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david lowbridge April 26 2012 12:17 PM

Star Trek: Nightingale: "The Ruse"
 
This is the second story of the USS Nightingale series. The first story can be found here

Stardate 53208.3
Council Chambers, Gorn Homeworld

Slov was pushed forward as he stumbled into the council chambers central stand, cuffed like a slave. The cuts from his brutal arrest still stinging under the barrage of salt that his fellow Gorn had thrown into the wounds, this was no way to treat a man in his position. But he knew that his fate, sooner or later would take him down this path. He had too many enemies, was too prominent in politics and too much of a risk taker for this fate not to become him. The ways on the Gorn homeworld were harsh, but they made sure that the fittest survived and only the strongest were in command. Of course Slov knew he was still one of those stronger members of his race, but even he couldn't defeat a team of eight on his own.

Looking up he saw the ring of seats on the upper balcony where the leading council members sat; each one looking down at him from their illuminated positions. Slov couldn't help but feel small; it was how the room was designed to make the person in the centre feel. As he let the rage and anger build up, he anticipated a fight. He knew his entire existence was hanging in the balance and there was no way that he was going down without a fight.

"General Slov you are here before this council, stripped of your position from the ruling body," the leader of the council announced in his booming voice. Glorth had been a strong ally before the second Geckonian - Gorn war, now he was leading the opposition to have him gutted.

"Your plan and leadership in the recent war was a complete disaster," another member shouted, "You weakened our military and made an enemy of the Federation."

"Our plan was to annex some of their worlds, once the threat of the Geckonians had been eliminated," Slov snarled back out of turn.

"Your sloppiness brought them into the war," Glorth screeched, spit from his mouth flying out, almost touching Slov on the face.

"It was not my fault that the Federation was able to respond," Slov continued, "My plan almost worked."

"Almost is just another word for failure," Glorth snarled, his lips moving in ripples at the word 'failure'.

"Yet no Gorn world has fallen to either of our enemy," Slov tried to gain some respect in the room, he had once had all their admiration.

"The Federation nor the Geckonians want our worlds," another member shouted, "And our attacks against Federation border worlds have been repulsed with heavy losses."

"However," Glorth seemed to compose himself, holding a hand up at the other council members, "You can't be completely to blame." Slov detected a slight reprieve from his participation in the war. "After all your condition does seem to, 'distract' you at times."

The way the word distract was used seemed as if it was a euphemism for something more sinister that the council members were thinking. Even Slov had to admit though, his condition despite being nothing more than old age, was starting to get a hold of his thoughts, making him more compulsive and less careful.

"We have decided," Glorth said, "That the Geckonian situation can be remedied in a different manner. One in which is far less obvious and costly."

"And what manner is that?" Slov bellowed.

"That is none of your concern," snapped a member on the opposite side of the circle.

Glorth raised his hand again, "But we do need your help Slov."

Slov tilted his head slightly, "I'm listening."

"We need the Geckonians and the Federation to be off balance for our plan to work," Glorth looked menacingly at either side of him, where both council members gave a stern nod, "We have arranged for you to negotiate a peace treaty, mediated by Starfleet."

"The Federation may buy into this," Slov replied, "But the Geckonians are not so stupid."

"The Geckonians will go where the Federation will lead," Glorth stated, "After all they have applied for Federation membership."

Slov felt the shock of that hit him hard, he had not expected that the Geckonians would want to join the Federation. If they were allowed to, that would alter the balance of power in the whole region, the Federation would get larger and more powerful and the influence that the Gorn could administer would diminish again.

"I agree to the mission," Slov said his head held high.

Stardate 53208.4
USS Nightingale - Docked at Starbase One One Two - Deck Two, Lieutenant Shrak and Visitor's Quarters

Chloe's eyes fluttered gently open, gently adjusting the low lighting that she set before she fell asleep. She found herself as she remembered going to sleep, on the outside of the bed, with her arm over that of Shrak. She quietly attempted to roll herself out of bed, attempting to keep the snoring Andorian asleep. As looked down at the soft skinned bunk mate she did an internal sigh, she had hoped not to get so deeply involved with another officer, yet there was something so alluring about Shrak, something that she couldn't understand or fight against.

Chloe slowly slipped her uniform on, staying as quiet as possible and checked the ships time. Zero six forty five. Her shift didn't start for nearly two hours, but being early was never anything to be frowned on. She decided that she would get to the bridge quickly. Walking out of the room, Shrak nearly woke by the bright light that shone from the outside corridor, Chloe waited as the Andorian settled back into her deep sleep.

Stardate 53208.4
USS Nightingale - Docked at Starbase One One Two - Bridge

Chloe paused as she exited the turbo lift to see the Captain standing in the middle of the deck, she had not expected him to be on duty at the moment. Normally Captain's didn't do night or early morning shifts. "Good morning Captain," Chloe said as she passed him down to her helm station at the front of the bridge.

"Lieutenant Visitor," the Captain seemed surprised to see her, she just gave him a small smile, normally one that would melt most men into thinking she was nothing more than a cute innocent girl, though again this morning she felt anything but that innocent. "What are doing up this early?" He asked with a genuine concern in his voice, "Your duty sift doesn't start until zero eight thirty."

"I was awake, Captain," she replied, trying to put on her young voice, "So I thought that I would get started on the diagnostics that I planned to do; if that is alright with you sir?"

"I think you've done every single diagnostic routine this ship has Lieutenant, at least once," Wilcox's voice seemed very concerned, and he had moved next to the helm control. Chloe could sense his breath on her neck, something that she didn't want to have to deal with.

"It's better to have them done loads of time to be sure than not at all sir," Chloe stumbled out, trying to hid some feelings that she didn't want admit to. The feelings of being trapped by her continued relationship with Lieutenant Shrak, her wanting to get out of the relationship and the contradicting feeling of love that she had for the Andorian were all things she wanted to hide. Yet some of those thoughts were fighting their way to the surface, she felt the need to tell someone, just not the Captain, he would not understand.

"Well your timing couldn't be better actually," Wilcox said, "I need someone to take over the watch while I and Hans go and see Admiral Naarg about our new deployment."

"We're ready to go out?" Chloe asked, the distraction of actually piloting something might take her mind of her 'problems'.

"Yes later on today if I get my way," Wilcox said smiling at her, she sensed the feeling that he was trying to be supportive, "So you up for a little officer of the deck time Lieutenant?"

"Me sir?" Chloe said, not realising that he meant she could take command for a time.

"Of course you," the Captain responded almost laughing, "I only have four people capable of taking command at the moment, Me, Commander Hans, Lieutenant Shrak and you." The Captain paused to move closer to her, "I prefer to have more, but the Doctor failed her last three attempts at the Bridge Officer exam and is no mood to complete it at the moment and V'ras says it's illogical for him to take it."

"Illogical?" Chloe had to ask the question; to her it seemed very logical for the fourth most senior officer to have the ability to take command at any point.

"Something about he is rarely on the bridge," the Captain smiled, letting Chloe know he didn't buy the engineer's answer.

"What about Lieutenant Torlik and Ensign Williams sir?" Chloe asked, both officers were at the opposite ends of the experience spectrum, Torlik was a twenty year veteran of Starfleet while Williams was barely out of the academy; however she herself was barely out of the academy as well.

"Torlik is currently banned from taking command due to his record," the Captain said, the disdain for the record evident in his voice, after all Torlik had probably saved all his lives in the maiden voyage with the little technology he had devised, "And Ensign Williams," John paused for a moment, Chloe saw the pain he was going through trying to come up with a diplomatic response, "Well let's just say I think he needs more seasoning before he gets an opportunity to take the test."

Chloe blushed, the fact that the Captain already thought of her as a seasoned officer and capable of looking after his ship was a huge compliment. She stood from her station and signalled for a Petty officer from across the room, manning a science station to take her place. "I'll be glad to take the watch sir."

"Good," the Captain smiled at her, making her feel reassured she would do a good job. "Now I've got to get station side with that darn Geckonian of a first officer who is like you Lieutenant."

"What do you mean sir?"

