Captain's Log: It has been a tense time, but we are eventually getting close to the outer regions on the Geckonian home system. Lieutenant Commander Hans has told me that long range scans, although not at their full capacity, have detected numerous Gorn patrol vessels around the system, but a large Geckonian fleet inside the system. It seems to me as if, despite all that General Slov would seem to imply, the Geckonian military is still very much a force to be reckoned with. Hans has informed me, using his experience and contacts on the Geckonian Home world, he was able to inform them of our intended arrival and we have safe passage, which is more of a relief to me than anyone. Despite all that we have achieved recently, there is a worry that this ship will not take another beating, we were lucky with the Slov the last time that I was able to get him into a position where we could hit his unprotected rear. But unless the whole of the Gorn fleet want to show us their backsides, we will not have such an easy time around Geckonia.
It is also a worry that another probe we were able to send out; shows that the Federation border is rife with Gorn attack vessels. Starfleet confirmed they would send a rescue effort, but I doubt that they will be prepared for the forces that they will meet. I dare not say this to the crew, they are all jubilant that we have escaped thus far and believe that a task force will come and get us in the next couple of days.
USS Nightingale, Bridge
Wilcox sat in his chair. He had been able to get a good few hours sleep last night and was feeling refreshed, but still anxious. He knew that the Gorn would surely know that he was on his way by now to the Geckonian home world. Slov would have contacted his forwarded units and ordered the Nightingale's destruction. Wilcox had dismissed the idea of destroying his vessel for two reasons. One, the Federation were not at war with the Gorn, and destroying a crippling ship went against Starfleet regulations with such diplomatic relations. Another was the concern that the Gorn might have repaired the weapons faster than they anticipated which could have caused severe damage to the Nightingale. It was not worth the risk in his mind.
Also there was a problem with what was supposed to be coming. Everyone on the ship was excited by the prospect of a Starfleet task force coming to the rescue, but John knew deep down, that vessel would have to fight its way to the Geckonian home world. He dare not allow anyone else know his thoughts. It was hope that was getting the crew through every hour of painstaking work. Even for John he had personally fixed the replicator in his quarters and replaced about a dozen relays on deck one. His hands felt raw from short circuiting areas of the ship where he had conducted repairs. And he wasn't the only one to have received a nasty shock from the repairs that had taken place while en-route. According to Doctor Burton there had been a total of sixty eight accidents during the last twenty four hours. Luckily for the crew, none of them had been major and the injured personnel were always back to their duty area within the hour.
Wilcox slanted his head onto the back of his chair, trying to ignore the seemingly moving stars that were flowing from the front of the craft to the back. John knew it was an illusion, the inertia dampeners making him feel as if he wasn't moving and the stars looking as if they were racing round the ship. Added to the fact that John knew they had precious time in which to get to safety, he felt as if the ship was not moving. Hans who was sat next to him in the executive officer's chair was going over some of the messages he had received from the Geckonian military. All of the messages were in code, in which only he could translate. John hoped they gave some small useful details.
"This is extraordinary," Hans suddenly whispered under breath towards John. John lent forward towards his executive officer, giving him a look for him to continue, "The Geckonian military reports ever since the war started," he continued, "They've given me a lot." John looked down at the arm control panel, trying to glimpse at what was on there. "I've got fleet deployments and future battle plans as well." Hans' eyes lit up as if he was a child in a sweet shop. There was no other way to describe his glee at the information that he had been presented with.
"How is that going to help us?" John asked, "All we need at the moment is a safe harbour."
"It gives me a pretty good idea on how the war is actually going," Hans replied, "So far we've only had the Gorn perspective. And at that apparently a slightly maddening one, if you read this latest intelligence report."
John felt a strange sense of curiosity, "What do you mean by maddening?" he asked, trying to move his head further over to get a better look.
"General Slov, he is suffering from the Gorn equivalent of dementia," Hans said running his finger over the lines, "According to this, the Gorn Hegemony became worried about his actions several months ago, they did a medical test and it showed the early signs of the very rare fronto-temporal dementia."
"Okay," John said, wondering why Starfleet intelligence did not know that, however with their attention solely concentrated on the Dominion and its allies for the past two years, they probably had little resources to spare to spy on a General. "Why is he still in service?"
"The Gorn, they don't retire," Hans impassively replied looking up from the screen and directly at John, "They serve in whatever capacity they do, until they die from natural causes or are killed by a person wanting to take their place."
Wilcox sat back in his chair and looked at the view screen. Was this attack on the Geckonians all a ploy to get Slov killed by his superiors at home? Was it a way to strike at the Geckonian nation and blame it on a mentally ill person? There were too many questions. He decided that there was one question that had to be answered first.
USS Nightingale, Sickbay
"What is fronto-temporal dementia Doctor?" Wilcox asked. He had rushed down to the infirmary with Hans in order to get more information on what the condition their pursuer had.
"It is a very rare form of dementia, normally affecting younger patients," Burton replied as she ran a dermal regenerator over the hand of an operations crewman, "Why do you ask?" she looked at the Captain briefly before going back to her work on the patient.
"What are the symptoms?" Hans asked in his typically neutral voice.
"There are several signs depending on the species and their cultural and genetic backgrounds," Burton replied, "However there are a few common signs between species." She paused putting down the regenerator and picking up her medical tricorder, passing it over the crewman a couple of times. "The patient often becomes more aggressive, confused, compulsive behaviour and is easily distracted." Burton paused putting the tricorder down on a table next to her before she looked at the crewman she had been healing, "Okay crewman, you are free to go."
