A Bajoran smuggler tells Kira he has recovered a piece of metal that might be from the Ravinok, a Cardassian ship that disappeared six years ago with a group of Bajoran prisoners. A good friend of Kira's was among those lost, and she makes immediate plans to investigate, but learns a Cardassian representative wants to accompany her. Kira reluctantly agrees, then discovers that the representative is her nemesis, Dukat. The two take a Runabout, meet the smuggler, and authenticate the metal fragment, which was found in the Dozaria system. They then land on a desert planet in that system and encounter the wreckage of the Ravinok.
Kira and Dukat notice 12 graves near the site, but since several more people were on the ship, they realize some survivors may still be alive. First, however, Dukat opens the graves in order to identify bodies, and is overcome with grief when he finds the remains of a Bajoran woman who was his mistress. Kira's surprise turns to hope when it turns out that her friend was not among the dead. They soon set off on foot, scanning the planet for survivors. While setting up camp, Dukat reveals that he had a daughter with his mistress, Tora Ziyal, a girl who is one of the possible survivors. Unfortunately, if he finds her alive, he'll have to kill her.
Kira tells Dukat she won't allow him to kill Ziyal. But he insists that if her existence is revealed, he'll lose his wife, his family, and his unstable position in Cardassian government. Soon, Kira and Dukat discover a mining operation of Bajoran and Cardassian prisoners, supervised by members of a race known as the Breen. Dukat sees his half-Cardassian, half-Bajoran daughter among the prisoners.
Kira and Dukat, disguised as Breen, overcome the guards and round up the prisoners. Kira is crushed to learn that her friend died two years earlier, but Dukat is only interested in finding his daughter. When more Breen guards attack, Dukat escapes from Kira's gaze and runs off after Ziyal. When he finds her, she instantly recognizes her father, thrilled to see him despite the fact that he is aiming a phaser rifle at her. Kira arrives and tries to stop him, and the little girl realizes what is happening. Still, Ziyal refuses to run, telling her father she'd rather die if she can't go with him. She hugs him affectionately, and Dukat, shaken with emotion, decides to take Ziyal home — even if it costs him everything he has.