USS Nightingale, Bridge
John tightly held onto the arm rests as the young Lieutenant counted down to the time that they would reach the battle area. John had given his crew very little warning about this battle, but yet everyone was getting ready admirably. John looked on the screen as Williams had placed the sensor data he was getting straight onto a tactical map of the system. John couldn't help but cheer on the Geckonians as every spark against a Gorn vessel resulted in another obstacle being eliminated. It was a thought that John had become accustomed too now, thinking of a hostile force as nothing more than obstacles. It allowed their losses to dwell on the mind less. He also felt the pain as every Geckonian vessel was destroyed too, they were allies and the only friends they had at the moment. He had not yet found a way to subside the feelings he had about friends.
John watched with intent as he battle unfolded in front of him, he was only a couple of minutes out and the battle was very young, but the strategies of both sides were very apparent. The Gorn were trying to split to the Geckonians into smaller, more manageable groups and the Geckonians were trying to take on the Gorn head on. John thought it was strange that the Geckonians weren't aware that the Gorn vessel's main weakness was the rear, where the hull was highly vulnerable to torpedo fire. The movement of the two groups of ships seemed like a dance and John couldn't help but notice that the Geckonian commander was doing his best to keep his fleet in one piece.
John knew from the tactical information being relayed to him that the heavy cruiser that Slov had been commanding was not in the fleet, nor were any of the Gorn ships like the one he commanded. From what information that his science officer could get was that the ships they were facing were standard Gorn cruisers, far less sophisticated and with weaker weapons and hull. Hans had run his own analysis of the Gorn vessels, and determined that the rear of these vessels were just as fragile, if not more, than that of Slov's flagship.
"Tactical," John said, "Send a message to the Geckonian flagship; tell them to concentrate their fire on the rear of the Gorn vessels," John looked at Hans, "Any idea on how we can actually fight in this battle Commander?" He asked hesitantly, committing the Nightingale
into battle and her being able to slug it out, were two completely different things.
"We've got the two forward phasers back online to ninety six percent," Hans replied confidently, "And we're able to fire a torpedo every minute now."
John could only muster a sceptical look; they may have weapons, but they were in a pitiful state to say the least. But it did not matter, they were in a dire situation and it was best to engage the enemy when they had lots of friends than when they had none. "What about shields?"
"Still at ninety per cent," replied Hans smiling, "But I would rather have these shields at ninety percent than a galaxy's at one hundred."
John shook his head.
"One minute," shouted Lieutenant Visitor from the front of the bridge. She barely looked up at the screen, which could now show the position of the Nightingale on with every other ship in the battle zone. If the readings were correct, and John hoped to hell they were, they should be coming up to the centre of the Geckonian lines. John had noticed that the Geckonians were slightly changing their tactics with small groups of their destroyers breaking off into squadrons and attempting to get in-between the Gorn targeting their rear areas.
John instinctively turned round when the turbo lift doors slid loudly open. In the doorway stood the bruised figure of the Ensign Torlik, his face still showing the signs of the burns he had received. "Ensign Torlik," John addressed the man in as neutral fashion as possible, he had hoped to control the next meeting between the two of them in order to get some answers out of him, "What the hell are you doing out of sickbay?"
"Doctor released me sir," he said, standing stiff at attention.
"She said you could report for duty?" John questioned. John couldn't imagine Doctor Burton releasing a man, who was obviously still suffering from severe injuries. He noticed some of his clothes were still ragged from his earlier fight with the equipment he had on deck seven.
"She didn't say I couldn't," Torlik replied giving a wry smile.
"Report to your station," John said giving the man a nod. Whatever Torlik had said or done to get himself out of sickbay, he had come on duty, John could think of a hundred officers he knew that would not bother with such injuries.
Torlik took his station as if it was a normal day, replacing a senior non commissioned officer who took another station across the bridge. John then turned his attention back to the view screen, noting mere seconds were all that stood between his ship and battle again.
Outer region of Geckonian Space
The large shining orange hulk of the Gorn vessel bore down on its prey like an owl onto a shrew. It had the strength of its weapons and the accuracy of the finest tactical officers in the fleet. Her Captain was proud, her crew were fine. Now Geckonian vessels were been laid waste by their experience and dedication to the cause. She had seen numerous battles, fought many enemies, but none had been as personal to her crew or as gratifying as this single conflict. As another lame enemy vessel collapsed under her weight of power, her crew felt invincible.
