SEASON 3: EPISODE 03
THE ONLY THING NECESSARY: Part Seventeen
“You wanted to see me, Captain?” asked Greer.
Masters smiled politely at the man. “I did. Have a seat. I just have a one questions.” He waited until Greer was seated comfortable before he continued. “Who are you?”
“I don’t understand?” replied Greer confused.
Masters smiled to himself. Greer was every bit as good an actor as the ambassador, if not better. His confusion at his question was utterly believable and was he not as sure of this he would have felt doubt creep in. He was surrounded by fantastic liars who had fooled him completely, though he briefly mused that maybe he just was not as adept at reading people as he believed himself to be. “Your cover is perfect. It seems like you really are who you claim to be but I don’t buy it.”
Masters doubted that he could intimidate Greer into an admission nor could he simply trick him. Greer did not strike him as some bit player who was swept up in something beyond his control. He was fundamental to what had transpired on the ship and only someone with true skill and experience was capable of such things. There was only one option open to him; he had to lay out what he knew and how he thought Greer fit into it.
“Can you explain why you met with Commander Ilata in the holodeck?”
“I’ve never met...”
“Where were you the night before he left at around 2100 hours ship time?” he interrupted.
Greer continued to look confused. He glanced off as if he was trying to recall what he was doing. “I was in my quarters at the time.”
That was the answer he expected. He had to now suspect that Masters knew something given he had placed him with Ilata in the holodeck, but that did not mean he would just roll over. He had to be presented with irrefutable proof that his cover was blown and his plan was exposed. Masters picked up a PADD off his desk and brought up the information he needed on the display.
“That is the really interesting part,” he said as he fiddled with the PADD. “Because the ship’s internal sensors agree with you. They show you in your quarters from 1900 until 0732 the next morning.”
He passed the PADD over to Greer who accepted it. He looked at it and read what it displayed, which was exactly what Masters had said.
“Then why do you think I was meeting with Ilata?” he asked offering the PADD back to Masters.
Masters reach out but did not take hold of the PADD instead he pressed one of the buttons on it to display the next bit of information he wanted. “Because our internal sensors also show you with Ilata in one of the ship’s holodecks.” He paused giving Greer a chance to inspect the new data on the PADD. He furrowed his brow in confusion and was about to speak, probably to deny the evidence but Masters did not give him that chance. “You see we tagged all the personnel that were likely to be going down to the surface of Echla with an isotope to allow for us to keep track of them in case something happened.”
Greer was still keeping to character. Not once did he show the briefest of signs that he was hiding something or that he was now exposed. The man was very good.
“After I learnt of the situation on the planet with the two competing states I decided to take extra precautions in case someone was kidnapped. The isotope you were tagged with would allow us to detect you even if your bio-sign was masked. That way we could pretty much guarantee that we could lock on and beam you out of trouble or at the very least know where you were. Thanks to that we were able to discover some unusual movements by you. For example as far as our ordinary sensors were concerned you were always in your quarters at night but thanks to our tagging we saw that you were moving around the ship at the same time. I believe that you somehow managed to hack into the sensors and create a phantom self and mask your real bio-sign. Now believing you were hidden you went about and secretly met with Ilata and I believe that you helped him plan his attack and you assisted in him preparations.”
“I see,” said Greer. “This is a bit of a pickle.”
Masters was not quite finished yet. “That’s not all. Following the attack on the Totality and the discovery of ultritium as the explosive, a substance that we have no evidence exists on this planet, been used I had suspected that the ambassador had orchestrated that. In the end I came to the conclusion that he could not be involved. I did some additional checking and the night before we went down to the surface your isotope signature disappeared from the ship for a brief period. Can you guess what I suspect now?”
Greer’s facade changed from confusion to one of mild bemusement. “You believe that I might have supplied the Acolytes with the explosive.”
Masters gestured that was exactly what he was thinking. “Add to that you made a secretive trip to an unused transporter room later. Now, that is a real mystery. Our logs show nothing and I can say I have no idea whether you beamed something down or up to the ship. In fact there aren’t any signs the transporters were even active. So the question is what were you doing in there?”
