Star Trek: Nightingale

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by david lowbridge, Mar 24, 2011.

  1. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    Commentary on Chapter 5:

    Torlik’s fortunate not only to have an opportunity for a fresh start on a new ship, but to have someone willing to listen to his problems. Granted, he didn’t take the opportunity to share with Paul, but the fact that a fellow crewmember cared enough to offer is something at least.

    It certainly appears that the ‘official’ account of what happened aboard Victory has been buried by Starfleet Command. The cover story doesn’t do Torlik justice, and was doubtless put in place to paper over the captain’s cowardice and dereliction of duty. It’s a damn shame that he’s had to live with those nightmares and the stain the incident has left on his professional reputation.

    The conversation between Dr. Burton and Commander Hawke finally sheds some light on Burton’s bad attitude. Her fragile emotional state is obviously impacting how she interacts with other personnel, and clearly not for the better.
  2. david lowbridge

    david lowbridge Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 20, 2011
    Somewhere in the future
    What happened to Torlik and the events of the Victory will be dealt with in the next book, but his history, and his actions are still important to this story as you need some background to understand him. But for the events portrayed so far, it certainly was an injustice, and something that should never have happened. Dr Burton and Commander Hawke's romance play an important role in this story, it will be an emotional tear jerker for one of the characters. As with much of the crew (and starfleet at the moment) fragile emotional states are rife - the Dominion War took its toll on a lot of personnel. I'm glad you are enjoying the read.
  3. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    Commentary on Chapter 7:

    Captain Wilcox is faced with one of the most uncomfortable mission profiles a starship can be assigned... go figure out what made another starship disappear, without allowing the same thing to happen to them. Essentially, the 'go-stick-your-head-in-the-noose-and-see-what-happens' style of mission.

    Add to that the fact that he's got an inexperienced crew, an new, untested, and understaffed ship, and that he's likely going to have to take Nightingale near Gorn space to investigate whether they were responsible for whatever fate has befallen Brave.

    Now his Security/Tactical chief is getting whiny, and his mission advisor is not only difficult to read, but likely has issues with the Gorn from having fought them previously.

    This... is going to be a challenge for Wilcox and his crew on multiple levels.
  4. david lowbridge

    david lowbridge Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 20, 2011
    Somewhere in the future
    Stardate 53115.6: Briefing Room, USS Nightingale

    The senior staff all sat at chairs in the Briefing Room, situated just behind the bridge and adjacent to the command and control room. Each of the senior officers had been summoned to the briefing that Captain wanted to hold late last night. Lieutenant Commander Hans was on duty for most of last night, and what would have normally made a human look the worse for wear, Hans looked as fresh as a daisy. Doctor Burton was obviously trying to avoid eye contact with Commander Hawke who was sat opposite her. Her eyes quickly flicking her eyes up to meet his were met by a cold stare from the executive officer. Her only recourse was to stare back at the table and shift her body to redistribute her light weight on the chair.

    Torlik was sat motionless in his chair further down on the table, sat next to the chief science officer, Paul Williams, was engaging in conversation with Lieutenant Visitor. V'ras sat ignoring everyone at the table, just reading a data padd. Apart from the conversation between Williams and Visitor, there was little noise being made in the room.

    Captain John Wilcox walked into the room, right on the dot of eight hundred hours, looking round at everyone. "Good morning," he said breezily at everyone, there was a reply of greetings that John could barely here. He pulled up to his chair and laid a hand across the back looking down the table. Everyone he saw at the table seemed to want to be somewhere else, even his mission advisor seemed to be somewhere that wasn't on the ship. I'm going to have to motivate these people quickly, John thought to himself, otherwise I have no chance on this mission.

    "Okay let's be clear," John said out loud to the room, "we are going to find the Brave."

    V'ras gave a quick glance up. John noticed this and moved his head to look directly at the Vulcan chief engineer, "have you something to add Lieutenant V'ras?"

    "Captain," he replied dispassionately, "it seems highly unlikely that the USS Brave would survive this long without any word from them." The Vulcan tipped his head slightly, "even the most poorly equipped vessel should have either been noticed or sent out a signal by now."

    John shook his head as he pulled out the chair and carefully placed himself at the head of the table. "It all depends what happened to them Lieutenant," John said.

    "With all due respect sir," Hawke piped up quickly, turning his attention for the first time since entering the briefing room away from Lieutenant Commander Burton to the Captain, something that John hadn't missed. "Starfleet seem a little late in sending us, what on Earth can we do this late on?"

    John gave a stare at Dan, wondering what he was doing, blatantly forming a rigid barrier between the two of them, as an executive officer. He was supposed to be the one that gave alternatives, but at the end of the day supported John and get behind the mission. His outburst was nothing more than a condemning the mission before they had really started it. John didn't need that kind of behaviour from his first officer or his friend.

    "Commander Hawke, if Starfleet is sending us, I am sure they think that the Brave is alive and well," John paused for a moment looking down the line of concentrating faces all looking at him. It dawned on him for the first time that he was responsible for all their safety, it was his decisions that would mean they would live or die, it had not occurred to him until this moment that it was on his shoulders that everyone would get home, "we just need to make sure we find her before it is too late."

    Torlik sat himself upright, "with our sensors, finding the USS Brave shouldn't be a problem," he announced, "we do have the best sensors in the fleet."

    John smiled, at least that was some positive thought, "medical facilities can more than cope with the casualties that are expected from the USS Brave." John looked to his left hand side, where Lieutenant Commander Burton sat; she looked up briefly and smiled at John.

    Shrak raised her head and her antennae pointed forward, "Captain, what about combat potential?"

    John had tried not to think about combat potential, certainly there was a possibility of it, going near any missing ship's last known position carried certain risks, including combat, but John was still holding out for another solution. Now Shrak had pointed out the obvious, probably what everyone on the ship knew about, John was unable to hide away from the problem, his ship was in no condition for a sustained combat role. If she had to rescue people under fire there would be no hope.

    Hans leaned forward, "the Gorn weaponry is inferior to that of Starfleet's."

    "It's not a question of whether their weaponry is comparable to Starfleet Commander," replied Hawke looking down the table at the Geckonian sat at the opposite end, "its about the fire power that we can offer in a combat role."

    Shrak nodded her head vigorously, "Gorn vessels tend to carry six disruptor banks and multiple torpedo launchers," Shrak looked at Hans with a cold stare, John noted the look and wondered what it was trying to convey. "The Nightingale has only three phaser banks, two forward and one rear, and only two forward facing standard torpedo tubes," Shrak explained.

    Hawke looked at Shrak and then shot a look at John. John sighed, "Okay so we are not the most armed vessel in the fleet, but that doesn't mean that we can't handle ourselves, our shields are the strongest in Starfleet."

    Shrak nodded, "and our armour is fantastic," she paused for a moment, "but against the standard Gorn cruiser, we would stand no chance."

    "We don't know that," John said abruptly, "Lieutenant Commander Hans, you've had the most experience fighting the Gorn," everyone looked shocked and turned to face the Geckonian officer, whose expression did not change one little bit, "what can you tell us about their tactics?"

    Hans raised his eyebrows, "the Gorn have developed a rather unique method of attack," he said calmly, "traditionally the Gorn like to board ships, three to four groups of five men and start fire fights across the vessel," he paused for another second tightening his lips, "it is designed to separate a crew from their stations giving their ships an easier target."

    Hawke stood up, "doesn't that mean that they lose the men on the ship if they destroy it?"

    Hans shook his head, "although the risk is high for the crewmembers that do beam aboard, their losses are generally less than forty per cent, the Gorn will tend to beam back their death squads as the ship systems fail."

    "A sure fire way to make sure your opponent is distracted in battle," John said quietly, "what options do we have in order to combat this tactic?"

    Shrak positioned herself slightly more forward, "we could just raise our shields should we have any contact with a Gorn ship," she suggested, sarcasm strewn throughout her voice. V'ras raised his eyebrows before shrugging at John, which John thought was about as useful as Shrak's suggestion. John cast his eye down the rest of the table to the quiet group of officers.

    Torlik was about to say something, but suddenly sat back in his chair. John waited for a few seconds for the ensign to talk, for the past few days, John had been impressed by the abilities of Torlik. However his attitude was something that needed vast improvements. Even his crew felt that he had a little bit of an attitude problem. "Ensign Torlik," John addressed in a stern voice, the only way that Torlik seemed to respond to, "did you have something to add?"

    Torlik looked up at the Captain, a cold stare coming from his eyes like a light from a lighthouse penetrating across the room at John. John felt that uneasy feeling with Torlik again. "No sir."

    John contemplated his options, he could dress down the officer now right in front of the rest of the senior crew, his posture and attitude certainly deserved it, but it would not have brought out the best in Torlik, only make the situation worse. He could dress him down latter, but that wouldn't do any good, any inappropriate behaviour or mistakes should be addressed immediately, or the effect of the lesson becomes significantly poorer. In fact if left too long the officer might not take any notice of the message. John decided to take no notice of the officer's behaviour and concentrate on the mission.

    Shrak raised his antenna's in a more threatening tone, "what about we shoot first should we find a Gorn vessel in Geckonian space," she suggested with a tone that hid no sarcasm or joking tone, she was being serious, "after all, we all know that the Geckonian and Gorn aren't exactly friends, I would find it hard to believe that a Gorn would be welcome in Geckonian terriroty."

    Hans leaned forward, clasping his hands yet again, "The Geckonian government orders all its military officers to shoot on sight any Gorn inside the Geckonian territory."

    "Would the Geckonians send out a distress signal if they were under attack by the Gorn?" Shrak asked Hans looking vaguely at the officer.

    Hans widened his eyes, had he been mammalian he might have raised his eyebrows John thought, but he was a reptilian and so did not have any eyebrows. His posture was also vastly different to those of other mammalian species, he sat bolt upright in his chair, his head turning slowly rather than at the speed that he would have expected. This was the first time that John had met a reptilian officer in Starfleet and was nervous about some of the problems that could arise from his being on the ship, especially his heat requirements.

    "The Geckonian military is a proud organisation," Hans replied, "I have no idea if they would send out a distress signal, it would depend very much on the individual Captain and crew of the ship."

    John sniggered silently to himself, Hans had not committed yet again. He was not going to be a useful mission advisor if he could not offer any advice other than information, which would more than likely be limited to the little data that John had obtained through Starfleet Intelligence. John raised his hand and the room fell silent and all the eyes in the room were concentrating on him.

    "We'll make this easy," John said, "Lieutenant Visitor please set a course for the last known position of the USS Brave at the position of the Geckonian distress signal," John ordered, the young girl nodded her head in response which John himself replied in the same gesture.

    "Have we got permission to enter Geckonian space Captain?" a concerned Dan asked.

    "I don't care," John's defiance of the Geckonian borders present in his orders, "one of our ships went missing in their territory; responding to a Geckonian distress call, we will enter their territory."

    A sudden hush fell over the collection of the senior officers, John wished he had been a telepath or empathic at this moment, listening to each of their thoughts. It would certainly make controlling easier and not a gamble on their collective and individual responses. "Everyone by Commander Hawke is dismissed," John said looking at his first officer.

    Everyone except Commander Hawke stood up and shuffled quietly out of the room. John barely heard Ensign Williams voice just outside of the briefing room pointing out his little involvement in the room, though his comment was not a moan or a complaint as such, it was a simple observation. Commander Hawke stayed perfectly still in his seat, looking impassively at John.

    "I thought you were going to be a supportive executive officer," John asked his first officer with an annoyed tone.

    "I am a supportive first officer," Dan replied leaning slightly forward.

    "You are not," John paused for a moment, his mind filled with anger at the earlier comments his first officer had made, some things which did not support the mission, "we are the command staff Dan, we need to sell the mission to the crew and not damn it in front of the other officers."

    "I can't support the mission," Dan replied, "I think Starfleet have been idiots, the USS Hood has been in the area since the Brave has been missing and could have been used to search for the vessel."

    John shook his head, "The Hood has not been sat on her warp core doing nothing, she's being conducting scans for us and protecting the border."

    "Captain," the response from Dan was sharp, "the crew of the USS Brave are mostly likely dead and you know it."

    "That is not for you to say in front of the senior officers, your job is to give me alternatives to plans; give backing to the missions and to carry out my orders," John explained, his voice sounding bossy, "you so far have not done your job."

    Dan was about to open his mouth, probably to complain John thought, but said nothing. Instead he stood up, at attention.

    "You are dismissed Commander," John ordered.

    Dan stormed out of the room, his posture not exactly as John would have wanted from his most senior officer and friend. John wondered what the next problem would be on his crew, what was the next disaster that would completely crash down on him. His fingers tapping on the table he sat at made a relaxing rhythmic tune, but did nothing to alleviate the tension that John felt or solve the impending disaster he foresaw on his ship. For not the first time since getting Command, he wished he was somewhere else, anywhere else, but in Starfleet.
  5. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    Commander Hawke really got off on the wrong foot here. Undermining the captain, who’s also his friend, was a terrible way to support his commanding officer and the goals of their assigned mission. Here’s hoping Dan doesn’t let his relationship troubles influence the performance of his duties. The last thing Wilcox needs in the middle of this mission is an undependable XO.

    It seems Nightingale is significantly outgunned by any Gorn warships they may encounter, which doesn’t bode well if the big lizards were responsible for Brave’s disappearance, or if they simply run across Wilcox’s ship while in a particularly bad mood.

    Your descriptions of the senior staff and their dismal morale at the outset of the mission was nicely rendered.
  6. david lowbridge

    david lowbridge Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 20, 2011
    Somewhere in the future
    Stardate 53115.7: Bridge, USS Nightingale

    John walked onto the bridge of the Nightingale in a rush. He had been down in engineering looking at the warp core, for nothing more than old times' sake. When he was a helmsman on other ships he use to spend hours looking at the warp core as a way to relax and think of solutions. The core's constantly changing colour scheme seemed to give him inspiration like nothing else could. At the moment he certainly needed the inspiration for a number of problems. The location of the USS Brave, his failing first officer and the crews apparent poor moral was enough to deal with without having the added pressure of a possible problem with not just one but two other nations, the Gorn and Geckonians. Despite Han's assurances that the Geckonians had only peaceful intentions towards the Federation he could not help but feel that they could be partly responsible for the Brave's disappearance.

    "Report," he said as he left the turbolift, noticing that Dan was on watch.

    Dan looked up to the Captain and removed himself from the Captain's chair, just in time for John to reach the centre piece to the bridge, "we have just crossed into Geckonian space Captain," Dan reported.

    John sat down in his chair and rubbing his hands down the arm rests slowly. "Good," he responded, "have sensors picked up any vessels yet?"

    Williams, who was at his science station to the port side of the bridge, quickly ran his hands over several consoles, the panel beeping in a merry tune. "Long range sensors have not detected a single vessel," he reported calmly, "however there does appear to be a lot of sensor interference going on."

    John noticed Dan sitting down in the chair to his right, John thought about giving a friendly smile at this point, but it was not the right time nor were the two currently on those terms.

    "Is the sensor interference natural or artificial?" Dan asked in a commanding voice.

    "Definitely artificial," Williams responded confidently, his hands busy over the consoles at his station, "looking at this data I would say it wasn't Gorn technology," he paused slightly turning round from his console to look at the Captain. John could just about hear what was coming next in his head; it was something that he hoped he would not hear. "It seems that the Geckonians are attempting to block sensors from working in their space."

    Hans, who was standing at the rail behind the Captain's chair, near a small console walked towards to the science station, "that doesn't make sense," he stated.

    "Why not Commander?" asked John watching his mission advisor's puzzled look.

    "I have never known the Geckonian military to block sensors," Hans replied, on reaching the science console with Williams in front of him he seemed to look over the readings, "but they are certainly blocking the sensors of all vessels."

    John looked at Dan, "why would they block sensors in the area?"

    "To stop someone from using them?" Dan replied, his point obvious, but it was the only explanation, "but whose sensors are they trying to block?"

    "Perhaps they detected us entering their space and they don't want us in?" Shrak asked, her posture at the tactical station more relaxed than John had seen her for some time; she was probably enjoying the thought of having some kind of action on the ship.

    "My people would not have been able to set this up in this amount of short time," Hans replied, "to create a field of this size; it would take hundreds of ships, days to create." Hans walked over to the helm control station where Chloe Visitor was still piloting the vessel, John had noticed that she and Torlik had not joined in the conversation, but whereas Torlik had seemed to be a listener to the conversation, Chloe seemed to be ignoring the conversation completely.

    "Miss Visitor," John said, "if we carry on our current speed, how long until we reach the location of the distress signal that the USS Brave responded to?"

    Chloe tapped on her console, "one hour sir," she replied with a little hesitation in her voice.

    "What is it Lieutenant?" Dan asked standing up joining the mission advisor at the console at the front of the bridge, both of the men scrutinizing the readouts on the console that Lieutenant Visitor was trying to gently use.

    "There seems to be some debris slightly closer than that, on the flight path," Chloe replied, her voice uncertain.

    "The USS Brave would have flown through that area on the way to the distress signal," Williams added.

    Hans looked at the scans on the console and frowned, "I would suggest that we check out the area before proceeding to the distress signal's position." Dan seemed to nod at the suggestion that the mission advisor made.

    "Shrak," John tried to regain the attention of his Andorian tactical officer, "do you foreseen much danger in the action?"

    Shrak shook her head.

    John raised himself from his seat and pulled instinctively down on his shirt. He looked around the bridge and saw a number of the crew, including all the senior officers on the bridge; Commander Walker, Lieutenant Commander Hans, Lieutenants Visitor and Shrak and Ensigns Torlik and Williams, were focusing their attention on the Captain. "Helm, set a course for that debris field," he ordered nervously, "Williams, can you tell if the debris is the USS Brave or not?"

    Williams punched more commands into his computer terminal on the bridge. He quickly read out some of the readings under his breath, something that John could not hear and was not happy about hearing.

    "I doubt that much of the debris is that of the Brave sir," he said, "half of the hull components seem to be made from Polyduranide," he turned to face Lieutenant Commander Hans who seemed to be nodding.

    "Polyduranide is used in the construction of Geckonian military vessels," Hans stated out loud across the bridge, "Starfleet don't construct vessels with Polyduranide." He paused for a second looking at the sensor logs on the navigational computer, "it seems too large to be a single vessel," he stated, "I would say that at least seven Geckonian vessels were destroyed by the amount of Polyduranide at the location."

