(was: In Bed With Data)
Introductory remark: This story takes place after "Generations", but in an alternate time line. In this time line, the Enterprise D has not been destroyed.
This story is the tale of a romance between Data and a human woman, but also the tale of the conversion of a human being to an android and the revival of some androids we know and love from Star Trek, The Next Generation (c) Paramount Pictures Corp. It reflects on the secrets of human emotions as well as on the question of whether there is a human soul or not and if it's possible to transfer it from one body to another. It's also a story about the vanity of reality, about the nature of illusions and the principle of relativity that rules the universe. It contains sex scenes, too, but in a modest and nongraphic way (so you won't be qualified for a gynecologist's job when you have finished reading), and they are not the entire focus of the story. Credits go to Dr Trekker who has contributed by revising my portions, making suggestions and finally joining me in authorship.
comments to: email@example.com http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/lskywa (c) 1996 firstname.lastname@example.orgemail@example.com
*** I'm so far behind, I think I'm ahead ***
Affinities (A Data Story)
USUAL DISCLAIMER: All rights on the characters introduced in Star Trek, The Next Generation, belong to PARAMOUNT, except the characters especially invented for this story. This story is written for adults over the age of 18. If you are under that age, stop reading immediately and delete this file. If you don't like stories like this, stop reading, too. This story might violate certain conceptions of morality. If you think that this story might be disgusting, stop reading it. This story is written in love and esteem for the characters introduced in Star Trek, The Next Generation, and their creators. No insult is intended. Constructive, and only constructive comments are accepted. Special thanks to Christine Faltz, author of "Oh Captain, My Captain", who has encouraged me through her writing.
It took Lavinia Morris a long time to finally get the courage to go through with it. Marcie had reassured her that her feelings were normal and she had nothing to be anxious about.
"But what if he isn't attracted to me?"
"Don't be childish, Lavinia. Data's an android. He doesn't have such problems."
In spite of Marcie's encouraging speech Lavinia's heart was beating loudly when she stood in front of the door to Data's quarters and sounded the chime.
The door slid back. Data was sitting at his computer console looking very busy.
"Looks as if I had better try another time", Lavinia said anxiously, ready to turn and leave.
"Hold on!" Data shouted kindly. "Marcie told me to expect you."
"Sir?" Lavinia asked in confusion. "What else did Marcie tell you?"
"Well, she said that you were quite lonesome and that I should change that. To be honest, I do not understand it very well - I thought, Counselor Troi was the more appropriate person to ask for advice. It seems as if strange rumors are circulating about me."
"Errrr... well..." Lavinia was struggling for words. "Well then... people say that you spend your spare time with some members of the crew... ones that are asking for... how should I say it... certain pleasures..."
"You mean sexual pleasure?" Data grinned, even more now that he saw her blushing. Since he had installed his emotion chip, he could understand people finding that amusing. "I know the rumor. But it's not true at all. It might detract from my reputation as Lt. Commander and Second Officer of this ship."
"I see, I'd really better leave now..." My God, what a shame.
"Stay, please!" Data said, and it sounded like an order more than a request. "Marcie has told me some more."
"You mean... no, she would not have told you that!"
"That you're a virgin even though you are 25 years old? Of course, she did."
"I'll kill her", Lavinia hissed, more to herself. "I'll kill her!"
"You should not do that". His voice sounded soft. "She wants to help you - and I want to, too." He came out from behind his console, stepped up to her and took her gently into his arms. "Also she explained the reason to me. She thinks that you are building up barriers around yourself, that you fall in love with the wrong men and push the right ones away, that you were looking for a man you could really love and did not want any compromises. She also told me that
you might find it easier to deal with men if you had experienced at least one love affair - and that I might be most suitable for that purpose."
"But... you don't feel anything for me, at all?"
"I am not sure. You are an extraordinary woman. You emit something I cannot identify, something that separates you from others. You have a pleasing manner, a wonderful voice and a charming way of moving. You look quite beautiful, and still you are alone. I am curious about you. I would like to undertake this experiment with you. Besides that Marcie told me that you have certain feelings for me."
Lavinia became more embarrassed than she already was, although she found his embrace very soothing. "Did she leave anything out from what she told you? But she's right... In fact I can't get you out of my head anymore. I have been wondering for a long time what's going on inside you, how you see the world, what you feel... and if you are really as human as it seems."
Instead of an answer he took her head carefully with his hands and kissed her lips, lightly and cautiously, awaiting her reaction. Since she did not refuse, he strengthened the pressure of his lips and carefully pushed his tongue into her mouth while pressing his body firmly to hers and caressing her.
Lavinia felt the blood rushing through her veins. She never had imagined that he would feel so - real, so human, so warm, so tender, so absolutely non-mechanical. She responded to the caress, gliding her hands over his slim, superhumanly strong body. She did not find anything here either that would distinguish him from a human being. She released herself in embarrassment and looked into his stunning golden eyes. "Is anything wrong?" he asked, looking a bit worried. "Nope", she smiled. "I just have been asking myself if all this is real or if I am dreaming."
"Well, your life signs clearly show that you are awake. If you were dreaming..."
"It's okay", Lavinia interrupted, as she was aware that a longer lecture would follow. "It was just a rhetorical question."
Data seemed to realize that she was not interested in a deeper discussion of this subject. Besides, she had the impression that it was enough work for him to analyze his feelings. She knew that he had been with other women since installing the emotion chip, but his files certainly couldn't tell him how this particular one would respond, as he had found that all women responded differently.
"What shall I do now?" he therefore asked.
"Just continue", Lavinia said, trembling. "Just don't stop." She overcame an old psychological barrier and moved towards him, touched his slender hips, his firm bottom, pressed herself tightly to his body and felt how her touch filled him with excitement. "Good equipment Dr. Soong gave you", she said with an arch smile.
"Touch me", he whispered. "I want to make you scream. I want you never to forget this night."
Lavinia remembered the many times she had tried to forget her loneliness on the holodeck - good for the moment, but leaving her alone and feeling bad. At least, she gained lots of experiences there that might help her now. Others might disagree, but there was a real difference between illusion and reality. And this Data was reality, this warm, strong man kissing her, gently removing her clothes. She opened his uniform, curious about what she would find beneath. There was nothing to disappoint her: She found a handsome, muscular body. It was a strange golden color, but somehow this was also stimulating. She was happy to find out that Dr. Noonien Soong really had not forgotten any important detail and had been very generous to his son. Data obviously could not cover his excitement. He pressed her down to the floor, with a strength that did not allow any resistance, but also calmly, slowly, nearly deliberately.
"Please", she begged, "I want to feel you inside me". He smiled slightly. "Just be patient. There is no need to hurry." He seemed to like this look of impatience in her expressive eyes. "You're aching for it, I know", he said. "But you are familiar with waiting, aren't you?"
She closed her eyes and concentrated on the deliberate, calm touch of his hands, traveling across the landscape of her body, discovering secrets she had been hiding for a long time and allowing nobody to touch. "You won't hurt me, will you?" she asked in a sudden outburst of anger. "Not really", he soothed. "Not if you don't want to be hurt. That's the reason why I am taking so much time. The more you want it, the less it hurts."
He started kissing her gently, her breasts, her stomach, her hips, then moving deeper. She had been thinking about it, dreaming many times about how it would feel, and she was
learning that the fantasy was nothing like the reality. His tongue was artistic, thrilling. She felt a warm sea swelling between her legs, ready to take him completely.
"Computer, stop program." She turned around, alarmed by the sound of the voice. It was his voice, Data's voice. She had instructed the computer to lock the holodeck, with no exceptions. "Damn", she whispered. "I knew this would happen some time. This holodeck thing's not safe at all..."
Only the yellow grid, and a disgusted Lt. Commander Data remained with her in the holodeck after the scenery disappeared. He was obviously waiting for an explanation.
"Could you please tell me what you are doing here?" he asked calmly, but the cold undertone in his voice frightened her. She was sure that this escapade would have consequences. "Would you please accept my sincere apology", she started, noticing that her voice was trembling.
"Cover yourself first", he demanded. She realized that her clothes were still lying where the imaginary Data had left them and grabbed them, slipping quickly into the overall. If she had been a command officer with a red one instead of the blue of the science officer, her face would have perfectly matched the color of the uniform now.
"Ensign Morris, I'm seriously considering the possibility of reporting this to your superior! You know that it is absolutely forbidden to replicate crew members during holodeck sessions, except with their explicit approval. I cannot remember having given you such approval, and as you know, my memory banks are absolutely reliable."
He seemed to be not so much concerned about the topic of the session, but about the simple fact that he had been part of it, no matter what his role was like.
"Sir... Would you accept my honest apology and refrain from a formal report? Just this one time, make an exception, please!"
The smile that grew on his face seemed almost malicious, and for a short moment she thought it was Lore's. "I could make an exception, but I have conditions."
"What conditions?" She could not help it, but she did not like that look on his face.
"You were starting quite a nice game before I entered. I would like to play this game, too, but by my rules."
"Sir? Are you feeling all right?"
"I've never felt better. I've catalogued 453 different human emotions so far, but a few are still missing. I would like to share these emotions with you."
"You mean... love?"
"I'm not talking about love!" he snorted in disgust. "I know that it's a basic human concept, but it's often linked with different feelings, such as power and fear. I think fear would be a new, interesting aspect." He came to her with a few rapid steps and seized her by her left arm, with a hard and absolutely uncaring grip. "Ouch", she cried, "you are hurting me!"
"Yes, I am", he said, with that strange smile she didn't like on his face. "I remember the time when I killed that Borg and met Lore. I know that it was wrong, but it was still captivating."
"You won't kill me, will you?" she asked anxiously. She knew that none of her self defense training would have helped her. He was much stronger than any other crew member. And she would not be able to break metallic bones. More than ever she realized at that very moment that he was in fact a machine, not a human being. And machines could suffer malfunctions.
"I won't. My systems are working properly. I am prevented by my ethical program from doing you any serious harm, at least no more than to any other person aboard this ship. So would you please accompany me? There are surely other persons who want to use the holodeck, and we won't need it."
She didn't say a word. When they were outside in the corridor, she would have the opportunity to escape.
"Don't even think of it", he warned. "I can't read your thoughts, but it's easy to guess that you would be thinking of trying to get away from me. This is an order."
They went through the corridors, side by side, but he did not touch her. He had instructed her to go to her quarters. Nobody realized that they had a common destination.
"Computer, lock the door", he said when they had entered. "Secure with priority code Data, Alpha Prime." Nobody else would be able to open it now. He looked around. "Nice quarters, maybe a bit in disorder. But that was exactly what I expected."
"What you expected?" she asked in astonishment. "Why did you expect that?"
"I have been studying you for a while", he said, stroking his chin with his fingers and looking her over. "You are definitely not a typical Starfleet officer. I wonder what you are looking for."
"Adventures", she replied. "You might be right: I don't like military discipline too much, nor was I among the top
cadets in my class at the Academy. But Starfleet's the only way to travel with a starship like this. It's a wonderful ship, and I am proud of being part of it."
"I see." He paused for a short while. "Well, well, that is an interesting topic, but for the moment, I am interested in... other things." He pressed her towards the wall, fixing her arms with a tight, unrelenting grip. "Try to defend yourself", he invited her.
"Can't you get this evil expression off your face?" she asked. "You look a lot like Lore!"
"We are twins, remember?" he said, lifting his eyebrows knowingly. "We have much in common." She tried to escape, but there was no chance. He reacted too quickly and precisely, just as she had expected. She was going to be a prisoner of the abilities that had fascinated her so much. "Get out of that uniform", he whispered softly. She hurried to undress before he could rip it off.
"What about you?" she asked then.
"Who's giving instructions?" he snapped. She realized that his soft attitude had been like that of a cat, ready to change its mood at any moment.
The next moment he kissed her, a wild, fierce kiss, much different from the kiss in the holodeck. This seemed to be a conquest, not a simple encounter. She gasped when he paused a while, trying to get her feelings under control. To be honest, she never had wished for her fantasies to become reality. Reality was a hard thing to control. You never knew what might come out of it.
She realized that without willing to she started to like the way he treated her. There were feelings arising from the core of her body, feelings she would never have talked about. Her tongue started to discover his mouth, dancing with his lively, warm, absolutely natural tongue. When she gave him small bites, he cried out in surprise. He realized that he was able to feel pain, too. And he realized that she enjoyed the procedure much more than he had intended.
He decided to adjust his penis size to a higher level. As far as he could estimate her body, she would be able to accept it, and he wanted to make sure she would feel him thoroughly. "What about your virginity?" he asked then, quickly opening his uniform.
"You've been watching the whole program?", she asked suspiciously. "What about accessing my personal records? Didn't you find the answer there?"
"You are right", he stated. "It was not true. You have had experiences, but if I interpret your records properly, most of your experiences have been unsatisfactory."
"You must read minds", she said resignedly.
"Not really. But, as I already told you, some things are easy to guess. I've learned a lot about humans in the last years. You have such great expectations... But I'm sure you won't forget this time. I haven't decided yet the ritual I'd like to carry out: Klingon? Maybe not. Does not seem to match your physical capabilities. Ferengi? Not either. Your ears do not fit..."
"Data, you're driving me mad with these deliberations! Can't you just stop thinking and simply do what you want?"
A heavy push reminded her that she was still not the one making conditions for this game. "You are right. I'll do what I want." He carried on, kissing her neck, the small hollow above her clavicle, making her shiver again, but not from fear this time. She was waiting for him to start biting her, sucking out her blood like a vampire. Maybe this was the fantasy she loved imagining so much about this caress.