Greer shrugged nonchalantly. “According to your sensors, nothing...if I was there.”
“I think we can safely say that where you are concerned the sensors can’t be trusted to be giving an accurate reading,” he pointed out. Greer gave him an insincere half acceptance of that fact. “I don’t understand why an assistant director in the Department of Cartography could probably want to incite such chaos on Echla. Ambassador Whitechapel on the other hand would have some reason to sow chaos.”
Greer nodded. “Yes he would. By destabilising the planet he makes it easier to manipulate the Totality into agreeing to the most favourable deal for the Federation. He is a far more likely suspect of some sort of subterfuge than I.”
“That is true and why he makes the perfect distraction. You probably hoped that we would go after him but given that there was no evidence the best we would be able to come up with is rumour and suspicion. None of which would have any influence on his career, especially when the person going after him has been seen to be publically at odds with him. When the dust settled we’d both go our separate ways and our superiors would put it down to butting egos. However, that isn’t how things have gone down. I do have evidence that you’ve been up to something, enough that I can call in security and have them take you down to the brig. Give me one reason why I shouldn’t make that call.”
Greer unclasped his hands and spread them before him. He did not look concerned about his threat one iota.
“What can I say other than, well done, captain. You have exceeded my expectations and proved to be a resourceful and skilled individual, if not also a bit lucky. That isotope tagging...I can say whole heartedly that I did not expect that.”
Masters was not going to let Greer distract him. “I want to know why you would do such a thing. Why would you allow the deaths of thousands?”
“Did the ambassador tell you about the scanner?” Masters nodded. “There’s your reason. My mission involved me making a deal with the Acolytes to get confidential documents on how to construct and operate the scanner.”
“But why go behind the ambassador’s back to acquire the information he was also tasked with obtaining? A task he could have done without anyone dying.”
Greer gave him an inquiring look. “It’s interesting that you believe Ambassador Whitechapel’s plans wouldn’t have resulted in any deaths. Did the ambassador tell you why they haven’t just transported down someone to hack their computers and steal the information we want?”
“He said that they wanted to keep the Totality on side so to maintain a monopoly on the technology,” he recalled. “Actually, why didn’t you just steal the information yourselves?”
“In fact, originally the plan was to steal the information as we expected the negotiations would not really begin for years given their lack of advanced technology. For that period they would remain isolated.”
“Their development of warp technology changed that,” gleamed Masters. With no interstellar travel technology or communications the Echlans would have no choice but to deal with the Federation. They would of course want things like warp drives, replicators and starships but the Federation would never part with this technology to a planet such as Echla easily. Its location in the nebula could also be used to cover any deals, all it would take is a minor note about instabilities from the Federation and all traffic would steer clear of the nebula.
“They didn’t develop warp technology.”
Masters was confused by Greer’s statement for several seconds before he understood the subtext. “They were given warp technology?” he said with shock.
Greer nodded. “Didn’t you ever wonder what the ambassador offered to the Totality to get back the Federation scientists and their equipment or to endear himself to them?”
“Ambassador Whitechapel gave them warp technology?” Masters head was starting to spin.
“He did indeed.”
That flagged several comments Celcho had made about the warp ship. “That would explain why Celcho found it such a good design for a first warp drive,” he said. His chief engineer had been very impressed by their design as a perfect example of any early warp drive, now he knew why. “By why change you plans, you could have stolen the data and been gone months ago.”
Greer sighed. “You’ve met them. You’ve seen what the Totality is like. It would be decades before they would be acceptable for inclusion into the Federation if ever, until then there would be no way we could prevent them from sharing their technology with someone else. All it would take is they get upset with us and they can fly out of the nebula and meet up with someone like the Ferengi who could offer them a few semi-powerful weapons and the cat would be out of the bag and our advantage would evaporate immediately.”
Masters could see Greer’s point. With the technology to travel to other star systems quickly the Totality’s impatience would soon see it seeking out the quickest method for it to reign over its enemies. Despite that he still did not see why Greer had to go to the extremes that he did.
