Chapter 15 - Message from a Future Guy

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"I wish I knew what they meant about winning," Mack said.

There was a communicator chime, and Marty tapped the pin on his communicator top. "Madden here."

"According to Mr. LaForge, Admiral Caul is arriving," said the captain. "I shall expect you in conference room B as soon as possible."

"What about Myst – er, Dana – and Wes Crusher? They're both here with me."

"Have them come along with you. And Ms. MacKenzie, please contact your inner circle and M'Belle and have them join us. That is, if M'Belle is deemed fit for duty."

"We'll be there. Madden out." He turned to Mack and Wes. "I guess it's show time."

=/\=

Admiral Harriet Caul was getting close to the end of her career and just didn't have time for such BS shenanigans. As for the incarceration of her operative, she elected to play it cool – or take down Nechayev and the others if necessary. In the choice between loyalty and a prison cell, loyalty would lose, every single time. She was well aware of the kinds of atrocities Mack had suffered in Canamar. And Mack was tough and resilient! But Harriet was far older and frailer and knew that she would be damned lucky to survive the first assault on her person, never mind the fifty-fourth or however many could happen to her before she would finally quite literally give up the ghost.

The Section's shuttle, while not cloaked, it might as well have been. It was a nondescript affair, the kind of thing that no one performing a cursory inspection would ever suspect it held the second-most powerful person in the entire United Federation of Planets and the latest cutting-edge technology, along with a pilot sworn to absolute secrecy and utter silence.

Just before docking, there was a shimmer within the shuttle. Was she being boarded? "Who's there?" she hollered. The pilot had already drawn her sidearm.

The shimmer never materialized into a fully formed, beamed-in individual. Instead, the shimmer spoke. "I am James Horan. You will hear from either me or my associate, Phillipa Green. We will direct your activities from now on."

The shimmer disappeared and the pilot resheathed her sidearm. "Do you know what the hell is going on, Admiral? Who were those people?"

"I wish I knew."

=/\=

It was Marty's task to escort Admiral Caul to conference room B, where the captain was waiting with Geordi, Mike Daniels, Tamsin Porter, Dr. Crusher, and M'Belle and Mack and her inner circle. The admiral glanced around the room, at the total of twelve other people in it. "I take it this isn't a welcoming committee, Captain Picard."

"We are curious about a lot of things, as you may very well imagine. Your operative has revealed quite a bit."

"Oh?"

"We know you were instrumental in working to get information about the ionization drive on my ship," Mack said. "And I'll lay better than even money that you financed her education and training."

"And that is something we like to do with all of our employees, including M'Belle here." The admiral gestured in the Caitian's direction. The unspoken subsequent phrase most likely should have been, 'You wanna make something of it?'

"Admiral," M'Belle said, "I will do a lot for the Section. I am grateful for my training and for every opportunity. But I'm not in your employee to smash treaties to bits or cozy up to universes run by despots."

"No one's asked you to."

"But you asked a certain person who is in our brig," said the captain.

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