But he left her alive, lifting her easily like a ballet dancer and suddenly entering her, much earlier than she had expected. She was surprised to notice that she was totally wet already and was not hurt by his remarkable size. He smiled, as if he still could read her mind. "I have adjusted it a little bit for you." The next thing she noticed was a real difference between human males and android males: Humans were not able to move their most precious component in so many ways and directions as he could. Dr. Soong had invented much more than just a simple image of a human. Holding their position with one hand, he used the other one to please the girl, touching her exactly the way she needed, as if he knew exactly what a female body feels.
This was the first time during sex that she had no extraneous thoughts in her mind. She was living just for the moment, feeling his strong, warm body, wishing this moment would never end, filled up with joy and sweet pain.
His moves became more fierce, nearly nailing her to the wall, making her scream, float away, lose her mind. This time she realized what she really had been missing - but how does one miss a thing one has never really experienced that way?
She found herself crying, beating him, sweating, breathing
deeply as if she were running and at the same time shivering and freezing, like having a bad flu. Reality was fading. There were no thoughts left, only vague pictures, much better than the deepest drunkenness she ever had. In the past, before she joined Starfleet, she had tried some exotic drugs, but there was no comparison to the most intensely physical experience she felt now.
Data had his eyes closed, sweating too, most unlike an android. His mother might have been happy to see him that way, but he did not waste a single thought on her at that moment, nor on anything else but the sheer pleasure he felt. This was somehow different from the times before. This girl was different.
When Lavinia woke up, she thought it had been a dream at first. But then she saw the clothes on the floor near the wall and remembered. She looked around. Nobody was here. She was lying in her bed, everything was as usual, except the clothes. She got up, took the clothes and touched the chirping comm badge: "Morris to Data."
"Hello Data. Why did you leave?"
"Leave? Excuse me. I do not understand. I have been in Engineering all night."
"You have - what? But who has been here then?"
"I don't know. It surely wasn't me."
"If it wasn't you... ? He looked like you, he spoke like you, he behaved... no, he behaved a lot more like Lore..." She was just thinking aloud, but that was enough to alarm him.
"Meet me in Ten Forward", he said sharply. "I'll see you in ten minutes."
Data had ordered a strange drink Guinan had recommended. It tasted awful, but he didn't seem to mind. He looked at her curiously. "Tell me what has happened."
She blushed. This was not a good place to discuss such things. "Data, I would prefer not to go into details. It involved an intimate encounter."
"And you thought it was me?" He didn't seem to be concerned. For him, it was just another lesson about humanity. He smiled, a warm smile that made her shiver. It felt as if small needles were pricking her whole body. "Well... yes. I thought it was you. But he wasn't very gentlemanly. Something was wrong. If I didn't know that Lore's dead..."
"Actually, he's not dead. He just needs to be reassembled. But how could anyone have done that? We have sealed the alcove where his parts are kept. You did not notice when he left?"
"No. That was the reason why I called you."
"We have to solve this riddle. Take care. If he comes back, don't show him that you know who he is. Try to find out where he has been hiding. Try to gain time. Keep him busy."
"You are asking a lot", she said. "I'll do what I can, but he might realize that I know who he is."
"Do me another favor", he asked. "You did not want to tell me what has happened, but maybe you could demonstrate it to me?"
She looked at him as if he was insane. "You did not understand!"
"I did. And I want to show you the difference. I just want you to be sure that it wasn't me."
Again she looked at him, trying to read his thoughts from his face. His golden eyes were piercing her with a strange look, inquisitive, but also caring - and very curious. "I think curiosity is a thing that links us together", she said. "But, please, don't you tell anyone about it."
Again she looked at him, trying to read his thoughts from his face. His golden eyes were piercing her with a strange look, "I think now I understand Tasha's words..." he wondered. "Come with me to my quarters."
Spot was curled up and sleeping. Lavinia had wondered whether there would be a bed in Data's quarters, as he didn't need sleep. But there was one.
"Do you sleep?" she asked.
"Yes, I do. I don't need to, but I love the experience of dreaming. Dreams bring me closer to feeling like a human being."
"And what about food?"
"I can taste it now. My body also can process it. But I still don't need it. I use it for social purposes - and for enjoyment, sometimes."
"What about love?"
He sighed. "I'm still uncertain about that. I have tried to feel it, but it doesn't work."
She smiled mildly. "You can't make yourself feel love. The expression 'falling in love' is quite right. It's something that just happens, and you can't control it. You can't choose the person you fall in love with, nor the time or place. It just happens to you. You can't even stop it from hurting you, when it happens."
"Love hurts?" he asked. He remembered Tasha's death. But then he wasn't able to feel. Did he love Tasha? Could he love her now? What about this girl? Did he love her? He listened
inside. Why did he ask her to come here and to show him what had happened last night? He didn't even know her really. But he meant to find out if she was feeling something for him. There was something in the way she looked at him, something he remembered from Jenna. He sighed in his thoughts. He had tried his best to be a good lover for Jenna, but it was not enough for her. She suffered from his lack of feelings. Now she was married - and seemed to be happy. Feelings were so fleeting.
"Data?" she asked, hesitating. "I don't want to misuse you for a dirty little fantasy. I wished it only had been a dream and Lore hadn't found out about it."
"Didn't you like it?" he asked innocently.
She took a deep breath, but smiled then. He still had this childlike naivete. Sometimes he didn't even know what he was really saying. "That's not the point, Data. It just wasn't right. It shouldn't have happened."
"You mean, you had to face a side of yourself you would prefer to hide?"
"Exactly." She grinned when she recognized this as one of his typical expressions. "Everybody has such hidden features, and some of us can hide them better than others. These features were incorporated in your brother. Normally we contain these two sides in one body. We are everything, the good and the bad, the angelic and the evil. We decide which side is stronger. And our whole life is a struggle between both sides."
"Wait a moment", he said, hurrying to his computer console and making some enquiries. "That's what I was afraid of...", he muttered then. "I knew that it would be impossible to reassemble Lore without my help. I knew that something was wrong with the story. I was not in Engineering tonight, according to the logs. And this leads to only one explanation."
"What?", she asked, alarmed.
"It wasn't Lore", he answered sadly. "It was me. Me in another state of consciousness. I don't yet know exactly how it could happen, but I assume that Lore had been using this emotion chip too long and left some of his emotional signatures in it. And now they seem to break out, without control."
He sat down, burying his face in his hands. "I don't know what else is going to happen. I might be a threat for the whole ship now..."
"The Jekyll/Hyde syndrome", she stated, surprised by her own calmness. "Do you remember anything that happened tonight?"
"I'm trying to", he replied. "It's like a fading dream, hard to remember. I'm not familiar with such experiences. Maybe I am trying to protect myself by forgetting about it. It frightens me that I am not able to control it. I will have to call Geordi to deactivate me until they can remove that chip from my head."
"Calm down", she said softly. "I think it's nothing more than a new experience. You will have to learn how to deal with these feelings. You have to accept this part of yourself. Don't you think you should talk to the Counselor before you let them take the chip out?"
He looked so desperate, so helpless. She could feel his pain as if it were her own. She approached him, carefully touching his shoulders, trying to transfer some confidence. The reflection of their two faces appeared on the glossy computer screen. Their eyes met in the reflection. "I will try", he promised. "I won't run away. Starfleet Officers don't do that."
He had followed her advice and consulted with the Counselor. Although he didn't want to talk about the session, it seemed to be successful. To prevent any possible problems, Deanna Troi suspended him from duty for the next few days, until what had happened to him could be completely understood.
Lavinia had stopped concentrating on holodeck fantasies and dreams about Data. She had the feeling that these fantasies had encouraged his transformation, although there was no proof for it. They were friendly with each other, talking about humanity and philosophy, and occasionally performing some music together. Lavinia was a talented singer and happy to find someone to accompany her on the piano, which was only one of the many instruments Data had mastered.
She was surprised to find that there was a kind of friendship evolving between them, although she still had problems with controlling her feelings. She was afraid that he would begin acting like Lore again if she showed them. On the other hand she was jealous when she saw him talking to other women, even when he had his sessions with Counselor Troi. She wished that she had known him for longer than a few months. She was only a little ensign, some interlude he would forget soon. If not... if he would only show some signs of feelings for her. He hadn't so far. But maybe he just didn't
know how to show them? Maybe she should also talk to the Counselor?
Every time she saw the dark-haired woman with the black eyes and the smooth, deep voice, she thought that she was one of the most beautiful women she had ever met. She wondered how Data could resist her. For a moment she had forgotten that Deanna Troi could sense her emotions and jumped, catching her wandering mind.
Troi smiled. "I think he is already occupied with feelings for another woman", she said.
Lavinia was scared. "Another woman? But who...?"
"I thought you knew that? Actually I think I know why you wanted to see me. You are uncertain about your feelings and don't know if you should show them. You are waiting for a confirmation. But you won't get this confirmation from Data. He is waiting himself. And so both of you will be waiting until the end of time - if you don't tell him about your feelings."
"But I'm afraid to evoke the evil side of him again", Lavinia insisted.
"Don't worry. I don't think that this had anything to do with you. Since Data has emotions now, he also has bad emotions. And he has to learn how to deal with these feelings. Neither do I think that it has anything to do with Lore. That was just his explanation for what had happened."
"Does he remember?" Lavinia asked.
"Not exactly. He is trying to repress it. And he is suffering. He is used to handling problems with his brain. This one is too much for him. He still feels guilty, too. He thinks that he has done you harm. Convince him that he is wrong."
"But how shall I convince him?"
Deanna took her hands. "Make love to him again. It's the best way to convince him. Don't talk. Do it."
"He told you the whole story?" Lavinia asked with consternation.
"Why not? I'm the ship's Counselor. And I won't talk about it. It's my business to keep secrets."
Lavinia hesitated, not knowing how to bring up the next subject. As always, the Counselor created conditions that made it easier for her patients to talk.
"There is something else that you seem to be ashamed to tell me. Please try to remember that I have heard everything, and nothing will shock me."
"I have always chosen men... who were... bad for me," Lavinia said haltingly.
"How were they bad for you?" the Counselor asked gently.
"They... were just bad for me." Lavinia was too embarrassed to explain.
"Did they hurt you?" The Counselor thought she could sense a wounded self, and began to lead Lavinia toward the important first step in healing - confession.
"Sometimes." Lavinia's voice had gotten so tiny that Deanna could hardly hear her.
"How would they hurt you?"
"They would... do things."
"No... yes... well not very often. Usually they would just hurt my feelings or maybe push me against the wall if I did something they didn't like."
Troi nodded encouragingly, "Go on."
"I've been involved with men like that since I was a teenager. There is something about their I-don't-care-about- you attitude that I find very appealing. Data isn't like that. I'm afraid that I will mess it up with him because he treats me so well."
"Quite often people are attracted to partners like that because they are convinced they don't deserve to be treated any better. If you start seeing me regularly, maybe I can help you with that."
"I'll think about it. Thanks for your suggestion about approaching Data."
But Lavinia had no intention of seeing the Counselor regularly. She felt she could not face the shame of telling her all the ways she had allowed herself to be debased and all the good men she had run out of her life with cruelty and derision.
Permission. That had been what she wanted. Official permission. Really? She shook her head. Not really. She had thought it might have made things easier, but it hadn't. Things were just as hard to handle as they had been before.
'Why didn't she give him that advice? Why is it me that has to take the first step?'
They were practicing an old song together. The song told about love and loss. "Don't know why there's no sun up in the sky..." Most of the old songs were about love, about separation, about pain and slashed hopes. She didn't want to add another similar experience to them.
"What do you think about the song?" she asked Data.
"I think that the woman is missing her man", he replied. "And she constructs an analogy between the weather and her feelings."
"That was an analysis. But do you also feel anything about the song?"
He closed his eyes and thought for a moment, then opened them again, tilting his head in a familiar way, raising his
eyebrows with sudden realization. "I feel sad. Yes, this song makes me sad. It makes me feel like I have a hole inside. Missing something. Missing the woman I love."
"Do you love somebody?" she asked, feeling clumsy like a little girl. It was just as if they hadn't ever touched each other. But during their recent encounter, they hadn't really been themselves.
He shrugged. "Maybe. I'm afraid to call it love. You told me that love often hurts more than it helps."
"Love isn't meant to help. It's just meant to be. When we have it, we don't ask for sense or meaning. We just try to succeed - and not to get hurt."
"You seem to be very afraid of getting hurt", he noticed.
"You are too."
He nodded thoughtfully. "Sometimes I am afraid of you human beings", he explained. "I wonder if you are just using me as an amusing toy, as an object for entertainment. When people approach me for friendship or even more, I can't escape the feeling that they are just looking for fun. I try to behave like a man, but I'm in fact a machine. I don't need a doctor, I need an engineer when I'm ill."
"That's not right", Lavinia contradicted him. "You are treated by Dr. Crusher, like anybody else."
"But not if I'm seriously injured. Then they need Geordi, and they don't heal - they repair. It doesn't help: I'm different. It would be easier if there were more of my kind in existence. But the only ones I have found are Lore and my mother. Lore's dead for all intents and purposes. My mother doesn't even know about her true nature, and I can't tell her about it. I can't love a human woman. She will age, she will die, and, except for my aging program, I don't change with time. That hadn't been a problem until I acquired the ability to feel. I don't believe I could stand to watch my wife and children aging and dying. But I have always wished to have a wife and children one day. I just don't know how to go about it. I'm afraid I'll have to build them for myself, as I tried with Lal. But I can't try again. I can't accept the responsibility for another failed experiment. I would feel her death now."