"He never sleeps either," the Captain said walking into the turbo lift. Chloe felt herself giggle a little as she moved to the command chair to sit in it. For the first time, she took a look around the bridge and saw the amazing view that the Captain had all the time. It did a lot to re-enforce the reasons why she joined Starfleet, to be a Starfleet captain.

Stardate 53208.4
USS Nightingale - Docked at Starbase One One Two - Lower Engineering

V'ras stood at the dilithium matrix readouts and raised an eyebrow, "I did not expect that," he said curiously turning to the executive officer stood next to him. The Geckonian, stood as neutrally as he was stood. If it wasn't for his occasional emotional outbursts and the green leathery skin, the yellow eyes and the while hair, V'ras could imagine him as a fellow vulcan, almost.

"The readouts say a six percent increase in efficiency," Hans said, his amazement straying away from his normal composure.

"That should boost our top speed and improve engine efficiency," V'ras replied walking away from the console and picking up a padd on the chief engineer's desk. "The Captain would be most pleased."

"I'm sure he would," Hans replied raising his own padd. "It should make our next mission go quicker I am sure."

"Have we received orders yet?" V'ras raised an eyebrow, he had heard nothing that would constitute as a mission, and he was on the senior staff.

"Nothing concrete yet Lieutenant," Hans said, V'ras could tell that the senior officer was annoyed by the question. "The Captain and I will let you know when we have orders Lieutenant."

"That would be logical," V'ras said returning back to his, "According to my schedule, we are complete on the repairs and the few upgrades."

"Then we better get to our briefing Commander," the Captain's voice came from behind them both. V'ras turned around and nodded at his approval. V'ras noted that Hans stood very upright at attention. "Stand easy Commander," the Captain continued, "We're got to get to a briefing with Admiral Naarg, I suspect we will be getting our orders there."

"Good, I'll be glad to get going sir," Hans said walking towards the exit placing the padd he was holding on the desk of the chief engineering officer.

"Me too," replied the Captain walking out of the room with the first officer. V'ras raised another eyebrow; it seemed as if the Captain would have wanted the ship out again before she was ready if he had the chance. That would have been most illogical.

david lowbridge April 29 2012 11:00 PM

Re: Star Trek: Nightingale: "The Ruse"
 
Stardate 53208.5
Starbase One One Two, Common area

Despite it being early morning the common area of Starbase One One Two was already bustling with people going about their business. The shops on the long station row were already busy in their trade. John could smell fresh bread and baking pastries from one of the outlets; the smell of the latter reminding him of the street he grew up on as a child on Earth. He longed to go in there and buy a quick bite to eat, but tardiness and having the remains of a croissant on a uniform would more than likely be frowned upon by Admiral Naarg. Another shop down the way was selling fruits for a dozen or so different planets. John recognised a couple of small brown furred fruits that resembled kiwis on Earth, but were in fact a traditional morning breakfast fruit on Risa. John noticed that a lot of the bustle was made up of school children of several different Federation worlds. Each one of those children was more than likely a 'Starfleet brat', a term used for a child of one or two officers. The concept of children being present at an officer's duty was becoming rare once again. About ten years ago it was common place on many starships and stations. Now with the civilian losses suffered on many vessels over recent years, Starfleet had once again changed its mind and families were not to be allowed on ships; Station personnel were allowed to keep their families nearby.

The change in policy had caused a swell in personnel family's making residence on nearby stations, in accordance to the static fleet policy Starfleet had also recently introduced. Now Starships were assigned to a specific fleet which had set operational area for a duration of several years being it was reviewed. This gave some stability to service personnel families, who could make firm commitments to certain areas. Of course this policy had its drawbacks, Starbases were becoming overcrowded and space on them was becoming a premium. There was also additional traffic generated as business opportunities and passenger numbers increased and recent Starfleet Intelligence had shown a small increase of piracy due to this. Starfleet as stretched as it was with the several neighbouring minor powers trying to reassert themselves since the Dominion War by raiding Federation space; the continuing Cardassian Occupational duties ; medical relief for liberated planets; routine patrols and re-establishing its exploration mandate; now was having to deal with a surge in piracy within its own borders.

John considered the future for Starfleet, with its current shipbuilding efforts Starfleet would take roughly six to eight years before being at the fleet size it needed to be. Until then, every single ship in Starfleet was being hard pushed to make sure that it was efficiently being utilized. Of course John considered that at the moment, Starfleet could ill force more scientific expeditions into the unknown, when the known was being far more ruthless than they could afford. He preferred the idea of keep close to Federation and securing its borders and when they have the security; then trying to explore the unknown.

John attempted to push through the crowd as they based a food outlet serving some bacon rolls. The line to the outlet was very long, making the transit past the outlet slow at best. John couldn't help but turn to his Geckonian companion.

"How long were you stationed here?" he asked, trying to raise his voice above the loud concourse of people which seemed to surround him like a seas.

"Three years, previous to that I was on the ShirKahr," Hans replied, his voice showed obvious frustration from the crowds.

"I'm not familiar with the ShirKahr," John said lightly, "What class is that ship?"

"It was a Miranda class vessel," Hans replied as he pushed passed a rather large Bolian who had given him a disgusted look.

"Was?"

"The Shirkahr was destroyed during the first battle of Chin'toka, I was obviously not aboard," Hans explained.

John stopped for a moment and allowed his first officer to catch up with as soon as he had got past the gaggle of breakfast seekers. Obviously his first officer didn't want to talk about the issue and attempted to end that particular line of inquiry. "Was it always this busy at this time of the morning while you served here?"

Hans paused for a moment, looking as if he was thinking of the best response to the question. "When I first started to serve on the station it was quieter," Hans replied, "But then more families had to take up residence on the station to be closer to their serving member."

John nodded a little, "Perhaps Starfleet should invest in bigger Stations." He raised an eyebrow hinting that he felt it was a bit too busy for his liking and started to continue to walk towards the flag officer's office complex.

Stardate 53208.5
Starbase One One Two, Admiral Naarg's Office

John sat in the small guest chair next to Hans in the large plush office that he had been ushered into by a Lieutenant who introduced herself as the Admiral's secretary. Apparently the Admiral had been summoned to an emergency meeting, but had asked if they could be shown in and wait for him. John noticed the numerous ship models proudly displayed throughout the office; there was probably a model for every ship that the Admiral had served on, a career that seemed to have spanned decades. John noted the different classes; a Miranda; New Orleans; Olympic and Galaxy were the most prominent behind the desk of the Admiral. John felt tempted to pick up a couple and examine them closely, but decided to stay in the seat in case the Admiral came in.

Hans was staying perfectly still in his seat, barely moving a muscle to breathe. John admired his composure but thought it was a bit too much when there was no admiral in the room. "Sit easy Commander," John whispered to him, so the Lieutenant outside the partially opened door couldn't hear their conversation.

"I'm just ready for the Admiral's arrival Captain," Hans said stiffly.

"Relax the Admiral might not be here for another hour Commander," John replied, thinking internally that the Admiral could have warned them both and they could have delayed their departure from the Nightingale so they could talk a little about crew rotations and training among a dozen other small details the two had yet to work out.

"And if Admiral Smiltek had his way I would be hours," a voice behind them goaned.

John immediately bolted up from his seat to stand at attention, "Morning sir," he said as he noticed Hans slowly rise to stand to attention, how he now despised his composure. "I didn't mean any disrespect in what I said." he quickly added on to the end of the greeting.

The rather overweight Tellerite Admiral, with ridges across his dark brown face walked to the other side of the desk and waved John and Hans down. "Don't be silly Captain," the Admiral snorted, "If Command got their way, I would be in endless meetings twenty four hours a day." He paused for a second turning his chair round to a small replicator unit on the back of the room, "Tea hot." A small flowery cup with steam rising from it suddenly materialised inside the replicator unit. The Admiral picked it up and turned back round to the John and Hans. "Luckily being an admiral has its advantages," he snorted, "Shame they are few between the endless paperwork."

"Yes sir," John said nodding his head, thinking that the Tellerite culture of grumbling and complaining in conversations must become tiresome at times.

