‘How about this guy…half Vulcan…medical assistant…was assigned to give injections to the Klingon spy.’
‘Waa…let me see.’
The betazoid shows Worf the pic of Simon Tarses.
‘Warm up the interrogation chair…’
There’s no dried blood on the floor, no decaying paint on the walls, but it’s still a torture room no matter what name they give it. That’s what Picard thinks anyway, as he steps inside the room with zero decoration and reels a bit as he sees twenty or so other crew members sitting at the back, waiting for the burning to begin.
Control your thoughts, Picard tells himself.
He looks over at Worf, sitting next to Admiral Satie and her two aides, and gets an instant sick feeling in his stomach.
Is the lieutenant really getting caught up in all this?
Picard stops by the Admiral, taking a seat behind her then leaning in to whisper in her ear. ‘Hey baby…’
‘I had a dream about you last night. Me and you were trapped alone on the Enterprise. Aliens were watching us. They kept pushing us together, rubbing our bits against…’
‘Captain, what are you saying?’
Picard blinks. ‘Sorry?’
‘This is very inappropriate…’
Picard quickly reviews what he said. I didn’t know this would be a public hearing. We shouldn’t do it like this. Remember that we are asking questions of a young man, not interrogating him. Which part of that was inappropriate?
‘Admiral…all I mean is…perhaps we shouldn’t be opening up this process to the whole crew.’
‘Nonsense, Captain. Keeping it behind closed doors will only lead to more rumour and suspicion. Better to make it transparent. Besides, cockroaches run to the shadows, they hate having a bright light shined on them.’
‘Simon Tarses is not a cockroach, I really think we should watch the kind of language we use in-…’
‘Quiet, Captain. We’re starting…’
Worf stands up straight and approaches Simon Tarses, who is indeed in the centre of a very bright stage light.
‘Mr Tarses, we have appointed Riker to be your defence lawyer, but if you want someone with an actual background in law who is not also the director of this episode, that is your right. No? Good. Now, tell us, why did you help the Klingon spy to transmit data to the Romulans?’
‘How did you sabotage the warp core?’
‘Did you go into the prisoner’s cell, twist his neck round then later return and twist it back again?’
‘I don’t understand…’
‘Don’t lie, you’re half Romulan!’
The crowd gasps, including Picard. Half of them reach for their phasers. Admiral Satie rocks back on her chair, smirking.
‘I reserve the right to remain silent as…as I am half Romulan and…I don’t know how to get out of this…shit, Riker? Where are you?’
Riker appears from off-camera and whispers in Simon Tarses’ ear.
‘You see Captain,’ says Satie, pushing her chair to the limits. ‘Put the cockroach in the light and the truth is revealed.’
Picard sits back and closes his eyes.
When he opens them again, he’s in a room full of Romulans. They’re staring at him like a Japanese cartoon character, completely blank, their haircuts uniform, their faces stretching down longer and longer and
It’s not faces he’s looking at
Its grey strips of
Picard throws out his hands, hitting Worf on the side of the head.
‘Worf…the Romulans…their faces…’
Picard blinks a few times and looks around. He’s in the Observation Lounge, sitting in the chair opposite to his usual one. In front of him is a pad displaying a pic of Simon Tarses posing under a tree, with a topless Boothby next to him holding a giant hoe.
‘Captain…you were napping…’
‘Yes, lieutenant. Where were we…are we in the investigation?’
‘Well, Geordi and Data have concluded that the warp core sabotage was actually an accident, but the Admiral and I believe that it was made to look like an accident by Tarses and the Klingon spy. And possibly others. We suspect that there is at least one other Romulan sympathiser aboard the Enterprise, and have narrowed it down to twelve suspects. We will interrogate all of them soon.’
‘Worf, what is going on here?’
‘An investigation, Sir. What do you mean?’
‘I don’t like it. It feels like the title of this episode. Soldiers in European wars were accused of crimes like cowardice, a drumhead was upended and trials were done. Judgments were swift and brutal. Any man in a drumhead trial was doomed.’
‘But, Sir…the Federation does have enemies…’
‘Simon Tarses has not been proven guilty, Worf. Nor can we assume he’s guilty based solely on the hunch of a surprisingly sexy grandma.’
‘If he’s not guilty, why did he panic when we put him in the spotlight and harassed him in front of half the crew?’
‘Yes, that’s how it starts…’
‘How did the Klingon spy do everything by himself?’
‘I don’t like what’s going on here, Worf. I’m gonna find out the truth for myself.’
Picard storms out of the room, leaving Worf to stare out of the window. He stares for a while at the stars flashing by then stops
Something is outside
Something grey and menacing
A terrible haircut
It touches the glass outside and slides down with its hands then pushes off again and floats in the void, face blank, eyes blank
Worf reaches for his phaser and runs closer to the window
Aims at the figure
But it doesn’t move
It just continues drifting
staring back at Worf
‘Worf to security.’
