Chapter 16 - Fugu

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Geordi quietly approached Mack as they walked. In a low voice he asked, "What the hell is going on?"

"You'll see," she whispered.

"Whatever you're doing, I hope it works." Inside, Mack hoped the same thing.

The entire entourage got to the brig fairly quickly. Yi'Imspi snarled, "Back so soon?" Then her face fell a bit. Even though she was probably expecting the admiral to show up at some point, seeing the powerful woman face to face was a bit more daunting.

The admiral immediately sat down on a seat in the brig without invitation. The guard, a young woman who was standing at attention so perfectly and ramrod straightly, looked as if she were about to burst a blood vessel. "Ah, Admiral?" The guard's eyes searched their faces, her jaw trembling. As the head of Section 31, Caul was as powerful as Federation President Jaresh-Inyo and probably, covertly, a lot more.

"Let's get down to brass tacks," Caul ordered. "Why exactly are we here, and what do you want? Why is this woman in custody?"

"She tried to kill me, in case you have forgotten," M'Belle stated.

"Beyond that," Caul answered, with a dismissive wave of her hand. "If that was all it was, then she would already be amassing her legal team, and you would have transferred her to the nearest starbase. And that reminds me – doesn't she have the right to an attorney? And don't I?"

"Yes, yes, of course," Picard allowed. "Yi'Imspi, do you want a lawyer?"

"If my talking gets me out of this, then no, I'm good. I've never cared for lawyers."

"Admiral?" asked the captain.

"In a moment, maybe. Let us see how this goes. After all, I know I have nothing to worry about."

"Very well," Picard said. He then turned stern and serious, looking her straight in the eye. "What do you know about radiation band cycling?"

"About the same that you do."

"She knows more!" Yi'Imspi called out. "She ordered it!"

"The band cycling knocks on the doors of universes," Marty said. "It pings them. It tells them – 'we're here and we're smart'. It tells them, too, that we have advanced tech. And that would be an ionization diffuser and, apparently, a modified pulse cannon. Now the prisoner here, she's told us a lot about her Mirror Universe connections. And on the other side, the Terran Emperor in exile ordered them."

"He wanted to punch his way in here," Mack added. "I'm guessing he saw us as a soft target and a return to his former glory. If he could deliver us on a silver," she glanced at Yi'Imspi for a moment, "platter, then anyone would let him back into power. But then there's you. What are you doing it for? You've already got power in spades."

Caul remained stoic and said nothing. Tamsin filled in the gaps for her, "I got it figured out!"

"Oh, really?" Caul cocked an eyebrow.

"Yes! I get it now. You already have power so that's not really your motivation. It's more that you have a motivation beyond power."

"I bet it's to get a jump on the Romulans!" Mike said.

"That, yes," Tamsin allowed. "But it's also because you love your job."

"Is that a crime?"

"It is when you use your job to snoop and spy. That's the real issue here. You want your fingers in every pie imaginable, and you know you can do it if you bring in people who already know how. You know you can't be the head of Section 31 forever, but you want to be. You want your own empire, and by developing the perfect tool for future secret police, you'll be able to get it." Tamsin was getting excited, pacing a bit in the brig as Caul involuntarily blanched. "And you're reaching out to other radiation bands to see if they're viable. But the one you really, really care about is the Mirror! You know they are a dictatorship and so you're more than willing to throw open the doors for them. You want to let them in because you think they're going to hand you the keys to the kingdom for being so helpful. And you want to use their methods!"

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