With Deep Space Nine in disrepair, O'Brien is unable to replicate the Cardassian materials he needs to fix it. He assembles a team of engineers and leads a salvage mission to Empok Nor, an abandoned Cardassian space station, bringing along Garak to foil any security measures. They soon enter the eerie, deserted station and begin to work. Garak is disturbed to find two stasis tubes have recently been activated, each large enough to contain a Cardassian adult. Meanwhile, Nog, sent back to the runabout, is shocked to see the ship drift away and explode.
The two Cardassian occupants of the stasis tubes are apparently on the loose. O'Brien and the group must modify some of Empok Nor's systems to send out a distress signal — forcing the team to split up and make themselves more vulnerable. The Cardassians soon locate two of O'Brien's crewmembers and kill them.
Garak decides to track down the Cardassians. Killing one of them, he returns to the group and reports that the dead Cardassian was under the influence of a drug designed to make him aggressive. O'Brien speculates that the drug made the two uncontrollable, forcing their former comrades to leave them behind in the stasis tubes. The wary group returns to work in teams, but two of them are soon attacked. Garak eliminates the remaining Cardassian just after one of the two crewmembers is killed. Then Garak turns to the surviving man, Amaro, and stabs him viciously.
With his dying breath, Amaro tells O'Brien that Garak stabbed him. Grimly, O'Brien realizes that Garak has also been exposed to the drug. Left alone with Nog, they must find and stop Garak, even if it means killing him. But Garak soon captures Nog and challenges O'Brien to save him.
O'Brien is forced to take on Garak, man-to-man. Both initially bring weapons, but discard them and begin the battle, with the bound Nog watching helplessly. O'Brien is soon overpowered, and it looks as if he will lose the fight and his life. But a simple tap to his com-badge makes him the winner — the signal triggers a phaser he has rigged to explode, knocking Garak unconscious. He survives the explosion, however, much to O'Brien's relief. The drug is removed from Garak's system and Deep Space Nine is repaired.