Stardate 53113.7. Captain's Office, USS Nightingale
John sat in his office, his now clear of all the intelligence reports that had once lay across his desk in a jumbled heap. He had not tidied them away as such, but had more of shoved them in a place where no one, not even he, could see them. John's basic chair still felt uncomfortable, as if something in it was sticking him in the back, trying to force him to stand. He had spoken to V'ras about it, but the Vulcan engineer had just told him that the chair was optimum for his body shape. Either the Vulcan was lying and having a joke on him, or something else that V'ras could not detect was wrong with the chair.
The new security crewmembers were now aboard with the Marines. The Marines had seemed enthusiastic with their assignment, when asked; one of them just replied that they were glad to get off the station. John wondered what they think they were going to do on a search and rescue ship on a mission to find a missing vessel. It wasn't as if the Nightingale was going to be looking for trouble; John was adamant he was going to try to avoid trouble as much as possible.
John was waiting for his mission advisor. Lieutenant Commander Hans had not reported in as of yet and John was getting impatient with the waiting. It was the Lieutenant Commander that was holding him up from leaving Starbase one-one-two, as soon as he reported in, they were going to leave. John tapped on the small desk top computer and accessed his personnel files. Looking through the list of appraisals that he could access, he saw no problems with his effort, attendance or punctuality, perhaps there was something else going on which was delaying the Geckonian.
Just as John was about to request the computer to locate the Lieutenant Commander the door chimed, "enter," ordered John from behind his desk, his eyes switching gaze from the screen to the door now, his hand pressing the off button on his computer and resting it on the table in a casual fashion.
A tall man, with green scaly skin walked into the room, his bold head feature yellow eyes and small slits for a nose, his mouth was wide, with a natural looking smile. The man's eyes switched to looking at John, "Lieutenant Commander Hans," he announced, "reporting for duty sir." The Geckonian's posture was a pure attention, his eyes now fixed on something on the back of the office wall, he did not move, he was perfectly still.
"Welcome aboard Commander," John said politely, "take you a long time to find the bridge?"
"Sir?" asked Hans, his voice full of surprise.
"You are late mister."
"Sorry sir," replied Hans, "I was merely setting up my quarters. They needed significant changes in order to allow me to live aboard ship."
John sat back in his chair and offered a hand to the chair in front of his desk, "what changes were necessary for you to able to live on the ship, this isn't a pleasure boat mister."
Hans did not move from the spot, his posture stuck in the same position as if he was a statue, one that talked. "I did not suggest that sir," he replied quickly, dismissing the comment from the Captain, John almost took offence and was about to reply when Hans continued, "its just my quarters were not hospitable to my species, I require the ambient temperature to be at forty two degrees centigrade, the humidity to be at sixty per cent, the lighting was too high and the bunk had to be removed."
John sat back, if all these changes were needed for him to survive on the ship; how was he able to survive now, "are those conditions the same as on your home world Commander?"
"What about when you are on the bridge, or elsewhere for that matter?" asked John more curious than anything else.
"I wear a special undergarment sir," Hans replied, he pulled up his shirt quickly to show the black vest that was hidden underneath his perfect Starfleet uniform, "it supplied my body with enough heat and moisture to keep me alive in the normal conditions aboard a Starfleet vessel." He returned the uniform into its normal position and stood back to the perfect attention.
"And you can't wear that device all the time?"
"No sir," replied Hans, "the device, as you call it, harms my outer epidermis, I require to undergo rejuvenation every night, and to reduce further damage to my skin, I require spending as much time in my original atmospheric conditions."
John nodded his head, "and you needed to set up that now as you probably needed certain equipment from your quarters on the Starbase."
Hans nodded in response. John sighed, "I'm sorry to have a go at you Commander, if I had realised..."
"No apology needed sir," Hans butted in.
"Commander if you aren't going to sit down, could you please stand at ease, you are making me feel too informal at the moment," John ordered abruptly, he had felt uncomfortable at the sight of the Lieutenant Commander stood in such formal manners, and he wanted to change the subject quickly from his earlier unnecessary scolding. "What is your opinion on the current situation?" John asked quickly.
Hans adopted an at ease posture, something that John seemed to think still looked a little too formal for what he wanted, but as the Geckonian wanted to be like that, it was as much as he was probably going to get. "The USS Brave has gone missing," Hans replied, John raised his eyebrows in astonishment, "I mean sir, I have no more information than you do, Geckonians prefer to speak of facts and not make assumptions."
"Understood," replied John, "let me ask you this, the Gorn, have you seen their fleet move like this before?"
Hans nodded quickly, "When the Gorn attacked my people sir."
