With the Federation's help, Bajor plans to tap the core of one of its moons to provide much-needed electricity. A side effect of the process is that it releases gases lethal to humanoids, so the moon's inhabitants have been evacuated. Several life forms have been detected after the evacuation date, so Kira visits the moon to investigate.
She finds an elderly man and his two mute farmhands, who are intent on staying. The man, Mullibok, persistently avoids the topic of evacuation — he invites Kira to a farewell dinner before revealing it will take three hours to prepare. Despite (or perhaps because of) his stubbornness, Kira grows fond of him. He tells her he plans to die on the moon, and over dinner describes how he escaped to the moon during the Cardassian occupation of Bajor. During the course of their conversation, Mullibok tricks Kira into admitting that the Bajorans beat the Cardassians because they "hung on like fanatics," drawing a parallel between their struggle and his.
Returning to Deep Space Nine, Kira reports her findings to Sisko and to Minister Toran, who is overseeing the project. She tells them of Mullibok, and Minister Toran pronounces the man will have to be beamed off the planet. After comparing such behavior to that of the Cardassians, Kira realizes she has stepped out of line and simultaneously revealed her feelings toward Mullibok. Toran orders her to remove Mullibok and sends her back to the moon, along with two security guards.
As the guards go to find the farmhands, Kira attempts to reason with Mullibok. She tells him she is doing what has to be done, to which he responds, "me too" and goes inside, shutting the door behind him. He reemerges with some tools and goes about finishing a kiln he has been building, while Kira talks. The guards emerge from a nearby cornfield dragging the reluctant farmhands. Mullibok becomes furious and jumps one of the guards. The other shoots him.
Bashir travels to the moon to treat Mullibok's wound, and the farmhands are evacuated to Bajor. When he awakens, Mullibok tells Kira she is backward for not evacuating him while he was unconscious, and resumes his stubborn attitude. Bashir wants to forcibly remove the farmer but Kira orders him back to the station. There, Sisko, knowing Toran will be furious, recommends that Bashir report that Kira will remain on the moon for several more days for humanitarian reasons, at Bashir's recommendation; the doctor duly does this.
In a parallel story, Jake Sisko and Nog acquire surplus yammok from Quark. Yammok sauce, a favorite condiment of the Cardassians, has been selling slowly since the end of the Occupation. Seeking hard currency, the two make a succession of trades, eventually ending up with a strip of land on Bajor. When they overhear that the government is trying to secure the land for a building project, the pair offer it to Quark for five bars of gold-pressed latinum.
Back on the moon, Kira continues to bond with Mullibok and is surprised by a communication from Sisko, informing her that he is about to beam down. He arrives outside the cottage and is met at the door by Mullibok, who says neither he nor Kira wish to speak with him. Speaking to Kira outside, Sisko tells her he has come to like her and does not want to break in a new liaison officer. The two talk as Kira works on Mullibok's kiln, and she comes to realize that after years of fighting for the underdog she is now working for the other side. Much as she wants to continue her job, she cannot bring herself to evacuate Mullibok. Before leaving, Sisko tells Kira that a runabout will be standing by in orbit, and ominously warns that, while Mullibok's fate has already been decided, hers has not.
After a night spent caring for Mullibok, Kira awakens to find him putting the final touches on his kiln. He fires it up, at which point Kira tells him he has finished his work and she must finish hers. As long as his cottage stands, Mullibok says, he will remain on the moon. Kira destroys the kiln with her phaser and, lighting a piece of wood as a torch, sets the cottage ablaze. Mullibok claims Kira has chosen her uniform over him and requests her, as a friend, to shoot him. She refuses, and he again declares that he will die if he leaves. "I won't let you," Kira says, and calls the runabout for "Two to beam up."