"Beg my pardon Captain," Naarg continued suddenly lifting his head, "Can I offer you a drink?" John shook his head, he had no intention of being drawn into a long conversation. He desperately wanted to be back on his ship and be getting underway. "If you want to be rude Captain, suit yourself," Naarg replied to the gesture placing the cup down quickly on the desk as if he was slamming it being annoyed. John had to bite his lip at the remark, reminding himself yet again of the Tellerite custom. "The Gorn have requested that a peace deal be reached between them, the Federation and Geckonians," he bluntly said moving on in conversation.

"Peace Admiral?" John replied, "Begging the Admiral's pardon, but they didn't seem very friendly last week attacking Cestus three."

Naarg snorted again, this time deeply, "They lost three ships," he retorted, "We lost nothing and the colony was barely scratched."

John scratched his head, he would hardly call damage to the spaceport on the surface barely a scratch, but at least there were no casualties. "It's not the only attack we have suffered in the past three weeks Admiral. What has changed their mind so quickly?"

"Politics," the Admiral smirked, "Like all good militaries; it's had to bend to the will of the government. And the ruling council at the moment doesn't want a prolonged war."

John shifted in his chair, something didn't feel right, he knew that Slov had been arrested two weeks ago and yet the attacks had not subsided, it signalled to him that the Gorn were less interested in peace than Starfleet Command or the Federation council were willing to believe. He could sense a quiet Hans next to him feeling uncomfortable in his chair, John knew that he would not speak however unless he was asked for his own opinion, John was practically on his own. "Again with all due respect sir the Gorn were happily blasting away at ships yesterday," John paused trying to get the gaze of the Tellerite Admiral, "Are you telling me now that after a good night's sleep that they suddenly thought 'hell this war is a bad idea' and called us up for a little handshaking session?" John saw the smirk in the corner of Hans' mouth; John could tell he had his approval at least.

The Admiral pulled down in his uniform tunic until it was tightly down. "Captain, I am not suggesting what the current situation is; I am telling you!"

"Yes Sir," John nodded in response, "But it is my responsibility to give you my opinion, as a starship captain."

"A Captaincy which could easily be removed," the Admiral threatened, his breath now huffing and buffing, "Now your orders are to go to Geckonia, get a mission advisor and get your sorry selves to the meeting place and hammer out a deal," the Tellerite rose from his chair, John and Hans felt obliged to do the same, "Is that understood Captain?"

"Yes sir," John replied, trying to hold back the sarcasm and the anger in his mind, "I will follow my orders."

"Good," the Admiral sneered, "You can see yourself out then."

John looked at his executive officer and gestured his head towards the door. Hans moved towards the door with Wilcox following closely. As they had exited the room and the door came to close behind him John gave a disgusted look towards Hans, "Great, we're going back into the fire." Hans did nothing but raise an eyebrow.

Stardate 53208.6
USS Nightingale, Docked at Starbase One One Two, Sickbay

Doctor Burton sat at the readouts looking at the various numbers that kept on popping onto the screen; the visual diagram of the patient's head shown next to the numbers and the time next to that. She sighed as the results kept on flowing at a consistent rate, "Looks like you can stop coming here for a while Lieutenant," she said smiling at the Denobulan who was lying on the bio bed. "But please, stop getting yourself injured," she said widening her grin at him.

Torlik stood up from the bed, stretching his arms and legs out. "I wish I could," he joking replied, "I thought the Gorn had personally targeted me the amount of times I got injured."

Burton raised her eyebrows and nodded, "They certainly did seem to pick on you," she teased, "Perhaps they didn't like your haircut last time."

Torlik touched his short spiky hair that was long and curly just a few days ago, "I thought you hadn't noticed that I had my hair cut."

"Oh I noticed," Rachel replied, "Just didn't want to make a fuss, I know how Denobulans don't like personal comments."

"You humans seem to thrive on it."

"Makes the day go easier sometimes," Burton replied glumly, she looked over at the bio bed where Commander Hawke, her former and now dead fiancée had passed away under her care. She thought for just a brief second of the moment she was forced to call the fight to save him to an end, then brought herself back to the present, once again trying to put on a positive face. "Plus it's better than talking about the weather," she smiled again at Torlik, but he too now seemed more glum.

"I better get to my station," he replied giving a broad smile, "I've got the new duty roster for operations to do before the end of the day."

Rachel nodded and handed him his final discharge papers, something that the Captain would want to see before he was allowed to resume full duties after his head injury. The now Lieutenant, was lucky not to have been seriously punished by returning to duties so quickly after a head injury. Although she had to admit, she didn't tell him he couldn't man his station; just that he should proceed to his quarters for some rest. Next time she would have to be more precise.

After the chief operations officer had left the sickbay she was alone in the room again. Most of the nursing staff were taking a set of exams today, in order to qualify for the next stage of the full nursing qualification. Rachel hated the fact that she only had one fully qualified nurse on the ship, and the rest were partly trained nurses who had been rushed into service during the Dominion War to learn on the job. Many fully qualified nurses now served on planetary hospitals, space stations and on some of the more prestigious ships such as the Enterprise and the Hood. She thought it was a joke that as a medical ship, she had four fully qualified doctors, one fully trained nurse and six nurses in training.

When she had enquired about the possibility of more fully trained personnel, Starfleet Medical had just replied that they were stretched to the limit with the humanitarian efforts in the Cardassian union and the liberated territories needing their full support. In other words Medical had told her to, 'manage with what you've got'. It wouldn't be as annoying if the Federation had a genuine cause to be stretched, but a lot of the humanitarian missions throughout the Cardassian Union were being used as propaganda. With the President's popularity in the polls down, he needed to be shown doing some good in the galaxy. A group of doctors treating Cardassian children was a great moral boost for a war weary public, keen to see Starfleet return to its previous peaceful duties.

As Rachel finished entering in the discharge details for Torlik in a small computer at the side of the main sickbay, Nurse Williams entered the room with a large padd in her hand. Rachel gave the nurse a courteous nod. "You okay Debbie?" Rachel said as she noticed the nurse looking around cautiously.

"Anyone else in the room?" the nurse asked quietly. Rachel shook her head. "I've got some bad news," she continued, "The exams aren't going well. Traelex got her patients confused and gave the wrong medication to the wrong patient nearly killing them and Julix misread an important piece of information that completely changed the diagnostic from the Doctor. It's a good job the patients are all holograms."

Rachel shook her head in disbelief, "And this is the medical team that is supposed to be able to care for up to four hundred people?" Her heartbeat raced from the news her people were failing their exams. "Starfleet should be manning this vessel with the best medical people we have. Instead we have half baked trainees and inexperienced doctors."

"We'll muddle through Doctor," Williams replied with a smile, "It's what we do best on this ship."

"We need to prepare the medical team to deal with a lot more than just broken cuts and grazes," was Rachel's dishearten reply, "I need a medical team that do blood transfusions and start neurological therapy."

"Starfleet is really stretched at the moment," Williams replied, her bubbly voice contrasting that of Burtons, "And we have gotten some of the brightest trainees around," she continued, "Considering they are half way through their courses in just a year. They are well ahead of schedule."

Rachel smiled, easing her troubles away for a while, "How come you are so positive all the time?"

"Ah someone has to be," Williams replied, "Otherwise there would be no fun."

Rachel found herself smirking. "I see you got your promotion to Ensign at last," she noted, pointing to the new gold pin on Williams' collar.

"Came this morning," she replied touching it with her finger, "At last."

"Congratulations," Burton said extending a hand. Rachel knew that Williams was going to be promoted about six weeks earlier, but the promotion had taken a while for the Starfleet to acknowledge her commission.

