After a series of Kazon assaults on the U.S.S. Voyager that badly damage the ship, Chakotay urges Janeway to start thinking more like a Maquis. He suggests forming an alliance with several factions of the Kazon — an option the Captain rejects until Tuvok convinces her that such an arrangement could bring stability to the quadrant.

While Neelix visits a Kazon-Pommar contact on the planet Sobras to feel the faction out about the viability of such an alliance, Janeway and Chakotay meet with Seska and Culluh, the Maje of the Kazon-Nistrim. Culluh stubbornly refuses to allow a woman to dictate the terms of an alliance, so Janeway walks out. On Sobras, Neelix also fares poorly, as he's thrown into a cell with other non-Kazon prisoners.

There, Neelix meets Mabus, a Trabe leader who assures Neelix that help is on the way, thanks to a signal he sent to Trabe vessels in the area. As predicted, Trabe supporters liberate the prisoners.

In the meantime, the crew sets a course for Sobras to retrieve Neelix, but en route, they spot an armada of Kazon ships closing in on their position. Apprehension turns to relief when the crew realizes these are actually Trabe ships, and Neelix is aboard one of them. Mabus explains that the Trabe once held the Kazon as slaves, until the Kazon rose up against them. Since then, the Trabe have been in exile. Despite the bad blood between Trabe and Kazon forces, Janeway and Mabus form an alliance, and call for a conference to unite the warring factions in the quadrant. Seska persuades Culluh to attend the meeting as his first step toward destroying the Trabe and seizing Voyager.

Having been tipped off by Neelix's sources that someone may try to sabotage the conference, Janeway and Tuvok proceed with caution to the meeting, which brings the First Majes of all the Kazon sects together. Suddenly, a Trabe ship appears and opens fire on the gathering. Voyager drives off the Trabe vessel and Janeway, stunned by the ambush, orders Mabus off her ship. But the damage has been done. The Kazon are furious and the crew is more vulnerable than ever.