But in their glory came complacency. In their victory came recklessness. In the heat of battle had come clumsiness. She had been allowed to stray too far from her own lines and that of her sister ship's covering fire. By the time that her crew had realised they were in a perilous position it was too late. In the moments that it took to adjust their course to take them back to their assigned position and safety, they were hit in near the starboard nacelle by phaser fire. The next hit, a quantum torpedo on the exhaust manifold, ignited the expending plasma that engulfed the proud ship in a plume of fire that erased her and her crew from any future existence.
Her slayer, a Federation vessel, glided past the burning wreckage.
USS Nightingale, Bridge
"Good shot Lieutenant," John shouted across to his gleaming tactical officer, "Helm take us about three six mark one zero six," he ordered, taking them on a course to get them right into the middle of the Geckonian lines.
Lieutenant Visitor nodded and the ship lurched itself into a new direction. John felt the temporary G force squeeze his stomach as the inertia dampers caught up with the movements. A sudden display of sparks from an unmanned area of the bridge brought his thoughts back to the idea that they were now close to the battle.
"Shields are holding," reported Shrak, "But we're got three Gorn cruisers on our stern," she cautiously announced. From that position they were
John got off his chair and stepped forward nearer to the helm station, his eyes fixed on to the screen that showed the aggressors, in a standard arrowhead formation, chasing his ship. "Lieutenant, I want you to pump as much juice as you can into the starboard impulse engine and shunt the port impulse engine into reverse on my order," John gave a wicked smile before looking back at his executive officer who returned the gesture with a small nod of his head.
"Tactical, prepare to fire on the Captain's order, all weapons at the lead vessel," Hans stated, turning his attention squarely on the tactical officer.
Another spark shot across the room, missing John by inches, but nothing would dissuade him from his plan. "Helm, now!"
The ship lurched as it started to turn in an anticlockwise motion. John felt the creaks in the new ship, as started a manoeuvre that she was not suppose to be able to complete. He attempted to subside the feeling of nausea by watching the view screen that was firmly fixed on their pursuers and kept on his feet only by the aid of the edge of the helm station. John smiled as the Gorn ships flew past the Nightingale, slowing down, but not able to react fast enough in his planned change in direction. As the Nightingale completed a third spin, the Gorn were fully in front of the Nightingale, he patted on Chloe's shoulder to stop the spinning and turned to Shrak on the upper part of the bridge. "Tactical," John said calmly, "Fire at will."
Shrak smiled mercilessly as activated the weapon systems, blowing apart the lead Gorn vessel; the other two peeling off from the formation and attempting a regroup to run for their concentrated lines. John shook his head at Hans, letting him know that he had no intention of following them. He did not want to risk to get caught out in an overzealous charge, like the ones he had taken advantage of already.
John went back to his chair and sat down, before he could give the order to resume their course to the centre of the lines, John felt the bridge shake from underneath him. He fell off his chair as he noticed several other officers did. Lieutenant Visitor was thrown so far backwards from an explosion at her console that she landed near John. He reached her neck, checking her pulse, but a groan for her confirmed she was still alive.
"Hans, take the helm," John shouted taking a look around the deck; the bridge had various fires and a few crewmen sporting wounds. Shrak still stood at tactical and Torlik was still at his station, however it looked as if his arm had been caught in an explosion, with blood now dripping from it.
As Hans reached for the helm's station, Lieutenant Visitor rolled over and pushed herself off the floor, squeezing herself between the Geckonian and the navigational control station. John stared on as she looked at his executive officer. "I can take my post sir," she said, she looked as if she was in pain.
"Lieutenant," John shouted, "Get yourself down to the medical deck now."
"With all due respect sir," she shouted, "You need your best pilot at the helm. Give me a chance"
John nodded at her and took his seat back in the command chair, Hans quickly moved over to another crewmember to help them. "Report?" John ordered above the sound of flames being extinguished in the background.
"We've taken on damage sir," Torlik replied, "Hull breaches on deck two, shields are down to twenty percent."
"The Gorn having changed tactics sir, they've gone for a swarm tactic, several of them and Geckonian vessels are now fighting around us," Shrak shouted, her voice saturated with adrenaline, something John recognised instantly.
