A pair of Borg cubes approach their latest target, informing them that they will be assimilated. Resistance, however, proves somewhat less than futile as the alien vessels effortlessly destroy the cubes.

Janeway is in a holographic recreation of Leonardo da Vinci’s workshop, conversing with the master himself when she is interrupted by an urgent hail from Chakotay. At her first officer’s urging, she heads for engineering where Torres explains that a probe they sent ahead of the ship some months ago has stopped transmitting. This might not seem like an emergency, but for the fact that the blank face of a Borg drone comes into few just before the probe’s telemetry is abruptly cut off.

The moment Janeway has been dreading for the last three years has finally come: Voyager is approaching Borg space.

Janeway quickly gathers the senior staff in the briefing room, where she outlines the situation. They don’t know how many Borg ships are out there (though the safe bet is “a lot”), and they control a great deal of territory, the heart of which Voyager is barreling toward. However, Chakotay explains, while there is no practical way around Borg space, they might be able to get through it after all. Before the probe went silent, it detected a narrow corridor of space – which the crew dubs “the Northwest Passage” – that the Borg seem to be avoiding.

Navigating the Passage won’t be easy, as it’s littered with quantum singularities and gravimetric distortions – likely the very reason the Borg are keeping their distance – but it’s the best chance they have. While the crew prepares for a confrontation with the Borg, the Doctor and Kes examine the Borg corpse they recovered some months earlier in the hope of finding some way of protecting the crew from assimilation. The Doctor proposes treating Borg nanoprobes (which begin the assimilation process upon injection) like an infection when Kes suddenly experiences the first of several vivid telepathic visions of dismembered Borg and Voyager’s destruction. These disturbing visions continue for hours.

Meanwhile, on the bridge, Kim detects the transwarp signatures of fifteen Borg ship headed straight for them. The subspace distortions force the ship out of warp, and everyone prepares for the worst. To their amazement, however, the Borg completely ignore them, save for a single cube that stops only to scan Voyager before continuing on its way.

As Voyager recovers from that shocking near miss, Janeway has them resume course. Later, Chakotay joins her in her ready room, where he finds she has been obsessively studying logs and other records from Starfleet’s prior encounters with the Borg. She confides in Chakotay that although she knew they’d run into the Borg sooner or later, she can’t help but worry about what they’ll do if the Northwest Passage isn’t the lucky break it seems. Will they press on, despite the danger or turn back and make a new home in the Delta Quadrant?

As Chakotay assures her that the crew will support her regardless, Tuvok calls them to the bridge. Once they arrive, Kim and Tuvok report that the Borg armada that crossed their path earlier has stopped dead in its tracks just a few light years away. Naturally, Voyager goes to investigate. Upon arriving, they are stunned to find that all fifteen cubes have been destroyed.

While looking for some sign of the Borg’s opponent, they spot a mass of organic matter attached to one of the Borg ships. It doesn’t respond to hails, nor can they lock on to it with either the transporter or a tractor beam. Chakotay, Tuvok, and Kim beam aboard the cube to investigate. Once there, they find the ship littered with dead drones, some of which are in piles similar to the ones Kes saw. They find that the biomass – which their scans suggest is some sort of vessel – blasted a hole in the Borg ship and then fused to it.