The year is 2389. The Dominion War is a distant memory now; the lands held by them retaken by the native peoples. In the Alpha quadrant, Cardassia is at peace with Bajor, and angling for entry to the Federation. In the Beta Quadrant, Romulus is about to be blown up by a supernova, but the Star Empire is at peace and has tentative ties of friendship with the Federation. In a gesture of friendship, they have invited Starfleet to send a small ship to investigate the depths of their empire - depths which even the Romulans have not fully explored.
Cue the USS Rhode Island, a converted Nova Class ship. She has been tasked with going into the Romulan Star Empire on a mission of diplomacy and exploration. The Rhode Island is a brand new ship, having just been refitted completely. En route to the Beta quadrant, they recieve news of a bombing aboard Starbase 84, the Federation's last starbase before Romulan space begins. They are ordered to stop at the station and offer assistance. Upon arrival, they learn the bomber was Bajoran, and killed the son of a Cardassian ambassador who was attempting to negotiate with the Federation for entry. The bomber is revealed to be a Maquis assassin who has fled into Romulan space. Cardassia has sent an investigator who specalises in anti-terrorism named Du'Brecht and an Obsidian Order analyst named Paro to investigate, and Starfleet offers them a place on the Rhode Island as far as Romulus to discuss the chance of apprehending the bomber.
All this is very difficult for the assistant chief of security, Bajoran Aarian Zara, who has a troubled past and grew up with the bomber. Luckily, it is only a short 4 day trip to Romulus, where a huge diplomatic soiree is held in honour of the new ambassador for the Federation, who has come with the Rhode Island to take up his position. The Maquis has been invited to this soiree by the Romulans, who have promised to recognise them as an independent nation in return for the Maquis preventing the Cardassians from joining the Federation. The Romulans have also given the Maquis a document called the Rankatha Accord which necessitates the recalling of all the people Zara grew up with, in what turns out to be a Cardassian slave camp. The Maquis have handed this to Zara, who is presently holding onto it. Please see Zara's history to learn more about this subplot.
Near the end of the soiree, the ship's counsellor, Samantha Nichols, goes missing. Please see her history for more information on this subplot. At the same time, the Federation ambassador is found murdered, and there is evidence planted to implicate the chief operations officer, Trish Piper, in the crime. Trish is hauled off to solitary confinement in prison while the Romulans conduct an investigation. Meanwhile, the crew are trying to conduct an investigation of their own, with moderate success. They are working to a deadline; Trish has only so long before she is moved in with the general population of the prison, where she is sure to be injured or even killed by the violent nature of the people there. Luckily, an alibi for her shows up in the form of Zacari, an ex-Tal Shiar agent who was hired to kidnap Samantha and who also passed information to Trish on Reeves. This information has gotten Trish free, but with both physical and mental scars from her time in the Romulan prison.
With Zacari's help, the crew have gone and rescued Sam. They were unable to capture or kill Reeves, and Sam's daughter Christy has been taken by Zara's "sister," Keta - the same person who bombed the Cardassian diplomat's son on Starbase 84. With the Rhode Island now heading off into the deep space unexplored by anyone, a further complication has arisen with the arrival of Kyr, another Torros III survivor who is seeking Zara and safety from people who want to cover up the presence of the Rankantha Accord. See the subplot tags for more information on this.
Two weeks on, and the ship has left Romulan space and is out in the unknown. Warp-capable probes have been sent ahead and one has reported a signal coming from a Pre-Federation Starfleet vesesel, over 200 years old, that is hanging in space near a planet with a pre-warp civilization. Working together, Trish and Lt. Commander Katheryn Morgan have narrowed down the location of the old ship to the edge of a nebula on the edge of a star system. Curious as to why a Starfleet vessel is out this far, an away team has been put together to go over to it. Waiting for them is an AI in its death throes.
A team goes aboard to investigate the presence of the Starfleet vessel, the USS Sussex, and finds that the AI is bent on destroying what it believes to be Romulus, a nearby planet that is not even in Romulan space. It had been sent to do this during the war between Earth and Romulus 200 years previously, and never sent the final codes to carry out its mission. Now, it has taken the Starfleet presence as an indication to go ahead. People come and go between the two ships in an effort to get the Sussex up and running, trying to figure out what its mission was. It will not divulge what it has been placed out here to do, but the armaments and the proximity of a Romulus type planet make it clear what the AI has planned. A chase ensues, with both ships going deep into a nearby nebula. In order to save the millions of lives on the planet, Captain McPherson orders the Sussex blown up. The blast wave ripples through the nebula, causing the Rhode Island damage and killing eight crew, including some of the senior staff, in the process. When the dust settles, Cmdr. Knight, Lt. Stockton, Lt. Eolical, and Lt. O'Connell lay among the dead. Now, the Rhode Island must return with half its senior staff missing and two people on board who will be targets by those interested in keeping the Rankantha Accord secret.
What will the ship face next? As soon as she enters communication range again, we will find out.