Original Airdate:YYYY-MM-DD
Story by:Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by:Alexander Singer

A Federation ambassador brings newly promoted Captain Sisko's orders to take the Defiant on a patrol of the Tzenkethi border, where a destabilizing coup has just taken place


In the wardroom Commander Sisko is recieveing his fourth pip, and finally to become Captain. At the subsequent celebration party, Federation Ambassador Krajensky informs Sisko that a coup has taken place on the Tzenkethi homeworld. Sisko is to take the ambassador and the Defiant to that sector to remind the Tzenkethi of the Federation's presence on nearby colony worlds.

Not long after departing, the Defiant recieves a distress signal from a colony on Barisa Prime, stating they are under attack by the Tzenkethi. When contact is abruptly cut off, Sisko sets course and tries to contact Starfleet Command. However, the ship's communication system malfunctions. O'Brien and Dax discover strange alien devices have hooked themselves into the ship's systems; their placement the work of a saboteur. Since the person that placed them would have been exposed to trace amounts of tetryon particles, Dax scans each member of the crew for signs of the particles. Within minutes she discovers that Krajensky is the culprit, and also that he is a changeling, who morphs before their eyes and escapes through an access hatch.

It becomes clear that the changeling has taken control of the ship. The crew can do nothing to prevent it from activating the cloaking device and arming the ship's weapons. Sisko then realizes that Krajensky's visit to DS9, his infomation about the Tzenkethi coup and the transmission from Barisa Prime are all fake. It seems likely the Dominion is hoping to start a war between the Tzenkethi and the Federation that would destabilize the Alpha Quadrant and make it easier for them to move in. With the Defiant primed for battle and just a few short hours from the Tzenkethi border, it is imerative they locate the changeling.

They've barely begun their search when O'Brien finds Dax unconscious in the engine room, so he'll have to make the repairs himself. Sisko decides that if O'Brien can't regain control of the ship before they get to the border, he'll have to order the self-destruct of the Defiant.

Because the changeling can look like anyone, Sisko has his officers pair up, with instructions to keep their partner in sight at all times. But in the course of hunting down the changeling, Sisko, Odo, Eddington, Kira and a Bolian officer are each seperated from their partner and suspicion grows amoungst the crew. Odo points out that Sisko is not the changeling as he is bleeding from a wound.

Now armed with a way of locating the changeling via simple blood tests, Sisko has Bashir test everyone. When Eddington's blood seems to morph into orange goo, he is taken into custody. But moments later, they discover a second Bashir, the real Bashir, and realise they have been tricked by the changeling. Just as he escapes the Defiant enters Tzenkethi space.

Sisko has no other choice but to activate the auto-destruct sequence, giving O'Brien only ten minutes to find a way to gain control of the ship. But as he works in engineering Odo shows up....followed by a second one. Unwilling to be side-tracked by playing "choose the changeling" O'Brien manages to drop the forcefields surrounding the sabotaged systems. The false Odo changes form and attacks O'Brien and Odo. In the course of fighting him, the real Odo inadvertently causes the changeling to fall into the ship's Warp core, fatally injuring him. O'Brien completes his repairs, returning control of the ship to Sisko, who de-activates the self-destruct. Back at DS9 Odo relays some disturbing news, the dying changeling's last words....

"You are too late. We are everywhere...."

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