After the battle with the Borg (Season 4, Episode 10), the USS Independence returned to Earth Stardock for much needed repairs and crew transfers.
The Independence's former Captain and Executive Officer were needed elsewhere to help rebuild the fleet after the Battle of Defera, which cost the lives of hundreds of Starfleet officers but succeeded at defending the Federation from a Borg incursion. Captain Tanaka Hann, formerly of the Nimitz, took command of the Independence. Lieutenant T'Pang, the Chief Science Officer, was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and given the position of Executive Officer.
The ship also took on some new crewmembers: Lt. Cmdr. Vorath (Chief Tactical Officer), Lt. Brian Carter (Junior Tactical/Security Officer) and Dr. Jonas Bell (Chief Medical Officer.)
Once the Independence was fully repaired, Starfleet ordered a command test for Lt. Cmdr. T'Pang. T'Pang took command of the ship for a war games exercise.
This exercise pitted the USS Independence against the USS Hope (a Sovereign class ship) and the USS Ajax (a Defiant class ship) in a free-for-all. Before the battle, Lt. Cmdr. M'Row transferred over to the Independence to act as the Chief Engineering Officer. But M'Row left a surprise on the Hope before she left; a subroutine that would disable the Hope's shields during the war game.
The war game began soon after M'Row was transferred over. The Independence crew decided to create a sensor net and patrol the edge of the system's asteroid belt. The crew discovered a trap set in the belt: an empty shuttle, set adrift to give a false sensor reading and entice the Independence to enter the asteroid field. But the crew of the Independence responded with a graviton pulse which knocked the Ajax out of cloak.
The Ajax had a better position, and scored several critical hits on the Independence's rear shield. But the Ajax started to wither under the constant phaser fire of the Independence, and a well-timed tractor beam sealed her fate.
At the same time, the Hope opportunistically arrived and decided to focus fire on the Ajax. The Ajax was soon eliminated from the contest, leaving only the two cruisers to battle it out. The Hope initially had a significant advantage; the Independence already took substantial simulated damage from the Ajax. But M'row's subroutine kicked in, leaving the Hope without shields. The Hope attempted to engage evasive maneuvers, but it was too late. Several direct phaser hits to the Hope's engineering section caused enough simulated damage to declare the Independence the winner.
The ships congratulated each other and went their separate ways as T'Pang turned the captain's chair over to Hann.
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