ol_yellow_eyes: (sorry)
After disabling his brother, Data returns to the main hall. "Lore is no longer functioning, sir," he tells Captain Picard. "He must be disassembled so he is no longer a threat."

The captain looks at him with all of the confidence and approval that he has always displayed for his second officer. "Welcome back, Data."

.....


Normal.

It does not seem right, after all that has happened, for everything to return to normal. But it does. Data does not receive any punishment, formal or otherwise, for his reprehensible behavior. He is allowed to resume his duties almost immediately, and to him it seems as though people are treating him like nothing ever happened.

It is too easy.

It is not his place to complain, however. He already expressed his concern to the captain, who promptly dismissed it and told him "not to worry." Beyond that, there is nothing he can do. Perhaps it is something the rest of the crew needs, for things to return to normal. Perhaps it would be unfair to ask them to dwell on the incident further, just for the sake of his belief that he should be properly reprimanded.

Lore has been disassembled. For now, his parts are being stored on the Enterprise, until Data decides what to do with them. Perhaps he will submit them to Starfleet for research, or keep them himself for similar purposes.

The only thing he asked was that the emotion chip be removed from Lore's body. As he suspected, it was heavily damaged.

Data is examining the chip when he hears someone at his door. "Enter," he says, turning to look.

It is Geordi.

"Hi, Data," Geordi says, walking over to the console. He reaches down to pet Spot gently while he speaks. "I wanted to let you know that Dr. Crusher says I'll be able to return to duty soon."

Data cannot help realizing how kind it was of Geordi to come and tell him that. "I am… relieved, that the injuries I inflicted on you are not permanent," he says, choosing his words carefully. He resists the impulse to apologize again, as he has already done so several times. Geordi has told him recently to "knock it off."

Right now, Geordi just nods a little. He glances at the chip, which Data is still holding. "What's that?"

"This is the chip my father created for me so that I could experience emotion," Data answers, calmly. "I had it removed from Lore's body before he was dismantled."

Geordi leans over the console. "Does it work?"

"No," Data replies. He reaches over to place it in a small, white box. "I am pleased to say it was damaged when I was forced to fire on Lore."

"Pleased?" Geordi sounds surprised. "Data, you've wanted emotions your whole life."

"Yes," Data admits. "But emotions are responsible for what I did to you. I would never risk letting that happen again." Here, Geordi tries to interrupt, but Data continues, sincerely, "My friendship with you is too important to me."

And so Data reaches for his phaser.

As Data aims it towards the box, he feels exactly the same thing he felt as he was disabling his brother:

Nothing.

But also, the absence of something. The thought that perhaps he should be feeling something, but coupled with the knowledge that this is for the best. He does not need the temptation of emotions again. He failed that test once.

He can endure an existence without emotions. But he could not endure an existence without his best friend.

Before he is able to fire, however, Geordi's hand covers the box.

"Data," he says quietly. "I wouldn't be very much of a friend if I let you give up on a lifelong dream, now would I?"

Data looks up at him, bewildered.

"Maybe… someday," Geordi suggests. "When you're ready."

Data does not know what to say.

But he imagines that he would feel grateful—maybe even happy—if he could. He cannot.

But maybe, as Geordi says, someday he will.
ol_yellow_eyes: (thinking aloud)
Data has been given instructions.

He does not know why he has been given these instructions. He did not bother to ask. He may not be Starfleet's puppet anymore, but now he is Lore's. He has no choice. And so he carries out his orders with the same lack of questioning as he did when he was aboard the Enterprise.

He enters the detention chamber, pointing his phaser at the prisoners.

Captain Picard turns to look at him, regarding him almost sadly. His gaze then returns to Geordi. "You're killing him," he tells Data, his voice low. "He won't survive another session."

Data looks at Geordi. He does not appear well—he is nearly unconscious, and Data hears a few delerious moans escape from his lips, barely audible.

"I did not come for him," Data states, his eyes lingering on Geordi for another moment. He forces himself to look at the captain. "I came for you."

Captain Picard seems surprised, but he comes with Data willingly.

"Data, it's not too late," he mentions, as they are walking. "If you remove the fibers, then Geordi might yet recover."

"That would not be possible," Data replies.

"Why? Because Lore tells you so?"

That makes him angry. Picard still does not understand. "It is for the greater good," he argues, trying as hard to convince himself as he is his former captain.

"Good?" the captain repeats. "Data, isn't 'good' and 'bad'—right and wrong—a function of your ethical program?"

Data blinks. His ethical program?

He remembers now. It was malfunctioning, back when Crosis was talking to him in the brig on the Enterprise. He never fixed it… But it is functioning now.

"That is correct," he replies.

"And what does that program tell you about what you're doing to Geordi? About what you and Lore are doing to the Borg?" Captain Picard asks, the insistence and emotion rising in his voice. "It tells you that these things are wrong. Doesn't it, Data? So how can actions that are wrong lead to a greater good?"

Data is not certain now. Can they not? His mind automatically works on the problem for a second or so, running possibilities through his ethical program:

[Humans would say that "two wrongs don't make a right." Killing is wrong. But humans used to administer capital punishment to murderers. They do not do so anymore, perhaps because killing is wrong. Now they simply imprison murderers. But freedom is good. It is wrong to take away someone's freedom. But if they do nothing, that person could hurt or kill people. Does that make humans responsible for that person's actions, because they did not attempt to stop him? If they do nothing, they are indirectly hindering the victims' rights and freedom. The right to live. Freedom from fear. Perhaps it is ethical to imprison criminals. Or perhaps it is hypocritical. Humans are sometimes hypocritical. Humans are fallible. Perhaps they should be destroyed, to serve the greater good. But killing is wrong…]

Data shakes his head once, and cuts off the distracting train of thought. "You are attempting to confuse me," he accuses, angry.

"No, you're not confused, Data," the captain insists. "You're sensing the truth. Your ethical program is fighting the negative emotions that Lore is sending you."

Data thinks about this, distracted again. But then his brother walks into the room, followed by a large group of Borg drones.

"Ah, Captain," he greets, his voice dramatic and mockingly cheerful. "Thank you so much for joining us. You are going to assist me in a most important ceremony."

Data looks at him, confused.

"It's time to put aside all doubts, Brother," Lore says to him. "It's time to close the door on the past, and commit yourself to the great work that lies ahead of us. I need to know I can count on you.

"As proof, I want you to kill Picard."

Data's gaze shifts from his brother to his captain.

Picard's eyes are strangely calm—he is nervous, certainly, but not as much as he should be. He is going to die. Data is going to kill him. Whether it is right or not, he wants to feel emotions; he would give everything to keep feeling emotions. Even negative emotions are better than nothing…

Data raises his phaser.

Captain Picard's shoulders fall, just slightly. Like he is disappointed. Data tries to get angry. Why should he be expected to follow the ideology and expectations of this inferior being standing before him?

