Upon arriving in the Rogun system, Thorus and Ramsey pick up the distress call that had been relayed by a Ferengi merchant vessel. Confirming the source of the call at Rogun II they reach orbit and send out a hail. They hear from a Lawrence Davis who says the rest of his team was killed in the crash-landing of the runabout Stanwell. When they offer to beam him up, Davis asks if they will land and allow him to load his colleagues’ personal belongings and research samples (in particular, one of them had an anti-matter storage pod that shouldn’t be beamed). Wary, they agree but land with the Tarsus cloaked. Meeting Davis they are surprised to find him possessed of both good health and good hygiene (as the Stanwell crashed two months ago). Yet, his behavior is odd and he seems fascinated by Thorus’ appearance. When Ramsey tells Davis that Thorus is “half Ferengi” Davis accepts this blatant untruth as if for fact.
While they round up the items to off-load from the crashed runabout, Les goes to do a medical scan on the graves of the deceased crew members. When Ramsey compares Les’ findings to the crew manifest it appears that Lawrence Davis is, in fact, dead and buried. When they confront the living Davis he apologizes for his deception and changes appearance right before their eyes. He explains that he is a changeling, that his name is actually A’Tora, and that he was sent away from his homeworld in his infant form. He spent his formative years on a series of merchant vessels in the Gamma Quadrant. Though recently reunited with his people, they remain alien to him. The other changelings told him that other humanoids (which they call ‘solids’) cannot be trusted and, seeing his difficulty in grasping the concept, assigned him a mentor to provide him a proper introduction to his own culture.
Unfortunately, his first experience with his mentor was a field trip in which they spied on the doomed crew of the Stanwell. Some of them survived the crash and A’Tora wanted to help but his mentor forbid it. Seeing A’Tora’s angry distress at the solids’ plight, the mentor left his student on Rogun II to reflect on his weakness. A’Tora buried the crew and gleaned what he could about them and the Alpha Quadrant from the ship’s computer. He doesn’t want to rejoin his people and doesn’t like what little he knows about the Dominion (about the changelings, and the forced servitude of the Vor’ta and Jem’Hadar. Ramsey and Thorus offer him safe passage off Rogun II but explain that they are headed to the Omarian Nebula in search of the Cardassian ship, the Outrider. A’Tora agrees to go and to help however he can, but warns them that, although he isn’t certain what the Dominion is fully capable of, that he fears they may react badly to an Alpha Quadrant ship in that region.
En route, Ramsey equips the ship with trans-warp capabilities and they outrun a Jem Ha’dar warship that breaks formation to pursue them. Though they are making good time, they detect a ship hidden in some space debris and stop to investigate. It is the Outrider, powered down and left behind without any sign of damage. While they prepare to dock and investigate further, they detect a Jem Ha’dar scout ship on its way to their location, due to arrive in about 2 hours.