Star Trek: Nightingale

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

  1. david lowbridge

    david lowbridge Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 20, 2011
    Somewhere in the future
    Thanks Ln X for your advice. Its nice to have it. Also thanks for the kind words over on Ad astra. It is nice to know that people are reading.
  2. david lowbridge

    david lowbridge Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 20, 2011
    Somewhere in the future
    Stardate 53128.2
    USS Nightingale, Conference Room - In geosynchronous orbit over Geckonia

    Wilcox sat alone in the dark, his chair slightly swivelled from the desk that lay in the centre of the room, facing out towards a massive field of stars in the window. Each star just a pinpoint in the distance, barely recognisable than when they were up close. His heart felt heavy and his stomach felt empty. Even during the worst moments of the Dominion War, he had not known of the Cardassians or the Dominion never causing death on such levels. The number of deaths caused by the war had been estimated at nearly one billion combined between both sides. And even then, those deaths had occurred in two years of fighting. Yet here, in the space of what are two relatively small powers, the deaths of so many had happened in so little time.

    John did not blame the Geckonians for the war. He had seen the evidence on Geckonian scans, Williams and V'ras had both confirmed their authenticity; the Gorn were completely behind the attacks. When John had eventually got around to speaking to the Federation Ambassador, he had confirmed what John had already known for a couple of hours. The Gorn were to blame. However, John was able to give official notice of the destruction of the brave to the senior government official in the area. John had also spoken to the chief of the Embassy security team, Commander Xian. He had assured John that the ambassador was safe. However there was some concern that there were six other embassies in the Geckonian nation run by the Federation, all of which were on planets that were overrun by the Gorn in the opening days. None of those planets had been liberated yet, though the Geckonian military did seem to now be pushing the Gorn back, except in the area close to the home world.

    John had requested that Williams kept up constant sensor sweeps to see what was going on in the border areas of the system. Williams reported that their miraculous entrance into the system could not be repeated, the Gorn had sealed the gap in the perimeter; obviously they were detected getting in. John had hoped to escape somehow and meet up with Starfleet. But the space between the Geckonian home world and the Federation border was still rife with Gorn patrols. The Geckonians had been pushing back the Gorn, but as of yet there was no space where a ship could be completely safe. The Gorn had seemed relentless in their attacking of any ship which could endanger their plans, which unfortunately had included the Brave and the Nightingale.

    The Gorn, so far around the Geckonian home system, had made little effort to attack the inner areas of the system. They were either waiting for re-enforcements, which intelligence from front line Geckonian forces suggested was not coming, or waiting for the Geckonians to make the first move.

    John's mind switched again from the tactical situation back to the matter that was troubling him so deeply. He could not understand why a species that has previously been described by Federation diplomats as a rather intelligent and cunning species would commit genocide. John however remembered all the times recently that genocide had been recorded in history: the killing of Cardassian civilians by the Dominion forces at the end of the war; the killing of Bajoran people during the Cardassian Occupation and the Tzenkethi persecution of the Hydrania seven years ago were all examples of recent genocide. There were even infamous people in the history of Earth; Adolf Hitler, Phillip Green and Spanish Conquistadors that were famed for genocide. John, admittedly naively, had thought that history would help other species not to commit genocide. It would appear not.

    John felt no anger at the Gorn, he was beyond that kind of thinking. He felt sad.

    John looked round as the doors to the conference room slide gently open. A shadow of person stood in the door, before stepping into the room and letting the door behind them shut.

    "Captain," the voice said, John instantly recognised that of Lieutenant Commander Hans, "Are you okay? Are the lights malfunctioning?"

    "No," John sighed turning back to face the star field he had spent the last few hours staring at, "I just wanted some time to think." The dark surroundings helped his mind relax and think about the situation, but as of yet, he had not yet really been thinking too much of the best way out of here, but as what had happened. No matter how hard he tried, he could not shake what had happened and could not concentrate on the future.

    Hans walked over to the conference table in the middle of the room, standing on the opposite side to that of John. He placed down a pad onto the table and looked at John, "The Geckonian Military liberated Grekin Two and Six an hour ago sir," Hans said, even his normally neutral voice had drifted into a glum tone, "They did a search of the entire planet, there are survivors hiding in deep caves," he continued, "but unfortunately all twenty five Federation citizens assigned to the embassy on two were killed sir."

    John three his head back quickly, closing his eyes, holding back the pain he felt. He did not know any of those people there, but the deaths of Federation citizens would always be a disaster in his mind.

    "Have we any idea for the other embassies?" John asked standing up and moving towards the window, some of the planet down below now visible, catching his attention for a moment.

    "I'm afraid we've had no word from those systems at the moment," Hans replied quietly, "They are closer to the border areas. It might be several days before the Geckonian forces arrive in the area."

    John nodded, but his stomach clenched at the thought of the inevitable news that those people were not alive anymore. "Is there anything else Commander?"

    "What are we going to do sir?"