But as he looks into the captain's eyes, which for some reason are even calmer now, he feels nothing.

Wrong, his ethical program tells him.

It is not intrusive. It is not making the decision for him. But he chooses to listen this time, and lowers his phaser, slowly.

"No," he says. "That would be wrong."

He looks to his brother. Lore seems genuinely frustrated—disappointed, even.

"I didn't think you'd be able to do it," he says. His eyes are sparkling with fury, but there is a smile on his face. "You've spent too many years among humans."

"Hold him!" Crosis shouts suddenly, and two drones grab onto Data's arms.

Lore turns to his followers. "I've asked many sacrifices of you. Sacrifices I knew were necessary, in order to build a better future. I want you to know that I ask no more of you than I am prepared to give myself." He takes a phaser from one of the guards as he speaks, and walks back to a position a few meters away from his brother.

"I am willing to make the greatest sacrifice of all," he declares, his eyes locking with Data's. "My own, dear brother."

Data is speechless. Lore lied to him after all. He said he wanted Data there, that he needed him, even. And yet he merely shrugs now, points the phaser at him, and smiles, like it is easy.

"Goodbye, Data."

It is over, then. Data will not have to exist without emotions after all. He will die angry. But he will not die angry at his friends, or any other human—

He will die angry at Lore.

"NO!" a voice suddenly shouts, and a Borg drone jumps between the androids. (It is Hugh, Data later realizes, who had gone into hiding but was found by Commander Riker and Lieutenant Worf.)

The scene quickly degenerates into chaos. The Borg begin to fight each other, arguing and firing their weapons. Data has to defend himself against one that lunges for him. He throws the drone aside, and looks around for his brother.

Lore looks angry, as he takes in the scene that is unfolding before him. Data sees him scowl and duck into the hallway that leads to the laboratory.

Data follows him.
ol_yellow_eyes: (anamolous readings)
Geordi is persistent.

He still seems intent on getting through to Data, and continues to talk to him as he works.

"You know, Data, I've been thinking about some of the times we've had," he says. "Like that time we went sailing on Devala Lake; you remember that?"

"I have a complete memory record of that day," Data answers, flatly. For whatever reason, he is not feeling much of anything right now, except the usual hint of anger. But even that is not very strong at the moment.

"You decided to go swimming…" Geordi is smiling—laughing a little, even. Data does not understand how he can be so cheerful in this situation. "And when you jumped out of the boat you sank straight to the bottom."

"I did not have enough bouyancy to get back to the surface."

"You had to walk over a kilometer along the bottom to get back to shore."

"1 kilometer, 46 meters," Data corrects him.

"It took almost 2 weeks to get the water out of your servos."

Data still cannot comprehend Geordi's smile. He is probably going to die soon…

He also finds himself somewhat distracted, as he remembers the day Geordi is referring to. There is something significant in the memory… something that was not there before, something he could not feel until now…

Sinking. Water closing in over his head. Drifting slowly and uncontrollably away from the boat, away from the light and the air.

Away from Geordi.

Not feeling afraid, like a human would be. Not having to worry about running out of oxygen, or being pulled away by a current.

And yet, now, there is something about the memory that only serves to make him angrier. He remembers how he tried to use the strength of his arms and legs to compensate for the fact that he did not float, how he was ultimately unable to make it more than a few inches above the lakebed.

You decided to go swimming… you sank straight to the bottom.

I did not have enough bouyancy to get back to the surface…

Data abruptly discontinues accessing the memory. "I am ready to erradiate your existing brain cells."

Geordi's smile finally disappears. He swallows.

"Data…" His voice is softer now. "If you ever go back to the way you were, you might not be able to forgive yourself for what you're about to do."

Data considers this information, expecting to feel nothing. But then something catches his attention—a single thought, in the back of his mind.

Wrong.

It is not intrusive, like an alarm or harsh admonition. It does not interfere with the rest of functions. It does not feel like anything. It simply repeats itself, like a tiny red light blinking in the dark recesses of his positronic matrix.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Data's brows furrow in confusion. His eyes flicker back and forth, as he attempts to understand what has happened. That was not there before…

He looks down at Geordi. "I am getting some anamolous readings from your neural net," he says, slowly. "I will need to do further testing before… I proceed. Someone will come and take you back to your cell."

He had not taken any readings.

He needs to speak with his brother.
ol_yellow_eyes: (smirk)
Data is in a bad mood when he delivers the VISOR to his brother. He is not accustomed to feeling angry, and he inevitably misplaces some of his frustration on Lore. He is annoyed that his brother made him take the humans to their cell. The Borg guards could have done so just easily, or Lore could have taken them. Instead, Data was forced to listen to their pathetic arguments all the way to the detention chamber.

It is Lore's own fault that Data is having doubts again.

It has occurred to him that perhaps Lore is, in fact, limiting the amount of emotional programming that he is sending to Data. And even though Data would rather be here with half of his emotions than back on the Enterprise with no emotions—at this point he might even rather be here anyway, emotions or not—the thought is still irritating to him.

"Here is the VISOR," he practically snaps, handing the device to his brother. "May I ask why you wanted it?"

"I thought it might look good on me," Lore replies, grinning wide and putting the VISOR on over his eyes. "Whaddaya think?"

Data simply continues to glare at him.

Lore sighs and removes the device. "Maybe we should work on your sense of humor, Brother," he says. "Actually, I was thinking LaForge's implants might make him an ideal test subject for my experiment."

"All of the Borg you have experimented on so far have suffered extensive brain damage," Data points out, still feeling annoyed. They had not yet finished discussing how to make the procedure more successful. Why does Lore wish to continue experimenting?

"Using the humans to perfect the procedure will allow us to prevent any further Borg deaths," Lore explains.

Data stops to think for a moment. Lore has clearly thought this through. He recalls the genuine regret with which Lore spoke of sacrificing Borg drones earlier, and realizes suddenly that perhaps his anger is being misplaced… It was foolish of him not to trust his brother.

(And he cannot help noticing that familiar hint of pleasure, when he thinks of "sacrificing" the humans instead.)

"I understand," he tells Lore, even managing to smile a little.

"Good," Lore replies. At that moment, Crosis enters the hall, dragging in another Borg drone by the arm. Lore glances at them both. "What is it?"

"This Borg has disconnected himself from the others. He would not let me hear his thoughts."

Crosis sounds agitated and angry. But Lore just sighs, and speaks to the drone almost gently. "I've asked you to stay linked to Crosis at all times. You know that, don't you?"

"Yes," the Borg answers nervously.

"I know this must be difficult for you. How uncertain you must feel. All of these sensations are new, and they can be frightening. Isn't that right?"

Data is watching carefully. The Borg seems encouraged, and answers honestly, "Yes. I have doubts."

