SEASON 3: EPISODE 03
THE ONLY THING NECESSARY: Part Eighteen
Celcho eased the circuit board back into place in the access hatch and went about securing it when it received an electric shock. He jerked his hand out, pulling the board with it and sending it clattering to the floor.
Celcho gripped his hand tightly. “Argh! Shluha vokzal'naja!” he swore as he lashed out with his boot, kicking the wall of the shuttle several times.
“An interesting expletive.” Celcho turned to see Karak at the shuttle’s entrance. “Do you require medical assistance?”
“Yeah,” said Celcho through clenched teeth. His hand felt like it was on fire and the pain was next to excruciating, he also thought he could smell burning flesh. “There’s a medkit behind you.”
Karak accessed the emergency medkit from one of the storage lockers. Celcho made his way to one of the seats and sat down, cradling is throbbing hand. Karak took the seat next to him and pulled out a medical tricorder. Celcho opened his hand and exposed his injured hand. It looked ugly. There was a very nasty burn on his hand and over the bottom of his pinkie and ring fingers. He cringed as he saw the damage.
Karak of course was unfazed and scanned his hand. “It is a severe electrical burn.”
“You think?” he snapped at Karak. Karak raised an eyebrow at him. “Sorry, I’m just having a...crappy day.”
Karak’s eyebrow dropped and he went to retrieve another tool from the medkit.
“This shuttle should have been ready for service by now,” Celcho continued. The silence from Karak was unnerving him and making him feel the need to explain. “The crash and damage from weapons fire really did a number on her. Beating the panelling back into place took long enough but her insides are still giving us problems. The Brumby is the only Type 11 we have left and a replacement for the Dreamtime is on the lower end of priorities to be manufactured given the fighter squadrons’ needs. She’s our most capable shuttle...I don’t want her to be just taking up space.”
Karak hardly acknowledged that he was speaking, quietly going about dealing with his injuries.
“I doubt that the operational status of this shuttle is what is making you highly emotional,” stated Karak.
“Highly emotional? The mudak electrocuted me!”
“It did not do so with malice. It is likely that the fault lies with you.”
“You think I wanted this to happen?” he replied incredulously.
“I did not say that, commander. I am simply stating that the shuttle would not seek out to harm you and that it was your actions that led to your injury. Emotional beings often misdirect their anger at blameless inanimate objects as a way of outwardly expressing their emotions.”
Celcho knew what Karak was saying because it was true. It was his fault for not being more careful or for not wearing any type of hand protection. He was channelling all his anger from the recent events at the shuttle. It did not help that it in no way made him feel the least bit better.
“You’re right, Karak. It’s just been a...”
“Bad day?” finished Karak.
Celcho smiled and nodded his head. Karak finished his treatment and Celcho looked down to his now unscarred hand. He flexed it to dispel the tingling sensation that ran through his hand.
Karak packed up the kit and stood to return it to its place
“It’s my fault,” he said. Karak did not respond to what he said as he stored away the medkit. “The attack on the Coalition capital, it was my fault.”
“You feel responsible for the deaths by Commander Ilata’s actions.”
“Shouldn’t you have said, ‘You shouldn’t feel responsible’,” pointed out Celcho.
Karak turned back to him. “Did you not give him access to the information that he could have used to create his bomb?” Celcho nodded. “Could you have not prevented the attack if you ran a final inspection of the craft before he launched instead of relying on the one you conducted the day before?” Celcho again nodded. “Then you are responsible for the deaths.”
Celcho’s jaw dropped at what Karak had said. Everyone else had gone to great lengths to point out that it was not his fault and Karak had taken the absolute opposite path. He supposed it was the Vulcan way; they had no need to spare each other from emotional turmoil because they were meant to be fully in control of them.
“Thanks for cheering me up, Smiley,” he said sarcastically using Karak’s rarely used nickname.
