Cowards take hostages. Klingons do not."
Worf goes to the bridge where Picard explains that Korris and Konmel are fugitives. Worf replies that they will be tried and executed. Picard lets him know that he is not unmindful of Worf's mixed feelings, but he has no choice in the matter. Data reports that the Klingon ship is within range, and Picard hails them to prepare for transfer. Worf requests to speak with the commander. Picard allows it, and Worf steps forward to the viewscreen. Worf offers K'Nera a plead for Korris' and Konmel's freedom. K'Nera refuses, stating their actions have threatened the alliance; they disobeyed orders and must be punished. Worf agrees they must be punished, but not executed with dishonor. He requests they be taken to the Halee system to allow them to meet death on their feet with a weapon in their hand. K'Nera too wishes they could fly free, but he has no choice.
Down in the brig, Korris and Konmel remove various objects from their uniforms and fashion a wicked looking disruptor pistol. Using another device, Konmel neutralizes the cell's force field. The guards react and Korris blasts one of them dead. The second guard hits Konmel but Korris runs out blasting wildly, killing the guard in the crossfire. Konmel lies dead as Korris runs down the corridor toward engineering. He goes to the catwalk that surrounds the ship's warp core. Tasha and a security force enter and see Korris is pointing his weapon right at the dilithium chamber.
On the bridge, Picard is informed of the crisis and he and Worf rush to engineering. Worf heads for a ladder and climbs it to the catwalk. Korris responds, "Brother! I knew you would come." He states he will not allow the "traitors of Kling" to take him back. He wants Picard to surrender the battle bridge, then states he and Worf will take the battle section of the Enterprise and light up the galaxy.
Worf orders him to put down the phaser, but Korris tells Worf not to deny the challenge of his destiny. Worf tells him the test of a warrior is within and it is the weakness inside he must overcome. He tells Korris that he talks of glory and conquest, but questions whether he also remembers duty, honor, and loyalty, without which a warrior is nothing. Korris rails into Worf, telling him that living among the humans has made him weak. He doesn't care what Worf looks like; he is no Klingon! Worf replies "perhaps not" and, without warning, blasts Korris with his phaser sending him crashing through a transparent deck plate to the floor of the lower engineering level. Worf heads down and takes the dying man's head in his hands to peer into his eyes. Suddenly, he lets out the ominous roar of the Klingon death ritual.
Picard returns to the bridge to inform K'Nera that Korris is dead. K'Nera asks to speak with Worf, who steps forward. K'Nera asks how they died, and Worf responds, "They died well." Before signing off, K'Nera invites Worf, when his tour of duty expires aboard the Enterprise, to serve aboard a Klingon ship. Worf appreciates the offer and says he'll consider it. K'Nera signs off. Worf turns to see the rest of his colleagues staring at him with some tension. He assures them he was just being polite and has no desire to leave the Enterprise. Picard smiles and exclaims, "Mr. Worf! The bridge wouldn't be the same without you."