Another rock of the bridge shook John in his chair; he looked around the burning bridge and wondered how long he could hang on in the battle. With the fighting now becoming a melee, he was losing control quickly as ships on both sides were closing in on each other to point blank range. The tactic favoured the Gorn best.
Another explosion on the bridge sent a crewman flying near Hans, the face of the woman covered in blood.
"Tactical keep firing all weapons, try to hit as many of those damn things as possible," John shouted, "Helm, we need to keep the Gorn vessels off our shields, evasive pattern omega, get us to the outer regions of the battle area."
Chloe nodded, moving a strand of her brown hair to the side that had fallen from its normally perfectly placed spot behind her ear. John felt the lurch of the ship as she complained from the pain of moving in such a way.
Another explosion set a console on fire in the tactical station. Shrak was unhurt, but she didn't look best pleased.
"I've lost weapon control," she announced, "We're toothless sir." She sounded more frustrated than anything.
"Shields are offline, we're losing long range sensors," Torlik shouted, "We've got hull breaches on decks three, four and seven. Emergency force fields are holding but I don't know how long for."
John notice Hans attempting to conduct triage on the crewman who had the facial burns, John wondered if it was worth it now, it was only a matter of time before the Gorn would finish them off. But John didn't feel like going down without a fight on this occasion.
"Helm, set a collision course for the nearest Gorn ship and..." John was about to give the order to engage when Williams interrupted him from the other side of the room.
"Sir the Gorn are breaking off their attack," the young science officer shouted from across the bridge from his little station alcove.
John rushed over to the console and looked at the sensor data, "Why?" was all John could bring himself to ask.
"I'm detecting a warp field wake but not much else," Williams stated. With the sensors down, it would be hard to tell what anything was, Williams able to give that much detail was either a testimony to his skills or a sign of his optimism.
John looked across to his Andorian tactical officer, who was panting, leaning over her console, "Could it be reinforcements for the Gorn?"
"Negative," Shrak paused for a second looking at the Captain, "They had the upper hand. Why would they not continue pushing their advantage?"
"More Geckonian vessels?" Hans asked rising himself from his patient he had relented care for to Doctor Castello who had just arrived on the bridge.
"No sir," replied Williams, "There were no ships in that area of Geckonian space. Their trajectory suggests..." Williams paused for a moment, he looked surprised. After checking his readings a couple of times he turned round to face the captain with an astonished look on his face. "It's Stafleet sir."
John raised an eyebrow in scepticism, "Already?"
Williams only nodded.
"We are being hailed," Torlik announced from across the bridge.
John nodded and turned to face the view screen as a familiar face suddenly filled the screen with a beaming grin. "Captain Wilcox
," the Captain of the USS Hood, Captain Robert DeSoto greeted John with a sort of warm affection, despite the two of them had only once briefly met, "What kind of mess did you get yourself into?
"A special kind," John joking replied, giving a cheeky smile, "I take it we can thank you for getting those Gorn to run?"
DeSoto nodded, "We told them that if they wanted to be hit from two sides at once; then keep on firing, otherwise run like hell.
" DeSoto's voice had a certain hidden danger about itself. His thinning grey hair may have made him look like the nice elderly uncle he was often called by junior officers who had started their careers under him. But he had a reputation as a keen tactician and a ruthless negotiator. There was no doubt in John's mind that DeSoto had scared the Gorn witless.
John smiled and sighed at the same time, relief that the battle was over and lasting safety were now very close, "What you got coming in?" John asked, "I've lost just about everything but life support and the hull."
"We've got twenty four ships
," DeSoto claimed smiling, "Just enough to get the Gorn second guessing themselves
John smiled, twenty four ships was a large number for a rescue of such a small crewed ship. "We could do with some repair crews over here Captain," John stated, he didn't want to directly ask for help but he had to admit he did need it.
"I'll send over what I can Captain
." DeSoto stated, "We'll be with you in five minutes, until then, stay in your current position.
John nodded and with that the communications link was cut, a star field replacing the shot of the experienced captain on the screen.
"Lieutenant Visitor and Ensign Torlik, get yourselves down to sickbay now. Commander Hans, take the helm and hold position," John ordered, taking his seat at the bridge as the shift in positions of the bridge occurred from Chloe and Torlik leaving their stations and replacements taking their places. As the euphoria of surviving the battle washed over him like a wave on a sandy beach, John closed his eyes for a second and took in a deep breath. He would get his crew out and home.