Garak, a Cardassian tailor on Deep Space 9, unexpectedly stops by Doctor Julian Bashir‘s lunch table at the Replimat to introduce himself. With little tact, Bashir suggests that Garak is a Cardassian spy. Garak tells him to stop by his shop if he desires new apparel, or wishes, as he does, for an interesting conversation. After Garak tells Bashir he is happy to have met “such an interesting new friend today,” Bashir rushes to Ops to report the encounter, but Commander Benjamin Sisko is busy trying to head off a Cardassian attack on a Bajoran scout ship. With the ship breaking apart, the sole occupant is beamed to DS9. He identifies himself as Tahna Los and requests political asylum. He recognizes Major Kira Nerys and is taken to the infirmary.
Gul Danar, commanding the Aldara, demands that Tahna Los be released to the Cardassians immediately as a Kohn-Ma criminal terrorist; Sisko pledges to investigate the matter before proceeding and invites him aboard the station, asking O’Brien and Jadzia Dax to stall him with docking regulations. Kira goes with Sisko to the infirmary, and explains she and Tahna worked together in the Bajoran Resistance, and she sympathizes with his cause. Sisko warns her he can’t have a divided loyalty under him, and she indignantly declares a loyalty to Bajor. She also points out that splinter groups, like the Kohn-Ma, will need to be repatriated if the government is going to be rebuilt. When Sisko questions Tahna, it’s clear Kira is on his side and Sisko dismisses her. Alone, Tahna admits to carrying out brutal acts against Cardassians, even after the end of the occupation of Bajor but hints that his days of violence are a thing of the past. He’s obviously been subjected to Cardassian torture.
Meanwhile, Kira goes over Sisko’s head, asking Starfleet Admiral Rollman to intervene; but the Admiral immediately reports Kira’s actions back to Sisko, noting that he has a problem on his hands with her insubordination. Soon, Gul Danar arrives in Sisko’s office, angry at the docking delays, and demands the fugitive; Sisko politely denies him, saying he would have a problem with Bajor if he gave him up. He grants asylum to Tahna Los and Danar says nothing and leaves.
Kira shows Tahna to quarters, and they soon debate Bajoran politics; Tahna wants a completely free and independent Bajor, whereas Kira sees the need for the Federation‘s involvement, at least for the time being, until they can fully exploit the wormhole commercially. Tahna is skeptical, and Kira understands, with all their people have been through. She wants Tahna to take a leadership position to bring more people together, but he doesn’t see the government as valid and sees her as having adapted to a misguided role. Kira promises her help and support in getting amnesty for him and any who follow him on Bajor, as long as he is no longer with the Kohn-Ma, which he assures her is true.
Elsewhere, the Klingon sisters Lursa and B’Etor of the House of Duras arrive on DS9. Unwilling at first to relinquish their weapons on the Promenade, they relent when Odo gives them Hobson’s choice; do so or leave. He promptly notifies Sisko of their presence, currently just sitting around at Quark’s. Meanwhile, Garak, and soon Bashir, are observing their “outfits” closely, merely for tailoring purposes, Garak says. They observe Tahna arriving, and immediately the sisters leave with him to meet in a private location, demanding payment for a deal they had made. Odo, disguised as a rat, observes the entire illicit exchange.
Kira has arranged an amnesty hearing in the Ministers’ Court on Bajor for Tahna. She informs Sisko, and also tells him of two other former Kohn-Ma agents who are also seeking asylum. Sisko promises to protect them as well, and Kira, surprised and relieved, tells him his help is greatly appreciated. Sisko thanks her, then bluntly warns her to never go over his head again to the admiralty. When Sisko hears from Odo, however, about the dealings between Tahna and the scheming Klingon sisters, he reserves judgment and keeps this information from Kira for the moment.
Meanwhile, Garak receives the Duras sisters in his shop. After he gives a few lines about fashion, the sisters immediately get to the point of selling Tahna to the Cardassians, believing he still represents their interests. Garak eventually negotiates with them.
Kira happily informs Tahna that she has the necessary votes in the Ministry for his amnesty; Tahna is not interested, though. He reveals the fact that he knew Kira was on the station before he got there, and announces his pride at still being a Kohn-Ma. He promises her that he wasn’t lying when he said he has renounced the use of violence, but he needs a small ship with warp speed capability to carry out his latest plan, which he can tell her nothing about. Kira asks how he can know she won’t go straight to Sisko. Tahna just smirks and says that will only confirm what she so adamantly denied before: that she has turned her back on her friends and her own people, and become a willing puppet of the Federation.
Garak finds Doctor Bashir on the Promenade, but dispenses with pleasantries. He notes the two recently arrived Kohn-Ma terrorists, which immediately worries Bashir. Garak, however, convinces him to come to his shop that evening at exactly 20:55 hours to “buy a suit.” Bashir eventually understands and leaves. Unsure of what to do, Bashir asks Sisko for advice. Sisko recommends that he keep his appointment, as he understands it is a means for unofficial communication. They may be signaling a common enemy.
Sisko also asks Kira about the two terrorists, but Kira doesn’t reveal what she’s learned. Unsure of whom to support, she asks for Odo’s advice. In his office, Odo senses that she is torn between loyalties, but also that she knows what she wants to do and is afraid to do it. He gets her cleverly to say it out loud, including that, even if she refuses to help Tahna, he will still find a way to complete his plan. He convinces her to divulge everything to Sisko by simply calling the commander down to security, since “someone” wants to talk to him.
Bashir, arriving two minutes late to Garak’s, is quickly herded into a changing room, where he is allowed to overhear the Klingon sisters agreeing to sell a small cylinder of bilitrium to Tahna in the Bajor system in four hours. Once they have departed, Bashir asks what bilitrium is, and Garak informs him that it is a rare crystalline element, the atoms of which can release a tremendous amount of power. Garak also happens to know that Tahna was fleeing from the Cardassians for the theft of an antimatter converter. Combined together, Tahna would have the ingredients for “a bomb of significant destructive capability.”
Kira, under orders from Sisko, provides Tahna with the runabout USS Yangtzee Kiang to go to his rendezvous with the Klingons ; Sisko and O’Brien are nearby in the USS Ganges, lurking behind Bajor VIII‘s moon, scouting out the rendezvous area for the illegal weapons deal. After the bilitrium is exchanged for 13 kilograms of gold-pressed latinum, Sisko gives chase to Tahna and Kira.
Tahna finally sees through Kira’s act; he strikes her to the floor, and then combines the bilitrium he just purchased with an antimatter converter, activating the weapon. They go to warp and head toward DS9. With the Ganges and the Cardassian’s warship Aldara closing fast, Kira learns that DS9 is not the target of the weapon; the target is the wormhole. By collapsing its entrance, and shutting it forever, Tahna seeks to remove Bajor from prominence in the Alpha Quadrant, so that it will be left alone by both the Federation and the Cardassians.
At the last second, however, Kira steers the Yangtzee Kiang straight into the wormhole. She and Tahna fight, but he finally manages to release the weapon. However, the runabout is now in the Gamma Quadrant, on the other side of the wormhole, and the bomb explodes harmlessly. Following them through the wormhole, Sisko confronts Tahna via the communications system. Tahna angrily says he still has Kira as a hostage, but Sisko informs him that his choices have been reduced to two: surrender now, or be returned to the Cardassians. Quaking visibly, Tahna chooses the former.
Tahna Los is taken back aboard DS9 and incarcerated by Odo. Although Kira has been labeled a traitor by Tahna’, and lost his friendship , she has begun a new one with Commander Sisko.