"Thank you sir," Williams replied accepting the handshake, "Now if you don't mind, I've got to rearrange the nursing duty shift so I don't have any of my team on their own." Williams gave a brief smile and walked out of the sickbay and turned towards her small office at the end of the corridor. Rachel admired her personality, not letting anything get in the way of her good mood, it was something to cherish.

david lowbridge April 30 2012 03:21 PM

Re: Star Trek: Nightingale: "The Ruse"
 
Stardate 53208.7
USS Nightingale, Docked at Starbase One One Two, Mess Hall

Nurse Williams entered the mess hall rubbing her temple. She had just spent the last hour attempting to work out the new duty roster for the nurses. She had a hell of a job to do and even her typical perky mood was taking hits from the difficult job she had to complete before they left the station. As she went to the replicator she noticed that there was only one more person sat in the mess hall, Lieutenant Visitor. Nurse Williams gave a warm smile in her direction and proceeded to the replicator, "Apple juice, five below centigrade," she ordered from the machine. As her drink materialised in the unit, she turned round to notice that Lieutenant Visitor was looking unusually glum. Williams considered that Chloe Visitor was similar to herself in attitude, she seemed hard working and always happy, but the last week Lieutenant Visitor had seemed a little depressed.

Nurse Williams grabbed her drink and approached the young Lieutenant and gestured towards an empty seat, "Anyone sitting her Lieutenant?" she asked trying on a big smile. Chloe barely moved a second, clutching her mug of brown liquid in her hand. "Lieutenant?" Williams asked again, with a smile broadening on the face.

Chloe suddenly woke up from her trance and looked up from her cup, "I'm sorry Debbie," she replied, "No the seat isn't taken," she replied.

Williams sat down at the chair and placed her padd on the table, with her drink next to it. "Got some bad news this week sir?" Williams decided that on this occasion a more direct approach would be needed.

"Huh?" replied Visitor as she suddenly realised she was being engaged in a conversation, "Um... no," she replied, "What makes you think I've had bad news?"

"You've seemed sort of distracted recently," Williams stated, "Was wondering if something was bothering you." Williams felt as if she was taking the young girl and attempting to cuddle her, but this young girl, despite being younger than her, was a superior officer. Chloe in response blushed. "Oh," Williams responded realising what was going on, "I've seen that response before," she announced, "Do you want to tell me about it?"

"What have you seen before?" Visitor asked taking a defensive attitude.

"You've gotten involved with someone, and now you are wondering whether or not it is worth it," Williams replied giving a reassuring smile. Now she knew what the problem was, it was easier to sort out. "It happens to all of us Lieutenant," she continued, "Even to us seasoned women."

"I can't believe that I got involved with someone so early on in my career," Chloe awkwardly replied, Williams noted that she seemed uncomfortable with her actions at the moment. "I wanted to make Captain early; I don't want to be in a relationship which could blind me."

Williams couldn't help but give a small chuckle, the young could be so single minded. "Love doesn't blind you Lieutenant," she explained, "Sometimes it can get in the way, other times it can very useful."

"How can it be helpful?"

"It can be very distracting, allows you to relax at times," Williams chuckled, "Yes relationships can also be tiring, awkward and sometimes even annoying, but they have positives."

"What if you don't know you like the other person? You know in that way?" Chloe said, her blank expression staring at her drink, of what Williams recognised as hot chocolate, although by the look of it, it was now cold.

"Then you need to take some time, think whether or not you want to be in the relationship and then have a conversation with the other person," Williams replied, taking a serious tone probably for the first time in a weeks, "Relationships are always about physical contact, they are also about conversation and spending time together, if you can't do that, the you are not with the right person."

Stardate 53208.9
USS Nightingale, Docked at Starbase One One Two, Captain's Ready Room

Wilcox threw the padd across the room as Hans entered the room behind him. The clanging of the padd against the wall echoing across the room as Hans came to a stop in the room. "Have I come at a bad time Captain?"

Wilcox smirked, "I thought command was pulling my leg when Admiral Naarg gave us our orders," Wilcox paused placing his hands on his waist in an act of defiance, "But no, confirmation of the orders came through minutes ago. We're to proceed to the Geckonian homeworld, pick up two Geckonian representatives and get the meeting place on the border." John turned round and looked at his first officer, "And the worse is yet to come, General Slov is representing the Gorn."

Hans raised his eyebrow, "It is unwise to wish a continuing of a war Captain."

"The man killed members of this crew, eight of them in undeclared war," Wilcox raised his voice he hated the idea of having to deal with a man who was responsible for killing several members of his crew and a good friend. "He's hardly a candidate for diplomat of the year," Wilcox smirked.

"Even so, the Gorn have asked for peace," Hans replied.

"How the hell can you of all people be taking this so easily, you know them better than I. You told me that they often use peace as a ruse, now they are asking for peace, doesn't that sound familiar at all?"

"It is unwise for me to talk to you about such circumstances, they may sway you in your negotiations" Hans replied.

Wilcox shook his head. "You don't believe the Gorn either," John said realising what game Hans was playing, "I knew that earlier, but I can't believe is that you are so willing to go through with it, without a fight."

"We have our orders," Hans replied.

"God damn it," shouted Wilcox, he slammed his fist on the table.

"Should I leave you along sir?" Hans asked in his annoyingly neutral voice.

"No Commander," John sighed, realising what the Geckonian was saying, "I'm sorry, I just find it hard to think I have to drink wine and shake hands with a mass murderer." John paused and sat slowly down behind his desk, "Especially when he could be planning on a way to kill even more people and is just luring us into a false sense of security."

"General Slov has a remarkable consistency in such matters. Although during the Geckonian Gorn war twenty years ago, his attempted second plan was far less successful than he could have ever hoped. for, I doubt the Gorn have developed the means good enough to get them their desired results."

John smirked turning his attention away from the mission, "What did you want to talk to me about?"

Hans handed a padd over to John, "The new duty roster sir with the adjusted crew rotations and training sessions all entered." John took the padd and gave it a brief look over, it seemed such trivial matters in such a galaxy of chaos, deception and anger, but he placed his thumb print on the padd and gave it back to the Commander.

"It's all okay," John replied smiling.

Stardate 53208.9
Meeting Room, Government Building, Gorn Homeworld

Glorth snarled at the scientist he had come to see as he entered the plush meeting room. The two personal guards that followed Glorth everywhere took up station near the door, their menacing look was not for show, he had seen them in action, killing people who would kill him and take him place; they were loyal servants and the only two people he could trust in the whole of the Gorn empire. "You have a progress report do you Doctor?" The hanging paintings of famous warriors of the Gorn empire draped the stone walls of the room, reminding Glorth that victories were thought to be only secured through military might and not through duplicity and science.

"I have perfected the toxin your honour," the scientist grovelled, his head hanged low in submission to his superior. Glorth raised his head to acknowledge the admittance of his status of Alpha Gorn in the room by the weakling scientist. "It is much more potent now than it has ever been."

"You said that last time," sneered Glorth, "And as I recall it was useless then. I would have been better throwing rocks at the Geckonians." Glorth narrowed his eyes and came nose to nose to the scientist, "I would hate to be disappointed again."

The scientist bowed his way out of the confrontation and grabbed a recording device showing the image of a Geckonian, green liquid dripping from the eyes, nose and ears of the man as he lay on the floor. "It took only sixteen hours for the subject to pass out, and another three for him to expire." The scientist paused for a moment, "Anyone who has been infected before should expire quicker."

Glorth let out a loud roar of laughter, "Are there any problems?"

"Yes," the scientist said. Glorth snarled and showed his teeth in anger. "To make the toxin work, I had to completely modify it. It now works on all reptilian species not just the Geckonians."

"That means our own soldiers will be infected and die as well," Glorth went to hit the scientist, angry with his discovery that was proving to be useless. What was the point of attacking the Geckonians, killing them all quickly and then not being able to take their planets because they had poisoned them.

"If you'll excuse me sir," the scientist dodged the arm, "The toxin needs a living host in which to live, and cannot survive more than a couple of hours without one. It is also fast reproducing and can spread through the air," the scientist's eyes closed briefly and a sinister smile spread across his face. "According to by predictions, we could infect Geckonia and be colonising it within forty eight hours."

Glorth nodded his head, giving a sinister smile, "That is the kind of news I like to hear Doctor," he said tapping his huge claws on the dark wooden table, making a dreadful scratching noise. "Go back to your research station and start to produce your toxin in huge quantities," Glorth paused for a second, "How long would it take to produce enough to decimate the Geckonians?"

The scientist gave a laugh that even Glorth felt was scary, "Three weeks," the scientist answered confidently. "Within a month, you could have control of the Geckonian Empire and done what no Gorn has done in two hundred years."