“So to keep this technology to ourselves it was necessary to incite a war? Is this technology really worth letting millions die?”
Greer gave him an inquiring look. “I think you might be underestimating the power of this technology if it meets our expectations. The ability to defeat all known cloaking technology would give us a marked advantage, particularly if the enemy doesn’t know we possess such technology.”
Masters was finally starting to feel like he was seeing more of the big picture. “So this is also partly to keep the technology a secret from whom? The Klingons? The Romulans? They’re our allies.”
“For now,” pointed out Greer. “A year or two of cooperation between us and the Romulans isn’t going to change over two centuries of mistrust. A change of government or situation and things are back to where they were...or worse. As for the Klingons, our brief conflict before this war was a reminder that they can never be fully relied on. War and conflict is what they live on and while they might respect our strength and power it also makes them yearn to take us on, to be the biggest dog on the block. Things change and we have to be ready.”
“So you’re killing a world on the possibility of a future threat?”
Greer lent back further into his seat and pursed his hands in front of him. “Let me ask you this, what would happen if negotiations continued with the Echlan Totality?”
Masters shrugged slightly. “I suppose a deal would be worked out to trade for their technology.”
“What do you think would they want for their technology?”
“How?” pressed on Greer.
“They want a Federation presence in the system,” he stated, recalling that fact from what the ambassador had told him. “Maybe even on their planet. The Federation would offer to defend Echla. At least one starship, though given the Tzenkethi being nearby and the problems with operating in the nebula two to four ships would be a more prudent figure. I doubt we’d give them weapons technology so we’d probably take up the role of defenders. We’d deploy a division or two from the Ground Forces on the surface to further secure the Totality.”
“Plus you would need the support services for these forces. Maybe our own orbital station to support our ships and to be a safe base to command from. With the troops we’d need ground bases with all their additional parts, powerplants, manufacturing centres, vehicle support and maintenance facilities, etcetera. That means hundreds of engineers to set this up and to man these bases. Forces that would be better served to fight against the Dominion.” Greer paused to let Masters absorb what he was saying. “You might say one or two ships and a couple of thousand of soldiers wouldn’t make much of a difference in a war with thousands of vessels and millions of troops. However, one ship made the difference during Operation Return and when the dust settled after the Battle of Gavris Prime just under five hundred soldiers from the two brigades from the Starfleet Ground Forces remained after repelling the Dominion invasion and defending that world’s dilithium mines. Our allies are going to wonder why we are spending these resources on this frankly insignificant planet. They will investigate and the secret of the multiphasic tachyon scanner would be discovered. There is only one way to truly protect our investment.”
Masters finally felt that he was seeing the whole picture. “Let the Echlans destroy themselves.”
“It might seem callous but in a way the situation we find ourselves in now is one that was partially created by the Federation. Had we not intervened in their technological development none of this would be necessary. Echla would remain distant and isolated and allowed to continue on its natural course, which would have been war anyway just a few years from now.”
“So your defence is that a war would have happened anyway? I doubt a Federation jury would accept that as an acceptable defence.”
“I don’t need to defend my actions,” stated Greer strongly. “I know that what I have done is in the best interest of the Federation. That they were wholly necessary giving the situation in the quadrant at this point in time. Answer me this one question, captain. How would you feel if the ambassador’s plans had gone ahead and Command selected your ship to be based here for the foreseeable future? Is that the best use for your ship during these times of war?”
“I don’t have the luxury of choosing where my ship gets sent,” he pointed out.
“You’re avoiding the question,” pressed on Greer. He lent forward in his seat and pressed a finger onto his desk. “Would babysitting the Echlans be the most appropriate use of your ship?”
Masters did not immediately answer. He gazed back at Greer and saw that he most likely knew what his response would be. “No,” he said slowly. Greer gestured for him to continue. “I would feel that it was a waste of my time and that this ship should be out there fighting against the Dominion.”
