To most the story began and ended with the NX planes and the near ready NX class. These experimental designs had catapaulted humanity into the company of truly interstellar species and within the exploratory community there was a real impatience to get out there amongst the stars. But there had been failures, dead ends and losses, along the way of which the NX Alpha was most noticeable. One such paper failure was the initial design submission of the NX class. Called NX-00 it had been submitted but ultimately abandoned by Starfleet in favor of a more developed proposal that had gone on to become the Enterprise NX-01.
NX-00 was filed away and forgotten as its design team was broken up and most absorbed into construction teams for the NX class. The lead designer though had retired to the Moon, Luna, and apart from the odd meeting with a friend on the Vulcan Advisory Council at Earth was a rather quiet man. While a timid individual the true reason for his retreat to the Moon had been because he had been approached by a group of Officials acting on Article 14, Section 31 of the Starfleet Charter...
Officials that had asked him to take NX-00 and turn it into an exploratory cruiser come technology demonstrator that would complement the Enterprise... but it was a little bit more serious than that: a militarised X-ship. Where Enterprise was Starfleet's Science Cruiser this would be its secret Military one... these Officials told the designer that there were a great many threats to Earth and while, regardless of Vulcan insistence, they would go out into the galaxy this was them being prepared. The designer had agreed and work had begun. The Officials acting under Article 14, Section 31 could provide considerable resources and it soon became clear they were in league with 'friends' from afar. In a United Earth budget worth trillions they found the billions and billions needed to fund the development and construction and secret partners within the Vulcan Government passed on expertise, brokered access to offworld know-how and went so far as to provide a secluded star system not far from Earth in which to work.
Progress was breakneck and over time the effort brought in people from as far as Mazar and Denobula... the result was the NX-XX. A cruiser slightly larger and instantly identifiable as a cousin of the NX class even if it was arranged differently. It was a 'shadow' ship mostly utilising components for the NX class and a few parts invented specifically for it. It was heavier, carried more and better armed though its greatest construct would be its crew. NX-XX was a Starfleet ship but it operated outside of the Starfleet command structure and its existance wasn't known to anyone in the organization save those brought into crew it and a trusted Admiral at Headquarters. It was as such a non-existant ship and intended for private actions; in the dark then it had certain freedoms as to how it would be employed and one such example was in the crew. An entire department of Vulcans had been brought aboard and they managed the database carried along with much of the sensor and computer equipment. Capable Officers and crew from partner factions were also picked and invited to work aboard the ship and as a result it had a more cosmopolitan atmosphere among the corridors.
NX-XX was some eight months ahead of NX-01 schedule wise despite the secrecy involved in its construction, fit out and crewing. It was an achievement of interstellar cooperation and industry, a true united star ship. They called it Pathfinder and men and women were assembling aboard, it was nearly time to be launched.