    John noticed something on Hans face; he looked a mixture of sadness and anger. The realisation that the Geckonians had lost some vessels in the area had come to Hans and John. A new question now surfaced in John's head, was the USS Brave responsible for their destruction? John looked across the room at Williams and wondered for a second, "Williams you said half of the debris field was polyduranide," Williams turned his attention towards the Captain, "what is the other half of the debris field made of?"

    Williams shrugged his shoulders in a poor gesture for a Starfleet officer, "I don't know Captain," he replied afterwards, "sensors can't identify it."

    Hans walked up to the centre of the bridge, standing next to John and Dan. John noticed the warmth from the suit that Hans wore he was that close and felt a little uncomfortable with the temperature that the undergarment was radiating out from his body. "The USS Brave is not there," Hans said his charm for the obvious continuing.

    "Maybe so Commander," John said returning to his chair, the snug seat wrapping itself around him like a child's blanket, reassuring and comforting, "but it seems more than logical that the USS Brave was there and that a clue of the events that led up to her disappearance; could help us track her down."

    "Course laid in Captain," Visitor stated loudly, John thought she must have been waiting a while for her orders but had been too shy to say something in amongst the other officer's talking about the debris field.

    "Engage, warp nine Lieutenant," John ordered.

    Stardate 53115.7: Captain's Quarters, Gorn Imperial Cruiser Vor

    General Slov sat on the floor of his lavish quarters on the Gorn Imperial Cruiser Vor. One of the latest cruisers to be designed and built by the Gorn Empire, it boasted an impressive military capability. Her seven disruptor banks and five phaser arrays coupled with the three pulse firing torpedo launchers made her one of the most heavily armed vessels in the region. Certainly more than a match for any pathetic Geckonian vessel that patrolled nearby.

    Its initial combat had proven its worth in the field, destroying eight Geckonian vessels in a matter of minutes. The weapon banks on the ship tearing holes right through the disgusting Geckonian hulls. But the initial battles against the horrid blood enemy had not all gone great, some were even disasters. The General knew his career rested on the results of one key battle now, the fight for the Geckonian home world. The warm sandy jewel, in the heart of the Geckonian nation, was where most of the enemy fleet had retreated to a couple of days ago. The rest of the enemy vessels; some estimated twenty five had formed raiding parties and were ambushing any of his forces that seemed opportune. Slav had lost two resupply ships in the last twelve hours due to this.

    However the raiding parties could do nothing against his main force that was nearing to the Geckonian home system. He had amassed a fleet of three hundred vessels in order to capture the system. But unfortunately, due to untimely circumstances the Geckonians now had two hundred and fifty ships in the system, more than four times than what Slov had intended. The interference of the Federation made his thoughts turn to what else might be in the system waiting for him, a Federation task force perhaps? Just a handful of Starfleet warships could turn the close battle he was now anticipating into a bad bloodbath for his men to endure, something that would certainly end his political career and more than likely his life.

    Calling off the attack would be just as dangerous to his career. His enemies back home would use his failure to defeat an inferior neighbour, an excuse to remove him from the ruling council that gave him protection from potential political assassins. There was every right to fear assassins on the Gorn homeworld, political motivated murders were responsible for two hundred deaths and three civil wars in the past decade. Slov himself rose to prominence by killing off his mentor General Ipil when he surrendered his forces during the land assault on Geckonia in the last war. At the bottom of the political ladder murder and assassination plots were events to be embraced, at the top they were something to be feared.

    Slov had the reserves of his fleet, including his own flagship, scanning the Federation - Geckonian border. He hoped that any task force that Starfleet sent, he could intercept before they reached the main battle. His hope lay in a couple of facts; the first being the small amount of time that Starfleet would have in getting a task force together in order to aid the Geckonians and the second was the current condition of Starfleet. Slov knew that if Starfleet wanted to help the Geckonians they would have had only a matter of days to piece together a relief force. Given that their commanders would most likely want to keep a strong presence along the borders they shared, Slov estimated that Starfleet would only be able to send ten to fifteen ships. To combat this Slov had thirty ships, he would hopefully outnumber them two to one. It was also no secret that Starfleet was suffering from man power shortages and vessels which were in need of major maintenance. Since the end of the Dominion War, both man power and maintenance were in high demand and short supply in Starfleet, and Slov hoped that this was something still in his favour.

    The door to his cabin swung open and in the doorway stood Major Drang, his tactical advising officer. Slov knew that of all the people on the vessel he know had, he was the most likely to attempt to take his life, but he was the best tactical officer around and that made him a valuable officer, for the moment.

    "Sensors have detected a Federation vessel entering Geckonian space General," Drang reported, his voice typically slow and the under laying scratching of the back of the throat piecing the air like a dagger, like the one that Slov imagined was poised in his back, held by this man.

    "Just one?" Slov questioned, "Starfleet would surely send more than one. Have you checked the readings? The Geckonians are using strong sensor blockers."

    Drang nodded confidently, "the Federation vessel is going to same co-ordinates as the previous vessel."

    "Why would they go..." Slov quickly paused as he thought about the only explanation, and for the first time he thanked his luck. "The Brave must not have made it back to Federation space," he announced a loud, "which means Starfleet has no knowledge of the war." Slov's voice sounded excited.

    "How can you know that sir?"

    "Because one ship travelling in the wrong direction is not what Starfleet would do," Slov's career and life might be saved at last, "we need to make sure the vessel does not report what is going on, set an intercept course and prepare for battle," Slov's order was sharp and concise.

    His tactical officer gave a wide, sinister smile and left the room. He was more than likely happy to engage the Federation once again. Slov did not matter about such things, his mission was to capture the Geckonian home world, and he would order his forces to engage the enemy, the quicker he did it, the more chance he had at completing his mission, and now it looked more evident that he could do just that.
  7. BSG-Ajax

    BSG-Ajax Ensign Newbie

    Mar 13, 2011
    Kimberling City,MO
    Interesting story and surprising that Starfleet is not aware of the 'little war' going on between the Gorn and the Geckonians.... The Nightingale is headed into a blood bath... Let's hope Captain John Wilcox wises up and goes to Red Alert and prepares to deal with a very aggressive Gorn flag officer.. Great Work David Lowbridge! I look forward to reading more about the Nightingale and her newly minted crew!
  8. david lowbridge

    david lowbridge Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 20, 2011
    Somewhere in the future
    unfortunately due to several problems - people on adastra know that in a year I lost a computer, had to move house, lost internet then suffered from pneumonia and was seriously ill for months. Recently I've picked up this story from where I left it. As such I decided that I will continue this on here as well as adastra.
  9. david lowbridge

    david lowbridge Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 20, 2011
    Somewhere in the future
    Stardate 53115.8

    Captain's Log

    The USS Nightingale has arrived at the large debris field that we detected and due to our proximity the field obstructing our sensors is now diminished. We are now able to complete more thorough scans. So far we have confirmed very little, other than there is no wreckage of any Starfleet or Federation vessel, which bodes well that the USS Brave, she may still be out here.

    End Log.

    USS Nightingale, Bridge

    John stood over the science station looking deep within the screen at the scan data that Williams had brought up. There was nothing concrete on what was out there. John had hoped for a little more clarity than he was being given. All he knew was that there was little evidence that the USS Brave was still in the area, in one piece or, dreading the thought, otherwise.

    "Definitely a number of Geckonian vessels," Williams replied bringing up a couple of the hull fragments on the computer screen, with the computer showing a mesh of what would complete the ship. "Judging from the hull components we have here, I think we will be looking at about sixteen vessels possibly more."

    "Continue with your analysis Mr Williams," John ordered, "Let me know as soon as you've identified the other hull signatures." Williams nodded and continued with some other scans. It seemed almost odd that the computer hadn't figured out what the other ships were, but it was not impossible that these ships were not known to the Federation.

    John walked over to navigation at the front of the bridge where Visitor was busy keeping track of the fragments that were far from stationary, making course corrections as she avoided the ship from being struck by large fragments the size of houses, "You keeping on top of the debris?" John asked confidently. Lieutenant Visitor nodded as she instructed the ship on another course correction.

    "It would be easier if we kept a further distance sir," she stated.

    "I know Lieutenant," John replied placing his hand on her shoulder sympathetically, he knew how hard it was to pilot a ship in these conditions, "But we need to be as close as possible to get better readings with all this sensor interference."

    John's internal thought was busy, he knew now that something had happened in the vicinity of the area that was big, sixteen Geckonian vessels had been destroyed, the USS Brave had responded to something and another hull fragment was out there. Was that Gorn or someone else?

    Williams suddenly gasped that brought the whole bridge to concentrate on him. John waited a few seconds for the inexperienced officer to compose himself. "Captain," he shouted from across the room, John would have preferred a little more composure than that from a senior officer, "Another vessel is on sensors, approaching at high warp."

    John immediately turned to Shrak, the Andorian was already busy on her sensor readouts, "Lieutenant, report, is it a Geckonian vessel?" His quick question seemed to have no effect on the speed of the Andorian's work, she continued at the same rushed pace.

    Shrak studied her scans, her antenna twisting and turning in weird and speedy ways that almost gave John stomach ache, "I don't think so," she stated, "it looks like a Gorn heavy cruiser, but I don't recognise the design, must be one of their new ones Captain."

    John refocused his attention immediately to the viewscreen which now showed a tactical overlay and pushed his lips together tightly. It felt like it was no coincidence that they turned up just as he arrived, was his initial suspensions correct, but could he be that presumptuous. "Lieutenant yellow alert, keep shields down," John ordered quickly as he walked over to his command chair to press the internal communications button, "Commander Hawke and Lieutenant Commander Hans to the bridge please." Both of his senior officers were in cargo bays studying fragments of the debris field, looking for weapon signatures.

    A short buzz sounded to announce the change in alert status, John noted a couple of officers changing stations and Williams changing his posture, to being more alert. Hans arrived on the bridge first; his breathing was rushed, as if he had raced to the bridge.

    "Captain," he announced his arrival in his usual unemotional voice, "you asked for me to report in."

    "A Gorn vessel is approaching our position at high warp," stated John, "what can we expect?"

    Hans walked down to beside the Captain and looked at the viewscreen, where the sensor telemetry was being displayed. "Gorn vessels would never be allowed access to Geckonian space without a challenge, and certainly not freely allowed to roam the space." Hans' cold manner and the way he used the term of Geckonian made him seem unattached, but John suspected that deep in his logic and his thoughts was hatred and anger directed towards the Gorn.

    "So what can we expect from them Commander?" John repeated his question as the officer had not given him an answer.

    "It would depend on whether or not the Gorn view the Federation as being allies with Geckonia or see your motives here as being anything but neutral," Hans would not speculate as to what this ship wanted, and John realised he was asking the wrong question.

    "If they were hostile Commander," he paused for a second, hoping that this might yield some positive answer, "What would they do?"

    Hans raised an eyebrow quickly, "If they were hostile," he paused briefly, "they would first board this vessel with a tactical team, designed to draw your attention away from space battle that they would then start."

    John immediately saw the threat involved; a boarding party could cause havoc and reduce their ability to return fire should fleet action start. There strategy seemed high risk, but also ingenious at the same time. "We should raise shields then?" John asked.

    Hans shook his head, "they would see that as a hostile act and immediately fire."

    Commander Hawke walked onto the bridge, "Gorn vessel sir?" he asked.

    John nodded and pointed to the viewscreen, "About thirty seconds out."

    Hawke joined the Captain and Hans in the centre of the room and gave a look to John that he instantly recognised as a fear of combat. "Are we going to raise shields?"

    "No," John replied quickly, "Lets see what they do first. No need to aggravate them now is there."

    John watched as the Gorn vessel came to a standstill in front of them. It fearsome bulk unsettling him, it had the look of a warship, a killer and of a predator.

    "Captain," Lieutenant Visitor spoke up, "sir with all due respect we are too close to the debris field, should we need to leave, we will be impaired by the hull fragments."

    "Noted," John replied, moving the ship might seem like an aggressive act, something he wanted to try and avoid.

    "The Gorn vessel is hailing us," Shrak announced from across the room, John looked at her and nodded.
    Turning round to the viewscreen he saw the green scales of a Gorn appear, it had been the first time that he had ever seen a Gorn and he was amazed by the instinctual fear that he felt in his stomach, a fear that he should run.

    "Captain, I am General Slov, Commander of the Imperial Cruiser Vor and the Gorn fleet in the area," his slow voice irritated the ears of Captain Wilcox, "Are you lost Captain?"

    John stood for a moment before stepping forward and distancing himself from the other officers, "I am Captain John Wilcox, Commander of the USS Nightingale, a Federation vessel. Can you explain your presence here?" John heard his own voice, it sounded still enough, despite his internal fear, but was it enough to be convincing to the Gorn adversary.

    "You have no jurisdiction in Geckonian space Captain, I do not have to answer to you," Slov replied over the screen, something John knew, but anyone with good intentions would have immediately announced them, which meant that he certainly didn't. "What are you doing here?"

    "We are responding to a distress call received from this location," John replied, it was a lie, but the Gorn might believe it, if the USS Brave hadn't of faced them yet.
    "We too are responding to a distress call," there was something in the voice that made John not trust the voice; it was too slow, too thoughtful. "It would appear that we are too late, have you rescued any of the survivors?"

    The concern did not seem genuine from John's point of view, every moment that this conversation carried on the more troubled John felt. John gave a quick glance over to Hans, who was staring at the screen with despise on his face. John walked over to him and whispered into his ear, "Commander, whatever happened between Gorn and Geckonia you must remain objective."

    Hans turned to face John, his eyes now reddened with rage, "Sir," he said calmly, "it is hard to remain objective when you are dealing with that monster who personally murdered nearly a million of my people."
    John turned round to the viewscreen, hopefully Slov would assume they were talking about survivors, "What do you mean?"

    "He was second in Command of the land invasion of Geckonia," Hans stated, "He executed any Geckonian he found, including civilians."

    "I see you have a survivor on your ship Captain," Slov paused for a second and smiled something that gave a further shiver down John's back, "I could take him back to Geckonia to spare you the trouble."

    "That is awfully kind of you," John stated as he walked towards the screen again, he hoped that his smile would seem real, but he himself felt like a fraud, "but this is Lieutenant Commander Hans, a member of my crew."

    "The Hans?" Slov's voice was higher than normal and bitterness seemed to be embedded in it, "The hero Hans?"

    John turned to Hans, who had turned his anger into a defiant look, "I defeated Slov at the Battle of Tumick Pass," Hans stated, "I lost over six thousand men during the battle, Slov lost nearly one hundred thousand. It caused the withdrawal of the Gorn fleet in the first war. According to Geckonian intelligence, Slov lost his rank, his privileges and nearly his life."

    "I could have done," Slov added over the viewscreen, "But I am not as soft as any Geckonian, I killed the real culprit of our failure, General Ipil and took his place."

    "Must have been hard General for you to kill the person who had mentored you through your career," Hans eyes narrowed, "How dedicated you must be to your cause. Willing to sacrifice your men, your friends. How noble of you."

    Slov seemed to shudder, John noted, a kink in the reptilian armour. "You must hand that Geckonian scum over immediately Captain as there are outstanding charges of war crimes against him," Slov shouted down the comm line, John didn't like where this was going.

    "There are charges against you too Slov," Hans replied angrily, "the only difference is that yours are real, whereas mine are fabricated."

    Slov angrily hit the panel that was resting in front of him, "Turn in that murderer Captain, or I will open fire on another Federation vessel."

    John's attention was caught, he looked at the General and using a calmed voice asked the only question that was relevant. "You are responsible for the disappearance of the Brave?"

    "Yes," replied Slov confidently, proudly raising his head up a little, "And I will destroy any vessel, Federation or Geckonian that gets in the way of me taking what is rightfully Gorn."

    "Cut him off," John ordered sharply, "Red alert, raise shields and power up the weapons."

    "Captain," Shrak suddenly shouted from across the room, "transporter signals from across the ship, they are attempting to board the vessel."

    John accessed the internal communications on his commbadge quickly, clicking to make sure that all channels would be open, "All hands, intruder alert, arm yourselves."
  10. david lowbridge

    david lowbridge Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 20, 2011
    Somewhere in the future
    Stardate 53115.8

    USS Nightingale, Main Engineering

    V'ras stood in the middle of engineering. He had heard the announcement from the Captain, he had felt the mix of emotions briefly pass over him. It was illogical to ignore that he had emotions, he had them and they ran deep within him. The only difference between him and the rest of the crew; is that he was able to control them.
    "You heard the Captain," he shouted across the two decks of engineering, "Arm yourselves."

    V'ras walked calmly over to the emergency phaser locker that was attached to the wall in the corner of the lower engineering deck, using his command code he opened it, flinging the lid downwards and grabbed the nearest phaser, placing it in his trouser holster. He made time to pass out the other three in the locker to personnel standing near him, he was the senior officer, he had a responsibility for the rest of the crew in this area. One of the people close to him was a young human crewman who had only just joined Starfleet. V'ras noted that he looked nervous. "Do not worry crewman," V'ras heard himself say, "concentrate on the job at hand and you will be fine."

    The young man nodded and ran back to his station.

    "Lieutenant," one of V'ras non commissioned officers spoke up to get his attention. V'ras walked over quickly looking around for the potential of intruders, "The energy beams that are typical of the Gorn transporter system are being deflected from all over the ship."

    V'ras took a look at the sensor data. Something did seem to be deflecting the transport locks from across the ship; it was buying him and the rest of the crew some time. "Do you know what is doing it?"
    The enlisted man shook his head.

    "The debris perhaps?" V'ras quickly bringing up the scan reports, but a quick glance showed nothing unusual from the debris field.

    "It looks like it's our own ship," the enlisted man replied, "But I know of nothing on the ship that could do this."

    V'ras studied the dispersal pattern on the scan log. "You are correct. This ship is certainly deflecting the beam, not allowing it re-materialise the object. But how is it doing that?"

    The senior crewman looked at his readings, "Our shields are up," he announced, "that should stop the beaming in anyway for a while."

    V'ras cocked his head, "Its not," he pointed to a signature developing on the deck he was standing on. "They've developed a way in which to beam through shields." V'ras hit his commbadge, "Engineering to bridge, the Gorn have developed a method to beam through shields, I need a security team down in engineering, I've got an intruder materialising."

