Wesley Crusher, son of Dr. Beverly Crusher, is scurrying to the bridge, nervous since Jean Luc has paged him ten minutes ago and his mother always modeled punctuality.
Wes arrives and seeing Jean Luc's stern gaze on him, Wesley stutters embarrassed apologies and explains shakily that he was in the middle of a crucial experiment. Wes is so nervous his brows slant and he babbles on, but Jean Luc relents and tells him that at the Starfleet Academy, they will be strict about punctuality.
Wesley catches Jean Luc's drift and his frightened, tense face relaxes into a smile.
Most of the rest of the bridge crew is amused by Wesley's display. Jean Luc stands up and congratulates him. Then Jean Luc tells Wes about the mission he will be going on and with Beverly 's approval, invites Wesley to accompany him. Wes, still smiling, is honored to accept.
Wesley and Jean Luc arrive in the cargo bay to find Dirgo as the pilot and he only has an old shuttle craft that does not appear too stable.
But Dirgo is rather arrogant and tells Jean Luc that he is a great expert at shuttles. Dirgo also questions Wesley on just how well Jean Luc can hold his own on a mission, to which Wesley tells Dirgo that Jean Luc has done millions of away missions and is certainly tough enough to handle this one.
Meanwhile, a distress call comes to the bridge and on the nearby planet with several moons, a chairperson, Songi pleads for help and says that her planet is contaminated with high levels of radiation and that people are dying.
Riker and the rest of the remaining bridge crew vow to find out what's causing the radiation. They do find it... in an empty freighter that's basically a garbage scow.
At great risk to themselves, the Enterprise must tow it away from the planet and into the nearby blazing sun. They begin this mission. It's a slow and tedious process and the radiation levels begin to climb.
Beverly, in Sickbay, is fearful that the crew will become ill and prepares to deal with radiation sickness that may occur.
To add to her worries, news comes back to the Enterprise that the shuttlecraft carrying Wesley, Jean Luc, and Dirgo never arrived on the planet and has been reported missing.
The < em>Enterprise sends a search party, but finds no debris. Deanna comes to Sickbay, knowing that Beverly is frightened for her son and offers her an ear to talk to. But Beverly, afraid that she will break down on duty, declines and politely thanks Deanna for her support. Deanna reassures her that they will find her son and says that she's here if she does want to talk.
It turns out that the missing shuttle has crashed onto one of the moons, a very, very hot moon with the sun burning right over it.
Dirgo, Jean Luc, and Wesley both realize, does not know really much about shuttles and Dirgo's ignorance about the basics of any away mission becomes all too apparent when Dirgo reveals that they have no emergency water or supplies.
Jean Luc realizes that they cannot stay at the shuttle or even out in the glaring white sun. He also instructs all of them to cover their heads with loose cloths since it is dangerously hot. Then he tells them that he can vaguely see mountains in the distance and that they must go there for shade and relief.
Dirgo argues with the captain, which annoys Wesley. Dirgo, indignant at not being in charge, tries to tell Wesley to shut up, but Jean Luc intervenes and asks if Dirgo has any better suggestions. Dirgo has none, so Jean Luc fashions a stick arrow pointing in that direction, and then they head to the mountains.
On the way, Dirgo sneaks a bottle of liquor and secretly drinks from it. Halfway there, Dirgo nearly collapses from the extreme heat while Jean Luc and even Wesley are able to continue. Wesley helps Dirgo to his feet and ironically, in a similar style to his mother's, comments that Dirgo was questioning the Captain's strength. Jean Luc is the strongest of the three, heading up the small group and moving steadily without faltering at all.
They arrive at the cave, sweaty, their skin tingling in a mild burning sensation and slightly light-headed. Dirgo is ready to collapse in a heap right there in the entrance and Wes himself is feeling a tad dizzy and his eyes are stinging.
Jean Luc instructs them a bit further into the cave, so they are away from the heat and glaring sun. As they move, Dirgo's bottle falls out of his pants and clinks to the ground. Jean Luc and Wes see it.
Dirgo tries to lie his way out of it, but Jean Luc can tell it's whiskey and insists on holding it, so they can use it as an alcohol base.
Wesley's scanner picks up an energy reading inside the cave, so they head there and discover a fountain of seemingly water. Unfortunately, there is an invisible force field guarding it.
Wesley and Jean Luc intelligently realize that it'll take more than just firing at it to remove it, but Dirgo plunges on ahead recklessly, ignoring Jean Luc and Wesley's warnings and fires at the force field.
Dirgo's foolish action fails and the field wraps his phaser in a cocoon-like shell, rendering it useless. Also, Dirgo's careless, thoughtless act causes a sort of quake in the cave and rocks tumble down. Some head for Wesley, but Jean Luc jumps ahead of Wesley and takes the blows of the boulders and ends up seriously injured. Wesley cries out in terror and rushes over to see how badly the Captain is hurt.
