USS Nightingale, Bridge
Lieutenant Shrak sat in the Captain's chair looking at the view screen in front of her. The soup of purples and blues mixed randomly on the view screen in a very pleasing pattern that she found very satisfying. It calmed her from the torment of her surroundings. Here she was on a ship of doom. The Executive Officer had been killed, as had seven others. All people, all those with names, families, loved ones and friends. They had all died on this worthless pile of crap; on a mission that could only be described as foolhardy at best. The Brave had disappeared too long ago in an area that was rife, under suspicious circumstances that Command should have known the circumstances. If she had been the admiral, she would have sent in a whole task force, found the culprits and blown them all to their version of Sha Ka Ree.
But she was not an admiral, she was not even a Captain. In reality she was a Lieutenant Junior Grade with limited influence beyond her own department except the occasional turn as watch officer. And she couldn't have been a good officer having been assigned to this vessel. A vessel so pathetic, that it could only be described by a term so rude on Andoria that it would too impolite to even think of it.
Yet, despite the limited offensive capabilities of the Nightingale, the little ship had its baptism of fire. And Shrak loved every minute of it. Sure she was sad at the loss of life, but she was a tactical officer, a warrior from a warrior people and she felt the aggressive urges pulsate through her noble blue blood.
Shrak wondered, if either of her parents felt the same urges. The last time she spoke to them some eight weeks ago, after learning of her assignment to the USS Nightingale, they were both preparing to invade Cardassia. She resented not having been given the chance to participate. But as her father noted, the invasion would take place in a couple of days and it would take about thirteen days to get there at high warp from Andoria. Instead a trip of one day to Earth to her new assignment was the more logical option, if not the correct one personally. As it turned out, only one of her parents would return alive. She gritted her teeth at the memory of her hearing the news of her mother's death, killed during the destruction of the excelsior class USS Titan.
Shrak stood up from the command chair and walked to the front of the bridge. At the helm was the young Lieutenant Visitor. The two of them had become well acquainted during the voyage so far. Like all but the commanding officer and executive officer, crew shared quarters, just like on Defiant class vessels. Shrak's shared quarters with Chloe meant the two had talked to each other in great detail. Shrak knew the young Lieutenant was a dedicated officer, like herself but instead of resenting this assignment, was proud of it.
It was not difficult to see why Chloe was proud of her position, for a young helmsman there were few Starships that needed helmsman. A pilot was lucky to get assigned to one; they were more likely to get shuttles to pilot on standard transport runs, as Chloe had started her career just four months previously. Shrak was also impressed by the skills of the young pilot. She had heard about how she used a shuttle to destroy a Jem'Hadar vessel against all odds, but she had now witnessed the young Lieutenant's skill when she miraculously directed the ship away from the debris field and past the Gorn vessel, without so much as breaking a sweat. It was very impressive.
Shrak had to admit to herself, she felt something more towards the young Lieutenant other than professional admiration; something on a much more personal level. As she looked at the young officer she admired her youthful looks.
Quickly she flinched at what she was thinking. She was a Starfleet officer, not some impulsive teenager looking to get her end away. Although, she had always found the pink skin of humans interesting, perhaps allowing herself the satisfaction of one indulgence would be enough to make this dull assignment a little better. Shrak found herself standing next the young Lieutenant as she was sat at the helm control typing in course corrections as the Captain had demanded to make sure no one would get a fix on their position.
"You're doing exceptionally well Lieutenant," Shrak commented.
"Thank you Lieutenant," Chloe replied smiling a little, barely looking up from the console as she shunted the ship into another position, this one rumbling the ship a little bit.
"And your piloting during the battle was above any expectation I had of a young pilot," Shrak felt a fake in this role as a complimentary senior officer. She was more often the one to rub people up the wrong way, the person who was aggressive, the one no-one liked.
"Well this ship is more manoeuvrable than most," Visitor replied smiling.
"Don't be so modest Lieutenant," Shrak said running a finger over the shoulder of the Lieutenant. The feel of her shoulder felt teasingly good. "Learn to accept that you have ability and take some pride in it."
Chloe noticed the finger run across the shoulder and didn't respond until after Shrak had slowly removed it. "I'll try to remember that in the future Lieutenant," she blushed slightly and went straight back to her work.
Shrak walked back to the command chair and smiled, the young Lieutenant knew that Chloe was in fact a target that she could have and the satisfaction would well worth the hard work. Shrak planned her next move, she wanted some satisfaction quickly, but didn't want to overwhelm the poor girl, after all she wouldn't know what would hit her when she finally went in for the kill.
"Captain on deck," shouted a crewman shouted from behind her. Shrak quickly turned around and noticed that Captain Wilcox and Lieutenant Commander Hans were both back on the bridge.
"Stand easy everyone," Wilcox said, "Lieutenant Shrak, give me an update."
Shrak had to quickly switch personalities. "We've been moving every couple of minutes as you instructed in order to stop anyone getting a lock on our position," Shrak paused, "So far we haven't heard anything of the Gorn, they might not be out there."
"They're out there Lieutenant," Hans replied, "Sir with all due respect there is no other place for us to hide and it was open space after the nebula, we would be detectable if we had continued."
"So despite hiding here, the Gorn know exactly where we are," Wilcox continued.
To Shrak it was an obvious statement, and one that showed the poor position they were in. The Gorn would know where they were and yet they went in here to hide.
"Lucky for us this nebula is huge," Wilcox replied.
"And the nebula will affect their shields and scanners, just as it has," Shrak added, "But still sir," she continued, trying for as stern a voice as she could, "We are trapped like Angolian fish in a barrel."
