As the station prepares for a Dominion attack, the enemy fleet coming through the wormhole suddenly turns toward Cardassian space. Gul Dukat breaks formation and follows, apparently bent on taking on the enemy himself. The Deep Space Nine crew worries for his safety, until he reveals that he has spearheaded negotiations resulting in Cardassia's agreement to join the Dominion — with Dukat as Cardassia's leader. In the Dominion Internment Center, Worf, Martok, Bashir and Garak mastermind an escape plan that will require Garak to spend hours in a tiny crawlspace reconfiguring a transmitter to beam them back to their runabout.

In the Internment Center, Worf is forced to fight Jem'Hadar soldiers to prepare them for their battle against the Klingons. While Worf fights, Garak works on the transmitter, as other prisoners stand guard. On Deep Space Nine, Sisko convinces Klingon Chancellor Gowron to reinstate their treaty with the Federation in order to fight the Dominion and Cardassians together. Meanwhile, the Changeling impersonating Bashir slips away and into a runabout.

Worf continues his battles with various Jem'Hadar soldiers, but while he keeps winning, he keeps getting weaker. Bashir warns him to stop, but Worf is determined to fight to the death, impressing General Martok with his deep sense of Klingon honor. Garak, who suffers from intense claustrophobia, panics in the crawlspace and must be rescued. Meanwhile, Dukat offers to spare the station if the Federation agrees to join the Dominion. Sisko refuses, and Dukat warns him that Deep Space Nine will be a target.

In the Internment Center, Garak regains his bearings and re-enters the crawlspace to finish his job. While Worf struggles through a fight with the head of the Jem'Hadar guards, a group of soldiers arrives at the prisoners' barracks looking for Garak. On Deep Space Nine, the combined Federation and Klingon forces prepare to take on the Dominion. Even the Romulans arrive to help. No one sees Bashir take off alone in a runabout — just as the Dominion fleet prepares to enter Bajoran space.

Back at the Internment Center, the Jem'Hadar guards discover Garak's crawlspace and head inside. The prisoners kill them, saving their chances of escape. Meanwhile, Worf, near death, insists on continuing the fight, even when Martok tells him to stop. Impressed, his opponents yield, and the Vorta in charge orders both combatants killed. But Worf dematerializes and appears on their runabout with the rest of the prisoners — Garak was successful. The real Bashir sends a message to Deep Space Nine revealing the Bashir they have been dealing with is a saboteur. They locate the Bashir Changeling on the runabout, heading straight for the sun with a trilithium explosive, which if it explodes in the sun, will destroy the station and the entire combined fleet. Kira and Dax take off after him and destroy the runabout just in time. Sisko tells his fleet of unlikely allies that no attack is imminent — at least not today.

Later, Garak, Worf, Martok and the real Bashir return, and Martok is made commander of the Klingon forces on Deep Space Nine. But there is no time to celebrate. Gul Dukat sends a message to Sisko indicating that the battle for the Alpha Quadrant has just begun.