USS Nightingale, Conference Room - In geosynchronous orbit over Geckonia
Wilcox sat alone in the dark, his chair slightly swivelled from the desk that lay in the centre of the room, facing out towards a massive field of stars in the window. Each star just a pinpoint in the distance, barely recognisable than when they were up close. His heart felt heavy and his stomach felt empty. Even during the worst moments of the Dominion War, he had not known of the Cardassians or the Dominion never causing death on such levels. The number of deaths caused by the war had been estimated at nearly one billion combined between both sides. And even then, those deaths had occurred in two years of fighting. Yet here, in the space of what are two relatively small powers, the deaths of so many had happened in so little time.
John did not blame the Geckonians for the war. He had seen the evidence on Geckonian scans, Williams and V'ras had both confirmed their authenticity; the Gorn were completely behind the attacks. When John had eventually got around to speaking to the Federation Ambassador, he had confirmed what John had already known for a couple of hours. The Gorn were to blame. However, John was able to give official notice of the destruction of the brave to the senior government official in the area. John had also spoken to the chief of the Embassy security team, Commander Xian. He had assured John that the ambassador was safe. However there was some concern that there were six other embassies in the Geckonian nation run by the Federation, all of which were on planets that were overrun by the Gorn in the opening days. None of those planets had been liberated yet, though the Geckonian military did seem to now be pushing the Gorn back, except in the area close to the home world.
John had requested that Williams kept up constant sensor sweeps to see what was going on in the border areas of the system. Williams reported that their miraculous entrance into the system could not be repeated, the Gorn had sealed the gap in the perimeter; obviously they were detected getting in. John had hoped to escape somehow and meet up with Starfleet. But the space between the Geckonian home world and the Federation border was still rife with Gorn patrols. The Geckonians had been pushing back the Gorn, but as of yet there was no space where a ship could be completely safe. The Gorn had seemed relentless in their attacking of any ship which could endanger their plans, which unfortunately had included the Brave and the Nightingale.
The Gorn, so far around the Geckonian home system, had made little effort to attack the inner areas of the system. They were either waiting for re-enforcements, which intelligence from front line Geckonian forces suggested was not coming, or waiting for the Geckonians to make the first move.
John's mind switched again from the tactical situation back to the matter that was troubling him so deeply. He could not understand why a species that has previously been described by Federation diplomats as a rather intelligent and cunning species would commit genocide. John however remembered all the times recently that genocide had been recorded in history: the killing of Cardassian civilians by the Dominion forces at the end of the war; the killing of Bajoran people during the Cardassian Occupation and the Tzenkethi persecution of the Hydrania seven years ago were all examples of recent genocide. There were even infamous people in the history of Earth; Adolf Hitler, Phillip Green and Spanish Conquistadors that were famed for genocide. John, admittedly naively, had thought that history would help other species not to commit genocide. It would appear not.
John felt no anger at the Gorn, he was beyond that kind of thinking. He felt sad.
John looked round as the doors to the conference room slide gently open. A shadow of person stood in the door, before stepping into the room and letting the door behind them shut.
"Captain," the voice said, John instantly recognised that of Lieutenant Commander Hans, "Are you okay? Are the lights malfunctioning?"
"No," John sighed turning back to face the star field he had spent the last few hours staring at, "I just wanted some time to think." The dark surroundings helped his mind relax and think about the situation, but as of yet, he had not yet really been thinking too much of the best way out of here, but as what had happened. No matter how hard he tried, he could not shake what had happened and could not concentrate on the future.
Hans walked over to the conference table in the middle of the room, standing on the opposite side to that of John. He placed down a pad onto the table and looked at John, "The Geckonian Military liberated Grekin Two and Six an hour ago sir," Hans said, even his normally neutral voice had drifted into a glum tone, "They did a search of the entire planet, there are survivors hiding in deep caves," he continued, "but unfortunately all twenty five Federation citizens assigned to the embassy on two were killed sir."
John three his head back quickly, closing his eyes, holding back the pain he felt. He did not know any of those people there, but the deaths of Federation citizens would always be a disaster in his mind.
"Have we any idea for the other embassies?" John asked standing up and moving towards the window, some of the planet down below now visible, catching his attention for a moment.
"I'm afraid we've had no word from those systems at the moment," Hans replied quietly, "They are closer to the border areas. It might be several days before the Geckonian forces arrive in the area."
John nodded, but his stomach clenched at the thought of the inevitable news that those people were not alive anymore. "Is there anything else Commander?"
"What are we going to do sir?"
"What do you think we should do?" John asked turning his head slightly to the side, to get a view of his executive officer, who was now standing at ease behind the desk.
"We should join forces with the Geckonians sir," Hans replied.
