The captain and first officer of the Fortunate, an Earth cargo freighter, play catch with a football across a long, low-gravity bay when the ship is attacked.
Porthos and Archer are awakened by a call from Starfleet command. It seems that the Fortunate wasn't so "fortunate,
and now can't be reached. Starfleet wants the Enterprise to check out the situation. During the briefing about the ship, Mayweather tells how the long boring cargo runs are magnets for diversion (e.g. babies).
Archer and a small away team board the Fortunate and are greeted by Ryan, the first officer, who has assumed command of the ship now that the captain is injured. Archer offers help to repair the ship, and Phlox offers to help repair the captain. It's plain that Ryan just wants them to leave. Unknown to Archer, Ryan captured one of the aliens that attacked the freighter (a Nausicaan) and has been interrogating him for some codes.
As repairs are underway, Mayweather takes Ryan on a tour of the Enterprise. The two drool over the transporter. Eventually, they end up in the mess and have a big dinner. Ryan gets huffy that Mayweather abandoned his own freighter-bound family and joined Starfleet.
Back on the Fortunate, T'Pol helps keep a girl from being discovered during a game of hide-and-seek. During the game, T'Pol discovers that there's a Nausicaan on board the freighter. She and Archer confront Ryan about it. He agrees to let them see the alien, but it's a trap. A firefight ensues between the Enterprise crew and the Fortunate crew. Ryan seals Archer, T'Pol, Phlox, and Reed in a cargo pod after first burning a hole in the hull. The cargo pod is then set adrift. The Fortunate takes some shots at Enterprise before warping away. Archer wants the Enterprise to follow, but being that all of the cargo pod's air is venting to space, he takes T'Pol's suggestion that they first be rescued.
Ryan continues his interrogation of his Nausicaan prisoner, and eventually gets the information that he's been after -- the shield frequencies of Nausicaan ships.
En route to find the Fortunate, Mayweather talks to Archer. Archer gives Mayweather advice that no matter where humans are born, they are still human and have to do the moral thing.
The Fortunate finds the Nausicaan ship that attacked it earlier, and tries to attack it as well. Instead, they are led into a trap where they pass by a Nausicaan base and other Nausicaan ships join in the battle. They want their crewman returned, but Ryan would rather fight. The Nausicaans board the ship.
As the situation deteriorates into a firefight between Ryan and his crew and the Nausicaans, Archer tries negotiation with a Nausicaan captain -- who agrees to let the ships go on their way if their crewman is return very soon. Archer then tries to persuade Ryan, and has no luck. Mayweather steps up and finally convinces Ryan to give up his prisoner. The Nausicaans leave.
Archer and Captain Keene, now recovered from his injuries, discuss Ryan's punishment and the future.