"You think they might have attacked the Geckonian Alliance again?" John asked quickly. Hans turned his head and looked at John, then John internally slapped his forehead for such a stupid question, "of course you don't want to say, you don't make assumptions," he sighed turning his head slightly.
"If they have, they have one hell of a fight on their hands," Hans said proudly.
"What do you mean by that Commander?"
"The Geckonian fleet is more than a match for the Gorn military," Hans replied, his face smiling even more, John realised that the Geckonian mouth naturally turned upwards and that when they smiled it looked even bigger, almost creepy.
"Where do your loyalties lie Commander?" John asked, his voice strewed with a serious tone, his eyes fixed on the bright yellow of the Geckonian officer's.
"With Starfleet sir," he replied confidently, "but you cannot ask me not to care about my people," he replied, "I joined Starfleet for my people."
"I wish for my people to join the Federation," Hans replied proudly, "I am not the only one, and the motion has been gathering a lot of momentum in our government over the past five years," Hans paused, his bright, forked tongue gracing the outer edges of his mouth, "there were rumours that after the Dominion War that the government would make the official application."
John sat back in his chair, that information alone seemed to draw new light on the situation, if the Geckonians were so willing to join the Federation; that would make it seem unlikely that they were aggressors, if there were any at all. It would have to be either a Gorn attack or a natural event that had affected the USS Brave.
"Okay Commander," John said smiling, "that will be all for now, I've set up a meeting for eight hundred hours in the morning, we should have reached the last known whereabouts of the Brave by then," he paused for a second and looked at his computer, "I want you to prepare a regional briefing," John announced, "I and some of my crew are completely new to this area of space, I spent most of my career near the Romulan border."
Hans nodded a crisp response, John was beginning to get an idea of what made his mission advisor click; he seemed all about duty. He wondered if all Geckonians were the same, or if this was a more dedicated officer than most. John could probably look that up on the computer, it would probably have somewhere in the vast species database a more detailed psychological profile of the species with their generalist attributes, but John preferred to stay away from such stereotypes, as the odd one never followed those traits. John had learnt from experience, thinking you know what your enemy is going to do can be fatal if you act on that presumption.
"Dismissed Commander," John said opening the door remotely from his desk. Hans nodded again, stood to a crisp, parade like attention and left the room in complete silence, but text book perfect.
At the door was Lieutenant Shrak, she waited for Hans to pass her, not a word or a glance switched between the two, though Shrak seemed obviously prepared to return a 'sir' if and when necessary.
"Come on in," welcomed John as Hans moved far enough away to allow the junior Lieutenant into the room, "what can I do for you?"
"Just wanted to report that all the security teams you sent me are doing great sir," she said politely as the door behind her slide quietly shut, "but I do have one problem."
"What is that Lieutenant?" asked John, knowing deep down that it was probably that the number was too short.
"I don't have enough men," she replied her antennae straightening up.
"I could barely ask for the twenty two men that are supposed to be standard Lieutenant," John announced, his voice almost apologetic, yet a sense of seniority stiffening the clear explanation, "we were only going to carry fourteen in the first place, the whole fleet is shorthanded, we can't expect to be only ship to fully manned."
Shrak narrowed her eyes slightly, "how can I expect to keep this ship secure unless I have a complete department?" she asked, annoyance firm in her voice.
"The same as Lieutenant V'ras has to cope with not having fifteen engineers, or that Lieutenant Visitor has to cope with only her and two other helmsmen," replied John, his voice now more dominant that he thought he would have to go with the Andorian, but as Jenkins had said to him, they did like to be a little aggressive.
Shrak stood herself to attention, "yes sir," she said crisply; John thought she might have been a little mocking.
"Don't worry Lieutenant," John added, "we will all help each other," he said smiling, she did not return the gesture.
"I better get back to my station sir."
"Dismissed," John replied opening the door to her. She quickly turned and left the room.
John sighed in relief; he had not thought that Shrak, of all people, would have acted like that, but the stress on the people running the departments were high. He had noted that some of the crew were working double shifts at the moment. Shrak had probably worked even more having just two people and twenty two jobs to do. John imagined bringing it up further when both had calmed down, but then saw his own body probably being all bruised from a confrontation that had gotten out of hand. He decided to leave it be and let her calm down from the problem, her department had just got a lot of people to do the man hours needed, her workload would probably decrease considerably.
John tapped on the comm button and told Dan to make preparations depart. Dan acknowledged the request and said they would be ready to leave in five minutes. John felt he could do nothing useful in that time but still didn't want to enter the bridge so soon. He sat in his chair, the uncomfortable furniture still pushing into his back. After two minutes he decided on giving up and got out of his chair and walked onto the bridge to oversee the departure from the starbase.