    "What do you think we should do?" John asked turning his head slightly to the side, to get a view of his executive officer, who was now standing at ease behind the desk.

    "We should join forces with the Geckonians sir," Hans replied.

    "Is that a tactical decision or patriotic decision Commander?" John asked, sensing that another conflict of interest in his Geckonian officer between the Federation and his heritage.

    "Sir with respect," Hans replied, "If we ignore that the Gorn are actually targeting Federation citizens during this war, are committing crimes as specified in interstellar law and have destroyed the USS Brave. We have no way of leaving this system now, not without being attacked by the Gorn."

    "Are you saying we should have headed to the Federation border Commander?" John said, now taking a seat back at the table.

    "No sir," Hans replied, his voice confident, "The Gorn were patrolling the border, blocking our way." Hans paused for a second and turned to face the door.

    "Wait," John said, he turned round to face the Commander and commanded the lights to come on, illuminating the room for the first time in several hours. His eyes flinched at the brightness, something he had forgotten in his time being in the dark. "Starfleet has barely gotten out of one war, and you are asking me to commit it to another."

    "I'm not asking you to commit to another war sir," Hans replied, "I'm telling you that the Gorn have started a war, and the Federation are as much a target as we are."

    "And if we don't respond?"

    "Then all those colonies along the Gorn border could be at risk," Hans replied, "There are millions of lives along the border. Human, Vulcan, Andorian, Bolian, Tellerite, they all need protecting and at the moment, we are the only ship available to do that."

    "Damn it Hans," John replied sharply contrasting the calmness of the Geckonian, "We're a medical search and rescue vessel, not a warship." John sighed, fixings his eyes on some battle damage he had not seen before in the conference room.

    "We have the ability to defend ourselves," Hans replied.

    "With what?" John shouted slamming his fist down on the table hard, "We have three phasers barely working and slow loading torpedo launcher, not to mention reduced shields and armour." John turned round again at the window, "You want me to sacrifice all our lives on some foolish noble sentiment that our engaging them again will convince them that we will fight back, they already know we will. Otherwise a full scale invasion would have been launched already."

    "Our weapons are sufficient to do defend us sir," Hans replied, "There are no more of the ship that we saw Slov on, these Gorn vessels seem to be of the older less advanced light cruiser the Gorn have employed for over a century."

    John stared at the battle damage, a damaged console, showing a tactical readout of the system they were currently in. John noticed how, despite the damage it was still doing its duty. It seemed in all the chaos, this console had not forgotten its role to play.

    "Captain to the Bridge," a shaky voice over the intercom sounded. "Captain to the Bridge immediately."

    Stardate 53128.2
    USS Nightingale, Bridge - In geosynchronous orbit over Geckonia

    Captain Wilcox strode onto the bridge followed closely by Hans. John looked at Shrak who was standing in the middle of the bridge. He nodded to her and she immediately went round to the tactical position and relieved an enlisted man at the post. "What's up?" John said.

    Williams brought up a scan log onto the main viewer, "I've detected weapons fire on the out regions of the system sir," he said nervously, "It looks as if half a dozen Gorn vessels have moved in to attack the Geckonian forces."

    A Trill at the operations station turned his attention into the conversation, "Captain, Geckonian forces have asked for re-enforcements, their military command is sending more."

    "There isn't enough sir, they need more ships," Shrak added to the conversation suddenly. John turned round to look at the tactical officer. He saw something in her eyes, she seemed to be agreeing with Hans at this point that they should immediately get involved in the battle.

    John walked up to the tactical readout on the view screen, standing next to the helm manned by Lieutenant Visitor.

    "Orders sir," she said gently.

    John looked down at her, seeing her youthful face, so young, but so dedicated to the service. He had no doubt at that moment by the look in her eyes; that she would give her life for the service. Looking around the bridge he saw the same look in each of his officers. Yes there was fear, but each one of them had signed up for one reason, to serve the Federation. They all knew the risks; they all knew that Starfleet meant combat at times and most of these people had served the Federation in its darkest moments during the Dominion War.

    John strode up to his chair and sat down in it, he could feel the eyes of the room focused completely on his, and his neck felt hot from the attention he got from it. But his job was command; his job was to make decisions. Everyone on board had shined to this point, now it was about time that he proved he had what to take to wear those four pips on his collar. He had to stop thinking of the past, there was nothing he could do about it, what was done is done. The only thing that mattered was what they were going to do.

    "Lieutenant Visitor," John said, he noticed Hans flinch, preparing for what he would expect to be an unfavourable decision, "set an intercept course for the battle area and get us there as quick as possible." John saw Hans' mouth almost drop to the floor, he obviously didn't expect that. John just turned to his executive officer as he sat on his right hand side and said in a low voice so no one else could hear, "Thanks for reminding me of my duty." Hans nodded and gave a wider smile.

    "We should be in the vicinity of the battle in eight minutes," Chloe announced at the helm.