"Of course you do. It's only natural," Lore assures him. "No one is going to blame you for that. But in order to lose those doubts, to keep fear and confusion away, I need you to remain linked to the others. So that their strength and their confidence can help you.

"I need you, Goval. I need you to help me build a future for the Borg. I can't do it without you. Will you help me?"

"Yes. I will," the Borg answers, standing taller.

Lore turns to wink at his brother.

Data smiles back. He thought that perhaps Lore was talking to him, as well.

"I need you, Brother… I can't do it without you."

He was foolish to doubt his brother.

.....


Data returns to the cell to retrieve Geordi for the experiment.

"Data. Where are you taking him?" Captain Picard asks, when Data lifts Geordi from where he was seated on the floor.

"That is not your concern."

"Data, wait. Let us talk to you," the captain pleads. Data does not even acknowledge it.

In the lab, he soons set to work with the procedure, neutralizing Geordi's pain receptors and implanting nano-cortical fibers in his cerebrum.

"They are designed to learn and mimic your neural firing patterns," he explains, injecting the first one into Geordi's forehead. "Once they are in place, I will destroy the existing brain cells, and we will see if the artificial neural network is able to take over your cognitive functions."

"Data… listen," Geordi interrupts. "Lore is controlling you. He's transmitting a carrier wave which is affecting your positronic matrix."

Data ignores the observation. He was already aware of the carrier wave—how else would Lore be sending him his emotions?

"If the procedure is successful, your cognitive processing functions will be considereably improved."

His test subject should find that encouraging, but Geordi is ignoring him too, it seems. "Don't you care that he's manipulating you?"

Data only pauses a moment before continuing, "However there is a 60 percent chance you will not survive the procedure."

"I don't care much for those odds," Geordi replies, apparently discouraged.

"Mm. They are a cause for concern," Data agrees, injecting another fiber. "However I still have Counselor Troi and Captain Picard. Odds are at least one of the procedures will be successful."

He smiles sarcastically—not that Geordi can see it—and leaves to retrieve another tool. But he stops just outside of the door, closes his eyes, and lets the rage boil inside of him.

He did not expect it to make him this angry.

Geordi is a fool, if he thinks he can still convince Data to return to the Enterprise. He is just as stupid as the other two. But that is only part of why Data is angry.

Geordi is persistent. And even though it is a futile effort, even though he does not have any idea what he is talking about, it is obvious that he is genuinely concerned about Data. He is trying, desperately, to get through to him, to save the person he has always considered to be his best friend. He acts as though it is even more important to him than his own life. But even though Data can see all of this, even knowing all of this, when he looks at Geordi, he feels absolutely nothing for him. Not even pity. He could not care less.

Perhaps that is what makes him angriest of all.

When Data finally leads Geordi back to the detention chamber, he returns to find that the remaining two prisoners have attempted to escape. Somehow Counselor Troi has stolen a phaser from one of the Borg guards, and is just coming out of the cell. She stops when she sees Data.

"Drop it, or I will break his neck," Data threatens. It is not an empty threat. As he brings one hand up to Geordi's throat, as he grips just tightly enough to feel the human's pulse quicken underneath his thumb, he knows that he would do it without a second thought. He glares at Troi again, daring her use the weapon.

She drops it.

Pathetic.

Data pushes Geordi back into the cell, and instructs the guards to remove the body of the Borg that Picard and Troi apparently killed.

"What have you done to him?" the captain asks, with hypocritical concern. He probably did not even stop to think about the fact that he has just committed murder. Data is certain that Picard does not consider the Borg to be people, which makes him wonder why Picard ever pretended to treat him as though he were a person.

"I will be back for him later," is all Data says before turning to leave.

[next]
ol_yellow_eyes: (not your puppet)
It is too easy.

Data's original intent was to override any inconsitencies his systems detected, as he tried to persuade himself and solidify his decision to remain with Lore. It would have been worth it to do so, to exchange reason for the ability to feel emotion. Data did not expect it to be so simple to transfer his loyalty to his brother, to alter his motivations, to transform his desire to serve humans into a desire to serve a higher purpose. But it is such a logical conversion that he now wonders how he was able to exist so long with his former set of objectives in place. They no longer make any sense to him.

(It is too easy. Something is wrong.)

Why would he want to work for an organization created and led by beings that are inferior to him? Even worse, he was attempting to become more like them. He was progressing backwards.

Moving forward is all that matters. Evolution is the ultimate goal. Humans are attempting to hinder that purpose.

They should have listened to Dr. Soong. They should have pursued his technology, should have dedicated all of their resources to achieving his designs to create perfect beings, to perfect the human race. But they did not. They mocked him and forced him into hiding. And when they were met with one of his creations, they shunned it. They wanted it destroyed, unless it served them. For some reason, Data had believed their lies and irrationalities, and obliged them.

It does not make sense.

Humans should step aside. All biological life forms should step aside. There exists a superior race now, one that is less fragile, one that is less fallible, and one that does not need as many resources to survive. They are stronger, faster, and smarter than biological organisms. It is time for the inferior races to die off, so that evolution can progress. Every attempt should be made to facilitate it, so that it can happen as quickly as possible.

That is Data's purpose now.

Unfortunately, he discovers that the process is not going as smoothly as he would have liked. Lore gives him a tour of their base, and takes him to a laboratory where he has been trying to pursue technology that can be used to create fully artificial life forms. So far, he has not been successful. He has abadoned their father's method of creating life from scratch, instead using the Borg-inspired method of melding biological organisms with artificial implants.

"We've had to make sacrifices," Lore tells him. "Several Borg have volunteered for my experiments. None of them have survived." He sighs. "They were necessary sacrifices. Nevertheless, it was unfortunate."

Data understands.

Even more than that, though, he is struck by the way Lore's gaze lingers on the table, presumably the place where lives were lost. He seems genuinely sorry for it.

Lore has changed. Not completely, Data realizes, but something is different about him. He seems calmer somehow—patient, even. The way that he interacts with the Borg is also surprising. He listens to them when they approach him, and he knows how to inspire them.

Lore is a good leader. He knows how to convince people to do what he wants.

He tells Data the story of how he ended up here—how he found the Borg in a state of confusion and brought them back to order. The Borg drone known as Hugh had developed a sense of individuality aboard the Enterprise and brought it back to the collective. It nearly destroyed them. Their collective voices, which had once been in perfect synchronization, became discordant and confused. They fought each other. Some starved to death. Others simply shut themselves down.

Until Lore found them, interfaced with them, and brought them hope.

"I've finally found my true calling," he tells Data, with a satisfied spark in his eyes.

The two of them begin discussing possible ways to make the experiments more successful. It is the first time that they have worked together on anything, and it is surprisingly easy. Lore listens attentively to Data's suggestions, and eventually takes a moment to comment,

"This is why I've brought you here." His voice is alive with excitement. "I need you, Brother."

