While exploring a Gamma Quadrant world, Sisko, Dax, Worf, O'Brien, and Muniz — one of O'Brien's men — watch as a Jem'Hadar warship crashes into the planet's surface.

The ship survives the impact, and Sisko's group finds a way into the alien craft. Once inside, they determine that all aboard are dead, and Sisko — realizes the tactical advantage that could be gained — decides to get the ship back to Deep Space Nine for study. He sends for the U.S.S. Defiant to haul the vessel with its tractor beam, while O'Brien and Muniz try to get the ship's systems on line. However, their work stops when another Jem'Hadar warship appears and destroys their orbiting runabout, killing all of Sisko's crewmembers still aboard.

Sisko and the others on the surface flee inside the Jem'Hadar ship for cover. Muniz is wounded, but all make it inside alive. They prepare for the Jem'Hadar soldiers to transport inside and kill them, but no one comes. Instead, a Vorta — the race that the Jem'Hadar serves — named Kilana makes contact and requests a meeting with Sisko outside. Kilana asks him to relinquish the ship, but he refuses. While they talk, a Jem'Hadar soldier secretly materializes aboard the vessel.

On the ship, the crew spots a sensor device that wasn't there when they arrived. They then see the Jem'Hadar soldier, and the invader is killed after a brief fight. Since the Jem'Hadar won't attack the vessel, the crew realizes there must be something onboard they want. Meanwhile, Muniz's condition worsens — the bleeding won't stop. O'Brien realizes he is dying. Later, Kilana requests another meeting and offers Sisko the ship in exchange for what she really wants — the item hidden aboard. Sisko refuses, not believing Kilana will really let him take the vessel. Kilana doesn't trust Sisko to bring her the item, so she won't tell him what it is. She then dematerializes, and huge explosions begin rocking the ship. The explosions continue, and Muniz grows weaker. Finally, O'Brien is able to restore main power, giving Sisko hope that they may be able to fly the vessel. They strap Muniz to the bulkhead and attempt to make their move. Unfortunately, an imminent core breach forces Sisko to cut power. O'Brien unstraps Muniz, only to make the horrible realization that his friend is dead. Then, suddenly, Dax notices liquid dripping to the floor. They look up, and see a Changeling.

The creature tries to attack Sisko and Dax, but it cannot hold its shape. They realize it is dying — and that this is what the Vorta wants. The Jem'Hadar couldn't attack the ship and risk killing a Founder. As the creature dies, it emits a high-pitched humming sound. Then the sound stops — along with the explosions outside the ship. Kilana then materializes in front of Sisko. They realize that their mistrust has cost two lives — if she had told Sisko about the Founder, he would have let her take the creature before it died. If Sisko had trusted Kilana to come aboard and get what she wanted, he could have taken the ship before Muniz died. He is left to ponder the cost of their mistrust as the Defiant arrives to tow the Jem'Hadar vessel.