    "Marines under the command of Commander Hawke and Lieutenant Commander Hans en-route Engineering."

    V'ras recognised the voice of Lieutenant Shrak, her Andorian accent and way of speaking tearing through the communications channel.

    V'ras noted that an energy beam was starting to develop near to the warp core, V'ras quickly thought of his next command, "All personnel take cover, intruder in engineering, near the warp core."

    He quickly ducked behind a console that hid him from the intruders. There was nothing they could do; the intruder's beam in point was directly in front of the warp core giving them complete cover at from fire in almost every position. If they attempted to return fire, they risked hitting the warp core and that could destroy the whole ship. The logical move was to allow them to move away from the system and attack them then.

    As the figures of ten Gorn appeared, V'ras felt a sudden rush of adrenaline run through his green blood. He felt like he could take them all on, but that was a foolish thought. Immediately the Gorn with rifles slung from the waist, started shooting at personnel who were scattered across the two decks. V'ras hoped his people had found enough cover to protect them. He noticed a couple of his people return fire. He shouted to make sure that the crewmembers knew not to fire, but a couple of more shots made it clear that they didn't understand or some didn't hear the command in the heat of battle.

    V'ras' only way to ensure the safety of the ship was to erect a shield around the warp core, allowing any accidental hits to cause little or no damage. But the problem with his plan was the controls to do so were on the other side of the engineering deck. Not a path that would take him close to the Gorn intruders who had taken up defensive positions of their own, but out of cover and a tempting target.

    V'ras touched the shoulder of the senior crewmember who was squatted near him, and then to the young crewmember who was next to him. "We need to erect a force field around the warp core. I can do that from over there and it would only take a few seconds, but I need you to give me covering fire."

    The two men both gave a reassuring nod. As they lifted themselves up and fired their weapons; V'ras made his move, darting across the room to an exposed console. He noticed a burst of energy hit a nearby console as he tapped on the controls. A moment later, he heard the beep confirming the force field initiating. He looked around to see the blue energy field defending the vulnerable system, knowing his job was done he raced back to the cover he had just emerged from.

    As V'ras got down he saw the young crewman lying on the floor. He checked his neck for a pulse but found nothing. Another flash of illogical emotion came to the front of his mind. He quickly pushed it down into the depths of his soul. He would not let anger get a hold of him, not now, not when logic was needed more than ever.

    Tapping his commbadge, V'ras gave the order to fire upon the enemy contacts.

    Just as V'ras was about fire his own weapon he saw another transporter beam materialise a team of ten invaders. The odds were being stacked against him and his team. He looked down at the body of the young man that lay lifeless on the deck and wondered how many of his people, how many of the crew were now dead.

    The ship suddenly shook, now the Gorn had started the space battle. At least they might not be beaming on any more people.

    V'ras shot at one of the Gorn aggressors, his reptilian body ducking slowly out of the way. V'ras flinched, it was a bad miss. But looking around his crew's firing was keeping their heads down.

    Suddenly a tap on his shoulder was felt, it was Commander Hawke and a team of four marines. V'ras nodded.

    "Situation report Lieutenant," Hawke asked as two marines took up positions behind consoles and started firing, the other two knelt close to the Commander.

    "We've got twenty hostiles, they've taken defensive positions on the far side of the engineering deck, behind the warp core," V'ras turned round as a shot thundered above their heads, "I've erected a force field around the warp core, so there is no danger of a warp breech."

    Hawke nodded, he looked confident, "Commander Hans has four marines and is attempting to attack them from above, is there any escape from that area of engineering?"

    V'ras nodded, "A small access tube allows access from there to the corridor in sections 34 and 35."

    Hawke nodded, "Marines, we'll take up positions near there, try to take them out if they should attempt a retreat."

    The four marines all nodded and evacuated with Commander Hawke the way that they had entered. V'ras noted that they replaced the hatch to the Jeffries tube as they exited. V'ras took up his position again at the console and fired a few shots off, hitting one of the intruders. He suddenly noticed a blue pulse fire from the upper deck. The other marines had arrived.

    V'ras watched as two of the Gorn attackers were hit and immediately fell onto the ground, looking as if they had been fatally hit. The concentration of fire had obviously startled the Gorn attackers as they moved towards the hatched that V'ras had told the executive officer about. Hawke was right about what they would do if faced with further fire power. Two of the Gorn were obviously giving cover fire to the remaining soldiers. V'ras counted them in his mind, he counted twelve escaping, two on rear guard positions.

    "V'ras to Hawke, twelve should be coming to your position in moments," he noted.

    "Acknowledged, we'll be ready," Hawke replied over the comms channel.

    V'ras got a shot off at the last Gorn standing as he fell to the ground. The four marines and Hans quickly slid down the ladder and landed on the deck. Two of the marines checked the Gorn for signs of life, while the other two covered their escape route. V'ras thought it most logical behaviour considering the Gorn could easily double back and attack the Engineering room again. V'ras couldn't help but admire the marines and their professionalism.

    V'ras engineering crew quickly re-manned their stations, but there were obvious missing personnel. V'ras looked around for who was missing; he counted seven personnel not at their stations. He knew one had died, but how many others.

    "You have casualties on the upper deck Lieutenant," Hans reported.

    "How many sir?" V'ras couldn't help but ask.

    "At least one dead, two wounded," Hans' voice sounded like his own, V'ras thought. In light of the situation it sounded cold and unsympathetic. But to the trained ear, it was nothing more than logical, there was no room for emotions on the battlefield. "Man your station Lieutenant," Hans ordered, "we need engineering to its most optimum."

    V'ras nodded and returned to his work.

    The senior NCO was already looking up the damage, "Shields are already at fifty percent," he noted towards V'ras, "We've only got a couple of minutes at this rate."

    V'ras nodded, "let's divert all power from the non essential systems and route them into the shields."

    His senior NCO nodded and was tapping onto his console.

    USS Nightingale, Bridge

    Captain Wilcox sat in his chair. His thoughts were divided between the battle that was raging on deck six and the space battle that he was trying to manage on the bridge on the ship. He bit his lip making it bleed as the ship shook again from the impact of another volley from the Gorn vessel. "Helm, defensive pattern delta five, attempt to get us away from the debris field and into open space."

    Chloe he noted had been able to keep a lot of the fire away from the ship, despite almost being pinned against the debris field. She was certainly as good a pilot as she had been sold to John as. Shrak he noted had also been able to show her professional aggression during combat, something that made her an excellent tactical officer.

    Another shake of the ship exploded a console across the room, a crewman fell backwards. John watched as the crewman got back up, with blood on his face and returned to his station. "Lieutenant, you've got to get us out of this kill zone."

    "I'm attempting to sir," Chloe replied calmly.

    "Situation reports from deck six sir," Ensign Williams reported, he was manning the operations post as Torlik was nowhere to be found, "there is a fire fight in the corridor, but engineering is clear of hostiles, "There is damage to the engineering section, warp drive is affected."

    Another shake and Shrak spoke up, "I've lost power to the weapons system sir. Shields are down to ten per cent."
    Another explosion hit the bridge throwing sparks in all direction that confused John momentarily. "Chloe can you plot a course out of here?"

    Lieutenant Visitor nodded and started to plot a course, "Got one, but it doesn't take us into Federation Space, it takes us deeper into Geckonian territory."

    "Do it," Wilcox shouted as sparks flew again, emergency lighting had to be imitated and a beam fell from the ceiling a foot away from him.

    Chloe did the command and reported they were now at warp six, all they could manage. Wilcox nodded gratefully at the young Lieutenant and commented on her excellent piloting skills.

    "How long until the shields can be repaired?" Wilcox asked Shrak.

    "No idea Sir," she responded, "I need to see what damage has been done, looks more damage than a simple power failure."

    "Damn it," Wilcox shouted hitting the arm of his chair as he `sat back down, "Helm, is there anywhere to hid at the moment?"

    "Yes sir," Lieutenant Visitor reported shouting immediately, "I've got the course to pass near a nebula, class 9 sir."

    "Good job Lieutenant," John said.

    "Lieutenant Commander Hans to bridge," the mission advisor came over the internal communications system.

    "Bridge here Commander," John replied, "Report."

    "We've secured deck six and eliminated the threat. I've got three Gorn prisoners," the Geckonian officer reported, but something was hesitant in his voice.

    "Casualties?" John asked.

    "We've got four dead in engineering, plus two in a critical condition and we have another two injuries in the defence team, one minor, one major," Hans voice seemed even more from its usual calmness.

    "Is Commander Hawke there?" John asked.

    "He was hit sir," Hans stated, "He is the critical casualty. Sir!"
  11. david lowbridge

    david lowbridge Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 20, 2011
    Somewhere in the future
    Stardate 53116.5

    USS Nightingale, Bridge

    John stood on the bridge watching the view screen as if he was actually willing the ship forward. Lieutenant Visitor was straining under the stress of having to keep the Gorn vessel in pursuit of them from catching up to them. The sweat on her head was evident. Her last report gave the nebula in about six minutes. Wilcox hoped that it was earlier, the Gorn vessel was closing in on them, and six minutes would seem like an eternity in that time.

    It wasn't the only problem that was flowing through his head. The damage to the ship during the battle had been extensive, damage to weapons, engines and power regulations would be difficult to repair with their limited resources this far away from safety and the casualties during the battle were higher than John had originally thought. Apart from the four in engineering, one had died on the bridge and two in other places on the ship. Seven other crewmembers were in a critical condition in sickbay, including Dan.

    John was particularly worried about Dan. His initial prognosis was not good and for the past few hours he had been in surgery. John could do nothing to help his friend now, guilt gathered as they had not spoken nicely to each other the last time they had a conversation off the bridge. John, like everyone else in Starfleet, knew that his job wasn't the safest in the universe, but there wasn't many in space that were particularly safe. However, like so many others as well, John had the attitude that it bad things only ever happened to other people. Dan's injury brought the reality that it could happen to anyone closer to home.

    The deaths and injuries, which included four others with less serious injuries but were still off duty for the next few days, meant that John, who was suppose to have a crew of sixty five now had a crew of just forty three. Engineering was the worst affected, it was suppose to have sixteen personnel to begin with, but left with only twelve. Now they only had only five crewmembers fit for duty. To add to the worry they had a lot of work to do and it was causing them problems.

    But from the battle John could take some positives from it. The marines performed brilliant, he was amazed at their professionalism and skill, something that Hans and V'ras had also commented upon the marines skills in their quick situation reports.

    Hans was down in the infirmary, apparently taking on a light wound, something that he had not mentioned to John, but Doctor Burton had insisted on checking out. Ensign Torlik was also injured, he had been on deck seven near some equipment that no one knew about. Ensign had burns across his face and was spending time in the Imaging Chamber. His assistant operations officer had looked at the device and determined that Torlik was working on it when fire from the Gorn vessel caused an overload.

    The ensign also seemed to think that his superior was working on something that deflected unauthorised beam ins. Something that he was not authorised to do, but might have saved the ship. John had already determined that had the Gorn been able to beam in where ever they wanted that they wouldn't have been able to fight them and that casualties would have much higher if not total. Even if Torlik had not followed protocol, he might have just saved the ship.

    John wanted answers from Ensign Torlik and had asked Doctor Burton to contact him as soon as he was awake and out of the imaging chamber. John also wanted to talk to Dan and Hans, who had valuable information on how the Gorn operated, very few Starfleet personnel had dealt in a fire fight with the Gorn and any intelligence that they could provide will be invaluable in future conflict.

    "Captain, we are approaching the nebula," Chloe announced from the front of the damaged bridge. The beam that lay across the centre, obscured the view of the view screen from the Captain's chair, make John stand up to look at the purple and blue soup that lay in front of the vessel.

    "Analysis Williams," John shouted from the centre of the deck.

    "Class nine nebula sir, one by zero point five by zero point two light years in dimensions. Highly corrosive gases in it, but the shields even in their current state should keep us safe for a while," the Ensign reported back, "Sensors can't detect anything in there from the outside and you would have to be almost on top of the object on the inside to detect anything."

    "So it's a damn good hiding place then," John replied, Williams only nodded back, "Take us in Helm."

    John felt the shudder as the ship passed the outer layers to rest uncomfortably on the inside of the gas monster. It wouldn't be hard for the Gorn to realise where they had disappeared, but would they attempt to find them inside of the nebula, or would they wait on the outside for them to exit their refuge. He had information sources of course, Hans and the three Gorn prisoners they had, if they were to co-operate. So far his three 'guests' were not very talkative and had refused any medical treatment.

    "I've taken up a position inside the nebula sir," Chloe remarked.

    "Good job Lieutenant," replied John, "Every three minutes change our position, just in case they attempt to locate us." Chloe nodded at her orders and started working on the console, as if she was planning on the next few manoeuvres. John turned to Shrak, who was at her station trying to conduct some diagnostics of the weapon systems, in an attempt to get something back on. "Lieutenant Shrak, you have the bridge, I'm going down to see what is happening in engineering and sickbay, report in every half an hour."

    Shrak twisted her antennas, something that John recognised as acknowledgement. John nodded to her and left the bridge in a purposeful walk.

    USS Nightingale, Sickbay

    John arrived in sickbay a couple of minutes later. The smell of blood was the first thing that hit him full force. John had not expected that on a modern space ship, but perhaps considering the role of the ship he had, it would be something that he should expect a lot in the future.

    He gave a quick glance around, the tiny noises of instruments and equipment beeping from time to time gave the impression of calmness in what was probably a very busy room. Dan was in a bio bed on his own, looking peaceful, no signs of the trauma that he apparently suffered. Hans was sitting on a bio bed with a nurse going over some thinks with him. Torlik was nowhere to be seen, presumably still in the imaging chamber. John decided to talk to Hans.

    As soon as John reached him across the room the nurse left the two of them alone to talk. "You okay Commander?"
    "It was nothing more than a flesh wound sir," the Geckonian replied in his trademark coldness, "I did tell the Doctor, but she insisted on seeing me."
    "Doctor's prerogative," John replied, "What can you tell me about the Gorn from their tactics in this instance?"
    "They are serious sir," Hans replied, "They certainly wanted to make sure that you were destroyed," he continued in a cold detached voice, "They are trying to hide their actions here, they don't want the Federation interfering with what they are doing?"

    "And that is?"

    "The extermination of the Geckonian people," Hans said. John couldn't believe his calmness considering he was discussing the genocide of his own people.

    "They picked the perfect time to launch their invasion. Starfleet low on man power and equipment, with what little resources spread out across Federation space and as part of the Alliance Occupational Force of Cardassia," John stated, biting his lower lip, "Even if we could get word to Command, there is little we could do."
    Hans shook his head, "If they were not worried of what Starfleet could do, they would not be going to such lengths to hide their actions."

    John paused for moment, Hans was right, if the Gorn were not worried, they would not be trying so hard to hide the attack. It got him thinking about the Gorn fleet, and the state of it. Last John had heard, the Gorn had a large fleet of weak vessels. The one that attacked them might not have been a standard Gorn vessel, it certainly wasn't in the database. This could mean Starfleet could interfere, could do something, if he could figure a way of communication with Command.

    John's thoughts and analysis of scenarios were interrupted by a beeping in the room. He leapt up in fright from his leaning position next to the Geckonian mission advisor sat next to him. Scanning the room John searched for the location, but Doctors Burton and Castello with Nurses Williams and Traelex were already there, already at the side of Dan.

    "His heat beat has increased to one hundred and eighty per minute and rising," Nurse Williams screamed as she read the console out, John had no idea what all the words meant, but her voice was enough to convey it was serious. "No, no, no. Blood pressure is two ten over one fifty, he's going into a seizure."

    Doctor Burton ran her hands through the hair, "Okay give him two hundred CC's of lectrazine, that should stabilise the heart," she paused for a second as a nurse administered the drug into the neck of Dan.

    "No effect," Nurse Williams announced, "Heart rate is still climbing."

    "Give him three hundred," Burton ordered sharply.

    "Doctor that could stop his heart," Castello exclaimed.

    "It will stop at this rate anyway so do as I say," screamed Burton in a panicked rush as she ran around the bed to the other side of Dan. The Trill nurse administered the dose in the same place.

    Costello put his hand over Dan's mouth and nose, "he's stopped breathing."

    Nurse Williams shook her head, "the heart is stopping, but it's not the drug that is doing it, we need to resuscitate him now."

    Burton pushed Williams out of the way of the screen and took a look at the readings herself, John could feel the stress they were all going through from across the room.

    "Nurse administer three hundred of Cortolin and prepare the cardiostimulator," one of the nurses nodded.

    "The Gorn weapon blast has caused a lot of neurological damage doctor," Castello said looking at another screen which looked like it was the brain of Commander Hawke, "We might not be able to revive him."

    Burton looked at the screen from behind Castello as the nurse administered another hypospray to Hawke, "Look here," Castello pointed, "the area where the brain manages basic functions has taken significant damage."

    "We could try neurological repairs on it," Burton replied hastily.

    "No time," Castello quickly replied, "We have to hope there is enough there to help him operate."

    "What about life support?" Burton seemed as if she was scared.

    "It would more than likely make his condition worse."

    "Doctor," that was Nurse Williams, "Cortolin has had no effect and we've lost his pulse"

    "Prepare the stimulator," she announced grabbing the device from nurse sharply, "Clear the bed." Her crisp clear order sent everyone a couple of feet away from the bed. As she activated the device John noticed a small tear develop in one of her eyes. The body of Dan quickly jumped into the air a few centimetres before resting again on the bed.

    "No effect, no pulse no heart beat," Williams announced clearly.

    "Clear," Burton announced again quickly. Again everyone on the medical team stepped backwards. Dan's body levitated again as if by magic, but the glum look on Williams' face was more than enough to tell the story of what was going on.

    "Clear," Burton shouted again, now tears more evident on her face. The rest of the medical team were now staring at her, disbelief written all over their faces.

    "Doctor, he's gone." Castello softly said.

    "I said clear, damn it," she shouted as she activated the device on Dan another time, his body rising slightly, "Come on Dan," she screamed, "Breath damn you."

    Nurse Williams put her hand on Burton's shoulder, Burton now in floods of tears, the room seemed to come to a perfect silence, not even the one beeping machines made a noise.