    John nodded and opened the newly fixed internal communications from his arm rest, "All hands battle stations."
  3. david lowbridge

    david lowbridge Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 20, 2011
    Somewhere in the future
    Stardate 53128.2
    USS Nightingale, Bridge

    John tightly held onto the arm rests as the young Lieutenant counted down to the time that they would reach the battle area. John had given his crew very little warning about this battle, but yet everyone was getting ready admirably. John looked on the screen as Williams had placed the sensor data he was getting straight onto a tactical map of the system. John couldn't help but cheer on the Geckonians as every spark against a Gorn vessel resulted in another obstacle being eliminated. It was a thought that John had become accustomed too now, thinking of a hostile force as nothing more than obstacles. It allowed their losses to dwell on the mind less. He also felt the pain as every Geckonian vessel was destroyed too, they were allies and the only friends they had at the moment. He had not yet found a way to subside the feelings he had about friends.

    John watched with intent as he battle unfolded in front of him, he was only a couple of minutes out and the battle was very young, but the strategies of both sides were very apparent. The Gorn were trying to split to the Geckonians into smaller, more manageable groups and the Geckonians were trying to take on the Gorn head on. John thought it was strange that the Geckonians weren't aware that the Gorn vessel's main weakness was the rear, where the hull was highly vulnerable to torpedo fire. The movement of the two groups of ships seemed like a dance and John couldn't help but notice that the Geckonian commander was doing his best to keep his fleet in one piece.

    John knew from the tactical information being relayed to him that the heavy cruiser that Slov had been commanding was not in the fleet, nor were any of the Gorn ships like the one he commanded. From what information that his science officer could get was that the ships they were facing were standard Gorn cruisers, far less sophisticated and with weaker weapons and hull. Hans had run his own analysis of the Gorn vessels, and determined that the rear of these vessels were just as fragile, if not more, than that of Slov's flagship.

    "Tactical," John said, "Send a message to the Geckonian flagship; tell them to concentrate their fire on the rear of the Gorn vessels," John looked at Hans, "Any idea on how we can actually fight in this battle Commander?" He asked hesitantly, committing the Nightingale into battle and her being able to slug it out, were two completely different things.

    "We've got the two forward phasers back online to ninety six percent," Hans replied confidently, "And we're able to fire a torpedo every minute now."

    John could only muster a sceptical look; they may have weapons, but they were in a pitiful state to say the least. But it did not matter, they were in a dire situation and it was best to engage the enemy when they had lots of friends than when they had none. "What about shields?"

    "Still at ninety per cent," replied Hans smiling, "But I would rather have these shields at ninety percent than a galaxy's at one hundred."

    John shook his head.

    "One minute," shouted Lieutenant Visitor from the front of the bridge. She barely looked up at the screen, which could now show the position of the Nightingale on with every other ship in the battle zone. If the readings were correct, and John hoped to hell they were, they should be coming up to the centre of the Geckonian lines. John had noticed that the Geckonians were slightly changing their tactics with small groups of their destroyers breaking off into squadrons and attempting to get in-between the Gorn targeting their rear areas.

    John instinctively turned round when the turbo lift doors slid loudly open. In the doorway stood the bruised figure of the Ensign Torlik, his face still showing the signs of the burns he had received. "Ensign Torlik," John addressed the man in as neutral fashion as possible, he had hoped to control the next meeting between the two of them in order to get some answers out of him, "What the hell are you doing out of sickbay?"

    "Doctor released me sir," he said, standing stiff at attention.

    "She said you could report for duty?" John questioned. John couldn't imagine Doctor Burton releasing a man, who was obviously still suffering from severe injuries. He noticed some of his clothes were still ragged from his earlier fight with the equipment he had on deck seven.

    "She didn't say I couldn't," Torlik replied giving a wry smile.

    "Report to your station," John said giving the man a nod. Whatever Torlik had said or done to get himself out of sickbay, he had come on duty, John could think of a hundred officers he knew that would not bother with such injuries.

    Torlik took his station as if it was a normal day, replacing a senior non commissioned officer who took another station across the bridge. John then turned his attention back to the view screen, noting mere seconds were all that stood between his ship and battle again.

    Stardate 53128.2
    Outer region of Geckonian Space

    The large shining orange hulk of the Gorn vessel bore down on its prey like an owl onto a shrew. It had the strength of its weapons and the accuracy of the finest tactical officers in the fleet. Her Captain was proud, her crew were fine. Now Geckonian vessels were been laid waste by their experience and dedication to the cause. She had seen numerous battles, fought many enemies, but none had been as personal to her crew or as gratifying as this single conflict. As another lame enemy vessel collapsed under her weight of power, her crew felt invincible.