Lavinia started to try to comfort him, but she decided to confront him instead: "To flee or to stand firm. The choice is up to you. Or, the more popular version, 'no pain, no gain'. You can't hide from your feelings all the time. Didn't the Counselor tell you that?"
"Exactly. She told me to stand by my feelings and to live them. But I don't want to have the same thing happen again."
"It won't happen again, if we don't allow it. And about your being a machine: doesn't the Captain have an artificial heart? Does this make him less human? Didn't he tell you one day that all of us are just machines, but of a different type? The material is different, but in the end we are also the work of a big engineer."
"And what about the soul? I have studied your philosophy and theology. Though you can't prove it, most of you still believe in having an immortal soul, leading you to a higher level of existence, maybe evolving to Q-like entities one day. What is the evolution I have to expect? What is the entity inside my circuits? The ghost in my machine?"
"Listen, Data. We don't know when and how the soul, if there is one, comes into our bodies or where it travels to when we die. If there is an energetic being within us that needs a body to survive, why shouldn't one inhabit your body as well? You have been defined as a life form, as have many other machines since. Who can tell which kind of life is right or wrong, base or sublime? You feel, and that's enough reason for your existence. And you evoke feelings in other people. Me, for example."
There it was. Finally she had managed to tell it. Did he realize what she was saying?
He already had started to speak, but then stopped after the first syllable, surprised. "You mean, you have feelings for me?"
"Not just any feelings. I love you."
It became obvious that he needed a moment to digest this before he could go on. "You are not kidding?"
"I wouldn't have you on with something like that. I wouldn't tell you a lot about feelings and how they can hurt just to disappoint you then. It's more than just a futile obsession. I didn't realize that for a long time, but now I am sure."
She felt that the time had come to stop talking and start doing something. Doing something. Heavens, she felt as if she had never done it before.
He laid the instrument aside and indicated that she should sit beside him. Then he laid one arm down at the back of the sofa without touching her. Lavinia was disturbed by his shy behavior. She hadn't expected that from him.
"Why are we behaving like teenagers falling in love for the first time?" she asked, helplessly. "It's not as if we hadn't
done it before, right?"
He suddenly broke out into laughter, unexpectedly. "Ain't we stupid? This IS funny! I don't mind if you are taking me for fun this time!"
His laughter was contagious, as always. It made her forget about his true nature. And it was easy now to embrace him, to kiss him, to desire him, to pick up the thread where they had lost it.
When she wrapped her arms around him, they lost their balance and rolled down from the sofa to the floor, still laughing and giggling. Nevertheless he directed the fall so far that he came down first and allowed her to land safely on his chest. "I love your laughter", she gasped in tears, unable to stop laughing. His puzzled look made her even more laugh. "I do not understand", he said. "When I was laughing so much before, it was not really funny. It irritated Geordi and overloaded my circuitry. Is laughter healthy?"
"Healthy? Yes, it is! Also crying is healthy, but laughter is better. And I don't want you to get into any discussions at the moment..." She sealed his mouth with a light kiss, merely brushing against it. He had soft, sensitive lips, like a child. It presented an interesting contrast to his strong, athletic body. He also had the elegance of moves and proportions of a dancer. "How do you like that?" she asked. He widened his eyes, looking for an adequate expression for his feelings. "It feels like... like Spot passing by. Like the cat's soft, silky fur..." He touched her lips with his long, slim fingers, following the outlines. "I will have to paint you", he said then. "Your face is perfect for a painting. You look like the woman in that old picture Franz von Stuck painted about 500 years ago. He called it 'The Sin'. It's a black-haired woman with a snake around her neck. Do you like snakes?"
"Not at all", Lavinia protested. "Data?"
"Yes?" he asked innocently.
"Data, what about trying to say nothing for a while? At least nothing about snakes and other distracting subjects?" Her smile indicated that she did not mean it too seriously.
He suddenly frowned. "I am still frightened that I might do something wrong again."
"You did nothing wrong. At least you did nothing that was not human. And I want to be with you. Now." She kissed his lips again, resting there, slightly increasing the pressure, exploring the warm, silky skin. He returned the caress with a series of small, short kisses. She felt an increasing glow in her solar plexus, together with a comfortable ache extending from the middle of her body to her fingertips. She laid one hand down on his stomach. "Do you feel anything there?" she asked. He thought for a moment. "Not really. I feel your hand." Lavinia shook her head in amusement. "Don't you feel the warmth? In human bodies there is a concentration of nerves at that point. It's an important part of meditation. You should always try to feel warmth there. If you love somebody, it's glowing."
"I do not have nerves", he said regretfully. "But I feel comfortable. I feel safe. I don't know exactly what it is, but I do not want to lose it."
"I burn for you", she whispered while she reached under his shirt, rubbing his hairless chest. The artificial skin felt like it was natural, but softer than the average, like velvet. Somehow this matched his innocent, naive character. She wondered if he were vulnerable, now that he had the capability of experiencing emotions. As long as she was by his side, she wouldn't allow anybody to injure him.
Data opened her dress, exposing her white, round breasts and gently caressing them. He knew that most women were aroused by this caress, though he had no similar feelings when anybody touched his chest. It was pleasurable, but obviously there was a difference. He loved the sensation of the soft, yielding flesh in his hands and squeezed them lightly, while he realized that the woman's blood pressure and pulse rate were rising, as well as her breathing. The android sighed when he was aware that he still could not let go and terminated the monitoring process. He wanted to feel, not to analyze her like an object of scientific interest.
Lavinia enjoyed the touch of his hands. It was so different now. He took so much more time. She was reminded of her holodeck adventure, but this time she did not know what would come next. He was following his own rules, and she did not want to interrupt him.
He found her different from the other women he had encountered so far. She had a strong body, with a higher percentage of fat than the others, but still well shaped and in good proportions. He took a small part of his brain to look in the cultural archives for a beauty ideal that would match her. He found it in the beginning of the 20th Century
on Earth. Anyway, he did not mind at all. He noticed with surprise that it was not so important to him whether she looked perfect or not, since he realized that appearance was not everything that made the character and the individuality of a human being. The first time ever he realized that there was a different entity besides the body, something humans called "soul".
All of these thoughts did not disturb his concentration on pleasing her, nor the feelings arising from that. He felt hot fluids rushing through his whole body, and finally he did not care anymore about the biomechanical processes that might cause his feelings. He just wanted to get lost in an ocean of sensations and overwhelming emotions.
Time had been flying. Too short were the hours they had to spend together until he was called to duty. It was usually some serious problem in the engineering section, and he was the only one capable of assisting. Lavinia remembered why she had sworn never to fall in love with a Starfleet officer.
And there was another thing that set her to thinking. Data had been tender, caring, trying hard to give her whatever she wanted. He was a good lover, no doubt. He was perfect, fulfilling all her wishes. But over time she had discovered that there was a gap between them. She suspected that he might have been disappointed by their lovemaking.
She had been giving all she could give to a man, but, in fact, he was not a man. He was a robot. This different word, "android", had been invented, but that didn't mean anything more than "a robot that looks like a man". Maybe he would have used the term "incompatibility" to describe what was separating them. She had expected that love would build a bridge between their different natures, but it hadn't completely succeeded in doing so.
She wasn't able to read minds or sense feelings, but with the sixth sense of a lover she was aware that he was missing something, that she was not able to fill the hole inside him. She was not similar enough to him. But she also felt that she would not be able to leave him either. And maybe there was a way.
"I'm not happy with the results of your last check-up", Dr. Crusher said with a worried expression in her calm face. "I had been hoping that your constitution would strengthen, but this hasn't been the case. At the moment I can't promise you anything. You might have to face the worst, as I already have told you."
Lavinia had been expecting bad news, but now it came down on her like a dark cloud taking her breath. She hadn't told Data about her disease. It was a strange, little known process that was going to destroy her heart as well as her lungs and her other internal organs. Its source was unknown, but the doctor assumed that it must have been a virus from one of the colonies they investigated months ago. The doctor had also told her about the possibility of replacing the organs with artificial ones. Lavinia had been scared by this idea. It was common medical practice, but she couldn't get used to the idea of undergoing it. But the longer she thought about it in these silent, sad minutes in sickbay, there began to dawn a slight glimmer of hope on the horizon of her despair. But it was hard to take the chance.
"Dr. Crusher?" she asked, trying to stay calm and hold back the tears.
"Yes?" Lavinia realized that the doctor also looked desperate.
"If you want to give me an artificial heart and other engineering work inside, why don't you replace the whole body? Do you remember Juliana Soong? I know, it's a secret, but Data has told me about her."
"I do. But what's the point?"
"You know that Dr. Soong had transferred her consciousness from her dying body to the body of an android. She is still Juliana Soong now, but in a different body. It wouldn't be the first time a soul had changed her home."
The face of the doctor showed clearly that she had strong doubts about her patient's soundness of mind. "This has been too much for you. I'll give you a sedative and you can get some sleep. I don't want you to leave sickbay. I have to monitor you now. We must not lose time."
"I want to see Data. We have to talk. He may understand."
"Later. Get some sleep first."
'I'm not her good little Wesley', Lavinia thought, annoyed. But she could understand the doctor's reaction as well. The request she had made was quite strange.
"Dr. Crusher told me some very bad news about you. How are you now?"
His smooth, melodious voice slightly lifted her mood. Hearing him talk evoked good memories. Memories from just a few hours ago, but now they were part of a different life.
She opened her eyes and studied his shimmering, gentle face, full of deep worry as he looked at her. "I had enough time to get used to the idea. But now that time is running out, I'm afraid of dying. I want to stay alive. And I have a plan I would like to share with you." She looked around nervously.
"Nobody is here", Data assured her. "Tell me about your plan. Dr. Crusher told me that you were suggesting something unusual , but she thought you were delirious and didn't know what you were saying. But I am not so certain about that."
"You might be the only one who will understand. Do you remember our conversation yesterday?"
"Shall I reproduce it? I can do that. I have recorded every word, as I record everything I experience."
"It's not necessary", Lavinia countered. "I believe in your abilities without a demonstration." Without willing to she had to smile. She loved his misunderstanding of rhetorical questions. At any other time it would have made her laugh. The concern in his face showed her how much he cared about her condition.
"Would you miss me if I died?" she asked. He nodded, unable to say a word. Dozens of consoling remarks were rushing through his head, but he realized that none of them would express how terrible he felt now. If there was anything he could do for her, he surely would. "I wished I could give you some of my strength", he expressed regretfully. "I will find a way to help you."
"Sure you will. Your father has found a way. Haven't you studied his records?"
With his brilliant brain he realized instantly what she was talking about. "You are thinking of my mother. I have been considering that procedure, but with serious reservations. I don't have the knowledge my father had. I am only able to reproduce, not to invent."
"You have been limited in that way, but now you have the emotion chip. You are able to create now, not only to reproduce, as you did with Lal. You are the only one that can help me now."
He shook his head sadly. "I cannot take the responsibility. It would be an experiment. I cannot guarantee success."
"You don't have to. The responsibility is mine. I'm absolutely clear about the risk. But I have nothing to lose. And if they have to replace half of my body, why not give me a completely new one, a body like yours? At last, it would bring me closer to you. And you wouldn't feel like the only one of your kind any longer."
He still did not seem to be convinced. "From a logical point of view I share your thoughts. But I have moral scruples. Actually it would mean ending your life."
"Data." She reached out for his hands and was surprised to find them cold. His body was responding to his worry about her. "We have been talking about life-forms, haven't we? And I told you that we don't know which place a soul prefers to live. We just know that she needs one. And mine wants to have a strong body. A body like yours. The usual procedure would also bear a serious risk. So why not dare the real thing? Why not find the best possible solution? How long would it take you to build an android replica of my body?"
He thought for a moment, shrugging his shoulders. "If we can do it in the Daystrom Institute labs and with full assistance, including the transfer of your neural matrix, with all necessary preparations made aboard the Enterprise - about 4 days, depending on the availability of the material." He realized that he had been slipping into his old rational behavior and started. "I'm sorry. Didn't want to shock you."
She did not care. Time was running out. "Do me a favor. We must not lose any more time. Ask the captain if we may pursue this project. I will offer my body for science. If this project succeeds, it will be a milestone for cybernetics. And you will make yourself a name in the history texts, as your father did before."
'And in some strange way you will become my father, too', she added in her thoughts.
He nodded in approval. The decision was made. "I will talk to the Captain immediately. Luckily we're on a course to Earth."
"Which body would you prefer?" he asked. Data had spread out different sketches and layouts of human bodies on the table in Lavinia's quarters. Dr. Crusher had allowed her to leave sickbay, but under the condition of returning for a daily examination. The doctor had found out in the meantime that the disease was not infectious, so there was no reason to put her in quarantine.
Captain Picard was not fond of their plan, but at last he stated that the patient herself had to make the decision. It was a borderline case. Both choices were equally risky.
Lavinia looked at the sketches and took only little a time
to weigh the different choices. "As I said: I prefer a replica of my body. I have lived with it for 25 years, and it was okay. I wouldn't like having to get used to a new image in the mirror."
In fact the decision hadn't been that easy. She had been aware for weeks that the situation may come to this and had made plans and deliberations. The temptation of creating the body of her dreams had been strong, but then she decided to pay tribute to fate and stay with the look it had assigned to her. It was a mixture of her parents and the generations before. She didn't want to lose her whole heritage with the new body. As a final consideration, Data also was created in the image of his father.
"Nevertheless, you could improve it slightly, in details", she suggested. "Just remove the less convenient signs of aging. Maybe you could design the shape it had about five years ago." He smiled understandingly. "I wouldn't mind either way", he said then. "I have nothing to criticize about you."