    "Doctor, he's gone, there's nothing we can do for him," Williams whispered quietly, but in the current atmosphere it was as loud as a shout.

    Burton took in a deep breath and looked at the nurse. John wanted to intervene, but found himself powerless to do so. Grief had already struck him hard.

    "Record the time of death please nurse," Burton said, attempting calm, but her shaky voice expressed her true feelings in the matter, "I'll be in my office." With that she walked into her office and left the deathly silence behind.

    John looked around at everyone; no one was quite sure what to do; nor was he.
  12. david lowbridge

    david lowbridge Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 20, 2011
    Somewhere in the future
    Stardate 53116.7

    Captain's Log

    The death of Commander Hawke has caused an immediate effect on some of the crew. Lieutenant Commander Rachel Burton seems to have locked herself into her office and is not responding to calls. I, myself have found it difficult to think of the Commander's death. I would do anything that would bring him back. He was an excellent officer and a good friend; I wish I could have told him that before he died. But instead we were at loggerheads since the moment we stood on the ship.

    I've placed Lieutenant Commander Hans as a temporary Executive Officer. The only other option was Doctor Burton, and ignoring her current mental state, she does not have Bridge Officer training.

    End Log.

    Stardate 53116.7

    USS Nightingale, Lower Engineering

    V'ras rubbed the grease and dirt that had collected on his forehead over the past few hours. The attack by the Gorn had done some serious damage to the ship in general and specifically to the engineering section. V'ras had spent the last two hours inside a jefferies tube trying to reconnect the power to the replication system and the life support on deck 7, which had to be temporarily evacuated. It was very dirty work. He had one person down there in an environmental suit working in the power distribution area, but V'ras could spare no-one else to leave engineering, he was shorthanded enough.

    V'ras had a crewmember resting for four hours at a time. He had to have everyone as rested as possible, and he had no idea how long he would have to work so few people. At the moment, the only other engineering officer was off duty. V'ras struggled to find a use for Amanda Hodge, she was not the best engineer in terms of warp mechanics or energy matrices. Her specialism was medical equipment, but by a stroke of luck, the medical equipment was not affected by the attack.

    "Sir," Petty Officer Paul Thatcher tried to grab his attention as he took a sip from the bottle of water that was the only supply of fluid the engineering deck had at the moment with the replicators offline. "I've realigned the dilitium intake matrix, but the journey to the nebula serious taxed the crystals themselves."

    "What power do we have?" V'ras asked making a mental note of the problem.

    "By my calculations we could manager warp six at best," Thatcher announced glumly.

    "Then that will have to do," V'ras said, he could not understand the Petty Officer's glum outlook, the ship could have been stuck without any warp drive what so ever.

    "We also have a problem that out shields can only be charged to about fifty percent," the Petty Officer stated.

    "It is better than nothing crewman," replied V'ras, "Get to work on the impulse drive."

    The man nodded and walked off to a station on the opposite side of the room. V'ras mentally shook his head, it was a disastrous situation to be in, made worse by a hull breach in cargo bay one, where all the spare parts were vented into space. With limited resources it seemed highly unlikely that he had the ability to get the ship fully functioning again, at least not without getting to a Starbase.

    V'ras turned slightly as the door to the lower engineering deck was opened manually. V'ras stood up still, intent on knowing who was coming in. He was relieved to see it was Captain Wilcox and Lieutenant Commander Hans.

    V'ras approached them, "Captain," he acknowledge the entrance of his senior officer in a typical Vulcun neutral voice, "I apologise for internal communications being down," he continued, "But I need to get deck seven operational before work can start on them."

    "Understood," replied the Captain, V'ras noted that he seemed despondent and distanced from engineering, "Give me an update on the current status of the ship please Mister V'ras."

    V'ras nodded and moved towards a console near the where the three officers were standing. On it was a large visual of the Nightingale.

    "Decks three and seven are completely abandoned at this point," V'ras announced pointing to the obvious positions of the decks on the visual, "Deck three lost artificial gravity about one hour ago followed by a partial loss of the life support. Deck seven has lost all life support; I've got a man down there attempting to reinitiate the system."

    "Engines and weapon systems?" Hans asked, his voice seemed more concerned than that of the Captain V'ras noted. Even the Captain seemed disinterest as he blankly stared at the screen of the Nightingale.

    "We can manage warp six at best," V'ras noted, "Shields could get to fifty percent at best, weapons we have a major problem."

    The Captain shifted his focus from the screen to V'ras. V'ras could see some sort of pain in his eyes; something had happened that the Captain was not letting on. "Where do we stand?" the Captain asked.

    "Phaser banks are completely burnt out," V'ras replied, "And the firing mechanism for both the torpedo launchers were destroyed in an explosion that occurred during attempted repairs."

    "We have no weapons?" Hans asked.

    "None," replied V'ras, "I could rig the deflector dish in order to send out a powerful pulse, but against a Gorn vessel, it is highly improbable that it would do any damage."

    "I agree Captain," Hans added, "The Gorn hull is tough; to compensate for them not having any shields, their ships can take substantial damage."

    "What about using some of the spare parts we have in storage," Wilcox started to ask, "Surely we have some weapon spare parts in there?"

    V'ras tapped on the computer to show a shot of the cargo with a large irregular hole in the wall. The inside of the room had multicoloured gases swirling inside of it. "The cargo bay has a hull rupture. We lost a lot of the equipment through it, some probably still remains, but with life support down, and the emergency shielding failing twenty minutes ago on deck seven. The corrosive gases from the nebula seeped inside the cargo area, there is no way to get to them, let alone know if any of the spare equipment is actually working at this point."

    "Can we cannibalise any other part of the ship to get weapons working?" Hans asked.

    "No, nothing else is compatible," V'ras responded.

    "The imaging chamber," another voice behind the three officers announced its presence.

    Hans and V'ras turned to face the newcomer to the discussion, Hans did not recognise the young ensign, but V'ras instantly nodded to Ensign Hodge.

    "Ensign," Hans nodded to her, "you have something to add?"

    "Yes sir," she said walking up to the console and bringing up the designs for the imaging chamber, "With a bit of ingenuity, we can convert the device that loads the patient into the chamber, into one of the launchers."

    V'ras consciously raised an eyebrow; it had to admit it was something that he had not thought of.

    "What's the catch?" Hans asked.

    V'ras nodded, "The chamber wasn't designed to load patients in quick succession," V'ras replied, "We would have a limited fire rate."

    "Better than nothing," Hans replied, "Captain?" Wilcox maintained his look of distance from the rest of the group. "Captain, what do you think?" Hans asked again. V'ras noted that Hans maintained the same sort of emotional detachment as Vulcans, yet somehow managed to keep emotions close to the surface, it was fascinating for him to consider the possibility.

    Wilcox took his time to respond, V'ras considered asking him again, but before he could the Captain moved, "Do it." His short statement was nothing more than a continuation of his distancing from the situation. "I'll be on the bridge should you need me," the Captain stated.

    "Sir," V'ras had one more concern in which he had to speak to the Captain, "I could really do with Commander Hawke," V'ras announced, "He has extensive engineering experience and I am very short handed, I was wondering when he will be released from sickbay, as well as the other three members of my crew."

    "Commander Hawke is dead," Wilcox replied sharply in an angry voice, V'ras noted an emotional surge from the Captain so strong it unsettled him greatly, "Lieutenant Commander Hans will take on his responsibilities."

    "Aye sir I understand," replied V'ras.

    "You understand what Lieutenant?" the Captain shouted, taking V'ras completely by surprise, "We've lost a great man, a great deal of good people on this ship, and you only understand." V'ras raised an eyebrow at the rant now being thrown into his direction, "It must be great to have no emotion, not to care about the lives lost."
    Before V'ras could respond to the Captain's outburst he stormed out of the room and into the corridor. Hans, who had watched the Captain leave turned back to face V'ras.

    "Carry on Lieutenant," he said softly, "I'll return in a bit."

    Stardate 53116.7

    USS Nightingale, Corridor, Deck 5

    Wilcox slammed his fists hard onto the wall outside of engineering. He hated the thought that his friend was gone. He hadn't said a nice word to him since he had come aboard and neither of them had being that friendly to each other. He regretted some of the things he said to Dan, he wished that he had some way to convey that he was a good officer. He slammed the wall again with his fists as he continued on a few more steps, his hand felt numb now and he felt the wetness of blood trickle from his fist. He had hit a control panel and the glass that was on it shattered from the force of the punch he had given the wall.

    "Shall I add that to the damage report Captain?" a familiar voice asked from behind him. Hans walked up beside him, "I'm afraid that the console is considered a minor repair though," he paused for a second, "It would have to wait until we get to a Starbase before it can be repaired."

    "I understand," replied Wilcox. He didn't know what the Geckonian was attempting to do, but he didn't like to play mind games.

    "There is nothing you can do Captain, nothing will make the loss of Commander Hawke better," Hans said, in his voice John could hear a sense of sympathy, but could not connect with it in his mind.

    "You are wrong Commander," Wilcox replied, "There is something that I can do." Wilcox noted that the Geckonian cocked his head slightly to the side, "Come with me."

    Stardate 53116.7

    USS Nightingale, Brig

    The brig on the Saint Bernard class ship was small in comparison to other federation ships. It consisted of a single cell and a small control desk directly in front of the cell. Inside of the cell were the three Gorn prisoners. As John walked in the Marine on guard duty came to attention.

    "You're dismissed private," John shouted, "Get yourself out of the room."

    The Marine nodded and walked out the room, going past Hans as he entered the room. John barely noticed the Geckonian step inside the small room. John walked in front of the force field that separated the cell from rest of the room. One of the Gorn stood up from the floor that they were all sitting down on and approached the other side of the force shield.

    "I am Captain John Wilcox, commander of the USS Nightingale," John said, "I trust you find your accommodation comfortable, I'm afraid that we don't have a lot of space on this class."

    The Gorn sneered at the comment and turned back to go and sit with the rest of the group.

    "What not in a talkative mood?" John asked, taking on a distinctively hostile tone, "I thought I would let you know your attempts at disrupting life on this ship have failed."

    The Gorn sniggered a little bit, "We killed some of your crew and we damaged some of your systems. From what I can tell, we have done some significant damage." He started to cackle at his statement as did the other two prisoners. "I see you brought your Geckonian slave Captain," the Gorn paused giving a disgusted look at Hans. John would give the Geckonian credit for not flitching, "Is he to do your dirty work Captain."

    "I can do that myself," replied John moving over to the control desk, he waved his hands over the console and started to play with some of the rooms systems.

    "Captain?" Hans asked, his voice seemed worried.

    "I know you don't like the Gorn anymore than I do at the moment Commander," John replied, "Would three really be missed?"

    "This is against interstellar law Captain?"

    "And attacking us wasn't!" replied John, as he slowly started to suck the atmosphere out of the holding cell, the effects of the air thinning already displaying on the Gorn faces as they started to struggle to breath, grabbing their necks. John watched all three with glee, he was going to have revenge, he was going to make the Gorn pay for the death of his friend.

    "Return the life support to the cell now sir," Hans shouted.

    "You don't give me orders Commander, I give them. Get out if you can't follow them." snarled John.

    The Gorn were now on their knees, John felt a small glint of joy in his heart at the sight of them begging for mercy as he almost finished extracting the air.

    "Captain," shouted Hans, "Stand down!"

    "No," John replied turning round to see Hans aiming a phaser at him. The next thing John knew everything was black.
  13. david lowbridge

    david lowbridge Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 20, 2011
    Somewhere in the future
    Stardate 53117.4

    USS Nightingale, Sickbay

    John opened his eyes slowly, surprised to find himself looking up at a bright white light. He knew about the rumours about the afterlife, but he never imagined them that they were like this, this looked more like the ceiling of a Starfleet vessel. Surely he had not chosen to spend eternity in a Starfleet vessel. He felt no disembodiment or floating that other people had stated what lay beyond this existence. He decided to test what he was seeing by reaching up to touch it. He could not; next he attempted to pinch himself.

    "Ouch," he screamed. 'Good job John, you just hurt yourself'.

    Realising that this was in fact reality he decided to sit up and see where he was. Adjusting his eyes from the blurring of the light from above, he realised he was in sickbay. Doctor Castello approached him smiling. "Hello Sir," he paused for a second grabbing a medical tricorder and ran the detachable probe over him, "can you tell me your name and rank please?"

    "Captain John Wilcox, commander of the USS Nightingale, my date of birth is 7th March," John replied, his voice seemed bored, "I got stunned?"

    "Commander Hans said it was an accident sir," Castello paused, "He shot you when you attempted to fight the Gorn that was trying to escape."

    "The Gorn that was trying to escape?" John asked moving his head downwards and forward. John's memory of the whole incident was clear in his head, he knew the Gorn never attempted an escape, even when he did the unthinkable for a Starfleet captain.

    "Yes, the three prisoners, they attempted an escape while you were trying to get information out of them," Castello told John, John took notes of the events that were suppose to have taken place, "They attempted an escape and you went to stop them, but Hans had already fired his phaser, hitting you first."

    John thought for a moment what was going on, before it dawned on him that Lieutenant Commander Hans was covering his back. "That's exactly what happened," John felt the lie weigh heavily on his mind. His emotional state was irrational and erratic before, now that he had been unconscious for an unknown amount of time, his mind had seemed to reset itself. The death of his closest friend was still a tragedy that he felt saddened by, but the pit of anger demanding revenge no longer burnt in his stomach.

    "What happened after I was hit?"

    "Mr Hans reported that he stunned the other three Gorn and resumed their incarceration," the Doctor replied steadily, "And Lieutenant Commander Hans restricted himself to his quarters for shooting you."


    "He believed that it could constitute an act of mutiny," Castello added.

    The irony of the situation did not escape John, Hans was portraying himself as a mutineer, when John felt that he was the traitor to everything that he signed up for and held close to his heart.

    "I need to speak to him," stated John, "Am I clear to leave sickbay?"

    Castello nodded to him, "As long you pop by later sir," Castello added, "We need some help with Doctor Burton."
    John stood up and picked up his tunic, now with a black phaser burn on the front of the shirt, why no-one had noticed it was not on the back, as Hans' story would indicate John did not know. "What's wrong with her?"
    "She hasn't left her office since Commander Hawke," Castello didn't finish the sentence, instead looked sheepish, "We can't get through to her, it has been hours."

    "Has she never lost a patient before?" John asked.

    "There are rumours sir," Castello added, keeping his sheepish demeanour on him.

    "What rumours?" John asked, he never really liked to get involved in idle gossip, but when it affected a crew member's performance and ship operations, he had no choice.

    "There was a rumour that the Doctor and Commander Hawke were involved sir," Castello said.

    "It isn't a rumour sir," that was a nurse across the room, "It's the truth, I overheard an argument between before."

    "Nurse Williams," Castello composed himself slightly, "I've told you before, what you heard could mean anything."

    "Let her speak Lieutenant," John said quietly. John knew that Williams and Burton had developed a strong working relationship, over the past few days John had seen the two sharing many meals together. This probably allowed Williams to gleam more information that Castello did not know was there or was not able to.

    "I was coming onto shift one day, and overheard the Commanders talking sir from the corridor," she started; she looked at the Captain and contemplated what to say next, "I overheard Burton say that their relationship was over. That she wouldn't be able to cope if anything happened to him."

    "Then what?"

    "Then I walked in on them sir," she paused, "It was getting really bad sir, I thought it was best if I did."

    John nodded; he understood what the nurse was saying. Sometimes in love rifts, an intrusion is better than the argument heating up. John pondered for a moment on what he could do, but found the noises of the beeping room disturbing his train of thoughts. "I'll be back in a bit then Doctor," John eventually said, "I think I know a way to sort this out," John paused biting his lips, he had a plan formulating in his head, but he needed something from his quarters which he thought would help. "There is something I need and I need to see Commander Hans first."
    Castello nodded before John walked out of the room.

    Stardate 53117.5

    USS Nightingale, Deck 2, Lieutenant Commander Han's Quarters

    Hans sat on his tree bark contemplating the last few days. The dark room made it easier for him to concentrate. It was only a week ago that he had been doing fleet manoeuvres for the third fleet, organising the two new defiant class vessels assigned to the fleet into local patrols. His post as Strategic Operations Officer was one in which he found boring. Even though he knew Starfleet entailed a lot of paperwork, the amount he had to fill in as Strategic Operations Officer was ludicrous. Hans thought of this assignment as a way to stretch his legs and get off the routine of station life. Now it seemed that his career was over.

    Hans thought for a second, he was only twenty four and had a long life in front of him, maybe another three hundred years if he was lucky. Yet for a moment, Hans could not think of what he could do for that time. He had devoted so much time and energy to his Starfleet career over the past twelve years since he graduated; it was hard to think about adjusting to another way of life.

    He could return to his life on Geckonia. He had on several occasions as part of rituals that he would feel obliged to partake in, however he found the experiences very uncomfortable. Like some of the other Geckonians who had joined Starfleet, their own brother and sisters on the homeworld did not consider them part of the Geckonian family. It was a sad moment for some of them, who was completely cut off. Hans on the other hand had an advantage. He was a war hero and despite joining Starfleet and distancing himself from the time he in the Geckonian military, he still served as a political weapon from time to time.

    Hans felt his skin start to itch on the bark as his body rubbed against the rough surface. It was nearly the time that he would have to shed his outer layer. A biological process he hated. It normally meant that he had to spend a day alone in his quarters, soaking himself in a misty shower in order to make the process quicker. At least this time he was unlikely to have to rearrange his duty shifts to make the process more private.

    Hans stretched on the log for a second, feeling his old skin start to winkle and the new one toughen underneath. He closed his eyes and continued to think of things he could possibly do once the Captain had dismissed him from the service.

    Hans was not expecting that the door would chime. Hans ordered that computer lowered the temperature by ten degrees, sufficient enough not kill the person knocking on the door but not too much to ensure he didn't require his heat suit. "Enter," he said in a crisp voice.

    Hans looked at the door as Captain Wilcox entered. The light from the outside of his quarters stung his eyes. It was the last person that Hans had expected to see in his room.

    "This room is hot," Wilcox said in a off remark.