“I am not trying to cheer you up, commander. You are responsible...in part. The fighter pilot that spotted Ilata working on his ship without any visible supervision is also responsible as they should have reported the incident. Captain Masters is responsible for allowing Ilata to have access to what he needed by allowing him to work with you. Ambassador Whitechapel is responsible as he insisted that we repair the warp ship instead of simply returning it. The Totality is responsible as its policies have encouraged terrorist behaviours. The Coalition is responsible for not cracking down harder on these elements within their borders. The terrorists are responsible for created the need for vengeance.” Karak paused and gave him a quizzical look. “Do I need to continue?”
Celcho shook his head. “I get the point.”
“The main culprit was Ilata himself. He conspired to deceive us to commit this attack. He is the one that pressed the button in the end that ended thousands of lives. It is true that he could have been prevented from doing so, but there are few acts that are unpreventable with hindsight. As you humans put it, ‘to err is human’.”
“Are you saying if you were in my place this would not have happened?”
“None of us are infallible, commander. The fact is that it has happened and we have to deal with the consequences. Damaging an innocent shuttle is not one of the ways to do this.”
Celcho let Karak’s words mull over in his head. He stood up and walked over to the Vulcan operations manager and held out his hand. “Thanks Karak.”
Karak grasped his hand in return. “You are welcome.”
Karak turned to head out of the shuttle but Celcho called him back.
“Oh, Karak. What were you after?” he asked.
Karak turned back to him and Celcho saw Karak hesitate in his answer. He could not think of any time in the last year that he had seen Karak do that. Karak finally gathered his thoughts and replied, “I was not after anything. I was simply checking on you.”
The surprised Celcho even more. He knew it was a unfair stereotype that Vulcans were completely emotionless and therefore unable to care for anyone or anything but it still surprised him when he experienced the falsehood of that stereotype in person. “You were concerned. I’m touched,” he said without a hint of sarcasm.
Karak gracefully bowed his head slightly. “You mental state is always of my concern. You are in charge of the most powerful device on this ship. I do not think that kicking the warp core in anger would be beneficial to the health of the crew.”
A wide smile split across Celcho’s face. That was why they called Karak ‘Smiley’, he had a fine sense of humour, not that he would freely admit it.
Celcho clenched a fist and lightly tapped his chest roughly where his heart was. “You’re all heart, Karak.”
Karak just raised an eyebrow, turned and left.
Terri Letac entered the Multi faith centre and went to check the availability board. She was in the lobby of the vast centre. It was located on deck 5 of the ship towards the front of the starboard engineering spar. The lobby itself was a large waiting area that had a large set of doors opposite the entry to the main multi-purpose room. That was not her destination today but it was an impressive room.
The main multi-purpose room was the largest space in the facility and was designed for fairly large groups of people to gather and hold religious services or even for people to hold religious discussions or education for others to attend. It had rows of seats that could be easily reconfigured for whatever purpose was needed. At the far end of the room was where the speaker stood to preach or lead a service and behind them were windows that looked out off to the starboard side of the ship. It was a sparse room but thanks to holographic emitters the room could be easily and quickly be decked out with appropriate attire. She had only once been in the room when she attended a seminar on religion and faith during war time. She wished that there were more Bajorans on the ship so that they might utilise the spectacular room.
She walked towards a corridor that headed to the left and checked a large monitor by the entrance. It showed that there were several unoccupied rooms so she selected one and inputted the time she required before heading down the corridor. The corridor looped around so that it headed towards the outer hull. On both sides of the corridor were three rooms each. These were small spaces where people could worship in private individually or as a small group. For example she had attended a small gratitude festival with the two other Bajorans on the ship in one of these rooms. She reached her assigned room and entered it.
While many of the religious members of the crew did choose to contain their practices to their quarters it was sometimes disruptive to do so, especially for those that shared quarters like her. She knew that Aimee had no problems with her faith, she also knew that Aimee was not fond of the ceremonies that included burning things with strong fragrances, which was understandable. It could also be distracted for her having Aimee present going about her business. So from time to time she made use of this facility.