"Don't you strive for perfection?" she asked, astonished.
"Not exactly. For me, perfection is a sign of the artificial. But my striving is to become more human. Being human means being less than perfect. Ah, yes, another thing: You will have a natural looking skin, different from mine. So nobody will realize that you have an artificial body, if you don't want to tell them."
The whole discussion was so scientific and theoretical that she hardly could believe that she was the subject, and that it would have any effects on her life. And maybe this was the only way to she could tolerate it: to watch from a distance and try not to be concerned. She wouldn't have accepted it as easily if she hadn't had that deep desire inside to become more like Data. It wasn't a spontaneous idea. She had been admiring Data long before she joined Starfleet and she had also been eagerly reading everything about androids she could find. She knew that there had already been many more or less successful approaches to creating artificial life or to link natural life with artificial bodies. The Borg had been the latest example. But the dream itself was as old as mankind: building the artificial man, creating life beyond the rules of biological reproduction. Lavinia had planned to acquire a degree in cybernetics when her Star Fleet training was finished. Now life itself had crossed her plans.
She often had been angry about the limitations of her body, but now she felt sorry to lose it. It was as if she had to say good-bye to a good old friend.
"Data?" She hesitated.
He looked up from the sketches. "Yes?"
"You have been telling me about your wide variety of pleasuring programs. As long as I still have this body of mine, I would like to gain new physical experiences. I don't know what the new body will bring, or how I will feel in it and with it. I want to at least keep something to remember. Could you push me to the edge?"
"I know some techniques that might be deeply exhausting, certainly. There are also some that are less appropriate for humans, as some of them require a different physiology. What exactly do you want?"
"I just want to experience the whole bandwidth of sensations. Something that could build a base for my future programming. Maybe I would also be able then to help you in developing your own sensations better. More and more I feel that I have been missing a lot so far."
He checked his data and pouted his delicate lips in anticipation. "We'll have a lot of work to do then, though I wouldn't call it work actually."
He believed he was sure about the way she wanted him to approach her, therefore he lost no time with hesitating or asking for permission. He just stood up, lifted her before she was ready and took her to the shower stall. He turned on the warm water, with no regard for their clothes or comm badges. Again she was impressed by the ease with which he could carry her and wondered if she would have the same strength soon. And she wondered if he would be able to top the Lore-like experience.
"I know a place", he whispered into her ear while the water was coming through the woolen material of their uniforms, "where we could stand in the center of a beautiful waterfall. The water reflects all the colors of the rainbow and is as warm and soothing as summer rain. I would like to visit this place with you one day. Give me some time, and I will design a holodeck module for it. But now, please, close your lovely eyes and imagine we were there. Forget about being on the ship. Forget about anything but you and me."
Her heart announced its presence with a faint twinge of pain, but she successfully ignored it. Soon the pain would grow and require strong pain-killers that would also kill her
sensations. Therefore she wanted to live every second twice now.
The new uniforms were more casual than the old ones with the zipper in front. They also showed less of the body inside. In Data's case, this was a pity. She had been watching the record of the first mission of the Enterprise D and had found him absolutely enchanting. He used to stand with his legs apart, his body forming an X. She had wished to be able to touch him, to stroke the inner side of his thighs. A few months ago she had thought that this would never happen. She had been wrong.
Data closed his arms around her, pressing her tightly against him. He did not want to let her know, but he was still deeply worried. He hoped that she would stay alive long enough for him to build the artificial body. He found it difficult to concentrate on what he was supposed to do. Apparently she did not care about her condition at the moment. She was taking off his uniform shirt and kissing him deeply, passionately, as if this was the last time they would be together. He felt an odd sensation growing. Something in her moves was somehow - aggressive, and he felt his own behavior responding. He tried to get his feelings under control, but it was not possible. His body did not obey, as it usually would have. He remembered what Deanna Troi had once told him: "You need to be more than the sum of your programming." Now he was.
She knelt down in front of him, quickly removing his pants and taking his growing member into her mouth, sucking it slowly but effectively. He closed his eyes, breathing deeply. It was his first time. The others had only been eager to be serviced, not to serve. Her tongue was dancing, making his artificial heart jump for joy. He grasped her shoulders, trying hard to maintain control of his feelings. He was afraid of what could happen if he lost control. He hadn't forgotten about the other side.
When he felt near to emission, he stopped her, gently pushing her away. She was still dressed, but he changed that in an instant. Her dark hair was sticking to her head and shoulders, partially hiding her face. He removed a strand to look into her bright blue eyes. All he could read from them was happiness and passion. He still wondered how it was possible to feel passion for a machine, then he remembered that she would also be a machine soon. Suddenly he felt uncomfortable. But he remembered what she had been asking him for and shook off the bad thoughts. He had a request to fulfill.
So he concentrated on stimulating her body according to some ancient Asian techniques he considered to be the most appropriate for her. He was so fast that sometimes she nearly could not distinguish between his lips, his tongue, his fingers and other parts of his body, especially when she had her eyes closed. She also suspected that he used light electrical charges. No matter what it was, it gave rise to feelings she never had before. He entered her several times, penetrating her deeply. He wished he could have slipped into her thoroughly, being inside her body, seeing the world through her eyes, feeling it with her hands, hearing it with her ears, incorporating himself into her.
He could have continued for days, as he could not be exhausted like human beings. When he realized that she was near to losing consciousness, he finished, then carried her to bed and gave her a tender goodnight kiss.
"Sleep well", he said softly. She opened her eyes and caught his hands. "Data, please stay with me. I want to sleep in your arms."
He nodded. Actually he had to report for duty, but he understood that it was important to stay. He called and asked the Captain for permission, who also showed understanding. "I know that the situation is hard for your girlfriend to bear. Give her as much support as you can", Picard said. "Permission granted."
Data closed the connection and returned to Lavinia, taking her into his arms and holding her like a little baby. He hardly dared to move until she was asleep. He also started a dream sequence while monitoring her biosignals with a subprocess that did not influence his sleep task. As soon as any malfunctions might occur, he would wake up immediately.
Personal Log Ensign Lavinia Morris, Stardate 49033.1. I am scared. When I woke up today, I thought it was only a dream, but it isn't. I can feel the decline. A few quick steps make me wheeze. I can't ignore it anymore.
Data tries his best to encourage me, although he can't really feel my grief. Why should he? He hasn't ever been human. He doesn't know what "scared to death" means. I saw Marcie today and told her all about my disease. She was
shocked, as I expected. She wanted to take me for a trip to the holodeck greenwood simulation, but I had to refuse. Dr. Crusher has instructed me to stay in bed.
I also feel for sure that last night was the last time for my human body to be with Data. If our experiment fails, it would have been the last time ever. I don't like the idea. If only Dr. Soong hadn't died, we would have less to worry about. Data is a brilliant scientist, but I still have doubts that he is as great a genius as his father was. We will see if the emotion chip has filled him with enough inspiration.
I already should have sent a message to my parents and my brother, but I can't. I still hope that the experiment will be successful and I won't have to tell them about my new true nature. I already think that it might have been wrong to tell Marcie about it. She's such a chatterbox, although she's a true friend. I will have to ask her to keep the secret.
I'm feeling some doubts about finding it completely desirable to become an android. My body is limited, but it was grown. It was not constructed. I feel as if I have to apologize for my unhealthy lifestyle. My body's not perfect, nor has it ever been, but it made me feel the miracle of life. I could smell the fragrance of flowers, the scent of a summer rain, I could see rainbows and feel my heart burst with joy about their beauty, listen to the singing of the birds and the whispering of the leaves and these wonderful pieces of ancient music. Laughter, tears, joy, even fear and desperation, all that made me feel so real, so alive. What will come afterwards? Will it feel artificial? Will it be different?
Sometimes I also ask myself why I shouldn't give in to my death. Millions have died in wars and epidemics. What's so special about my death? Something will come afterwards. But it would mean leaving my friends, my newfound lover, this ship, these many plans I have. If the experiment succeeds, I will have more than a lifetime to follow my ideas. There are so many possibilities, so many things to learn, so many things to reach. If I get this second chance, I will prove myself to be worthy of it. In the past I only had a few ambitions, and I feel that this is about to change now. I have to focus on my ambitions. Maybe it will drive away the fear.
Personal Log Ltd. Cmdr. Data, Stardate 49033.2. My work on the conversion of Ensign Lavinia Morris from human to android continues. I contacted the Daystrom Institute half an hour ago. Commander Bruce Maddox will give us some of the support necessary to carry out the project. I have made clear that Ensign Lavinia Morris will not serve as an experimental subject for them. To my surprise he understood immediately. The continuing assistance I have given him over the years seems to have led him to fully accept me as an equal member of society. Perhaps my recent acquisition of emotions played a role in his change of attitude as well.
Dr. Crusher is still concerned about Ensign Morris. Her condition is stabilized now, however, but she needs continual observation. I am afraid that I might have overtaxed her in our last romantic encounter. My own state of mind is stable as well. I have written a subroutine that stores all experiences which cause severe confusion in a cache memory until I can work it out.
In accordance with my instruction from Captain Picard I have not mentioned anything to fellow crew members about our project, although their reactions would add a very interesting facet to my human behavior database. Maybe I will have the opportunity to do that research when Ensign Morris has become familiar with her new state.
At the moment I am trying to keep a slight distance from Ensign Morris, as I feel that I might not be capable of withstanding the emotions that arise about her when I allow myself to feel. I do clearly remember being such a coward when Geordi was threatened by Dr. Soran, and I do not want the same thing to happen again. This project requires my full concentration and capacity. I hope my aloofness does not hurt Lavinia's feelings.
"Come on, Data. There's something going on, and you don't want to tell me about? Don't you trust your friends?"
The VISOR was hiding Geordi's eyes, as usual, but from his experience with his old friend, Data knew that he was dying to know about the cause of Data's depressed mood. And he was somehow disappointed, too.
"It's that Ensign, Lavinia Morris, huh? Are you two having a relationship now?"
Data sighed, and Geordi noticed that the sigh sounded almost human. He still was impressed by the change in the
android's behavior, though he was not sure if he liked the new Data more than the old one. Some of Data's misunderstandings of human characteristics were so priceless that he missed them now. He also noticed that Data had changed his way of speaking. He had started using contractions!
"Yes", the android admitted unhappily. He would have preferred to speak frankly, but he had promised to withhold the information. So far the Captain, Dr. Crusher and Cmdr. Maddox were the only ones he had talked to about the matter.
"What about you?", he finally asked, trying to distract Geordi.
"Nothing new at all. I'm not very lucky in romantic affairs, you know." Data nodded. He had the impression that most women had problems with Geordi's VISOR and the somewhat shy behavior he showed when he was around a woman to whom he felt attracted. He wondered why it was so difficult for human beings to find someone to love. Some of them took a big portion, and others had to starve. He intended to look for a girlfriend for Geordi.
Captain Picard was a reasonable man. He always had been impressed by King Solomon and tried to follow his wisdom. It was often difficult for him to make decisions for his crew and hand these decisions to them, especially when he wanted to be fair to everybody. He knew that he captained this vessel much more like a manager than a commander, but he did not feel uncomfortable about that. He wished that he could do his research missions without all the military conflicts they had to face again and again. But the universe was still not ready for peace. He looked at the fish swimming peacefully in the little aquarium in the wall of his ready room and wondered what it might be thinking at the moment, or if it were aware of anything. Principally, the fish tank was nothing more than a living decoration, but sometimes he suspected that Livingston, for that was the fish's name, might feel uncomfortable in the small sphere. However, these thoughts always lasted only moments and were soon forgotten.
The door chime bleeped. "Come in", he said curtly. It was Lt. Commander Data. A delicate smile appeared on the captain's face. His second officer obviously had still problems with his new constitution, and the disease of Ensign Lavinia Morris made the whole matter much harder. It was still disconcerting for him to see the android in love with a human woman. He had been watching Data's former attempts at romance with amusement. But this time he felt involved and responsible for a good outcome.
"Captain?", Data started. "Permission to speak frankly?"
"I feel uncomfortable with your instruction not to mention anything about the Morris project. I can't proceed without the help of Lt. Commander La Forge. So I am asking you if you will allow me to explain to him what I am working on."
That was only half the truth. Actually it was not yet necessary to involve Geordi, but Data had found out that he was not able to keep quiet any longer. He felt an urgent need to ask his friend for advice.
Captain Picard wondered if Data knew that his face could not conceal his feelings. He sent an imploring look to the ceiling. "All right, for god's sake, Data, you have my permission to involve Mr. La Forge. But let that be enough for now. Being able to keep secrets is also a worthwhile human virtue."
Data cocked his head thoughtfully. "I will keep that in mind, Sir."
"Data, that's not a good joke", Geordi said disapprovingly.
"I am not in the mood for joking at the moment", the android replied. "It is the only way to keep her alive."
"Well, and you don't accidentally want to carry out an interesting experiment?"
"That is just a side effect. Lavinia has asked me to do the conversion."
Geordi paced through the room, unable to sit down and stay calm. "Sorry, Data, but this idea sounds stupid to me. You can't really believe that it's possible!"
"It is", Data insisted confidently. "My father has proven it."
"But your father's dead!"
"I have access to his complete records. Geordi, I cannot escape the feeling that you are uncomfortable with the project, but not for scientific or technical reasons. Do you want her to die?"
"No, no", Geordi stammered. "See, I'm really happy for you, but this won't work! You have said yourself that your father kept incomplete records. You will be terribly disappointed when the experiment fails! We don't have the right to try this! It would be - presumptuous!"