‘Scan the window outside the Observation Lounge for life signs.’
‘Scan for life signs, now.’
As he speaks the last line, the Romulan drifts left, running his finger without sound across the window as he goes. A few seconds later, he’s gone.
‘There are no life signs, Sir,’ replies security.
‘Scan the exterior of the whole ship.’
Worf keeps his phaser out and moves right, trying to see farther left along the outside of the window. It works a little, but not enough to see any Romulans.
‘No life signs within 50 metres of the ship exterior, Sir.’
Worf nods to no one and puts his phaser away.
His forehead is sweating.
Interrogation Room 1 is even more packed than the day before and the spotlight is three times brighter.
It’s so bright that Tarses has to look at the floor.
‘Mr Tarses,’ says the betazoid, holding yet another pad, ‘is it not true that you were seen talking with the spy J’dann in Ten Forward on more than one occasion?’
‘Excuse me,’ says Dr Crusher, her hand raised. ‘I said I saw them once, not numerous times.’
‘Please don’t interrupt the interrogation, Doctor,’ says Admiral Satie, rocking back on her chair.
Picard leans across and whispers in her ear, ‘You’re half the brain your daddy was.’
‘What did you say?’
Picard looks puzzled. ‘Please don’t call this an interrogation. It’s more like a Q&A, if anything.’
‘Captain…in my experience, people who interrupt proceedings such as this more often than not have something to hide.’
‘This ship is under my command, I will not let it turn into a circus. Nor will I allow insinuation to take the place of hard evidence.’
‘Just an observation. Of course, I was neither referring to you nor the doctor.’
‘Of course not.’
The betazoid gets a nod from Satie and resumes his attack. ‘Despite the doctor’s assurances, it is logical to imply that if you met J’dann once then you probably met him again. Unless we assume that the doctor follows you around 24/7 and is witness to all your liaisons.’
‘I only met the spy…J’dann…once, in Ten Forward. And it wasn’t me alone, there were others too.’
‘Would you care to name them?’
The betazoid frowns, puts down his pad and picks up another one. ‘Is it not true Mr Tarses…that as a Romulan you have a vested interest in the destruction of the Federation-Klingon Alliance.’
Mr Tarses looks at Riker, who is tilting his head. ‘I’m not Romulan, my grandfather was.’
‘Exactly, your grandfather. The favourite of all children.’
‘Did you engage in sexual relations with your grandfather?’
The whole room looks stunned. Admiral Satie taps the betazoid on the thigh and shakes her head.
‘Do you find Romulan men or women attractive?’
‘I don’t…I guess…I don’t know.’
‘Do you find Klingon men attractive?’
Mr Tarses looks at Worf standing by the door, his pecs outlined through his mustard yellow top. ‘No.’
‘Did you damage the warp core?’
‘I had nothing to do with that.’
‘Are you in contact with the Romulans right now?’
‘So you were in contact with them before?’
‘I…what? No. Never.’
‘Your story seems to be less than steady, Mr Tarses. Perhaps a recess so you can arrange your defences more carefully.’
Mr Tarses looks at Riker, who tilts his head the other way.
Picard slouches down in his chair, putting his face on his palm then quickly changing his mind before the camerawoman swings over.
His badge beeps.
‘Captain, you better get down to Engineering.’
‘You got into the warp core?’
‘Into the actual core? No. That would be suicide. Into the warp core area? Oh yeah. We’re in all right.’
‘On my way.’
Picard hangs up and nudges Satie on the arm.
‘You can’t stop the interrogations, Captain, I have permission from Starfleet Command.’
‘No, it’s not that. My crew has news about the warp core incident.’
On the way down to engineering, Picard takes the chance to tell Admiral Satie how disturbed he is about how things are progressing.
‘Don’t worry, Captain, interrogations sound frightening but they are a necessary part of the Federation Charter. And with your constant vigilance and monitoring of Simon Tarses, I’m sure we will find out the truth very soon.’
‘I’m not monitoring him.’
‘I assume you’re joking…’
‘No man will be treated like a criminal on my ship.’
‘But he is, in effect, a criminal. He lied on his application form to Starfleet.’
‘That is not a criminal act.’
‘It has the same ethical value as one. Who can trust a man that lies? What other lies has he told?’
‘This is wild speculation and inference, I will not stand here and…’
‘Captain. Captain. Calm down, I’m merely making a rhetorical point. I’m not saying he’s guilty. Of course not. I am my father’s daughter, I believe in a robust examination of every possibly point. Though isn’t it a coincidence that Simon Tarses, a man with Romulan blood, happens to be on the same ship as the only Romulan spy the Federation has ever exposed?’
