SEASON 3: EPISODE 03
THE ONLY THING NECESSARY: Part Fifteen
Lieutenant jg Keith Fenris walked down the empty shuttlebay. It was late into the gamma shift and as with any night shift the ship was quieter. His flight were the alert fighters, in a moment’s notice they could be launched for combat operations. He was just out stretching his legs from the arduous task of sitting down and waiting for something to happen and wandered into the deserted shuttlebay. At least he thought it was deserted as he spotted a person on top of the Echlan warp ship.
Fenris made his way down to the craft to investigate and saw it was the Echlan pilot, Commander Ilata. It was odd to see him out particularly as he could not see any security guards, which had escorted him his entire stay on the ship. He found it incredibly unlikely he could have slipped his security detail and considered the thought that just because he could not seem them did not mean they could not see Ilata.
“Are you okay, commander?” he asked.
The Echlan man jumped slightly, he had obviously not heard him approach. “Of course. Is there something wrong?”
“No,” he said with a slight shake of his head. “It’s just late and I didn’t expect to see you out here.”
“I was restless. I thought I could just come down here and check my ship,” he said. The man appeared to be shaken but that did not surprise Fenris, there was not a person on the ship who had not heard that the commander had lost is partner during the terrorist attack two days before. He was not surprised he could not sleep.
“Aren’t you heading back tomorrow...or later today as it would be?”
“That’s right,” Ilata confirmed.
“I saw Lieutenant Commander Celcho finishing up preparing on your craft as I came on duty a couple of hours ago. He said it was all ready to fly,” he said trying to offer some sort of reassurance, as meaningless as the attempt was.
“You’re uniform; it means you’re a fighter pilot?”
Fenris’s uniform was currently his flight suit. It was different from his usual uniform. The shoulders of the uniform were pure white with a red trim around the bottom. The rest was split between grey and black. The centre section running down his chest and mirrored at the back was grey with red edges. The surrounding that wrapped around his sides was black. That meant the sleeves were black but the legs were split between grey and black. It was very recognisable against the usual duty uniforms worn by the rest of the crew.
“Don’t you check your craft personally before you take off? To make sure the ground crew...or whatever you call them haven’t missed something.”
Fenris smiled. “Of course. You don’t want to be going off without your torpedoes! If you need any help the alert pilots are over in Pilot Town, that room down there,” he explained, pointing to the pilot dispersal area across the shuttlebay. “You’re welcome to come in and have a drink and a game of poker if you want.”
“I’ll consider it. Thank you for your offer...”
“Thank you, Keith.”
Fenris turned and headed back to Pilot Town and smiled, it seemed pilots were the same all over the galaxy.
Celcho waited by the warp ship as Ilata came towards him. Ilata was dressed much the same as when he had first saw him in the bulky and baggy spacesuit.
“Are you all set?” he asked.
Ilata smiled and nodded. “I’m as prepared as I can be,” he replied. There was a lightness about Ilata’s manner that had mostly been missing since the loss of his fiancée. Maybe it was that he was finally going home and he would have a chance to visit her burial site or maybe he was just putting on a brave face before he left.
“I did a thorough check last night of your ship and it was all set. I can perform another one now before you go.”
“That isn’t necessary. I trust your work plus I’m only travelling a short distance to the station and docking. The worst that could happen is that I run out of power and have to get out and push her the rest of the way,” he joked.
Celcho chuckled at the joke. This was the Ilata he had first met, the cocky self-assured test pilot. He was glad to see him off in that fashion.
“Let me help you in.”
Celcho helped as they wedged Ilata in his large suit into the surprisingly tight confines of the ship’s cockpit. Ilata immediately started flipping switches as he started pre-flight. Celcho watched over his shoulder as the pilot professionally powered up the craft ready for launch.
“She hasn’t blown up. Looks like you did a good job,” said Ilata as he glanced over his shoulder at Celcho, which was not an easy task given his heavy and rigid suit.
