The energy weapon from the deflector dish fails to harm the Borg Cube, as Locutus reveals he has Picard's knowledge, including that of the modified deflector, and the Borg have prepared for it. As the Borg Cube finishes its repairs, Locutus informs Riker that "Your resistance is hopeless, Number One," and the Cube continues on warp drive towards Earth, with the Enterprise unable to follow. Riker surmises that because he was addressed as "Number One", there is still some consciousness of Picard in Locutus to be saved. Upon reporting their failure to Starfleet, Riker is field-promoted to Captain, and told of a large fleet of starships amassing at Wolf 359 to stop the Borg Cube. The Enterprise works on repairing its warp drive to join the battle, but it is clear from subspace communications that the battle is not going well for Starfleet. When the Enterprise finally arrives at Wolf 359, they find the sector filled with the debris of numerous starships destroyed by the Cube, including the Melbourne, which Riker had been offered command of.
Riker and Shelby, along with the crew, develop a plan to rescue Picard and attempt to stop the Borg Cube. As the Enterprise follows the Cube's warp trail towards Earth, they attempt to enter negotiations with Locutus but are denied; however, the Enterprise has been able to discover Locutus' exact position on the Cube. Upon intercepting the Cube before it reaches Sector 001, the Enterprise separates, with the saucer section moving away from battle while the stardrive section barrages the Cube. Having anticipated that Picard would have focused on the stardrive section only, Riker has the saucer section fire an anti-matter spread near the Cube, disrupting its sensors to allow Data and Worf, traveling in a shuttlecraft to avoid detection, to beam to Locutus' position and transport him back to the Enterprise. The Borg, unhalted by this development, resume their course towards Earth with the Enterprise in pursuit; the Borg effortlessly destroy the Solar System's defenses. Data and Dr. Crusher secure Locutus to a laboratory to allow Data to create a neural link with Locutus to gain access to the Borg's technologically telepathic "Collective Consciousness." In a desperate last stand in orbit of Earth, Data attempts to seek out several possibilities of interacting with the Borg's higher functions as Riker prepares to ram the Cube with the Enterprise. As time runs out before Riker must order their sacrifice, Locutus lays a hand on Data as Picard would, and tells him "sleep." Data quickly understand that Picard's consciousness is trying to send a message, and is able to issue a low-level, unprotected command to the Borg to enter a sleep mode, causing their weapons and shields to deactivate. The Enterprise crew finds that the Borg have begun pouring energy into the ship in an attempt to "repair" it (their entry into "sleep" mode based on the false belief that the ship has been heavily damaged). Much like a battery being overcharged, the Borg ship begins experiencing electrical discharges and detonations. As the Enterprise leaves the area, the Cube explodes, ending its threat to Earth.
Without the Borg influence, Dr. Crusher and Data are able to remove all the Borg implants from Picard, though he needs time to recover both physically and mentally from the Borg influence. The Enterprise moves to an Earth station for extensive repairs. Riker, offered command of his own ship, insists on staying as the first officer of the Enterprise, which Shelby and Starfleet acknowledge. Now alone in his ready room, Picard gazes out the window at Earth, contemplating just how close he came to being the instrument of humanity's destruction.