ol_yellow_eyes: (understanding)
[personal profile] ol_yellow_eyes
The possible ramifications of the behavioral anomaly which Data experienced on Ohniaka III are a cause for concern. Beyond the fact that it was likely a malfunction of his systems, his reaction was quite violent, and could present a threat to other crewmembers if it were to recur. For this reason, Data requests temporary relief from duty until he can find the cause of the anomaly. The captain reluctantly agrees, and Data asks Geordi to help him perform a full diagnostic of his systems.

Geordi scrolls through the results on his PADD. "Hm, well. Your positronic net checks out… Everything else looks fine."

"My internal diagnostic also finds nothing wrong," Data mentions.

"I dunno, Data; there's nothing here that would indicate anything that might cause any sort of behavioral anomaly."

"I agree."

Data hesitates for a moment. Despite his concern about what occurred at the outpost, he is hopeful. And he believes he has eliminated enough of the alternative possibilities to make his original hypothesis the most probable explanation. But he is not certain how his friend will react.

"Geordi… I believe I have experienced my first emotion."

Geordi exhales. His initial response appears to be skeptical. "No offense, Data, but how would you know a flash of anger from some odd kind of power surge?"

"You are correct in that I have no frame of reference to confirm my hypothesis. In fact, I am unable to provide a verbal description of the experience," Data admits. He then gets an idea. "Perhaps you could describe how it feels to be angry. I could then use that as a reference."

"Okay…" Geordi takes a moment to think about it. Data has always appreciated how Geordi takes his questions seriously. "Well, when I feel angry, first I, uh… first I feel… hostile."

"Could you describe feeling hostile?" Data asks, walking around to face him.

"Yeah, it's like feeling… belligerent. Combative."

That information still does not register in his systems. "Could you describe feeling angry without referring to other feelings?"

Geordi lets out another breath, similar to a laugh. "No. I guess I can't. I just… feel angry."

Data notes Geordi's apparent need to use hand gestures to express himself, and imitates it. "That was my experience as well. I simply… felt angry."

"Well, let's say you're right, and this is a real emotion," Geordi finally concedes. "How is that possible?"

"I do not know," Data replies. Optimistically, he suggests, "Perhaps I have evolved to the point where emotions are within my grasp. Perhaps I will experience other emotions as time goes by."

"Well, I hope you're right," Geordi says, though by his tone Data can tell that Geordi does not share his optimism.

"I'd hate to think that anger is all you're capable of feeling."


Anger is a negative emotion.

It often leads to violence. When humans get angry, they are told to remove themselves from the situation that is causing their anger. There are "anger management courses" designed to teach people how to calm down whenever they become angry. It can be a very strong emotion, and in humans it can create dangerous physical reactions such as increases in heart rate and blood pressure. It can also have psychological ramifications, such as a loss in self-monitoring capacity and objectivity.

Anger is the first emotion Data has ever experienced.

It resulted in another being's death.

A concern has begun to develop in Data's positronic net, in the form of a hypothesis he does not want to prove correct. But the evidence so far seems to be gradually leading up to that conclusion…

Data spends the next six hours after his conversation with Geordi trying to produce a more positive emotion. He listens to several operas known to be uplifting. He watches three holodeck programs designed to be humorous. He even attempts to induce sexual desire by subjecting himself to erotic imagery.

Nothing happens. He feels nothing.

When he goes to Counselor Troi for advice, she asks Data why he is not trying to make himself angry again.

Data explains his reasoning: "Anger is a negative emotion. I wanted to concentrate on something more positive."

The counselor leans forward slightly. "Data… feelings aren't positive and negative. They simply exist. It's what we do with those feelings that becomes good or bad." She pauses, exhaling audibly. "For example, feeling angry about an injustice could lead someone to take a positive action to correct it."

Data considers this information. "But my study of humanity indicates there are some emotions that are harmful. Such as jealousy, or hatred."

"Those are very strong emotions, and you're right; very little good can come from them," she concedes. "But I don't think that an exploration of anger need necessarily lead to hatred or malice."

"But what if it does, Counselor? What if those are the only emotions I am capable of experiencing?" He pauses.

"Would that not make me a bad person?"

Counselor Troi responds with a slight smile, which incites Data's curiosity. She gets up to sit next to him on the couch.

"We've served together for a long time, and I think I've come to know you pretty well," she says. "I have to believe, if you ever reach your goal of becoming human, you won't become a bad one."

Data thinks about that for a moment. "I wish I were as confident as you, Counselor."

He takes a moment to ponder her words, and perhaps attempt to persuade himself. If anger is not a negative emotion, then perhaps he was justified in killing that Borg. The Borg drones presented a genuine threat to his friends. The anger he experienced might have simply aided him in eliminating that threat. His reaction to it might have been excessive, but possibly natural, when taking into consideration the fact that he is unaccustomed to to feeling. This conclusion is logical, and supports the counselor's theory that he is a good person.

But no… there was something else…

"When I was fighting the Borg, I felt angry," he begins, thinking. "When I think back on the incident, I realize that I was also experiencing another sensation. It was not the same as anger. But I think it was an emotion."

The counselor's smile has disappeared. "When exactly did you feel this other emotion?"

"It was just after I had killed the Borg. I looked down at his body…" Data is not looking at Counselor Troi now; his eyes are angled towards the floor, as he loses himself in the memory. "I felt something."

