The Hawking left Earth during the 21st century on a one-way mission to colonize a distant world. Due to the relativistic effects of pre-warp travel, its crew has aged only thirty years while two centuries passed outside the ship. When the starship Enterprise comes to the rescue of the malfunctioning Hawking, the colonists find themselves thrust into a universe and an era that has left them behind.
Captain Kirk intends to help the colonists adjust as best he can, but the task is not a simple one. The newcomers are survivors of a more violent, more paranoid time – and they have brought old suspicions, and an ancient weapon of mass destruction, into a world of unexpected challenges and dangers.