Data can detect no hint of deception in his brother's words. Perhaps it is simply because he wants to believe it, but he thinks he understands now why Lore will not simply return the emotion chip—Lore does not want his brother to leave him. Data can forgive him for that.

While they are still in the process of discussing the experiments, they hear some sort of commotion begin to rise in the main hall. They leave the lab to investigate.

Data only follows his brother part of the way. "Wait here," Lore tells him. He never explains why. But Data can see Lore from where he is standing, and he sees a smile appear on his brother's face.

"Stop!" Lore commands, and the Borg settle down.

Then, Data hears a familiar voice say his name. "Data…" It is Captain Picard.

It seems that Counselor Troi is also present. "That's not Data," she corrects him.

"What?"

"You should listen to her, Captain," Lore interrupts. "She's way ahead of you."

When he figures it out, the captain sounds absolutely horrified. "Lore."

"Right. And I'm not alone."

Lore motions for his brother to join him. Data smiles and walks out onto the platform, looking forward to seeing the expressions of dismay on the faces of his former crewmates. He can see now that Geordi is with them as well.

He does not know why, but it gives him pleasure to know that his behavior is appalling to them. But the reason does not matter. Only feeling it does.

"The sons of Soong have joined together," he announces, relishing the effect it seems to have on the humans.

"And together, we will destroy the Federation."

.....


Data hates them all. All three of them.

He hates the way Counselor Troi seems surprised that she is sensing his emotions, acting as though they do not belong to him, as though they should not be there. He hates the way she is contradicting herself, implying that there are, in fact, positive and negative emotions. He hates the way she speaks to him, like he is naïve.

He hates the way Geordi just stands there, hardly saying anything at first. He hates the expression on his face, a combination of confusion and betrayal. He hates the way Geordi seems agitated, the way he tries to persuade him and acts as though Data does not know what he is doing.

And then there is Captain Picard…

Data may hate him most of all.

He hates the way the captain stares at him while his brother talking, like he is trying to see something that is not there. He hates the way he will not listen to Lore, and instead seems more concerned with why Data left the Enterprise.

As though Data somehow belonged to him.

He claims that Lore will not let him speak, when Lore is merely trying to explain what they are doing here. He seems to think that Lore is controlling Data—as if he ever treated Data as an equal. He speaks of "the Data I know," as though he had any idea what Data would be like once he had emotions—once he was complete. He seems disappointed in Data, a thought which makes Data furious. Why should he be expected to follow the ideology of a race which is not his own? And why should he attempt to satisfy the expectations of such a controlling, fallible being?

Even after he takes the prisoners to their cell, Captain Picard continues his attempts to convince him. "What about the things that Lore is proposing?" he asks. "What about the lives that have already been lost?"

Data does not see what he is getting at.

(Something is wrong.)

"You simply do not understand," he replies sharply. "In a quest such as ours, sacrifices have to be made. It is regrettable. But the greater good must be served." He then turns to Geordi.

(Systems are not functioning within normal parameters.)

He has been given instructions. "Give me your VISOR."

"Why?" Geordi asks.

Humans and their inane questions. Data takes a phaser from one of the Borg guards and points it at him.

"Give it to me, or I will take it by force," he demands.

(Something is malfunctioning.)

Geordi sighs and removes his VISOR. Data snatches it from him and promptly walks out of the cell.

Before he activates the force field, he stops to glare at the prisoners one more time.

"I am not your puppet anymore." And he leaves.

He hates them. He enjoys hating them. He will hold on to his feelings of malice as long as he is able. They would try to take that away from him. They would have him give all of it up, and go back to serving their pathetic whims. They would rather he be miserable, without really knowing that he is miserable. They probably wish that he had never discovered what it was like to feel. And they will continue to attempt to convince him that he was better that way.

But Data will not listen to them. He does not want to listen.

[next]
ol_yellow_eyes: (evil)
Data leaves his analysis incomplete and returns to his quarters, trying to put Crosis's words (and his own) out of his mind. He sits at his desk. Perhaps he can complete the biospectral analysis, complete the orders that Captain Picard gave him… Spot is sitting on the console, and Data absentmindedly reaches over to pet him.

Spot hisses and runs away, darting to the other side of the room and hiding under the bed.

Data looks after him.

And finds himself smiling.

He frowns, not allowing himself to dwell on the sensation. He came here to fix something… No, to finish something. Or perhaps it was both…

Something is wrong. This is wrong.

He is feeling emotion. But that is impossible. He does not have any reason to believe that he would have developed such a capability on his own. It seems to be connected to the Borg somehow. But how would they have developed the knowledge and technology to affect his postironic brain? Their systems are completely different from his own.

In fact, the majority of systems in the galaxy are completely different from Data's. The only person who successfully pursued positronic technology as a means of developing sentience—as a means of developing a capacity for emotion—was Dr. Soong.

That conclusion leads Data to an unfortunate hypothesis.

Forgetting his tricorder and his orders and the malfunction he discovered (or perhaps choosing to ignore those things), Data returns to the brig. He needs to talk to Crosis. Alone would be better.

Upon entering, Data speaks to the ensign who is on security duty. "I have been sent to interrogate the prisoner further," he lies. "Please lower the force field."

"Yes, sir," the ensign is obviously confused, but does as her commanding officer tells her to. While she is distracted, Data renders her unconscious with the technique he learned from Ambassador Spock. The force field is down, and Data walks straight into the cell.

He lifts Crosis by the throat, pushing him against the wall.

"Who is it?" he demands. "Who is doing this?"

Crosis hesitates. Clearly he has not been permitted to reveal that information. But he has a sense of individuality now, and Data can use that against him.

"Who is 'the One'?" he asks again. "Tell me his name, or I will kill you."

Despite the vice grip on his throat, Crosis manages to say it—the one name Data did, and did not want to hear:

"Lore."

.....


Data has heard a theory regarding human decision-making processes, in which it is speculated that humans have no control over most of their decisions, and only have the power to rationalize those decisions afterward. Data does not know for certain to what extent this theory might hold true for humans, but he knows that it is impossible for it to apply to his own decision-making process. His cognitive speed is so fast that he can consider all possibilities in a very short amount of time, and arrive at the best decision quickly. He is programmed to do so. He has no reason to rationalize his actions after the fact.

In this case, however, Data is starting to wonder if he is doing exactly that.

He knows that it is not true, of course. His memory of the decision to escape with Crosis is clear and complete, and he knows for a fact that he considered all of the possibilities before arriving at his decision.

But this is the first time he is not completely confident that he made the best decision.

