While under Klingon attack, Worf ordered for the Defiant to fire on a vessel that decloaked in front of it, apparently unaware that it was a Klingon transport until too late. While Admiral T'Lara oversees the hearing, Ch'Pok, the Klingon Advocate, accuses Worf of negligence brought on by his inherent bloodlust. Sisko, Worf's defense counsel, counters that this was a tragic, unavoidable accident. Later, Dax is called to the stand, where she is forced to reveal that the day before the attack, Worf fought a simulated holosuite battle in which he ordered the destruction of a town filled with Klingon civilians.

Other witnesses are called to help determine Worf's state of mind. Sisko says that he was confident putting Worf in charge of what was supposed to be a humanitarian mission delivering aid to a Cardassian colony. But Quark reveals that Worf told him before leaving that he hoped the Klingons attacked — ostensibly so that he could retaliate.

Odo investigates the history of the dead Klingon transport captain, but learns nothing incriminating. Later, Kira is questioned about the events leading up to the battle and states that she believes Worf was correct in giving the order to fire. But, when O'Brien is questioned, he is forced to reveal that, had he been in command, he would have acted differently. Later, Ch'Pok suggests that Sisko concede before Worf takes the stand, promising to spare Worf's life. Sisko refuses.

On the stand, Worf says he still believes firing on the transport was the only option under the circumstances. But when Ch'Pok questions, he infuriates Worf by suggesting he destroyed a ship of innocent people to prove himself a true Klingon. Angered, Worf attacks Ch'Pok, proving that, contrary to what he has said, he would knowingly attack an unarmed opponent. Satisfied, Ch'Pok rests his case.

Just when Worf appears to be doomed, Sisko presents new information to T'Lara and Ch'Pok. Apparently, every passenger Worf supposedly killed was also aboard a vessel that crashed a few months earlier — but all "miraculously" survived the accident, only to "coincidentally" die months later on the transport. Sisko forces Ch'Pok to admit that the entire affair could have been staged to discredit Worf. Afterward, Sisko chastises Worf for an attitude that puts winning over innocent lives, then concedes Worf was lucky and softens the blow by expressing his belief that Worf will make a fine Captain someday.