Kira Nerys is undergoing a day of frustrations, which are interrupted by a new ship appearing through the wormhole. The ship is damaged, and four Skrreeans are beamed aboard while their ship is tractored in. As they attempt to communicate, Sisko and the others realize that the Skrreeans don't appear to understand what they are saying, nor can the crew understand the Skrreeans. They resolve to keep the Skrreeans talking until the universal translator can make sense of the Skrreean language, and decide to bring the group of them down to the infirmary to tend to the wounds of one. This trip, unusually adventurous for a walk to the infirmary, reveals that the single female Skrreean (Haneek) appears to be the leader of the group. She also appears to only trust Kira, the only female that has dealt with the Skrreeans.
After some further attempts at communication, the computer begins sporadically, but soon adequately, to translate the Skrreean language. It is revealed that some three million Skrreean refugees have been seeking the wormhole, which legend says is the gateway to their new homeworld, Kentanna. Sisko, Dax and Kira resolve to welcome as many Skrreeans on to the station as is possible, and quickly search for a suitable planet for the Skrreeans to colonize.
As Skrreeans begin arriving on the station, there is some cultural tension. Haneek mentioned that Skrreeans are matriarchal, as they find males too emotional and adversarial to make significant decisions. Nog finds this to be true, as he is pursued and eventually assaulted by several young Skrreeans including Tumak, Haneek's son. Quark also looks down on the Skrreeans for loitering "without buying anything," and for the skin flakes they leave around.
Meanwhile the Skrreean matriarchs meet and agree that Haneek, as the first to find the wormhole, should lead the Skrreeans to Kentanna. She researches Bajor, and finds that it fits the relevant description for the new Skrreean homeworld; it is "a planet of sorrow," and just outside the wormhole. Although Dax and Sisko have found a suitable planet in Draylon II, Haneek insists that the Bajoran Provisional Government be petitioned to let the Skrreeans settle there.
The government considers Haneek's request, but in the end denies the Skrreeans permission to immigrate, for fear that Bajor's problems will both worsen and spread to the Skrreeans. This decision finds many Skrreeans upset, including Tumak. He attempts to immigrate by force, and land a Skrreean ship on Bajor. Unfortunately, Tumak is unaware that his ship is suffering from a radiation leak, and he also resists communication. While Sisko and Haneek are attempting to warn him, a pair of Bajoran interceptors move in to keep him off Bajor. Both parties exchange fire and Tumak's ship was lost, likely from the phaser fire igniting the radiation leak. In the end the dejected Skrreeans leave for Draylon II.