Through a special officer exchange program, Riker is transferred over to a Klingon ship and Ensign Mendon, a Benzite, joins the Enterprise. Riker learns from Worf about Klingon traditions and the role of a first officer. On the Pagh, Riker's authority is challenged by the second officer and he gains his respect.
The Enterprise finds that bacteria are eating away at the hulls of both the Enterprise and the Pagh. As the Enterprise turns back to help the Klingons, the Klingons believe that the bacteria were a weapon put there by the Enterprise. The captain of the Pagh prepares to attack the Enterprise. As the Pagh cloaks, Riker uses an emergency transponder that Worf gave him, so the Enterprise can track his ship. Riker takes command of the Klingon ship as the Pagh captain is transported to the Enterprise. Riker demands the surrender of the Enterprise, so the Klingons can have honor in this victory.
The Enterprise then starts to remove the bacteria from their hull and the Pagh's captain returns to his ship. Riker gives command back to the Klingon captain and returns to his post on the Enterprise.