Captain's Log: The USS Nightingale has been assigned to a peace mission with the Gorn. I have to admit that I am hesitant about the mission. The Gorn are well known for giving with the left hand and taking with the right hand, I can't help but feel that they are going to attempt to stab us in the back somehow. If I am honest, I think that Starfleet is scared of defending itself again after the losses we have taken in the Dominion War. Yes war is not the best option, but sometimes it is the only viable option. If we decide to believe the Gorn, we could end up losing more people. There are a lot of colonists along that particular border.
As for the crew, most of them seem indifferent to the mission. Even Hans, my first officer, a man who fought the Gorn tooth and nail for the Geckonian freedom for a whole two years seems to have accepted the orders without question. I don't know whether he is planning something, perhaps a little backhanded, or whether it is simply his opinion that nothing matters but our duty to the Federation. I would have thought he would have a stronger opinion than that.
On other matters, the repairs to the Nightingale are top notch, however I did have to report a problem with my replicator the other day; it couldn't give me a cup of earl grey tea without going through most of what else was on offer. However if it takes Torlik's team four hours again to fix the problem, I may have to demote him back to ensign.
I am suffering from a shortage of bridge officers. I only have four people, including myself, who can take command of the ship. I have been looking into getting more command staff onboard, a strategic operations officer would be an excellent asset to have, considering we have a command and control centre. But Starfleet have so far told me to deal with what I have; noting that the crew has already been increased by ten since we left space dock.
USS Nightingale, Docked at Starbase One One Two, Captain's Ready Room
John sat at his desk reviewing the recent personnel reports on twenty eight new crewmembers that had joined them since they left the station last time. Most of them had joined the Nightingale from the Brave, and John was particularly interested in how they were coping, especially since that some of them had lost a lot of friends. Rachel Burton's psychology degree had come in use as she doubled up as a councillor for these people. John noted that two of the crewmembers were showing signs of post traumatic stress syndrome and that Rachel had limited their duties to doing light. John had seen their progress reports and was happy so far.
John was trying to avoid a report that had sat on his desk for the past two days. He was ignoring it after he saw the title. 'Complaint against Lieutenant Junior Grade Shrak, Chief Tactical Officer of the USS Nightingale'
. John flicked his eyes between the personnel report and the report on his tactical officer. Eventually he sighed and relented to the urgency of the complaint and put down his routine report that was nothing more than a ship news report. John tapped the padd and braced himself for the complaint.
"Lieutenant Junior Grade Shrak has neglected a large portion of the security detail assigned to the USS Nightingale. The Marine contingent led by Sergeant Helnik Rashell feels that the Lieutenant is ignoring our skills, experience and in some cases our rank. The marines are being assigned menial task where less experienced crewmen should be chosen and are left out the regular security training sessions that the tactical officer holds almost daily.
Sergeant Helnik Rashell
John closed his eyes in disappointment; he had spoken to Shrak about making sure that the marines were fully included in the security department and were treaty fairly. That conversation was three weeks ago when John had decided on keeping the marines on the Nightingale and not replace them with normal starfleet security. John had felt they had earned their place on the ship with their combat skills and they had all wanted to stay beyond their one original assignment.
Sergeant Rashell was an excellent non commissioned officer, his record spoke for itself. During the Dominion war the Saurian had earned himself something of a reputation as a dedicated and lethal squad leader. During the second battle of Chin'toka and more specifically the retreat from AR-558 where he defended his position from countless Jem'Hadar and Breen assaults until he was the last one left and got onto the transport, John heard one his corporals say he had killed ninety combatants that day, but was unsure if that was an overestimate or not. He had been decorated sixteen times with the Medal of Honour and had three Christopher Pike Medals of Valour.
His previous commanding officer's assessment of him was that he was a professional soldier of Starfleet's Marine Corp; who was able to take the worst of it and still give the enemy hell. Of course part of the reason for his superior combat skills was because he was a Saurian. He had two sets of eyelids which not only allowed him to see just as well during the night as well as the day, but see infrared as well - which bypassed the Jem'Hadar's ability to shroud themselves. Saurians were also reported to be very strong, intelligent and with four hearts and well developed retractable claws were very fast over most terrains. Their ability to breathe most atmospheres also gave them an advantage over species that required breathing apparatus on some planets.
John had noted that in his record, if he was unhappy about a situation, he would be direct. As one officer had put it, he had little time for the delay that the fine art of subtlety can bring. Of course the same officer had also suggested that he be given a commission as he could be very useful as an officer. The Sergeant turned the opportunity down, stating formally that he could better serve Starfleet by being in the trenches not in some rear tent.
John sat back in his chair and weighed up his options, before deciding to call the Sergeant in for questioning. There was always an opportunity that he could get the Sergeant to get his Andorian tactical officer to come around before he would condemn her for her actions. John though was prepared to reprimand Shrak for her disobedience; it wouldn't be the first time that she had been caught not following 'suggestions' from a Captain. John tapped into his computer a request to see the marine detachment leader and went back to the routine report, but was interrupted quickly by a beeping on the communications unit attached to his desk.