"Geordi?" Data's voice was almost calm and soothing. "Will you help me? Will you help your friend?"
Geordi sighed. "Shit, I don't think I have a choice. But remember: I warned you."
The lab was similar to the one Data had used when he created Lal. He felt a shooting pain when he thought of his android daughter. Her body still existed, but Data had not gone any farther in determining the source of her general system failure. He hoped that the knowledge he would gain through Lavinia's conversion would help him to find a way to bring Lal back to life. Also there might be a way to override Lore's faulty programming so he could rejoin the whole family, except for their father. Juliana would certainly be happy about another son and a granddaughter - and maybe also a daughter-in-law.
Geordi was here to assist him. They had all the necessary resources to achieve the same state Lal had, but the challenge was to transfer the neural energy from Lavinia's organic body to the artificial one. Lavinia also attended their preparations, sitting in a wheelchair. Actually it had no wheels, but an antigrav field. It would have been funny to hover through the ship, if it didn't constantly remind her of how bad her condition was.
"I have considered using the same procedure I used for the transfer of my neural matrix to Lal's body", Data explained. "Basically, the android will have my neural structure. Then we have to override those memories and patterns of behavior with Lavinia's. Assuming that her personality is some kind of energy field all we had to do will be to isolate this energy into an interphasic field and to transfer it into the artificial circuits."
"Why don't you just transfer the neural patterns directly from Lavinia, as Dr. Soong did with Juliana?"
"I am sorry Geordi, but the records for that procedure are missing. I have to try another way. Besides she should have the same knowledge I have, as she will be aware of her android nature."
"What about the body? Will you use the same kind of components your body has?" Geordi asked.
"Partially. Since the day of my construction more advanced materials have been developed. She will have nearly the same weight as a human body of similar size would have. However, I will install the same kind of servos I have. She will also have superhuman strength, unless she insists it be otherwise."
"I don't", Lavinia said.
"Do you think it was wise to involve Commander Maddox?" Geordi wanted to know.
"I am not too happy about it either , but we need the Daystrom facilities for the transfer. My father's lab is too far away. Apart from that, we would not have been able to hide the whole enterprise from Starfleet, so it seemed more reasonable to involve them from the very beginning."
He fed the computer with data, racing his fingers over the controls with a speed nobody could follow. "Computer, replicate a raw android body, according to pattern LAL/2366- 001."
The plain body was almost finished, except the bioplastic components. At the moment it looked like a bronze sculpture. Lavinia shuddered. This looked like a nice little revival of the Dr. Frankenstein story, she thought sarcastically. The whole body was an exact replica of human physiology, including the organs and the lymphatic and blood circulation. The heart looked like a natural one, although it was actually an advanced power pack with a life of approximately 300 years, as Data had told her.
Geordi had opened a flap in the new android's head and inspected the circuits. "I love these replicators", he said. "They save so much time... We should improve that emotion chip. I have already developed some designs we could use. That would avoid some of the malfunctions you had when the chip was initially inserted."
"She will not have the same problems at all, as she is used to having feelings. But your suggestions are welcome."
"What about my ability to feel sensations?", Lavinia asked. "Will it be different from now on?"
"In some ways, yes", Geordi explained. "Basically, the sensations felt by a human body are nothing more than electrochemical events, but we have no idea how far the subjective similarity goes. You will have to tell us about it. Maybe it will be the same thing as with my vision: I see things, but I know that I don't see them the same way as others. Since I've grown accustomed to this different method of perception, in the end I see more than others, as I perceive a broader spectrum. And that's sometimes advantageous, no doubt." He tried to hide his uncomfortable feelings from Lavinia. Actually he still thought that the experiment would fail, but he had the impression that this was the last thing she wanted to hear.
Lavinia had left the lab and hovered to Ten Forward. She wanted to talk to Guinan. Marcie accompanied her. The tall, thin historian with the severe face had been Lavinia's friend since she was a little girl. Sometimes Lavinia called her "aunt", although they were not related. Marcie also had encouraged her to join Starfleet, as with many other things. She looked like a humorless, cold person, but that was only a shell. Inside she was warm and caring. She was a straight and truth-loving character, and her lack of diplomacy made it sometimes difficult to deal with her. But Lavinia appreciated her honesty.
Guinan joined them at their table in a hidden corner of the lounge. She looked at Lavinia with a solemn, thoughtful expression in her wise ebony face. Lavinia had not told her about her plans yet, but with her more than lifelong experience she knew that something serious was going on in the young woman's life. She had already noticed the romance between her and Data with interest, and the disease was also obvious. "How are you today?", she asked finally.
"Fine, considering the circumstances", Lavinia replied. "I came here to ask you for advice."
"Oh, you want advice? Well, my actual profession is listening. So maybe you would like to tell me your story, and I will listen to it."
Lavinia told her the whole story: her relationship with Data, her disease and the plans of transferring her consciousness to an android body.
Guinan had already heard many strange stories in her long life, but this one surprised her. When Lavinia had finished, she remained silent for a while, nodding thoughtfully.
"You are facing a fundamental change in your existence. Does that frighten you?"
"Not really", Lavinia answered. "Maybe I'm somehow paralyzed, as a kind of self-protection. I have the mind of a scientist. My curiosity helps me to face the change with confidence. I've always been confident in the progress of science."
"And you like the idea of becoming android?"
Lavinia wondered if Guinan was just using the provoking rhetorical technique of Socratic irony to test her confidence.
"I wouldn't really say that I like it. Maybe I will learn to like my new appearance and skills, but at the moment my only thought is to escape my death."
"You still have another choice. You could have your organs replaced and leave the rest as it is."
Lavinia wrinkled her forehead. "That would not be satisfactory. Then I would belong to both sides and to neither side: partially machine, partially human. I don't like half-done work."
"So, if you are so clear about your choice, why are you seeking my advice?" Guinan asked.
Lavinia shrugged. "I am not sure. Maybe I just want you to tell me that I'm doing the right thing."
Guinan slowly shook her head. "You could ask a thousand people and you will still have to make the decision all by yourself. You have to feel that it's the right decision. If you feel warm about it, do it."
Lavinia tried to determine the feeling she had. Was it warm? Was it glowing?
"Close your eyes", Guinan said with an almost hypnotic voice. "Relax. Do you see anything?"
Lavinia closed her eyes and tried to see something. Some minutes passed. Guinan was waiting patiently. Marcie was watching the whole procedure from a distance and was trying not to interrupt.
"I see something", Lavinia whispered then. "A dark sea at night, a deserted strand. The wind is blowing. Nobody is there."
"How do you feel?"
"I can't tell. Nothing special. Maybe - peaceful."
"Are you scared?"
"Not at all."
"But you said that it's dark, and you are alone. And you are still not scared?"
Lavinia shook her head. "No. I have the feeling as if things are going right."
"What else do you see?"
"I see a ship. An ancient sailing ship. It will pick me up. I have been waiting for this ship quite a long time. I'm happy that they have arrived at last."
"Who's aboard that ship?"
Lavinia strained to make out more details. "I'm not sure. But I feel that they are friends."
"Look back. What is behind you?"
"Only dunes and a broken campfire. Ashes."
"Not at all. The only people I see are on the sailing ship."
Guinan leaned back with a satisfied expression on her face. "All right. You can open your eyes."
"And?" Lavinia asked. "What is your advice?"
Guinan smiled her Mona Lisa smile. "Advice? As I told you, my talent is to listen. And I have listened to you. You don't need any advice. You already know what you have to do."
Back in her quarters, Lavinia followed a spontaneous
impulse and asked the computer to show her all available records about Data's brother, Lore. She had been studying Data thoroughly, but his brother was still a closed book for her. The scary experience with Data's dark side had stirred her scientific interest in his evil brother.
While she was scrolling through the yellow symbols and the pictures, the door chime bleeped.
Data entered the room and walked up beside her. He understood in a millisecond what she was looking for. "You are doing some research about my brother", he stated. "Do you need additional information?"
"I'd be glad for any information I can obtain", she explained.
"I made some private records during his disassembly, especially regarding his programming. I have tried to find out the differences between us. I've also undertaken several approaches for analyzing his abnormal behavior." He entered a code on the control pad, and the computer accessed a protected file. "Here is all information you need", he said then. "I've also downloaded the information I found in both my father's labs to the ship's computer. This should keep you busy for a while. By the way, why are you so interested in information about my brother?"
"You know I want to specialize in cybernetics. And the idea of a twisted android mind is somehow - intriguing. It has a kind of - complexity."
"So I am less complex?" Data asked in a low voice.
Lavinia stood up and gently took his face into her hands. "You aren't less perfect, and you aren't less complex. You are socially tolerable, that's the main difference. And you are balanced. Well, not all the time..." - she remembered his recent struggle with his dark side - "but you have the sovereignty to master your emotional problems. And you have always been loved and admired for your kindness, your childlike naivete and your strength. Nobody ever felt hate for you."
"I have learned that hate is often connected with love", Data said. "Have you experienced hate?"
"I have hated, and I have been the object of hate, yes", Lavinia said and removed her hands from his face, burying them in the pockets of her pants. "But I don't like talking about that."
Her legs started to quiver, and she had to sit down. "Your condition seems to be worsening again", Data stated.
"Don't worry, it appears to be stable at the moment. I'd like to eat something. Will you stay for dinner?"
"Gladly. Anything you want."
"Captain, there's an incoming subspace communication. It's marked with a high priority code."
"Put it through into my ready room, Commander Worf", Picard ordered. "I'll answer it there. Number One, you have the bridge."
The face of Admiral Haftel appeared on the screen. "It's been a long time, Captain."
Picard nodded tersely. "Hello, Admiral. I'm sure you have significant issues if you are calling me."
"I've had a conversation with Commander Bruce Maddox. He has informed me that an interesting experiment is going on aboard the Enterprise."
"That's right. But the essential part of the experiment will be carried out in the Daystrom Institute. It has my full support."
"I have no doubt about that. And I have decided to supervise the experiment. I will come aboard in about two hours."
"With all due respect, Sir, but do you really think that this is necessary? I have complete trust in the abilities and discretion of Lt. Cmdr. Data and Lt. Cmdr. La Forge."
"I expected that you would have objections. I must remind you that it is up to me to make the final decision in this case. Prepare your staff for my arrival. Haftel out."
"That's exactly what I expected from Starfleet Command brass", Picard growled after the connection was terminated. "Bringing nothing with him but trouble."
"Computer, generate holodeck simulation Ella Fitzgerald, Morris 3", Lavinia said.
"Program complete. You may enter when ready."
The grand lady of jazz was almost blind. Two men had to guide her until she finally managed to position herself in front of the microphone. But when she started with the first words of the song, everything else but her powerful voice vanished into irrelevance.
Lavinia sat in the darkened holodeck simulation, letting the warmth of the beautifully reproduced voice wash over her. "No, no they can't take that away from me" Ella sang, referring to memories of a lover, now gone. Lavinia wondered if she would lose her memories once she was in the android body. She furiously shoved those thoughts away. 'I came in here to relax,' she thought to herself. 'But I can't seem to
escape the hopes and fears I have about my new life.'
They were in the laboratory examining the lifeless body standing up in a transparent cylinder, easily accessible from all sides. It was nearly finished now, and Lavinia felt a bit uncomfortable when she looked at her image. The resemblance between them was astounding. It was as if she suddenly had found a twin sister, who was only asleep.
"We have a problem", Data said, interrupting her contemplation. "Its name is Admiral Haftel. The Captain just informed me that Starfleet wants to supervise our experiment."
"So what?" Lavinia asked. "He can supervise us as much as he wants, as long as he doesn't disturb us. As far as I know, he is also a specialist in cybernetics. Didn't he help you with Lal?"
"He did. But his initial intention was to take her away from me. He was convinced that it would better for her to be monitored and educated by a staff of Daystrom Institute cyberneticists. However, I think that in the end he understood my paternal feelings for Lal. I am not sure what we can expect from him."
Lavinia noticed that Data's behavior had changed during the last few days. He was much more like the Data she knew before the insertion of the chip. "Did you change anything in the emotion chip's programming?" she asked. "You are behaving differently."
"I have written a program that overrides the chip temporarily. I still have problems with the confusion some emotions cause. Therefore my emotions are..." he hesitated, "muted now."
A puzzled expression appeared on the woman's face. "You can switch off your emotions?"
"Not switch off. Mute. I am still aware of them, but it is a background task now."
She felt a bit disgruntled. "You sound like a machine."
"I am a machine", he stated unmoved. "More exactly, I am an android. And I will always be, whatever I might do to try to change my behavior." He looked at her thoughtfully. "I am not sure what you will be when we have finished the conversion."
The hissing sound of the opening door interrupted their conversation. Captain Picard entered with a barrel-chested man in his sixties wearing an admiral's uniform. His piercing gray eyes looked out from under a full head of curly gray hair. A look into the Captain's face told Lavinia that he felt extremely uncomfortable. "Ensign Morris, Admiral Haftel", he introduced them. "Admiral, you know Lt. Cmdr. Data already."
"Nice to see you again, Cmdr. Data", the admiral said. "Ensign Morris, I have already heard a lot about you." He gave her a polite smile, but she realized that she had to be careful. The man was an authority, and he was used to giving orders that others followed without question.
"You have already accomplished a lot" he said when he inspected the android body. "Nice work, well done. Is it ready to run?"
"Not yet", Data answered. "Its memory banks are empty. For the time being it is just a consciousless body with primitive action patterns."
"I see. So all that's left to do is to transfer the Ensign's memory to the android body?"
