Hogue, the Cardassian rogue, lies in his quarters feeling quite depressed from being unable to steal anything interesting. After another 25 days of warp travel, the ship is moving under cloak into the system adjacent to that of the tidal-locked planet the crew is repeatedly drawn to as they have detected incoming warp signatures. A half-hour later, a Federation fleet leaves the system, having torn apart a small group of alien ships, which are designated as the Abnacki by Romulan intelligence. With one more warp jump, the Demitus arrives at the planet under cloak and an away team is assembled to beam down when Taban detects a localized transporter inhibitor around the alien building as well as a significant Federation garrison.
Decloaking the ship, Varreth hails the complex, demanding to know why they are so close to Romulan space. He receives a response that the installation is operating under the jurisdiction of Starfleet Intelligence and he is asked to remove himself from the vicinity. Varreth aggressively proclaims this to be suspicious and the viewscreen comes up with a young Starfleet officer, “Whoa, whoa, take it easy. No need to get all worked up. My name is Ensign Jacob Sterling. I’m overseeing an archaeological dig here, looking for any information on the Abnacki forces we are fighting.” Varreth counters, “And what gives you claim to this information?” Jacob appears stymied for a moment until he replies, “Uh, we found it first?” Varreth grins, “This area has been researched before by the Romulan Empire and this planet has been under extensive survey, thus you will make no attempt to interrupt our research,” while posturing dramatically. Unfortunately Jacob does not believe Varreth, and he terminates the hail.
Varreth hails again, only to be rebuffed on account of his being rude. “This is testing my patience and you have no authority in this sector of space.” Varreth states, “Neither do you.” Jacob angrily dispatches an encoded message to Federation space and closes the hail.
An away team is prepared with Emony, Dolvak, and Xaina selected to beam down. Dolvak materializes over water alongside a not very impressed Emony. After swimming to shore, the party finds itself to be roughly four kilometres outside of the Starfleet complex, which scans indicate contains 27 life-signs. Wearing Starfleet uniforms, the party notices a lack of guards as they approach the garrison perimeter. Tricorder scans indicate several personnel detectors positioned around the complex, but Emony manages to spot a point where they can sneak through the detection field.
Entering the complex, the team identifies several Starfleet officers around campfires, with a really gruff drill sergeant bawling out a young Starfleet marine. Standing to the side of the camp is the alien building of interest. Several portable latrines have been set up, which the team approaches as one Ensign Jacob moves to use the facilities, said ensign not recognizing the party members from his earlier experience. Observing their surroundings, the party manages to catch the eye of the drill sergeant who notices the team is not dressed to marine standard and storms over, getting in Emony’s face and yelling at the top of his lungs.
“Who do you think you are?! In my days at the academy our uniforms were sharp, and you are soaking wet! What a disgrace!” Emony quietly responds, “We went swimming sir.” “Get down and give me 50 push-ups!” Emony manages 35 before she collapses gasping. The drill sergeant leans over and starts screaming at her, “You pathetic good for nothing disgrace! I’ll have you drummed out of the marine corp.” To which Emony pants, “I’m an engineer, sir,” and she cowers in the face of the tower of unstoppable fury. The sergeant then goes on a tirade concerning ship engineers not being real soldiers and that they need to shape up and join the marine corp. After several minutes of this, he notices one of his marines snicker and he storms off towards his new victim.
As everyone is looking elsewhere, Dolvak pounds on the door of the latrine stating, “I have to use the bathroom!” The door opens, and the Starfleet ensign inside sticks his head out to look around before running. Dolvak trips the ensign and follows up with a nerve pinch before dragging the dazed officer back into the latrine while Xaina shuts the door and stands guard.
Placing the officer on the latrine seat, Dolvak attempts to mind-meld with the ensign, probing his thoughts to learn that the base was set up only five hours ago with the personnel present being unfamiliar with each other. Further probing reveals the message that was sent earlier was for Jacob’s superior, but that he did not inform anyone else in the camp of the communication. Dolvak administers drugs to affect Jacob’s memory, then leaves the latrine, locking the door on his way out. Xaina and Emony tip the latrine over, then the party moves away. Varreth briefly contacts the away team to inform them that he is moving the ship closer to the nebula as a precaution.
Xaina identifies the drill sergeant’s tent and the team investigates, hearing sound coming from inside the tent. Sensing the intrusion, the sergeant leaps up and seeing the party becomes livid. Quickly Emony yelps, “Sir! We were trying to find you, there is a guy passed out in the latrine, sir!” The sergeant snarls and bats Dolvak aside as he rages, “I’m going to kill somebody.”
Entering the vacated tent, the trio see an open computer workstation and Emony tries to access it. Shuddering as they hear the sergeant bellowing in the distance, Dolvak peeks out to see that the sergeant has drawn his phaser and is about to cut the latrine open. Emony manages to copy the computer’s data as the sergeant drags the drugged Jacob out of the latrine and lifts him in the air by his collar. Summoning a Vulcan officer over, the sergeant has the officer perform a mind-meld with the ensign. After learning that the ensign appears to be drugged, the sergeant suddenly becomes silent, until he demands a roll call. The party hastens to stand at attention like the others and all are trying not to breath except for Dolvak. Just as the drill sergeant moves to stare down Dolvak, he manages to get his shirt tucked in and crisp.
The sergeant moves up and down the line, quietly informing those present about Federation policy regarding use of illegal substances on duty, declaring that there will be strict discipline on his watch, and that considering he has been observing less than perfect behaviour all must be in need of further exercise. Everyone is to sprint out of the camp, cut down a tree, drag it back to camp, and stand it up for inspection. Emony is the first to return, and as she struggles frantically to stand her tree up under the watchful eye of the drill sergeant, it falls over.