Captain's Log: My crew in the last hour have done the remarkable. With the help of additional engineers, V'ras had managed to improve the situation drastically. We are now capable of warp nine, have shields at ninety percent and we have both our forward phaser banks online not to mention one of the two torpedo launchers able to fire. In terms of the crew, I've seen a marked improvement in their morale over the past few hours, since the discovery of survivors from the Brave. We're still in a bad state, there is no doubt about that, but at least we have hope. Which is a good thing because I am about to take this ship and shove a firecracker up the Gorn exhaust pipe.
USS NIghtingale, Bridge
Captain Wilcox strode onto the bridge, he felt confident. He had a plan, he had a way to get out of all of this and he was going to make Slov look like an idiot in the process. As he took his place on the bridge, he looked around. Lieutenant Visitor, who was essential to his plan, was running diagnostic after diagnostic while reading a manual he recognised that was crucial to him plan. He hadn't have already known, he would have been worried she couldn't do it, but he knew her record and knew what she was going to do was exactly what she had gotten her promotion for. Shrak at the back was running orders down to the armoury team on deck two. Now that internal communications were back online that was a much easier task. Williams was conducting scans and monitoring the incoming locating devices that would shake the ship from time to time. Several other crewmembers were going about their business, making sure systems were working at their best under the circumstances.
John knew that Torlik would not be joining them for this particular action. He was still recovering from his head injury and burns he received during the first attack. Doctor Burton was at this point busying herself with preparing sickbay for incoming injuries. John's plans was to knock out the Gorn vessel, before it had a chance to respond, however as an instructor had always said to him, plans always work until the first enemy contact. In this case, John felt that it might not even go that far, but at least he had some contingencies this time. Hans would join him on the bridge momentarily, he was currently making the last preparations to the plan that John had requested of him. If Hans did his job right, it would certainly give John the advantage.
In the last hour, John had not idly sat by while his crew did all the work either. He had studied the previous battle and read up on Slov on the Federation database. There was not much known about his life, experiences or tactics; except for the past eighteen months, during his combat in the Dominion Wars. There Starfleet was able to gather very specific information on his style of combat, his strengths and weaknesses. Slov was a person who stuck to a style of attack rigidly. As soon as he saw the enemy he would beam in death squads and attack from the outside simultaneously. Even in their earlier engagement Slov only diverged from the plan by beaming all his troops into one place, when he couldn't beam them into multiple locations. John still attempted to get his head around the technology that Torlik had integrated into the ship. V'ras had been able to complete the work that the operations officer had started. With luck Slov would be unable to beam anyone onboard this time.
Slov was also a simple man. He thought very much in two dimensions. During the Dominion War there several instances where the Jem'Hadar had fooled him in combat. Turning his flank or surprising him. It was often brute force that saved the day for the Gorn and their significant numerical advantage. But yet it was a kink in the reptilian's armour.
As the time that he set to start his plan John noticed his stomach tighten with nerves. He had never felt like this in combat before. He tried to think what was so different this time around compared to other countless times he prepared for battle. During the Dominion Wars he fought numerous planned battles on the Ark Royal, but all of them he was the executive officer. The offensive plans were not his; they were an Admiral's, another Captain's or even his own Captain's. He had only followed orders in those instances. He hadn't formulated anything those times, now he had. Perhaps that was his problem, what was making him uneasy - everyone's lives depended on plans, calculations, analysis he had done. If he had made any errors, everything could be lost. But unlike if he did nothing, they would all have a chance of survival. No matter the risks, it was better than zero.
Hans entered the bridge with little time to spare before John had set for his plan to be initiated. "Is it done Commander?" John asked as Hans sat in the executive chair next to him.
"It is," Hans replied looking at the arm rests control interface, "We are ready to go."
"Ensign Williams," Wilcox next commanded, "Are you sure that you have the location of the Gorn vessel correct?"
Williams brought up a map on the viewscreen showing many dotted lines. "All the trajectories of the incoming homing torpedoes have come from the same area," he paused for a second, "I can't be one hundred percent sure until I see it for myself, but if I were a betting man, that is where I would place my chips sir."
Wilcox nodded, taking in the imagery that Williams had used, and looked down towards the helmsman. "Lieutenant Visitor," he said, "Are you ready?"
Lieutenant Visitor pressed a few buttons on her console and turned round in her station's chair, "I'm as ready as I'll ever be sir," she paused for second, "though I can't guarantee this will work." Wilcox pondered for a second, the young Lieutenant sounded more hesitant than her normal enthusiastic self. John wondered if he was pushing her too much beyond her comfort zone, yet it was the only way young officers would grow.
"Noted Lieutenant," Wilcox replied, "Launch the argos shuttles."
Gorn Imperial Cruiser Vor, Bridge
Slov stood in the middle of the bridge looking over the data that was coming from his sweeps of the nebula. So far his crew had been able to clear eighty percent of the nebula, it would only be another two hours and they would have swept the whole nebula. The Nightingale would be found in that time, sooner or later. Slov would have his victory against the Federation. During the Dominion war he had to bend to their will, now they would bow down to him, before he extinguished their lives. He had already decided that once the Geckonians were finished the Federation would be next. He would take the worlds which they had annexed over the centuries, make them pay for the Gorn blood lost.
A beeping across the room gave focus to Slov, "Two small vessels have exited the nebula," the tactical officer announced, he voice calm and collective; not at all concerned that ships they did not know about had suddenly appeared. Slov wondered what two little ships were doing in the nebula in the first place. "They appear to be Federation shuttles sir, Argos class."