Data hesitated a moment before he answered. "Yes", he finally said, and Lavinia felt as if he intentionally left out a big part of their plans. But his evasiveness was ineffective. The admiral already knew everything they had stored in the ship's computer.
"According to my information, your plans are far in excess of that. Isn't it true that you want to transfer the personality of Ensign Morris?" Lavinia noted that he carefully avoided the word 'soul'.
Picard decided that it was time to break in. "We have no idea if that will be possible. After the transfer the android might feel as if she were still a human being, as long as she does not discover what she really is. She is programmed to do so. It's the same as we think the grass is green because we see it that way, but if the light is different, the color we are seeing changes, and we cannot be sure about its true color. Everything we perceive depends on the conditions and our sensory limitations. Personally, I don't think that such a transfer is possible."
The admiral shook his head. "Captain, I know what you want me to believe, but I also have carefully reviewed the project notes. I've been thoroughly informed about the whole matter, and I know that you plan to carry out a kind of energy transfer. If you succeed, it will be the beginning of a new era, and the consequences would be tremendous."
Lavinia could hardly understand the last words of the sentence. Suddenly the faces were far away, the laboratory was spinning around rapidly and she had to struggle for air. The last thing she saw was the fear and concern in Data's
"She is in sickbay now", Data told Geordi. They were sitting in Geordi's quarters and discussing the next steps to take, especially in consideration of Admiral Haftel's appearance. "Her constitution is rapidly worsening, and we have another two days left until we reach Earth. I will have to find out if there is a chance we could do the transfer without the Daystrom facilities. I have to talk to my father."
"Your father?" Geordi did not understand.
"He left a message for me in a chip in Juliana's head. I have copied the file to my own memory. Maybe I will find out something I have not yet determined. What I have not yet tried is to put all files containing my father's data into the ship's computer and to translate it into a holodeck sequence."
"OK, let's go ahead", Geordi said.
"Program complete" said the female computer voice. "You may enter when ready."
Data entered the simulation of the ship's cybernetic lab with the nearly finished android. His father, looking like he was in his early 40's, was already there, examining the body.
"Nice work", he said when he recognized Data. "I'm happy that you finally decided to follow in my footsteps and became a cyberneticist. I hope you will be more successful this time."
"How can you remember my last experiment?" Data asked with surprise. Noonien Soong smiled briefly, and his bright blue eyes were sparkling with intelligence. "I'm not only a passive file in your memory banks. Actually, I'm an independent program with the ability to access information and to evolve. Did you really think that I would have accepted my death without providing that something of me would stay alive? A part of me is in both of you boys - by the way, you should give Lore another chance. I am sure we can fix him. But I'm rambling. First we have to help your girlfriend."
"Computer, access communications log, Admiral Haftel."
"Insufficient security clearance to carry out request. Enter authorization code."
"Override access barrier, authorization Picard, Jean-Luc, Captain U.S.S. Enterprise, Alpha One."
"Access granted. Switching to playback mode."
"Subspace transmission, Admiral Haftel to Cmdr. Bruce Maddox, Daystrom Institute, encoded. I have inspected the laboratory and the work done so far. It's nearly finished. You must make sure that the energy transfer fails. Star Fleet cannot accept responsibility for the creation of a new android race. If the experiment succeeds and it is really possible to transfer a human consciousness to a nearly indestructible and invincible android body, the possible uses would be amazing. But the temptation offered by virtual immortality would embody a serious risk of misuse. The Federation is not ready for such a breakthrough. We have to prevent that. Haftel out."
"The old dream of eternal life", Picard murmured. "Sure, if anybody discovers what we are doing, it could potentially lead to war or to widespread conversion of organic beings to androids. Such an invention would be terribly interesting to many parties." He touched his comm badge. "Picard here. Commander Data, Counselor, meet me in the observation lounge. Immediately."
"It makes me feel uncomfortable that Lavinia Morris is not present", Deanna Troi said. "We must include her."
"Not at the moment, Counselor", Picard replied. "If we have to follow Admiral Haftel's suggestion, it would be better not to let her know anything about what's going to happen to her."
"But that means betraying her!" The Counselor was still not convinced.
"I'll talk to her later. First I want to hear your opinions."
"I would like to make a remark, Captain", Data said.
"Go ahead, Mr. Data."
"Frankly, I no longer believe that the transfer of consciousness is possible. I have had a conversation with an image of my father, created from the memories I have stored, and he told me that he had not found a way to do such a transfer, and most probably it will never be possible. All we can get is an android with the memories and the knowledge of Ensign Morris, and it will appear that the android will also have her personality, but only as a matter of behavior patterns. It will definitely not be identical with the human being we know as Lavinia Morris. I wished I had better news to tell, but it really seems as if we cannot carry out the experiment in the way we originally intended."
A moment of embarrassed silence followed. Deanna Troi was the first who regained the ability to speak. "Did you already tell her that?"
"Not yet", Data admitted. "I do not know how to tell her."
"That means, Ensign Morris will die?"
"I'm afraid I must say yes."
"Then we have to delicately inform her about the new turn of your project. Captain, I suggest that Mr. Data and I talk to the Ensign immediately."
Picard nodded. "Make it so."
"You are holding back something", Deanna Troi said to Data, while they walked to sickbay. "I can sense it."
"You can sense it?" Data asked, surprised.
"Yes, I can. It's not the same as with human beings, it has a different amplitude somehow, but I can sense something. I have been able to since you got the emotion chip. So what is it?"
Data sighed resignedly, knowing that he could no longer deceive the Counselor. "I did not tell the entire truth when I told the Captain that the transfer was not possible. In fact, my father has shown me a way that it can be done. But it will be difficult to carry it out unnoticed. I would have to make some adjustments to the machinery in the Daystrom labs. In light of the new situation I have to do it without the assistance of Cmdr. Maddox, and nobody must suspect what I am really doing."
"You are playing a dangerous game", the Counselor warned. "You are risking your career."
"I do not care about my career at the moment", Data said. "There are much more important things going on than any of you might realize."
"You lied to Captain Picard?" Lavinia could hardly believe what she was hearing. "I thought you were incapable of lying?"
"Actually I did not lie. I did just not reveal the full truth about the slim chance for success we still have. I am glad he did not inquire any further."
Data and the Counselor were sitting on either side of Lavinia's bed in sickbay and had been telling her about the latest events.
Lavinia closed her tired eyes for a moment. Due to the strong painkillers she had to take she didn't really feel her body. It was as if she didn't have a body at all. She wondered if this lack of sensations was similar to the awareness Data had in his artificial body. She was not able even to feel scared, although she had plenty of reasons for it.
Counselor Troi had tried to tell her the news in a delicate way without hurting her. But actually Lavinia was far beyond the state of being vulnerable. Everything around her seemed like a dream. Sometimes she felt as if the being known as Lavinia Morris wanted to leave the body that had become a burden and fly away like a bird, exploring worlds she had not been able to enter before.
"We will reach Earth in two days", Data continued explaining. "Try to survive. I will do what I can to help you. We do not want you to die. I need you." The last words were said in a whisper, barely audible. "I am sorry, but I must leave", he added then in his normal voice. "I have to report for duty. But a part of me is still with you, and I will come back to you as soon as I can. Counselor Troi will stay with you for a while, in case you want to talk."
She touched his hand and smiled faintly, but she was also touched by his attempt to be encouraging. "You have no idea how much that means to me. I trust in you. I know you will do your best."
When he had left, she sighed deeply and turned her attention to the Counselor. Deanna didn't say a word, but looked at her intently. She could sense the change in Lavinia's emotions and realized that she was already a step away from her former human existence.
"I'm not scared anymore", Lavinia started. "But I don't want to leave. A part of me wants to break free, to end this kind of existence, but another part wants to stay. Sometimes I watch myself from a distance, seeing me lying here, as if it were only a scene in a play."
"This is a rather common experience for people facing death", Deanna explained. "Maybe you'll also find yourself floating above the bed and watching yourself from above. Or you might see a dark tunnel with a light or a colorful picture at the end, ready to receive you. Also somebody to guide you might appear, maybe one of your ancestors or what is known as guardian angel in some religions. But if you want to stay alive, don't let it pull you away."
"Well, I think it's time to say good-bye to my friends", Lavinia said. "Would you please do me a favor and tell them that I want to see them now?"
"I'll call them. Don't worry. Everything will be all right."
"We are in Earth orbit now", Data explained. "The admiral has already left the ship. He seemed to be satisfied with my explanation." Lavinia nodded weakly. She had no energy left
for active movements. Saying good-bye to her friends had disturbed her. She had trouble accepting that she might not come back, and she still had this weird feeling of watching another person's life.
"I have already duplicated my neural matrix", Data continued. "The android is finished so far. All that is left to do is to transfer your neural matrix and your consciousness. That is what we need the Daystrom labs for. We will not lose time going by shuttle , but we will beam directly into the lab. Is there anything you want to finish before we leave?"
Lavinia shook her head. "No, it's all done. I'm prepared for whatever will happen to me. Let's go." Data touched his comm badge. "Transporter room three, two to beam down to the coordinates I gave you previously." A flickering light shower wrapped them up before they vanished.
A tall, slim man with dark hair and a blue uniform was already waiting for them. "I'm Commander Bruce Maddox", he introduced himself. "Welcome to the Daystrom Institute, Ensign Morris." After shaking her limp hand he welcomed Data, and Lavinia noted that he showed somewhat wooden behavior. "I'm sorry", he explained then. "I must admit, I have a problem with the experiment you want to carry out".
"You are not the first one", Lavinia stated dryly. "Everybody has a problem with it, except the subject herself." It was obvious that she irritated the commander with this reply.
He looked her over suspiciously. "You know that you have still a chance to undergo the standard medical procedure? That way you could stay alive. You know that you will not survive this experiment?"
"I know what I am doing. And I know that it's important to carry out this experiment. I am resolute in my decision, so let's not delay any longer. My time's running really short now."
The android body had already been beamed to the lab and was waiting in a cylinder similar to the one in the Enterprise lab. Another cylinder was to the right of it, ready to receive Lavinia. Data supported her as she entered it. He fastened several contacts on her head and covered it with a lightweight helmet containing blinking electronic devices. She felt a slight tickling, like current leakage. Data threw an encouraging look at her, meant to convey 'Do not worry, everything is under control'. "This device will scan your neural net" he explained loudly. "A similar device is connected to the android body, and if our experiment is successful, your neural structure will be transferred. This is a kind of programming we will do now. If everything turns out as it should, all your memories and behavior patterns will be incorporated into the android's brain." 'And your personality', he added in his thoughts. 'And hopefully even more. Father, I hope you were right.'
Commander Maddox was at the controls and checked the systems. Lavinia noted that Data used the opportunity to do something with the device covering her head. She was not certain what exactly he was doing, as he seemed to act with light speed, but she hoped that it would be effective.
"The systems are ready", Maddox announced. "We can begin the procedure."
Data pressed her hands, and when the Commander wasn't looking at them, he placed a light kiss on her lips. "I'm sure it won't be the last one", he whispered, revealing his emotions for a moment. Then he returned to his usual android behavior, closing the cylinder and quickly operating the controls with the precision of a positronic brain.
The intensity of the tickling increased. Lavinia closed her eyes, but she did not see darkness. She was still looking around the laboratory, but from a different point of view, like looking through a wide-angle lens. She saw her body, with closed eyes, and the twin body in the other cylinder, consciousless. She saw the two men speaking, but didn't understand a word. The biomonitors connected to her body indicated red alert. Something was apparently wrong. She tried to feel her body, but it was not possible. It was even not possible to open her eyes. Everything was out of control. She saw herself but was not able to act.
"That's the end", she thought. "I am dying. But where's the tunnel? Where's my guardian angel? I see only the lab. Has my time not come yet?"
Data examined her body, looked surprised, then looked at the android body in the other cylinder. He opened the cylinder and touched a spot where the android head was connected to the neck. It was the same kind of switch he had in his spinal column, and hopefully it would activate the android. If it worked, the android would open its eyes. He
stopped breathing, waiting anxiously for a reaction.
Suddenly she was able to open her eyes again and met Data's intense gaze. Something was different, but she was not able to determine exactly what it was. Her sensations were different. She tried to move her hands, but it was not possible. "That's it", she thought. "I'm still alive, but I'm paralyzed now. The experiment must have failed." She looked at her right side where she expected the cylinder with the android, but there was nothing but the wall with the computer controls. She slowly turned her head around, suspecting something. There she was, a lifeless body sunk down in the cylinder, the eyes closed, like a puppet with her strings cut. She had expected to feel something: surprise, astonishment, anger, maybe joy, but there was nothing. She was able to analyze the situation and realized that the experiment was obviously successful. Maybe she needed time to work this out.
"Hello Data", she managed to say, though with a flat, hoarse voice.
"She recognizes me!" he shouted happily. "The experiment has been successful!" Suddenly he remembered that he should be careful about what he was saying and added: "Though I am afraid that we have lost Ensign Morris. Her body shows no longer shows life signs."
Commander Maddox joined him at the cylinder and checked the controls. He nodded seriously. "Yes, she is dead. What a waste. I still don't understand why she has done this. She could still be alive."
Data exchanged a conspiring look with the Morris android. He was not sure, but according to his initial assessment the experiment had been a complete success. The expression in her eyes was so familiar. It had to be her. He would not accept any other fact.
"We have to inform her relatives", Maddox said. "And we have to arrange a funeral."
Data nodded, absent-mindedly. He was still trying to determine if the android looking at him was more than a mere replica of the woman he loved.