"Is that a tactical decision or patriotic decision Commander?" John asked, sensing that another conflict of interest in his Geckonian officer between the Federation and his heritage.
"Sir with respect," Hans replied, "If we ignore that the Gorn are actually targeting Federation citizens during this war, are committing crimes as specified in interstellar law and have destroyed the USS Brave. We have no way of leaving this system now, not without being attacked by the Gorn."
"Are you saying we should have headed to the Federation border Commander?" John said, now taking a seat back at the table.
"No sir," Hans replied, his voice confident, "The Gorn were patrolling the border, blocking our way." Hans paused for a second and turned to face the door.
"Wait," John said, he turned round to face the Commander and commanded the lights to come on, illuminating the room for the first time in several hours. His eyes flinched at the brightness, something he had forgotten in his time being in the dark. "Starfleet has barely gotten out of one war, and you are asking me to commit it to another."
"I'm not asking you to commit to another war sir," Hans replied, "I'm telling you that the Gorn have started a war, and the Federation are as much a target as we are."
"And if we don't respond?"
"Then all those colonies along the Gorn border could be at risk," Hans replied, "There are millions of lives along the border. Human, Vulcan, Andorian, Bolian, Tellerite, they all need protecting and at the moment, we are the only ship available to do that."
"Damn it Hans," John replied sharply contrasting the calmness of the Geckonian, "We're a medical search and rescue vessel, not a warship." John sighed, fixings his eyes on some battle damage he had not seen before in the conference room.
"We have the ability to defend ourselves," Hans replied.
"With what?" John shouted slamming his fist down on the table hard, "We have three phasers barely working and slow loading torpedo launcher, not to mention reduced shields and armour." John turned round again at the window, "You want me to sacrifice all our lives on some foolish noble sentiment that our engaging them again will convince them that we will fight back, they already know we will. Otherwise a full scale invasion would have been launched already."
"Our weapons are sufficient to do defend us sir," Hans replied, "There are no more of the ship that we saw Slov on, these Gorn vessels seem to be of the older less advanced light cruiser the Gorn have employed for over a century."
John stared at the battle damage, a damaged console, showing a tactical readout of the system they were currently in. John noticed how, despite the damage it was still doing its duty. It seemed in all the chaos, this console had not forgotten its role to play.
"Captain to the Bridge
," a shaky voice over the intercom sounded. "Captain to the Bridge immediately
USS Nightingale, Bridge - In geosynchronous orbit over Geckonia
Captain Wilcox strode onto the bridge followed closely by Hans. John looked at Shrak who was standing in the middle of the bridge. He nodded to her and she immediately went round to the tactical position and relieved an enlisted man at the post. "What's up?" John said.
Williams brought up a scan log onto the main viewer, "I've detected weapons fire on the out regions of the system sir," he said nervously, "It looks as if half a dozen Gorn vessels have moved in to attack the Geckonian forces."
A Trill at the operations station turned his attention into the conversation, "Captain, Geckonian forces have asked for re-enforcements, their military command is sending more."
"There isn't enough sir, they need more ships," Shrak added to the conversation suddenly. John turned round to look at the tactical officer. He saw something in her eyes, she seemed to be agreeing with Hans at this point that they should immediately get involved in the battle.
John walked up to the tactical readout on the view screen, standing next to the helm manned by Lieutenant Visitor.
"Orders sir," she said gently.
John looked down at her, seeing her youthful face, so young, but so dedicated to the service. He had no doubt at that moment by the look in her eyes; that she would give her life for the service. Looking around the bridge he saw the same look in each of his officers. Yes there was fear, but each one of them had signed up for one reason, to serve the Federation. They all knew the risks; they all knew that Starfleet meant combat at times and most of these people had served the Federation in its darkest moments during the Dominion War.
John strode up to his chair and sat down in it, he could feel the eyes of the room focused completely on his, and his neck felt hot from the attention he got from it. But his job was command; his job was to make decisions. Everyone on board had shined to this point, now it was about time that he proved he had what to take to wear those four pips on his collar. He had to stop thinking of the past, there was nothing he could do about it, what was done is done. The only thing that mattered was what they were going to do.
"Lieutenant Visitor," John said, he noticed Hans flinch, preparing for what he would expect to be an unfavourable decision, "set an intercept course for the battle area and get us there as quick as possible." John saw Hans' mouth almost drop to the floor, he obviously didn't expect that. John just turned to his executive officer as he sat on his right hand side and said in a low voice so no one else could hear, "Thanks for reminding me of my duty." Hans nodded and gave a wider smile.
"We should be in the vicinity of the battle in eight minutes," Chloe announced at the helm.
John nodded and opened the newly fixed internal communications from his arm rest, "All hands battle stations."