***** (5 stars out of 5)
Nog is delivering a diplomatic message from Starbase 257 to the Grand Nagus. The Federation's running out of G.I. Joes, and hopes to enlist some big-eared ranks of Marauder Mo's. And Jake came along.
Defiant-class U.S.S. Valiant saves the old chums from enemy attack. Valiant is under the command of Red Squad cadets. You remember? Elite Brown Shirts who blacked out Earth? Cream of the Crop?
"Captain" Tim Watters got a battlefield promotion from the late Captain Ramirez. Timmy passed out ranks like corsages to his buds. "Acting Chief Petty Officer" Dorian Collins is a Lunar Schooner from Tycho City, Luna. But Moon Girl's mooning over a home she misses dearly.
They were supposed to circumvent the entire Federation as a 3-month training cruise. Instead, all seven officers apparently died in combat. Captain Tim has been behind enemy lines for 8 months. Oh, and he never checked in. See, they might have asked him to stop risking a valuable starship. They might have said he should be shouting "kegger" more often than "ramming speed". (Some of those Stuffed Shirts at Starfleet Command probably watched 'The Wrath of Khan' and remember what a panic-stricken trainee crew being slaughtered looks like.)
Watters gives Nog what he's longed for: membership, belonging, "Lieutenant Commander" rank... too bad Starfleet has no idea about any of it. (The sharp-eyed will notice that Nog's new hollow pip means lieutenant junior grade, not lieutenant commander. But why would they make a mistake? They're the best of the best!)
They plan to take on a Jem'Hadar battleship that would make a Galaxy-class starship poop its pants. Best of the Best Tim is popping stimulants like penny candy. Does Nog know when to cut and run?
With breathtaking space battle effects and a "Lower Decks" sensibility, "Valiant" offers an update on the Children's Crusade. With almost as few survivors!