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Before she was an officer aboard the USS Enterprise-D
No one ever said Starfleet Academy would be easy, but Cadet Deanna Troi never expected it to be this hard, either. She's been taken prisoner by pirates on the Borocco-Kai, and now she's weaponless and helpless.
Of course, it's only a test: a holodeck exam that all freshmen must pass. But for Deanna, the stakes are even higher than usual. She's opted to take the test early because it seemed like the only way to save her future at the Academy. Her telepathic abilities, natural aloofness, and an overbearing mother have made it difficult to gain the trust of her peers, and even harder to focus on her studies. Deanna has been sinking—fast!
But if this test is her only way back up, Deanna's in deep trouble! Unless she taps into her inborn abilities and saves the Borocco-Kai… and along with it, her career in Starfleet.


Deanna Troi starts at Starfleet Academy: Her mother Lwaxana only agreed to her joining up if she applied to the command track but she is unsure what she wants to do. She has trouble making friends, aside from her roommate Twil d-ch-Ka who she nicknames Auburn, and some classmates suspect she is using telepathy to gain an unfair advantage.

The final straw comes when Lwaxana signs up to the academy as a teacher. Determined to prove something, Deanna volunteers to take the Borocco-Kai test, known as the Big Washout because anyone who fails is automatically dropped from the academy, and convinces the rest of her study group to take it with her.

The five of them play the roles of Starfleet ensigns set on a boarding party to a cargo ship that has been attacked by Orion pirates with orders to save the crew and if possibly the ship. All of them are captured but escape with the help of an engineer, Denburgh, and formulate a plan to get off the ship.

One of the team, Vandin, is "killed" after trying to bluff the Orions with an empty phaser. Deanna and Auburn manage to seal the Orions on the bridge but are unable to cut off the power, leaving the ship rapidly depressurising. With one environmental suit too few, Auburn sacrifices herself by staying behind on the ship and blowing the pod containing the rest of the crew clear with the rest of the team attached to it to await rescue.

Everyone except Vandin is given a pass and Deanna confronts Lwaxana, forcing her to admit she was worried about losing Deanna like her father. Deanna decides she wants to be a ship's counsellor.



Tronnald First-HouseThaddeus GoldHicksNed KenrickAlex RennyVandin ua Xadmy SidkTakotaDeanna TroiLwaxana TroiTwil d-ch-KaXelo

Starships and vehicles

Borocco-KaiUSS Chippewa


Referenced only
BetazedIchthosMarsOregonXybaka VI

Races and cultures

Referenced only

States and organizations

StarfleetStarfleet AcademyUnited Federation of Planets
Referenced only
University of Betazed

Science and technology


Ranks and titles

cadetcounselorlieutenant commanderpirate

Other references

psychologyThalian chocolate mousseweaponxenosociology


External link


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TNG books Next novel:
The Haunted Starship
chronological order
Previous Adventure:
Stone and Anvil
Then; Chapters 1-13
Pocket Next Adventure:
The Human Factor
Jack Crusher section