In which Julian stars in a gothic spy thriller all of his own.
Kira has taken Odo back to the station, where Julian and miles had come up with the idea of luring a Section 31 agent in with false news of a cure. Bashir had otherwise had no success, and Odo’s got a week, maybe two if he goes with exotic-particle-therapy. Otherwise, all Bashir can do is palliative care. Odo wants to send Kira away so she doesn’t have to watch him waste away and die the way Berial did. And she’s still needed, in the Cardassian resistance.
Miles has gotten all he needs from the Breen weapon, so Kira and Garak are headed back, with Julian’s assurances that he’ll do everything he can. This is when Miles breaks their alternate plan. They spill the whole theory, and Sisko is horrified at the idea of Starfleet personnel committing genocide. To get the operative’s cooperation, Julian’s acquired a Romulan memory scanner. Sisko does not immediately arrest them or order them to stop, though. So… yay?
Julian broke into Quark’s to play restless and self-recriminating darts. He’s determined that section 31 had at least 73 people who must have been in-the-know on the conspiracy to create the disease, and they have resolved to destroy it. Unsurprisingly, who should show up but Sloane himself. Bashir was ready this time, and has a containment field ready to go. So far the plan seems to have worked, and Bashir shoots Sloane and lets him wake up in a much smaller containment field, on a biobed. Now the real work can begin.
Sloane immediately starts out by threatening Miles’s family. Julian reasons that Sloane must know enough about the cure to find it in his lab, since Sloane likes surgical operations. So does Julian, the doctor. Julian’s also clearly looking forward to this maybe a little too much. Sloane is now terrified, seemingly because he can’t bear the thought of the cure making it to the Founders, and takes the future version of a cyanide pill – a neural depolarizer. Julian’s able to stabilize him briefly, for maybe an hour or so. The memory probes won’t work anymore, but Julian has a backup plan to put into practice, and it involves a multi-tronic engramatic interpreter.
Julian’s building a mind-meld machine. Improvising a prototype mind-meld machine. On the one hand, we know that the mind meld is based in science and that machine telepathy is assuredly a thing. On the other hand, this is a massive boost, almost Barclay-levels, to the capabilities of Julian’s genetic engineering. He’ll also be playing around in Sloane’s brain close to death. His escape button is ‘being able to raise his blood pressure through biofeedback enough to trigger the computer failsafes.’ O’Brien wants to go along for the ride, mostly to keep Doc Smartypants from getting lost.
Sloane’s brain starts them out in a turbolift. Evidently, that comes with a bit of confusion, at least for Miles. It shakes them around for a bit, but eventually they arrive at Sloane’s welcome party. WelcomingSloane is happy to see them and happy to help, but something is scrambling him and preventing him from delivering the vital information, and guides them to the Wardroom. The wardroom is full of Sloane’s friends and family, whom he apologizes to. His mental projections of them seem to understand, at least. It’s all awkwardness at the party, but WelcomingSloane is just about ready to give over the cure when he’s killed by SecrecySloane. SecrecySloane’s mind is much more built along Starfleet aesthetics.
Sisko and Ezri have discovered Julian and Miles asleep on the table, while they wander the corridors of Sloane’s mind looking for any open doors they can find Sloane’s mind is protected by a guard that can shoot them with phasers that really hurt. After that shot, Julian can’t pull the ripcord. They’re stuck in there, and in their final minutes they discuss how strong their friendship is. Bro. When the lighted tunnel shows up, however, Miles is able to rally them, but Sisko and Worf pull them out of it before they can open the door. Bashir works to stabilize the patient again, but fails. Sloane is dead and Odo will be soon.
Odo takes the news calmly, moreso than Julian, to be honest. Bashir goes to his room to read and contemplate, but the book is wrong. It contains a line in the middle that should be at the beginning. Since we know how much Sloane loves layers and deception, it seems logical to presume they’re still inside his mind. He’s still dying, though, so they have to rush back to that door in the Starfleet Security section.
Inside again, they find Sloane surrounded by a messy stack of Padds. This Sloane is not helpful, and among his tactics is to try to distract Julian with all his other secrets. First, to keep him from finding the cure, and second to trap them in his brain when he dies. Since Section 31 doesn’t have a physical headquarters, this is the only chance they may have to get enough information to destroy Section 31. But fortunately, Miles is there to talk sense into him, and they escape just in time.
If you had to choose between preventing a genocide or dying while failing to destroy the organization that carried it out, I’m pretty sure that’s an easy decision. Sidebar, though. The danger of dying while ‘inside someone’s mind’ seems overblown unless you posit that the soul is actually real. I mean, ultimately their brains were still in their bodies, just being fed new stimulus. Right? Right?
Julian manages to whip up what we hope is the cure, and injects it into Odo, who immediately shimmers into health. All he needs now is some rest. To celebrate, Miles and Julian break into Quark’s again and steal some scotch that’s older than Julian. You can tell Julian’s not a scotch drinker, but it’s a good night just the same.