Letac sealed the door behind her and loaded up one of her programs using the small control board in the wall. The stark grey room instantly transformed into a red, earthy hue and a small alter appeared before her. This room, like the main room, was equipped with holoemitters allowing the user to set any scene they required.
Letac knelt down onto the cool stone floor and started to recite a prayer to the Prophets. She was soon lost to the ritual.
Her exploration of her biological parent’s religion had not really started until when she was a teenager. She did not know any other Bajorans growing up and had to do with texts and instructional holos until she was accepted into Starfleet Academy. Once there she met other Bajorans and she even got to visit her first Bajoran temple, which was located on Earth. Half way through the academy she made the decision that she wanted to accept it fully into her life. From that point on her faith became intertwined with who she was, though she did not let it define her.
A beep from the door broke her concentration. She let out an exasperated sigh. The etiquette of the Multi faith centre was that when someone was in one of the private rooms that they should not be disturbed. Calls to duty were acceptable but rarely were there times when someone knocking on the door would be considered so. She pulled herself to her feet and opened the door. She had been ready to chastise the person at the door but the presence of Captain Masters quickly changed her anger to surprise.
“I’m terribly sorry to disturb you during your private worshipping, lieutenant, but I must discuss something with you in private,” he explained.
“Come in,” she said, stepping back so he could enter.
The captain entered the small room and closed and sealed the door behind him.
“I know this is highly unusual and not to mention inappropriate but this could not wait.” She nodded to show she accepted what he had said and he continued. “Who have you told about the information you discovered during you investigations?”
Letac’s confusion grew. She did not know what he could possibly want to talk about but she considered this topic to be one of the remote possibilities. It took her a moment to compose herself and answer. “Ah, no one, sir.”
“Are you sure?” he insisted.
Letac nodded emphatically. “Of course. I’m a hundred percent positive. No one has received my report apart from yourself and given your previous instructions I have kept all those details to myself.”
Masters looked to be somewhat relieved, though that lasted only briefly. “Good. I need you to do something else. I need you to forget what you saw.”
“I need you to forget what you discovered. I also need you to delete any secured backups of your findings you have logged or any mention of it in any of your duty or personal logs.”
Letac felt her head spinning. She could not understand why the captain was asking her to do this. “Sir...I...sir?” She paused to take a breath. “Even if I do all of that the sensor logs will still show Greer met with Ilata.”
“No they won’t. I’ve taken care of the rogue readings.”
“I don’t see how that would help.”
“By rogue reading I mean the one that shows Greer to be outside his quarters when he is meant to be in them,” clarified the captain.
“Captain, the rogue reading is the one where he is in his quarters. There is no way he could fake the...” she corrected him only to be interrupted when the captain held up one finger to get her to stop.
“No, the rogue reading is when he isn’t in his quarters,” he said firmly.
Letac still could not make sense of her orders. “Sir, without that reading it will appear that Ilata was working alone. Greer will get away with helping plan a terrorist attack.” She glared up at the captain. She had always had a positive opinion of her captain but for the first time she wondered if she had been wrong about him. “You want to prevent anyone else who comes to the same conclusion I did from discovering what I did. Why are you covering this up?”
“That is not of your concern.”
“To hell it isn’t!” she exploded. “You’re asking me to be an accessory to a conspiracy to allow a person get away with causing the deaths of thousands. It is of my concern, captain.”
Masters’ face darkened. “You might not be on duty but you should be mindful of your tone, lieutenant.” They locked stares. The captain was quite a bit taller than she was and while she was not meek she did not expect to be able to stare someone as imposing as the captain down. However, that appeared to happen with Masters blinking first. “I apologise, lieutenant. You’re right; you do deserve to understand why I’m asking you to do this. It is not to make sure Greer avoids prosecution, the fact is he will do so anyway.”