    "This room is cold to me sir," Hans replied, "I reduced the temperature by ten degrees before you entered. Otherwise it would be too hot for you." Hans gave a slight smile, though it had been commented that the Geckonian natural face had an upturned face giving an impression that they were always smiling.

    "It's interesting to see a log in a Starfleet Officer's quarters," Wilcox continued, trying to fake a reassuring smile. Hans could tell that the Captain was not exactly comfortable, "Is that what you sleep on?"

    "My species sleep on logs, rocks or in sand pits, depending on what we like," Hans replied. He knew the Captain wanted more than trivial knowledge of his species and although he hated small talk himself, the Captain seemed to be relaxing more with the little chit chat.

    "A little dark in here isn't it?" Wilcox said.

    Hans barely noticed the lights not being on. Being a subterranean species, the Geckonians rarely saw sunlight and so were accustomed to the dark. Humans on the other hand, Hans remembered, had little visual ability in such conditions.

    "We live in dark caves on my home world Captain, my eyes are adjusted to these light levels," he paused for a second, "while on duty I wear a pair of transparent contact lenses to protect my eyes."

    The Captain sighed, he seemed uncomfortably pensive.
    "Is there something I can do for you Captain?" Hans came out and asked, feeling that the silence could go on no longer.

    "We have a problem Commander," John said, "I was wrong in what I attempted to do." Hans nodded in agreement, but did not want to interrupt him completely. "You did good in stopping me, however I would prefer if next time you would use a lower setting of stun."

    "Is there going to be a next time?" Hans could not help asking at the end of the Captain's inappropriate use of bad humour.

    "I'm not a saint Commander, I do make mistakes, just like everyone else," Wilcox responded.

    "I meant for me sir," Hans replied quietly, "Are you not reporting me for insubordination?"

    "That would mean the end of your career," John replied, "And mine." John emphasised the last part, Hans wondered why, was the Captain's career just as important to him as his was to himself, "I'm ashamed at what I tried to do, but according to Doctor Castello, I was accidently shot during a prisoner escape attempt."

    "I thought it was best if I kept the events secret for the time being," Hans replied lowering himself from the log, his feet touching the smooth, soft carpet that wasn't able to be removed before they left Starbase. His feet itched at the feeling of it.

    "You lied," John said in amazement, "I thought Geckonians didn't lie."

    "I didn't lie," Hans responded softly, he carefully chose his words, "I misled and allowed them to come to their own conclusions." Hans paused and raised an eyebrow, "I don't believe I once mentioned the world prisoner escape."
    John nodded, "I see."

    Hans walked over and grabbed a glass of water from the table; he passed it over to the Captain and tried for another broad smile. He was impressed that the Captain had enough visual ability to see the glass enough to get a hold of it. "This ship needs a good captain, and that is you sir. You were not your usual self. I will not hold it against you." Hans paused for a second, he had known the Captain for such a limited time, yet he already thought he knew the person standing in front of him very well.

    "This ship also needs a good executive officer," John replied, handing back the glass of water back to Hans after he had taking a few sips. Hans felt the coldness of the water on hands and instinctually put the glass down quickly.

    "I agree," replied Hans.

    "I think you would make a great first officer," John continued.

    "Sir?" Hans, felt a little embarrassed, he had never considered that he would make it to such a high position in Starfleet. He felt a person from a species outside of the Federation would not be allowed to rise to such a rank that would be put into a position of conflict.

    "What you did in the brig, standing up to me when I was wrong," John paused, "Despite the fact you shot me, was exactly what a good first officer needs to do. Give me other options, remind me of my place in the universe, but is yet good enough to know their own limits and does not undermine me."

    Hans nodded his head slightly, "Thank you for your kind words Captain."

    "Commander Hawke was a good officer and he was a good friend, but he was never going to be a good first officer," John paused, he looked glum, Hans assumed that the Captain was thinking he was betraying his old friend. "He didn't know when to support me in public and give me his thoughts in private. He was a typical engineer, not a command officer."

    "He was a good man," Hans said compassionately, "He was a credit to the uniform."

    "And that is how he will be remembered by us," John replied.

    "What do we say about the incident in the brig?" Hans asked.

    "We'll have to ignore it," Wilcox replied, his sombre voice displaying that he did in fact feel ashamed at what occurred, "I think it would be best if the events never left this room."

    "What if the Gorn make some accusations?" Hans hadn't thought of this possibility when he first misled his fellow officers, but it now seemed like the most likely event that would occur.

    "We'll deal with that if and when it comes about," John said smiling, "Are we in agreement Commander?"

    Hans nodded.

    John took on a serious look, "There is just one question I do have Hans," John said. Hans felt his stomach churn, "I know what you did give indications, but I need to know where your loyalties lie Commander; with Starfleet or Geckonia?"

    Hans paused for a moment. He had never really considering the question before. He had never been in a position where the two had come into conflict. Sure there had been times when Geckonians may have done something different than what Starfleet had ordered. But at the end of the day, Hans had joined Starfleet, like the rest of the Geckonians had done, in a first step for Geckonia to join the Federation. Hans considered that he was therefore a person that had loyalties to both.

    "Sir," Hans began, "With all due respect, I joined Starfleet in order to allow my people to see we can become part of the Federation." Hans paused for a second and leant against the log in his room, he thought about the six Geckonians who had given their lives for the Federation during the Dominion War, he had once thought that this would be enough for the Federation to consider the Geckonians committed enough to the Federation cause, but the Captain, like some others, were questioning his loyalties. "I guess you could say, that I am loyal to both. But as I want my people to join the Federation, I cannot go against the Federation wishes."

    Hans noticed that the Captain smiled and gave a reassuring nod. "Shall we get to work then Commander?"

    "Yes sir," replied Hans, a broader smile developing on his face, "But if you don't mind sir, I would need to get dressed."

    Wilcox briefly stopped for a moment; Hans could see the cogs in his head working, "Are you naked Commander?"

    "Yes Sir, I am."

    "I'll wait outside," replied Wilcox, now seemingly very uncomfortable. Humans were so prude in such matters.
  14. david lowbridge

    david lowbridge Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 20, 2011
    Somewhere in the future
    Stardate 53117.5

    USS Nightingale, Bridge

    Lieutenant Shrak sat in the Captain's chair looking at the view screen in front of her. The soup of purples and blues mixed randomly on the view screen in a very pleasing pattern that she found very satisfying. It calmed her from the torment of her surroundings. Here she was on a ship of doom. The Executive Officer had been killed, as had seven others. All people, all those with names, families, loved ones and friends. They had all died on this worthless pile of crap; on a mission that could only be described as foolhardy at best. The Brave had disappeared too long ago in an area that was rife, under suspicious circumstances that Command should have known the circumstances. If she had been the admiral, she would have sent in a whole task force, found the culprits and blown them all to their version of Sha Ka Ree.

    But she was not an admiral, she was not even a Captain. In reality she was a Lieutenant Junior Grade with limited influence beyond her own department except the occasional turn as watch officer. And she couldn't have been a good officer having been assigned to this vessel. A vessel so pathetic, that it could only be described by a term so rude on Andoria that it would too impolite to even think of it.

    Yet, despite the limited offensive capabilities of the Nightingale, the little ship had its baptism of fire. And Shrak loved every minute of it. Sure she was sad at the loss of life, but she was a tactical officer, a warrior from a warrior people and she felt the aggressive urges pulsate through her noble blue blood.

    Shrak wondered, if either of her parents felt the same urges. The last time she spoke to them some eight weeks ago, after learning of her assignment to the USS Nightingale, they were both preparing to invade Cardassia. She resented not having been given the chance to participate. But as her father noted, the invasion would take place in a couple of days and it would take about thirteen days to get there at high warp from Andoria. Instead a trip of one day to Earth to her new assignment was the more logical option, if not the correct one personally. As it turned out, only one of her parents would return alive. She gritted her teeth at the memory of her hearing the news of her mother's death, killed during the destruction of the excelsior class USS Titan.

    Shrak stood up from the command chair and walked to the front of the bridge. At the helm was the young Lieutenant Visitor. The two of them had become well acquainted during the voyage so far. Like all but the commanding officer and executive officer, crew shared quarters, just like on Defiant class vessels. Shrak's shared quarters with Chloe meant the two had talked to each other in great detail. Shrak knew the young Lieutenant was a dedicated officer, like herself but instead of resenting this assignment, was proud of it.

    It was not difficult to see why Chloe was proud of her position, for a young helmsman there were few Starships that needed helmsman. A pilot was lucky to get assigned to one; they were more likely to get shuttles to pilot on standard transport runs, as Chloe had started her career just four months previously. Shrak was also impressed by the skills of the young pilot. She had heard about how she used a shuttle to destroy a Jem'Hadar vessel against all odds, but she had now witnessed the young Lieutenant's skill when she miraculously directed the ship away from the debris field and past the Gorn vessel, without so much as breaking a sweat. It was very impressive.

    Shrak had to admit to herself, she felt something more towards the young Lieutenant other than professional admiration; something on a much more personal level. As she looked at the young officer she admired her youthful looks.
    Quickly she flinched at what she was thinking. She was a Starfleet officer, not some impulsive teenager looking to get her end away. Although, she had always found the pink skin of humans interesting, perhaps allowing herself the satisfaction of one indulgence would be enough to make this dull assignment a little better. Shrak found herself standing next the young Lieutenant as she was sat at the helm control typing in course corrections as the Captain had demanded to make sure no one would get a fix on their position.

    "You're doing exceptionally well Lieutenant," Shrak commented.

    "Thank you Lieutenant," Chloe replied smiling a little, barely looking up from the console as she shunted the ship into another position, this one rumbling the ship a little bit.

    "And your piloting during the battle was above any expectation I had of a young pilot," Shrak felt a fake in this role as a complimentary senior officer. She was more often the one to rub people up the wrong way, the person who was aggressive, the one no-one liked.

    "Well this ship is more manoeuvrable than most," Visitor replied smiling.

    "Don't be so modest Lieutenant," Shrak said running a finger over the shoulder of the Lieutenant. The feel of her shoulder felt teasingly good. "Learn to accept that you have ability and take some pride in it."

    Chloe noticed the finger run across the shoulder and didn't respond until after Shrak had slowly removed it. "I'll try to remember that in the future Lieutenant," she blushed slightly and went straight back to her work.

    Shrak walked back to the command chair and smiled, the young Lieutenant knew that Chloe was in fact a target that she could have and the satisfaction would well worth the hard work. Shrak planned her next move, she wanted some satisfaction quickly, but didn't want to overwhelm the poor girl, after all she wouldn't know what would hit her when she finally went in for the kill.

    "Captain on deck," shouted a crewman shouted from behind her. Shrak quickly turned around and noticed that Captain Wilcox and Lieutenant Commander Hans were both back on the bridge.

    "Stand easy everyone," Wilcox said, "Lieutenant Shrak, give me an update."

    Shrak had to quickly switch personalities. "We've been moving every couple of minutes as you instructed in order to stop anyone getting a lock on our position," Shrak paused, "So far we haven't heard anything of the Gorn, they might not be out there."

    "They're out there Lieutenant," Hans replied, "Sir with all due respect there is no other place for us to hide and it was open space after the nebula, we would be detectable if we had continued."
    "So despite hiding here, the Gorn know exactly where we are," Wilcox continued.

    To Shrak it was an obvious statement, and one that showed the poor position they were in. The Gorn would know where they were and yet they went in here to hide.

    "Lucky for us this nebula is huge," Wilcox replied.

    "And the nebula will affect their shields and scanners, just as it has," Shrak added, "But still sir," she continued, trying for as stern a voice as she could, "We are trapped like Angolian fish in a barrel."

    "Well at least we are a very small fish in a very large barrel," replied Wilcox giving a smile.

    Shrak raised her eyebrows in a disapproval of the Captain's statement. It didn't mind how big the nebula was, or how little the ship was; they were trapped and all the Gorn needed to do was to wait them out. She had estimated that at their current rate, they had about six days before they would need to attempt a break out. Otherwise they would run out of rations and water.

    "Commander Hans, you have the bridge," Wilcox stated, giving the Geckonian a nod. Shrak thought about the prospect of having the Geckonian take a watch, he had yet to do so.

    "Yes sir," replied the Geckonian, "May I ask where you will be?"

    "Back in sickbay," John said, "I've got something to take care of down there," he said. Shrak wondered what he could be referring to, but chose not to question it. If he wanted the bridge crew to know he would have come out with what exactly he was doing. "But first I need something from my quarters."

    "Captain," that was Lieutenant Visitor, Shrak noticed, "Can I have a word with you please sir?" she asked meekly. Shrak noticed that she seemed very timid in front of the Captain, despite her obvious skill, she still had that Academy grime on her, that meant all officers should be spoken to as if they were gods. Shrak would have to work on that.

    Shrak approached her security suite on the bridge as Lieutenant Visitor and Captain Wilcox entered his office. Hans took up a position standing in front of the command chair. His hands poised behind his back in a grip. She noted every gesture of the lizard, the officer that was not the executive officer.

    Stardate 53117.5

    USS Nightingale, Captain's Office

    Wilcox sat behind his desk as quickly as he could from walking in off the bridge. Lieutenant Visitor wanted to speak to him for a moment, and it was his job to listen. He couldn't have another officer go off the handles. John felt a sharp stab of pain in his stomach, guilt over his actions earlier. But they were behind him now, he was a man who had been brought back from the edge of an abyss and he was going to make sure that he never went there again. He was going to be a good Commander.

    "I'm a little worried about our speed sir," Lieutenant Visitor stated as soon as the door had fully slid shut, "According to my calculations, the Federation border is three days and seventeen and a quarter hours away sir. At warp six."

    Wilcox mulled over the news for a second, biting his lip, he wasn't expecting this conversation, though perhaps he should have been thinking about it. At least one of his officers was on the ball.
    "I take it you've calculated it to the nearest Starbase as well?" Wilcox asked, knowing that the young officer had probably thought of several scenarios and with each one a corresponding time.

    "Yes sir, it would take us six and a half days," she paused for a second, "The USS Hood is actually closer, but that is still four days and fifteen and a half hours away."

    Wilcox raised his eyebrows, "And that's assuming that they are where they are supposed to be Lieutenant." Which, Wilcox contemplated, depended on whether that Command had actually noticed the Nightingale go missing, whether the Gorn had not attacked the Hood and another dozen or so situations that could put the USS Hood anywhere from where it is suppose to be to roughly fourteen light years away. That was not a good thought.

    "I know sir," she paused for a second, "There is another suggestion I have sir."

    Wilcox lent back in his chair, admiring the young officer, who during the time he had wasted, she had been doing calculations on how to get them out of this mess.

    "Go ahead Lieutenant," Wilcox smiled.

    "Geckonia sir," she paused slightly, "If we set a course for Geckonia, at warp six, it would take us only two days and eight hours." Her eyes looked intent on the idea and John felt the eagerness and the naivety of youth flow through her. Despite the fact that both the Geckonia and the Nightingale had been attacked by the Gorn, there was no way of knowing if the Geckonian military would allow them to get close, and the Nightingale couldn't take on any more damage. There was also the small matter of the Gorn fleet, where were they. For all John knew, the Gorn had already surrounded the planet and were beginning the ground offensive, which would make Geckonia the worst place to go.

    John gave a brief smile, he wouldn't tell the young officer this, but he would commend her to Starfleet for her ingenuity. She was after all the only officer that seemed to have done anything positive during the last few hours. "Thank you Lieutenant," Wilcox said, "I will keep that under advisement, please resume your post." Wilcox used his remote control underneath the desk to open the door, giving Lieutenant Visitor a reassuring smile. She nodded politely, as was expected and walked back out on to the bridge.

    Stardate 53117.6

    Gorn Imperial Cruiser Vor, Bridge

    General Slov stood like a stick had been stapled to his back and fixed to the floor. The lack of chairs on a Gorn ship gave most in the Gorn military an added incentive to complete their work quickly. Their reptilian form gave them many advantages, but stamina was certainly not one. Slov knew that he could cope with the long hours standing and he expected nothing less from his crew. As his former mentor once told him, the strongest survive, the weaker die. Little did his mentor know that he was foreseeing his own fate and it would be Slov who would administer the killer blow. Slov remembered the taste of blood that day on his lips and the feeling of triumph.

    Now, twenty years later he was under the same pressure as his former mentor. But instead of an entire army holding up his plans, it was one little ship. The human cowards had hidden inside a nebula and Slov needed to make sure they didn't escape. If they did, they could inform Starfleet about his actions against the Brave and them. That would get a response, probably an assault fleet, he would have to retreat and then his own death would be assured, if not from a member of his crew, then by an enemy at home.

    "Scans are still negative," a warrior shouted across the bridge, "Perhaps they suffered more damage than we thought." The assumption was obvious, the Nightingale was destroyed.

    Slov instinctively knew it would be too good to be true. A Starfleet vessel would carry dozens of engineers, each one a magician who could turn rocks into replicators. "No," Slov replied, "They are in there, hiding like scared dogs." Slov paused, his mind rattled with scenarios, possibilities, outcomes and actions. "Prepare a barrage of magnetometric guided charges," Slov stated, "If we can't use sensors, we'll just have to try something else."
  15. david lowbridge

    david lowbridge Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 20, 2011
    Somewhere in the future
    Stardate 53120.1
    USS Nightingale, Chief Medical Officers Office

    Rachel sat in her chair staring at the blank bulkhead. Its dark grey colour was faded into a wash of miss match patterns as tears practically blinded her. She had no idea how long she had been sat in her quarters, motionless. She was sure it was hours, it might even have been longer. Time will heal all wounds, she could hear her grandmother say in her ear. But it was a lie. Time does not heal wounds, time may make the feelings loosen, may even make the mind forget. But she knew deep down that time did not heal any wounds.

    She remembered the first time that she met Dan, sitting across the table from her on the Starship Soval. Both she and the commander were being assigned to their first department head positions. During their four years on the ship, a friendship that was driven by professional collaboration turned into a whirlwind romance. It was during an unavoidable refit that Rachel had been at Starfleet Medical, shielding herself from the falling debris caused by the devastating Breen attack.
    In the hours that followed the attack she had her work, and the hope that Dan was still alive that kept her going. Now she knew, Dan was dead and she could do nothing to stop it.

    Another tear stung her left eye and painfully dripped down her cheek onto the desk in front of her. Closing her eyes for a second, she could see his smiling face behind them, painfully watching her. Rachel knew she had work to do, she had a team of people depending on her. But so had Dan and she had let him down.

