Jake Sisko is returning from a medical conference with Dr. Bashir. Although Jake had intended to write an article about the doctor, he discovers he's having trouble finding anything interesting to write about.
This changes when they receive a distress call from a Federation colony which has been attacked by the Klingons. Jake is eager about the potential for a good story, and convinces Dr. Bashir to take him along to respond.
Jake finds he has trouble handling the chaotic emergency room situation at the hospital, particularly triage. One of the patients, a Starfleet officer, claims to have been shot in the foot by the Klingons. Bashir later discovers that the wound was self-inflicted, intended to get him out of the fighting. Jake is disgusted by the man's cowardice.
Things at the outpost begin to look grim, and everyone expects that the Klingons will take the settlement in a matter of days if no reinforcements arrive. When the power goes out, Jake and Dr. Bashir attempt to retrieve a portable generator from the runabout, but on the way they have to dodge explosions. Jake runs in a blind panic, leaving Bashir behind.
While running, he encounters a dying Federation soldier. Jake wants to try to find help for him as a way of making up for his own cowardice, but the man is too far gone and dies.
When Jake returns to the cavern, he finds everyone relieved to find him. Because no one saw him running, he claims that he became disoriented and was knocked unconscious. Bashir blames himself for putting Jake in danger, which makes Jake feel even worse for his own failings, and more, for his refusal to admit what he'd done.
The Klingons attack while Jake is sleeping. As the medical team tries to evacuate everyone, Jake is attacked by two Klingons. He picks up the phaser of a dead guard and begins firing wildly, causing a cave-in, and knocking himself unconscious.
Jake wakes to learn that because of the cave-in, the patients were able to escape. He's considered a hero, but he knows he isn't one, and so he decides to make the difficult decision to write the truth in the article, concluding that the line between courage and cowardice is thinner than he'd thought.