‘Actually, there was a Vulcan a few episodes back who turned out to be Romulan…she was a spy…’
‘I stand corrected.’
Picard thinks back on what he’s just said and quickly turns it into a point of merit. I was just being honest, honesty is best, I have nothing to hide. I’m not an idiot.
He looks backs at the Admiral, ready to expand on what happened with the Vulcan, but he sees that she is taping something to a nearby door.
‘Sorry…I’m just keeping the crew informed as to what’s happening.’
‘By taping paper to doors?’
‘It’s not paper, Captain. It’s a list of…questions…that we have posed to Simon Tarses.’
‘This is highly inappropriate, Admiral.’
‘It is a common practice. My father always said, keep the public educated, never let rumour be king.’
‘Please, can you take them down?’
The admiral pauses, tilting her head just like the director of the episode taught her. ‘Are you trying to interfere in the legal process?’
‘This is not part of a legal process, it is propaganda.’
‘Strong word to use, Captain.’
‘The paper, Admiral…’
‘Very well.’ She takes down the paper and tucks it down the top of her gown. ‘I will remember this, Captain.’
‘As will I.’
Engineering is one of the most common places on the ship to conjure up bullshit out of nothing and that’s what the Admiral decides to do when Geordi and Data tell her that the warp core eruption was an accident.
According to her, it either doesn’t matter as there’s still a Romulan spy, or the warp core itself is in on the whole thing.
‘I won’t pretend it’s clear-cut…yet…but it seems to me that there is so much we don’t know about the warp core, how it works, the essence of the anti-matter…is it not possible that it was manipulated…somehow…by J’dann or the Romulans or Simon Tarses.’
Geordi and Data look at her like she’s a sex cult in admiral form.
‘Or we could focus our efforts on the spy we have already caught and his possible associates.’
‘Excellent idea, Admiral,’ adds Picard.
‘Especially Tarses…he oozes guilt…’
In his ready room for the first time in a few days, Picard pours a cup of Earl Grey for himself and nothing for Witchfinder General.
‘Admiral,’ starts Picard, ‘I feel that we should limit our investigation to facts, and valid suspicions. If you have evidence against Simon Tarses, you must present it to me. If not, these open trials must end.’
‘Do all your staff agree with you?’
‘I haven’t asked them.’
Picard sips some tea.
‘Would you like to know how I’ve spent the last four years of my life, Captain?’
‘Living on starships. Traveling from planets to star bases to other planets. My family doesn’t speak to me. I have no friends. But I have a mission.’
‘I thought you were retired?’
‘What I have uncovered on this ship disturbs me. You disturb me, Captain. A seemingly rational man, yet constantly covering the tracks of suspects, making defences for them.’
‘Admiral. Are you retired or not?’
‘The trials will continue. In fact, Admiral Thomas Henry will be arriving tomorrow to see them for himself. Don’t try and talk to him, he’s mute.’
‘I cannot allow this. Even if I have to go to the very top of Starfleet Command…’
‘They already know, Captain. They love this shit. Romulan spies, traitorous Captains, crucible comparisons. They’ve given me full backing to do as much insinuating as I like. And I will. Others have tried to stop me before. They came to regret it.’
The Admiral stands up to leave.
‘Admiral…what you are doing is unethical, immoral. I’ll fight you.’
‘Do what you must, Captain. And so will I.’
She wanders off onto the Bridge, ignoring the crew, and heads into the turbo-lift. The doors close.
‘I’m doing it, Daddy…I’ve got him…’
‘Please state destination.’
‘Like a Tholian with a 2 year old…’
‘Please restate destination.’
Picard gets off shift and heads down to his quarters, but for whatever reason he can’t sit still and think so he goes for a walk. Some crew members pass him, muttering about Simon Tarses and Vulcan spies, so he ducks into a Jeffries Tube and sits down with his back against a panel he neither likes nor understands.
In his head he’s sure he’s right.
Tarses is innocent.
But another voice is telling him
What if you’re wrong?
No…I can’t doubt myself, he thinks, standing up and accidentally causing the panel to open.
From the panel, a Romulan wig and grey uniform spill out.
Picard stares at both, touching the wig, stroking the material of the uniform…
There’s a noise nearby.
He turns and sees Geordi holding a tricorder in each hand.
‘Captain…I didn’t know you were here.’
‘I wasn’t…I’m not…I’m just checking the…’
‘Ah, you found my Romulan gear. I’ve been looking everywhere for that.’
‘This…all this is yours?’
‘For the party tonight, yeah.’
‘In Ten Forward. The Admiral organised it…said it was a good way to unwind after all the trials and accusations.’
‘Are you serious?’
‘I hope so. Otherwise I’m gonna look very strange walking into Ten Forward wearing the uniform of a sworn enemy.’
Geordi grabs the uniform and exits.