Glorth briefly thought of the pride he would take from that. He would be a national hero; no-one would be able to touch him for life. He could not be assassinated nor replaced. Planets, cities, schools would be named in his honour and the victories he was about to complete. Glorth turned to face his guards, they now were smiling too. He had known each of the for years and could tell that neither of them liked the Geckonians. "Who knows how to make this toxin?" Glorth asked the scientist gently, trying to put a more friendly tone on.

"Only I," replied the scientist, "It is too valuable and dangerous to trust anyone else with it."

Glorth turned to face the scientist, the man was right, it was indeed a dangerous thing to have, no one in the Gorn empire should have the knowledge to replicate it. "My personal guards will take care of you." Glorth stated, "I don't want anything happening to you. You are the key to saving the Gorn empire." And he was also the only one who would be able to challenge his authority when the great victory was won.

"I have my own guards," the scientist replied defiantly. His eyes were hot with anger and Glorth could sense his distrust.

"And I cannot trust them," Glorth tried to reassure the scientist, "I am only thinking of your wellbeing. I don't want you hurt while you are completing your work. There must be many in the empire who would want to kidnap you and continue your work. I would imagine the torture they would use to be painful." Glorth stressed his 'concerns'. "But if you feel that you can take care of yourself, I cannot force my loyal guards who have fought numerous battles to defend you." Glorth turned away from the scientist.

"I guess two more men would make me," the scientist paused and looked at the two large bodyguards, "more secure."

"Good, then it is settled," Glorth said clapping his hands together, "Now go and wait with your shuttle, my guards will meet you there shortly, I will need to get them kitted for the time they will be with you." The scientist nodded and left the room. Glorth approached the two guards and looked at them both in the eye with an evil commanding look, "When he has finished producing the toxin, kill him," he ordered before leaving the highly decorated room alone.

david lowbridge May 2 2012 12:05 AM

Re: Star Trek: Nightingale: "The Ruse"
 
Stardate 53209.4

Captain's Log: The USS Nightingale has been assigned to a peace mission with the Gorn. I have to admit that I am hesitant about the mission. The Gorn are well known for giving with the left hand and taking with the right hand, I can't help but feel that they are going to attempt to stab us in the back somehow. If I am honest, I think that Starfleet is scared of defending itself again after the losses we have taken in the Dominion War. Yes war is not the best option, but sometimes it is the only viable option. If we decide to believe the Gorn, we could end up losing more people. There are a lot of colonists along that particular border.

As for the crew, most of them seem indifferent to the mission. Even Hans, my first officer, a man who fought the Gorn tooth and nail for the Geckonian freedom for a whole two years seems to have accepted the orders without question. I don't know whether he is planning something, perhaps a little backhanded, or whether it is simply his opinion that nothing matters but our duty to the Federation. I would have thought he would have a stronger opinion than that.

On other matters, the repairs to the Nightingale are top notch, however I did have to report a problem with my replicator the other day; it couldn't give me a cup of earl grey tea without going through most of what else was on offer. However if it takes Torlik's team four hours again to fix the problem, I may have to demote him back to ensign.

I am suffering from a shortage of bridge officers. I only have four people, including myself, who can take command of the ship. I have been looking into getting more command staff onboard, a strategic operations officer would be an excellent asset to have, considering we have a command and control centre. But Starfleet have so far told me to deal with what I have; noting that the crew has already been increased by ten since we left space dock.

Stardate 53209.4
USS Nightingale, Docked at Starbase One One Two, Captain's Ready Room

John sat at his desk reviewing the recent personnel reports on twenty eight new crewmembers that had joined them since they left the station last time. Most of them had joined the Nightingale from the Brave, and John was particularly interested in how they were coping, especially since that some of them had lost a lot of friends. Rachel Burton's psychology degree had come in use as she doubled up as a councillor for these people. John noted that two of the crewmembers were showing signs of post traumatic stress syndrome and that Rachel had limited their duties to doing light. John had seen their progress reports and was happy so far.

John was trying to avoid a report that had sat on his desk for the past two days. He was ignoring it after he saw the title. 'Complaint against Lieutenant Junior Grade Shrak, Chief Tactical Officer of the USS Nightingale'. John flicked his eyes between the personnel report and the report on his tactical officer. Eventually he sighed and relented to the urgency of the complaint and put down his routine report that was nothing more than a ship news report. John tapped the padd and braced himself for the complaint.

"Lieutenant Junior Grade Shrak has neglected a large portion of the security detail assigned to the USS Nightingale. The Marine contingent led by Sergeant Helnik Rashell feels that the Lieutenant is ignoring our skills, experience and in some cases our rank. The marines are being assigned menial task where less experienced crewmen should be chosen and are left out the regular security training sessions that the tactical officer holds almost daily.

Sergeant Helnik Rashell"

John closed his eyes in disappointment; he had spoken to Shrak about making sure that the marines were fully included in the security department and were treaty fairly. That conversation was three weeks ago when John had decided on keeping the marines on the Nightingale and not replace them with normal starfleet security. John had felt they had earned their place on the ship with their combat skills and they had all wanted to stay beyond their one original assignment.

Sergeant Rashell was an excellent non commissioned officer, his record spoke for itself. During the Dominion war the Saurian had earned himself something of a reputation as a dedicated and lethal squad leader. During the second battle of Chin'toka and more specifically the retreat from AR-558 where he defended his position from countless Jem'Hadar and Breen assaults until he was the last one left and got onto the transport, John heard one his corporals say he had killed ninety combatants that day, but was unsure if that was an overestimate or not. He had been decorated sixteen times with the Medal of Honour and had three Christopher Pike Medals of Valour.

His previous commanding officer's assessment of him was that he was a professional soldier of Starfleet's Marine Corp; who was able to take the worst of it and still give the enemy hell. Of course part of the reason for his superior combat skills was because he was a Saurian. He had two sets of eyelids which not only allowed him to see just as well during the night as well as the day, but see infrared as well - which bypassed the Jem'Hadar's ability to shroud themselves. Saurians were also reported to be very strong, intelligent and with four hearts and well developed retractable claws were very fast over most terrains. Their ability to breathe most atmospheres also gave them an advantage over species that required breathing apparatus on some planets.

John had noted that in his record, if he was unhappy about a situation, he would be direct. As one officer had put it, he had little time for the delay that the fine art of subtlety can bring. Of course the same officer had also suggested that he be given a commission as he could be very useful as an officer. The Sergeant turned the opportunity down, stating formally that he could better serve Starfleet by being in the trenches not in some rear tent.

John sat back in his chair and weighed up his options, before deciding to call the Sergeant in for questioning. There was always an opportunity that he could get the Sergeant to get his Andorian tactical officer to come around before he would condemn her for her actions. John though was prepared to reprimand Shrak for her disobedience; it wouldn't be the first time that she had been caught not following 'suggestions' from a Captain. John tapped into his computer a request to see the marine detachment leader and went back to the routine report, but was interrupted quickly by a beeping on the communications unit attached to his desk.

"Captain," that was his recently promoted chief of operations Lieutenant Torlik, "I've got an Admiral Jenkins here Captain. He would like to see you sir."

John rolled his eyes, he had little time to devote to the admiral, even though he was an old friend, he thought he had been royally shafted by Command on the latest mission, something that Jenkins would surely have known about. However he was a senior officer and John had a duty to entertain him. "Send him in," John order.

A moment later the aged Admiral walked all, his overweight body walking heavy on the replacement carpet. He looked happy, John didn't trust that he hadn't got something now up his sleeve. "Admiral," John said standing up offering his hand, "How are you?"

"I'm good Captain," the Admiral said giving a wide sinister smile.

"Can I get you something?" John asked politely, turning to his small replicator. The Admiral shook his head and John nodded his acknowledgement, "Computer, Tea, Earl Grey hot." As the drink materialised the Admiral took a seat across the desk from John and placed a padd on the table. John took his tea and took a sip from it before picking up the padd. "What's this; my reassignment orders?"

"It's your primary mission," Jenkins announced, "You gave quite a performance to Admiral Naarg, anyone who was paying attention would now think the actual mission is one of peace."

