The Enterprise intercepts a message from a Bajoran terrorist who claims to have destroyed a Federation colony. When the Enterprise takes survivors from the colony to the nearest starbase, Admiral Kennelly comes aboard, tells Picard that he sympathizes with the Bajorans whose planet is occupied by the Cardassians, and asks Picard to find the Bajoran leader Orta, offering him amnesty for terrorist activity if he will return to a Bajoran refugee camp so that peace can be negotiated through diplomatic channels. Kennelly also orders Picard to accept the transfer of Ensign Ro Laren, a Bajoran who had been in prison following a court-martial for disobeying an order that cost the lives of eight Starfleet officers. Picard reluctantly accepts Ro's advice to meet with Bajoran resistance leader Keeve, who agrees to reveal Orta's whereabouts once Picard offers his people blankets and food. Ro receives a secret message from Kennelly aboard the Enterprise and beams down to meet Orta without notifying anyone. Furious, Picard follows with an away team, all of whom are taken prisoner. Orta and Ro both apologize for their secrecy, but they insist that Picard has been deceived, for the Bajorans did not attack the Federation colony. Orta warns Picard that someone is using him to threaten the Bajorans, but Picard is initially too angry with Ro to believe either of them until Guinan intervenes. Then Picard learns from Ro that Admiral Kennelly offered to release her from prison so that she could make Orta a secret offer of Starfleet weapons. Guessing that Kennelly, too, is being used by the Cardassian contact who gave Kennelly a Cardassian virus, Picard tells Kennelly that the Enterprise will escort the Bajorans to the camp, then alerts Kennelly when a pair of Cardassian warships demand the right to destroy the Bajoran ships because they are terrorist vessels. When Kennelly orders Picard to withdraw, Picard allows the Cardassians to destroy the ships, then informs the admiral that no one was aboard, since Ro had alerted him to Kennelly's plan to deliver the Bajorans to the Cardassians. Kennelly insists that he was trying to preserve the peace with the Cardassians, but Picard warns him that the Cardassians destroyed the Federation colony and blamed the Bajorans, using the admiral to attempt to wipe out the Bajoran leaders so that they could occupy Bajor unopposed. Picard then tells Ro that Kennelly will face a board of inquiry and asks Ro to remain in Starfleet.
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