Celcho mock wiped his brow and looked relieved and Ilata let out a short laugh.
“Shall I help you with your helmet?” he asked.
Ilata nodded and Celcho reached in to grab his helmet.
“I’m going to miss you, Pavlo,” said Ilata.
“You’re not rid of me yet, Groa. The wheels of diplomacy turn slowly; we could be in orbit for several more weeks. I’m sure I’ll find some way to sneak down to the surface.”
There was almost a look of regret in Ilata’s eyes for the briefest of moments but a smile quickly banished it.
He offered his hand and Celcho took it. “You were a good friend. How many Echlans can say they have had an alien for a friend?”
Celcho pumped Ilata’s hand. He was slightly confused by Ilata farewell but accepted it. “You’re not too bad yourself.”
Celcho and Ilata broke off their handshake and he lowered the large and surprisingly heavy helmet over Ilata’s head. Between the two of them they clamped it on. Ilata signalled that all was good.
“See you soon!” he shouted.
Ilata smiled and replied but Celcho could not quite hear it. He stepped back as Ilata sealed the cockpit. Celcho backed away from the ship and a tractor beam engulfed the vessel, gently lifting it off the deck and gliding it slowly forward towards the exit. Celcho watched as it cleared the force field at the shuttlebay door and the tractor beam released the vessel. He saw the engines flare and Ilata and his spaceship powered from view.
Lieutenant Commander Whitechapel watched the sensors as Ilata and his vessel travelled away from the ship. The small vessel was not her main concern; she was more worried about strikes from within the planet’s atmosphere either at the Swiftfire or the small warp vessel or attacks from the numerous Echlan-made satellites that buzzed around the planet’s orbit.
She felt a touch of sorrow for Ilata as she thought of him, though not because he was leaving. She had spent little time with him but she knew that Celcho would probably miss him, from her conversations with him it did seem that had got on very well. Her sorrow for Ilata came from that fact he had lost a loved one and when he returned he would either be attending a funeral or visiting a fresh grave. Both events were not something anyone wanted to do. Her thoughts of sadness almost distracted her that she missed an unusual event.
“Sir, Commander Ilata is not returning to the station,” she reported immediately as she watched the ship’s sensors.
“Where’s he going?” asked the captain.
“He appears to be heading to the surface.”
“I thought Celcho’s report said that the warp ship wasn’t designed to make a landing.”
Whitechapel quickly pulled up the information on the warp ship that Celcho had collected during his time repairing it. “It wasn’t,” she confirmed. “But it can survive re-entry. The forward module with the pilot can eject from the rest of the vessel so Commander Ilata can reach the surface and survive.”
“What could he be up to?” asked Letac.
“Maybe he doesn’t want to bother with the long debriefing on the station,” suggested Core. “He did lose his partner; he might be trying to take a shortcut to be with her sooner.”
“With all the military and law enforcement personnel deployed throughout the Totality he’s more than likely to be immediately taken into custody. Losing their advanced prototype isn’t going to see him free to visit her burial site any sooner,” she pointed out. “I can latch a tractor beam on his ship and pull it back into a stable orbit before it gets too far into the atmosphere.”
Captain Masters considered the idea very briefly. “No, it isn’t our place to stop him,” he turned to Karak. “Get the ambassador and tell him to get to the bridge immediately. We might need him to put in a few words on Ilata’s behalf to interim First Minister Qual. He is probably just not thinking straight due to grief and I don’t want to see him wallowing in a gaol cell because the Totality didn’t allow him to leave this ship sooner.”
The captain ordered the vessel to be put on screen and she watched as the ship burnt its way through the upper atmosphere.
“He’s through,” she reported.
“Where is he headed now?”
Whitechapel had the computer work out the ship’s projected course. When it gave her an answer she had it recheck the results.
“Ilata seems to be heading towards Coalition territory.”
“Are you sure?” asked Core.
“I’ve checked it twice. His course and rate of descent puts him on a course into the Coalition and towards the major capital.”
