Starbase One One Two, Common area
Despite it being early morning the common area of Starbase One One Two was already bustling with people going about their business. The shops on the long station row were already busy in their trade. John could smell fresh bread and baking pastries from one of the outlets; the smell of the latter reminding him of the street he grew up on as a child on Earth. He longed to go in there and buy a quick bite to eat, but tardiness and having the remains of a croissant on a uniform would more than likely be frowned upon by Admiral Naarg. Another shop down the way was selling fruits for a dozen or so different planets. John recognised a couple of small brown furred fruits that resembled kiwis on Earth, but were in fact a traditional morning breakfast fruit on Risa. John noticed that a lot of the bustle was made up of school children of several different Federation worlds. Each one of those children was more than likely a 'Starfleet brat
', a term used for a child of one or two officers. The concept of children being present at an officer's duty was becoming rare once again. About ten years ago it was common place on many starships and stations. Now with the civilian losses suffered on many vessels over recent years, Starfleet had once again changed its mind and families were not to be allowed on ships; Station personnel were allowed to keep their families nearby.
The change in policy had caused a swell in personnel family's making residence on nearby stations, in accordance to the static fleet policy Starfleet had also recently introduced. Now Starships were assigned to a specific fleet which had set operational area for a duration of several years being it was reviewed. This gave some stability to service personnel families, who could make firm commitments to certain areas. Of course this policy had its drawbacks, Starbases were becoming overcrowded and space on them was becoming a premium. There was also additional traffic generated as business opportunities and passenger numbers increased and recent Starfleet Intelligence had shown a small increase of piracy due to this. Starfleet as stretched as it was with the several neighbouring minor powers trying to reassert themselves since the Dominion War by raiding Federation space; the continuing Cardassian Occupational duties ; medical relief for liberated planets; routine patrols and re-establishing its exploration mandate; now was having to deal with a surge in piracy within its own borders.
John considered the future for Starfleet, with its current shipbuilding efforts Starfleet would take roughly six to eight years before being at the fleet size it needed to be. Until then, every single ship in Starfleet was being hard pushed to make sure that it was efficiently being utilized. Of course John considered that at the moment, Starfleet could ill force more scientific expeditions into the unknown, when the known was being far more ruthless than they could afford. He preferred the idea of keep close to Federation and securing its borders and when they have the security; then trying to explore the unknown.
John attempted to push through the crowd as they based a food outlet serving some bacon rolls. The line to the outlet was very long, making the transit past the outlet slow at best. John couldn't help but turn to his Geckonian companion.
"How long were you stationed here?" he asked, trying to raise his voice above the loud concourse of people which seemed to surround him like a seas.
"Three years, previous to that I was on the ShirKahr
," Hans replied, his voice showed obvious frustration from the crowds.
"I'm not familiar with the ShirKahr
," John said lightly, "What class is that ship?"
"It was a Miranda class vessel," Hans replied as he pushed passed a rather large Bolian who had given him a disgusted look.
"The Shirkahr was destroyed during the first battle of Chin'toka, I was obviously not aboard," Hans explained.
John stopped for a moment and allowed his first officer to catch up with as soon as he had got past the gaggle of breakfast seekers. Obviously his first officer didn't want to talk about the issue and attempted to end that particular line of inquiry. "Was it always this busy at this time of the morning while you served here?"
Hans paused for a moment, looking as if he was thinking of the best response to the question. "When I first started to serve on the station it was quieter," Hans replied, "But then more families had to take up residence on the station to be closer to their serving member."
John nodded a little, "Perhaps Starfleet should invest in bigger Stations." He raised an eyebrow hinting that he felt it was a bit too busy for his liking and started to continue to walk towards the flag officer's office complex.
Starbase One One Two, Admiral Naarg's Office
John sat in the small guest chair next to Hans in the large plush office that he had been ushered into by a Lieutenant who introduced herself as the Admiral's secretary. Apparently the Admiral had been summoned to an emergency meeting, but had asked if they could be shown in and wait for him. John noticed the numerous ship models proudly displayed throughout the office; there was probably a model for every ship that the Admiral had served on, a career that seemed to have spanned decades. John noted the different classes; a Miranda; New Orleans; Olympic and Galaxy were the most prominent behind the desk of the Admiral. John felt tempted to pick up a couple and examine them closely, but decided to stay in the seat in case the Admiral came in.
Hans was staying perfectly still in his seat, barely moving a muscle to breathe. John admired his composure but thought it was a bit too much when there was no admiral in the room. "Sit easy Commander," John whispered to him, so the Lieutenant outside the partially opened door couldn't hear their conversation.
"I'm just ready for the Admiral's arrival Captain," Hans said stiffly.
