Odo, Dax, Bashir, O'Brien, and even Quark show up at Kira's quarters, each reacting in his or her own way to her departure. "Is this a joke? Did you plan this?", she finally exclaims, to which Bashir says, "Nobody could have planned this!" Vedek Bareil is the last to arrive and he invites Kira to come to his monastery on Bajor. She accepts and, reminiscing alone in Ops, realizes both how much she hated her position as the station's liaison officer a year ago and how much she cherishes it now. Li Nalas reassures her and Sisko that he did not want the job and that he knows no-one can replace Kira.
On Bajor, Kira and Bareil grow close and Bareil allows Kira to consult one of the Bajoran Orbs for guidance. She has a vision that includes her and Bareil as lovers, which she conceals from him. Meanwhile, on Deep Space Nine Quark panics, because he believes the xenophobic "Circle" is taking over. He has heard that the Kressari are arming the Circle, so Odo blackmails him to find out more. After conducting several searches of a Kressari freighter, Dax and O'Brien conclude that there is no evidence of foul play. The freighter departs with Odo assuming the form of a rat and stowing away.
Sisko visits the commander of the Bajoran militia, General Krim, and during their exchange he becomes convinced that the military will not stop the Circle's coup. While on Bajor, he also visits Kira. Shortly after he leaves, however, several masked members of the Circle kidnap her. Jaro reveals to Kira that he is the true force behind the Circle and the reason Li Nalas was stationed aboard DS9. He solicits her help, but while she has no love for the provisional government, she tells Jaro that votes, not weapons, are the way to change a government. Quark eventually learns where Kira is from his "contacts". Sisko and the others mount a rescue mission and take her back to the station.
Sisko and Kira conclude that they must get Li to the Chamber of Ministers, because he is the only person capable of rallying enough support to stop the Circle. They know the Circle will try to stop him, and as Odo informs them upon his return, it will be "courtesy of a Cardassian weapon". Odo has a manifest from the freighter proving that the Cardassians are arming the Circle through the Kressari in an attempt to force the Federation off Bajor, and to allow them to reconquer it. Unfortunately, by the time this is revealed all communication to and from Bajor has been cut off.
Jaro goes to Vedek Winn, seeking her support as a spiritual leader in order to legitimize his coup. "The Prophetsare smiling on you today, Minister," she tells him. Several Bajoran assault vessels approach DS9, ordering all non-Bajorans to evacuate. Sisko seeks Starfleet's help, but the Prime Directive prevents it from interfering. Regardless, Sisko and the crew refuse to give up without a fight.