At that moment her father entered the bridge.
“Hail him,” ordered the captain.
“What’s going on, captain?” asked her father who had suddenly just appeared on the bridge.
“There is no response,” reported Karak.
“Keep trying, lieutenant,” he ordered before turning to her father. “We have a problem. Ilata has taken his warp ship and is heading to the Coalition.”
“Is he defecting?”
The captain shrugged.
“I’m detecting five nearby Totality weapons satellites going active,” she reported.
“Looks like they think he is defecting and we had some part in it,” suggested Core. “Threat assessment?” Core asked her.
“Three are armed with laser weapons. The other two have missiles. I’m detecting nuclear material on all five so the missile satellites might have nuclear warheads.”
“A nuclear tipped missile will damage the ship,” stated Core.
Masters nodded. “Move to yellow alert but keep shields and weapons down for now. If it looks like they are going to launch bring shields and weapons online and destroy the attacking satellites only. Clear?”
She replied with an affirmative. She upped the alert status and had the computer keep a very close eye on the satellites. If they did launch she would not have much time to raise the shields
“Looks like the Coalition have figured out that he is heading towards them. Fighters are moving to intercept,” she passed on from the sensor readings.
“Or to escort him,” suggested her father.
“I doubt it,” argued Letac. “From the signal intercepts I’m getting they have been ordered to shoot the ship down if it enters their airspace.”
“Revenge attack?” voiced Core.
“That ship is a warp test ship not a fighter bomber. He has no hope of really penetrating Coalition airspace,” pointed out the captain.
“Assisted suicide,” spoke up Letac. “He can’t bring himself to kill himself so he lets the Coalition do if for him. If he’s lucky they will rupture one of his fuel tanks and quickly vaporise his vessel.”
Whitechapel interrupted the theory session with her latest readings. “Fighters have intercepted the warp ship. They are warning him to follow them or be shot down. No response from Commander Ilata. The fighters are sending another warning. Still nothing from...I’m reading multiple missile launches. Impact in 6...5...I’m detecting strange power readings from the ship...1...” Whitechapel looked up from her console to the viewscreen that showed a view from above and behind the warp ship. She saw three smoke trails in the sky in front of the vessel and Ilata did not even attempt the most basic of evasive manoeuvres. The missiles impacted the ship milliseconds apart, encasing it in a firestorm. She felt the mood on the bridge fall as the scene unfolded. The explosions quickly dissipated and against all odds the warp ship remained on screen and intact. Her mouth dropped open and she heard someone question what had just happened. She returned her attention to her console. “No effect. He’s still flying!” she explained pointlessly.
She was already looking into the reason and quickly found it. “The ship has deflector shields!” she said surprised.
“What? How is that possible,” said Ensign Cole voicing what the entire bridge was thinking.
“The fighters are firing more missiles,” she reported. They all watched as they effortlessly tracked and hit the warp ship but once again the ship came through unscathed. “They are having no affect. The computer is pretty much convinced he is heading towards the Coalition capital now.”
“What can he hope to do?” asked her father, who still did not grasp the full picture of the events he was witnessing.
“It’s a suicide attack. He plans to crash his ship into a target in the Coalition capital, probably their capitol building,” guessed Core.
Whitechapel pulled up the data for the warp ship and had the computer do a projection on the damage. “She’s powered by a relatively small fusion reactor so her impact will be more than enough to destroy the capitol building. Fallout will be limited to the immediate area given the number of people in the area we’re probably looking at one hundred and fifty plus casualties.”
“An eye for an eye,” said her father. “We have to stop him.”
“My job isn’t to interfere with domestic issues,” reiterated Masters from his previous argument with her father.
“That man is trying to perpetrate an attack using technology stolen from us!” argued the ambassador passionately. “To the Coalition it will look like we were involved, whether we were or not.”
“I don’t like your tone, ambassador. My crew would not take part in such an act.”
“Oh, like they wouldn’t be complicit in a plot to have a Federation planet fall under Romulan control?”