"Relax the Admiral might not be here for another hour Commander," John replied, thinking internally that the Admiral could have warned them both and they could have delayed their departure from the Nightingale so they could talk a little about crew rotations and training among a dozen other small details the two had yet to work out.
"And if Admiral Smiltek had his way I would be hours," a voice behind them goaned.
John immediately bolted up from his seat to stand at attention, "Morning sir," he said as he noticed Hans slowly rise to stand to attention, how he now despised his composure. "I didn't mean any disrespect in what I said." he quickly added on to the end of the greeting.
The rather overweight Tellerite Admiral, with ridges across his dark brown face walked to the other side of the desk and waved John and Hans down. "Don't be silly Captain," the Admiral snorted, "If Command got their way, I would be in endless meetings twenty four hours a day." He paused for a second turning his chair round to a small replicator unit on the back of the room, "Tea hot." A small flowery cup with steam rising from it suddenly materialised inside the replicator unit. The Admiral picked it up and turned back round to the John and Hans. "Luckily being an admiral has its advantages," he snorted, "Shame they are few between the endless paperwork."
"Yes sir," John said nodding his head, thinking that the Tellerite culture of grumbling and complaining in conversations must become tiresome at times.
"Beg my pardon Captain," Naarg continued suddenly lifting his head, "Can I offer you a drink?" John shook his head, he had no intention of being drawn into a long conversation. He desperately wanted to be back on his ship and be getting underway. "If you want to be rude Captain, suit yourself," Naarg replied to the gesture placing the cup down quickly on the desk as if he was slamming it being annoyed. John had to bite his lip at the remark, reminding himself yet again of the Tellerite custom. "The Gorn have requested that a peace deal be reached between them, the Federation and Geckonians," he bluntly said moving on in conversation.
"Peace Admiral?" John replied, "Begging the Admiral's pardon, but they didn't seem very friendly last week attacking Cestus three."
Naarg snorted again, this time deeply, "They lost three ships," he retorted, "We lost nothing and the colony was barely scratched."
John scratched his head, he would hardly call damage to the spaceport on the surface barely a scratch, but at least there were no casualties. "It's not the only attack we have suffered in the past three weeks Admiral. What has changed their mind so quickly?"
"Politics," the Admiral smirked, "Like all good militaries; it's had to bend to the will of the government. And the ruling council at the moment doesn't want a prolonged war."
John shifted in his chair, something didn't feel right, he knew that Slov had been arrested two weeks ago and yet the attacks had not subsided, it signalled to him that the Gorn were less interested in peace than Starfleet Command or the Federation council were willing to believe. He could sense a quiet Hans next to him feeling uncomfortable in his chair, John knew that he would not speak however unless he was asked for his own opinion, John was practically on his own. "Again with all due respect sir the Gorn were happily blasting away at ships yesterday," John paused trying to get the gaze of the Tellerite Admiral, "Are you telling me now that after a good night's sleep that they suddenly thought 'hell this war is a bad idea' and called us up for a little handshaking session?" John saw the smirk in the corner of Hans' mouth; John could tell he had his approval at least.
The Admiral pulled down in his uniform tunic until it was tightly down. "Captain, I am not suggesting what the current situation is; I am telling you!"
"Yes Sir," John nodded in response, "But it is my responsibility to give you my opinion, as a starship captain."
"A Captaincy which could easily be removed," the Admiral threatened, his breath now huffing and buffing, "Now your orders are to go to Geckonia, get a mission advisor and get your sorry selves to the meeting place and hammer out a deal," the Tellerite rose from his chair, John and Hans felt obliged to do the same, "Is that understood Captain?"
"Yes sir," John replied, trying to hold back the sarcasm and the anger in his mind, "I will follow my orders."
"Good," the Admiral sneered, "You can see yourself out then."
John looked at his executive officer and gestured his head towards the door. Hans moved towards the door with Wilcox following closely. As they had exited the room and the door came to close behind him John gave a disgusted look towards Hans, "Great, we're going back into the fire." Hans did nothing but raise an eyebrow.
USS Nightingale, Docked at Starbase One One Two, Sickbay
Doctor Burton sat at the readouts looking at the various numbers that kept on popping onto the screen; the visual diagram of the patient's head shown next to the numbers and the time next to that. She sighed as the results kept on flowing at a consistent rate, "Looks like you can stop coming here for a while Lieutenant," she said smiling at the Denobulan who was lying on the bio bed. "But please, stop getting yourself injured," she said widening her grin at him.
Torlik stood up from the bed, stretching his arms and legs out. "I wish I could," he joking replied, "I thought the Gorn had personally targeted me the amount of times I got injured."
