At 08:57 Picard walks into Interrogation Room 1 and stops, startled.
For the first time in his life as Captain, the crew are early to something, and not just something. His trial. Do they hate him?
He sits down and nods at Admiral Henry. No response back. It looks like he needs a dump. This is a good sign, thinks Picard. If I can make him get up and leave, the trial’s over.
Satie is glaring at him.
The betazoid is holding another pad.
Worf is sitting on the other side, in the advocate’s chair. Picard gets up and runs over, asking him quickly, ‘are you representing me?’
‘I think so, Captain.’
‘Remember the drumhead trial thing I said, Worf…’
‘Captain…’ says Admiral Satie. ‘It’s 9am.’
Picard sits down in the spotlight and shifts his body into what he read was the innocence pose. ‘Before we begin the lunacy, I’d like to give a speech.’
‘No,’ says Satie.
‘Under Federation law 24591-34 it is my right to speak before any trial or interrogation and, as far as I’m aware, we’re still operating under that law.’
Picard clears his throat. ‘Stop this Admiral. I implore you.’
‘There was more, but I’ve forgotten…’
‘Noted. Shall we begin?’
The betazoid holds up a pad and pushes a button. The speakers in the room start to play some kind of Romulan chanting. Everyone looks uncomfortable, including Picard, who shifts in his seat.
‘You seem uncomfortable, Captain.’
‘Do you know what this is?’
‘Some kind of Romulan Chanting.’
‘Interesting.’ He lets the moment breathe then adds, ‘actually it’s Vulcan chanting. Interesting that you’d get them mixed up.’
‘Does this count of evidence of something?’ asks Picard.
‘Just an instructive aside.’
The chanting continues in the background as the betazoid picks up another pad. ‘Captain, what happened on Star date Season 4 episode 11?’
‘Let me explain. You were carrying a Vulcan Ambassador to a meeting with the Romulans.’
‘I was following orders. Taking this ambassador to her meeting.’
‘But she wasn’t an ambassador at all, she was a Romulan, a dirty Romulan.’
‘Tell me, Captain,’ interrupts Satie. ‘When she was standing on the bridge of the Romulan Warbird, with her Romulan clothes and Romulan haircut, carrying Federation secrets, did you try to get her back?’
Riker prods Worf in the gut, forcing him up. ‘The Enterprise could’ve been captured or destroyed. Captain Picard did the only thing he could.’
‘Really, Captain,’ says the betazoid, ‘don’t you find it questionable judgment to have a guy who always recommends an attack to be your chief of security, a man whose father was a known Communi-…Romulan collaborator?’
Worf starts forward, trying to decide whose head to rip off first.
Worf looks at Picard, regains his composure and retreats back to his seat. Satie gestures for the betazoid to sit down, taking the reins herself.
‘Tell me, Captain….have you completely recovered from your experience with the Borg?’
‘I wrestled with my brother. I’m fine.’
‘Are you certain there’s no lingering anger that won’t be tapped in the future by vacuous men with glasses and no talent?’
‘I am completely recovered.’
‘It must’ve been terrible…all those ships and lives lost…what was it? Twelve thousand people dead? One wonders how you can sleep at night.’
Picard puts his head in his hand, muttering ‘take this bitch’.
‘You know there is a phrase I learnt as a child…when the first freedom is trampled on…as long as it’s not yours, forget about it. But if it happens a lot…to people you know…and its led by a grandma in a witch-like gown…then we’re all damaged. That phrase was said by Judge Daddy as warning and wisdom, but mostly a warning, that we need to actually have real evidence before having Storage Room 4 turned into a Stasi interrogation chamber…’
Admiral Satie sits with her arms folded, glaring.
Picard goes on, slightly confused.
‘It was said by your Dad…he was talking about you…you’re the exact thing that he feared…’
‘Really, Captain…trying to use my own father against me to avoid your own crimes. A ghoulish tactic.’
The betazoid picks up another pad, and scrunches his face. The Romulan chanting is still playing in the background.
‘Captain…why did you not dress up as a Romulan last night?’
‘Answer the question.’
‘I didn’t know about that event.’
‘Did you disapprove of the party?’
‘I admit, it was strange.’
