It's business as usual for Quark at his bar, until he is approached by a Ferengi named Krax, who presents his father, Grand Nagus Zek, the elderly, shrewd, revered leader of the Ferengi business empire, accompanied by his Hupyrian servant, Maihar'du. Quark and his brother Rom, in awe and fear, quickly try to show Zek the respect he deserves, and set him up with five of Quark's favorite holosuite fantasies. However, Quark is worried that the legendary Ferengi is really on the station to buy the establishment — at a price which Quark can't refuse — dirt cheap. Zek then emerges from the holosuite, quite satisfied, and makes Quark invite him to dinner. Quark is quite dissatisfied with this.
Meanwhile, O'Brien, playing substitute teacher at the station's school until his wife returns from Earth, takes note of Nog's falsehood as to why his homework isn't done — and even more so, Jake's reluctant willingness to cover for his Ferengi friend's lie. He voices his concern to Sisko, advising him to find a way to separate the two children. Sisko understands, but also fears that trying to force them apart will ultimately work against his relationship with his son.
That evening, in Quark's quarters, Zek, Krax, and Rom are in the midst of dinner, with Maihar'du and Nog performing the serving duties. Zek states how pleased he is with the bar's success, which worries Quark even more. But Zek is enraged when he learns that Nog attends school, upon which Rom tells his son to immediately stop going. That dealt with, Zek gets to the business at hand — he wants the bar, but only for the next day, with Quark playing host to a very important conference to be held there. The purpose — the future of the Ferengi. And the future lies — in the Gamma Quadrant.
Many important Ferengi arrive at the station for the conference, including a very belligerent one named Gral, who does little to hide his dislike for Krax. Much to Quark's surprise, Zek demands that he stay for the discussion. Then, much to everyone's surprise, Zek announces that he is stepping down as Grand Nagus, and that the Ferengi who will replace him and lead their greedy ventures into the Gamma Quadrant — is Quark! The conference erupts into chaos, and Quark stands in shock.
With great power comes many friends, Grand Nagus Quark quickly discovers. Also, potential threats, as he learns from an encounter with Gral, who offers to "protect" Quark from harm — in exchange for Gral's pick of the most lucrative opportunities in the Gamma Quadrant — a trade that Quark would be wise not to refuse. Terrified, he goes to Zek, who basically tells him that threats come with the job. While Quark is asking more advice, Zek quietly passes away, leaving the new Grand Nagus to figure it all out for himself. The bar is closed to honor Zek's passing, and the Ferengi group holds the funeral service there. Quark makes Rom, the only person he trusts, his bodyguard. However, Rom says he had hoped to now run the bar, which Quark thinks is absolutely absurd. During the proceedings, Nog meets secretly with Jake, and they decide to remain friends despite their parents' feelings.
Odo comes to the funeral ceremony, asking to have the body autopsied, which he learns is impossible because Krax is selling the "vacuum desiccated" remains as prized collectibles. Odo leaves, treating Quark with the same old disrespect as he departs. Suddenly, while Quark stoops down to pick up someone's loose coin, a glowing sphere whizzes by, barely missing his head, and blasting a hole in the far wall. Sisko, Odo, and O'Brien investigate, determining it was a Ferengi locator bomb — meant for Quark. But the new Grand Nagus refuses their help. Odo, however, suspects the culprit is Maihar'du, the only one among the group who didn't attend the funeral. Meanwhile, Quark's generosity with fellow Ferengi causes his popularity to increase, and worry to rise with the real would-be assassins — Rom and Krax!
Sisko becomes frustrated when Jake doesn't return home for dinner. On the advice of Dax, he sets out for one of the cargo bays, where the computer has located Jake. Walking in quietly, he is surprised to discover Jake with Nog, with Jake patiently teaching the young Ferengi boy how to read.
At the same time, while Quark prepares for his first trip through the wormhole, Rom unsuccessfully asks him again if he is willing to turn the bar over to him. As far as Rom is concerned, that seals his brother's fate. He and Krax escort the Grand Nagus into an airlock tunnel, where a Ferengi ship supposedly awaits. But Quark, now sealed in the tunnel alone, sees that the only thing on the other side is empty space. Just as Rom and Krax are about to eject him into the cosmos, Zek arrives with Odo and Maihar'du. While Quark is freed, Zek explains that he faked his death by going into a Hupyrian sleeping trance. The reason — to test his son and his worthiness to be Zek's successor — a test Krax failed miserably. Zek, resigned to the fact that he cannot yet retire, thanks Quark for his help and departs. Quark, on the other hand, deals with Rom for trying to murder him — and congratulates his brother for such wonderful treachery! Rom is a true Ferengi, after all.