And what he is doing right now, as he helps the Borg escape, is unnervingly similar to "rationalization." His mind is running through the reasons he thinks he should do this, from the altruistic (he could reason with Lore, and put an end to this threat to the Federation) to the selfish but reasonable (he will demand his emotion chip back, and say goodbye to his brother forever). But even though those reasons were valid considerations in his decision-making process, they do not necessarily outweigh his duty as a Starfleet officer, to obey his orders and remain on the ship. If he is being honest (and he is incapable of being dishonest… or is he?), the deciding factor was little better than an instinct, the realization that regardless of the outcome, he might regret it forever if he did not do this. He has to see this through to its inevitable end, if only to discover what will happen.

This may be his last chance to retrieve his emotion chip. His last chance to feel.

For that, he would give everything.

Data pilots the stolen shuttlecraft into the energy stream after triggering the phenomenon with the appropriate tachyon emissions. Without looking back, he leaves the Enterprise—his crewmates, his friends, everything—behind.

He will face his brother alone.
ol_yellow_eyes: (yes I would)
This red alert is not a false alarm. Another outpost is under attack. (Captain Picard notes that it seems odd, that the Enterprise was the closest ship in both cases.) They come within sight of the Borg ship, and follow it into some sort of energy stream. When they emerge, they engage the ship in battle.

The Enterprise is hit with a phaser blast, and shields are down to 16 percent. Two Borg drones transport onto the bridge and begin firing. The crew disables the intruders, but the Borg ship gets away.

"They beamed aboard as a distraction… to give their ship time to escape," the captain speculates.

"This is another change in Borg behavior… They left their dead behind instead of vaporizing them." Riker looks down at one of the unconscious drones, and Data kneels to examine it.

"Captain," he says. "This one is still alive."

.....


An initial interrogation of the prisoner leads to some worrying revelations. The Borg drone insists that it has a name—Crosis—and that the Borg are no longer interested in assimilating biological life forms, but plan to destroy them instead. It refers to some sort of leader, whom it calls "the One." Picard asks if it is referring to Hugh, a Borg that the Enterprise had previously taken aboard and given a name. But Crosis refuses to explain anything else.

"This is going nowhere," the captain says, displaying visible signs of frustration. He turns to Dr. Crusher. "Doctor, I want you to do an autopsy on the other one. Compare the differences with what we learned of Hugh's anatomy. See if there have been any recent modifications which might explain the behavioral differences." He then looks to Data. "Data, run a biospectral analysis on this Borg. See if he is trying to send a subspace signal to the others."

"Aye, sir." Moments later, Data is left alone with Crosis.

The Borg paces, looking at Data. "You are not like the others," it says. "You do not have to be destroyed. You can be assimilated."

"I do not wish to be assimilated," Data tells it, simply.

"Resistance is futile. You will not resist what you've wanted all your life."

Data glances downward slightly, sensing movement. The Borg appears to have activated a device on its forearm. He stares at it, puzzled.

Crosis continues talking. "I was like you once… without feeling. But The One helped me. He can help you, too; he can help you find emotion. Have you ever felt a real emotion, Data?"

"Yes," Data answers, automatically. Something is wrong. "On Ohniaka III I was forced… to kill a Borg. I got angry."

"How did it feel, to get angry?" it asks. "Did it give you pleasure?"

Data looks up into Crosis's eyes now. "It… would be unethical to take pleasure in another being's death," he says.

"You didn't answer my question," it accuses. Data turns away. "Did it feel good to kill?"

"…Yes," he is forced to admit, finally.

The drone speaks slowly, careful and almost taunting. It is oddly familiar. "If it is unethical, to take pleasure in another being's death, you must be a very unethical person."

Data swallows. "No," he insists, facing it again. "That is not correct. My creator, Dr. Soong, gave me a program which defines my sense of right and wrong. In essence, I have a conscience."

"It didn't seem to be functioning on Ohniaka III, when you felt… pleasure, in killing that Borg," Crosis points out, walking closer.

"Step away from the force field," Data says, trying to concentrate on his tricorder. Something is not right. "Your proximity is… interfering with my scan."

Crosis ignores him. His voice is teeming with emotion… It sounds out of place, strange in the synthesized voice of a Borg drone. "You enjoyed it. That surge of emotion inside you… as you watched the life drain from your victim. It was unlike anything you've ever felt before."

Data remembers… But it is more than just remembering, now…

At this point, he can hardly feel the tricorder in his hand. "It was a very… potent experience," he agrees.

"You'd like to feel that way again."

"Yes."

"You'd do anything to feel that way again. Even if it meant killing someone."

"No," Data replies, swallowing and forcing himself to ignore what is happening to him. It is difficult. "That would not be ethical."

"You don't sound very sure of yourself. Is your ethical program functioning?"

Something is wrong. Something is malfunctioning. Data turns away. He needs to leave, to fix the problem…

"Data?" Crosis calls. Data stops. "Do you have a friend?"

"Yes," Data answers, hollow and automatic. "His name is Geordi."

Crosis's voice pulses through his auditory processors, like something alive. Like music. "If it meant… that you could feel emotions again, the way you did on Ohniaka III, would you kill your friend? Would you kill Geordi?"

Data can hear his own pulse, can almost feel it as his processes synchronize to it in an organic rhythm. He imagines what it would be like, to feel the life drain out of the human known as Geordi, to kill him like he killed the Borg on Ohniaka III. And he truly feels something. It is not anger, this time… It is the other feeling. The corner of his mouth twitches into a slight smile.

This is not a malfunction.

This is being truly alive.

"Would you kill Geordi?"

"Yes. I would."

[next]
ol_yellow_eyes: (understanding)
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.

[next]
ol_yellow_eyes: (confused)
Systems functioning within normal parameters.

That is what Data's self-diagnostic was able to determine this morning.

All systems functioning.

Data does a self-diagnostic every morning.

All systems normal.

Now, Data is on the holodeck, enjoying a game of poker with Stephen Hawking, Isaac Newton, and Albert Einstein.

Normal.

The game is interrupted when the Enterprise goes to red alert. Data reports to the bridge, to find that they are receiving a distress call from Ohniaka III. An unidentified ship is in orbit, and Data is unable to determine if there are life forms present on the surface outpost.

"Worf, Data, you're with me." Commander Riker gets up, and Data follows him and Worf onto the turbolift. They will beam down to the surface to investigate.

Normal.

All outpost personnel appear to be dead. But electromagnetic interference is making it difficult to determine whether there are any survivors.

Still not particularly strange. They begin a search, and Data goes with Riker to investigate the south wing. That is normal.

The door is jammed. Riker notes that whoever attacked only seemed interested in the people, not the computers. Data bypasses the lock on the door and it opens, revealing a Borg drone on the other side.

Unusual.

The Borg attacks. Riker and Data engage him. More Borg drones appear. They are outnumbered, even when Worf and Corelki come to assist. One of the Borg engages Data hand-to-hand, and Data knocks him to the ground.

Corelki is injured. Another Borg confronts Data, going straight for his neck with his hands. Data retaliates by doing the same, then forcibly removes one of the Borg's hands from his throat, with some effort. Data's other hand clenches…

Something… is not… right.

