Jacob Stone was a recent Starfleet Academy graduate with a rank of lieutenant junior grade. He was the twenty-seven-year-old counselor of the Excelsior-class starship Holt Jerome. The ship had the registry of NCC-50683. Because Starfleet Academy was so challenging, Jacob chose to rest in his quarters until he was hailed to the bridge. As usual, he quickly rolled out of bed when this happened.
The ship had a skeleton crew and, for some reason, it was on red alert. He stood before the captain at parade rest. Holt Jerome was still within Spacedock.
"Lieutenant Junior Grade Jacob Stone," he said with a smile, "reporting as ordered."
The captain, Mary Chase, stood up from her chair to face the person over Jacob's shoulder – the person on the viewing screen, "Hold it, Jacob, I'm talking with Starfleet Command. You can't be serious – sending me on a mission within the Neutral Zone in this condition."
"Captain, you have your orders," he told her. "You will carry them out. This is not subject to negotiation. Starfleet, out."
The message ended.
Curious, the lieutenant asked, "Are we in trouble?"
The captain opened the ship-wide intercom to inform the crew, "This is your captain, Mary Chase. Starfleet Command has ordered us to the Neutral Zone. I realize this ship is newly constructed, and with a skeleton crew, but orders are orders – everyone to their posts."
"Sir," Jacob asked her, "is there anything I can help you with?"
She sat and replied, "No, I just wanted my acting first officer present when we leave Spacedock. Helm, ready on thrusters."
When everyone took their posts, the mission started. Confident in her leadership abilities, the captain ordered the red alert klaxons terminated. The Holt Jerome would move quickly. The only reason the Excelsior-class still served in the twenty-fourth century was because of its transwarp drive.
Jacob was still sleepy. If Mary Chase was also sleepy, she knew how not to look that way. A Negh'Var-class dreadnought decloaked before them moments after they arrived at the Neutral Zone. It appeared that the Excelsior-class ship had arrived there first.
Automatically on red alert, the captain commanded, "Tactical, shields up."
She asked Jacob, "What are we dealing with?"
Struggling with a console he could not understand, Lieutenant Stone replied, "The scanners report that the Negh'Var-class dreadnought is heavily damaged. Far from home, they are in need of assistance with failing life support systems."
More than happy to help, the captain ordered, "Stand down from red alert. I will take a damage control party with me to the Klingon ship. Stone, you will be in charge 'til I get back."
A wait began that seemed to last forever. It began to hurt the lieutenant. If he was wrong, they could be annihilated at any time by the dreadnought's superior weapons. Minutes turned into hours.
The wait was too much for the young counselor. He gave orders to illegally scan the looming Klingon vessel for any relevant information. This alarmed the Klingons. The Negh'Var-class dreadnought cloaked, warped away, and seemed it was never damaged.
Taking the captain's chair for the first time, Jacob Stone ordered, "Red alert! Follow them! They have our captain!"
"We can't, sir!" an engineer, at the tactical station, stated. "They are on a course into Klingon space!"
"Ensign!" he continued. "That's an order! We have superior engines!"
A pause took place between them. They were staring each other down. Then the ensign, Borat, surrendered to his superior's authority. He remembered, "You're right. I forgot – we have transwarp."
"Ah, yeah," Jacob also remembered. "I also forgot – the helmsman controls velocity. As you were, Borat."
"Helmsman," he commanded, "engage."
Lieutenant Junior Grade Jacob Stone was the captain's rock. Besides, she needed rescue. He wouldn't relinquish command until she was found. He informed Starfleet of the situation. He also informed Starfleet of what the captain said – he could retain command as long as it was possible she was still alive.