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(written from a Production point of view)
Eight years prior to Starfleet's first contact with the inhabitants of Talos IV,  a quartet of Starfleet cadets – three men (Griggs, Colin, and McCormick) and an unnamed woman – arrive via shuttlecraft aboard an as-yet-uncommissioned Constitution-class Federation starship, designation NX-0002, to join the skeleton crew that will operate the ship during its shakedown cruise. The female cadet in this group is the woman who will eventually rise to the position of first officer under Captain Christopher Pike during the latter's command of the USS Enterprise.
While the newly-arrived cadets receive their required physicals in sickbay, the medical staff mentions that three other cadets – Ramirez, Osterman, and Brenner – have thus far failed to report for examination. After a speech by the ship's temporary commanding officer, the aging Admiral Charles Rasmussen, the NX-0002 departs from Earth orbit. The female cadet, assigned to engineering, notices irregularities in the ship's warp drive, and the lieutenant in charge sends her and Cadet McCormick to investigate the problem as the ship enters the Sol system's Oort cloud.
The two encounter Cadet Ramirez in the starboard nacelle, who immediately draws a phaser and vaporizes McCormick. After knocking Ramirez out by throwing her tricorder at him, the female cadet discovers a timed explosive device attached to the nacelle's structure. She manages to escape with the unconscious Ramirez in tow before the device detonates. As the remaining engineering crew reacts to the damage, they are slain by a phaser-wielding Cadet Osterman, who proceeds to shut down the ship's primary systems. Nearby, a D7-class Klingon warship emerges from hiding in the Oort cloud debris, and its crew takes the NX-0002 in tow.
Back on Earth, a Human body is unearthed by gardeners in San Francisco, apparently fused within the dirt. An autopsy reveals that death was caused by directly beaming the victim into the ground; DNA scan processing identifies the corpse as Starfleet Cadet Ramirez.
As emergency power activates on board the NX-0002, the female cadet brings Ramirez to sickbay, where a medical exam reveals that "Ramirez" is actually a Klingon agent. Admiral Rasmussen also arrives in sickbay, having survived the slaughter of the bridge crew (presumably by "Brenner") at the cost of his right arm, severed by phaser fire. After Rasmussen informs the others of their capture by the Klingon ship, the female cadet conceives a risky plan involving the four shuttlecraft currently on board: program three shuttles to fly a random pattern to confuse the enemy's sensors, while a fourth is aimed at a weak point in the Klingon craft's structure.
When Rasmussen realizes that the cadet will have to pilot the fourth shuttle herself to ensure an accurate strike, he forces her out of the shuttle bay and uses a phaser to disable the door controls. Aware of his reputation as an "old dunsel", Rasmussen intends to prove his worth one last time, rather than allow a young cadet to sacrifice her life.
As Rasmussen begins his flight, the female cadet makes her way back to engineering, bringing Griggs along when she encounters him in a corridor. After stunning "Osterman", the two restore sufficient power to send a distress call, doing so just as Rasmussen successfully cripples the Klingon ship. Before the Klingons can effect repairs, another Constitution-class starship, the NCC-1700, arrives and destroys the enemy warship.
After an official inquiry aboard the yet-uncommissioned ship, the captain of the NCC-1700 recommends commendations to the surviving crew of the NX-0002, and further indicates special commendations for Admiral Rasmussen (posthumously) and the female cadet. However, the cadet declines the special commendation, preferring that full credit for the incident goes to Rasmussen, and accepts the standard commendation with her fellow cadets. As she and Griggs leave the inquiry, they encounter a repair crew replacing a bulkhead panel; the female cadet pauses to sign her name on the interior of the panel, stating her intention to return to the ship at some point in her career, and to do her best to prevent the need of sacrifices such as Rasmussen's.
Background information Edit
- In his speech to the crew, Admiral Rasmussen states that the NX-0002 will become the USS Enterprise upon receiving its commission. This is further confirmed in Star Trek: Crew #4, "Shadows of the Past", when the future Number One reports for duty aboard Enterprise and discusses her prior service with a young ensign.
- The issue sold an estimated 9,168 copies in comic specialty stores in March 2009.  These figures do not cover copies sold in bookstores, etc.
- Written by:
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