    But in their glory came complacency. In their victory came recklessness. In the heat of battle had come clumsiness. She had been allowed to stray too far from her own lines and that of her sister ship's covering fire. By the time that her crew had realised they were in a perilous position it was too late. In the moments that it took to adjust their course to take them back to their assigned position and safety, they were hit in near the starboard nacelle by phaser fire. The next hit, a quantum torpedo on the exhaust manifold, ignited the expending plasma that engulfed the proud ship in a plume of fire that erased her and her crew from any future existence.

    Her slayer, a Federation vessel, glided past the burning wreckage.

    Stardate 53128.2
    USS Nightingale, Bridge

    "Good shot Lieutenant," John shouted across to his gleaming tactical officer, "Helm take us about three six mark one zero six," he ordered, taking them on a course to get them right into the middle of the Geckonian lines.

    Lieutenant Visitor nodded and the ship lurched itself into a new direction. John felt the temporary G force squeeze his stomach as the inertia dampers caught up with the movements. A sudden display of sparks from an unmanned area of the bridge brought his thoughts back to the idea that they were now close to the battle.

    "Shields are holding," reported Shrak, "But we're got three Gorn cruisers on our stern," she cautiously announced. From that position they were

    John got off his chair and stepped forward nearer to the helm station, his eyes fixed on to the screen that showed the aggressors, in a standard arrowhead formation, chasing his ship. "Lieutenant, I want you to pump as much juice as you can into the starboard impulse engine and shunt the port impulse engine into reverse on my order," John gave a wicked smile before looking back at his executive officer who returned the gesture with a small nod of his head.

    "Tactical, prepare to fire on the Captain's order, all weapons at the lead vessel," Hans stated, turning his attention squarely on the tactical officer.

    Another spark shot across the room, missing John by inches, but nothing would dissuade him from his plan. "Helm, now!"

    The ship lurched as it started to turn in an anticlockwise motion. John felt the creaks in the new ship, as started a manoeuvre that she was not suppose to be able to complete. He attempted to subside the feeling of nausea by watching the view screen that was firmly fixed on their pursuers and kept on his feet only by the aid of the edge of the helm station. John smiled as the Gorn ships flew past the Nightingale, slowing down, but not able to react fast enough in his planned change in direction. As the Nightingale completed a third spin, the Gorn were fully in front of the Nightingale, he patted on Chloe's shoulder to stop the spinning and turned to Shrak on the upper part of the bridge. "Tactical," John said calmly, "Fire at will."

    Shrak smiled mercilessly as activated the weapon systems, blowing apart the lead Gorn vessel; the other two peeling off from the formation and attempting a regroup to run for their concentrated lines. John shook his head at Hans, letting him know that he had no intention of following them. He did not want to risk to get caught out in an overzealous charge, like the ones he had taken advantage of already.

    John went back to his chair and sat down, before he could give the order to resume their course to the centre of the lines, John felt the bridge shake from underneath him. He fell off his chair as he noticed several other officers did. Lieutenant Visitor was thrown so far backwards from an explosion at her console that she landed near John. He reached her neck, checking her pulse, but a groan for her confirmed she was still alive.

    "Hans, take the helm," John shouted taking a look around the deck; the bridge had various fires and a few crewmen sporting wounds. Shrak still stood at tactical and Torlik was still at his station, however it looked as if his arm had been caught in an explosion, with blood now dripping from it.

    As Hans reached for the helm's station, Lieutenant Visitor rolled over and pushed herself off the floor, squeezing herself between the Geckonian and the navigational control station. John stared on as she looked at his executive officer. "I can take my post sir," she said, she looked as if she was in pain.

    "Lieutenant," John shouted, "Get yourself down to the medical deck now."

    "With all due respect sir," she shouted, "You need your best pilot at the helm. Give me a chance"

    John nodded at her and took his seat back in the command chair, Hans quickly moved over to another crewmember to help them. "Report?" John ordered above the sound of flames being extinguished in the background.

    "We've taken on damage sir," Torlik replied, "Hull breaches on deck two, shields are down to twenty percent."

    "The Gorn having changed tactics sir, they've gone for a swarm tactic, several of them and Geckonian vessels are now fighting around us," Shrak shouted, her voice saturated with adrenaline, something John recognised instantly.

    Another rock of the bridge shook John in his chair; he looked around the burning bridge and wondered how long he could hang on in the battle. With the fighting now becoming a melee, he was losing control quickly as ships on both sides were closing in on each other to point blank range. The tactic favoured the Gorn best.

    Another explosion on the bridge sent a crewman flying near Hans, the face of the woman covered in blood.

    "Tactical keep firing all weapons, try to hit as many of those damn things as possible," John shouted, "Helm, we need to keep the Gorn vessels off our shields, evasive pattern omega, get us to the outer regions of the battle area."

    Chloe nodded, moving a strand of her brown hair to the side that had fallen from its normally perfectly placed spot behind her ear. John felt the lurch of the ship as she complained from the pain of moving in such a way.

    Another explosion set a console on fire in the tactical station. Shrak was unhurt, but she didn't look best pleased.

    "I've lost weapon control," she announced, "We're toothless sir." She sounded more frustrated than anything.

