Sisko and the Ops crew pull in a small, severely damaged Cardassian vessel containing three passengers — Professor Natima Lang and her students, Hogue and Rekelen. Natima explains that their ship was damaged when they were caught in a meteor swarm, and Sisko says the trio can stay until the vessel is repaired. Meanwhile, Odo tries to confirm a rumor that Quark has obtained a small cloaking device. Quark begins to deny the accusations, but loses his train of thought when he suddenly sees Natima, who happens to be the former love of his life. Quark goes after Natima, hoping to pick up where they left off years before, but Natima insists she wants nothing to do with him. Their interaction is observed by Garak, the lone Cardassian on the station. When Natima sees him, she hurries her students out of the bar, desperate to leave the station immediately. Meanwhile, O'Brien, who has been working on Natima's ship, tells Sisko that it was really damaged by a Cardassian attack. Natima admits this is true, and that her students will be killed if they don't get to safety.
Natima explains that her students are leaders of the Cardassian underground movement which is fighting the military establishment to build a non-violent future for their people. Their views have made them fugitives, so Sisko agrees to hurry the repair work on their vessel. Soon afterward, the station is approached by a Cardassian warship which prepares to attack the station. As it does, Garak appears in Ops and tells Sisko they need to talk.
Garak says that the students are terrorists and urges Sisko to turn them over to the Cardassian government, but he refuses. Meanwhile, Quark, still hoping to get to Natima, tells her students he will give them the cloaking device for their escape only if they convince her to remain behind with him. But when Quark later arrives at Natima's quarters with the device, she tells him she no longer loves him and will not stay, then takes a phaser and reluctantly shoots him.
Quark is more surprised than hurt, and Natima, unable to deny her feelings any longer, admits she still loves him, but feels she cannot abandon her cause. Quark, however, finally convinces her otherwise. Unfortunately, no sooner does Natima agree to remain there than Odo arrives to arrest her. Sisko explains that the Bajoran government has agreed to a prisoner swap with Cardassia, and he is forced to abide by their decision. Meanwhile, Gul Toran arrives on the station and meets with Garak, who informed the Cardassian government about Natima and her students. Toran tells Garak this alone is not enough to end his exile, and that if he hopes to return to Cardassia, he must kill the fugitives.
Quark convinces Odo to release the prisoners, but as the trio prepares to leave, Garak shows up, ready to kill them all. Then Gul Toran arrives, sensing Garak's hesitancy, and decides to kill the prisoners himself. But Garak will not allow it, kills Toran, and lets the students go. Natima tells Quark that she must leave with them, and Quark does not stop her, knowing he will wait faithfully for the day when they can finally be together again.
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