The counselor's voice registers as gentle and patient in Data's auditory processors. "If you had to give this… feeling a name, what would you call it?"

Data does not answer her for a moment.

There is only one possibility. He knows it because he has heard it described before. He knows it because of the way he is processing it, because of the fact that he is allowing the memory to linger in his neural pathways, when he should be focusing on responding…

"I believe… it was…" His sentence comes out broken, and he looks up at her face again, wondering what her reaction will be.

"Pleasure," he answers finally.

Data is not certain, but he believes that the expression on Counselor Troi's face might best be described as mild horror.


Data decides that perhaps it is best to discontinue pursuing his emotions. But he is still off-duty for the time being, and so he returns to his quarters with nothing to do.

He takes the time to feed his cat. Or rather, he attempts to feed his cat. He tries offering seven different feline supplements from the replicator, all of which Spot refuses to eat. He resorts to his usual strategy of leaving the food out in the hopes that Spot will become hungry enough to try it later.

It occurs to Data that perhaps a human would have gotten frustrated in this situation. But he feels nothing.

There have been several red alerts since he returned to his quarters. The Enterprise has sent information to Starfleet vessels regarding the new type of Borg ship that was spotted in orbit around Ohniaka III, as well as the odd, individualistic behavior that the drones displayed during the conflict on the outpost. So far, the red alerts have consistently turned out to be false alarms. Apparently, the news has made people nervous.

Data does not know what that is like. Every time the alarm sounds, people could be in danger. Perhaps the sound should make him feel frightened.

But he feels nothing.

Data takes up his violin and begins to play. Whether it is a good idea or not, he wants to capture that feeling of anger that he had—the only feeling that he has ever had. He plays several pieces in allegro furioso, but the sound now seems as empty and lifeless as he feels. He cannot get the notes to match what happened to his thoughts suddenly when he experienced that flash of anger. He can remember, but he can no longer feel how they rose and fell in a chorus of something like music, something passionate, as though they belonged to someone who was truly alive. It was like the cadence of a human voice, which is something that Data has tried to imitate but which never came naturally until that one moment.

Data lowers his instrument.

And then, whether it is a good idea or not, he decides to go to the holodeck to continue experimenting. He has not yet explored the possibility of making himself angry again. He must know if it is possible.

Data attempts to make himself angry using various stimuli—insults, irritants, loud noises, portrayals of injustice—but none produce any sort of reaction. He decides that the method most likely to succeed would be to attempt to replicate as closely as possible the circumstances which caused his first emotion. He recreates the interior of the outpost, as well as the Borg drone which attacked him. He then runs the program several times, increasing the drone's strength incrementally with each test.

Halfway through his experiment, however, Data is met with a visitor.

"Data, am I interrupting something?" It is Geordi.

"Yes," Data answers. "But it is all right. Do you need me?"

"Uh, I… wanted to see if you were ready to return to duty; I need some help with an analysis on the ship the Borg were using."

Data considers this. "I believe I am able to resume my duties."

Geordi looks around. "Data, exactly what is it that you're doing here?"

"I am attempting to recreate the experience which caused my initial outburst of anger."

"Any luck?" Geordi seems genuinely curious.

"None so far," Data replies. "I have almost completed this experiment. May I finish before we return to engineering?"

"Yeah, sure." Geordi sits down as Data resets the simulation, increasing the Borg's strength by 20 percent. He runs the program.

Still nothing.

"Computer, reset simulation to Time Index 2.1. Increase Borg strength by 30 percent."

"Unable to comply. A 30 percent increase would exceed safety limits."

A 30 percent increase would very closely resemble the actual strength of the drone, and since Data is attempting the replicate the circumstances, this is a necessary test. Fortunately, it is possible to override the holodeck safety mechanism.

He turns to his friend. "Geordi, the computer requires a voice authorization of two senior officers in order to disable the safety routine. Will you help me?"

Geordi leans forward. "Data, wait a minute. That thing could kill you."

"During the original incident, the Borg presented a genuine danger to my life. Since the holodeck safety routine is in place, I know my life is not in danger. Since I am trying to duplicate the conditions of the original incident as closely as possible, I must also attempt to duplicate my jeopardy as well."

"Data, we're talking about an experiment here. You can't put your life on the line just to prove some theory!"

Data thinks for a moment before pointing out, "This experiment may hold the key to something I have sought all my life."

Geordi stands up, sighing heavily. "It's crazy!" he concludes. "There's gotta be another way—can't you think of some other way to make yourself angry?"

"I have tried other stimuli but they have been unsuccessful," Data tells him. Geordi is standing close to him now, and his back is nearly up against the wall. Geordi seems genuinely upset. Data takes a moment to consider his words. Perhaps it is irrational to gamble his entire existence on the chance that he will feel emotion again. Certainly he should place greater value on his life.

And yet…

And yet, when Data looks at Geordi's face, his brows furrowed in worry and anger, it is difficult for him to concentrate on anything other than the fact that he wishes he could feel it as well.

He wants to feel anger. He wants to get angry when Geordi is the one in danger.

Data would be jealous, if he could. He cannot. But he wants to, suddenly.

"I understand your objections," he tells Geordi, sincerely. "But it is my life. And I have a right to risk it if I choose."

"Yeah, and I'm your friend, and I'm not gonna just stand around and let you do this."

They are interrupted by the sound of an alarm.

"Red Alert! All hands, battle stations!"

Data and Geordi immediately make their way to the bridge.

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