The crewman nodded to her and then to the Captain before jumping of the bio bed and out of the infirmary. "Why do you ask Captain," she paused for a second and then grabbed her tricorder again. This time she ran the wand over the John, who gave her a decidedly fed up look.
"I'm not asking for myself Doctor," he said, as calmly as he could try, "Slov, he was diagnosed with it several months ago." John added.
"Then there is nothing that can be done for him sir," Burton said, "I'm afraid, like Lieutenant Commander Hans here, there is no cure for him."
Hans raised an eyebrow John noted, but said nothing. "What do you mean by that?" John asked, "What do you mean there is nothing that you can do for him like Commander Hans."
Burton bit her lip, "If it was you or I, or any other mammalian or avian species, then we have cures for all dementia types nowadays," she paused for a bit, "But Starfleet Medical and several other notable powers, have yet to find a cure that works on reptilian brains. They are just too different."
Wilcox looked at Hans and gave him a quick shrug. "Doctor," Wilcox stated, "If Slov has this, how long does he have?"
Burton sighed, placing a hand on her waist, "Well," she replied, "This form of dementia is practically slow in reptilian species," she paused for a second, tilting her head to one side.
Wilcox felt that he was starting to get a little too much information from her and wanted just a number, was it days, weeks, months or longer?
"Probably about two years after initial signs had appeared," she answered.
John nodded, "Thank you doctor," he stated, "You've been very helpful." John walked out of the room; he could feel Hans follow him into the turbo lift.
USS Nightingale, Turbo lift One
John didn't much care for Slov, he wasn't interested in a cure for him, nor making him feel more comfortable. But John was concerned about the person who was in charge in such a large fleet, having a condition that made him more aggressive and compulsive made him very dangerous. His obvious hatred for the Geckonians had started the war in the first place. However there was a feeling deep down that because of the actions of the Brave and now his own actions on the Nightingale that Slov may feel that the Federation could be a target.
John knew that Starfleet were not well enough equipped to deal with another conflict zone. Starfleet only had a fleet at the moment of about three thousand five hundred. In pre war times, starfleet maintained a fleet that hovered just above the eight thousand one hundred mark. Personnel were also in short supply. This meant that ships were spread pretty thin across the whole Federation. But they also had other commitments, the defence of Bajor, who was now going through the process of joining the Federation and the continued actions in Cardassian space, being part of the Allied Occupational forces and providing relief for the colonies badly affected by the war, which included Federation and Cardassian worlds.
In response Starfleet was building a new style of fleet. Before the war Starfleet had built ships which were impressive, and designed to be multifunctional. This was a good concept for the fleet at the time, before the Dominion and Borg. But now the Federation needed a new style of fleet, something that had been recognised before the war. Instead of building moderate numbers of Galaxy, Sovereign and Luna class vessels; these ships were to be built in smaller numbers with smaller mission specific vessels, with smaller crews, being built in much larger numbers. It was a formula which directly led to the creation of the Saint Bernard class vessel, and more importantly to John the USS Nightingale. The fleet already boasted several other designs such as the Intrepid, the Saber, the defiant and the Nova which had been designed with this in mind. Starfleet projected that in the future with similar pre war man power levels instead of fleet of about eight thousand ships; they could have a fleet of over twelve thousand.
But that was the future; it would take decades of hard work to get those numbers. John quickly brought himself to the future. Starfleet only had three thousand five hundred and they were not even all able to be deployed to the area. A new war on this front would cost many more lives.
"I'm worried," John said out aloud to his executive order. He could tell that he was showing nerves in his voice.
"What about Captain?" Hans asked his voice annoyingly calm again.
"Slov," Wilcox said, "I'm worried that he will see the Federation as a target, if his judgement is that far gone."
"The Federation can defend itself," Hans replied, his voice calm.
"No we can't," John knew his executive officer was being optimistic, "The Federation has too many commitments at the moment," he paused for a second, "We have nearly five hundred ships assigned to the Cardassian Occupational Forces, let alone our commitments to humanitarian aid we are delivering to the systems attacked by the Dominion." John paused, "We probably have about two hundred ships that might be able to be deployed along these lines," Wilcox continued, calculating numbers in his head very quickly, "And we can't guarantee all those would be combat vessels."
Hans turned to face John for a second, "What are you saying sir?"
"We need to keep the Geckonians in the war," John paused for a moment, "Otherwise the Gorn could turn their full attention on the Federation."
"Federation law prevents us from interfering," Hans replied, "We cannot technically give aid to the Geckonians."
"We are already involved Commander," John replied, his head now thudding from a headache over the whole idea, "We've fired on a Gorn vessel, asked for a Starfleet task force to come and fight its way in here to come and get us and hell, we are even going to the Geckonian home world for help." John paused and hit his hand on the wall, "How much more involved can we get?"
"We were attacked Captain," Hans replied, his voice had changed to that one of being sympathetic, "The Gorn did not respect our neutrality and attacked us," he paused for a second licking his lips, "We have done nothing but defend ourselves. The only reason why we are going to the Geckonian home world is because we thought that the Gorn would block our way to the Federation border. And we were right."
John paused for a moment, "I think you have just made my point," he replied in a low voice, "They have already disrespected our neutrality, how can we trust that they will not attack us in force in our own territory."
Hans said nothing but now John could see that there was a sudden realisation that there was that possibility, as long as Slov was in command.