John scowled, "What do you mean I gave a performance?" John hated the thought of being a puppet to the brass of Starfleet, only there to entertain them.

"Calm down Captain," the Admiral teased, "It's only a diversion," the bulky man paused looking at the padd. "We didn't want the Gorn knowing anything of our underlying intentions," the Admiral stated.

"You mean Starfleet don't want peace with the Gorn?" John asked surprised, despite what John thought and felt, he knew the Federation Council didn't hold a grudge.

"Of course we do," the Admiral replied, "But we know they aren't serious, we just want to be ready for what they'll do next."

"And what the hell are they planning to do next?" John asked.

"Have you ever heard of the Ark of the Covenant?" Jenkins asked his voice low.

"I can't say I have Admiral," John replied. He briefly wondered if every mission briefing that he and Jenkins had would contain some sort of memory test. But John remembered the Admiral did love knowledge test when they last served together.

"It's from an old film," Jenkins explained, "It was a device that held spirits. Those spirits, if released, would burn all those who looked upon them."

"Nice," John replied sarcastically, "So what the Gorn have decided to scare us all witless by showing us this ancient movie?"

"The name is a code word used by Starfleet Intelligence, it refers to a bacterial toxin that the Gorn used during their last war with the Geckonians," Jenkins announced, ignoring John's sarcasm, "The last time it didn't work out so well for them. The Gorn that is. The toxin infected nearly sixty million people in a year, but only halved their lifespan." John thought that wasn't an insignificant toxin, something that could half your potential life was a serious threat. "But recently the Gorn have made a breakthrough," Jenkins continued, his voice was shaky, like he was worried, "By removing the elements that would mean it could only attack the Geckonians, they have made the process much faster."

"How fast are we talking about?" John asked leaning forward.

"A day at most," Jenkins replied, "The toxin is bacteria based as far as we know and it is designed to stop the ectothermic properties of reptilian species."

"What effect does it have on other type of species," John asked sounding concerned, he could think of three reptilian crew members on the ship just from the top of his head.

"None that we know of," Jenkins replied, sounding slightly relieved.

John suddenly raised the palm of his hand, "This is stupid," he stated, "If it affects all reptilian species, how do the Gorn not become infected if they want to annex planets?" John had a puzzled look on his face, "You think they are going to wait fifty years until this poison has dissipated?"

"It is more likely that they have a cure, an anti-toxin or some sort of immunisation," Jenkins explained, but by his voice John knew he was only guessing at this point.

"You want me to go and get it," John said, "That's why you chose the Nightingale, because we have the facilities to confine this thing properly."

Jenkins gave a warm smile and nodded, "You're catching on Captain," he joked, "The research facility where this toxin is being made is three light years from your meeting place with Slov," Jenkins replied, "We want you to assemble a team, get them to the station via an Argos shuttle, steal the antidote, the cure or at least the new version of this thing, blow up the station and escape."

"Blow it up?" John was shocked at that part of the order. He had never known Starfleet to give such an order, however this was the first covert operation that John had actually been involved in.

"We cannot allow the Gorn to have a weapon with that kind of power," Jenkins sternly replied, "If you complete nothing else; destroy that research station. Is that clear Captain?"

John nodded. "Of course you realise, if I am suppose to be at the peace talks, I can't physically be at the research station."

Jenkins nodded, "You have some fine officers in your staff John," Jenkins gave another brief, warm smile, "I'm sure a couple of them could easily command the mission." John could do nothing but nod at that, he already had the perfect candidate in mind.

david lowbridge May 3 2012 02:04 PM

Re: Star Trek: Nightingale: "The Ruse"
 
Stardate 53200.6
USS Nightingale, Captain's Ready Room

Wilcox threw down the padd and lent back in his chair rubbing his eyes. Hans and he had been working out the finer details of the raid for the past four hours and John had been tossing and turning all night in his bunk worrying about the missions. Now he knew that Starfleet didn't trust the Gorn, he had moved that worry onto doing the dirty on the Gorn and getting caught. He reminded himself several times that this was necessary and that the Gorn were technically doing the dirty on them first. But he felt a little uneasy, Jenkins would probably attribute it to pre-mission nerves.

The Nightingale had left Starbase One One Two as scheduled last night, without a hitch and they were now speeding towards the Geckonian home world. Hans had been up all night on watch, but as he needed very little sleep he was helping out John come up with a infiltration technique in which to get to the research station and steal what they needed. John had been promised by the Geckonian government some of their latest intelligence reports, which would essentially allow any small craft to escape detection. But that did little to help them get them what they wanted once on the station.

"I could take a marine squad..." Hans started to suggest before being cut off quickly by Wilcox.

"For the last time Commander, you are not going," John paused for a second, "To start with Slov will expect to see you on the Nightingale. Your appointment as my executive officer was hardly a state secret, John paused for a brief second picking up a second padd and throwing it down, "And that research station probably holds several thousand metric tonnes of toxin that can kill reptilian species." John looked up at his first officer and smiled, "It is far too dangerous for you to go."

"Am I sensing concern for my wellbeing Captain?" Hans enquired. John could have sworn it was a mocking comment.

"Not at all," Wilcox replied, "I just don't want to get a record of losing first officers by the bucket full." Wilcox gave the Geckonian a cheeky smile and a chuckle.

"That would certainly ruin your reputation," Hans stated, in his normal neutral tone.

"I was thinking of placing Lieutenant Visitor in command of the mission," Wilcox stated, "She has a great starfleet record and has command training.

"She is slightly inexperienced Captain," Hans said, voicing his concerns in that characteristic monotone voice.

"She has combat experience, more so that Lieutenant Shrak," Wilcox added, "And apart from us, they're the only two who have the necessary command qualifications."

Hans sighed, something that John rarely heard him do, "I guess we have no choice."

John shrugged, "I was hoping to get Lieutenant Commander Burton and Lieutenant V'ras to complete the Bridge Officers Exam at some point. However I have had some resistance from V'ras."

"Illogical for him to come to the bridge," Hans stated, he had obviously heard that response from the officer before about something else.

"Exactly," John mused, "What's your opinion on him Commander?"

"He is a capable engineer," Hans hesitated a little.

"But what?"

"He's not a good field engineer sir," Hans continued under the duress of John's questions, "He is perfect for some of Starfleet's shipyards, but as a engineering officer on a Starship, he doesn't have the necessary qualities."

John smiled, "You mean he's too rigid to specifications, can't think out of the box and rarely utilizes every option?"

"Exactly," Hans replied, "I'm just glad that we have Lieutenant Regluan. He is filling the gaps where V'ras is struggling."

John smiled, he was glad he was able to keep Regluan, there were many ships around that could have done with excellent engineers that Regluan's profile made him out to be. But John thought that Regluan felt he owed something the Captain and the Nightingale for rescuing him from the Nebula. John had thought nothing more about it, he had after all been ordered to find the crew of the Brave. John tried to bring his mind back to the mission.

"I 'll have to send all eight of the marines along with Lieutenant Visitor," John said, "However that leaves me with another problem."

"Sergeant Rashell?" Hans queried cocking his head to one side, "If I can't go, he certainly shouldn't."

"Agreed," John paused tapping his fingers on the table, "Perhaps Lieutenant Shrak should accompany them as their temporary commander, leave Sergeant Rashell here as temporarily in command of security."

Hans shook his head, even John admitted that the idea was not the best one he had ever had. "That's a bad idea," he explained, "Rashell and Shrak don't exactly get along, if we swap them around, we could insult one of them."

John raised his hand, "Or it could make Shrak realise the marines are actually capable personnel," he countered. John had asked Rashell to run a couple of intruder drills in which Lieutenant Shrak would have to participate in. He had also informed the Lieutenant of his intentions to get Rashell doing some drills, and so far Shrak had not objected.

"If you think it is wise," Hans stated, "What about medical personnel? I heard Nurse Williams is an expert in contaminants control."

Hans passed John a padd, which held the records of the recently promoted nurse. John nodded, "Yep add her to the mission," John sat back in his chair thinking of the mission. "So if we drop them off in the Slophere system, they are only a day's travel by Argos to the station, a few hours beaming on getting the toxin and getting off the station. Blowing it up and meeting us back in the Slophere system, they should only be gone for two days."