    The first chirp of the door, she ignored out right. The second chirp she shouted out for the person, whoever they were, to go away; her strained voice showed the stress of her depressed state. There was no third chirp of the door; instead she heard the door open up, with the Captain stood in the doorway.

    "Captain," Rachel said, wiping a tear from her eye, "I believe this is my office sir, you shouldn't come in here without my permission."

    Captain Wilcox fully entered the room, allowing for the door to close behind him. Throwing down a padd onto the desk in front of Rachel, he gave her a look that made her want to cry some more, but she tried to hold it together. "I think you'll find this is my ship," the Captain replied, "I will go where I want if I think it is necessary." The stern look in his eyes, reminded her of her father when she was being told off. "You should have told me when I first offered you the post," he continued.

    "Informed you sir?"

    "About your engagement to Commander Walker," Wilcox continued.

    "We weren't engaged when we were both assigned to your ship," Rachel stated, "I broke it off just after the Breen entered the war." She paused, remembering the letter she sent to him a couple of days after the attacks.

    "Why did you break it off?" the Captain asked her, his voice now changed to that like her father's when he was trying to soothe her. Her head ached from the change in tone.

    "I was scared," she replied meekly, losing that vital composure in front of the captain for a second. She gulped down some of the build up of the saliva and regained her feigned professional stance, "I was scared I was going to lose him," she continued, "In combat, during a silly rescue mission, from an accident in engineering."

    The Captain went round the desk and perched himself on her desk, facing her. "People die in Starfleet," he added bluntly, "That is the nature of the service. We are after all the Federation's defence force."

    She nodded, she knew it was all true, but she had never thought she would lose someone so close to her, someone she loved. "How did you find out about our engagement," she asked, another tear forming in the corner of her eye, blurring more of the room around her.

    "In letters that Dan sent me," the Captain added in a bland voice, "While I was other assignments."

    "He said he wouldn't tell anyone," Rachel said.

    "Oh he didn't mention you by name," Wilcox replied with a smile on his face, "The one thing that Dan was good at was giving hints but not revealing everything until he was ready to."

    Rachel remembered that about Dan. He had once planned a big meal to celebrate some anniversary or birthday and spent an enormous amount of energy into goading her that he had forgotten the event. She remembered being angry with him, but at the same time, so in love. For the first time in a while, she smiled. To her surprise, the Captain smiled back at her.

    "You've got to hold on to those happy memories Doctor," he said softly, "Just after his passing I wanted to do silly things," he paused for a second, taking in a deep breath. Rachel noticed that something was obviously troubling him deep down, something that he was not going to reveal, at least not to her. "But the truth is, the best way we can remember him is by the times that we had that were good and by getting on with the work that he loved so much."

    Rachel nodded, what the Captain said made sense, and his admission that he felt the pain of his loss made it seem more manageable. "What's on the padd?" she asked as she wiped her face from the tears.

    "They are letters from Dan," the Captain replied, "Some of them mention you in some detail," he paused again to smile at her. "When I was sad at the passing of my Granddad, I read every letter he sent me. It was as if I was able to say goodbye to him."

    Rachel nodded, she was about to say something when a chirp came from her office door. The Captain immediately answered it by allowing the person on the other side to enter her small office.

    "Sorry to disturb you sir," Doctor Castello said, "But the bridge have sent someone down Captain," he paused for a second; Rachel noted the attention he was giving her, probably making judgement at what she was doing. "They say they need you up there sir," Castello finished in his professionally posh voice.

    "Tell them I will be there in a minute," the Captain replied. Castello nodded and walked out of the room, having the door shut following his exit. After that, Rachel felt the attention was fully on her again, "Read some letters, get yourself cleaned up and then I want you to report to your station Doctor."

    Rachel felt a little better from the conversation and replied in the only way that was appropriate for such an order. "Yes sir."

    Stardate 53120.2
    USS Nightingale, Bridge

    Hans stood at ease behind the desk of the chief science officer, Paul Williams. "How many?" he enquired. A few moments ago the short range sensors, the only ones actually working, had picked up some feint signals very close to the ship. Williams had spent the last few minutes trying to work out what they were, but Hans thought that the man was way out of his depth as a chief science officer. Hans had seen it many times with smaller ships in Starfleet. It wasn't the young man's fault. A few years ago, he would have been given a low priority role on a larger ship, with a more experienced science officer being assigned to the Nightingale.

    But the Nightingale was not a science vessel. It had good sensors, some of the best in the fleet, but it was built for one, specific reason - search and rescue. There was going to be no missions on this ship that would require it to study gaseous anomalies or bend the fabric of space in some wacked out experiment. Their missions would be purposeful, productive and honourable; or so Hans thought. The first mission of the USS Nightingale was hardly any of those things. Hans contemplated for a second as he read sensor telemetry on the state of the mission. Eight crewmembers dead, others serious injured; weapons off line and several other systems compromised. And they were no closer to finding the Brave and more likely to be added to the missing list. It would take quick thinking by the command staff, which he was now part of, to get them out of this mess.

    "Ensign," Hans stated, "Please, complete your analysis in a quick and accurate manner, the Captain will wanting our report when he arrives on the bridge."

    To his credit, the young science officer did not seem to get flustered by the continued pressure that Hans was piling on him. In fact Hans was admiring the effort and resourcefulness he was adding to investigation. "Yes sir," Paul replied.

    Hans moved to the centre of the bridge, "Lieutenant Visitor," he announced, the young girl at the helm turned her head in response, "please be prepared to move the ship. The Gorn may have entered the nebula and found us." She nodded in response and began to work the console like she was playing an instrument.

    Hans walked around the room; he had personally attempted to get more control on the room. Before hand the bridge had seemed like a mess. The senior officers were not complying to regulations, there was little structure and to Hans it had seemed like a load of first year cadets had been let loose on the Bridge. Some of the people on the ship were suppose to be seasoned veterans. Shrak should have been taking command while he and the Captain were trying to sort out the rest of the ship and not having a social with the helmsman. They weren't exactly given the harder tasks. V'ras and the engineering crew had a tough assignment, Doctor Burton and her medical team were under undue stress and even the security teams had more work than usual with limited staff numbers. But all his hard work over the last couple of hours was starting to pay off. The bridge was beginning to look right again.

    Stardate 53120.2
    USS Nightingale, Turbo lift 1

    John felt the up motion of the turbo lift. It turned his stomach as it lurched its way from deck 6 to deck one, on the bridge. He had just been informed his presence was requested on the bridge, but for what he did not know. He had taken the opportunity to get an update on his injured chief of operations. Torlik was still unconscious, not having come around since his time in the imagery chamber, which repaired most of his plasma burns. However, Doctor Castello had reported that he had taken a knock to the head, which seemed more serious than they had originally thought. They had done all they could for him - but he was expected to make a full recovery.

    An engineering report had promptly arrived in sickbay as he was about to leave and he quickly read it before entering the turbo lift. Essentially, despite his Vulcan chief engineer giving as good as he could, there was little improvement. Warp eight was the best that they could manage and they had only fifty five per cent shield capacity. The imagery chamber had served its purpose and was now part of the starboard torpedo launcher. Though the re-fire rate was painfully slow and John thought it was practically useless, it at least allowed them to fire back should the need arise. And it was a sure bet that they would certainly be met by at least one Gorn vessel, if not a couple by now.

    He at least knew now what had happened to the Brave. The commander of the Gorn vessel, Slov, had admitted to attacking the Brave. However he had not admitted to the destruction of the vessel. And the debris field did not contain any large hull fragments from a Federation vessel, though they didn't have enough time to see if there was any small part of the Brave in the debris field. There was still a chance that the Brave was somewhere, intact, maybe damaged, but still functioning with crew to save.

    Stardate 53120.2
    USS Nightingale, Bridge

    John walked onto the bridge of the Nightingale and was amazed at the difference that he saw. When he left the bridge last, he thought of it as a broken area of the ship, in terms of personnel and in equipment. Now it seemed as if the personnel had changed, into being a professional force. Hans was in the centre of the bridge, he seemed to orchestrating the whole bridge like a conductor in a band. John smiled to himself for a moment; Hans seemed to be a good command officer.

    "Report Commander," John bellowed at the top of his voice, walking towards the centre of the bridge. He noticed how a couple of the other officers, Shrak and Williams, stood to attention. Lieutenant Visitor sat up more rigidly; she could hardly stand to attention as she was sitting down at the helm.

    "Captain," Hans responded confidently, "We've picked up several small objects that are slowly closing in on our position."

    John postulated for a moment. Several smaller objects would be unlikely to be Gorn. "Speculation Commander?" John asked; his mind frustratingly full of possibilities. He needed someone else's opinion before he made up his mind on what to do.

    "It is unlikely to be Gorn," Hans replied, "It is not within their normal operating procedures and they have the capability to find us from outside the nebula. "Perhaps they are Geckonian," he continued.

    "Captain," Ensign Williams shouted from across the bridge seeming pleased with himself, "I think that I have identified the objects."

    John moved himself over to the science station where the eager Ensign was smiling from ear to ear. "What have you got Ensign," he asked positively.

    "The hull of the objects, they are a Duranium alloy, with a Neosorium component signature," Williams smiled and looked at John. John felt like he should know what all this meant but he had no clue.

    "What does that tell us Ensign," Hans replied, being blunt.

    "Neosorium sir," Williams replied turning to face the Commander briefly settling back on the Captain. Suddenly it dawned on John what the significance of the find was.

    "Only Federation ships have Neosorium," he added, "we use it in hull and equipment." John looked at the readings, "Could they be hull fragments from the USS Brave?" John suddenly felt a rush of excitement; he might be able to complete his original mission. Even finding the resting place of the Brave would be something. It would allow closure for the families for those on board.

    "No sir," replied Williams, "They have active power signatures," Williams continued, his smile gaining space on his face, "The objects are escape pods, twelve of them."

    John almost fell backwards with the news. He had no idea that it was possible that he would eventually find anything of the Brave, let alone the possibility for him to find survivors. He looked at Hans, "Begin rescue operations immediately Commander."

    Hans nodded back to him and walked off the bridge. John sat in his command chair looking at the view screen. He couldn't help but smile to himself.
  16. david lowbridge

    david lowbridge Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 20, 2011
    Somewhere in the future
    Stardate 53121.5
    USS Nightingale, Captain's ready room

    Wilcox sat at his desk looking at the computer. Hans had completed eight hours of rescue operations and his initial report had been filed with the Captain just an hour ago. Hans had been thorough in his report, that Wilcox was still reading an hour later. The rescue had been hampered by the transporters and the internal communications still being offline. However in eight hours all twelve of the Brave's escape pods had been brought onboard. Hans had listed every crewmember that was rescued with a mini report on each one of them. Wilcox scanned the list, thirty two survivors had so far been found. It was better than nothing, and some of those people could help with the ship now. Wilcox had asked for their most senior officer to come to see him in his ready room as soon as he was released from sickbay. Lieutenant Commander Hans would also join them.

    According to the report from Hans, only nine of the people who were rescued were actually fit for duty. Luckily for John, six were engineers, two operations and a helmsman. He could finally give some of his crew a little rest and hopefully repair as much as the ship as they could quicker.

    John started to read the biography of the most senior member of their crew to be rescued. Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Regluan, an Arkarian who served as the Brave's assistant engineering officer. He had an illustrious career, which first began on the Brave as a junior engineering officer nearly two years ago. During the week of the Dominion Wars the Brave was involved in a skirmish with a Breen warship. The Brave took significant casualties in the Engineering section and the engineering officer and his assistant were both killed. There was a note of commendation on his record; he had stopped a warp core breach from occurring. After the battle, the Brave underwent a refit for two weeks. During that time Regluan was promoted to Lieutenant (Junior Grade) and placed as the assistant engineer.

    John thought that it was his experience that denied him the role of the chief engineer, which he thought was a shame. He could very likely run an engineering deck and be good at it. John knew that there were ships out there that needed his skills and ability. Yet due to a technicality, he was denied the pleasure. But despite his skills, John had a nagging feeling that Command were looking after him when denying him the position. But he wasn't sure how.

    When the door chime went he told the person to enter. John noticed how Hans now walked in followed by a person who resembled the Arkarian on the profile he had just been reading about. The forehead ridges looked fearsome and his nose looked impressively big as the man stood at attention in front of his desk.

    "Stand at ease," he told the junior lieutenant in front of him. Hans walked round the desk to stand behind the Captain in his chair. John noted the gesture, a sign that he and the executive officer were united. "I've been informed that you were the most senior officer from the Brave to be rescued thus far," Wilcox said, his voice calm and collective, "I'm sorry for the loss of the Brave."

    "Me too sir," the Arkarian replied, however John could not sense any sense of remorse in his voice, "I'm afraid that you will not find any more survivors sir," he continued, again his voice remained as if he was angry at the Captain. John tried not to take offence; he had met an Arkarian before and had experienced an aggressive nature from her as well.

    "Why do you say that?" Wilcox asked.

    "I was the last one out alive," Arkarian waivered a little, lowering his head as he spoke, "The bridge was completely destroyed and most of the top nine decks were exposed to space." Arkarian composed himself. "With our weapons gone and the ship half left to space, I gave the order to evacuate. I grabbed every crewmember I could, scanned for further life signs and then evacuated myself."

    Wilcox sat back in his chair and gave a quick glance towards Hans. "That is a shame," Wilcox said, unlike the other two officers he couldn't hide his sadness about the loss of life. "For what it is worth Lieutenant, you performed admirably considering the circumstances," Wilcox added.

    "Thank you sir," the man replied.

    Wilcox looked at Hans and gave him a gentle nod of the head. Hans looked at the junior officer, "What happened before the evacuation?"

    Stardate 53088.7
    USS Brave, Bridge

    Regluan ran his figures over the control panel, he had been running a diagnostic on the power regulation equipment around the bridge. He rarely spent time on the bridge, and barely spent time above deck 5. Regluan was not the most social of Starfleet; he didn't often spend time in the mess hall with his fellow crewmates, preferring to eat in his quarters. The routine on the bridge seemed very relaxed as compared to the constant bustle that seemed to fill engineering.

    Regluan imagined for a second what it would be like to be a command officer. He briefly watched his Vulcan commanding officer sipping a herbal tea in his chair. It seemed like a relaxed way to serve. However Regluan considered that his controlled nature was nothing more than Vulcan psychology.

    His console beeped in front of him, there was an outside signal coming in. "We're picking up a distress signal Captain," he announced.

    The Captain stood up, "Location, who is it from?" he asked in his commanding voice.

    "A Geckonian military vessel sir," their tactical officer, a slightly overweight Bolian announced, "Well inside Geckonian space."

    The tactical officer pressed a button on the console and voice came on over the signal, "This is the Geckonian Military Patrol four five six seven, we are under attack by a fleet of Gorn vessels and are heavily outnumbered, we request any assistance that is available from all military units in the area. I say again this is the Geckonian..."

    The voice on the transmission seemed calm, much like Regluan imagined he would be in such a position. He knew from experience that he could control his nerves during combat, but he never really analysed his behaviour during the battle. He had hoped he had proven that he was a capable soldier.

    The captain seemed to muse for a second; Regluan considered whether or not the Captain would go. But Starfleet regulations stated that he would respond to the distress signal no matter what.

    "Set a course helm, maximum warp," the Captain ordered, he turned to face Regluan, "Get yourself down to engineering and make sure they know we are going into battle," the captain told him, his composure marvellously staying calm.

    Regluan nodded his head and left the bridge, his short stint on the bridge coming to an abrupt end. It would be weeks before he would have the chance to get back onto the bridge, his schedule was fully booked.

    Stardate 53121.5
    USS Nightingale, Captain's ready room

    Captain Wilcox leaned forward onto his desk, "what happened when you got to the source of the distress signal?" he asked. He knew about the end result, but what had gotten them there was still a mystery.

    "We arrived in the midst of a major battle," Regluan continued, "There were at least a dozen Geckonian ships already destroyed, with a couple more dozen still engaged in the battle. There were nearly fifty Gorn vessels."

    "The Gorn certainly meant business from the off then," Wilcox commented looking at Hans, who seemed move by what he had heard. John gave him a moment of thought, the man was hearing that his people were being killed by the hundreds and he could do nothing but stand and listen to this story.

    "We hung in the battle for as long as possible," Regluan stated, "We were taking massive fire by the end of the battle and we started a fighting retreat, we were attempting to reach this nebula, but just as we were about to enter, the Gorn hit the bridge and most of it tore off in one go," he paused for a second, his eyes seeming distanced from the room he was in, "Lieutenant Marlick, the chief engineer was dead, half my crew were dead, I realised I was the most senior person alive and I decided to make a run for it."

    "There was nothing you could do Lieutenant," Wilcox stated, "I wish I could offer you a couple of weeks off, but I'm afraid we are in a bad state," Wilcox paused and looked at Hans; he seemed so disturbed at what he was hearing. Wilcox needed to deal with that. "Lieutenant, could you please report to Engineering with the rest of your engineering crew and help Lieutenant V'ras with repairs."

    The lieutenant nodded and left the room. Wilcox turned round in his chair, a move that was not easy due to the small size that the room was. "Commander, what's on your mind?"

    Hans looked at the Captain and moved round to the other side of the desk. Wilcox turned round in his chair following him. For the first time since Wilcox had met the Geckonian, he sensed a real apprehension in the Commander.

    "I guess I was worried for my countryman there for a while sir," the Geckonian stated, "The thought of hundreds of them dying was just a little too much to comprehend for a second."

    "I'm sorry commander," Wilcox replied, "But we are your countrymen now," he added. Hans had after all left the Geckonian nation in order to join starfleet, there was no reason why he should consider anyone in the Geckonian nation as his countrymen.

    "I know that sir," he paused for a second, "But you can't deny nature, I have Geckonian blood, DNA and mind. They are the same as me and I cannot explain why I feel the way I did. They just as much betrayed me as they feel I betrayed them."

    Wilcox sympathised with the Geckonian, he had no idea how he would feel in similar circumstances, "I asked you only yesterday that I needed to know where your loyalties lay," he stated, "You told me that it was with Starfleet."

    "Yes sir, yes it is," Hans replied quickly.