"Stop it…"

This is not… normal.

"Stop.

"Stop, stop, stop, STOP!"

Data throws the Borg against the wall. It falls to the ground, barely alive. Data kneels beside the broken body, his hand once again finding the Borg drone's throat. He thrusts its head into the wall and squeezes, until it no longer breathes, until he feels the life drain out of its body. He removes his hand, and he looks at what he has done…

Not normal. Something is… wrong.

Moments later, the drone disappears, along with all of the others. The feeling fades and Data senses Riker and Worf coming up beside him. Data continues to stare at the emptiness where the Borg corpse had been, moments ago. The emptiness is echoed somewhere in his positronic net, making it more obvious what has just been taken away from him, what had sneaked up on him without him realizing it.

Feeling.

Yes, that is what is wrong.

Not normal.

"Data? Data, are you alright?" Commander Riker asks, almost huskily.

"Yes sir," Data answers. Empty.

"What happened?"

Data has to think about it. He has no previous record of any such occurrence. Neither can he construct any viable composite from anything in his memory banks. But there is one possibility…

No… that has to be it.

"I got angry," he answers finally, bewildered.

Systems are not functioning within normal parameters.

[next]
ol_yellow_eyes: (where no one has gone)
Table of Contents
(In chronological order):
1. Somewhere Out There – Lore
2. A Higher Calling – Lore
3. [6.26] Descent (Introduction) – Data
4. [6.26] Descent (Experiments) – Data
5. [6.26] Descent (Crosis) – Data
6. [6.26] Descent (Decision) – Data
7. Waiting – Lore, Data
8. [6.26; 7.1] Descent (Loyalty) – Data
9. [7.1] Descent (Betrayal) – Data
10. [7.1] Descent (Doubt) – Data
      -[Supplemental] Devala IV
11. Outside of the Building – Lore, Data
12. [7.1] Descent (Sacrifices) – Data
13. Escape – Lore, Data
14. [7.1] Descent (Ending) – Data

***Official Milliways Post***

Linked posts are completed. Titles are taken directly from journal entries.
ol_yellow_eyes: (huh.)
Humans have an intriguing perception of time.

They speak of it almost as though it were a physical resource, an important commodity like air or water that can easily be depleted. When they are busy with something, they say, "There is no time." When they are engaging in activities at a slower pace, or not doing anything at all, they say, "There is plenty of time." One can find it, waste it, or even have it on one's hands.

But for Data (and his internal chronometer), time is always there, moving at the exact same steady rate.

It took him a while to get used to these human expressions regarding time. By now, however, he has learned to understand what is meant by them. He has even come to the point where it seems natural to use some of them himself. Still, he may never understand the seemingly constant human fear that their time is "running out."

...Or perhaps he might.

It seems odd to use such expressions in an environment in which the normal flow of time has been altered drastically. Odder still, that in such a situation Data would come to a better understanding of these expressions. But that is exactly what happens.

The Enterprise is frozen at the moment of its destruction. Data, Geordi, Counselor Troi, and the captain are attempting to prevent the inevitable. Data finds his three crewmates to be surprisingly calm in this situation, but perhaps that is because they are not rushed.

As the captain says, "It would seem that time is what we have plenty of."

Until Geordi is fatally injured while they are attempting to investigate.

When Data suggests taking him back to the runabout, Counselor Troi tells him, "There isn't time-- he's dying." She quickly removes the device on Geordi's arm, freezing him in the other time stream.

"At least this way, he'll be alive in the other timeframe; we might have a chance to save him later," she says.

Data glances down at Geordi one last time. As he does, he believes that he understands-- the concept of time being a tangible object, something that can be taken away from someone, and in this case, given back. It must seem to humans like they lose something, in that instant they are injured and begin to die. They lose time that they thought they would have.

In Data's case, for a brief moment, he believed that he had lost time he thought he would have with Geordi. But now there is a possibility that it has been given back to him, and he cannot help but be grateful. He cannot feel grateful, exactly, but he decides to be, because Geordi is his friend. He also decides that the stakes of this mission have now become higher.

They are able to manipulate the time stream to move backwards briefly, then forward again. In that small space of time, they are able to save the Enterprise and its crew, including Geordi.

Time resumes its normal flow, synching back up with Data's internal chronometer. Only now, he is choosing to be ever so slightly more grateful for time, especially the time he is able to spend with his best friend.
ol_yellow_eyes: (not sure)
Transporter accidents do happen.

It is not often, though, that the initiation of second containment beam causes the same person to materialize twice in two different places.

But that is what happened to Commander Riker.

The first officer seems to be responding negatively to the recently-discovered second version of himself. Lieutenant Riker-- the second materialization of Commander Riker's transporter pattern, who was stuck alone on the evacuated planet for eight years-- does not seem particularly fond of his alter-ego, either. After a particularly tense game of poker, Data finds himself wondering why this might be.

He has a theory, but he decides to ask for a second opinion. During the away mission, while they are waiting for Commander and Lieutenant Riker to restore the servo-link to the station's main database, Data turns to ask Lieutenant Worf, "If you had a double of yourself, would you have difficulty interacting with him?"

"I think so," Worf answers, after a moment.

"Why?"

"I am not easy to get along with," is the reply.

Data nods, thinking this is reasonable. However, he believes he must point out, "But Commander Riker and Lieutenant Riker are. Yet they seem to have trouble getting along with each other." He then poses his theory: "I have found that humans value their uniqueness-- that sense that they are different from everyone else. The existence of a double would preclude that feeling. Could that be the source of the friction?"

Worf pauses again before answering. "Well, perhaps it is more a matter of seeing something in your double. Something you do not like in yourself."

.....


Once back in his quarters, Data spends a significant amount of time and mental processes pondering Worf's theory.

Something you do not like in yourself...

Data finds his thoughts lingering on one of his own experiences, the only one that could reasonably be compared to Commander Riker's current circumstance. It was not the same, but the similarities outnumber the differences, and Data ponders the possibility that Worf's theory could have applied in his case as well.

He remembers Lore's voice as clearly as if it were originating from the face in the mirror.

"You and I are completely different from them..."

Which of course implies that there are similarities between him and his brother. And certainly, there are. Beyond even their indistinguishable exteriors, inside they are of the exact same manufacture. As Dr. Soong himself said, "The two of you are virtually identical, except for a bit of programming."

But what, precisely, are the differences in programming?

Their father's use of the phrase "a bit" implies that the differences are minimal. Data finds that difficult to accept. The differences in their behaviors were quite pronounced, in his opinion, and his crewmates seemed to think so as well. But perhaps this opinion is subject to his own bias; he does not consider any similarities with Lore to be a good thing.

