Gorn Imperial Cruiser Vor, Medical Bay
Slov sat at the medic's desk awaiting the results of the latest tests. He had been prodded, scanned and outright cut into pieces over the past few hours. He felt naked. A while ago his condition was not widely known, now it seemed as if the whole Empire had gotten wind of his deteriorating condition, especially since the Council had mentioned it in an open session. But his condition was nothing more than an obstacle to overcome and he would defeat it. As the medic came in Slov sat bolt up in the chair. "Have you any news?" he queried as man took his seat.
"Your condition is getting worse," the man replied bluntly, "It won't be long before you are overcome and you will cease to function in any meaningful way."
Slov swallowed a huge ball of saliva down his throat, "Is there anything I can do?"
"You could take a disruptor to your head," the medic placed a disruptor on the table, looking at Slov intently, "It would save you the embarrassment that would come with dementia. Your family would remember you as you have been, a brave warrior. And the Gorn nation will remember you for your heroics."
Slov picked up the disruptor looking at its elegant looks. He always knew his life would come to an end at the end of a weapon. He was never going to die an old man in his bed coughing up his last wishes. The weapon felt heavier this time, like the weight of the decision had somehow been incorporated into the weapon. Slov looked at the medic, who had a slight smile on his face.
Gorn Imperial Cruiser Vor, Outside the Medical Bay
The two personal guards of General Slov stood watch outside of the medical bay. They had been waiting for hours and there was no way to know how much longer they would be waiting. As they stood they heard voices inside the room, but could not hear what was being said. Suddenly there was a silent moment before a loud zap from a disruptor. Both the guards rushed into the room to find that General Slov was standing up across the desk of the ship's medic. The ship medic was slumped in his chair.
"Clear that up," was the only thing that Slov said as he sauntered past his guards.
USS Nightingales, Captain's Ready Room
John tapped on the console one more time, his authorisation code, a level 10, the highest known to Starfleet was unable to unlock the mysterious isolinear chip that Commander Hawke had left in his quarters. John waited tapping his hands on the desk as the computer attempted again to past the encryption protocols.
"Access denied," the computer sounded, "Please enter authorisation code."
"Damn it," shouted John as he slammed the desk. "Computer, run the delta sigma seven decryption matrices on the isolinear chip," John ordered as he reached over to the replicator, "And one hot Earl Grey Tea." As the computer materialised a cup of John's drink, the computer screen in front of him flashed a variety of different colours, running through codes for unlocking, declassifying and a number of tasks to get at the over secure piece of information. As he waited John took a sip of his drink and immediately spat it out. "For crying out loud," he muttered under his breath, "I told Torlik I wanted this replicator fixed." John placed the stewed liquid back in the replicator and made a note mentally to warn Torlik that the matter of making sure his replicator could make Earl Grey Tea was a top priority.
"Unable to access data on disc," the computer announced.
John sighed and pulled the disc out of the computer and stared at the wall. What was so important that Dan had made sure no-one could access it? Was he scared this might fall into the wrong hands? Was he scared that Torlik might find it? It was reasonable to assume that Dan had intended to show the Captain at some point, but had never gotten around to him. John had tried every pass code he could think of, his authorisation code, several times, names of Dan's family, Dan's former ships and even typed in Lieutenant Commander Burton in several different ways to gain access. But nothing was working.
A chirp at the door brought him away from the grey wall he was looking obliviously into. "Come," he announced swivelling his chair around to face the door.
In walked Lieutenant Commander Burton holding a data padd in her hand, "I'm sorry to disturb you sir," she softly introduced, "But Commander Hans has assembled the senior staff for the briefing. He asked me to fetch you."
John had realised the time, it was already some minutes late. "Yes," he said realising his mistake, "I'm sorry, I was talking to the diplomatic corps," John hated lying, but found that a Commander had to lie sometimes for the best of their crews. John rose from his seat and grabbed the mission files he had scattered on his desk.
"I can understand that sir," Rachel almost seemed to chuckle, as if she knew he wasn't telling her the truth, "the Diplomatic corps do like to talk on a bit, it is their job at the end of the day."
John forced a smile as he exited his ready room. "Tell me Commander," John said, "Dan's parents have asked if there is anywhere special that he liked to hang out at." John paused, thinking of another lie to cover for the previous lie, "They were hoping to visit a few of his places in his memory, I thought it was a nice sentiment."
Rachel blushed, "The only place I remember him ever being very fond of was the six o two club sir," she replied, "It was where we met."
John paused, "You met at the six o two club?" Rachel nodded gently in response and John just smiled. "Thank you doctor, I will pass that on." John opened the door to the briefing room and allowed Burton to enter first, before following her in.
USS Nightingales, Briefing Room
As John entered the room, the entire room; his senior staff plus a couple of extras he had invited along as they were important to mission stood to attention. John waved them down with his hand. "At ease," he commanded as he found his chair at the top of the table. He looked down the table and nodded to Hans to begin the briefing. It had been decided between John and Hans that now Hans would lead the situation phase of the briefings and John would do the orders phase. This followed with some old naval traditions, forced the crew to switch attention and keep alert, gave John's voice a rest and allowed him to sip a cup of Earl Grey tea, had the replicators been able to do a decent cup.
Hans opened up a file on the display behind John showing the latest tactical reports from Starfleet, "To be concise: the Gorn are losing the war," Hans stated, John thought that was perhaps a little too concise for what he had in mind, but he was sure Hans would go a little deeper into the situation. "They are looking to secure a peace treaty between them, Geckonia and the Federation. Starfleet Command has ordered us to go to Geckonia, pick up two mission advisors and go meet General Slov for treaty negotiations."