Wesley, following what he has seen his mother do countless times, runs the scanner over Jean Luc and discovers that he has a broken leg and arm and a head injury. Jean Luc's head is bleeding, so like his mother, Wesley applies pressure to the wound.
Wesley is very shaken by this incident and fights back tears as he tells the Captain that he'll get to the water source, to hang in there.
Dirgo is standing by uselessly at this point and wants to get to the water. Dirgo crassly tells Wesley to leave Jean Luc and help him get the water. Dirgo then callously adds that the Captain will probably die and that they need the water for themselves.
Jean Luc tells Wes to go for the water and understands that Dirgo is an arrogant twit and tells Wes that since he's injured, Wes himself must stand up to Dirgo and protect himself from Dirgo's stupidity.
Wesley nods and frightened, joins an impatient Dirgo at the water source. Wesley has been working a code into his phaser that will enable the phaser to take down the field without the backlash from that field harming them.
Dirgo dismisses Wesley's ideas as childish and basically bullies Wesley into doing things his own way, which is more reckless blasting at the force field. He orders Wes to stand at one end and fire his phaser while he stands at the other end and they both fire.
Wes reluctantly complies, still intimidated by Dirgo, and emotionally strained to really fight back. They fire. The force field puts out the netlike shell again and Wes is able to dodge the net while Dirgo is not. The net kills Dirgo and wraps him like a mummy.
Wesley is horrified, but knows that there is nothing he can do to save Dirgo from his own foolhardiness. Wesley runs back to Jean Luc to tell him about Dirgo's death.
Jean Luc, barely conscious and almost incoherent, is not surprised at all. Wesley, fresh tears welling in his eyes, promises Jean Luc that he will get that water and that they will get off this moon and back on the Enterprise .
Jean Luc is convinced that he is dying and mumbles how proud he is of Wesley. A few times, Jean Luc mistakes Wesley for his mother, which really shakes Wesley up.
Wesley, tears running down his face, once again repeats his promise and asks the Captain if he remembers the time they were in the shuttle and remembers how Jean Luc opened up to him. Wesley is beginning to realize that Jean Luc sees a lot of Beverly in him.
Then Jean Luc tells Wesley about Boothby at the Academy and admits that he envies Wes being so young and starting out. Jean Luc also adds that he's sorry that Wesley is in this mess of a mission.
Wesley reassures him that he's not to blame, that he considers it an honor to have served with him. Wesley also blubbers out that Jean Luc is one reason he worked so hard in school and that Jean Luc, along with his mother, has inspired him to reach for Starfleet.
Jean Luc tells Wes that he's already proud, which makes Wes even cry harder. It also makes Wesley more determined to get to that water and give it to Jean Luc. Wesley sure wishes his mother were here just then. After one last weepy promise, Wes heads back to the water source to work on the phaser anti-shell.
After carefully figuring it all out with a great deal of thought, Wesley timidly tries his experiment. And it works! The shell comes out, but is blocked by Wesley's own shield. In addition, the force field guarding the water falls.
Wesley, finally able to get to the water, uses a box to catch the water and brings it to the Captain. Jean Luc is barely conscious and incoherent at this point, but manages to drink the water, much to Wesley's relief. With shaking hands and a few more tears, Wesley slowly drips the water from his hand into the Captain's mouth. By this time, Wesley is really craving his mother, especially her loving touch and voice.
It's a fortunate thing, then that the Enterprise has finally discarded the scow into the sun and is heading back to the moons, where they've found evidence of the shuttle and the arrows.
Beverly, the rest of her medical staff, Worf, and Data beam to the moon's hot surface where they see Jean Luc's arrow and realize where they are.
Wesley, meanwhile, has nodded off into a mild faint. He hears a husky voice calling his name and at first mistakenly thinks he's dreaming, perhaps fearing that it's too good to be true that his mom is here to rescue him and Jean Luc.
The voice whispers his name again and to his immense relief, Wesley realizes that he's not dreaming after all and opens his eyes to see Beverly bent over him.
Wesley barely manages to whisper back and tears of relief shimmer in Beverly 's eyes when she realizes that her son will be all right. They fall into each others' arms, sobbing in relief and mother-son love. Each one is so glad to be back in each others' arms again that they are reluctant to let go.
The rest of the medical team loads Jean Luc onto a stretcher and they get ready to beam back onto the ship. Jean Luc comes awake enough to realize that they've been rescued and even manages to weakly joke about how tatty Wesley's uniform looks. Wesley, despite the tears still in his eyes, banters back that the Captain doesn't look too shipshape himself, which relieves Beverly immensely.
As the episode closes, Jean Luc croaks out that Wesley will be missed and not only by Beverly, but by most of the senior crew, Jean Luc himself included.