‘Logically, it was rational. What is strange is your discomfort. But then…when you consult ‘The Guilty Guiltless Mind by renowned Vulcan Psychologist, T’Pau, you can see that it makes perfect sense. A guilty person will avoid at all costs that which veers closely to his crime. In short, Captain, you were reluctant to attend the party, to dress as a Romulan because you have dressed as a Romulan many times before…’
‘…at Romulan parties on Romulus, with all kinds of Romulans surrounding you, talking to you, getting to know you, teaching you Romulan slang, taking your measurements for Romulan clothes, showing you Romulan art, Romulan porn, Romulan sitcoms…’
‘Lies, all lies. Check the records. I never take a holiday.’
The betazoid puts down the pad, picks up another.
‘We have checked the ship’s library. You have downloaded 6 Romulan novels from the database, and 4 historical texts about the Romulan-Vulcan separation.’
‘These are not crimes.’
‘No other member of the crew has shown such an interest in Romulan fiction or history. The only one who comes close is…ah…Simon Tarses.’
‘This is ridiculous…’
‘Your temper seems to be getting the better of you, Captain. Perhaps a recess is in order.’
‘I don’t need a recess, let’s clear this up now. The whole process is a farce. You have no evidence, only insinuation.’
‘Ten minutes should suffice.’
Picard tries to say no, but Worf eyeballs him and shakes his head. Picard nods and tries to breathe, tries to get his sense of calm detachment back.
Everyone else heads outside.
‘We’ve got him Daddy…’ says the Admiral, sitting alone on her bed. ‘Got him and he can’t slip out. Trying to provoke me. Ha, I knew he would. Motherfucker. When this is done, I’m gonna make him pay. The Tholians will help. Maybe the Romulans too. Ha, what delicious irony. I can’t wait.’
The admiral pauses, hearing a noise outside.
She opens the door and steps out and finds that she’s not in her quarters, she’s in someone else’s.
A small Klingon child is staring up at her.
‘What are you?’
She squints, focusing on his ears, his forehead ridges.
‘My name…is Alexander.’
Back in Interrogation Room 1, Picard confers with Worf.
‘I’m in deep shit, Lieutenant. If you have a brain in there, now’s the time to turn it on.’
‘Sorry, Sir. This trial is confusing.’
‘I thought I had her, based on her Daddy issues, but she somehow kept her calm. I didn’t know she had it in her. Then she used that Romulan party thing to muddy the waters…’
‘I did not go to that party.’
‘You’re lucky then, the whole thing was bizarre, from start to-…’ Picard freezes, his head glowing. ‘That’s it…’
‘You have an idea, Captain?’
‘Ten Forward has a capacity of what…seventy, eighty people. That means…over 90% of the crew didn’t attend the party.’
‘They are Romulan spies too?’
The door opens and the Admiral runs back in, screaming ‘help, a small Klingon boy is trying to kill me.’
Alexander follows her in, looking tiny and innocent.
‘Him…he’s an animal…he attacked me in the corridor…’
Worf walks over and growls. ‘What did you do?’
‘Nothing. I’m playing with this grandma. She’s so funny.’
‘You attacked her?’
‘No, it’s a game. She came into our quarters and said crazy things…she said she’ll get Romulans and Tholians to torture Captain Picard after she’s won…then she slapped her own face, scratched her arms and ran out into the corridor. She told me to follow her, so I did.’
‘He’s lying,’ said the betazoid, shaking a pad furiously.
‘No, you’re lying,’ said Troi, fighting her way back into the episode. ‘And you’re racist.’
Troi holds up a photo. ‘Vulcan or Romulan?’
The betazoid studies the pic and says Romulan.
‘Shit. Doesn’t matter. You’re still lying.’
‘Wait…people…’ Picard stands on his interrogation chair, waving his arms. ‘I don’t need your help. I figured out an intelligent argument to get out of this. Using logic. Listen to me, please.’
Admiral Henry gets up and walks out.
‘Admiral…hear my story, wait…’
Picard runs out after him, followed by everyone else, except Admiral Satie who slouches down in her chair and thinks, gods alive, I have no idea how I’m gonna get off this ship without looking anyone in the eye. They know I’m nuts. What can I say? Breen mind control? Nanobots?
In the background, the Romulan chanting continues, completely void of melody.
A little while later, in the Observation Lounge, Picard stands by the window, in the dark, waiting for Worf to come and apologize.
The doors swoosh off-screen, Worf enters.
‘Captain…Admiral Satie and Admiral Henry have both left the ship.’
‘I think…’ Worf pauses, switching from Russian to English, ‘she will not be able to rile people up again any time soon.’