    "Shields are offline, we're losing long range sensors," Torlik shouted, "We've got hull breaches on decks three, four and seven. Emergency force fields are holding but I don't know how long for."

    John notice Hans attempting to conduct triage on the crewman who had the facial burns, John wondered if it was worth it now, it was only a matter of time before the Gorn would finish them off. But John didn't feel like going down without a fight on this occasion.

    "Helm, set a collision course for the nearest Gorn ship and..." John was about to give the order to engage when Williams interrupted him from the other side of the room.

    "Sir the Gorn are breaking off their attack," the young science officer shouted from across the bridge from his little station alcove.

    John rushed over to the console and looked at the sensor data, "Why?" was all John could bring himself to ask.

    "I'm detecting a warp field wake but not much else," Williams stated. With the sensors down, it would be hard to tell what anything was, Williams able to give that much detail was either a testimony to his skills or a sign of his optimism.

    John looked across to his Andorian tactical officer, who was panting, leaning over her console, "Could it be reinforcements for the Gorn?"

    "Negative," Shrak paused for a second looking at the Captain, "They had the upper hand. Why would they not continue pushing their advantage?"

    "More Geckonian vessels?" Hans asked rising himself from his patient he had relented care for to Doctor Castello who had just arrived on the bridge.

    "No sir," replied Williams, "There were no ships in that area of Geckonian space. Their trajectory suggests..." Williams paused for a moment, he looked surprised. After checking his readings a couple of times he turned round to face the captain with an astonished look on his face. "It's Stafleet sir."

    John raised an eyebrow in scepticism, "Already?"

    Williams only nodded.

    "We are being hailed," Torlik announced from across the bridge.

    John nodded and turned to face the view screen as a familiar face suddenly filled the screen with a beaming grin. "Captain Wilcox," the Captain of the USS Hood, Captain Robert DeSoto greeted John with a sort of warm affection, despite the two of them had only once briefly met, "What kind of mess did you get yourself into? "

    "A special kind," John joking replied, giving a cheeky smile, "I take it we can thank you for getting those Gorn to run?"

    DeSoto nodded, "We told them that if they wanted to be hit from two sides at once; then keep on firing, otherwise run like hell. " DeSoto's voice had a certain hidden danger about itself. His thinning grey hair may have made him look like the nice elderly uncle he was often called by junior officers who had started their careers under him. But he had a reputation as a keen tactician and a ruthless negotiator. There was no doubt in John's mind that DeSoto had scared the Gorn witless.

    John smiled and sighed at the same time, relief that the battle was over and lasting safety were now very close, "What you got coming in?" John asked, "I've lost just about everything but life support and the hull."

    "We've got twenty four ships," DeSoto claimed smiling, "Just enough to get the Gorn second guessing themselves."

    John smiled, twenty four ships was a large number for a rescue of such a small crewed ship. "We could do with some repair crews over here Captain," John stated, he didn't want to directly ask for help but he had to admit he did need it.

    "I'll send over what I can Captain." DeSoto stated, "We'll be with you in five minutes, until then, stay in your current position. "

    John nodded and with that the communications link was cut, a star field replacing the shot of the experienced captain on the screen.

    "Lieutenant Visitor and Ensign Torlik, get yourselves down to sickbay now. Commander Hans, take the helm and hold position," John ordered, taking his seat at the bridge as the shift in positions of the bridge occurred from Chloe and Torlik leaving their stations and replacements taking their places. As the euphoria of surviving the battle washed over him like a wave on a sandy beach, John closed his eyes for a second and took in a deep breath. He would get his crew out and home.
  4. david lowbridge

    david lowbridge Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 20, 2011
    Somewhere in the future
    This is final chapter

    Stardate 53148.5

    Captain's Log: It has been two days since the Nightingale has returned back to Federation space. We have taken up residence at starbase one one two as we conduct major repairs from the battle damage we received. According to the Station repair crews and V'ras, we have a three week layoff while we get to our design specifications. Command has agreed with my proposal to increase the standard crew of the Saint Bernard class ships to seventy five personnel, with operations, engineering and security departments getting more crewmembers. Replacement crewmembers for the men and women we lost are being arranged; however I know that some members of the Brave's crew who we rescued will be staying on.

    Command attempted to reclaim Lieutenant Visitor. I was able to persuade them that she was better off staying on the Nightingale. They eventually agreed, though it took some help from my old superior officer and friend Admiral Jenkins. I was able to get two members of my senior staff promoted

    Stardate 53148.5
    USS Nightingale - Docked at Starbase One One Two - Captain's Quarters

    John sat at his desk reading the latest repair schedule that had somehow sneaked its way onto his desk. During the next twenty four hours, according to the report, the hull breaches on deck two were to be sealed up. The last two days the breaches on other planets had been sealed, but deck two had taken the most damage. It was also the site where four people were sucked into space. Though John regretted the loss of life, three of those killed were the Gorn when the Brig decompressed. The crewman lost, Crewman Ulysian Gretelic, was the only person killed in the last battle, though there were many injuries.

