When the First Minister of the Bajoran Provisional Government dies, Kai Winn is appointed to his duties on an interim basis and is positioned to be formally elected to the office. Later, Winn approaches Major Kira with a special request. A group of farmers in Kira's home province refuse to return some soil reclamators that Winn needs for Bajor's recovery efforts in Rakantha Province. Their leader, Shakaar, also led Kira's resistance cell during the Occupation, so Winn wants Kira to convince him to return the property. Kira is reluctant to confront her friend and mentor, but agrees to do it for the good of Bajor.
Kira visits Shakaar, who calmly tells his side of the story: he only received the reclamators two months before, after a three-year wait, and was told that he and fellow farmers (and former resistance cell compatriots) Furel and Lupaza would have their use for a year. But when Winn took over, they were ordered to return them immediately. Since the Rakantha project is geared toward farming products for export, while Shakaar's farmers are trying to feed their people, he sees his project as far more important. Kira encourages him to meet with Winn, hoping they can compromise.
Kira tells Winn that she has arranged a meeting, to which Winn agrees. Later, as Kira briefs Shakaar for the discussion, two security officers arrive to arrest him. Infuriated that Winn lied, Kira helps subdue the officers and escapes with Shakaar.
Now fugitives, Shakaar, Kira, and their comrades hide in the mountains where they once eluded the Cardassians. Weeks later, as Bajoran troops close in, Shakaar's exhausted group realizes there is no option but to stop running and fight. Reluctantly, he and Kira lead their pursuers into a canyon to set up an ambush.
Hiding in the canyon, Shakaar and Kira watch as the Bajoran troops enter their trap. But as they see the faces of their "enemies", the realization hits that they will be shooting former comrades-in-arms. Unwilling to do this, Kira and Shakaar drop their weapons and, after a brief conversation with the leader, Colonel Lenaris, a cease-fire is called. Later, Lenaris takes Kira and Shakaar to Winn's office, where Shakaar informs her that he has decided to enter the election for First Minister. Realizing a competitive election with the popular Shakaar will expose how Winn's actions brought Bajor to the brink of civil war, Winn decides to step down from the race.
Meanwhile, back on Deep Space Nine, O'Brien has recorded an incredible winning streak at darts in Qwark's bar, hitting the bullseye consistently when he needs to; he calls this streak being in 'the zone'. Qwark collects bets on O'Brien with house odds of 15 to 1 in his favour. However, on the day of his match, O'Brien leans backwards for a drink and severely injures his shoulder just before throwing his final dart. After surgery, O'Brien streak appears to have ended; he hands his darts to Bashir, who immediately scores a bullseye. Qwark welcomes him to 'the zone' and leads him away.