‘You think we’ve come so far…torturing of heretics, burning of witches, right wing nuts bringing handfuls of snow into parliament…then in the blink of an eye it all starts up again.’
‘I believed her,’ says Worf.
‘And helped her,’ adds Picard quickly.
Worf grimaces then nods. ‘I did not see what she truly was.’
‘Lieutenant, villains who twirl their moustaches are easy to spot…’
Worf squints, realising that the Captain has drifted out of character again.
‘…but admirals who cloak their evil in legality and good deeds in the name of righteousness are harder to deal with.’
‘I think…err…we should not let her back on the ship.’
‘Vigilance Mr Worf, that is the price we must constantly pay.’
They turn to exit the scene.
‘Ten Forward, Sir?’
‘As long as it’s not full of Romulans…’
Full of Romulans.
Hungover Romulans, sleeping Romulans, post-sex Romulans in the dark corner that the Admiral was sitting in the night before.
Picard and Worf stand frozen by the entrance.
‘Lieutenant…what is this?’
‘I do not know.’
‘Get them out of here at once.’
‘But it’s the crew…’
Worf walks reluctantly over to the nearest Romulan and picks him up by the collar. The uniform slides off him and reveals another one underneath. Worf grabs the man by his arms and lifts him up, but as he does so the man keeps going up and up and up and then the other Romulans in Ten Forward float up into a standing position and also go up and up and up and they’re still asleep, still growing, impossibly grey and Romulan and
‘LaForge to the Captain.’
‘Captain, we have news on the warp core incident.’
‘You can come down, I’ll tell you in person. Bring the admiral too, she’ll be interested to hear this.’
The floating, giant Romulans overwhelm Ten Forward and turn everything grey.
Closes his eyes
Wishes for his quarters
‘From our examination of the warp core door, it seems that an ionic decay actualizer was used to weaken the door density, causing it to explode. What we can’t figure out is why…’
‘Excellent work, Mr LaForge,’ says Admiral Satie, clasping her hands together.
Picard looks in fifteen different directions all at once. ‘Geordi…what’s happening?’
LaForge opens his mouth to answer, but the Admiral’s hand quickly covers it.
‘It’s as we suspected, Captain. There is a covert terrorist cell of Romulan spies on your ship, possibly hiding in the Seismology Lab.’
‘Admiral, that’s…impossible. All of this.’
‘I suggest we send Worf down to arrest them.’
‘You left. You shouldn’t be here.’
‘Left? I’ve only just started my work, why would I leave?’
Picard crafts Dali’s Burning Giraffe into a facial expression.
‘Unless you want me to leave for some reason?’ Admiral Satie glares at the warp core. ‘Some unknown sibylline reason…’
‘No, no…’ Picard straightens out his uniform, nods at Geordi and Data. ‘We should get to the bottom of this. Though I suspect that the Seismology Lab has little to do with anything.’
‘We shall see.’
Outside the Seismology Lab, there are grunts and smashing noises and screams of ‘Mike, it’s me’ before the doors open and a man flies out, hitting his skull against the wall. Luckily it’s acrylic so he gets back up in time for Worf to rush over and elbow him unconscious.
‘All the suspects are down, Captain, ready to be interrogated.’
‘Lieutenant, have you lost your mind?’
‘Admiral’s orders, Sir.’
‘Yes, well done.’ Satie pats Worf on the thigh. ‘Trials will begin in one hour. Notify the crew, the ones on the ‘definitely innocent’ list.’
Worf waves a fist at the other security, which seems to be code for ‘pick up the Seismology Lab crew and get them out of here.’
Picard watches people he’s never seen before taken away, bruised and bloodied, mostly bloodied. One guy’s had his eye ripped out.
‘Admiral, this is anarchy…’
‘This is the door to justice.’
‘And what about this list you mentioned…these so-called ‘definitely innocent’?’
Admiral Satie pulls out a pad and shows it to Picard, who reads it out loud.
‘Main Suspects: Tarses. J’dann. Seismology Lab [all].
Accusable: Picard. Doctor Crusher. Worf’s son.
Suspicious: Troi. LaForge. Riker. Barclay. Gomez. Weirdo behind the bar.
Potentially suspicious: Data. Worf. Mote. Admiral Henry. Rational members of the crew.
Definitely Innocent: Admiral Satie. The Easily Hysterical. Ensign Kellog.’
Picard frowns, re-reads the list. ‘You forgot your two aides.’
