The Enterprise is sent to investigate the disappearance of a science vessel sent to explore a large Dark Cluster. They encounter the ship adrift just outside the cluster, with apparent heavy battle damage, and Data, Geordi and Riker beam to it to investigate. Everybody they see on the ship is dead apart from a young boy, Timothy, whom they rescue and bring back to the Enterprise.
Timothy tells them that his ship was attacked by some unknown aliens. He is very afraid and only trusts Data. Deanna tells Data to spend time with Timothy in order to get to know more about him.
Timothy is fascinated by the android and starts behaving like him because androids do not have any emotions. Timothy says that he has nightmares and is very afraid, but he believes that by behaving like an android he can suppress his emotions.
Picard finds out that the ship was not destroyed by aliens, and demands that Timothy tell the truth. Finally, Timothy admits that he killed the crew of his ship when he accidentally pressed a button which caused the destruction of his ship. Data tells him that it is not possible that he is responsible for the death of the people on the ship; no ship is able to destroy itself in such a fashion, as specific voice commands must be used to initiate self-destruct and it is not possible to do so with an errant touch of a control panel.
Then, a shock wave hits the Enterprise and Timothy says that his ship was also hit by a shock wave. Picard tells Worf to raise shields but a new shock wave is even stronger than the first one. More power is diverted to the shields and another wave hits and is even stronger. Picard and Geordi discuss putting the energy of the warp engine to the shields. Timothy states that is what they said on his ship.
Data suddenly asks Picard to lower shields and Worf does so. The next shock wave is harmless and the Enterprise is safe. Data realized that giving energy to the shields caused ever heavier shock waves (the more power the ship generated, the heavier the shock), and these were ultimately responsible for the destruction of Timothy's ship.