    Wilcox looked at the Geckonian in the eye, standing up in the process, "I can't be sure of that." Something bothered the Captain greatly. Could he really trust this man as his second in command? Despite his good feeling about the man, there were some conflicting loyalties. "Commander, I need you to be honest," he said, "Will you follow my every order, even if it conflicts with the best interests of Geckonia?"

    Hans didn't flinch, he looked at Wilcox in the eye, the yellow colour of his eyes gave Wilcox a slither of fear and he clenched his stomach for the response, "Sir, there is a saying on the Geckonian world, 'Duty or Death'."

    Wilcox knew instantly what that meant. That no matter what, his executive officer would do his duty, otherwise there was no point in living. It was a great testament to the species and to Hans. Wilcox thought that there were several species that would rather run when the going got tough and even Starfleet officers would certainly do the same in some cases. Even the toughened marines were not immune to cowardice. Wilcox knew that words were worthless, but he had known no one who could give that kind of sincerity and conviction when telling him that. Wilcox confirmed what he needed to know, he could trust his executive officer.

    "I need you to do a job for me commander," Wilcox stated, "I need you to prepare a class nine probe that can manipulate its warp field to look like the Nightingale." He paused and looked at the Commander, he wanted to make sure that the Commander knew what he meant, "I need to fool the Gorn into thinking where we are."

    Hans nodded.

    Suddenly the room shook a little; Wilcox pondered on what that could be. Another shake happened immediately and he nearly fell of his footing. "What the hell is that?"

    Stardate 53121.5
    USS Nightingale, Bridge

    Captain Wilcox and Commander Hans walked onto the bridge of the vessel as a third shake of the craft rocked the ship, this time a little more. "Report," Wilcox demanded from Shrak who was on the bridge watch one more time.

    "The Gorn are attempting to locate our exact position by using some sort of modulated torpedo," Shrak reported moving to the tactical console, replacing a crewman that Wilcox didn't recognise.

    "It's similar to Borg technology," Williams added from across the bridge, "But far less sophisticated."

    Wilcox stood in the middle of the bridge, "Lieutenant Visitor, how long can you keep them off our backs?"

    The Lieutenant gave a worried look, "A matter of hours, perhaps four if we get lucky."

    Wilcox bit his lip and turned to Hans, "Commander, I need you to get to engineering, tell them they have one hour to do whatever repairs they can," he paused for a second, "And you have one hour to get me my class nine probe ready."

    Hans nodded his head and left the bridge. The senior crew on the bridge, Shrak, Visitor and Williams all looked at the Captain, he felt hot under the collar. Taking a big gulp he sat down in chair placing his hands onto the arms, "Get ready people, we're going in for round two."
  17. david lowbridge

    david lowbridge Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 20, 2011
    Somewhere in the future
    Stardate 53121.6

    Captain's Log: My crew in the last hour have done the remarkable. With the help of additional engineers, V'ras had managed to improve the situation drastically. We are now capable of warp nine, have shields at ninety percent and we have both our forward phaser banks online not to mention one of the two torpedo launchers able to fire. In terms of the crew, I've seen a marked improvement in their morale over the past few hours, since the discovery of survivors from the Brave. We're still in a bad state, there is no doubt about that, but at least we have hope. Which is a good thing because I am about to take this ship and shove a firecracker up the Gorn exhaust pipe.

    Stardate 53121.6
    USS NIghtingale, Bridge

    Captain Wilcox strode onto the bridge, he felt confident. He had a plan, he had a way to get out of all of this and he was going to make Slov look like an idiot in the process. As he took his place on the bridge, he looked around. Lieutenant Visitor, who was essential to his plan, was running diagnostic after diagnostic while reading a manual he recognised that was crucial to him plan. He hadn't have already known, he would have been worried she couldn't do it, but he knew her record and knew what she was going to do was exactly what she had gotten her promotion for. Shrak at the back was running orders down to the armoury team on deck two. Now that internal communications were back online that was a much easier task. Williams was conducting scans and monitoring the incoming locating devices that would shake the ship from time to time. Several other crewmembers were going about their business, making sure systems were working at their best under the circumstances.

    John knew that Torlik would not be joining them for this particular action. He was still recovering from his head injury and burns he received during the first attack. Doctor Burton was at this point busying herself with preparing sickbay for incoming injuries. John's plans was to knock out the Gorn vessel, before it had a chance to respond, however as an instructor had always said to him, plans always work until the first enemy contact. In this case, John felt that it might not even go that far, but at least he had some contingencies this time. Hans would join him on the bridge momentarily, he was currently making the last preparations to the plan that John had requested of him. If Hans did his job right, it would certainly give John the advantage.

    In the last hour, John had not idly sat by while his crew did all the work either. He had studied the previous battle and read up on Slov on the Federation database. There was not much known about his life, experiences or tactics; except for the past eighteen months, during his combat in the Dominion Wars. There Starfleet was able to gather very specific information on his style of combat, his strengths and weaknesses. Slov was a person who stuck to a style of attack rigidly. As soon as he saw the enemy he would beam in death squads and attack from the outside simultaneously. Even in their earlier engagement Slov only diverged from the plan by beaming all his troops into one place, when he couldn't beam them into multiple locations. John still attempted to get his head around the technology that Torlik had integrated into the ship. V'ras had been able to complete the work that the operations officer had started. With luck Slov would be unable to beam anyone onboard this time.

    Slov was also a simple man. He thought very much in two dimensions. During the Dominion War there several instances where the Jem'Hadar had fooled him in combat. Turning his flank or surprising him. It was often brute force that saved the day for the Gorn and their significant numerical advantage. But yet it was a kink in the reptilian's armour.

    As the time that he set to start his plan John noticed his stomach tighten with nerves. He had never felt like this in combat before. He tried to think what was so different this time around compared to other countless times he prepared for battle. During the Dominion Wars he fought numerous planned battles on the Ark Royal, but all of them he was the executive officer. The offensive plans were not his; they were an Admiral's, another Captain's or even his own Captain's. He had only followed orders in those instances. He hadn't formulated anything those times, now he had. Perhaps that was his problem, what was making him uneasy - everyone's lives depended on plans, calculations, analysis he had done. If he had made any errors, everything could be lost. But unlike if he did nothing, they would all have a chance of survival. No matter the risks, it was better than zero.

    Hans entered the bridge with little time to spare before John had set for his plan to be initiated. "Is it done Commander?" John asked as Hans sat in the executive chair next to him.

    "It is," Hans replied looking at the arm rests control interface, "We are ready to go."

    "Ensign Williams," Wilcox next commanded, "Are you sure that you have the location of the Gorn vessel correct?"

    Williams brought up a map on the viewscreen showing many dotted lines. "All the trajectories of the incoming homing torpedoes have come from the same area," he paused for a second, "I can't be one hundred percent sure until I see it for myself, but if I were a betting man, that is where I would place my chips sir."

    Wilcox nodded, taking in the imagery that Williams had used, and looked down towards the helmsman. "Lieutenant Visitor," he said, "Are you ready?"

    Lieutenant Visitor pressed a few buttons on her console and turned round in her station's chair, "I'm as ready as I'll ever be sir," she paused for second, "though I can't guarantee this will work." Wilcox pondered for a second, the young Lieutenant sounded more hesitant than her normal enthusiastic self. John wondered if he was pushing her too much beyond her comfort zone, yet it was the only way young officers would grow.

    "Noted Lieutenant," Wilcox replied, "Launch the argos shuttles."

    Stardate 53121.6
    Gorn Imperial Cruiser Vor, Bridge

    Slov stood in the middle of the bridge looking over the data that was coming from his sweeps of the nebula. So far his crew had been able to clear eighty percent of the nebula, it would only be another two hours and they would have swept the whole nebula. The Nightingale would be found in that time, sooner or later. Slov would have his victory against the Federation. During the Dominion war he had to bend to their will, now they would bow down to him, before he extinguished their lives. He had already decided that once the Geckonians were finished the Federation would be next. He would take the worlds which they had annexed over the centuries, make them pay for the Gorn blood lost.

    A beeping across the room gave focus to Slov, "Two small vessels have exited the nebula," the tactical officer announced, he voice calm and collective; not at all concerned that ships they did not know about had suddenly appeared. Slov wondered what two little ships were doing in the nebula in the first place. "They appear to be Federation shuttles sir, Argos class."

    The ship shuddered violently for a second as the shuttles initiated an attack against his vessel. Slov pondered for a moment, could they really be thinking of attacking his mighty vessel with just two shuttles. The warriors in those shuttles were brave souls. But he too was a warrior and he was glad to send those souls to the next world, which ever world they believed in. "Target the lead shuttle," Slov ordered, "I want it destroyed instantly."

    The tactical officer nodded his head. Slov noted his fingers run effortless over the console, but there was a problem, the tactical officer struggled with something. "Our sensors have been hit several times," he reported, "They have taken significant damage, I can't lock on with our weapons."

    "Then fire blind," Slov sneered, "If you don't hit those ships I will have your head on a plate and present it to your family."

    The tactical officer nodded and ran his hands over the controls again. Slov sighed as he looked at what little information was now coming in on the sensor telemetry. He could see the two shuttles working in perfect unison, as if they were being flown by one person. Slov contemplated for a second if they were, then one of the symbols on the screen flashed and disappeared. The tactical officer had destroyed one of the Argos shuttles, Slov gave the tactical officer an approving nod as sparks flew from the engineering console.

    "They've hit the warp engines," the engineering officer shouted, "If they keep it up, our warp drive will be reduced."

    "Tactical," Slov walked to the console where his officer stood, "Take out that last shuttle."

    The tactical officer nodded before he looked up from his controls, "Sir a ship is leaving the nebula," he paused for a second to look back at his readings. Slov waited with bated breath, could this be the Nightingale, trying to run. How cowardly, but he expected nothing else from humans. "It is the Nightingale; they are heading for the Geckonian home world sir."

    Slov stood for a moment; he couldn't believe that they would run further into a combat zone. Though at this time, the Geckonian home world was being heavily defended by the Geckonian fleet, it was probably the safest place in the region at the moment. He was about to order a pursued course when another beeping at the console occurred.

    "Another ship is exiting the nebula, heading in the opposite direction, towards Federation space," the tactical officer announced looking at the console, "I'm reading the warp signature of the Nightingale."

    Slov thought for a moment, holding himself against another shake from the shuttle's continued attack. The second signal was the more logical choice to be the real one. The Earthlings would want to get back to their lines. The one going the other way was less likely, unless they decided to ally themselves with the Geckonians. A Starfleet captain was prohibited to do so unless they had permission from the Federation Council, Slov highly doubted that their precious council would have given that permission, especially as they had not intercepted any messages coming from or to the nebula.

    The tactical officer looked as puzzled at Slov, however Slov began to know what was going on, "The first one must have been a ruse," he paused to brace himself from another shock from the remaining Argos shuttle, "Set a pursuit course on the second ship," he looked at the sensor readouts noticing the ship was at warp nine, "maximum warp." At that speed it would take mere seconds to catch up with the human vessel, but he would destroy it. He watched as just before they entered warp the other Argos shuttle was destroyed. Slov smiled, the brave warriors on the shuttles would soon be joined by their comrades on the vessel.

    "They are sending a signal to their Federation," an officer shouted from across the room. Suddenly the officer raised a hand signalling he was getting more information, "And they have confirmation of receipt from a Federation Starbase."

    Slov smacked his hands against the nearest wall, everything he had tried so hard to hide, was now coming to an end. The command structure of Starfleet probably had all the details they needed now to come in and aid the Geckonians and despite their reduced strength, they were still a threat to him. "Are in range of the Nightingale yet?" he asked his tactical officer.

    "Yes sir."

    "Then blow it away," he ordered. The tactical officer pressed a button and Slov watched the screen as the symbol representing the Nightingale faded. He felt a moment of joy, at least he had ceased the actions of the thorn in his side.

    "Sir," the tactical officer wanted to add something to the report, "the debris field is too small to be that of the Nightingale, it looks as if it is a probe."

    Slov's eyes widened with the realisation, he had been tricked; they were really going to the Geckonian home world. "Set a course for that other signal," Slov reported, "that is the real Nightingale. Set course, maximum warp."

    Slov watched again as his ship lurched into warp in the opposite direction. As the time passed he licked his lips, anticipating that this moment was the real moment he would get his revenge. He had lost some good soldiers when he sent them across to the Nightingale and he would avenge them, just as Gorn military procedure dictated. But deep down there something more personal in this fight, he was going to eradicate the hero Hans, the one who had humiliated him twenty years ago. His only regret was that he could not kill the scum with his bare hands.

    "We are approaching the target sir," his tactical officer announced, "Charging weapons and locking on target."

    Slov savoured the moment, feeling the anticipation with great excitement. He was about to give the order to fire when the deck below him almost fell apart. Slov fell down, hitting his head on a support strut that felt hard.

    "That was a quantum torpedo," the tactical officer shouted, "The hit the warp engines, we're drifting. And our weapons are offline" His voice sound like a panicking animal, scared for its life, most unbecoming of a Gorn officer.

    Slov's head hurt and he felt the wetness of blood trickle down his leather like skin. "How did they hit us from behind?" Slov asked angry at everything around him, the men, the equipment, the ship and the humans. "They are in front of us."

    Stardate 53121.6
    USS NIghtingale, Bridge

    Wilcox stood up from his chair, seeing the explosion on the Vor was strangely exhilarating. Williams confirmed that their warp drive was offline, giving Wilcox cause for celebration. "Set a course for the Geckonian home world, maximum warp, engage," he ordered confidently as he attempted to avoid his strut to the command chair. "Good work on those probes Commander," Wilcox said smiling, "That should annoy him a while longer."

    The Nightingale slid effortless past the now disabled Vor, doing a flyby of the second probe that had now fulfilled its role, before gliding into warp.
  18. david lowbridge

    david lowbridge Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 20, 2011
    Somewhere in the future
    Stardate 53124.5

    Captain's Log: It has been a tense time, but we are eventually getting close to the outer regions on the Geckonian home system. Lieutenant Commander Hans has told me that long range scans, although not at their full capacity, have detected numerous Gorn patrol vessels around the system, but a large Geckonian fleet inside the system. It seems to me as if, despite all that General Slov would seem to imply, the Geckonian military is still very much a force to be reckoned with. Hans has informed me, using his experience and contacts on the Geckonian Home world, he was able to inform them of our intended arrival and we have safe passage, which is more of a relief to me than anyone. Despite all that we have achieved recently, there is a worry that this ship will not take another beating, we were lucky with the Slov the last time that I was able to get him into a position where we could hit his unprotected rear. But unless the whole of the Gorn fleet want to show us their backsides, we will not have such an easy time around Geckonia.

    It is also a worry that another probe we were able to send out; shows that the Federation border is rife with Gorn attack vessels. Starfleet confirmed they would send a rescue effort, but I doubt that they will be prepared for the forces that they will meet. I dare not say this to the crew, they are all jubilant that we have escaped thus far and believe that a task force will come and get us in the next couple of days.

    Stardate 53124.5
    USS Nightingale, Bridge

    Wilcox sat in his chair. He had been able to get a good few hours sleep last night and was feeling refreshed, but still anxious. He knew that the Gorn would surely know that he was on his way by now to the Geckonian home world. Slov would have contacted his forwarded units and ordered the Nightingale's destruction. Wilcox had dismissed the idea of destroying his vessel for two reasons. One, the Federation were not at war with the Gorn, and destroying a crippling ship went against Starfleet regulations with such diplomatic relations. Another was the concern that the Gorn might have repaired the weapons faster than they anticipated which could have caused severe damage to the Nightingale. It was not worth the risk in his mind.

    Also there was a problem with what was supposed to be coming. Everyone on the ship was excited by the prospect of a Starfleet task force coming to the rescue, but John knew deep down, that vessel would have to fight its way to the Geckonian home world. He dare not allow anyone else know his thoughts. It was hope that was getting the crew through every hour of painstaking work. Even for John he had personally fixed the replicator in his quarters and replaced about a dozen relays on deck one. His hands felt raw from short circuiting areas of the ship where he had conducted repairs. And he wasn't the only one to have received a nasty shock from the repairs that had taken place while en-route. According to Doctor Burton there had been a total of sixty eight accidents during the last twenty four hours. Luckily for the crew, none of them had been major and the injured personnel were always back to their duty area within the hour.

    Wilcox slanted his head onto the back of his chair, trying to ignore the seemingly moving stars that were flowing from the front of the craft to the back. John knew it was an illusion, the inertia dampeners making him feel as if he wasn't moving and the stars looking as if they were racing round the ship. Added to the fact that John knew they had precious time in which to get to safety, he felt as if the ship was not moving. Hans who was sat next to him in the executive officer's chair was going over some of the messages he had received from the Geckonian military. All of the messages were in code, in which only he could translate. John hoped they gave some small useful details.

    "This is extraordinary," Hans suddenly whispered under breath towards John. John lent forward towards his executive officer, giving him a look for him to continue, "The Geckonian military reports ever since the war started," he continued, "They've given me a lot." John looked down at the arm control panel, trying to glimpse at what was on there. "I've got fleet deployments and future battle plans as well." Hans' eyes lit up as if he was a child in a sweet shop. There was no other way to describe his glee at the information that he had been presented with.

    "How is that going to help us?" John asked, "All we need at the moment is a safe harbour."

    "It gives me a pretty good idea on how the war is actually going," Hans replied, "So far we've only had the Gorn perspective. And at that apparently a slightly maddening one, if you read this latest intelligence report."

    John felt a strange sense of curiosity, "What do you mean by maddening?" he asked, trying to move his head further over to get a better look.

    "General Slov, he is suffering from the Gorn equivalent of dementia," Hans said running his finger over the lines, "According to this, the Gorn Hegemony became worried about his actions several months ago, they did a medical test and it showed the early signs of the very rare fronto-temporal dementia."

    "Okay," John said, wondering why Starfleet intelligence did not know that, however with their attention solely concentrated on the Dominion and its allies for the past two years, they probably had little resources to spare to spy on a General. "Why is he still in service?"

    "The Gorn, they don't retire," Hans impassively replied looking up from the screen and directly at John, "They serve in whatever capacity they do, until they die from natural causes or are killed by a person wanting to take their place."