Burton raised her eyebrows and nodded, "They certainly did seem to pick on you," she teased, "Perhaps they didn't like your haircut last time."
Torlik touched his short spiky hair that was long and curly just a few days ago, "I thought you hadn't noticed that I had my hair cut."
"Oh I noticed," Rachel replied, "Just didn't want to make a fuss, I know how Denobulans don't like personal comments."
"You humans seem to thrive on it."
"Makes the day go easier sometimes," Burton replied glumly, she looked over at the bio bed where Commander Hawke, her former and now dead fiancée had passed away under her care. She thought for just a brief second of the moment she was forced to call the fight to save him to an end, then brought herself back to the present, once again trying to put on a positive face. "Plus it's better than talking about the weather," she smiled again at Torlik, but he too now seemed more glum.
"I better get to my station," he replied giving a broad smile, "I've got the new duty roster for operations to do before the end of the day."
Rachel nodded and handed him his final discharge papers, something that the Captain would want to see before he was allowed to resume full duties after his head injury. The now Lieutenant, was lucky not to have been seriously punished by returning to duties so quickly after a head injury. Although she had to admit, she didn't tell him he couldn't man his station; just that he should proceed to his quarters for some rest. Next time she would have to be more precise.
After the chief operations officer had left the sickbay she was alone in the room again. Most of the nursing staff were taking a set of exams today, in order to qualify for the next stage of the full nursing qualification. Rachel hated the fact that she only had one fully qualified nurse on the ship, and the rest were partly trained nurses who had been rushed into service during the Dominion War to learn on the job. Many fully qualified nurses now served on planetary hospitals, space stations and on some of the more prestigious ships such as the Enterprise
and the Hood
. She thought it was a joke that as a medical ship, she had four fully qualified doctors, one fully trained nurse and six nurses in training.
When she had enquired about the possibility of more fully trained personnel, Starfleet Medical had just replied that they were stretched to the limit with the humanitarian efforts in the Cardassian union and the liberated territories needing their full support. In other words Medical had told her to, 'manage with what you've got'
. It wouldn't be as annoying if the Federation had a genuine cause to be stretched, but a lot of the humanitarian missions throughout the Cardassian Union were being used as propaganda. With the President's popularity in the polls down, he needed to be shown doing some good in the galaxy. A group of doctors treating Cardassian children was a great moral boost for a war weary public, keen to see Starfleet return to its previous peaceful duties.
As Rachel finished entering in the discharge details for Torlik in a small computer at the side of the main sickbay, Nurse Williams entered the room with a large padd in her hand. Rachel gave the nurse a courteous nod. "You okay Debbie?" Rachel said as she noticed the nurse looking around cautiously.
"Anyone else in the room?" the nurse asked quietly. Rachel shook her head. "I've got some bad news," she continued, "The exams aren't going well. Traelex got her patients confused and gave the wrong medication to the wrong patient nearly killing them and Julix misread an important piece of information that completely changed the diagnostic from the Doctor. It's a good job the patients are all holograms."
Rachel shook her head in disbelief, "And this is the medical team that is supposed to be able to care for up to four hundred people?" Her heartbeat raced from the news her people were failing their exams. "Starfleet should be manning this vessel with the best medical people we have. Instead we have half baked trainees and inexperienced doctors."
"We'll muddle through Doctor," Williams replied with a smile, "It's what we do best on this ship."
"We need to prepare the medical team to deal with a lot more than just broken cuts and grazes," was Rachel's dishearten reply, "I need a medical team that do blood transfusions and start neurological therapy."
"Starfleet is really stretched at the moment," Williams replied, her bubbly voice contrasting that of Burtons, "And we have gotten some of the brightest trainees around," she continued, "Considering they are half way through their courses in just a year. They are well ahead of schedule."
Rachel smiled, easing her troubles away for a while, "How come you are so positive all the time?"
"Ah someone has to be," Williams replied, "Otherwise there would be no fun."
Rachel found herself smirking. "I see you got your promotion to Ensign at last," she noted, pointing to the new gold pin on Williams' collar.
"Came this morning," she replied touching it with her finger, "At last."
"Congratulations," Burton said extending a hand. Rachel knew that Williams was going to be promoted about six weeks earlier, but the promotion had taken a while for the Starfleet to acknowledge her commission.
"Thank you sir," Williams replied accepting the handshake, "Now if you don't mind, I've got to rearrange the nursing duty shift so I don't have any of my team on their own." Williams gave a brief smile and walked out of the sickbay and turned towards her small office at the end of the corridor. Rachel admired her personality, not letting anything get in the way of her good mood, it was something to cherish.