At First Minister Shakaar's request, Kira prepares to travel to a Cardassian Outpost to share Bajoran intelligence about the Klingon Empire. She is surprised to discover their her old nemesis, Dukat has been demoted from his powerful position and is now commander of a freighter that will take her to the outpost. Dukat reveals that he is in this situation because he brought Tora Ziyal, his daughter by his Bajoran mistress, back to Cardassia, a move which will destroy his life and career. Ziyal and her father are now outcasts, and the freighter is their home. Upon arrival at the conference site, Kira and Dukat find that Klingons have attacked the outpost and all the Cardassian and Bajoran diplomats are dead.
The Klingon Bird-of-Prey responsible for the attack immediately detects Dukat's ship, but he is both humiliated and angry when the ship ignores his vessel, even after the freighter's feeble attempts at intervening. After the Bird-of-Prey leaves the area, Kira suggests they adapt the outpost's more powerful weapons for use on the freighter before the Klingon ship.
As they work to install the outpost's disruptor on the freighter, Dukat tells Kira that stopping the Klingon ship will allow him to regain his standing in the Cardassian Empire. Later Kira gives Ziyal some crude military training, beginning to bond with the young woman. Soon Kira and Dukat deduce that the Bird-of-Prey's next target will be a remote world where the Cardassians have a secret weapons research installation. Once in orbit, the freighter sends out a false signal to mislead the Klingon ship into believing it has a valuable cargo, hoping to lure the Bird-of-Prey into firing range. It works and the Klingons soon appear.
As expected, the Klingons lock a tractor beam on the freighter, giving Dukat the opportunity to fire his disruptor blast. Crippling the Klingon ship, Kira and Dukat commandeer it and transport its crew onto the freighter, while beaming their own crew to the Klingon ship, after which Dukat destroys the freighter, killing the Klingons. He reports his capture of the Klingon ship — and the valuable information it contains — to his government, but is shocked to learn that the Cardassians want to reach a diplomatic solution instead of seeking retaliation. Disgusted by his peoples' change of heart, Dukat vows to fight the Klingon Empire alone.
Dukat asks Kira to join him, reminding her that after Cardassia, Bajor will probably be the next target of the Klingons. But she realizes that the life of a solider is no longer for her. She also knows it's no life for Ziyal, and takes the young woman back to Deep Space Nine with her to live until Dukat's war is over.