||Six months after the mission to Dreyas IV, the USS Highlander is patrolling near the Federation-Klingon border, and as Lieutenant McIntyre begins his command training to make him able to take on the second officer position properly, ship's sensors detect an object near the edge of the Lembatta Nebula, a stellar nursery on the Federation side of the border that has frequently been difficult to scan the depths of from outside due to the interference from the many forming baby stars within. Diverting course to investigate, the crew find an unusual piece of lost property - an NX-class starship, over 200 years old.
The ship turns out to be the DeSalle NX-10, a ship listed as being destroyed at the end of the Earth-Romulan War on the outskirts of the Rigel system - a victim of a cloaked Romulan mine field. With so few NX-class ships being built by the Earth Starfleet of that time, and with even less of them surviving humanity's first conflict with the Romulans, Starfleet is eager for the Highlander crew to restore and preserve the ship, and bring it to Cestus III to be turned into a museum of early human exploration. However, as the engineering teams begin beaming over, they discover an odd cellular residue along all of the aft walls of the ship, and to add to the creepiness, as they begin to power up some of the systems with portable generators, the computers begin doing strange things - almost as if someone else was attempting to use the controls.
While they are still working on the DeSalle, the Gorn and their new alliance begin an attack on Klingon border worlds, quickly defeating the outmatched Klingon forces at M'Char, B'rel and Q'tahl. Most Klingon vessels fight to the death, but a number manage to leave the battles with heavy casualties. The Highlander is ordered to provide assistance, and splits its crew - leaving much of the engineering staff behind on the DeSalle whilst the rest of the crew heads off towards Klingon space.