The USS Nightingale has arrived at the large debris field that we detected and due to our proximity the field obstructing our sensors is now diminished. We are now able to complete more thorough scans. So far we have confirmed very little, other than there is no wreckage of any Starfleet or Federation vessel, which bodes well that the USS Brave, she may still be out here.
USS Nightingale, Bridge
John stood over the science station looking deep within the screen at the scan data that Williams had brought up. There was nothing concrete on what was out there. John had hoped for a little more clarity than he was being given. All he knew was that there was little evidence that the USS Brave was still in the area, in one piece or, dreading the thought, otherwise.
"Definitely a number of Geckonian vessels," Williams replied bringing up a couple of the hull fragments on the computer screen, with the computer showing a mesh of what would complete the ship. "Judging from the hull components we have here, I think we will be looking at about sixteen vessels possibly more."
"Continue with your analysis Mr Williams," John ordered, "Let me know as soon as you've identified the other hull signatures." Williams nodded and continued with some other scans. It seemed almost odd that the computer hadn't figured out what the other ships were, but it was not impossible that these ships were not known to the Federation.
John walked over to navigation at the front of the bridge where Visitor was busy keeping track of the fragments that were far from stationary, making course corrections as she avoided the ship from being struck by large fragments the size of houses, "You keeping on top of the debris?" John asked confidently. Lieutenant Visitor nodded as she instructed the ship on another course correction.
"It would be easier if we kept a further distance sir," she stated.
"I know Lieutenant," John replied placing his hand on her shoulder sympathetically, he knew how hard it was to pilot a ship in these conditions, "But we need to be as close as possible to get better readings with all this sensor interference."
John's internal thought was busy, he knew now that something had happened in the vicinity of the area that was big, sixteen Geckonian vessels had been destroyed, the USS Brave had responded to something and another hull fragment was out there. Was that Gorn or someone else?
Williams suddenly gasped that brought the whole bridge to concentrate on him. John waited a few seconds for the inexperienced officer to compose himself. "Captain," he shouted from across the room, John would have preferred a little more composure than that from a senior officer, "Another vessel is on sensors, approaching at high warp."
John immediately turned to Shrak, the Andorian was already busy on her sensor readouts, "Lieutenant, report, is it a Geckonian vessel?" His quick question seemed to have no effect on the speed of the Andorian's work, she continued at the same rushed pace.
Shrak studied her scans, her antenna twisting and turning in weird and speedy ways that almost gave John stomach ache, "I don't think so," she stated, "it looks like a Gorn heavy cruiser, but I don't recognise the design, must be one of their new ones Captain."
John refocused his attention immediately to the viewscreen which now showed a tactical overlay and pushed his lips together tightly. It felt like it was no coincidence that they turned up just as he arrived, was his initial suspensions correct, but could he be that presumptuous. "Lieutenant yellow alert, keep shields down," John ordered quickly as he walked over to his command chair to press the internal communications button, "Commander Hawke and Lieutenant Commander Hans to the bridge please." Both of his senior officers were in cargo bays studying fragments of the debris field, looking for weapon signatures.
A short buzz sounded to announce the change in alert status, John noted a couple of officers changing stations and Williams changing his posture, to being more alert. Hans arrived on the bridge first; his breathing was rushed, as if he had raced to the bridge.
"Captain," he announced his arrival in his usual unemotional voice, "you asked for me to report in."
"A Gorn vessel is approaching our position at high warp," stated John, "what can we expect?"
Hans walked down to beside the Captain and looked at the viewscreen, where the sensor telemetry was being displayed. "Gorn vessels would never be allowed access to Geckonian space without a challenge, and certainly not freely allowed to roam the space." Hans' cold manner and the way he used the term of Geckonian made him seem unattached, but John suspected that deep in his logic and his thoughts was hatred and anger directed towards the Gorn.
"So what can we expect from them Commander?" John repeated his question as the officer had not given him an answer.
"It would depend on whether or not the Gorn view the Federation as being allies with Geckonia or see your motives here as being anything but neutral," Hans would not speculate as to what this ship wanted, and John realised he was asking the wrong question.
"If they were hostile Commander," he paused for a second, hoping that this might yield some positive answer, "What would they do?"
Hans raised an eyebrow quickly, "If they were hostile," he paused briefly, "they would first board this vessel with a tactical team, designed to draw your attention away from space battle that they would then start."
John immediately saw the threat involved; a boarding party could cause havoc and reduce their ability to return fire should fleet action start. There strategy seemed high risk, but also ingenious at the same time. "We should raise shields then?" John asked.
Hans shook his head, "they would see that as a hostile act and immediately fire."
Commander Hawke walked onto the bridge, "Gorn vessel sir?" he asked.
John nodded and pointed to the viewscreen, "About thirty seconds out."