If the tension on the bridge was not already at its peak it was now. Whitechapel glanced to her side and saw Letac’s mouth agape in shock. Commander Core’s posture had straightened as if she were ready to fight back and at the front of the bridge Ensign Cole’s nervous fidgeting was in stark contrast to the serene centre that was Lieutenant Karak.
Masters’ jaw set and he squared up directly with her father. He was slightly taller than her father and he used it to stare down at him. He finally spoke, “Not interfering would only help our reputation with the Totality. I thought you would appreciate it if your job was made easier,” he said through partly clenched teeth. “Plus as by your orders the Coalition are unimportant, their view of us is immaterial.”
“Captain, I’m detecting antimatter on that ship!” reported Letac, breaking the tension between her father and her captain.
“What? How much?” asked Masters in surprise.
“Around three grams.”
That brought exclamations from Core and the captain. Her father looked somewhat bewildered by the report.
“What does that mean?” he inquired.
“That means that ship is going to hit that city like a one hundred kiloton bomb,” said Core. She turned to Masters. “We have to stop him before he makes the ultritium bombing of the Totality capitol look like a faint breeze.”
Masters nodded. “I agree. Use the transporters to remove the antimatter...”
“I am unable to acquire a transporter lock with the warp ship’s shields active,” reported Karak. Once again Whitechapel had to admire the way he was calm in these situations. He was never fazed or flustered by any of the events that occurred around him.
“Launch our alert fighters, commander.”
She sent the order down to the shuttlebay. The Swiftfire always had a flight of four fighters on alert. They were fully armed and prepped for launch and their pilots were only a few metres away ready to go. At most they would be out of the ship in half a minute and by that time most of the rest of that squadron would be gathering preparing to launch if needed.
The ship’s sensors showed four objects moving away from the ship. “Fighters launched,” she reported.
“Good tell them that they...”
“MISSILE LAUNCH!” she shouted, interrupting the captain. “Raising shields.”
Nobody was able to respond before the missile impacted, sending a slight vibration through the ship. Whitechapel did find time to fire the ship’s phasers, which easily reduced the satellite to atoms.
“Report,” ordered the captain.
“One impact. Weapon yield was around 20 kilotons. It appears that it was targeting the bridge. I’ve removed that satellite as a threat. Also the electromagnetic burst from the explosion has disabled the surrounding satellites. I have no other threats, apart from the space station.”
“Good work, commander. What about our fighters?”
“They were too far away to be affected.”
She looked to her father. He was shaking his head, muttering something. No doubt it was along the lines of “what the hell is happening? How did this situation get to this point”. Masters however was not fazed. He glanced at the ambassador before continuing to issue orders.
“Keep shields up and weapons ready. Move us to red alert and let’s hope our fighters can do the job.”
Lieutenant Commander Nathanial Waugh watched his sensors as the warp ship got closer and closer to its target. They had been targeted by both sides after they launched and entered the atmosphere. However, the bulk of it was from radar guided missiles and he had his pilots jamming their radar. Any missile launched would just fly a ballistic course until it ran out of fuel and then dive back to the ground. There was still the risk of heat seeking missiles but given the speed his fighters were moving at it would be difficult for any fighters to get close enough to attack and if they did their shields would effortlessly take the damage.
“I don’t think we’re going to make it, lead,” said Ensign Hely’tar, Oasis Two – his wingman. “Blowing it up over the city won’t be much better than what he’s planning.”
“We just have to batter down her shields and let the Swiftfire do its magic,” he explained. He let confidence seep into his voice but one look at his sensor and he knew the truth. They were not going to make it.
Ilata briefly glanced to his sensors. The sky around him was still swarming with missiles but they would do nothing. He had doubts before his launch on whether the energy shield would work or if it would protect him for long enough, but it had. He was screaming towards the Coalition capital and he was unstoppable.
He was still at some altitude and dove his craft towards the surface. He was only going to be a few hundred metres above the surface. He guided his craft over the sprawling cityscape and towards the distinctive capitol building.
