With the Federation's help, the Bajoran government is about to perform a massive energy transfer by tapping the molten core of its fifth moon, Jeraddo. In preparation, Kira and Dax make an orbital inspection of the moon in a Runabout, trying to confirm that all of the inhabitants have been evacuated. Dax's sensors detect an unknown humanoid presence on the surface, and Kira beams down to investigate. She materializes near a small cottage, only to be stopped in her tracks by a Bajoran couple in their forties, who point menacing-looking farm implements at her. Then, a tall, craggy-faced Bajoran farmer steps out of the cottage. Bewildered by his casual attitude, Kira informs him that his group needs to leave the moon — but he'd much rather discuss that over supper in his cottage, and she reluctantly consents.
On the station, Nog and Jake, having discovered that Nog's uncle Quark has been stuck with a huge supply of Cardassian yamok sauce and no Cardassians to eat it, see an opportunity to make a quick buck — or, in this case, five bars of gold press latinum. They try to sell it to a Lissepian freighter captain who has dealings with the Cardassians. He talks them instead into a trade — a hundred gross of self-sealing stem bolts in exchange for their yamok sauce. They make the deal, then plot to figure out how to get the sauce from Quark.
Back on the moon, after telling Dax to return to the station, Kira talks with the farmer, who introduces himself as Mullibok, while helping him prepare supper. Learning that he and his friends, Baltrim and Keena, fled to the moon years ago to escape the Cardassians, she explains that Bajor is now once again safe and that they will have to move there. Mullibok refuses to leave — his life is on the moon, and it is where he plans to die.
Eating dinner, Kira and Mullibok talk about how he built a life for himself on the moon. He tricks her into admitting that she and the Bajorans beat the Cardassians through sheer stubbornness, which is exactly the stand he is taking in refusing to leave. As far as he is concerned, the Bajorans can come crack open the moon whenever they are ready. He's not going anywhere.
Managing to relieve Quark of his unwanted yamok sauce, Nog and Jake are now the proud owners of a whole lot of stem bolts. Now that they have them, however, they don't know what to do with them — or, for that matter, even know what they do. But Nog gets another idea — find out who the Lissepian was trying to sell them to in the first place, and unload them on that individual at a discount. While the partners continue to scheme, Kira tells Sisko and Minister Toran, the Bajoran in charge of the energy project and of the problems on the moon. Toran refuses to hold up progress for three stubborn hold-outs, and forces Kira — under protest — to remove the residents. She returns to Jeraddo with two security guards. While Kira tries to reason with Mullibok, the other two Bajorans get dragged back to the cottage. This enrages Mullibok, and he tries to kill the interlopers. Instinctively, a guard fires his phaser, wounding the farmer severely. Heartbroken and teary-eyed, Kira orders medical assistance.
Nog and Jake, having contacted the Bajoran who first backed out of the stem bolt deal, try to get gold press latinum from him in exchange. But, again, the two find themselves making a trade — this time, for seven tessipates of land. Jake thinks they finally have something they can work with, but Nog is getting discouraged. Back on Jeraddo, Bashir tends to Mullibok's wounds, but insists on taking him back to the station for proper care. Baltrim and Keena have been evacuated to Bajor, but Mullibok stands his ground. Kira tells Bashir to leave — she will stay with him until he gets better. Bashir returns and reports this surprising development to Sisko, who goes to the moon himself and confronts the recuperating Mullibok. Knowing the farmer can't be swayed, Sisko talks with Kira alone and reminds her that, no matter how much she is like Mullibok, that way of life is now behind her. Appealing to her now as a friend, Sisko tells her that Mullibok's fate is already decided — hers isn't. He then leaves her — with much to think about.
That night, Kira watches over Mullibok, and as he awakens from a nightmare, tries to make him more comfortable. He pretends to be gruff, but is glad to have her nursing him back to health, and goes back to sleep. Meanwhile on the station, Nog and Jake overhear a conversation between Quark and Odo, from which the boys learn the Bajoran government wants to buy their land. Nog approaches the surprised Quark with a proposition — one that will cost him only five bars of gold press latinum. The crafty Ferengi catches on.
The next day, Kira wakes up to find Mullibok outside, finally finishing a kiln that he had been building. As he fires it up, Kira says it is time for her to now finish her work. He declares that as long as his cottage stands, he stays. With that, Kira takes her phaser and destroys the kiln, then takes a torch and sets the cottage on fire. He tells her to turn the phaser on him, but she refuses. Finally, sadly, he says if he leaves, he will die. Kira reassures him that he won't, and offers her hand, but he turns his back. She reaches to him one last time as she beams away ...