“I don’t understand, sir. With what we have they would see...”
The captain again interrupted her. “They would see that Greer secretly met with Ilata and that is all. We have no evidence that he actually helped Greer plan or set up his attack. So far what we do have is that Ilata was seen working on his ship before it was launched without supervision. We know Ilata had access to technical data that could allow him to put together his bomb and that he accessed our manufacturing replicators, again without supervision. So far what we have is a lot of Ilata and not much of Greer.”
“It has to be worth something,” she lamented.
Masters let out a sigh. “Unfortunately not enough, particularly as the repercussions would most likely fall on others, rather than Greer.”
“Are you saying he is protected?”
Masters shrugged noncommittally. “Hard to see that he’s not given what he has been able to do. But that isn’t want I’m getting at. A fully investigation that really delves into the situation would end up focusing on two major component, one of them being Ambassador Whitechapel. While he was most likely following orders that hasn’t always been enough to protect a person from the responsibilities of the result of their actions.”
“How could they possibly blame him?”
“His entire operation was two faced as you yourself helped discover. He was hiding things from us and it is a matter of record that I had serious issues with it. The right spin and that can be damning. It would ruin him...it would also greatly affect his daughters, particularly Nikki.”
Masters had used this same ploy against her when he got her to investigate the ambassador. He had played on her friendship and concern for Nikki and once again he showed he was willing to play that card. Just as before she knew what he said was true, her father being so prominent, and his downfall would inevitably reflect on her. She was sure there was some quote about the sins of a father but in her state it refused to expose itself fully to her mind.
“You said two components,” she reminded him.
Masters nodded demurely. “The second would be Lieutenant Commander Celcho.”
She felt an instant of shock before it faded and she quickly realised that it made sense. “Ilata was in his care for much of the time and Celcho would have the expertise to teach Ilata how to modify his vessel,” she stated. Masters nodded mournfully. “They would insinuate that Celcho is a more likely suspect, that his friendship with Ilata motivated him to help him. They could even paint a picture that the readings we have could have been faked and the only person with the skills, motive and knowledge would be Celcho.”
“So you see the problem. Even if he is cleared just like with the ambassador that kind of mud will not wash away easily.”
“I think you’re missing one other suspect.”
The captain gave her a bemused look. “Who?”
“You. They could shape it so that it looked like you sabotaged the ambassador’s mission out of some sort of grudge. It isn’t a secret you and him haven’t got along.”
A sarcastic smile came to his face. “I guess they could. They could say I had Greer appear as a patsy just to push this into a extensive investigation to ruin Ambassador Whitechapel due to my ego or that I just don’t like him. Now we’re getting into crazy country.”
“I know it’s a bit of a stretch, sir,” she admitted. “Maybe if they had a precedent with you been involved in something like that it could go that far.”
A half smirk crossed Masters’ face. Letac was not sure, but she thought she saw a moment of worry or uncertainness peek through his dismissive look. She guessed that it was due to the fact that everyone made mistakes in their careers and the captain briefly considered that maybe someone could use one of his mistakes to push a case against him.
“You can see my dilemma.”
Letac could. Masters was faced with a futile attempt to go after someone who committed crime and the likely hood that while he might go down he would drag down innocents with him.
“Can I rely on you to do as I’ve asked?” he asked.
She glanced over to the altar to the Prophets to see if she could gleam any guidance but nothing amazing came to her. She nodded slowly and said, “Yes.”
The room descended into a reasonably uncomfortable silence.
“You didn’t replicate an orb,” stated Masters, breaking the silence. “Is it taboo?”
Letac shook her head. “Not as far as I know.”
“Have you had an orb experience before?”
She again shook her head. “Best I’ve done is been in the same room as one. I would like to have one though, just haven’t had that many opportunities.”