Hans looked worried for a second, "Can the Argos shuttle take that many people for such a long time?" he asked.

"Should be okay," John replied distantly, "It will be a tight squeeze but then living on this ship isn't exactly a pleasure cruise."

Hans nodded, "I better get to the bridge," Hans announced rising from his seat across the desk from John. John gave a nod and watched as his first officer left the room.

Stardate 53200.7
USS Nightingale, Deck 2, Armoury

Sergeant Rashell placed his rifle back into its storage locker in the armoury. His fellow marines had already returned their weapons and were now exiting the armoury. They had completed nothing more than ten hours of worthless weapon testing on every single weapon on the ship. Not that he thought that it was a bad job; after all testing a weapon ensured that it worked when it was needed. However he thought that the job could be completed by any of the junior and inexperienced fleet crew and that his land based forces could be better utilized.

Just as he was about to turn around, Rashell felt another presence in the room, something that made him feel uncomfortable, it must be the illustrious chief tactical and security officer Lieutenant Shrak. Rashell turned round to confirm that it was her behind him.

Lieutenant Shrak, dressed in her gold uniform stood leaning against the frame of the door looking hostile towards him. "Can I help you sir?" he tried to restrain the hatred in his voice he had for the Andorian, but she was making his life difficult on the ship. It was bad enough being one of only a few reptilians on a vessel full of mammalian species, having to cope with the smells and the sweat, but to actually have one of those mammals be so hostile towards him for nothing more than being a marine and not a regular starfleet security member was almost unbearable. The only thing that kept him on the Nightingale was that field positions were not easy to come by.

"How were the weapon tests?" Shrak asked, her eyes slightly closed, obviously she was not attempting to hide the fact she hated him in response.

"Everything passed," Rashell spat out, "There are no problems with the rifles or hand phasers what so ever."

Shrak nodded, not keeping her eyes of him, Rashell gritted his teeth, something he tried not to do very often. "Have you got a problem Sergeant?" she blurted out angrily.

"Permission to speak freely sir?"

"Permission granted," Shrak answered, "But if you speak out of line I will report it."

Rashell felt she was trying to make it difficult for him. Where was this line between them? Who defined it? "I think you are restricting my duties unfairly sir," Rashell responded, "I have more combat than you sir and so do most of my team; you should use that to your advantage."

Shrak walked fully into the armoury letting the door close behind her, "You have no right to be on this ship," she responded angrily, "You are only here because we couldn't get the crew necessary to man this ship last time and you fought the Gorn on our maiden voyage." Shrak paused and opened up one of the weapon lockers grabbing a rifle and passing it to Rashell, before grabbing one herself, "You are lucky to be on this ship now. My people are just as capable as you." she screeched.

"I'm not here to say they aren't as capable as us," Rashell responded defensible, "But it is a mistake to waste my team's talent."

"My people will never get experience unless I give it to them," Shrak responded throwing a practice round pack to Rashell.

Rashell looked puzzled as she placed another pack of special practice rounds into her marine issue rifle and gestured for Rashell to do the same. "What?" Rashell sneered, "You expect me to do some sort of ritual competition to settle our differences?" Shrak only nodded a brief confirmation. "Don't be so stupid sir," Rashell continued putting the rifle back in the locker, "I am not going to play your games."

"I promise you Sergeant," Shrak said, "One way or another, one of us will not be on this ship."

Rashell turned round and stared at the Andorian, who still had her angry face on, but was no longer carrying a weapon. "Are you threatening me sir?"

Shrak pushed past Rashell, bumping him into the side of the wall, "I'll see you tomorrow for the intruder drill sergeant." Shrak walked down the corridor and out of sight. Rashell paused for a moment, concerned at what had just taken place and wondering what to do.

Stardate 53200.7
USS Nightingale, Lower Engineering

V'ras looked at the readouts of the power output going through the phase inducers that were connected to some of the ODN relays. According to the readouts there was a reduction on the power output by six terra watts in the last few minutes. V'ras noted that the problem had not been there when they had left the station. Instead it had only occurred since he went off shift late last night. V'ras ran some scans of the system, but could invariably see nothing wrong.

Regluan approached from behind and looked at the readings, "The phase inducers still not working correctly?"

V'ras shook his head passed a padd towards his assistant chief engineer. Regluan took a quick look at padd and sighed. "Looks like a misalignment problem," he stated moving to the console and running a quick diagnostic. "Look there," Regluan pointed to the screen showing a diagram of some of the inner workings of the Nightingale, "three relays are misaligned by six microns."

V'ras felt a slight resentment bubble deep down and concentrated hard to control it. "I must have done it last night before I went off duty," he paused for a while, "I realigned the OND relays." V'ras contained his shame as best he could.

"It's an easy mistake to make," Regluan announced.

V'ras stared at Regluan a look, "For a first year cadet maybe."

Regluan started to say something, but V'ras had enough and walked out of the room.

david lowbridge May 8 2012 12:20 PM

Re: Star Trek: Nightingale: "The Ruse"
 
Stardate 53200.7
Gorn Imperial Cruiser Vor, Medical Bay

Slov sat at the medic's desk awaiting the results of the latest tests. He had been prodded, scanned and outright cut into pieces over the past few hours. He felt naked. A while ago his condition was not widely known, now it seemed as if the whole Empire had gotten wind of his deteriorating condition, especially since the Council had mentioned it in an open session. But his condition was nothing more than an obstacle to overcome and he would defeat it. As the medic came in Slov sat bolt up in the chair. "Have you any news?" he queried as man took his seat.

"Your condition is getting worse," the man replied bluntly, "It won't be long before you are overcome and you will cease to function in any meaningful way."

Slov swallowed a huge ball of saliva down his throat, "Is there anything I can do?"

"You could take a disruptor to your head," the medic placed a disruptor on the table, looking at Slov intently, "It would save you the embarrassment that would come with dementia. Your family would remember you as you have been, a brave warrior. And the Gorn nation will remember you for your heroics."

Slov picked up the disruptor looking at its elegant looks. He always knew his life would come to an end at the end of a weapon. He was never going to die an old man in his bed coughing up his last wishes. The weapon felt heavier this time, like the weight of the decision had somehow been incorporated into the weapon. Slov looked at the medic, who had a slight smile on his face.

Stardate 53200.7
Gorn Imperial Cruiser Vor, Outside the Medical Bay

The two personal guards of General Slov stood watch outside of the medical bay. They had been waiting for hours and there was no way to know how much longer they would be waiting. As they stood they heard voices inside the room, but could not hear what was being said. Suddenly there was a silent moment before a loud zap from a disruptor. Both the guards rushed into the room to find that General Slov was standing up across the desk of the ship's medic. The ship medic was slumped in his chair.

"Clear that up," was the only thing that Slov said as he sauntered past his guards.

Stardate 53200.7
USS Nightingales, Captain's Ready Room

John tapped on the console one more time, his authorisation code, a level 10, the highest known to Starfleet was unable to unlock the mysterious isolinear chip that Commander Hawke had left in his quarters. John waited tapping his hands on the desk as the computer attempted again to past the encryption protocols.

"Access denied," the computer sounded, "Please enter authorisation code."

"Damn it," shouted John as he slammed the desk. "Computer, run the delta sigma seven decryption matrices on the isolinear chip," John ordered as he reached over to the replicator, "And one hot Earl Grey Tea." As the computer materialised a cup of John's drink, the computer screen in front of him flashed a variety of different colours, running through codes for unlocking, declassifying and a number of tasks to get at the over secure piece of information. As he waited John took a sip of his drink and immediately spat it out. "For crying out loud," he muttered under his breath, "I told Torlik I wanted this replicator fixed." John placed the stewed liquid back in the replicator and made a note mentally to warn Torlik that the matter of making sure his replicator could make Earl Grey Tea was a top priority.

"Unable to access data on disc," the computer announced.