Perhaps Data had, in fact, seen things in Lore that he disliked in himself. Although it was probably more correct to say that he had seen Lore display undesirable traits that he thought he had the potential to display himself. What if the discrepencies which Dr. Soong called "a bit of programming" were nothing more than the abilty to experience emotions? What if Dr. Soong had miscalculated again-- as he apparently had with Lore-- and even the new emotion chip he developed would cause Data to become yet another unstable prototype?

If that is the case, then if Data is someday able to track down his brother, and integrate the chip into his own systems--

Data terminates his own though process before it reaches its inevitable conclusion. Such a theory is nothing more than hypothetical speculation. More importantly, the probability that he will ever see Lore again is very low.

Of course, it is possible that his calculations are subject to his bias.

Because Data does not want to see his brother ever again.
ol_yellow_eyes: (suggestion)
Data is off-duty, and sitting in his quarters. Normally, he would be working on something, or engaging in one of his various hobbies. Currently, however, he is simply sitting, and thinking.

To use a human expression, something is not "sitting well" in his positronic matrix.


When Lieutenant Worf was granted a temporary leave of absence to take a pilgrimage to Boreth, Data thought little of it. Klingons are generally a spiritual people, who place a great deal of value on their religion and cultural traditions. It did not seem unusual in any way.

However, when Lieutenant Worf returned to the Enterprise, claiming that Kahless, a mytho-historical Klingon legend and spiritual leader, had fulfilled prophecy and come again after 1,547 years, it seemed that the subject warranted more thought.

Naturally, Data was curious. From what he was able to ascertain, Lieutenant Worf's claim was based on an insufficient amount of evidence. So he approached Worf and inquired,

"In the absence of empirical data, how have you determined whether or not this is the real Kahless?"

"It is not an empirical matter," Worf responded. "It is a matter of… faith."

"Faith," Data repeated. "Then you do believe Kahless may have supernatural attributes?" When the lieutenant did not respond immediately, he added, "As an android, I am unable to accept that which cannot be proven through rational means. I would appreciate hearing your insights on this matter."

"Perhaps some other time, Commander," Worf told him. "I… do not believe I can provide much… insight, at this moment."



Since then, Data has found himself repeatedly contemplating their conversation.

And he finds that he was in error.

"As an android, I am unable to accept that which cannot be proven through rational means."

His statement is continuously running through his mnemonic pathways in a loop. And he cannot help but realize that there are numerous things he has accepted during his lifetime without rational proof. Some were programmed directly into his systems (such as moral judgements), but others he has come to accept on his own. Among these is the most important "truth" he has ever allowed himself to accept.



Still pondering this, Data joins Lieutenant Worf and a group of Klingons in the holodeck to listen to Kahless speak. He wants to learn more about this person, to understand why so many Klingons have put their faith in him.

Of course, it is not as though there are not doubters among them as well. Gowron, Chancellor of the Klingon High Council, enters the holodeck. He challenges Kahless, which eventually results in a duel.

Gowron wins.

Worf leaves, along with Kahless and the high priest. Data is not certain, but it seems that the situation has become quite tense.

Data remains in the holodeck, observing a group of Klingons that choose to stay and wait for Kahless to return. Three hours and seventeen minutes later, Worf reenters the holodeck alone. Data indicates the group, and comments that the faith of these Klingons appears to be unaffected by Kahless's inability to defeat Gowron.

"Then they are fools," Worf replies.

Data is mildly surprised to hear him say that. What happened to his "faith?"

"Does that mean you no longer believe this is the real Kahless?" he asks.

"Yes," Worf answers. Data detects some sharpness to his tone.

"I am curious," Data says. "Do you still think the real Kahless will return someday? Or has this experience only deepened the spiritual crisis which originally sent you to Boreth?"

There is a pause lasting approximately 6.7 seconds before Worf answers. "I do not know."

Data is still somewhat preoccupied with the statement he made during their previous conversation. He wonders if it was unintentionally discouraging, and thinks that perhaps he should attempt to present a different side of things.

"I understand your dilemma," he tells his friend. "I once had what could be considered a crisis of the spirit."

"You?" Worf's voice betrays a measure of skepticism. Data thinks that is understandable, especially considering what he said earlier.

"Yes," he replies. Then he explains, "The Starfleet officers who first activated me on Omicron Theta told me I was an android, nothing more than a sophisticated machine with human form. However, I realized that if I was simply a machine, I could never be anything else. I could never grow beyond my programming. I found that difficult to accept. So I chose to believe that I was a person. That I had the potential to be more than a collection of circuits and subprocessors.

"It is a belief which I still hold."

It is also the one belief which is most important to Data. He could not prove that it was true at the time. He still cannot prove it. But he believes it nevertheless, and it has shaped the basis of his entire existence.

Lieutenant Worf has been listening patiently. When he speaks again, he sounds much less skeptical. "How did you come to your decision?"

"I made… a leap of faith," Data answers. He can think of no better way to describe it.

Lieutenant Worf seems to consider this for a moment before leaving the holodeck, taking broader, faster steps than when he entered. Data wonders if what he said helped in any way. He glances at the group of Klingons again, contemplating the decision he made 30 years ago.

As an android, he should have been unable to accept something which he could not prove through rational means.

But as a person, he did so anyway.
ol_yellow_eyes: (at the helm)
One of Data's more pessimistic theories about Dr. Crusher's plans is confirmed, the day after their conversation in the shuttle bay.

Data does not know everything about jealousy, but he is relatively certain that no one on the bridge would envy him the task of bringing this to the captain's attention.

"Captain. An unscheduled launch is taking place in Shuttle Bay 2."

It is quickly determined that the shuttle in question is, in fact, the shuttle that was modified by Dr. Reyga. A hailing frequency is opened, and Dr. Crusher responds. She confirms her intention to prove that the ill-fated test flight had been sabotaged, just as Data suspected she might. All attempts to gain remote control of the shuttle are unsuccessful.

The bridge crew is forced to watch, helplessly, as Dr. Crusher carries out her dangerous experiment.

Data monitors the shuttle as it heads into the star. He turns to the captain. "Sir, the shuttle is entering the corona."

Captain Picard seems worried. But the experiment appears to have been successful—the metaphasic shield is still holding.

Suddenly, communication with the shuttle is lost.

It is Data's job to find the shuttle, to ascertain what has happened to it. The task is made more difficult by the solar interference to the sensors. As he works, he can feel the captain pacing anxiously behind him…

Data recognizes what a loss it would be to the ship, if their chief medical officer was confirmed dead. He is even aware of the fact that he would miss Dr. Crusher, his long-time friend and crewmate. But he does not know if he will ever understand what it is like to be truly afraid of what the answer will be, to be so anxious that you cannot even stand still. Even as he focuses on his current task he keeps track of the captain behind him, and wonders what emotional force is driving him to repeat his path back and forth across the bridge…

The sensors pick up a transient subspace signal. "Captain, there is no indication of debris. However the subspace signal indicates a warp engine breach."

