A damaged vessel comes through the Wormhole and its passengers are transported aboard Deep Space Nine. They are from a race called the Skrreeas, but their language is difficult for the universal translator to understand. However, they seem to trust Kira, who escorts them around the station. The female Skrreea and her three companions have a hard time adjusting to rules and regulations at first, but the universal translator eventually translates their language and enables them to communicate.
The female reveals that her name is Haneek and her people's homeworld was destroyed by a species called the T-Rogorans. Sisko promises to help Haneek and her people find a new homeland, and when several more Skrreean ships come through the wormhole, they are welcomed warmly. Kira buys a dress for Haneek that Haneek seemed to be admiring when the universal-translator was not yet functioning. However, Haneek was not admiring it; she thought it was the ugliest dress she had ever seen, an opinion Kira shares. The two laugh and appear to become friends.
As more and more Skrreeans arrive on the station, Haneek begins to fear that she will not find Kentanna, the Skrreeans' long-sought homeworld. However, the Skrreean leaders decide that they have already found Kentanna in Bajor. Sisko suggests a nearby planet, Draylon II, as a reasonable alternative, but the Skrreeans are adamant in their decision. They meet with representatives of the Bajoran government, who refuse to allow them to relocate there; a famine is currently spreading, and the Bajoran government does not believe it can support the Skrreean population.
Tumak, Haneek's son, takes one of the Skrreean ships and heads to Bajor. At Sisko's request, Haneek tries to convince him to disengage his engines, not in the least, because the ship has a dangerous radiation leak. Two Bajoran vessels approach him and also try to get him to shut down his engines, so they can tow him to safety. However, Tumak refuses to shut down his engines. A firefight ensues, resulting in the destruction of Tumak's ship due to the radiation-leak.
The Bajoran government stays with its decision to refuse asylum, so the Skrreeans have no choice but to move to Draylon II after all. Hurt over her son's death and angry with the Bajorans, her final words to Kira are bitter. She reminds Kira that the Skrreans were farmers, and could have helped Bajor overcome the famine. Haneek then leaves with her people.