Most of the senior staff were assembled in the observation lounge, Barclay seated between LaForge and Troi on the far side of the oblong table. On one end sat Commander Data, flanked by Worf; while on the other, in his customary seat, sat Captain Picard, Commander Riker by his side. The doors from the main bridge opened and a nervous-looking security officer glanced in before turning back and stepping aside to allow the Captain’s guests passage.
B’rul entered, flanked by two other Klingons; one male, one female. “Greetings, Captain,” said Picard, then gestured to three empty chairs at his right. “Please, be comfortable.”
The Klingons sat. “My first officer, Dresa,” B’rul said, indicating the tall woman on his right, “and my adjutant, Lieutenant G’rval. ”
Picard made his own introductions quickly. Although B’rul and G’rval stiffened and glared when Worf was introduced, they said nothing. Dresa just stared at him, her expression neutral. “And this,” Picard said at last, “is Lieutenant Reginald Barclay.”
“Uh…hello,” Barclay said awkwardly.
“The murderer!” shouted G’rval, pounding a gauntlet on the table. “Why is he not in the brig?” Barclay visibly quailed. Troi, to his left, placed her hand over his in a reassuring gesture.
“I am not in the habit of confining my officers without cause,” Picard said. “All we know is that the Mok’tagh was destroyed. Mr. Barclay has denied doing so.” Picard glanced at Barclay, who nodded emphatically.
“Of course he denies it,” G’rval said. “Would a guilty man say anything else?”
“Would an innocent man say anything else?” Picard countered. “I do not believe my officer had any ill intent when he boarded that ship; at Captain K’Vaakh’s request, I might add.”
B’rul leaned forward over the table and laced his large hands together, staring hard at Picard. “Fortunately for us, Captain, your beliefs are not proof. We have the data logs of the Mok’tagh. It is standard procedure for all Klingon vessels to transmit ship data when in close proximity to other vessels, so the Empire always has fleet records that are as accurate as possible. That way,” B’rul smiled, “if any accidents should occur, there are fewer unanswered questions as to their cause.”
“You have these records now?” asked Picard. “I should like to review them.”
“I thought you might,” B’rul said, nodding to his adjutant. G’rval grinned and produced a small isolinear data rod. He gently placed it on the table and slid it to Picard, who made no move to take it. B’rul stood up and the other Klingons rose with him. “You have three hours, Picard. Review it to your heart’s content; but take no longer than three hours. Then, I will expect this man to be turned over to the Empire for further questioning. Do not make me come and get him.” He turned, his weighted coat flaring behind him as he strode through the doors of the observation lounge back out to the main bridge, G’rval following. Dresa stared hard at Lieutenant Barclay for a moment, then back at Worf, her face unreadable. Then she, too, left.
Picard looked at the rod on the table. “Mr. Data, Mr. LaForge; I want you to scour whatever is on this rod for any clues as to what might have happened. Mr. Worf is at your disposal for all things that may require his expertise in Klingon protocol. Mr. Barclay, return to your quarters for now. I’m sure Commander Data and Lieutenant LaForge will have questions for you soon.”
Barclay stood. Worf rose alongside and gently placed his hand on Barclay’s shoulder. “That won’t be necessary, Lieutenant,” Picard said to Worf. “I’m sure Mr. Barclay can find the way to his quarters without a security escort.” Barclay managed a grateful smile. Before he left the observation lounge, he turned to the room. “Thank you, everyone.”
Geordi picked up the isolinear rod and raised it to Barclay in a half-salute. “Don’t worry, Reg. We’ve got this.”