The ship shuddered violently for a second as the shuttles initiated an attack against his vessel. Slov pondered for a moment, could they really be thinking of attacking his mighty vessel with just two shuttles. The warriors in those shuttles were brave souls. But he too was a warrior and he was glad to send those souls to the next world, which ever world they believed in. "Target the lead shuttle," Slov ordered, "I want it destroyed instantly."
The tactical officer nodded his head. Slov noted his fingers run effortless over the console, but there was a problem, the tactical officer struggled with something. "Our sensors have been hit several times," he reported, "They have taken significant damage, I can't lock on with our weapons."
"Then fire blind," Slov sneered, "If you don't hit those ships I will have your head on a plate and present it to your family."
The tactical officer nodded and ran his hands over the controls again. Slov sighed as he looked at what little information was now coming in on the sensor telemetry. He could see the two shuttles working in perfect unison, as if they were being flown by one person. Slov contemplated for a second if they were, then one of the symbols on the screen flashed and disappeared. The tactical officer had destroyed one of the Argos shuttles, Slov gave the tactical officer an approving nod as sparks flew from the engineering console.
"They've hit the warp engines," the engineering officer shouted, "If they keep it up, our warp drive will be reduced."
"Tactical," Slov walked to the console where his officer stood, "Take out that last shuttle."
The tactical officer nodded before he looked up from his controls, "Sir a ship is leaving the nebula," he paused for a second to look back at his readings. Slov waited with bated breath, could this be the Nightingale, trying to run. How cowardly, but he expected nothing else from humans. "It is the Nightingale; they are heading for the Geckonian home world sir."
Slov stood for a moment; he couldn't believe that they would run further into a combat zone. Though at this time, the Geckonian home world was being heavily defended by the Geckonian fleet, it was probably the safest place in the region at the moment. He was about to order a pursued course when another beeping at the console occurred.
"Another ship is exiting the nebula, heading in the opposite direction, towards Federation space," the tactical officer announced looking at the console, "I'm reading the warp signature of the Nightingale."
Slov thought for a moment, holding himself against another shake from the shuttle's continued attack. The second signal was the more logical choice to be the real one. The Earthlings would want to get back to their lines. The one going the other way was less likely, unless they decided to ally themselves with the Geckonians. A Starfleet captain was prohibited to do so unless they had permission from the Federation Council, Slov highly doubted that their precious council would have given that permission, especially as they had not intercepted any messages coming from or to the nebula.
The tactical officer looked as puzzled at Slov, however Slov began to know what was going on, "The first one must have been a ruse," he paused to brace himself from another shock from the remaining Argos shuttle, "Set a pursuit course on the second ship," he looked at the sensor readouts noticing the ship was at warp nine, "maximum warp." At that speed it would take mere seconds to catch up with the human vessel, but he would destroy it. He watched as just before they entered warp the other Argos shuttle was destroyed. Slov smiled, the brave warriors on the shuttles would soon be joined by their comrades on the vessel.
"They are sending a signal to their Federation," an officer shouted from across the room. Suddenly the officer raised a hand signalling he was getting more information, "And they have confirmation of receipt from a Federation Starbase."
Slov smacked his hands against the nearest wall, everything he had tried so hard to hide, was now coming to an end. The command structure of Starfleet probably had all the details they needed now to come in and aid the Geckonians and despite their reduced strength, they were still a threat to him. "Are in range of the Nightingale yet?" he asked his tactical officer.
"Then blow it away," he ordered. The tactical officer pressed a button and Slov watched the screen as the symbol representing the Nightingale faded. He felt a moment of joy, at least he had ceased the actions of the thorn in his side.
"Sir," the tactical officer wanted to add something to the report, "the debris field is too small to be that of the Nightingale, it looks as if it is a probe."
Slov's eyes widened with the realisation, he had been tricked; they were really going to the Geckonian home world. "Set a course for that other signal," Slov reported, "that is the real Nightingale. Set course, maximum warp."
Slov watched again as his ship lurched into warp in the opposite direction. As the time passed he licked his lips, anticipating that this moment was the real moment he would get his revenge. He had lost some good soldiers when he sent them across to the Nightingale and he would avenge them, just as Gorn military procedure dictated. But deep down there something more personal in this fight, he was going to eradicate the hero Hans, the one who had humiliated him twenty years ago. His only regret was that he could not kill the scum with his bare hands.
"We are approaching the target sir," his tactical officer announced, "Charging weapons and locking on target."
Slov savoured the moment, feeling the anticipation with great excitement. He was about to give the order to fire when the deck below him almost fell apart. Slov fell down, hitting his head on a support strut that felt hard.
"That was a quantum torpedo," the tactical officer shouted, "The hit the warp engines, we're drifting. And our weapons are offline" His voice sound like a panicking animal, scared for its life, most unbecoming of a Gorn officer.
Slov's head hurt and he felt the wetness of blood trickle down his leather like skin. "How did they hit us from behind?" Slov asked angry at everything around him, the men, the equipment, the ship and the humans. "They are in front of us."
USS NIghtingale, Bridge
Wilcox stood up from his chair, seeing the explosion on the Vor was strangely exhilarating. Williams confirmed that their warp drive was offline, giving Wilcox cause for celebration. "Set a course for the Geckonian home world, maximum warp, engage," he ordered confidently as he attempted to avoid his strut to the command chair. "Good work on those probes Commander," Wilcox said smiling, "That should annoy him a while longer."
The Nightingale slid effortless past the now disabled Vor, doing a flyby of the second probe that had now fulfilled its role, before gliding into warp.