," that was his recently promoted chief of operations Lieutenant Torlik, "I've got an Admiral Jenkins here Captain. He would like to see you sir
John rolled his eyes, he had little time to devote to the admiral, even though he was an old friend, he thought he had been royally shafted by Command on the latest mission, something that Jenkins would surely have known about. However he was a senior officer and John had a duty to entertain him. "Send him in," John order.
A moment later the aged Admiral walked all, his overweight body walking heavy on the replacement carpet. He looked happy, John didn't trust that he hadn't got something now up his sleeve. "Admiral," John said standing up offering his hand, "How are you?"
"I'm good Captain," the Admiral said giving a wide sinister smile.
"Can I get you something?" John asked politely, turning to his small replicator. The Admiral shook his head and John nodded his acknowledgement, "Computer, Tea, Earl Grey hot." As the drink materialised the Admiral took a seat across the desk from John and placed a padd on the table. John took his tea and took a sip from it before picking up the padd. "What's this; my reassignment orders?"
"It's your primary mission," Jenkins announced, "You gave quite a performance to Admiral Naarg, anyone who was paying attention would now think the actual mission is one of peace."
John scowled, "What do you mean I gave a performance?" John hated the thought of being a puppet to the brass of Starfleet, only there to entertain them.
"Calm down Captain," the Admiral teased, "It's only a diversion," the bulky man paused looking at the padd. "We didn't want the Gorn knowing anything of our underlying intentions," the Admiral stated.
"You mean Starfleet don't want peace with the Gorn?" John asked surprised, despite what John thought and felt, he knew the Federation Council didn't hold a grudge.
"Of course we do," the Admiral replied, "But we know they aren't serious, we just want to be ready for what they'll do next."
"And what the hell are they planning to do next?" John asked.
"Have you ever heard of the Ark of the Covenant?" Jenkins asked his voice low.
"I can't say I have Admiral," John replied. He briefly wondered if every mission briefing that he and Jenkins had would contain some sort of memory test. But John remembered the Admiral did love knowledge test when they last served together.
"It's from an old film," Jenkins explained, "It was a device that held spirits. Those spirits, if released, would burn all those who looked upon them."
"Nice," John replied sarcastically, "So what the Gorn have decided to scare us all witless by showing us this ancient movie?"
"The name is a code word used by Starfleet Intelligence, it refers to a bacterial toxin that the Gorn used during their last war with the Geckonians," Jenkins announced, ignoring John's sarcasm, "The last time it didn't work out so well for them. The Gorn that is. The toxin infected nearly sixty million people in a year, but only halved their lifespan." John thought that wasn't an insignificant toxin, something that could half your potential life was a serious threat. "But recently the Gorn have made a breakthrough," Jenkins continued, his voice was shaky, like he was worried, "By removing the elements that would mean it could only attack the Geckonians, they have made the process much faster."
"How fast are we talking about?" John asked leaning forward.
"A day at most," Jenkins replied, "The toxin is bacteria based as far as we know and it is designed to stop the ectothermic properties of reptilian species."
"What effect does it have on other type of species," John asked sounding concerned, he could think of three reptilian crew members on the ship just from the top of his head.
"None that we know of," Jenkins replied, sounding slightly relieved.
John suddenly raised the palm of his hand, "This is stupid," he stated, "If it affects all reptilian species, how do the Gorn not become infected if they want to annex planets?" John had a puzzled look on his face, "You think they are going to wait fifty years until this poison has dissipated?"
"It is more likely that they have a cure, an anti-toxin or some sort of immunisation," Jenkins explained, but by his voice John knew he was only guessing at this point.
"You want me to go and get it," John said, "That's why you chose the Nightingale, because we have the facilities to confine this thing properly."
Jenkins gave a warm smile and nodded, "You're catching on Captain," he joked, "The research facility where this toxin is being made is three light years from your meeting place with Slov," Jenkins replied, "We want you to assemble a team, get them to the station via an Argos shuttle, steal the antidote, the cure or at least the new version of this thing, blow up the station and escape."
"Blow it up?" John was shocked at that part of the order. He had never known Starfleet to give such an order, however this was the first covert operation that John had actually been involved in.
"We cannot allow the Gorn to have a weapon with that kind of power," Jenkins sternly replied, "If you complete nothing else; destroy that research station. Is that clear Captain?"
John nodded. "Of course you realise, if I am suppose to be at the peace talks, I can't physically be at the research station."
Jenkins nodded, "You have some fine officers in your staff John," Jenkins gave another brief, warm smile, "I'm sure a couple of them could easily command the mission." John could do nothing but nod at that, he already had the perfect candidate in mind.