'So much information. So many data. My head is full of them. They are overrunning me. Facts, numbers, theories, an incredible amount of knowledge. I feel as if I were inside a big control center with hundreds of screens, each of them showing a different program. I'm disturbed. I can't handle this. I can't sort it out. I knew it would be different, but I wasn't prepared for this.
The pain has disappeared. I want to know if I can feel anything. I have to ask him to touch me.'
"Touch my hand, please", she said to Data. He did so.
'I can feel the touch. It is familiar, somehow. I can recognize the sensation. I want to move my hand. Right hand, move upwards. DO WHAT I WANT YOU TO DO! Heavens, will it always be this difficult? Like giving instructions to a stubborn computer? I thought the artificial body would be perfect? It's like navigating a shuttlecraft for the first time, like those simulations at the academy. Will I have to learn everything from the beginning? Will I always feel this weird distance from my body? Feel like a visitor in my own house?'
The android woman moved her right hand upwards, a bit clumsy and clipped, in a very artificial manner. Doubts were arising in Data. There had been no opportunity for him to determine if this was Lavinia. She would have to tell him. But in the end maybe she didn't know herself.
"It will take some time" he said to Cmdr. Maddox. "She's like a newborn child. We have to be patient. I suggest that we take her to her quarters aboard the Enterprise to see if she recognizes anything."
"How long will the ship be staying in Earth orbit?" the Commander asked.
"About two weeks", Data replied. "Some repair work has to be done. I hope you will not have any objections."
Maddox shook his head. "Not for the moment. But I'll visit you at least every other day. I have to make detailed records. This is still a Starfleet project."
Everything looked familiar. She had left her quarters only a few hours ago, but now it felt like centuries. 'I don't belong here', she thought. 'I don't even belong to myself. I can't handle this. And the worst thing is this lack of emotions and this terrible chaos inside. I have no idea how to take control over it.'
Data noted that she still had problems with coordinating her movements. He had no idea if he had faced the same kind of difficulties when he was first activated, because all his memories of this time had been erased, as Juliana had told him.
"What do you feel?" he asked.
"I feel disoriented. There are so many things going on in this body, my brain is overflowing with processes and
subprocesses and subprocesses of subprocesses, and most of them are beyond my control. I feel like a small systems operator in a huge computer center full of self-aware machines. If this is my new body, it has a kind of self- consciousness. There's one too many beings inside it."
He thought for a moment. "It must have something to do with my neural matrix", he wondered then. "Do you remember who you are?"
"I am Lavinia Morris, the same Lavinia Morris who left these quarters only a few hours ago. At least that's the way I feel. I don't believe that I have died. It seems more likely that the transfer was successful."
"If you are still Lavinia Morris, do you feel something for me?"
She looked at him with a nearly desperate expression in her android eyes. "I know that I feel something for you, but I am not really able to feel sensations. I perceive sensory impressions, but it's so far away. It's so - neutral. It's horrible! Is that the way you felt all the time before you inserted the emotion chip?"
"I think so", he said sadly. "I felt disappointment, sometimes, but it was only in an intellectual manner. It was nothing I could sense with my entire body; it was only limited to my brain. But you shouldn't be experiencing that. We have improved your design. You should be able to feel. Maybe you need more time to get accustomed to your new body. Wait... I have an idea."
He took her by her shoulders and rested his hands there for a while, allowing her to concentrate on the sensation of his touch. When he felt a slight relaxation in her artificial muscles, he embraced her, holding her tightly. He hoped that she would feel the warmth his body radiated, and not only as a measurable change of temperature. "Try not to think", he instructed her. "Try to let it go. I know how difficult that is with a body like ours where so many processes are going on at the same time. You have to learn to shut them down. Try to let your mind go blank. You have all the abilities you need to control this body. But don't try to force it. Just let it flow. Close your eyes and let yourself be carried along by the ongoing stream. And remember to breathe. You don't have to, as this body needs breathing only for temperature regulation, but breathing will help you to relax. Humans consider breathing to be the essence of life."
She realized that she had not been breathing since the artificial body was activated. She breathed in and out, in a steady rhythm, imagining that the hundreds of subprocesses going on were like candle lights she blew out one by one. And step by step the blinding control center darkened with every flame being extinguished. She realized that thinking in pictures made it easier to control the processes. And the fewer lights she saw, the more she sensed impressions that were familiar from her other life. She could feel the warmth of his body, the tension between them, and the fluttering in her heart, although she had no idea how the artificial heart worked and why it could cause feelings so similar to the ones she remembered. She also remembered the Genesis chapter of the Bible, a book that had once been very important for a religious community on ancient Earth. It started with something like "... and the Spirit of the Lord moved over the waters". Spirit, breathe, a big stream, a dark sea, a dawning far away and Data's affection wrapping her up like a coat woven of sunbeams. She realized that suddenly there was a strong affinity between them, stronger than was possible when she had been human. They were two of a kind now.
Personal Log Ensign Lavinia Morris, Stardate 49034.3. This is the first day in my new body. The feeling is still disconcerting. Data has told me the story of Ira Graves. He has no memory of the time when he shared his body with this brilliant scientist, but ship's records filled the gap. I'm still wondering if it was only a pattern of behavior or the whole Ira Graves that possessed Data for a while. What is now left in the computer's memory banks is only his memory and his experience, but not his personality.
I am trying to figure out if I'm still myself or if something is missing. I'm still amazed by the incredible amount of knowledge I have now. It's similar to asking the ship's computer for something, with the one difference that I don't have to speak. I form a question in my mind, and in the same moment I have the answer. Another intriguing thing is that now I can play any musical instrument I wish now. The only problem I have is mastering my singing voice. I have no problems in reproducing any singing style I want, ranging from Maria Callas to L'yunna Iwasake Talun, but that isn't
really satisfactory. I feel like a music box then, not like an artist. But Data told me that after an initial period of getting acquainted I should regain my own timbre.
Another problem is my legal status and Starfleet rank. I am awaiting word from the Captain and Starfleet on these issues. There are only two choices. On the one hand, we can make the truth known, which would mean that I would lose all rights and properties I had in my human form and I would have to start from zero. I'm confident that I would pass all the tests in the academy battery successfully. In any case I would lose time and I would have to leave the Enterprise. The other possibility is not to tell anybody about the transference and to act as if nothing had happened. But that would also mean that I would have to hide my abilities and to feign human behavior. As far as I'm concerned, I would prefer the second possibility. Commander Maddox has been instructed to handle my death as a secret until the final decision has been made.
I have refused to see anybody so far, except Data and the Captain. I got over the initial problems in controlling my body, using some of the holodeck rehabilitation programs, although I'm not perfect yet. In general I'm surprised at the human-like characteristics of the artificial body. Now I can understand why Juliana Soong didn't detect that she's not human. I can sweat, I can breathe, I have a heartbeat. I even shed tears, and my hair has the ability to grow. I haven't tried yet to open a flap and to take a look inside, however. There's only one thing that scares me: the off switch. I know that every android has one, in case of emergency, but I still don't like this idea. It really makes me feel like a machine. While I'm writing this, I realize that it's kind of a contradiction to refer to myself as a feeling machine, although I tried my best once to convince Data that his feelings are of the same quality as human feelings.
This picture of my lifeless human body in the cylinder is haunting me. I feel as if I was watching my dead sister. This really could reflect the truth. What if only the memories and behavior patterns were reproduced? I will never know if I am really the original Lavinia Morris. I will have no opportunity to prove it. But as long as I don't know, I prefer the idea that it's really me. As far as I can tell from the records, at least Ira Graves had been himself while inhabiting Data's body.
"You know why I've called for you?" the Captain asked. He was sitting behind his desk in his ready room and looked at her intensely, trying to figure out if he was talking to a stranger.
Lavinia nodded. "Yes, Sir."
"Good. Take a seat."
Lavinia sat down and took a deep breath. "What will happen now?" she asked.
Captain Picard leaned back and folded his hands on his chest. "I've been discussing your case with Admiral Haftel and Commander Maddox. I've also asked the Counselor for advice. We are facing a completely new situation. You know that Starfleet Command has tended to treat you as an experimental subject and that you should not underestimate the effects that could have on your life. We already have had some tiresome discussions about these issues in the past, regarding Commander Data and his daughter Lal, as well. Now we have a slightly different case, but the point is that you are not only a member of my crew, but also a result of pioneering scientific progress. You can imagine that they will want to build more of your kind, although they strenuously deny that. They have approached me with the request of leaving you at the Daystrom Institute for a longer period of time, as they want to do some research with you. I might have been able to get them to agree that you continue your service on board the Enterprise and visit them at regular intervals, but there's another problem: They are of the opinion that it would be irresponsibly dangerous for the only two sentient androids that exist right now to be in the same location. If there were to be an accident an invaluable amount of cybernetic knowledge would be destroyed. They insist that you and Data serve on different ships. I know that you have a serious personal relationship, a fact which they apparently are not aware of, but even if they were, I'm sure they wouldn't change their minds. Now I'm awaiting your suggestions. I must admit, for the moment I have no idea how to prevent you being assigned elsewhere."
"I could resign from duty", Lavinia suggested after thinking for a while. She realized that it was possible for her to maintain a reasonable thought process while another part of her was totally disturbed and nearly panicking. This
was another remarkable difference from her former self.
She continued talking quietly: "But that would mean that I had to leave the Enterprise as well. But... wait a moment... what about this: Data and I could do some more research in the cybernetics field, and I am sure that together we would make remarkable progress. I tend to assume that only together we are in a position to do really effective research. For example, there's still Data's brother, Lore. I'm confident that there must be a way to fix him. But neither Data nor I can do this alone. We must work together. And, honestly, the Enterprise is as safe a place as any other location. Don't you think it would make people suspicious if I were to quit my duty here so soon after carrying out the experiment? Do you really think anybody would believe that nothing had happened?"
The Captain smiled. "That's exactly what I expected you to say. I was hoping that you would have the knowledge to continue with Dr. Soong's work. So maybe that's the argument we need. I'll talk to the Admiral immediately and let you know what will come out of this. Until further notice I instruct you to tell nobody what really happened at the Daystrom Institute, not even your closest friends. Tell them that you finally decided to undergo the standard medical procedure and are still human. I know that under normal circumstances it's nearly impossible to detect that you're an android now. Only my senior officers know about the affair. Keep it that way. Dismissed, Ensign."
The church was approximately 800 years old. Sunlight streamed through the colored mosaic windows, and the organ was playing a piece written by Camille Saint-Saens. Lavinia had retired to this holodeck simulation of a church in her hometown to find answers for the questions haunting her. The artificial body did not require sleep, so she had plenty of time now. The most urgent question for her was whether or not the quality of her life had changed. She had never been very religious, though her parents had been. But now she felt a deep need to see this place.
The simulation was perfect. She knew that this wasn't real, but she could feel the cold brickwork of the columns under her fingers, and the sunbeams were reflected by millions of small dust particles that were always floating in unfiltered air. Even the sensory system of this sophisticated android body was fooled by the virtual scenery. In her present state of mind she would also have believed it if somebody had told her that the whole experiment hadn't been real, but only a dream or a holodeck simulation. If even the computer generated touch of a hand or the violating shot of a virtual weapon could feel real and even hurt or kill, then what was the quality of reality? One could spend one's whole life on the holodeck without having a clue. This was a question for the Counselor. There had to be a difference, but she had no idea for the moment what it could be. Sometimes life seemed to follow certain rules, like a program. Sometimes the lifelines of people met several times through the years, by chance, as it seemed. Really by chance? Or was the whole universe nothing else but a ship a bottle? Who could tell?
She shook her head and took a seat in one of the wooden pews, folding her hands and trying to find peace in a prayer.
"What are you doing here?"
Unnoticed, Data had entered the holodeck and sat down beside her. Her internal clock told her that she had been there already for two hours and still had no clue, though she felt a bit better now, thanks to the peaceful, spiritual atmosphere in the old building.
"I'm praying", she explained. "It's a religious ritual. I'm talking to God and trying to find answers to my questions."
"But you have a great deal of knowledge in your neural net, and you could also ask the ship's computer if there's anything else you need to know!" The astonished look in his face showed her that he had no idea what she was talking about. She smiled and felt a warm wave of affection when she looked at him. The sharp profile with the prominent nose made a beautiful silhouette against the bright background of one of the stained glass windows.
"It's not for sheer knowledge. I am trying to find peace here. The church has always been my refuge when I didn't know what to do."
He nodded, listening to the organ. "You have a liking for ancient music. I assume it's appropriate for this kind of environment."
"You could say so." She smiled. "Let's get out of here. I'm prepared to meet people. What about going to Ten Forward?"
"I have no objections."
When they entered Ten Forward, Lavinia had the feeling as if people were stopping their conversations to turn around and stare at her. She was on the verge of wanting to leave the lounge. But Data took her hand firmly and encouraged her to stay. "Remember", he whispered, "nothing has happened. They don't know. Rumors, nothing else."
They went to the bar where Guinan was preparing some colorful drinks. When the El-Aurian noticed Lavinia, a mysterious smile flashed across her dark face. "It's good to have you back", she said, and Lavinia felt as if the barkeeper could look down to the bottom of her soul. More than that, Guinan seemed to know more about the essence of Lavinia's existence than Lavinia did herself.
"Don't be concerned about people looking at you", Guinan continued. "Rumors are fast - and transitory, as always. They have little to worry about at the moment. Just don't give them any new stuff to chat about. I have a new creation you might like to try."
Without awaiting their approval, the strange, wise woman filled two glasses with a rainbow colored liquor, seasoning the beverage with a silvery powder. "It's just what you need right now", she explained.