He looked at the control panel in front of him and at the plain and simple switch that activated his warp drive. Or at least it once did. Thanks to the instructions he had been given it would instead detonate the small and deceptively simple device he had connected to his warp drive. He had been promised that despite its size it had the destructive capabilities of a powerful nuclear weapon. Ilata was not sure if this was the truth or not, but he had nothing left to lose. At worse he would just crash his craft into a suitable target. Either way this was his final mission.
He watched as the apex of the capitol disappeared under the nose of his craft.
Ilata closed his eyes and whispered a single word as he flipped the switch.
Masters watched as a ball of fire engulfed the small vessel and expanded to vaporise a large section of the city. Beyond the edge of the inferno the destruction continued and he saw once tall and proud buildings shatter like the weakest of glass panes. Hundreds...thousands had just perished before his very eyes
The bridge was in total silence, save for the sounds of the ship. They all watched as the thick and bulbous head of a mushroom cloud expanded high over the heart of a once proud city. He heard Lieutenant Letac mutter what he assumed to be a Bajoran prayer for the souls of those just killed and those who had yet to die.
“My God,” whispered the ambassador next to him.
Masters heard him stumble backwards. He turned to help but his first officer was already there helping him to the usually empty seat that was forward and to the left of his own.
“Recall the fighters,” he said. “Karak, send a transmission to the Totality telling them we had no part in this. And prepare one for whoever takes the reins of the Coalition. Periodically attempt to contact them; it will take some time before they sort out who is in charge.” He slowly stepped back to his chair and eased into it. “Remain at red alert.”
Masters lent back in his chair as the crew got about their tasks. His hand came up to his beard and he stoked it as if that could sooth his mind. He used the opportunity to sigh as inconspicuously as he could into his hand. There was only one thing on his mind and he had no doubt it was on the mind of everyone else on the bridge.
He lowly muttered it, “What have we done?”
Karak continued to collect reports and pass on any relevant and pertinent information to Captain Masters. He glanced up from time to time and saw the wasteland that had been the heart of a densely populated city. He had run a scan of the city before the event and continuous scans since. He knew the exact number of people who had died immediately, how many took a few seconds later and he had a very good idea of how many more would be dead soon.
He heard a faint muttering next to him and looked to Ensign Cole. He saw that the human ensign’s hands were visibly shaking and saw the anguish and horror on his face. Cole had seen a lot of death so far. He had seen hundreds killed as their ships were destroyed and had even seen a Jem’Hadar die up close, but this was different. To him these people were civilians, innocents and their deaths felt more wasteful, more barbaric.
He did not have to mind meld with the young Human to know what he was thinking. He was thinking of what type of person could do such a thing? How had he not seen that Ilata was a monster? How he should have been able to stop this from happening. Karak knew that there was nothing the ensign could have done, the ensign would logically know that he could have never have foreseen this event and as such he was powerless to prevent it.
He was sure that the other emotional beings on the ship would feel the same way. Particularly the captain and Commander Celcho. Captain Masters was in command, he was responsible for what occurred and in a way he would blame himself, it would be unnecessary but he would still do it. Celcho had helped Ilata the most. He had fixed the vessel that had been used to kill so many. He would feel angry and betrayed, as he should.. The point was despite their emotions there was nothing they could do to stop this.
However, the same could not be said for him. He might not have known that this exact event would occur but he had enough information that he could have prevented this. All it would have taken was one report to Captain Masters and tens of thousands of people would be still alive and a lot more would not be dying. However, he never made such a report. He was partly responsible for what happened through the omission of information to those he was meant to be subordinate to. If they knew they would ask him how he could do such a thing. Had he no heart? How he felt about what he had done? And his answer would be, he felt nothing. He felt no remorse, no sorrow, no pity for his acts or the deaths. His actions were the logical ones to take given the parameters he had to operate in. That was the Vulcan way, it was his way.