It's business as usual on DS9. Kira and Dax are discussing an apparently bizarre looking alien captain while a Cardassian cargo crew unloads their cargo. The only unusual thing about this situation is a shifty Starfleet crewman who sneaks aboard the ship and fiddles with a control panel.
Not 3 minutes later, said Cardassian vessel is blown to smithereens by a mysterious explosion.
A Cardassian vessel exploding at a Federation staffed Bajoran station naturally raises a few eyebrows. Though there are no obvious signs of foul play or explosives. An implosive proto-matter device is thought as the culprit, but O'Brien can't be sure.
In the meantime, Commander Cal Hudson arrives on DS9. The ranking officer in the Cardassian/Federation DMZ. He and Sisko shoot the breeze, remembering good times and bad, but soon get down to brass tacks. Hudson is not happy with his position in the DMZ. Seeing it as a glorified joke, and showing pretty clear sympathy for the Federation colonists whose homes were given away to the Cardassians in the recent peace treaty.
Meanwhile, a suspicious Vulcan woman named Sakonna talks to the saboteur who destroyed the Bok'Nor. Advising him to keep a low profile until they can get him off the station. This conversation is overheard by two aliens, who sedate and kidnap him in a corridor.
In the interim, she heads for Quarks. Proposing an unspecified business transaction. He's more than happy to oblige.
In his quarters that night, Sisko gets a surprise visitor: Gul Dukat. The shifty Cardassian knows the station like the back of his hand, making it a cinch to sneak in. He wants to assist Sisko in investigating this mysterious situation. The two head off in a runabout for the nearby colonies.
The two have a not so warm conversation on the trip, before scanners pick up two Cardassian ships attacking a Federation merchant ship. Despite Dukat doing everything from telling the Cardassian ships his security codes to threatening to destroy them, they don't respond.
A second Federation ships joins the fight. Though its specs are different from anything Sisko is aware of. Before they can do anything, the Cardassian ships are destroyed.
Back on DS9, Quark and Sakonna have a dinner to discuss her mysterious business offer. Turns out she wants weapons. And lots of them.
In the DMZ, things are heating up. Gul Evek and Hudson are tearing into each other over these incidents, each accusing the other of terrorist activities. Things don't get any better when they produce a confession from William Patrick Samuels, the man who destroyed the Bok'Nor. Who happened to "Commit suicide" in his cell.
Going so far as to have his corpse brought into the room, a colonist named Amaros leaps across the table to beat the gray off Gul Evek. The two are broken up by Sisko and Dukat.
While Sakonna asks Quark to move up the date of the date of the weapons shipment, O'Brien confirms the bomb that destroyed the Bok'Nor was of Federation origin. And just to top things off, Dukat is abducted by several mysterious people, including Sakonna and Amaros.
These mysterious terrorists call themselves The Maquis. And Sisko heads off with Bashir and Kira to the coordinates they've been tracked to.
Beaming down, they're confronted by several armed Maquis. Among their ranks? Cal Hudson.
- Hudson: I'm glad to see you had no trouble finding us, Ben. It seems that one disaster after another keeps bringing us back together again.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The Badlands here are depicted here as a purple, wispy area of space. The pilot episode of Star Trek: Voyager would later create a much more visually distinctive design for the Badlands, which would be carried over to this series.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Dukat of all people is a proud dad to seven kids.
- My Brain Is Big: A trait of Gallamites, along with transparent skulls. Kira finds them rather off putting apparently.
- Oktoberfest: Hudson and Sisko recount some memories of New Berlin, which included sausage, beer, and lederhosen.
- Photographic Memory: Cardassians possess this, hence Sisko leaving Dukat's console dark during their trip in the runabout. Dukat turns it around by revealing he knew exactly how the controls worked before he even boarded the vessel.
- Series Continuity Error: Sisko mentions how the Cardassians were supplying Bajoran extremists through a third-party, the Yridians. Assuming he was referring to the Circle incident, they were actually supplied through the Kressari.
- Shout-Out: When Sakonna lists the weapons that she wants to acquire from Quark, she mentions cobalt-thorium devices. What would Dr. Strangelove have to say about that?
- Spoiler Title: Mixed with a touch of Late-Arrival Spoiler. Those who saw TNG's "Preemptive Strike" or Voyager before this episode know who and what the Maquis are already.
- Trespassing to Talk: Dukat invites himself into Sisko's quarters to discuss the destroyed freighter. Sisko immediately worries about Jake's safety, but Jake is just fine.
- Would Hit a Girl: Dukat clocks Sakonna when she and her comrades are kidnapping him.