USS Nightingale, Captain's ready room
Wilcox sat at his desk looking at the computer. Hans had completed eight hours of rescue operations and his initial report had been filed with the Captain just an hour ago. Hans had been thorough in his report, that Wilcox was still reading an hour later. The rescue had been hampered by the transporters and the internal communications still being offline. However in eight hours all twelve of the Brave's escape pods had been brought onboard. Hans had listed every crewmember that was rescued with a mini report on each one of them. Wilcox scanned the list, thirty two survivors had so far been found. It was better than nothing, and some of those people could help with the ship now. Wilcox had asked for their most senior officer to come to see him in his ready room as soon as he was released from sickbay. Lieutenant Commander Hans would also join them.
According to the report from Hans, only nine of the people who were rescued were actually fit for duty. Luckily for John, six were engineers, two operations and a helmsman. He could finally give some of his crew a little rest and hopefully repair as much as the ship as they could quicker.
John started to read the biography of the most senior member of their crew to be rescued. Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Regluan, an Arkarian who served as the Brave's assistant engineering officer. He had an illustrious career, which first began on the Brave as a junior engineering officer nearly two years ago. During the week of the Dominion Wars the Brave was involved in a skirmish with a Breen warship. The Brave took significant casualties in the Engineering section and the engineering officer and his assistant were both killed. There was a note of commendation on his record; he had stopped a warp core breach from occurring. After the battle, the Brave underwent a refit for two weeks. During that time Regluan was promoted to Lieutenant (Junior Grade) and placed as the assistant engineer.
John thought that it was his experience that denied him the role of the chief engineer, which he thought was a shame. He could very likely run an engineering deck and be good at it. John knew that there were ships out there that needed his skills and ability. Yet due to a technicality, he was denied the pleasure. But despite his skills, John had a nagging feeling that Command were looking after him when denying him the position. But he wasn't sure how.
When the door chime went he told the person to enter. John noticed how Hans now walked in followed by a person who resembled the Arkarian on the profile he had just been reading about. The forehead ridges looked fearsome and his nose looked impressively big as the man stood at attention in front of his desk.
"Stand at ease," he told the junior lieutenant in front of him. Hans walked round the desk to stand behind the Captain in his chair. John noted the gesture, a sign that he and the executive officer were united. "I've been informed that you were the most senior officer from the Brave to be rescued thus far," Wilcox said, his voice calm and collective, "I'm sorry for the loss of the Brave."
"Me too sir," the Arkarian replied, however John could not sense any sense of remorse in his voice, "I'm afraid that you will not find any more survivors sir," he continued, again his voice remained as if he was angry at the Captain. John tried not to take offence; he had met an Arkarian before and had experienced an aggressive nature from her as well.
"Why do you say that?" Wilcox asked.
"I was the last one out alive," Arkarian waivered a little, lowering his head as he spoke, "The bridge was completely destroyed and most of the top nine decks were exposed to space." Arkarian composed himself. "With our weapons gone and the ship half left to space, I gave the order to evacuate. I grabbed every crewmember I could, scanned for further life signs and then evacuated myself."
Wilcox sat back in his chair and gave a quick glance towards Hans. "That is a shame," Wilcox said, unlike the other two officers he couldn't hide his sadness about the loss of life. "For what it is worth Lieutenant, you performed admirably considering the circumstances," Wilcox added.
"Thank you sir," the man replied.
Wilcox looked at Hans and gave him a gentle nod of the head. Hans looked at the junior officer, "What happened before the evacuation?"
USS Brave, Bridge
Regluan ran his figures over the control panel, he had been running a diagnostic on the power regulation equipment around the bridge. He rarely spent time on the bridge, and barely spent time above deck 5. Regluan was not the most social of Starfleet; he didn't often spend time in the mess hall with his fellow crewmates, preferring to eat in his quarters. The routine on the bridge seemed very relaxed as compared to the constant bustle that seemed to fill engineering.
Regluan imagined for a second what it would be like to be a command officer. He briefly watched his Vulcan commanding officer sipping a herbal tea in his chair. It seemed like a relaxed way to serve. However Regluan considered that his controlled nature was nothing more than Vulcan psychology.
His console beeped in front of him, there was an outside signal coming in. "We're picking up a distress signal Captain," he announced.
The Captain stood up, "Location, who is it from?" he asked in his commanding voice.
"A Geckonian military vessel sir," their tactical officer, a slightly overweight Bolian announced, "Well inside Geckonian space."
The tactical officer pressed a button on the console and voice came on over the signal, "This is the Geckonian Military Patrol four five six seven, we are under attack by a fleet of Gorn vessels and are heavily outnumbered, we request any assistance that is available from all military units in the area. I say again this is the Geckonian...
The voice on the transmission seemed calm, much like Regluan imagined he would be in such a position. He knew from experience that he could control his nerves during combat, but he never really analysed his behaviour during the battle. He had hoped he had proven that he was a capable soldier.
The captain seemed to muse for a second; Regluan considered whether or not the Captain would go. But Starfleet regulations stated that he would respond to the distress signal no matter what.
"Set a course helm, maximum warp," the Captain ordered, he turned to face Regluan, "Get yourself down to engineering and make sure they know we are going into battle," the captain told him, his composure marvellously staying calm.