John sighed and pulled the disc out of the computer and stared at the wall. What was so important that Dan had made sure no-one could access it? Was he scared this might fall into the wrong hands? Was he scared that Torlik might find it? It was reasonable to assume that Dan had intended to show the Captain at some point, but had never gotten around to him. John had tried every pass code he could think of, his authorisation code, several times, names of Dan's family, Dan's former ships and even typed in Lieutenant Commander Burton in several different ways to gain access. But nothing was working.

A chirp at the door brought him away from the grey wall he was looking obliviously into. "Come," he announced swivelling his chair around to face the door.

In walked Lieutenant Commander Burton holding a data padd in her hand, "I'm sorry to disturb you sir," she softly introduced, "But Commander Hans has assembled the senior staff for the briefing. He asked me to fetch you."

John had realised the time, it was already some minutes late. "Yes," he said realising his mistake, "I'm sorry, I was talking to the diplomatic corps," John hated lying, but found that a Commander had to lie sometimes for the best of their crews. John rose from his seat and grabbed the mission files he had scattered on his desk.

"I can understand that sir," Rachel almost seemed to chuckle, as if she knew he wasn't telling her the truth, "the Diplomatic corps do like to talk on a bit, it is their job at the end of the day."

John forced a smile as he exited his ready room. "Tell me Commander," John said, "Dan's parents have asked if there is anywhere special that he liked to hang out at." John paused, thinking of another lie to cover for the previous lie, "They were hoping to visit a few of his places in his memory, I thought it was a nice sentiment."

Rachel blushed, "The only place I remember him ever being very fond of was the six o two club sir," she replied, "It was where we met."

John paused, "You met at the six o two club?" Rachel nodded gently in response and John just smiled. "Thank you doctor, I will pass that on." John opened the door to the briefing room and allowed Burton to enter first, before following her in.

Stardate 53200.7
USS Nightingales, Briefing Room

As John entered the room, the entire room; his senior staff plus a couple of extras he had invited along as they were important to mission stood to attention. John waved them down with his hand. "At ease," he commanded as he found his chair at the top of the table. He looked down the table and nodded to Hans to begin the briefing. It had been decided between John and Hans that now Hans would lead the situation phase of the briefings and John would do the orders phase. This followed with some old naval traditions, forced the crew to switch attention and keep alert, gave John's voice a rest and allowed him to sip a cup of Earl Grey tea, had the replicators been able to do a decent cup.

Hans opened up a file on the display behind John showing the latest tactical reports from Starfleet, "To be concise: the Gorn are losing the war," Hans stated, John thought that was perhaps a little too concise for what he had in mind, but he was sure Hans would go a little deeper into the situation. "They are looking to secure a peace treaty between them, Geckonia and the Federation. Starfleet Command has ordered us to go to Geckonia, pick up two mission advisors and go meet General Slov for treaty negotiations."

John raised an eyebrow and turned round to Hans at the display, "You're finished?" he asked sarcastically. John turned back round into his chair and looked down the table. "Obviously we are to extend every diplomatic courteously option we have available to us," John said, "Hans and I will be in the negotiations. Torlik, I will need you to keep a secure comms channel open to Starfleet Command based at one one two, in case we need it. V'ras go through every single system, make sure there is nothing that needs replacing and you'll need to convert one of our guest quarters to be compatible to Geckonian conditions." John paused noting their facial expressions.

"Sir," Hans said interrupting him, "With all due respect, the guest quarters will be unnecessary," Hans moved back to his seat, "It would rude of me if I did not share quarters with the Advisors. They would take it as an insult."

John nodded, he didn't really understand as of yet the Geckonian way of doing things, and their culture seemed like the most alien he had ever encountered, but he trusted his only Geckonian to know their own culture. "Fine, make sure that you do securely store all sensitive material that are in your quarters," Hans nodded in response. John had wondered if Hans had already done in preparation, it would be in line with Hans' record. "Doctor," John said grabbing the Doctors otherwise vacant attention, "I want you to sit in on the negotiations."

"Sir I am not a diplomat," she protested shaking her head.

"I know," John reassured her, "But you are a Doctor and there are reports that he is suffering from dementia. I want you to assess him, see if there could be any truth in the matter."

Doctor Burton nodded, understanding what her duties were going to be. "Sergeant Rashell," John looked at his marine non-commissioned officer, and smiled, "You'll be in charge of escorting General Slov around," he paused for a second, noting a sharp look from Shrak towards the marine, "I've been told that Saurians are physically stronger than Gorn," John paused chucking an enlisted rank pin at him that was for a Petty Officer Second Class. "Slov won't be expecting marines on the ship. Get yourself a standard Starfleet security uniform and take that rank, blend in." Rashell looked uncomfortable, his second pair of eyelids blinking a couple of times in surprise. "I have good reasons sergeant." John gave as good a reassuring smile as he could and turned to Hans.

"You finished sir?" Hans stated, trying to mock his earlier statement.

"Almost," John replied, "Everyone but Commander Hans, Lieutenants Visitor and Shrak and Nurse Williams is dismissed, you four stay here," he ordered. Everyone but those he mentioned filed out of the room.

Everyone that had remained looked intently at the Captain, "The Gorn have developed a new weapon," he said grabbing their attention, "It is a toxin that is capable of killing any reptilian life." John gave a nervous smile, "Starfleet intelligence has assigned us to get a sample of this toxin and destroy the facility it is being made at. Let's be clear here, the destruction of the facility is our top priority, the Gorn cannot be allowed to possess such a destructive weapon."

Shrak looked at Lieutenant Visitor, John noticed, she was either wondering who was going to be in command or was concerned about her experience for this mission.

"Lieutenant Visitor will command the mission," John announced, noting the look of shock on Shrak's voice, "Lieutenant Shrak, you will command the marines on a boarding raid. You will take Nurse Williams to identify the toxin and secure it."

Chloe sat forward, her hands clasped, "And how do we get to the station sir?"

"You'll take an Argos shuttle," Hans added, "We'll be getting some intelligence on how to avoid detection."

"What about Sergeant Rashell?" Shrak asked, John noted there was some hostility in his voice. "If he is supposed to be here, how can he be on the marine team?"

"He's not going Lieutenant," John added, "This toxin is designed to kill Reptilians. That makes this mission too dangerous for Commander Hans, Ensign Gorkin and Sergeant Rashell." John paused for a second and looked at his table at the padds in front of him. Grabbing one of them he slid it across the table towards Visitor. "That's everything you need Lieutenant," John said, "Get familiar with it." Lieutenant Visitor nodded in response. "Everyone's dismissed," John announced rising from his seat and walking out of the briefing room.

Stardate 53200.7
USS Nightingales, Captain's Ready Room

John walked into his minute office and set his padds down on the table grabbing the isolinear chips from the table and inserting it into computer on the desk. "Computer, use the algorithm six zero two to decode this information," the computer buzzed for the second before it rejected the code. John slumped in his chair and rubbed his left hand over an eye. "No that is too easy," he said quietly, "Computer attempt to decode the chip with zeta zero two algorithm."

"Partial decoding complete," the computer announced, "One video and audio track accessible."

John shot himself bolt up in his chair as if he had received a jolt from the seat, "Computer display."

On the screen appeared the face of the late Commander Hawke, just as John had seen him before he died. John felt a small tingle of guilt build up inside of him over his death. There was an additional eerie feeling about seeing the Commander posthumously.

"Captain, if you are seeing this, then I have died. I hope it was in the line of duty. I know that now you are probably feeling some guilt over my death, please don't, you are a good commander and I knew it could happen someday. I know that during the Brave mission, I may not have been supportive and I am sorry for that. Hopefully this can make up for that. I looked into the Victory incident twenty years ago. It was completely classified by Starfleet Intelligence, what has come out is really rumour and speculation; most of it was spread by a Lieutenant Murray and the Victory's Captain. What is in the official report is on this disc, don't ask how I got it. But Captain, I have for security reasons classified it in several layers of encryption, I'm sorry for that, but I have to make sure only you can gain access to it now. Be careful, the Captain is now an Admiral with Intelligence and Lieutenant Murray is a senior Captain in the second fleet. If they found out we were investigating the incident, they may come after us. Watch yourself Captain, finding the truth could be dangerous."

Then the transmission ended abruptly.


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