"Hidden Agenda"

He was alone in the shuttlebay of the starship Holt Jerome. It was the nightshift on an Excelsior-class ship experiencing a cadet cruise. This truly was the hind end of space. There was a change in course. The captain was turning the ship on a new course. This was unusual. After a minute or two, the cadet chose to confront the other cadets on the bridge. His name was Robert Hode.

Minutes passed. Robert informed the first officer of the course change. Her name was Janet Hopkin. She, as first officer, studied the course and discovered they were headed towards Klingon space. They would be killed. The captain was locked inside his quarters. They had to pry the doors open. Security was ready with phasers. The first officer was the only other besides the captain that was not a cadet.

What they saw was a shock. The captain was being held in some kind of chokehold by a member of the Q species. The Q were all-powerful beings capable of being very immature. The captain was forced into changing the ship's course. He had no choice. Robert Hode was ready. He tricked that Q into becoming himself five minutes before with no memory of those five minutes. The ship was turned around at the last second. Rob was a hero.

Red alert klaxons sounded throughout the whole ship. Everyone was running to their stations in pajamas. Robert Hode went back to the ship's only shuttlebay. Janet Hopkin and the captain headed for a turbolift. That night, all hands were ordered to their stations as they were surely threatened by the Klingon Empire. This was rare and not part of the curriculum. The captain's name was River Mathius.

A Klingon outpost was breaking its code of silence. It had a crew of two Klingon soldiers. They had the power and authority to call reinforcements to the border by pressing a single button. The Holt Jerome was surely in lots of trouble. It was in serious danger since its crew was almost all children. The captain arrived on the bridge with only one order – the engines had to be turned off. They had to play dead.

It was time for Captain Mathius to teach his crew its first lesson on the cadet cruise. He asked his bridge cadets what they knew about the 'first duty' of a Starfleet officer. He was met with confusion. The 'first duty' stated that an officer must always be honest. Then one cadet left the bridge in a huff. The captain told them only half of the crew would graduate, statistically. The Klingon outpost spared them – they were facing children.

He thought it through for hours. The cadet who huffed off the bridge decided to steal a shuttlecraft and leave Starfleet forever. He was still in pajamas. Robert Hode was in charge of the shuttlebay. The night was almost over. The two erupted in a fight. Rob was thrown over a guardrail and broke his back. He swore never to challenge Engineer Rush Logan again. Then Rush stole a shuttle.

Dangerously close to the Neutral Zone, he left the ship while it was still at warp. It became a chase. Holt Jerome had to stop him before he crossed the zone. He was not responding to hails. Robert Hode was taken to sickbay. Rush Logan started to think. He contacted Holt Jerome to tell them he did not like the 'first duty.' The captain couldn't change that. Then a Bird-of-Prey decloaked and destroyed the shuttle.

Captain Mathius' heart sunk in his chest. Before they could return fire, the Bird-of-Prey disengaged at full speed and cloaked. After a formal report was made to Starfleet, the captain lost his commission. Still retaining his command, he was demoted to chief. Janet Hopkin chose to resign as first officer. She had no wish to face the parents of the fallen. After his recovery, Robert Hode became the new helmsman – Rush Logan's old position.

Every cadet was present in the shuttlebay waiting for the new first officer. Because the commanding officer had no commission, it would be a cadet. She arrived. Everyone was surprised at who exited the shuttle. Tau was at the top of her class at the Academy. After greetings, she ordered the Holt Jerome to remain on the Klingon border until the Bird-of-Prey reappeared. Then they would destroy it.

Many cadets did not like the idea of simply waiting around for a Bird-of-Prey to show up. But, after a time, the plan worked. It decloaked and opened fire on them. The helm station was damaged, but because the Holt Jerome was prepared for the attack, they could return fire and destroy the Bird-of-Prey before it had a chance to escape. Robert Hode was not at his station. That duty shift belonged to Carrie Parker.

He went to sickbay. He wanted to visit the injured cadet. He showed up with flowers and a get-well card. Robert thought that they could get to know each other better seeing as they both shared the same station on the bridge. She turned down his request. Rob's feelings had become the latest casualty in this battle. Rob did appreciate the non-condescending way that she turned him down, though. The Holt Jerome returned to its cadet cruise.

The Vulcan first officer contacted Starfleet to get them back on track. Starfleet regretted to tell her that they were late for war games. Because their team was outnumbered, it lost. Tau was apologetic. Starfleet was in a position. It had to send Holt Jerome on a mission. Since they were still on the Klingon border, they were sent to study the rapidly aging Genesis system. It had not been visited in a hundred years.

The Holt Jerome arrived at its destination. The Genesis star had since evolved into a black hole. Robert Hode noticed it first – the wreckage of the USS Reliant appearing to drift out of the black hole. It was low on life support and contained only one survivor of a battle that took place one hundred years before. Kahn was beamed aboard by a Holt Jerome transporter. He had a smile, shocked, as he was still alive.

In sickbay, guards protected Kahn. He was an augment. That meant he had superior strength and intelligence. The doctor had forgotten Carrie Parker was recovering in the next room. She cried out in terror. Security rushed into sickbay. One of the cadets was a Ferengi named Hugo. As a young security cadet, he witnessed Kahn exposed before Carrie. Hugo took it upon himself to vaporize Kahn. Tau took it upon herself to tell the captain.