    John threw his head onto the head rest on the back of the chair and looked up at the blank grey ceiling. He had about a hundred personnel reports to look at in order to choose replacements for his crew. One of his priorities was the engineering crew; they were missing four personnel now, including an officer. Lieutenant Regluan had decided to stay on as assistant chief engineer and John had to admit that the man was a brilliant engineer and an excellent counter balance for V'ras' slow methodical pace that he seemed to like.

    John couldn't help but blur each name into the next and the previous one. None stood out to him particularly, but he had asked Hans to look over the list and pick out his shortlist to help him narrow down his final selection. As he thought about the problems of choosing the right crew, his door chimed. "Enter."

    Hans walked into the room with a large padd in his right hand. John looked up and smiled. "Is that your shortlist?" John asked raising both eyebrows sarcastically. If John had glimpsed correctly, it was a long list.

    "I have reduced the list by fifty percent," Hans replied calmly, "I was hoping that you would be able to get your final decision from this list." Hans placed the list on the small desk, the clunk of the metals connecting vibrated through the whole desk.

    "Well you've got more time it seems to get that list down," John said smiling at Hans.

    "I don't understand," Hans replied cocking his head to the side, "I should be returning to my duties on the Starbase."

    "Command have approved my plans," John replied, he grabbed a box from underneath his table that he had hidden down there, "I need that black pip of yours Commander," John continued opening up the box showing a gold pip, one that would make Lieutenant Commander Hans into a full fledge commander.

    "I'm being promoted?"

    John nodded, "You don't seem pleased? Is there something wrong?"

    "I wasn't expecting to stay on the Nightingale sir," Hans replied slowly, "I thought I would be transferred back to the Starbase, especially now we seem to be having to co-ordinate all Geckonian and Federation military vessels in this area."

    John nodded, "We did discuss you taking up the executive officer's position permanently during the mission. I thought this would please you?"

    Hans looked up, giving a wide smile, John was relieved to see it, "I am pleased sir, just surprised. Not all commanding officers are able to keep promises."

    "I intend to," John said.

    Hans took his black pip with the gold trim off his collar and placed it on the Captain's desk, where he picked up the full gold pip and placed it next to the other two pips on his collar. John stood up and extended his hand with a wide smile.

    "Congratulations Commander," John offered. Hans took his hand and nodded politely, "Now, as your first order as the official first officer of the Nightingale is to oversee the repair crews on deck two, make sure that they follow the ships precise specifications, I don't want to have to memorise a new design." Hans nodded and was about to leave the room when John held up his hand, "Can you send in Ensign Torlik as well." Hans gave John a curious look, but nodded as he left.

    A moment later another chime brought in Ensign Torlik. John was sitting down again now looking over a padd, which contained the details of the device that Torlik had designed and implemented on the Nightingale. Even though at first it had not worked perfectly, it had been developed further by other crewmembers on the ship and it was reported to John that the device should have worked, if Torlik have had more time before the battle. Of course Torlik had not asked for permission to install the equipment, nor had he given any details about the device, he had essentially kept it to himself, for what reason, John did not know.

    Torlik stood rigid at attention as John finished reading the report that V'ras had completed on the device. John looked up, trying to portray a neutral tone in his expression.

    "I have a problem ensign," John broke the uncomfortable silence with.

    "Sir," Torlik replied.

    "I can't have officers going off on their own, building equipment and installing it without permission or letting anyone else know what they are doing," John continued. Even he could sense the anger in his voice. Torlik had not exactly done something that had endangered the ship, in fact quite the opposite. However he had not followed procedures. However with his record in the Starfleet as it was, his actions fitted his profile.

    "I'm sorry sir," replied Torlik, "But I thought that if I had suggested the device you would not have allowed it, am I right?"

    John sighed as he got up from his chair and walked the short way across the room; he looked at the old operations officer and sighed again. "Yes you are probably right," John had to admit, he would definitely have had to think three of four times before he would have allowed any equipment designed by Torlik to be installed. "But you still should follow procedures."

    Torlik nodded, "Hopefully now you could learn to trust me Captain."

    John smiled, "According to your personnel report, you are a person who is constantly doing things without asking permission. Your black mark is specifically aimed at not following orders or procedures." Torlik looked slightly uneasy at what John was saying, shifting his head from the wall near to John to the floor. "What the hell happened on the Victory?"

    Torlik looked up from the floor and nervously shifted his feet about the floor, "I can't say anything sir, Starfleet intelligence have classified the whole incident."

    "Why?" To John it seemed completely absurd that intelligence had classified a simple battle that had happened two decades ago. John couldn't help but wonder why.

    "I can't answer that sir."

    "Damn it," John said slamming his fist onto the table, "I wouldn't tell anyone Ensign."

