Ramsey scans the powered-down vessel and confirms that there are no life signs aboard. Once docked with the Outrider Thorus succeeds in providing the Cardassian ship with a security code that grants the crew access. Ramsey recognizes the vessel’s model as one favored by the Obsidian Order. Though Les assures them that the atmosphere inside the ship is safe, Ramsey and Thorus don environmental suits. Seeing A’Tora’s open interest, they invite him to accompany them. While unnecessary, A’Tora eagerly pulls on an environmental suit of his own. They venture into the the Outrider and learn from the security logs that the entire crew departed with another docked vessel a week earlier. From the video footage A’Tora recognizes a Vorta coming from the docked ship. Before they have finished their investigation the Outrider requests another security code. Thorus surmises that, per Obsidian Order custom, the ship will continue to request a security code every ten minutes. Ramsey manages to delay the request by an additional twenty minutes to give them more time to explore.
They download the ship’s logs and learn that six months ago the crew’s second-in-command, Almar, took over most of the regular captain’s duties from Gul Enor. When they take a look at the crew quarters they find them unremarkable save for the fact that Almar’s quarters are more luxurious than anyone else’s while Gul Enor’s contain no clothing and no bed. A’Tora remarks that it reminds him of how his people prefer to kept their personal space. He explains that he is unable to retain the same physical shape for a full day and that, while he can regenerate by reverting to a simple puddle of liquid, that he could also regenerate by mimicking a variety of alternating forms. A’Tora studies the seemingly random collection of furniture and sculptures in the Gul’s quarters and says that it appears quite as though a changeling lives there. They take the time to scan the cargo bay and confirm that there is trace evidence linking the Cardassian ship to the materials needed to craft metagenic weaponry.
When they disembark the ship, they move the Tarsus to a safe distance and then blow up the Outrider. Then, having found the trail of the other vessel, they lay in a course for the Omarion Nebula. A’Tora explains that he has no desire to see any of his people. He says that they call themselves ‘the founders’ and worries that if any Founder, Jem’Hadar, or Vorta discover he is aboard the Tarsus that they will take him by force. Torus give him an anti-sensor belt, assuring him that it will help make him invisible to any sensors. They review the records from the Cardassian vessel and learn that six months ago Almar confronted the Gul only to realize that Enor had been replaced by a changeling some time even earlier. After hearing of the changelings’ plans to infiltrate the Cardassian government as a means of forming an alliance, Almar joined the cause whole-heartedly. Almar convinced the rest of the crew that this was Cardassia’s best hope for a future free from Federation interference.
Though Thorus and Ramsey wish to intercept the Cardassians en route to Founders’ homeworld, A’Tora tells them that the ‘Gul Enor changeling’ will recognize him if they end up in close proximity. They also surmise that stopping this particular crew of Cardassians will only delay a Cardassian/Dominion alliance. Deciding to deliver a warning as soon as possible they reverse course and head for the wormhole. Once there they hear that the colony at New Bajor has come under attack by aliens that sound like the Jem’Hadar. After reaching DS9 they report to Ivers who has news of his own – Myrun and other Tal Shiar agents found a changeling in their midst posing as the once-revered Colonel Lovok. Having tortured said changeling, Myrun learned that the Founders intended to infiltrate Starfleet as well. Ivers proposes that he, Myrun, Thorus, Ramsey and A’Tora work together in uncovering this subterfuge. He suggests they travel to Earth under the guise of being Ambassador Corrik’s crew, and he contacts the Ambassador at once to propose this plan to him.