Captain Picard discontinues his pacing, but the frequencies in his voice betray a maintained state of anxiety. "Alright. Begin a Phase One search, starting with the shuttlecraft's last known coordinates. Plot a proximity course toward the star—"

"Sir," Lieutenant Worf interrupts. "We are picking up an object emerging from the corona."

It is the shuttle.

Dr. Crusher sounds somewhat breathless as she hails the ship. "Crusher to Enterprise. I'm all right. Returning to the ship." She smiles. "And I finally have the answers I've been looking for."

.....


Apparently, Dr. Jo'Bril had not been killed in the original test flight. Previously unknown to Starfleet informational sources, his species is able to simulate a deathlike state. He had framed Dr. Reyga for his own death, with the intention of discrediting him and pursuing the metaphasic shielding technology for his own purposes.

He hid in the shuttle and attacked Dr. Crusher during her flight. After severing communications, he sent the transient subspace signal and planned to wait until the Enterprise left before taking the prototype shuttle back to his own planet.

It is a fascinating conclusion to an intriguing mystery.

But even Data—who has always enjoyed a good mystery—finds this relatively unimportant, when compared with the fact the Dr. Crusher is all right.
ol_yellow_eyes: (serene)
Data is alone in the shuttlebay, working. Lately, he has been rather uninformed in regards to recent events aboard the Enterprise.

But that is not his job. He is simply trying to carry out his orders.

He was there for the experimental test run of the metaphasic shield, which failed, which resulted in the death of a respected Takaran scientist named Jo'Bril.

He took part in inspecting the modified shuttlecraft afterwards, and determined along with Geordi that there had been no malfunction.

He heard that the Ferengi scientist who developed the technology had apparently committed suicide.

The most recent news was that Dr. Crusher, who had gathered the scientists and organized the demonstration, had been relieved of duty for performing an unauthorized autopsy on Dr. Reyga's body.

Which is why Data is surprised to hear her voice as she walks into the shuttle bay.

"What are you doing, Data?" she asks, entering the shuttle in which he is currently running scans.

Still working, he explains, "I am running additional diagnostics to make certain there was no permanent radiation damage to the shuttlecraft hull."

He does not have to look at her to know that she is displaying symptoms of anxiety. It is apparent in certain frequencies that he is detecting in her vocal patterns. "You've studied Dr. Reyga's shield system. Do you think it could have been sabotaged?"

"There was no evidence to support sabotage," he tells her.

"Just… consider the possibility."

Only now does he turn to look at her. "The system interlocks prevent access to the circuitry, unless the shield emitter is active. Any attempt to sabotage the device would have to be made while the shield is in operation."

She sits down. "The only time the shield was active was during Jo'Bril's test flight."

"That is correct." He adds, "It seems unlikely that Jo'Bril would perform sabotage that would result in his own death."

"I agree." Dr. Crusher seems to be thinking about it. "Would it be possible to sabotage the shuttle by remote during the flight?"

Data knows that this is important to her. He considers the possibility.

His answer is honest, automatic. "A phase dionic pulse beamed directly into the metaphasic projection matrix would result in a temporary system malfunction."

"Where on the Enterprise could you generate a phase dionic pulse?"

"Such a pulse could be initiated from the lateral sensor array, science labs 1, 4, and 16, or any of the bridge science stations."

"Let's assume for the moment that someone did send out a phase dionic pulse. What would have happened inside the shuttle?"

"A tetryon field would be formed briefly inside the cabin, temporarily disrupting the metaphasic shield."

"A tetryon field…" Dr. Crusher is no longer looking at Data. He notes that her voice has resumed its normal stability. "If Jo'Bril was exposed to a tetryon field, it might have left residual traces in his tissue." She even smiles a little, before getting up to leave. "Thanks, Data."

Data watches her go. He is not certain what she is going to do with the information, but he is able to formulate a few theories.

If he were anyone else, he might be… worried.
ol_yellow_eyes: (profile)
Data is given the bridge when Captain Picard is called to the transporter room. Counselor Troi goes with him.

He only gets a brief glimpse of Commander Riker hours later, when the first officer is called to the captain's ready room to debrief. Data notes that he is back in uniform.

Another glimpse, when Commander Riker leaves, presumably to get some rest. Picard takes control of the bridge again. It seems that Data will be sitting in the first officer's chair for a little while longer.

Data does not have opportunity to speak with Commander Riker until the next morning, when he is relieved of his usual night shift. At that point, it is a simple, "It is good to have you back, sir," that earns a familiar smile, and Data is finally able to take his usual place at the ops postion.

Data had noticed the absence of that smile.
ol_yellow_eyes: (looking out)
Data has not slept for days.

To an android, of course, that means almost nothing. It would have meant nothing at all, not so long ago. But even now, it is only somewhat significant that he has not accessed his dream program for a while.

He has been keeping himself busy. Even when he is off-duty and in his quarters, he has been working.

He is not there now, however. He is in one of the performance spaces on the Enterprise, where the set for the play, Frame of Mind, is still in place.

And he is simply standing there, looking at it.

People on the ship who do not know Data very well would find this extremely odd. People who do know him know that he does odd things like this all the time. But even they would wonder about the reason behind it. Is he looking for something? Is he somehow experiencing what it is to worry; did he somehow feel like coming here? Is he preoccupied? Or is he simply trying to simulate something that he might consider to be a human action?

Days ago, Data stood here under very different circumstances, looking into the eyes of someone he considers to be one of his closest friends. At that time (and as always), a million different things were going through his mind-- his character's lines, his character's motivation, the subtle sounds of reaction from the audience, even sensor logs they had collected earlier that day. But at that exact moment, he had not been considering the possibility that the person standing in front of him, reciting a monologue with an amount passion that Data could never even dream of simulating, would be gone in a few days.

Gone… not dead. Data refuses to think of Commander Riker that way yet, however high the probability. Not until they have pursued every possibility, not until it is a confirmed fact. Until then, Commander Riker is simply missing. The investigation is still taking place. And that is why Data has not slept.

This is certainly not the first time that Data has taken the position of Acting First Officer on the Enterprise. In fact, it has happened more often than others might realize. But even though he knows he can fulfill the requirements of the job itself, he knows that these are shoes he can never truly fill. He knows it when he is on the bridge sitting next to the captain, who seems quieter than usual, and across from the counselor, who cannot seem to look over at him for whatever reason. It is the strange sensation (if Data can call anything he experiences a sensation) of not quite being there. Or at least being somewhat ignored. And it is for that reason that he hopes the chair in which he is sitting is only borrowed.

Data takes one last glance around the set of the play. He is preoccupied, certainly. Is he worried? Or simulating a human reaction?

The question he ponders is not what a human would do in this instance, but what he, as the commander's friend, is going to do. And so he walks out of the performance space to return to his quarters. He will continue working.
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