    "I'm sorry sir, but duty says that I must not breach the confident manner," Torlik gave a small smile.

    To John the response was something of a mixed bag. It proved that Torlik was loyal to Starfleet and the Federation, that he would follow orders that he was given. But it also showed him that his operations officer was not fully to be trusted, that he may have other loyalties. Despite that, John knew that Torlik had saved his life and the rest of the people on the Nightingale, he deserved a reward.

    "Ensign," John said, "In regard to your actions in the end there is only one thing I can say: well done." Torlik looked up surprised. "I have to admit that you are an excellent officer, but you need to follow procedures better. It took me a short while to realise what you needed to properly say well done." John pushed forward the black pip forward on the desk towards his Denobulan operations officer. "Congratulations Lieutenant." John smiled at the officer was speechless.

    Torlik picked up the black pip cautiously, looking at it for a while as if he was a Ferengi and it was gold pressed latinum. He looked up at John and gave a wide smile, "Thank you Captain."

    John nodded and pressed a button on the table opening up the door to his office, "Now Lieutenant, you need to see the repairs of the ship."

    Torlik walked out the door and it shut quietly behind him. John sat down quietly smiling slightly, he had obviously made the officers day. Now he had to go back to the dull job of selecting new crew.

    Stardate 53149.8
    USS Nightingale - Docked at Starbase One One Two - Deck Two, Lieutenant Shrak and Visitor's Quarters

    Shrak lay on the bottom bunk staring up at the holographic image of her family in front of the grand home on Andor. She missed her home at times; she was fonder of its andorian ivory staircase than of the grey metal that adorned her quarters now. At home she had a whole room to herself, now she shared. At her grand mansion she had a whole dressing room that contained thousands of clothes, now in her small draw and locker she had three work uniforms, one dress uniform, a workout uniform and two casual garments. Shrak thought it was barely enough to keep a young girl satisfied, and she knew she wasn't as bad as some human females who were absolutely obsessed with clothes.

    Shrak had noticed that Lieutenant Visitor was one of those human females who liked to collect clothes. While Shrak had a small collection on ship, and found it difficult to store them all, Chloe seemed to have six or seven casual dresses and outfits which she somehow stored in her small storage space. Shrak had wanted to look into her cupboard to see if some sort of space dilation device was in use, however she had been unable to crack her roommate's code while Chloe was under observation in sickbay.

    Now Chloe was out of the medical care she had been in for the past week and was probably going to back any moment from her first duty shift since the battle. Shrak felt a strange sense of apprehension, a mixture of longing for the girl who had shown considerable skill as a pilot during the first mission of the Nightingale. Her thoughts wondered back to those which she had when she was watch officer over a week ago. Nothing had changed, Chloe's body still seemed pleasing and Shrak still felt the compulsion to have some fun. Deep down she saw it as nothing more than a diversion from normal mundane duties, but at the forefront of her mind she craved the young girl.

    As the doors to their shared quarters slide open, she saw Chloe walk in and immediately remove her tunic as she greeted Shrak in a friendly tone. Shrak smiled, her cheeks turn a deep shade of blue as she greeted the girl back. Shrak admired the curves of the beautiful girl as they were presented to her as she dressed herself into something more, 'colourful'.

    Stardate 53149.8
    USS Nightingale - Docked at Starbase One One Two - Deck One, Commander Hawke's Quarters

    John entered the quarters of his former executive officer with a glum look on his face. The quarters were soon to become that of Commander Hans, his new first officer. Before that could happen, his quarters and office had to be cleared by personnel, so it could be converted into something that was compatible to Hans. As John looked around he could see Lieutenant Commander Burton quietly sitting on the bed holding a padd in her hand and tears rolling down her face. Also in a room was a crewman who was clearing the personnel effects, oblivious to the crying officer behind him.

    "You're dismissed crewman," John said. The crewman stood up to attention and walked out of the room when John nodded to him. As soon as the young man was out of the room John looked at Burton who had now moved her attention to him. "You okay Commander?"

    Rachel lifted the padd to make it more prevelant, "It's a letter home from Dan to his parents," she said, "Its a few years old, but he kept a copy of it."

    "Must have meant something to him then," John said, he tried not to get emotionally involved in this conversation, he had already 'gone off the rails' over his death, he would not try to go down that path again.

    "It's about our engagement," she said offhandedly, as if it didn't mean anything.

    John sighed, "I didn't know you were engaged."

    "No one suppose to know," Rachel replied quietly, "However I guess he couldn't keep it from his mum."

    "Sons are like that," John replied smiling, "He was obviously very happy about the prospect of you two marrying."

    "I called it off," Rachel said, "Because I was worried about one of us being hurt." Rachel placed her hands over her eyes and began to weep again. "Is... it... so wrong... to worry... about such things."