“I’ve kept myself abreast of what has being going on and I know you are reluctant to get involved in the fighting on the planet. If Ambassador Whitehapel’s plan continued you would have no choice. You would have to kill Echlans, though given they wear the badge of the Coalition the Diplomatic Corps would consider it an acceptable cost. You would be killing people who are fighting against a government that wants to destroy them and their way of life. A government that wants to restrict their freedoms, to force their will, their ways on the Coalition. A government that is not too far removed from what the Dominion is attempting for this entire quadrant. The only way it can do that is through violence.”
“The Coalition supports terrorist activities, they are hardly a picture of moral virtue themselves,” he pointed out.
“So does the Totality as we saw after the first attack when there were a number of reprisal attacks. This has been going on since their last world war...”
“I received a report on that.”
“From Ilata,” clarified Greer. “He painted a fairly rosy picture of the Totality as victims. It is true that the Totality defeated another major power that was seeking to gain control of their world but he left out how they managed to do that. They introduced the modern use of terror tactics. They struck against the civilian population and helped create instability that allowed them to get the upper hand and finally defeat their enemy. Then they imposed their new ‘no religion’ policy on the territory they captured. It was a purge as vicious and bloodthirsty as any in Earth’s history. People do not give up their faith easily. Do you know what they did to peaceful sit-in in temples? They burnt them to the ground with the protestor inside. The current Totality was built on a foundation of the bones of the innocent and it has no qualms about strengthening these foundations with even more bodies. By siding with them we have implicitly said that this is okay that the Totality’s ways have been right. We would not be able to keep our hands clean, in the end we would have no choice but to hand them these bodies.”
“Aren’t we just setting up the Coalition’s bloody foundations instead?”
Greer shook his head. “The Coalition, while not perfect, doesn’t want to enforce their will on the Totality. They would not force them to worship their gods but give them the option to do so if they so wish. True that the only way to do that is to defeat the Totality’s military and government and that there would be no shortage of bodies after that. However my actions were not about building their foundations either.”
Everything was starting to make frightening sense to Masters. “It was about tearing them down.”
“In a sense. It was also about not allowing there to be any foundations at all.”
“What if they don’t go to war? What if they both step back from the brink?”
“I know you’ve seen the reports...I’ve been ‘borrowing’ them from you. Their conventional forces have already had limited engagements and soon both sides will have all their pieces in place. They are on the tipping point and once the Coalition goes all out or seems like it will the Totality will see the writing on the wall and it will unleash its nuclear arsenal because it will have no choice in its eyes. It knows that even with its technological advantage the Coalition’s numbers are too much for a conventional war. The Coalition will naturally respond in kind and they will destroy each other.”
“How can you be so sure? Earth survived its nuclear war.”
“Earth was lucky. It was lucky a Vulcan ship passed by when it did because if they had not it is unlikely Earth would have survived. Plus this war isn’t going to be as civilised as the one on Earth. According to my experts the damage done to the ecosystem and the death toll will be irreversible. That planet will die and so will the Echlans. Even if some do manage to survive against the odds, fifty years would be a very conservative figure for them to reproduce warp technology, which since they were given they really don’t understand.”
Masters analysed Greer closely. He noted that at no point had Greer actually identified who he really was nor who he worked for. Despite that he could not help but agree with some of what Greer had said. When he was told of Greer’s likely involvement he had felt repulsed. He had hoped that their investigation would reveal nothing and that Ilata had somehow managed to do it by himself. While he could have just thrown Greer into the brig he decided it was best to talk to the man first, to try and get answers and see if he could make sense of the events of the past few days. The only problem was that it was now making sense to him.
“I should arrest you,” he half mumbled to himself.
“But you won’t,” replied Greer confidently. “We’re alike. We know that sometimes innocents have to be sacrificed for the greater good. I know in the past you’ve made that choice and while it can make you lose a few nights sleep in the end you know deep down that it was the right course of action. All I’m asking you is to do so once again. I’m asking you not to let the Federation get tied to a lost cause that will waste lives and resources. I’m asking you to correct a mistake that was made by the Federation. We are interfering in their world and its fate and as a Starfleet officer you are sworn not to do so.”
Masters pondered this. “What exactly are you asking me to do?”
“Nothing, Captain Masters,” said Greer with a serene smile. “When the time comes I want you to do nothing.”