"Well at least we are a very small fish in a very large barrel," replied Wilcox giving a smile.
Shrak raised her eyebrows in a disapproval of the Captain's statement. It didn't mind how big the nebula was, or how little the ship was; they were trapped and all the Gorn needed to do was to wait them out. She had estimated that at their current rate, they had about six days before they would need to attempt a break out. Otherwise they would run out of rations and water.
"Commander Hans, you have the bridge," Wilcox stated, giving the Geckonian a nod. Shrak thought about the prospect of having the Geckonian take a watch, he had yet to do so.
"Yes sir," replied the Geckonian, "May I ask where you will be?"
"Back in sickbay," John said, "I've got something to take care of down there," he said. Shrak wondered what he could be referring to, but chose not to question it. If he wanted the bridge crew to know he would have come out with what exactly he was doing. "But first I need something from my quarters."
"Captain," that was Lieutenant Visitor, Shrak noticed, "Can I have a word with you please sir?" she asked meekly. Shrak noticed that she seemed very timid in front of the Captain, despite her obvious skill, she still had that Academy grime on her, that meant all officers should be spoken to as if they were gods. Shrak would have to work on that.
Shrak approached her security suite on the bridge as Lieutenant Visitor and Captain Wilcox entered his office. Hans took up a position standing in front of the command chair. His hands poised behind his back in a grip. She noted every gesture of the lizard, the officer that was not the executive officer.
USS Nightingale, Captain's Office
Wilcox sat behind his desk as quickly as he could from walking in off the bridge. Lieutenant Visitor wanted to speak to him for a moment, and it was his job to listen. He couldn't have another officer go off the handles. John felt a sharp stab of pain in his stomach, guilt over his actions earlier. But they were behind him now, he was a man who had been brought back from the edge of an abyss and he was going to make sure that he never went there again. He was going to be a good Commander.
"I'm a little worried about our speed sir," Lieutenant Visitor stated as soon as the door had fully slid shut, "According to my calculations, the Federation border is three days and seventeen and a quarter hours away sir. At warp six."
Wilcox mulled over the news for a second, biting his lip, he wasn't expecting this conversation, though perhaps he should have been thinking about it. At least one of his officers was on the ball.
"I take it you've calculated it to the nearest Starbase as well?" Wilcox asked, knowing that the young officer had probably thought of several scenarios and with each one a corresponding time.
"Yes sir, it would take us six and a half days," she paused for a second, "The USS Hood is actually closer, but that is still four days and fifteen and a half hours away."
Wilcox raised his eyebrows, "And that's assuming that they are where they are supposed to be Lieutenant." Which, Wilcox contemplated, depended on whether that Command had actually noticed the Nightingale go missing, whether the Gorn had not attacked the Hood and another dozen or so situations that could put the USS Hood anywhere from where it is suppose to be to roughly fourteen light years away. That was not a good thought.
"I know sir," she paused for a second, "There is another suggestion I have sir."
Wilcox lent back in his chair, admiring the young officer, who during the time he had wasted, she had been doing calculations on how to get them out of this mess.
"Go ahead Lieutenant," Wilcox smiled.
"Geckonia sir," she paused slightly, "If we set a course for Geckonia, at warp six, it would take us only two days and eight hours." Her eyes looked intent on the idea and John felt the eagerness and the naivety of youth flow through her. Despite the fact that both the Geckonia and the Nightingale had been attacked by the Gorn, there was no way of knowing if the Geckonian military would allow them to get close, and the Nightingale couldn't take on any more damage. There was also the small matter of the Gorn fleet, where were they. For all John knew, the Gorn had already surrounded the planet and were beginning the ground offensive, which would make Geckonia the worst place to go.
John gave a brief smile, he wouldn't tell the young officer this, but he would commend her to Starfleet for her ingenuity. She was after all the only officer that seemed to have done anything positive during the last few hours. "Thank you Lieutenant," Wilcox said, "I will keep that under advisement, please resume your post." Wilcox used his remote control underneath the desk to open the door, giving Lieutenant Visitor a reassuring smile. She nodded politely, as was expected and walked back out on to the bridge.
Gorn Imperial Cruiser Vor, Bridge
General Slov stood like a stick had been stapled to his back and fixed to the floor. The lack of chairs on a Gorn ship gave most in the Gorn military an added incentive to complete their work quickly. Their reptilian form gave them many advantages, but stamina was certainly not one. Slov knew that he could cope with the long hours standing and he expected nothing less from his crew. As his former mentor once told him, the strongest survive, the weaker die
. Little did his mentor know that he was foreseeing his own fate and it would be Slov who would administer the killer blow. Slov remembered the taste of blood that day on his lips and the feeling of triumph.
Now, twenty years later he was under the same pressure as his former mentor. But instead of an entire army holding up his plans, it was one little ship. The human cowards had hidden inside a nebula and Slov needed to make sure they didn't escape. If they did, they could inform Starfleet about his actions against the Brave and them. That would get a response, probably an assault fleet, he would have to retreat and then his own death would be assured, if not from a member of his crew, then by an enemy at home.
"Scans are still negative," a warrior shouted across the bridge, "Perhaps they suffered more damage than we thought." The assumption was obvious, the Nightingale was destroyed.
Slov instinctively knew it would be too good to be true. A Starfleet vessel would carry dozens of engineers, each one a magician who could turn rocks into replicators. "No," Slov replied, "They are in there, hiding like scared dogs." Slov paused, his mind rattled with scenarios, possibilities, outcomes and actions. "Prepare a barrage of magnetometric guided charges," Slov stated, "If we can't use sensors, we'll just have to try something else."