Regluan nodded his head and left the bridge, his short stint on the bridge coming to an abrupt end. It would be weeks before he would have the chance to get back onto the bridge, his schedule was fully booked.
USS Nightingale, Captain's ready room
Captain Wilcox leaned forward onto his desk, "what happened when you got to the source of the distress signal?" he asked. He knew about the end result, but what had gotten them there was still a mystery.
"We arrived in the midst of a major battle," Regluan continued, "There were at least a dozen Geckonian ships already destroyed, with a couple more dozen still engaged in the battle. There were nearly fifty Gorn vessels."
"The Gorn certainly meant business from the off then," Wilcox commented looking at Hans, who seemed move by what he had heard. John gave him a moment of thought, the man was hearing that his people were being killed by the hundreds and he could do nothing but stand and listen to this story.
"We hung in the battle for as long as possible," Regluan stated, "We were taking massive fire by the end of the battle and we started a fighting retreat, we were attempting to reach this nebula, but just as we were about to enter, the Gorn hit the bridge and most of it tore off in one go," he paused for a second, his eyes seeming distanced from the room he was in, "Lieutenant Marlick, the chief engineer was dead, half my crew were dead, I realised I was the most senior person alive and I decided to make a run for it."
"There was nothing you could do Lieutenant," Wilcox stated, "I wish I could offer you a couple of weeks off, but I'm afraid we are in a bad state," Wilcox paused and looked at Hans; he seemed so disturbed at what he was hearing. Wilcox needed to deal with that. "Lieutenant, could you please report to Engineering with the rest of your engineering crew and help Lieutenant V'ras with repairs."
The lieutenant nodded and left the room. Wilcox turned round in his chair, a move that was not easy due to the small size that the room was. "Commander, what's on your mind?"
Hans looked at the Captain and moved round to the other side of the desk. Wilcox turned round in his chair following him. For the first time since Wilcox had met the Geckonian, he sensed a real apprehension in the Commander.
"I guess I was worried for my countryman there for a while sir," the Geckonian stated, "The thought of hundreds of them dying was just a little too much to comprehend for a second."
"I'm sorry commander," Wilcox replied, "But we are your countrymen now," he added. Hans had after all left the Geckonian nation in order to join starfleet, there was no reason why he should consider anyone in the Geckonian nation as his countrymen.
"I know that sir," he paused for a second, "But you can't deny nature, I have Geckonian blood, DNA and mind. They are the same as me and I cannot explain why I feel the way I did. They just as much betrayed me as they feel I betrayed them."
Wilcox sympathised with the Geckonian, he had no idea how he would feel in similar circumstances, "I asked you only yesterday that I needed to know where your loyalties lay," he stated, "You told me that it was with Starfleet."
"Yes sir, yes it is," Hans replied quickly.
Wilcox looked at the Geckonian in the eye, standing up in the process, "I can't be sure of that." Something bothered the Captain greatly. Could he really trust this man as his second in command? Despite his good feeling about the man, there were some conflicting loyalties. "Commander, I need you to be honest," he said, "Will you follow my every order, even if it conflicts with the best interests of Geckonia?"
Hans didn't flinch, he looked at Wilcox in the eye, the yellow colour of his eyes gave Wilcox a slither of fear and he clenched his stomach for the response, "Sir, there is a saying on the Geckonian world, 'Duty or Death'."
Wilcox knew instantly what that meant. That no matter what, his executive officer would do his duty, otherwise there was no point in living. It was a great testament to the species and to Hans. Wilcox thought that there were several species that would rather run when the going got tough and even Starfleet officers would certainly do the same in some cases. Even the toughened marines were not immune to cowardice. Wilcox knew that words were worthless, but he had known no one who could give that kind of sincerity and conviction when telling him that. Wilcox confirmed what he needed to know, he could trust his executive officer.
"I need you to do a job for me commander," Wilcox stated, "I need you to prepare a class nine probe that can manipulate its warp field to look like the Nightingale." He paused and looked at the Commander, he wanted to make sure that the Commander knew what he meant, "I need to fool the Gorn into thinking where we are."
Suddenly the room shook a little; Wilcox pondered on what that could be. Another shake happened immediately and he nearly fell of his footing. "What the hell is that?"
USS Nightingale, Bridge
Captain Wilcox and Commander Hans walked onto the bridge of the vessel as a third shake of the craft rocked the ship, this time a little more. "Report," Wilcox demanded from Shrak who was on the bridge watch one more time.
"The Gorn are attempting to locate our exact position by using some sort of modulated torpedo," Shrak reported moving to the tactical console, replacing a crewman that Wilcox didn't recognise.
"It's similar to Borg technology," Williams added from across the bridge, "But far less sophisticated."
Wilcox stood in the middle of the bridge, "Lieutenant Visitor, how long can you keep them off our backs?"
The Lieutenant gave a worried look, "A matter of hours, perhaps four if we get lucky."
Wilcox bit his lip and turned to Hans, "Commander, I need you to get to engineering, tell them they have one hour to do whatever repairs they can," he paused for a second, "And you have one hour to get me my class nine probe ready."
Hans nodded his head and left the bridge. The senior crew on the bridge, Shrak, Visitor and Williams all looked at the Captain, he felt hot under the collar. Taking a big gulp he sat down in chair placing his hands onto the arms, "Get ready people, we're going in for round two."