Stardate 53115.6: Briefing Room, USS Nightingale
The senior staff all sat at chairs in the Briefing Room, situated just behind the bridge and adjacent to the command and control room. Each of the senior officers had been summoned to the briefing that Captain wanted to hold late last night. Lieutenant Commander Hans was on duty for most of last night, and what would have normally made a human look the worse for wear, Hans looked as fresh as a daisy. Doctor Burton was obviously trying to avoid eye contact with Commander Hawke who was sat opposite her. Her eyes quickly flicking her eyes up to meet his were met by a cold stare from the executive officer. Her only recourse was to stare back at the table and shift her body to redistribute her light weight on the chair.
Torlik was sat motionless in his chair further down on the table, sat next to the chief science officer, Paul Williams, was engaging in conversation with Lieutenant Visitor. V'ras sat ignoring everyone at the table, just reading a data padd. Apart from the conversation between Williams and Visitor, there was little noise being made in the room.
Captain John Wilcox walked into the room, right on the dot of eight hundred hours, looking round at everyone. "Good morning," he said breezily at everyone, there was a reply of greetings that John could barely here. He pulled up to his chair and laid a hand across the back looking down the table. Everyone he saw at the table seemed to want to be somewhere else, even his mission advisor seemed to be somewhere that wasn't on the ship. I'm going to have to motivate these people quickly,
John thought to himself, otherwise I have no chance on this mission.
"Okay let's be clear," John said out loud to the room, "we are going to find the Brave."
V'ras gave a quick glance up. John noticed this and moved his head to look directly at the Vulcan chief engineer, "have you something to add Lieutenant V'ras?"
"Captain," he replied dispassionately, "it seems highly unlikely that the USS Brave would survive this long without any word from them." The Vulcan tipped his head slightly, "even the most poorly equipped vessel should have either been noticed or sent out a signal by now."
John shook his head as he pulled out the chair and carefully placed himself at the head of the table. "It all depends what happened to them Lieutenant," John said.
"With all due respect sir," Hawke piped up quickly, turning his attention for the first time since entering the briefing room away from Lieutenant Commander Burton to the Captain, something that John hadn't missed. "Starfleet seem a little late in sending us, what on Earth can we do this late on?"
John gave a stare at Dan, wondering what he was doing, blatantly forming a rigid barrier between the two of them, as an executive officer. He was supposed to be the one that gave alternatives, but at the end of the day supported John and get behind the mission. His outburst was nothing more than a condemning the mission before they had really started it. John didn't need that kind of behaviour from his first officer or his friend.
"Commander Hawke, if Starfleet is sending us, I am sure they think that the Brave is alive and well," John paused for a moment looking down the line of concentrating faces all looking at him. It dawned on him for the first time that he was responsible for all their safety, it was his decisions that would mean they would live or die, it had not occurred to him until this moment that it was on his shoulders that everyone would get home, "we just need to make sure we find her before it is too late."
Torlik sat himself upright, "with our sensors, finding the USS Brave shouldn't be a problem," he announced, "we do have the best sensors in the fleet."
John smiled, at least that was some positive thought, "medical facilities can more than cope with the casualties that are expected from the USS Brave." John looked to his left hand side, where Lieutenant Commander Burton sat; she looked up briefly and smiled at John.
Shrak raised her head and her antennae pointed forward, "Captain, what about combat potential?"
John had tried not to think about combat potential, certainly there was a possibility of it, going near any missing ship's last known position carried certain risks, including combat, but John was still holding out for another solution. Now Shrak had pointed out the obvious, probably what everyone on the ship knew about, John was unable to hide away from the problem, his ship was in no condition for a sustained combat role. If she had to rescue people under fire there would be no hope.
Hans leaned forward, "the Gorn weaponry is inferior to that of Starfleet's."
"It's not a question of whether their weaponry is comparable to Starfleet Commander," replied Hawke looking down the table at the Geckonian sat at the opposite end, "its about the fire power that we can offer in a combat role."
Shrak nodded her head vigorously, "Gorn vessels tend to carry six disruptor banks and multiple torpedo launchers," Shrak looked at Hans with a cold stare, John noted the look and wondered what it was trying to convey. "The Nightingale has only three phaser banks, two forward and one rear, and only two forward facing standard torpedo tubes," Shrak explained.
Hawke looked at Shrak and then shot a look at John. John sighed, "Okay so we are not the most armed vessel in the fleet, but that doesn't mean that we can't handle ourselves, our shields are the strongest in Starfleet."
Shrak nodded, "and our armour is fantastic," she paused for a moment, "but against the standard Gorn cruiser, we would stand no chance."
"We don't know that," John said abruptly, "Lieutenant Commander Hans, you've had the most experience fighting the Gorn," everyone looked shocked and turned to face the Geckonian officer, whose expression did not change one little bit, "what can you tell us about their tactics?"
Hans raised his eyebrows, "the Gorn have developed a rather unique method of attack," he said calmly, "traditionally the Gorn like to board ships, three to four groups of five men and start fire fights across the vessel," he paused for another second tightening his lips, "it is designed to separate a crew from their stations giving their ships an easier target."
Hawke stood up, "doesn't that mean that they lose the men on the ship if they destroy it?"
Hans shook his head, "although the risk is high for the crewmembers that do beam aboard, their losses are generally less than forty per cent, the Gorn will tend to beam back their death squads as the ship systems fail."