John raised an eyebrow and turned round to Hans at the display, "You're finished?" he asked sarcastically. John turned back round into his chair and looked down the table. "Obviously we are to extend every diplomatic courteously option we have available to us," John said, "Hans and I will be in the negotiations. Torlik, I will need you to keep a secure comms channel open to Starfleet Command based at one one two, in case we need it. V'ras go through every single system, make sure there is nothing that needs replacing and you'll need to convert one of our guest quarters to be compatible to Geckonian conditions." John paused noting their facial expressions.
"Sir," Hans said interrupting him, "With all due respect, the guest quarters will be unnecessary," Hans moved back to his seat, "It would rude of me if I did not share quarters with the Advisors. They would take it as an insult."
John nodded, he didn't really understand as of yet the Geckonian way of doing things, and their culture seemed like the most alien he had ever encountered, but he trusted his only Geckonian to know their own culture. "Fine, make sure that you do securely store all sensitive material that are in your quarters," Hans nodded in response. John had wondered if Hans had already done in preparation, it would be in line with Hans' record. "Doctor," John said grabbing the Doctors otherwise vacant attention, "I want you to sit in on the negotiations."
"Sir I am not a diplomat," she protested shaking her head.
"I know," John reassured her, "But you are a Doctor and there are reports that he is suffering from dementia. I want you to assess him, see if there could be any truth in the matter."
Doctor Burton nodded, understanding what her duties were going to be. "Sergeant Rashell," John looked at his marine non-commissioned officer, and smiled, "You'll be in charge of escorting General Slov around," he paused for a second, noting a sharp look from Shrak towards the marine, "I've been told that Saurians are physically stronger than Gorn," John paused chucking an enlisted rank pin at him that was for a Petty Officer Second Class. "Slov won't be expecting marines on the ship. Get yourself a standard Starfleet security uniform and take that rank, blend in." Rashell looked uncomfortable, his second pair of eyelids blinking a couple of times in surprise. "I have good reasons sergeant." John gave as good a reassuring smile as he could and turned to Hans.
"You finished sir?" Hans stated, trying to mock his earlier statement.
"Almost," John replied, "Everyone but Commander Hans, Lieutenants Visitor and Shrak and Nurse Williams is dismissed, you four stay here," he ordered. Everyone but those he mentioned filed out of the room.
Everyone that had remained looked intently at the Captain, "The Gorn have developed a new weapon," he said grabbing their attention, "It is a toxin that is capable of killing any reptilian life." John gave a nervous smile, "Starfleet intelligence has assigned us to get a sample of this toxin and destroy the facility it is being made at. Let's be clear here, the destruction of the facility is our top priority, the Gorn cannot be allowed to possess such a destructive weapon."
Shrak looked at Lieutenant Visitor, John noticed, she was either wondering who was going to be in command or was concerned about her experience for this mission.
"Lieutenant Visitor will command the mission," John announced, noting the look of shock on Shrak's voice, "Lieutenant Shrak, you will command the marines on a boarding raid. You will take Nurse Williams to identify the toxin and secure it."
Chloe sat forward, her hands clasped, "And how do we get to the station sir?"
"You'll take an Argos shuttle," Hans added, "We'll be getting some intelligence on how to avoid detection."
"What about Sergeant Rashell?" Shrak asked, John noted there was some hostility in his voice. "If he is supposed to be here, how can he be on the marine team?"
"He's not going Lieutenant," John added, "This toxin is designed to kill Reptilians. That makes this mission too dangerous for Commander Hans, Ensign Gorkin and Sergeant Rashell." John paused for a second and looked at his table at the padds in front of him. Grabbing one of them he slid it across the table towards Visitor. "That's everything you need Lieutenant," John said, "Get familiar with it." Lieutenant Visitor nodded in response. "Everyone's dismissed," John announced rising from his seat and walking out of the briefing room.
USS Nightingales, Captain's Ready Room
John walked into his minute office and set his padds down on the table grabbing the isolinear chips from the table and inserting it into computer on the desk. "Computer, use the algorithm six zero two to decode this information," the computer buzzed for the second before it rejected the code. John slumped in his chair and rubbed his left hand over an eye. "No that is too easy," he said quietly, "Computer attempt to decode the chip with zeta zero two algorithm."
"Partial decoding complete," the computer announced, "One video and audio track accessible."
John shot himself bolt up in his chair as if he had received a jolt from the seat, "Computer display."
On the screen appeared the face of the late Commander Hawke, just as John had seen him before he died. John felt a small tingle of guilt build up inside of him over his death. There was an additional eerie feeling about seeing the Commander posthumously.
"Captain, if you are seeing this, then I have died. I hope it was in the line of duty. I know that now you are probably feeling some guilt over my death, please don't, you are a good commander and I knew it could happen someday. I know that during the Brave mission, I may not have been supportive and I am sorry for that. Hopefully this can make up for that. I looked into the Victory incident twenty years ago. It was completely classified by Starfleet Intelligence, what has come out is really rumour and speculation; most of it was spread by a Lieutenant Murray and the Victory's Captain. What is in the official report is on this disc, don't ask how I got it. But Captain, I have for security reasons classified it in several layers of encryption, I'm sorry for that, but I have to make sure only you can gain access to it now. Be careful, the Captain is now an Admiral with Intelligence and Lieutenant Murray is a senior Captain in the second fleet. If they found out we were investigating the incident, they may come after us. Watch yourself Captain, finding the truth could be dangerous
Then the transmission ended abruptly.