‘That’s very callous of you, Captain.’
‘You know very well they’re dead.’
‘I didn’t…know that. When? How?’
‘In their quarters, last night. Killed by Romulan poison.’
‘Admiral…this can’t be…none of this should be happening.’
‘Don’t worry, Captain. It will all come to an end soon.’
‘It doesn’t make sense…’
‘As soon as we’ve interrogated everyone on the list, we’ll be ready to start sentencing people. I’m particularly excited about that part.’
Picard shakes his head, crazed.
‘You look tense, Captain…would you like some corridor air?’
‘We’re in the corridor.’
‘Really?’ The Admiral gestures at her own quarters. ‘Does this look like a corridor to you?’
Picard screams and rushes out.
Admiral Satie follows after him, so he shouts back that he needs some time alone and increases his speed. It seems to work. She slows her pace and vanishes as he turns a corner.
Ten Forward is up ahead, but he can’t cope with any more Romulans, even fake ones, so he ducks into another room and
It can’t be
On six bio-beds are six Romulans all laid out in the same gown as Admiral Satie, all of them sleeping with their mouths open, moving slightly, mumbling ‘it surprised the hell out of me’ over and over and
Picard pulls out his phaser and points it at one of them, all of them, his forehead sweating like a Tory on the campaign trail, but he can’t do it, he can’t shoot a sleeping Romulan, and he can’t be in this room either, it’s too humid, the lighting is strange, green filtered shadows with sudden lines of neon black…neon black…neon black?
Picard blinks and he’s outside the room, like someone put him on a trolley and wheeled him back in the smoothest ever motion, and the sign on the door is weird, it says
IF THERE’S NO NECK ROOM
That’s a place on the ship?
Why has Riker never told me about it?
Where is Riker?
Picard is on the bridge, standing next to Data’s almost horizontal chair. Riker is standing nearby, his uniform scruffy, his beard half shaved, his eyes bleeding.
‘Aren’t you supposed to be on trial?’
‘Interrogation Room 1.’
‘I did that already.’
‘Yesterday. The day before yesterday. A week ago.’
‘I think you should go to sick bay. Don’t worry about the bridge, we’ve got everything under control here.’
Picard looks at the turbo-lift door, and is about to move towards it but out of the corner of his eye he sees a flash of grey, a hint of boot, a sense of identikit hair fashion. He crouches down and sees a Romulan hiding under Data’s console.
‘That’s Ensign Smit, Captain.’
Picard looks right and sees another Romulan crawling out from under the other navigator’s console.
‘Ah, Ensign Johnson,’ says Riker, patting him on the shoulder pad. ‘Fresh from the academy.’
‘Those men are Vulcan, Sir,’ says Data.
‘She was right…the grandma was right…’
Picard opens his mouth to explain, but neither Riker nor Data is there anymore. Instead, he’s back in one of the Jeffries Tubes, a piece of paper in his hand.
He reads it.
‘If caught, jump face first into the warp core.’
He tries to read the note again but can’t, it’s in Romulan script. He drops it and screams in frustration. His ship…is falling apart. Time doesn’t make any sense. The Admiral is in the past, present and alternate future all at once. She’s making lists. Ludicrous lists. Romulans are…the Seismology Lab…Riker’s beard…six of them, dressed like her…structure…no structure…
He sees a plasma conduit and touches it.
He picks up a self-sealing stem bolt and seals his hand. Or bolts it.
He looks up, hoping to see a friendly face, but resigned to a Romulan.
She’s wearing a North Face jacket and snow pants.
‘Counsellor…is it you?’
‘Good, you’re back. Now for your defence, I suggest we target her daddy issues overall. Maybe lead into it with a quote on the sanctity of individual rights, breaking of the human chain…’
‘I’m still on trial?’
‘You and half the crew.’
‘This is madness.’
‘Actually, to a neutral, it’s quite exciting.’
‘Wait…is this real?’
‘As real as a replicated replicator.’
‘You look different.’
‘The winter jacket? I was cold. You said it was okay.’
Picard looks around. They’re in his quarters, the lights are dimmed and vaguely green, Romulan chanting plays in the background.
‘This isn’t real.’
‘Captain…we should concentrate on your defence…’
‘I won’t believe it’s real until at least a day has passed. 24 consecutive hours, uninterrupted.’
‘Your trial will be over by then…’
‘One day, no more, no less.’