"A sure fire way to make sure your opponent is distracted in battle," John said quietly, "what options do we have in order to combat this tactic?"
Shrak positioned herself slightly more forward, "we could just raise our shields should we have any contact with a Gorn ship," she suggested, sarcasm strewn throughout her voice. V'ras raised his eyebrows before shrugging at John, which John thought was about as useful as Shrak's suggestion. John cast his eye down the rest of the table to the quiet group of officers.
Torlik was about to say something, but suddenly sat back in his chair. John waited for a few seconds for the ensign to talk, for the past few days, John had been impressed by the abilities of Torlik. However his attitude was something that needed vast improvements. Even his crew felt that he had a little bit of an attitude problem. "Ensign Torlik," John addressed in a stern voice, the only way that Torlik seemed to respond to, "did you have something to add?"
Torlik looked up at the Captain, a cold stare coming from his eyes like a light from a lighthouse penetrating across the room at John. John felt that uneasy feeling with Torlik again. "No sir."
John contemplated his options, he could dress down the officer now right in front of the rest of the senior crew, his posture and attitude certainly deserved it, but it would not have brought out the best in Torlik, only make the situation worse. He could dress him down latter, but that wouldn't do any good, any inappropriate behaviour or mistakes should be addressed immediately, or the effect of the lesson becomes significantly poorer. In fact if left too long the officer might not take any notice of the message. John decided to take no notice of the officer's behaviour and concentrate on the mission.
Shrak raised his antenna's in a more threatening tone, "what about we shoot first should we find a Gorn vessel in Geckonian space," she suggested with a tone that hid no sarcasm or joking tone, she was being serious, "after all, we all know that the Geckonian and Gorn aren't exactly friends, I would find it hard to believe that a Gorn would be welcome in Geckonian terriroty."
Hans leaned forward, clasping his hands yet again, "The Geckonian government orders all its military officers to shoot on sight any Gorn inside the Geckonian territory."
"Would the Geckonians send out a distress signal if they were under attack by the Gorn?" Shrak asked Hans looking vaguely at the officer.
Hans widened his eyes, had he been mammalian he might have raised his eyebrows John thought, but he was a reptilian and so did not have any eyebrows. His posture was also vastly different to those of other mammalian species, he sat bolt upright in his chair, his head turning slowly rather than at the speed that he would have expected. This was the first time that John had met a reptilian officer in Starfleet and was nervous about some of the problems that could arise from his being on the ship, especially his heat requirements.
"The Geckonian military is a proud organisation," Hans replied, "I have no idea if they would send out a distress signal, it would depend very much on the individual Captain and crew of the ship."
John sniggered silently to himself, Hans had not committed yet again. He was not going to be a useful mission advisor if he could not offer any advice other than information, which would more than likely be limited to the little data that John had obtained through Starfleet Intelligence. John raised his hand and the room fell silent and all the eyes in the room were concentrating on him.
"We'll make this easy," John said, "Lieutenant Visitor please set a course for the last known position of the USS Brave at the position of the Geckonian distress signal," John ordered, the young girl nodded her head in response which John himself replied in the same gesture.
"Have we got permission to enter Geckonian space Captain?" a concerned Dan asked.
"I don't care," John's defiance of the Geckonian borders present in his orders, "one of our ships went missing in their territory; responding to a Geckonian distress call, we will enter their territory."
A sudden hush fell over the collection of the senior officers, John wished he had been a telepath or empathic at this moment, listening to each of their thoughts. It would certainly make controlling easier and not a gamble on their collective and individual responses. "Everyone by Commander Hawke is dismissed," John said looking at his first officer.
Everyone except Commander Hawke stood up and shuffled quietly out of the room. John barely heard Ensign Williams voice just outside of the briefing room pointing out his little involvement in the room, though his comment was not a moan or a complaint as such, it was a simple observation. Commander Hawke stayed perfectly still in his seat, looking impassively at John.
"I thought you were going to be a supportive executive officer," John asked his first officer with an annoyed tone.
"I am a supportive first officer," Dan replied leaning slightly forward.
"You are not," John paused for a moment, his mind filled with anger at the earlier comments his first officer had made, some things which did not support the mission, "we are the command staff Dan, we need to sell the mission to the crew and not damn it in front of the other officers."
"I can't support the mission," Dan replied, "I think Starfleet have been idiots, the USS Hood has been in the area since the Brave has been missing and could have been used to search for the vessel."
John shook his head, "The Hood has not been sat on her warp core doing nothing, she's being conducting scans for us and protecting the border."
"Captain," the response from Dan was sharp, "the crew of the USS Brave are mostly likely dead and you know it."
"That is not for you to say in front of the senior officers, your job is to give me alternatives to plans; give backing to the missions and to carry out my orders," John explained, his voice sounding bossy, "you so far have not done your job."
Dan was about to open his mouth, probably to complain John thought, but said nothing. Instead he stood up, at attention.
"You are dismissed Commander," John ordered.
Dan stormed out of the room, his posture not exactly as John would have wanted from his most senior officer and friend. John wondered what the next problem would be on his crew, what was the next disaster that would completely crash down on him. His fingers tapping on the table he sat at made a relaxing rhythmic tune, but did nothing to alleviate the tension that John felt or solve the impending disaster he foresaw on his ship. For not the first time since getting Command, he wished he was somewhere else, anywhere else, but in Starfleet.