Sisko, posing as Gabriel Bell of the 21st century, takes charge of the hostage situation in the Processing Center as rioting begins within the Sanctuary District, and tells the angry residents that this is their chance to voice their grievances. Bashir reminds him that Bell is destined to die at the end of this turning point in Earth history. On the outside, Dax realizes that Sisko and Bashir are in danger and prepares to locate them. Meanwhile, Kira and O'Brien attempt transporting into different time periods to find their friends, with no success. Back in the center, Sisko convinces Webb, a decent family man, to act as their representative, but Webb is cut off from the computer interface terminal when he tries to communicate their plight. Then, police Detective Preston contacts Webb and asks to meet him.
Sisko joins Webb for the meeting, where they demand that all Sanctuary Districts be closed and the Federal Employment Act reinstated, and Preston agrees to present their demands to the Governor. Preston is later met by Chris and Dax, who can't convince the official to help them locate Sisko and Bashir. Determined, Dax waits until they aren't looking and slips away.
Kira and O'Brien transport once more into the past, but again choose the wrong time period. Meanwhile, as the riots continue, Preston offers to reduce the charges against Sisko and Webb if they release the hostages, but the two refuse to back down from their demands. Later, Dax is brought to the center, her combadge taken after having been captured upon entering the Sanctuary District.
Dax plays along with Sisko and Bashir, then tells them she can convince Chris to restore the group's computer access. After recovering her missing combadge, Dax slips back into the outside world. Soon, scores of residents are telling their stories to millions of people over the computer interface. Unfortunately, the Governor is unmoved, and tells Detective Preston to send in her troops.
Kira and O'Brien transport to the correct time period and soon locate Dax. Meanwhile, Sisko and Webb herd the hostages into a safe area of the center, just before a SWAT team bursts in, killing Webb and most of the others. One of the officers accidentally shoots at a hostage, but Sisko jumps in front of the man and takes a bullet to the shoulder. As the SWAT team leaves the center and National Guard personnel take control of the Sanctuary District, Sisko and Bashir are allowed to leave, and their ID cards are switched with those of two dead men. The former hostages promise to tell what really happened, and Sisko and Bashir return to the future, having restored history to its normal course.