Troi breathes out and takes out a pad. ‘According to my research, Admiral Satie likes to unsettle suspects by showing them pictures of Romulans and asking the suspect if they’re attracted to them. The key to conquering this is very specific, as in a particular sequence. In her last 15 trials, she showed 21 pictures, using the same set and order each time. Among the pictures are six Vulcans to disorientate you. That won’t matter as long as you memorise the correct sequence of answers. Assuming, of course, that she doesn’t introduce a second set…or change the order…in which case you’re fucked. Now, listen carefully. The correct sequence is yes, yes, yes, Vulcan, yes, Vulcan, no, no, no, no, Vulcan, Vulcan, yes, yes, no, yes, no, yes, no, Vulcan, yes. Got it?
Picard reaches out for the pad and Troi’s neck at the same time, missing both and falling forward onto the floor of Ten Forward.
He looks up, sweating on his head, his armpits, his legs, his ears, eyeballs, eyebrows, toes, liver, and sees a bar full of Romulans staring at him, muttering ‘how dare you, you who consorts with Romulans’ continuously.
In the darkest corner sits Admiral Satie, her two aides next to her, and the bridge crew standing behind, all of them covered in part by strips of the Admiral’s gown.
‘I’ve brought down bigger men than you Picard,’ the Admiral says, drinking from her glass.
Picard gets onto his knees. ‘Yes, yes, Vulcan, no, no, yes, yes, Vulcan, no, no, no…yes, yes, Vulcan, Vulcan, no, no…’
‘This isn’t a trial, Captain. This is a party.’
‘I’ll fight you.’
Picard looks at the Romulans standing around him, making him seem the size of a 4 year old.
‘Do what you must, Captain. And so will I.’
‘Captain, LaForge here.’
Picard looks down at his com badge, untrusting.
‘Captain, are you there?’
‘We’ve got some news on the warp core. You and the Admiral better get down here.’
‘Eject…the warp core.’
‘Captain? Are you okay?’
‘Then lock onto Admiral Satie…beam her into space.’
Picard straightens up, wipes his forehead and his pits, and stares forward at Admiral Satie. She takes another sip of her drink, then dematerialises.
So does Picard.
Engineering forms around him.
Geordi and Data appear, as does the warp core, as do the random crew members who never say anything, some of them still wearing Romulan ears.
‘Captain, big news. The warp core door was sabotaged. By Worf. I couldn’t believe it either until I checked the security feed and saw him trying to rip it off with his teeth.’
‘Excellent work, lieutenant,’ says Admiral Satie clasping her hands together.
‘Geordi…Worf did it…are you sure?’
‘Sure as a Malkonian.’
Data holds out a pad. ‘We suspect Worf was being controlled by some kind of brain-fingering device, forcing him to act out against his will.’
‘It seems I was right, Captain.’ Satie pulls her hands apart, waits a full second then clasps them together again. ‘There is a conspiracy aboard this ship.’
‘Admiral, they just told us…it was Worf, he-’
‘Here is a list of those I wish to interrogate, starting in one hour. If necessary we can do five at a time. Also, we’ll need to dirty your Interrogation Rooms a little, make them a little more KGB.’
‘There’s no need for this…’
‘Delay? That will only help the saboteurs…the time to act is now.’
‘I’ll be in my quarters. Call me when you’re ready to start.’
Picard tries to grab her by the sleeve, but it’s slippery and she manages to get away and out of Engineering. Picard stands still, stares at the warp core and waits for the scene to change as it inevitably will.
The warp core swirls blue and white gas, anti-matter, plasma, neutrinos, gravitons, gravitas, positrons, cardboard, all caught up in an implacable hurricane of science, spelling out letters in its wake, not in Romulan, in English.
Picard mutters it, Geordi says it out loud.
Outside, in the corridor
Her gown guiding her more than her feet
Admiral Satie reaches a corner and sees a Romulan.
‘Romulan,’ she says. ‘I knew it.’
She glides on to the next corner, seeing another Romulan and saying,
‘Romulan. I knew it.’
More corners arrive, more Romulans appear, each time provoking the same response from the Admiral.
‘Romulan. I knew it.’
Before long, she forgets about going back to her quarters…she forgets she even has quarters…all she cares about is reaching the next corner, making sure that there’s a Romulan cos if there isn’t her head will explode and all her daddy’s books and achievements along with it.
She glides up to another corner. Another figure in grey. She smiles, manic.
‘Romulan. I knew it.’