    Wilcox sat back in his chair and looked at the view screen. Was this attack on the Geckonians all a ploy to get Slov killed by his superiors at home? Was it a way to strike at the Geckonian nation and blame it on a mentally ill person? There were too many questions. He decided that there was one question that had to be answered first.

    Stardate 53124.5
    USS Nightingale, Sickbay

    "What is fronto-temporal dementia Doctor?" Wilcox asked. He had rushed down to the infirmary with Hans in order to get more information on what the condition their pursuer had.

    "It is a very rare form of dementia, normally affecting younger patients," Burton replied as she ran a dermal regenerator over the hand of an operations crewman, "Why do you ask?" she looked at the Captain briefly before going back to her work on the patient.

    "What are the symptoms?" Hans asked in his typically neutral voice.

    "There are several signs depending on the species and their cultural and genetic backgrounds," Burton replied, "However there are a few common signs between species." She paused putting down the regenerator and picking up her medical tricorder, passing it over the crewman a couple of times. "The patient often becomes more aggressive, confused, compulsive behaviour and is easily distracted." Burton paused putting the tricorder down on a table next to her before she looked at the crewman she had been healing, "Okay crewman, you are free to go."

    The crewman nodded to her and then to the Captain before jumping of the bio bed and out of the infirmary. "Why do you ask Captain," she paused for a second and then grabbed her tricorder again. This time she ran the wand over the John, who gave her a decidedly fed up look.

    "I'm not asking for myself Doctor," he said, as calmly as he could try, "Slov, he was diagnosed with it several months ago." John added.

    "Then there is nothing that can be done for him sir," Burton said, "I'm afraid, like Lieutenant Commander Hans here, there is no cure for him."

    Hans raised an eyebrow John noted, but said nothing. "What do you mean by that?" John asked, "What do you mean there is nothing that you can do for him like Commander Hans."

    Burton bit her lip, "If it was you or I, or any other mammalian or avian species, then we have cures for all dementia types nowadays," she paused for a bit, "But Starfleet Medical and several other notable powers, have yet to find a cure that works on reptilian brains. They are just too different."

    Wilcox looked at Hans and gave him a quick shrug. "Doctor," Wilcox stated, "If Slov has this, how long does he have?"

    Burton sighed, placing a hand on her waist, "Well," she replied, "This form of dementia is practically slow in reptilian species," she paused for a second, tilting her head to one side.

    Wilcox felt that he was starting to get a little too much information from her and wanted just a number, was it days, weeks, months or longer?

    "Probably about two years after initial signs had appeared," she answered.

    John nodded, "Thank you doctor," he stated, "You've been very helpful." John walked out of the room; he could feel Hans follow him into the turbo lift.

    Stardate 53124.5
    USS Nightingale, Turbo lift One

    John didn't much care for Slov, he wasn't interested in a cure for him, nor making him feel more comfortable. But John was concerned about the person who was in charge in such a large fleet, having a condition that made him more aggressive and compulsive made him very dangerous. His obvious hatred for the Geckonians had started the war in the first place. However there was a feeling deep down that because of the actions of the Brave and now his own actions on the Nightingale that Slov may feel that the Federation could be a target.

    John knew that Starfleet were not well enough equipped to deal with another conflict zone. Starfleet only had a fleet at the moment of about three thousand five hundred. In pre war times, starfleet maintained a fleet that hovered just above the eight thousand one hundred mark. Personnel were also in short supply. This meant that ships were spread pretty thin across the whole Federation. But they also had other commitments, the defence of Bajor, who was now going through the process of joining the Federation and the continued actions in Cardassian space, being part of the Allied Occupational forces and providing relief for the colonies badly affected by the war, which included Federation and Cardassian worlds.

    In response Starfleet was building a new style of fleet. Before the war Starfleet had built ships which were impressive, and designed to be multifunctional. This was a good concept for the fleet at the time, before the Dominion and Borg. But now the Federation needed a new style of fleet, something that had been recognised before the war. Instead of building moderate numbers of Galaxy, Sovereign and Luna class vessels; these ships were to be built in smaller numbers with smaller mission specific vessels, with smaller crews, being built in much larger numbers. It was a formula which directly led to the creation of the Saint Bernard class vessel, and more importantly to John the USS Nightingale. The fleet already boasted several other designs such as the Intrepid, the Saber, the defiant and the Nova which had been designed with this in mind. Starfleet projected that in the future with similar pre war man power levels instead of fleet of about eight thousand ships; they could have a fleet of over twelve thousand.

    But that was the future; it would take decades of hard work to get those numbers. John quickly brought himself to the future. Starfleet only had three thousand five hundred and they were not even all able to be deployed to the area. A new war on this front would cost many more lives.

    "I'm worried," John said out aloud to his executive order. He could tell that he was showing nerves in his voice.

    "What about Captain?" Hans asked his voice annoyingly calm again.

    "Slov," Wilcox said, "I'm worried that he will see the Federation as a target, if his judgement is that far gone."

    "The Federation can defend itself," Hans replied, his voice calm.

    "No we can't," John knew his executive officer was being optimistic, "The Federation has too many commitments at the moment," he paused for a second, "We have nearly five hundred ships assigned to the Cardassian Occupational Forces, let alone our commitments to humanitarian aid we are delivering to the systems attacked by the Dominion." John paused, "We probably have about two hundred ships that might be able to be deployed along these lines," Wilcox continued, calculating numbers in his head very quickly, "And we can't guarantee all those would be combat vessels."

    Hans turned to face John for a second, "What are you saying sir?"

    "We need to keep the Geckonians in the war," John paused for a moment, "Otherwise the Gorn could turn their full attention on the Federation."

    "Federation law prevents us from interfering," Hans replied, "We cannot technically give aid to the Geckonians."

    "We are already involved Commander," John replied, his head now thudding from a headache over the whole idea, "We've fired on a Gorn vessel, asked for a Starfleet task force to come and fight its way in here to come and get us and hell, we are even going to the Geckonian home world for help." John paused and hit his hand on the wall, "How much more involved can we get?"

    "We were attacked Captain," Hans replied, his voice had changed to that one of being sympathetic, "The Gorn did not respect our neutrality and attacked us," he paused for a second licking his lips, "We have done nothing but defend ourselves. The only reason why we are going to the Geckonian home world is because we thought that the Gorn would block our way to the Federation border. And we were right."

    John paused for a moment, "I think you have just made my point," he replied in a low voice, "They have already disrespected our neutrality, how can we trust that they will not attack us in force in our own territory."

    Hans said nothing but now John could see that there was a sudden realisation that there was that possibility, as long as Slov was in command.
  19. david lowbridge

    david lowbridge Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 20, 2011
    Somewhere in the future
    Stardate 53125.4
    USS Nightingale, Bridge - In geosynchronous orbit over Geckonia

    "USS Nightingale, this Geckonia Traffic Control, remain in your orbit path, do not power up your weapons or raise shields. Do not contact anyone other than the official government representative. Failure to adhere to these rules will result in you being considered a hostile vessel and we will respond accordingly," the cold neutral voice ordered over the communications systems. John felt a cold shiver down his back as the communication channel from the Geckonia Traffic Controller had ceased in a blaze of static.

    "They could at least be a little friendly," Shrak snorted, "After all we are giving them our support in their little war." Her antennas moved around, twisting in stomach wrenching moves. John shot a look at Shrak in a condemning look for speaking out of turn.

    "Let's not forget Lieutenant, we are the ones in need of help," John reminded her, continuing the stern look. John turned to Hans and gave a brief smile, "So, what next?" he asked his first officer.

    "We wait," Hans said patiently, "I have already informed the government of our needs and our reasons for being here, they will not take long into responding."

    "Respond with what though?" John asked. Hans shrugged and went to a personnel report that he had been given as soon as they got onto the bridge. John knew he was probably letting his feelings known. He didn't trust the situation. The Geckonians and the Federation weren't enemies by any stretch of the imagination, but neither were they the best of friends. John knew there was a Federation embassy down on the planet, but being forbidden to contact them, meant a long wait sitting on his backside with nothing to do but count the seconds that ticked by.

    "You can't blame them for being a little less friendly than we would want Captain," Chloe from the helms stations stated, "at the moment they are in a war, they have to be careful." She turned round to face the central area of the bridge.

    John gave a reassuring nod, "That is true Lieutenant," he paused, admiring the young woman's logic. She was certainly a good officer, but he felt there were some times where the officer might need some seasoning.

    The operations control panel started beeping behind John, he turned round and looked at the young ensign who was at the station there at the moment, Torlik was still in a coma in sickbay. The young ensign looked at the controls and nodded his head, "We are receiving a hail from the Prime Minister's Official Office sir," he announced.

    Hans raised a cheeky smile at John, that didn't go unnoticed, but John wasn't going to drawn into that conversation at the moment, "On screen," John ordered, standing from his chair and pulling his uniform tunic downwards.

    On the view screen came a face of a warm smiling man, looking very similar in style to that of Hans, but his hair was ginger colour instead of Hans' white and his skin had more of a pattern of green and yellow than that of pure olive green. Another difference from Hans was the lack of clothes that the man on the screen was wearing. "Mister Prime Minister, I am Captain John Wilcox, commanding officer of the USS Nightingale," John paused for a second, "Thank you for contacting me so quickly, during what must be such a busy time for you."

    The man gave a courteous nod, "You are most welcome Captain. I understand you have yet to contact your embassy here on the planet, please feel free to do so, we will not take offence."

    John turned round to Hans, giving a surprised look, he turned back to the screen to look at the Prime Minister, "I apologies Prime Minister for asking, but Traffic Control said we were not suppose to contact anyone other than on the official government channels?"

    "I will have that sorted out for you Captain, please accept my apologies, traffic control tend to see everyone in the same light," the Prime Minister paused for a second, giving a wider smile. John nodded his acceptance of the apology, something that Hans had quickly taught him to do in such a circumstance. Hans stood up and walked so he was next to the Captain. "Hans, is that you?"

    "Mister Prime Minister," Hans said, John thought that the Prime Minister must know that Hans was on the ship, as he had been the one to initiate the communications between the ship and the planet. "It is agreeable to see you again Mister Prime Minister, it has been far too long. I offer my apologies, but the Dominion War has kept me away from Geckonia." To John it sounded as if there a continued routine to this, as if it had all been rehearsed. If he hadn't have seen the transcripts for the communications John would have thought that the entire conversation was staged and would have felt uneasy. But John pondered whether this was some sort of cultural way of speaking. He knew that Hans hadn't actually spoken about any of this 'performance', he had kept his communications to ship business.

    The Prime Minister then gave a nod and looked back at the Captain, "Captain Wilcox, I respectfully request to transport to your ship," the Prime Minister said, in what John could only describe as a neutral voice, much like Hans' voice the majority of the time, "There are important matters to discuss."

    John smiled, "Mister Prime Minister, we would be honoured to have you onboard, though I warn you; we cannot simulate the temperature you need."

    The Prime Minister smiled and nodded his head, "So kind of you to warn me Captain," he replied his voice slightly teetering on friendly, "But I have a thermal vest, in case for such matters."

    John smiled, "If you would like to arrange transport co-ordinates, I will arrange to have you beamed up as soon as you would like Mister Prime Minister."

    The Prime Minister narrowed his eyes briefly; his mouth did a slight down turn. John wondered whether he had something wrong, he quickly gave a glance to Hans who was slightly shaking his head, he had done something wrong, but he didn't know what.

    A later moment the Prime Minister's face resembled something that seemed friendly again, "Of course Captain, I will arrange transport for myself and a small party in five minutes."

    "I look forward to meeting with you Mister Prime Minister," John said and with that the Prime Minister shut down the joint communications channel and the view screen returned to the star field which had been showing before the communication.

    Stardate 53125.4
    USS Nightingale, Transporter Room 1 - In geosynchronous orbit over Geckonia

    Wilcox stood waiting by the transporter to initiate. His stomach felt very wobbly, like butterflies were causing hurricanes in there. Hans stood next him, in comparison looking as cool as a cucumber. Wilcox had slight moment of jealously of his Geckonian executive, able to keep such strong emotions under control, but he decided to use that thought to control his emotions. They had been in the transporter room for a number of minutes awaiting clearance to be able to beam up the Prime Minister. John had hoped to get a chance to speak to the Federation Ambassador on the planet, but there was little time in which he could spare the Ambassador and Hans had noted that Geckonians do not like tardiness.

    "You will have to apologies several times in the first few minutes of this meeting sir," Hans suddenly broke the silence.


    "You at first made him arrange when he was to beam up to the ship," Hans noted.

    "That is only prudent considering his position, he's not a high school friend, he might not be able to drop everything at a moment's notice," John replied, he felt a little uncomfortable.

    "As the host, the Geckonians would expect you to arrange such details," Hans replied, "You would then have to apologise for the state of the ship," he continued," and then there is the detail that you are not in dress uniform. And further to that, you must apologise for not personally escorting them from the surface."

    "Do Geckonians always have to apologise in these matters?" John asked. He started scratching his head, then pulled his hand down, fearful that if his hair was out of place, he would have to apologise for that as well.

    "It is not uncommon for apologies to take up a few minutes at the start of conversations," Hans said, his voice seemed that he too was not a fan of such a system, "I and other Geckonians in Starfleet, have learnt to cope without that part of culture. It was fairly easy to do so."

    "Should I have prepared some sort of meal Commander?" Wilcox stated, turning slightly to his side to face his executive officer. Part of him was joking, but deep down, John was worried.


    "That is good," Wilcox announced, relief washing through him, "The replicators just went offline again."

    "They will bring the food, as is the custom with such events on Geckonia," Hans said, Hans gave a bigger smile.

    "What is the local food like then Commander?" Wilcox asked, he had always had an interest in other cultures food, he was very fond of Vulcan and Tellerite food.


    "Crickets?" John replied nearly choking on the words, "As in little bugs?"

    Hans nodded, "They are normally flavoured," he added, "And alive. Geckonians have to have their food still alive in order to stimulate the digestive juices."

    "The food is moving?" John said, his stomach started churning again, the thought of something wiggling around in his stomach brought back memories of Meshta gagh, which was a known jumping variety of the favoured Klingon dish.

    "It is not unlike the Klingon food," Hans stated, "I particularly enjoy Klingon food."

    Wilcox raised an eyebrow at Hans and turned back to the transporter, "Yeah, that's the one style of food I do not care to eat again as well."

    "You may have to," Hans smiled, "To reject such an offer would be an insult to the Geckonian people, the Prime Minister and I would personally feel insulted as well."

    "You?" Wilcox replied, "No offence Commander, but would you eat pizza?"

    "No," Hans replied, "But I am unable to eat food that is not moving, it would make me unwell."

    "Captain," the crewman at the controls of the transporter suddenly interrupted the conversation, "We have received the confirmation from the surface."

    "Energize," Captain Wilcox said turning around again to face the transporter pad.

    Five blue beams of light started to appear on the circles of the transporter pad. In each one a figure of a Geckonian appeared. Wilcox raised his head slightly, looking at the person in the centre as they slowly came to resemble the man he had a conversation with just a few minutes ago across the view screen. When the transporter had finished its process he noticed the new arrivals looking around their new surroundings.

    "Mister Prime Minister," John tried to grab their attention, "Welcome to the Nightingale, I apologise for the mess, the recent attack by the Gorn has left us with a lot of cleaning up to do." The Prime Minister nodded. "I also apologise for not being able to arrange your arrival here, but I was unaware of your schedule." The Prime Minister nodded again in respect to what John had said. "And I must also apologise for being improperly dressed, many of my possessions had not yet reached the ship when we were rushed into service." The Prime Minister nodded again.

    "I too must also apologise Captain," the Prime Minister added, "For I am interrupting what must be a very busy time for you Captain. But what I have to say is of the greatest of importance."

    John nodded, "Mister Prime Minister, if I may, your apology is not necessary, in fact your presence is very much appreciated."

    The natural smile of the Prime Minister turned into a large grin, "Come Captain, I have brought food, let us eat and talk as is tradition."

    "My pleasure Prime Minister," John said stretching a hand out towards the door, "We shall eat in the conference room; my quarters are far too small to cater for two people."

    "Excellent Captain," the Prime Minister replied, "Hans, please join us. I have brought your favourite, Tellarian Spiced Crickets and for you Captain; I have brought Chicken Sandwiches."

    Wilcox shot a look at Hans and smiled, "You needn't have bothered to go to such lengths for me Prime Minister. I could have sampled Geckonian food." The Prime Minister smiled and exited the room with his party of five people following him. John took the lead of the group, directing them to the turbo life, while Hans took up the rear.

    Stardate 53126.2
    USS Nightingale, Conference Room - In geosynchronous orbit over Geckonia

    After the meal had been finished, the Prime Minister had told his company to wait outside. Hans and Wilcox were left inside the room with the Prime Minister. John had to admit that the conversation throughout the meal had been mostly based on the ship and his career. John knew he hadn't much time, however he wanted to get as much out of the Geckonian leader as possible, and he could achieve that better by being courteous now and demanding later.

    "Captain," the Prime Minister started to talk sternly, "I'm afraid that the war has not gone completely our way."

    "You've suffered large number of casualties," Hans stated impassively, the Prime Minister just nodded, "How did this occur? Were you not prepared for such events?" Hans asked. Wilcox felt he was being undermined and shot a look over at his executive officer, not the only senior officer he had to do that too recently.

    "We were prepared," the Prime Minister stated, "We found out about their plans, and we positioned our ships accordingly."

    "But they saw you ship positions, and went around them, changed their plans," John stated, he had started to gather a picture of the events in his head. The Prime Minister nodded, "You got caught off guard."

    "In recent days we've been able to reverse some of their gains," The Prime Minister seemed to go into a depressive mood, he's whole tone changed to a something that John recognised in officers during the Dominion War, when people had lost so many loved ones. "But when we recovered the planets," he took a large gulp, he had obviously difficultly in recounting his information, "The Gorn had completely eradicated the populations. We don't have an exact figure yet but billions of being people have died in a matter of days."
  20. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jul 1, 2011
    The great gig in the sky
    Keep posting the chapters! Don't worry about a mute response because it is like that with most stories on this forum. What matters is views, and if views constantly increase by say 30 between a regular posting time (say daily) that means at least a dozen members (or more) are reading your story but keeping tightlipped about it.

    So don't be disheartened by the low number of responses!