The core story is set a couple of years earlier, during that officer's earliest months as a helmsman on USS Avenger (NCC-1860). It is narrated from his p.o.v. and tells of his thoughts about being new and what boundaries should he maintain, or not. The officer briefly discusses the effects of an intelligence op of years previous, Operation Blackjack, on himself and several others he knows.
A young ensign, Hayden Pope, is newly assigned to Avenger. Pope has a troublesome record, and his aunt -- a highly placed admiral -- has called in a favor to Avenger's commanding officer to assess and "repair" her nephew.