Rutia IV is a non-aligned planet, but it enjoys a good trading relationship with the United Federation of Planets. The planet and its humanoid population have seen generations of peace, but, by the mid-2360s, this is becoming increasingly threatened by the terrorists of the Ansata Separatist Movement, who want self-autonomy for their homeworld on the Western Continent.

The Ansata number around 200 active individuals, but their supporters run into thousands; over 5,000 sympathizers are known to the Rutian security forces. Such people pass weapons and information to the Ansata, march in sympathy with their cause, and take part in demonstrations, strikes and riots.

The Ansata`s fight began when their homeworld was denied independence from the governing Eastern Continent 70 years ago. Since then, the Ansata claim of their desire to free themselves from Eastern Continent rule; "We have shouted, but no one has heard." They justify their violent acts as the only way they can make the government acknowledge and respond to their demands; the Rutian authorities see them as just an excuse for violence, They consider the Ansata to be animals, fanatics who kill without remorse or conscience. One incident that does nothing to help public support for the Ansata occurs when one of their bombs destroys a school bus, killing the 60 children aboard. The Ansata claim that the bombwas intended to hit a police transport instead, but few people see this as any kind of excuse. The fact that the Ansata bomber was only a teenager himself does nothing to help matters.

The situation between the Ansata and the Rutian police is tense. The police obviously object to the Ansata`s actions, but the terrorists also have their grievances. Suspects brought in for questioning often `disappear` in custody, and Ansata members as young as 13 years old have died in detention. The Ansata assassinate the Director of the Rutian security forces; the successor, although she is initially prepared to take some measures to ease the situation - such as ensuring that suspects no longer disappear - is soon turned against the group`s actions by their continued terrorist activities. Soon she, too, hates the Ansata.

The Ansata`s traditional weapons have been small scale bombs which cause damage over relatively minor areas, usually only a few meters. These are often used against random targets in public areas, such as small restaurants or on vehicles. When one bomb has been detonated, another may soon follow in the same area. The Ansata also carry hand weapons and are prepared to shoot at random, with little provocation.

In 2366, the Ansata develop a new piece of technology which tips the balance in their favour. This is a personal transporter, which can effectively allow the terrorists to beam in and out at random. The range of these transporters is impressive, allowing transportation not only across hundreds of kilometers on the surface e of Rutia IV, but also from the planet to ships in orbit. When a person appears, they are accompanied by a momentary surge of blue energy, but they cannot be traced by any sensors available to the Rutian authorities.

There is a severe disadvantage to using these transporters, or to give them a more technically accurate name, inverters. The equipment works by shifting the user into subspace, but this causes internal damage. DNA is warped, disrupting cellular chemistry, and the effects are compounded by repeated use. After only two months of using the inverters, many members of the Ansata are dying. The terrorists know the risks from the beginning, but consider them worth the cost - many are more than prepared to die for their cause.

The injuries caused by the subspace inverters open up a new channel of opportunity for the Ansata. The Rutian government has requested Federation medical supplies to help deal with the casualties caused by the terrorist bombings, and when the USS Enterprise is sent to the planet to deliver these supplies, the Ansata kidnap the ship`s chief medical officer, Dr Beverly Crusher. There are two motives behind their actions; to get the doctor to treat those people dying from the side effects of the inverters, and to take their war to another level. If the Rutian authorities will not meet their demands, then they will make the Federation listen.

Later, Captain Jea-Luc Picard is added to their list of hostages and they also cause damage to the Enterprise, killing three crew members and injuring others. The Ansata leader, Finn, hopes that the Federation will soon grow tired of the situation, forcing the Rutian government to negotiate with them, and to eventually give in to most of their demands.

Finn`s plan is not as successful as he hoped. With the Starfleet ship`s help, the Rutina`s trace the power source of the inverters using an adaptive subspace echogram, and this leads them to the Ansata`s base. Picard and Crusher are successfully rescued in a raid on the facility. The Enterprise then departs, leaving the Rutian authorities and the Ansata to sort out their problems on their own, without the Federation`s help.