The Federation continues to lose the war with the Dominion/Cardassian Alliance — and morale is sinking fast. Realizing that the Federation needs a major victory, Sisko launches a plan to retake Deep Space Nine, using a task force comprised of ships throughout the Starfleet. Meanwhile, Odo continues to struggle with reconciling his thoughts for the Female Shapeshifter and remaining loyal to his friends, especially Kira. Despite his mixed feelings, he cannot resist linking — joining physically — with the fellow Changeling.
Rom is sentenced to execution for interfering in Dominion efforts to destroy the minefield barricading Jem'Hadar reinforcements on the other side of the wormhole. When Quark promises his brother he will find a way to free him, Rom tells him it is more important that he destroy the beam being used to take down the minefield. Kira asks Ziyal to convince her father, Gul Dukat, to release Rom, but Dukat turns his daughter down. Meanwhile, Quark learns that the minefield will be destroyed within a week, allowing thousands of Dominion troops to come through the wormhole and flood the Alpha Quadrant.
Quark and Kira realize they must warn Starfleet, so Jake smuggles out an encrypted message to his father. Sisko receives it and realizes he must begin his mission immediately, although needed reinforcements are days away from arrival.
Tracking the movements of the Federation fleet, Dukat and Weyoun realize something big is being planned. However, Dukat is more concerned about reconciling with Ziyal. He sends Damar, his second-in-command, to convince her to speak with him, but Damar, who dislikes Ziyal, is rough with the girl. Kira witnesses this and angrily attacks Damar, nearly killing him. Meanwhile, Sisko returns to the Defiant to personally lead the task force for his pivotal mission.
Dukat realizes the Federation troops are headed for the space station but is confident they won't have a chance once the minefield comes down. A bruised Damar asks Dukat for permission to arrest Kira, but Dukat only cares about what transpired between Damar and Ziyal. Odo has a disturbing conversation with the Female Shapeshifter, but when he later tries to talk to Kira, she refuses to accept his apology. Meanwhile, Sisko and his troops — headed for a wall of over one thousand Dominion ships — face what appears to be a suicide mission.