Picard waits a few seconds then follows him out.
It turns out Geordi isn’t mistaken.
Ten Forward is wall to wall Romulan…or wall to wall Enterprise crew members dressed as Romulans. Picard enters and almost instantly shudders, a reaction that he doesn’t understand, that he tries to rationalize. I’m not racist, it’s just weird to see so many Romulans.
‘Captain…’ says Data, standing nearby.
‘Why are you not dressed as a Romulan?’
‘I didn’t have time to prepare my outfit. Also, it seems a little odd to be having this kind of event at a time of…during these trials.’
‘Logically, it is sound. To eliminate tension, dress up as the thing you fear.’ Data gestures to the crew around the room. ‘Though it seems there are a few who share your reluctance.’
Picard follows Data’s gaze and sees that Simon Tarses, Doctor Crusher, and a random ensign are still in their regular Starfleet uniforms. And in the corner of the room, covered by dimmed light, the Admiral and her two aides sit, scanning everything before them.
‘Excuse me, Mr Data…’
Picard walks over and stands in front of the Admiral. Both her and aides are also dressed as Romulans, with Tal Shi’ar pins on their chests.
‘Was this your doing, Admiral?’
‘Why, yes it was. I have to say Captain, I’m surprised you didn’t bring your uniform. Was it too tight?’
‘Whatever you are trying to achieve, it won’t succeed.’
‘I’m not trying to achieve anything, Captain. Not until tomorrow.’
The admiral nods at her aide, the tall female without vocal chords. She stands up, walks around the bar then comes back and hands Picard a pad. She clears her throat and opens her mouth to speak.
‘Your presence is requested tomorrow at 9am,’ says the Admiral, cutting her off.
‘I’m the captain.’
‘A captain with many questions to answer.’
Picard puts the pad on the table and walks towards the exit, dodging countless Romulans on the way.
Outside, Troi intercepts him, also dressed like a Romulan and asks him where his outfit is.
‘I don’t have an outfit,’ he shouts.
‘Captain, you seem tense.’
‘There is something not right on this ship,’ he says.
‘I see. You’re afraid you’re not in command anymore.’
‘Of course not, I’m the captain.’
‘It’s my ship.’
‘Also true. Have you been to all parts of it?’
‘The Enterprise…have you been to all parts of it? Are you aware of everything that happens within?’
‘Everything of importance.’
‘Is that so? Do you know what the ensigns talk about in Astro-gymnastics? Do you know the established protocol in the Seismology Lab? Did you realise Guinan sleeps under the bar in Ten Forward? Did you know her office is a featureless closet?’
‘What are you getting at?’
‘You don’t know your own ship, Captain.’
‘It’s okay. I have the same fears too. Did you know there’s a test to see if you’re racist?’
‘I did not.’
Troi pulls some A5 photo cards out of her leotard and shows them to Picard. ‘Here, look. Is this a Vulcan or a Romulan?’
Picard looks at the face on the photo card.
‘Vulcan or Romulan?’ she asks again.
She goes to the next card. ‘This one?’
Picard scans the face, the ears, the skin colour and finally says Vulcan again.
‘If you keep saying Vulcan, it doesn’t mean you’re not racist when you get one right.’
‘I don’t know…’
‘Because they all look the same?’
‘Counsellor…I really need to go…back to my quarters.’
‘They say Captain…’
‘…that the best way to conquer your doubts is to sleep with your accuser.’
‘Are you sure?’
‘I am, with great assuredness.’
‘Kapok said that you could fantasize about sex with anyone if you put your mind to it. Even if their tits are down to their ankles. I suggest you try again, Captain.’
Picard gives it a shot. He pictures the Admiral wrapped up in his arms, telling him about her daddy, calling Data a Borg informant, scolding him for not spending more time between her legs…but the image is too vivid…visceral…vicarious…vivisectional…
He runs, away from Troi, away from the ship, away from his own treacherous mind.
In her quarters, the Admiral takes off her Romulan costume, and the gown underneath, but she’s not naked, she’s wearing a vest and shorts
in case the ship is watching her.
Or the Romulans.
On the table is a Tholian tapestry, woven by the wizard of T’th’thla. It is laid out in the Hexdrifigal style, its edges 4cm off each side of the table.
‘I know you’re here…I know you saw my Romulan party ruse…it was clever, wasn’t it?’
The Admiral puts her hands flat on the tapestry and lets it wrap around her wrists, then her arms, then her torso.
It floats upwards, taking her with it.
‘He thinks he’s better than you, Daddy…he doesn’t say it, but he thinks it…I know he thinks it, I can tell…we can tell…’
She spins slowly in the middle of her room, blood dripping from her hair.
‘Tomorrow…tomorrow we’ll get him…get him with his own words…’
To be continued in Part 3