    "Yes and no," John said, trying to show some compassion, but had yet had to admit that he did not think the same. "Some people need the connection despite the risks; other people feel it would compromise them. It is what suits the person." John knelt beside her and placed his hand on her knee. She stopped her crying and looked down at the Captain, "It will take time to recover, but you will one day feel better about this. The best thing you can do is to remember him as he would want to be remembered, as a person who loved you." John gave another slight smile of reassurance; Rachel returned a good attempt, but not a brilliant reply in kind.

    John patted her knee, "If you want I could assign Commander Hans to this role," John offered, "He has the necessary clearance."

    Rachel shook her head.

    "Okay, then carry on Commander," John replied standing up and heading for the door.

    "One second captain," Rachel suddenly said, John turned round and looked at the doctor, "I found this." She passed him an isolinear chip with some writing on the side of it. "When I tried to open it on the computer it was encrypted."

    John looked at the writing on the side and read it in his head, 'USS Victory logs - Ensign Torlik data - Level 10 Encryption.'

    "Thank you Doctor," John said quietly before he left the room. Dan, before his death, had found something out in regards to Torlik and found it necessary to encrypt the data. But what was on that chip.
  5. david lowbridge

    david lowbridge Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 20, 2011
    Somewhere in the future
    This is a missing scene from between this story and the next one "The Ruse" that was posted for the Ad Astra Just for Forum - A Place for Prompt Responses round robin.

    This is

    Chapter Notes: A missing scene from between Trial by Fire and The Ruse. Written for anyone who has gotten one of those ready meals only to discover that the microwave has destroyed it and anyone who has ordered takeaway and found their order wrong / incomplete.

    Wilcox sat at his desk looking over some of the personnel files for the new positions that he had available on the Nightingale. Everyone on the files had almost the exactly same record, recently graduated or recently completed basic training; very few had actual field experience. Some of individuals had not even been outside of the Sol system. None of them were that qualified to serve on his ship, yet this was all Starfleet was willing to give him. He rubbed his temple in frustration, hoping the small massage will help conjure up some sort of answer to his problem. He sighed when nothing came forward. Turning to his small replicator, one of only six on the whole of the Nightingale he breathed a sigh of relief that at least Earl Grey was now available since the replicators were repaired. "Earl Grey hot," he said pressing a button on the top of the machine, but nothing happened, "Earl Grey hot," he repeated his order.

    Then in front of his eye a small mug of steaming liquid materialised, John sighed in relief, at least he had one ally, Earl Grey. Taking the mug he took a sip, noticing a touch of spice in the liquid that started to burn his tongue he spat out the hot liquid. "Computer," he addressed the machine, "I asked for Earl Grey tea, not a Tholian Spiced Coffee." The computer did nothing in return, but blinked its lights on and off as if nothing was amiss. "Computer, let me put this simply for you, hot Earl Grey tea."

    The computer again materialised a mug in the machine and Captain Wilcox gave it a quick look, "Well it looks right," he continued to the machine, "Let's have a quick taste." John grabbed the mug and quickly took a sip. This time there was no need to spit out the liquid, at least it wasn't going to end him up in sickbay, "Computer this is English Breakfast; not Earl Grey tea." Wilcox attempted not to get a huff on, "Do I get a refund if I am not completely satisfied?"

    "You inquiry was not recognised," the computer replied to John's jester's comment.

    "Computer, how many varieties of tea do you have?" John asked.

    "There are a total of sixty six thousand four hundred and thirty two varieties of tea that this unit can produce," the computer replied monotonously, unaware of the problems it was causing. "Please give your order."

    "A hot Earl Grey tea," John said, stressing the words made him feel better, but the computer probably didn't respond to such emotional responses. A mug suddenly appeared and John grabbed it and smelt the liquid inside, "Computer this is a Raktajino," he announced, "It's not even a tea, its a bloody coffee."

    John drew in a deep breath and then hit the replicator squarely in the middle at the top of the machine, "Computer, I want a hot Earl Grey Tea, and I want it now!" he shouted loudly. The machine did nothing a moment and then materialised something that looked about right. John took it into his hand and smelt the liquid, he smelt about right. He then took a sip, instantly spitting it out. "They stewed the tea, it's ruined."

    John sat at his desk and pressed the intercom button, "Captain Wilcox to Lieutenant Torlik."

    " Lieutenant Torlik here Captain," the chief of operations answered quickly.

    "I need a repair crew in my office Lieutenant, my replicator is on the fritz," he ordered.

    "They'll be there in five minutes sir," came the reply.

    "Thank you Lieutenant, Captain Wilcox out," John turned off the com channel and sat back in chair, five minutes plus repair time without tea seemed like an eternity.
    Last edited: May 1, 2012
  6. david lowbridge

    david lowbridge Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 20, 2011
    Somewhere in the future
    for anyone interested I have put up a request for a design for the ship here
  7. david lowbridge

    david lowbridge Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Mar 20, 2011
    Somewhere in the future
    I've now released "Trial by Fire" as an ebook in an experiment. Should be readable on most ereaders, but it was done for kindle.

    the download is here