Hawke joined the Captain and Hans in the centre of the room and gave a look to John that he instantly recognised as a fear of combat. "Are we going to raise shields?"
"No," John replied quickly, "Lets see what they do first. No need to aggravate them now is there."
John watched as the Gorn vessel came to a standstill in front of them. It fearsome bulk unsettling him, it had the look of a warship, a killer and of a predator.
"Captain," Lieutenant Visitor spoke up, "sir with all due respect we are too close to the debris field, should we need to leave, we will be impaired by the hull fragments."
"Noted," John replied, moving the ship might seem like an aggressive act, something he wanted to try and avoid.
"The Gorn vessel is hailing us," Shrak announced from across the room, John looked at her and nodded.
Turning round to the viewscreen he saw the green scales of a Gorn appear, it had been the first time that he had ever seen a Gorn and he was amazed by the instinctual fear that he felt in his stomach, a fear that he should run.
"Captain, I am General Slov, Commander of the Imperial Cruiser Vor and the Gorn fleet in the area," his slow voice irritated the ears of Captain Wilcox, "Are you lost Captain?"
John stood for a moment before stepping forward and distancing himself from the other officers, "I am Captain John Wilcox, Commander of the USS Nightingale, a Federation vessel. Can you explain your presence here?" John heard his own voice, it sounded still enough, despite his internal fear, but was it enough to be convincing to the Gorn adversary.
"You have no jurisdiction in Geckonian space Captain, I do not have to answer to you," Slov replied over the screen, something John knew, but anyone with good intentions would have immediately announced them, which meant that he certainly didn't. "What are you doing here?"
"We are responding to a distress call received from this location," John replied, it was a lie, but the Gorn might believe it, if the USS Brave hadn't of faced them yet.
"We too are responding to a distress call," there was something in the voice that made John not trust the voice; it was too slow, too thoughtful. "It would appear that we are too late, have you rescued any of the survivors?"
The concern did not seem genuine from John's point of view, every moment that this conversation carried on the more troubled John felt. John gave a quick glance over to Hans, who was staring at the screen with despise on his face. John walked over to him and whispered into his ear, "Commander, whatever happened between Gorn and Geckonia you must remain objective."
Hans turned to face John, his eyes now reddened with rage, "Sir," he said calmly, "it is hard to remain objective when you are dealing with that monster who personally murdered nearly a million of my people."
John turned round to the viewscreen, hopefully Slov would assume they were talking about survivors, "What do you mean?"
"He was second in Command of the land invasion of Geckonia," Hans stated, "He executed any Geckonian he found, including civilians."
"I see you have a survivor on your ship Captain," Slov paused for a second and smiled something that gave a further shiver down John's back, "I could take him back to Geckonia to spare you the trouble."
"That is awfully kind of you," John stated as he walked towards the screen again, he hoped that his smile would seem real, but he himself felt like a fraud, "but this is Lieutenant Commander Hans, a member of my crew."
"The Hans?" Slov's voice was higher than normal and bitterness seemed to be embedded in it, "The hero Hans?"
John turned to Hans, who had turned his anger into a defiant look, "I defeated Slov at the Battle of Tumick Pass," Hans stated, "I lost over six thousand men during the battle, Slov lost nearly one hundred thousand. It caused the withdrawal of the Gorn fleet in the first war. According to Geckonian intelligence, Slov lost his rank, his privileges and nearly his life."
"I could have done," Slov added over the viewscreen, "But I am not as soft as any Geckonian, I killed the real culprit of our failure, General Ipil and took his place."
"Must have been hard General for you to kill the person who had mentored you through your career," Hans eyes narrowed, "How dedicated you must be to your cause. Willing to sacrifice your men, your friends. How noble of you."
Slov seemed to shudder, John noted, a kink in the reptilian armour. "You must hand that Geckonian scum over immediately Captain as there are outstanding charges of war crimes against him," Slov shouted down the comm line, John didn't like where this was going.
"There are charges against you too Slov," Hans replied angrily, "the only difference is that yours are real, whereas mine are fabricated."
Slov angrily hit the panel that was resting in front of him, "Turn in that murderer Captain, or I will open fire on another Federation vessel."
John's attention was caught, he looked at the General and using a calmed voice asked the only question that was relevant. "You are responsible for the disappearance of the Brave?"
"Yes," replied Slov confidently, proudly raising his head up a little, "And I will destroy any vessel, Federation or Geckonian that gets in the way of me taking what is rightfully Gorn."
"Cut him off," John ordered sharply, "Red alert, raise shields and power up the weapons."
"Captain," Shrak suddenly shouted from across the room, "transporter signals from across the ship, they are attempting to board the vessel."
John accessed the internal communications on his commbadge quickly, clicking to make sure that all channels would be open, "All hands, intruder alert, arm yourselves."