There was a planet called Vuko that wanted to join the Federation. That was a good thing. The problem was that it still had the death penalty. That was a bad thing. The Holt Jerome was sent to turn them from their fatal ways. Holt Jerome was at full speed. Vuko was about to execute another one of its citizens. Even though they went their very fastest, the Holt Jerome was too late. A person's life was taken.

The planetary leaders explained that a lottery took place each year. And the winner was treated like a royal for one whole year. In the end, the winner had a painless death as an offering to their god, L'kaun. In that way, each year, their culture would have peace. The winners died happily as the most popular person on their planet. River thought the system had its merits. Tau dismissed it as barbarism. Then the captain won.

The captain decided to change his mind about this lottery. Tau believed L'kaun had signs of being a machine. They were going to use weapons to rescue the captain, but he was taken deep underground. Hugo suggested that they simply beam L'kaun aboard. It was successful. L'kaun was dismantled. River Mathius was responsible for destroying the religion of an entire world. They were left to decide if they still wanted to join the Federation.

The Ambassador-class Cleopatra was alongside the Holt Jerome with a purpose. A Maquis terrorist was to be transported to Earth Spacedock. His name was not important. He was standing against accusations of terror. The Federation believed him to be a person capable of war crimes. He was escorted to the brig with Hugo as the lead guard. A time passed until the security cadet had an idea.

He submitted the idea to the captain. The captain was intrigued. They would beam the prisoner into the holodeck while he slept. It was a very good idea. They could trick him into believing he was being rescued. He would make a confession. They didn't have much time. They put their best men on it. Robert Hode was good at tricking people. He would reprogram the holodeck just as the accused fell asleep.

He experienced a rescue. Maquis terrorists appeared to be shooting him out of his cell and onto a shuttle. When he thought he was safe, he confessed his plot. He was going to use shuttles as suicide weapons. He was going to use transporters as a way to clone soldiers. This was the information needed to find him guilty. He made a confession. Usually, a forced confession was unlawful but not this time. This Maquis was a monster.

It was a quiet evening in the officers' lounge on the starship Holt Jerome. The ship was still experiencing a cadet cruise. For several days, Rob had seen Carrie eating alone in the officers' lounge. This time, he would not stand for it. He asked if he could take a seat across from her. Carrie Parker began to cry loudly. Robert could not understand. He asked the nature of her discomfort. Apparently, Rush Logan was her lover.

As they talked for the first time, Rob spoke of a new technique of bringing someone back to life with a transporter. It was possible since Rush was beamed in on that very same transporter. His essence was still within the transporter buffer. They lured a cadet away from the transporter room with false hopes of birthday cake in the officers' lounge. Then they got to work. That's when the captain appeared in his pajamas.

The two thought the cadet cruise was over for them. It wasn't. The captain simply wanted to witness someone being brought back to life with a transporter. It was successful. Rush had to be made aware of who he was and where he came from, but he was alive. This time, he understood the 'first duty.' They tried to hide what they had done from Starfleet, but it was too historic. River Mathius was given back the rank of captain.

The anniversary of the Battle of Wolf 359 was upon the Holt Jerome. They paid their respects by going to a memorial at that location. Carrie parked the Holt Jerome in the area of space in which the battle took place. Captain Mathius noted that sometimes Borg drones were found floating by where vessels came to pay their respects. For a time equal to the length of the battle, there was a moment of silence.

Tau, sure enough, picked up a Borg drone floating on the Holt Jerome sensors. The captain debated with her on whether or not to beam it up. Joseph Simon and his bleeding heart convinced the captain that it was possible to save that monster. The Borg drone was beamed into sickbay. Joe never liked any weapons of any kind for any reason in sickbay. He was assimilated when the Borg came to life.

Many cadets wanted to abandon ship – they were not taught how to remodulate phasers. Robert Hode had an idea – use material fabricators to produce swords and shields to defeat the threat. Holt Jerome was ultimately victorious. They returned to Earth to give medical attention to the ones assimilated. In this unexpected mission of heroism, Starfleet gave commendations to the non-assimilated cadets of the battle.

With Holt Jerome safely at Spacedock, the cadet cruise was almost over. For the sake of entertainment, Carrie Parker seduced the captain into pitting Rob and Rush against each other in the holodeck. The winner would have her heart. To insure that they believed it was real, the two cadets were beamed into the holodeck while they slept – a trick she was taught by one of them. For fun, they recorded the fight.

The two combatants actually believed they were fighting for a medal in an arena. They also believed that they were being watched by everyone, everywhere. They were armed with stun phasers. It was a labyrinth of obstacle courses that you could get lost in. With every five shots, they had to remodulate their stun phasers. The fight was a close one, but Rush was ultimately victorious. There was applause.

Rob was hurt when he lost the challenge, but he was even more hurt when he found out what he really lost. He was in defeat. Then Janet Hopkin appeared through the crowd. She was the former first officer of Holt Jerome. Robert felt like a loser, but she reminded him that he saved everyone on the ship from death the very first night of the cadet cruise. He was her favorite. They decided to spend graduation together.

The End