Letac did not add that she use to replicate an orb during her private mediations and as foolish as it might sound she had tried to see if she could somehow communicate with the Prophets, even through a fake orb. However, that practise had stopped after Operation Return. During the ship’s time at Deep Space 9 she had managed to go to several services at the station’s Bajoran temple. During one the ark holding an orb was opened and for the first time she saw an actual orb. It was unlike anything she had experienced before. It looked the same as her holographic one but it did not feel the same. The light emanating from it held power. It washed over her like a gentle lover, caressing her, soothing her and filling her with a sense of joy. After that the hologram seemed pale and lifeless so she stopped using it.
Masters cleared his throat regaining her attention. “Well, I once again apologise you barging in on your private time and thank you for your help with this situation.”
She returned a polite acknowledgement of that and the captain turned to leave. As he did she glanced back at the altar and felt something.
“Captain,” she called. He stopped and turned back to her. She stepped closer to him and started to reach up. “Do you mind?”
Masters gave her a confused look. “No,” he replied less than sure what he was agreeing to.
Letac breathed deeply, reached up and with her thumb and forefinger towards his ear. She had never done this before and was not sure what she was meant to feel or even if she would feel anything. She had only had members of religious orders do this to her so it might require some special religious bond or training she was unaware of. She closed her eyes and exhaled slowly as her fingers grasped the captain’s ear.
Her eyes shot open and she quickly retracted her hand. The captain gave her a confused and slightly alarmed look.
“No...you’re not being fully...truthful.” Shock and surprise caused her to stammer and pause. She was not sure what she had felt, maybe it had been nothing but there was a sense that something was not right. She gave herself a second to compose herself and let her scientific mind back in control. “Just because something is hard or might have unpleasant consequences isn’t a reason not to do it. If you didn’t believe that you would never have had me look into the ambassador,” she continued. “You talked to Greer...you would have had to. He said something...something that has changed things.”
She looked up at Masters’ face inquiringly but it had become a stony mask. While she could not read anything from his expression that made her believe that she was right.
Back in a familiar mode her mind continued to figure out things in a more logical fashion. “I don’t believe the threats against your crew or yourself would stop you. If anything I think that would make you more determined to bring him down.” At that point she saw a crack in his facade. A streak of guilt flashed ever so briefly on his face. “What did he say?”
This time when she locked gazes with him she did not give him a harm aggressive challenging stare; instead it was one that was confused, soft and almost begging to understand as she appealed to his kinder side. It worked, his stony mask softened.
He took a deep breath before he spoke. “I know that in your life you have had to learn some difficult truths, Terri,” he said using her first name for the first time in their conversation. “Ones that would be easier left undiscovered but that in knowing you feel you can understand something, a situation or person better.”
“What could someone who is a willing accessory to mass murder possibly say to do that?”
“That I can’t tell you. There are times when we must keep secrets rather than burden people with the weight of their knowledge...or their consequences,” his voice was forlorn as he spoke. Letac could not help but to sympathise. “I need you to trust that I know what I’m doing and that I have not arrived at the decisions I have made lightly.”
“You can tell me, captain. I’m stronger than I look. I can take some of your burden.”
Masters looked at her appreciatively. “Sometimes we have to face things alone.”
His words, his tone was not of someone who was trying to avoid responsibility. Letac realised that what he was asking her was not about benefiting Greer, though no doubt it would, it was about protecting her, shielding her from something that he knew was coming or might come. It was his duty to protect his crew and that was what he was doing now.
“I’ll do it,” she said. She looked Masters directly in the eyes to reinforce her sincerity. “I’ll do as you’ve requested.”
A half smile came to Masters’ lips and he reached out to her. His hand hestitated over her shoulder before lightly landing on it. He gave her a hesitant pat, no doubt unsure what was the appropriate gesture to make to her for what she had agreed to do. He thank her one last time before he left.
Letac knelt back on the cold stone floor and tried to refocus herself back to her prayers. Her mind steadfastly refused to acknowledge her efforts and continued to go to just one thought: something terrible was coming and the captain was powerless to stop it.