Lavinia curiously took a first small sip and needed some time for tasting the beverage. It was nearly everything: tickling, sour as lemon, bitter and hot as ginger, sweet as honey, and these were only a few of the many shades of taste impressions she perceived. The effect of the drink was also remarkable: Suddenly she felt light and very peaceful. She had the feeling as if there was nothing to care about.
She looked at Data. What did he think about the rainbow liquor? The satisfaction in his face told her that he had similar feelings. Feelings. She realized that her response to the beverage was not very different from the reactions she had when she had been in her human body. At least the impressions and the associations were the same.
Data saw Geordi sitting alone at a table and looking at them. "I have promised myself to look for a girlfriend for him", he explained to Lavinia. "Now I have to do something in this direction. Do you know an adequate female crew member?"
Lavinia smiled. "It's not that easy", she explained. "My friend Marcie is also lonely, but I doubt that she would be the right woman for Geordi. However, even if we think we have found the right one for him, there's only a slight chance that they fall in love with each other. Love is not predictable. It's absolutely irrational."
"But I fell in love with you? And I consider myself to be very rational."
"Yes, maybe", Lavinia said. The smile in her face evolved to a broad grin. "But you haven't chosen me for logical reasons, have you?"
His facial expression changed into a frown, then into total blankness. "I suppose I have not" he said then. "However, we came here to meet people, right? Maybe we should begin by joining Geordi at the table."
She nodded. "Good idea."
La Forge seemed to be a bit uncertain about how he should behave when they came to the table and said hello. "It's okay", Lavinia said. "I'm doing fine."
"The Captain has briefed us", he said. "I must admit, I had serious doubts that the experiment would turn out to be a success. But, hey, I'm happy for you, even though you seem to have new problems now. Life ain't easy for you."
"Life ain't easy for anybody", Lavinia answered. "How are you doing?"
"Fine, thanks. I just don't know what to do with my spare time. Data is occupied for the moment, and I must admit, I don't have many friends here... oh, sorry, that was not nice to you."
Lavinia shook her head. "I know that you and Data are close friends and that he has had only a little time for you. But now the worst is behind us, and we can go back to normal life. You'll benefit from that, too."
It was not easy to determine on a dark face, but Lavinia was sure that La Forge was blushing now. "It was not fair to whine about my own personal situation while you had to fight for your life", he explained then. "It's just that I'm a bit down at the moment. I'm sorry."
"That's okay", Lavinia said. Suddenly she noticed that Data had left the table. When she looked around for him, she saw him coming back with a nice looking blonde woman wearing a blue uniform with a lieutenant's rank pips. She was so slim and wispy that she looked like a fairy from one of the ancient tales from Earth.
"May I introduce Lieutenant Dorothy Fairbanks", Data said. "She's one of the new crew members and will officially join the ship's service by tomorrow. She is a linguist and will assist the Science section in understanding new races. I found her sitting alone and invited her to join us."
"Nice to meet you", Ms. Fairbanks greeted them. Lavinia noted that her eyes were as blue as the uniform and that even her voice sounded as clear as a fairy's. 'What a pity that the VISOR offers such limited sight', she thought. 'At least Geordi's hearing is not affected.
"I'm so excited", the linguist continued talking, when she had taken a seat between Data and Geordi. "I have served aboard the Nelson for a couple of months, but we were only traveling to known parts of the galaxy. I feel really honored that I was chosen to serve aboard the flagship of the Federation. And you have some quite interesting people here..."
While she said that, Lavinia noticed that she was looking at Data quite intently. 'I wonder if she already knows that he's an android', she thought, and she realized that she felt quite uncomfortable about that look.
"Commander Data, I have already heard a lot about you", she continued with her silver-bell voice. 'That's enough of this', Lavinia thought. "I'm sure you have also heard a lot about Commander La Forge", she said then. "He's the Chief Engineer of the ship."
"Sure", the fairy said and turned her attention to Geordi with a bright smile that could have melted an iceberg. "You work in the heart of the ship. Must be a fascinating job."
"Um... yes", Geordi stammered. "Um... quite fascinating. I can show you around, some time, um... if you don't mind..."
"Data?" Lavinia whispered into the android's ear. "I think we should leave now." Before he could ask a question, she continued more sharply: "Your work here is finished for the moment. I have to tell you something in private." He nodded slightly, closing his eyes for a moment. They stood up. "Sorry, but we have some work to do", Data explained. "I'll see you later, Geordi. Lieutenant..."
Lavinia took his hand and nearly dragged him out. She knew that it was stupid, but she felt the urgent need to remove him from the fairy's influence. She had no idea if he could be affected by her charms, but she didn't want to find it out either.
"Correct me if I am wrong", Data said while they walked along the corridor to the turbolift. "But I had the impression that Lieutenant Fairbanks was the main reason why you wanted to leave so quickly. I haven't noted anything in her behavior that might pass as annoying."
Lavinia looked a bit embarrassed. "There was nothing wrong with her behavior. I just thought it would be better to leave those two alone. She seemed to be pretty interested in you, and I thought your intention was to introduce her to Geordi..."
He nodded. "Yes. I hadn't noticed that she paid so much attention to me. It might have been distracting. I hope Geordi will be entertaining enough. He seems to have problems in that particular area of human interaction."
"You could say so." Another broad grin appeared on Lavinia's face. "Data, promise me one thing."
"Yes?" He raised his eyebrows, fully attentive.
"Never change your way of expressing things, now matter how far you come in mastering your emotions. You would lose a big part of your personality."
He seriously shook his head. "My emotions will never affect my way of talking. I have improved my language by correcting my programming for the use of contractions, but I am convinced that besides that I express things in the best possible way. I feel no need for a change."
"Good." Lavinia was satisfied.
"But there was something personal you wanted to tell me?"
"That was just an excuse to get you out of Ten Forward."
"Oh. I see. Well then... I have to tell you something. But not here. By the way: Spot needs to be fed. Will you accompany me to my quarters?"
"Sure. Need you to ask?"
As soon as the tuna was served, the cat wasn't interested in anything else. Data threw a pensive look at the furry animal. "I wonder if I'll ever understand this creature or be able to predict her actions. Cats appear to be one of the last mysteries in the universe, although we are so used to their presence. I have tried to discover if cats are able to communicate with us somehow, but I haven't been very successful so far."
"Maybe you should ask our new linguist", Lavinia suggested with an evil grin.
Data tilted his head jerkily. "Well, maybe. I will take it into consideration." Then he gave her a wry Lore smile. "Although I thought you didn't want me to have much conversation with that lady?"
Lavinia sighed. "Forget that. I was just a bit jealous. Isn't that stupid?"
"Not at all. According to my records, jealousy is a very common human feeling. In fact, it has even influenced history
and politics. In the 16th century, for example..."
"Stop it, please", Lavinia said, laughing. "I can access my own records, if I feel the need to. You are digressing."
"Oh, yes. Sorry. That was not what I wanted to tell you."
"So what is it?" Lavinia realized that Data was somehow beating around the bush - which was very unusual for him.
"Um... actually I had the feeling that since your conversion you seemed to be acting differently towards me. I wonder if this comes from the difficulties you still have with your new body."
"Differently?" She didn't know what he was talking about.
"Yes. Somehow - distanced. Did I do something wrong?"
"Oh", she sighed. "That! No. You didn't do anything wrong. And my feelings for you haven't changed. Would I be jealous if they had? It's just that I'm still not thoroughly familiar with the new body, and the uncertainty of my future scares me a bit. All these things affect my emotional behavior - damn, I am starting to talk like you! I think I'd better stop talking and do something else instead."
It was time to find out more about the sensory capabilities of the new body. "Computer, decrease brightness by 30 percent", she said. "Have you ever made love to another android?" she asked then with a seductive voice.
He shook his head seriously. "Not yet. But I suppose I'm about to now." He looked her over for a moment, apparently thinking about something. Then he took her hand and dragged her to the bed. "Lie down", he said. "Close your eyes and try to think of nothing."
"Not even of you?"
"Of course, that's the only exception. Think of me as much as you want. I hope you won't even have a chance to think of anything else. If not, I should revise my programming."
She obediently laid down and closed her eyes. "Don't open them", he said. "I could become very unpleasant if you did so."
Some moments of silence passed. She started wondering if Data were still there, when she suddenly felt his hands opening and gently removing her clothing. The he began stroking every part of her body, patiently waiting for every nuance of reaction, testing different ways of touching until he found out what was best for her. He spent some more time on the velvet inside of her thighs, amazed at how perfect her skin was. He wouldn't have been able to tell the difference himself without knowing about her true nature. Later he experimented with different materials and implements, such as ice and feathers, various types of food he ordered from the replicator. He especially enjoyed covering her body with honey, which he licked off later like Spot would, who tried not to miss a single particle of tuna in the bowl. When they later melted together, she wasn't able to tell any difference from the times before, with one exception: she felt stronger now, and somehow the experience was more intense, although she wouldn't have thought that this was possible.
They finally ended up embracing each other and wishing that they could feel exhausted. "I'd like to be tired", Lavinia said. "You can make that happen, if you wish to", Data explained. "There's a special subprogram designed for that purpose. You're not only able to feign human behavior, you can also feel it, if you want."
"Then I want to dream", Lavinia explained. "I haven't been remembering my dreams for days. I need them back."
"Computer, shut off the light", Data said. Darkness wrapped them up, and after a while Lavinia fell asleep.
When she woke up the next morning, a familiar smell tantalized her nose: Coffee. And this was a smell that couldn't be achieved by simply using the replicator to generate a cup of coffee. Data had somehow managed to reconstruct a coffee machine and to brew the coffee from genuine coffee grinds. Lavinia took a deep breath, stood up and went to the source of the smell. The table was laid and breakfast was already prepared. He even had thought of flowers.
"It's been a long time since I smelled this", she said with surprise. "How did you know that I love coffee so much?"
Data smiled, and she couldn't remember ever having seen a similar intensely loving expression on his face. "Marcie told me. We've had a conversation recently."
"I see", she said and approached him, kissing him tenderly. "How attentive... I think you're the perfect mate."
When she said that, she felt his body stiffening. He took her hands and looked at her quite seriously. "Did you say that flippantly, or do you mean something deeper?" he asked then, almost anxiously. Anxiously?
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"You made a remark about me as the perfect mate. Could you
imagine me as your husband?"
Now she caught herself by tilting her head in a very Data- like way. "Honestly, Data?"
"Honestly", he confirmed.
"Honestly, I've never thought of marrying anybody so far. But - if I should marry, it would have to be you."
"You need time to think about it?" he asked.
She felt helpless. She would have loved to simply say "Yes" to his proposal, but things appeared to be too complicated at present to rush into such a decision. "I want us to stay together", she explained further. "But, please give me some time. This is a completely new idea for me. I need to digest it first."
Data nodded. "I understand that. I have learned that human women often display such ambivalent behavior when it comes to marriage. I do clearly remember how Keiko wanted to cancel the wedding at the last minute..." A look into Lavinia's eyes told him that she already knew the story, and he stopped talking. "Well, the coffee is getting cold. We'd better start breakfast now."
"Agreed", Lavinia said with relief. She knew that she would have to make her decision sooner or later, but for the moment it was a better idea to concentrate on their breakfast.
Due to the repair work, most crew members were on shore leave. The ship was nearly deserted now, with only a skeleton crew on board. Marcie Sigerson hadn't left yet, but Lavinia knew that her friend wanted to visit her parents in Virginia. When Lavinia returned to her quarters and checked her terminal for incoming messages, she found a note from Marcie, asking why she hadn't contacted her earlier. Lavinia sighed. So far she had avoided any contact with others, especially in light of the instruction not to tell the truth about what had happened.
She kicked herself mentally and touched the comm badge. "Morris to Sigerson."
"Sigerson here. Finally! What has happened? How are you doing?"
"Take it easy", Lavinia hurried to soothe her friend. "I'm OK. Nothing has happened. I'm still myself."
"You mean that... no, we better continue this in a private conversation. I'll come to your quarters, okay?"
"Okay." Resistance was futile.
Marcie almost broke into the room and hugged Lavinia with such intensity that she expected to feel her bones crushing. Lavinia told her the story exactly the way she was supposed to tell it, but she realized that Marcie wasn't easy to fool. However, she seemed to buy it at last.
"So you're certainly feeling quite weak now?"
"A bit", Lavinia admitted. "But I'm doing better every day. Data asked me this morning if I could imagine marrying him."
"Marry? Data? Uh! That's news!" Marcie took a deep breath. "Honestly, Lavinia, we've been through all of this, remember?"
"I don't know what you're talking about", Lavinia said innocently.
"C'mon, we've been at this point before! What did you tell him?"
"I told him that I need some time to think it over."
Marcie nodded with satisfaction. "Good. At least you didn't say anything wrong. You haven't closed any doors, have you?"
Lavinia shook her head. "No. Marcie... why do I have the feeling that you don't exactly approve of what I am telling you?"
"I approve of it, really, and I'd be happy for you. But I know you, my dear, and I know how you tend to complicate things. Are you clear about your feelings?"
"I think so. But I'm afraid of making a decision. I mean... he's the man I've been looking for, but yet... there is something..."
"You're not certain? Is it because he's an android?"
Lavinia bit her tongue before any secrets could slip out. If only she could tell the truth... "No, that's not the problem. You know that has never made any difference for me."
"No, it really hasn't", Marcie stated dryly. "You even fell in love with your computer terminal at school..."
"That's not funny, Marcie."
"It was not supposed to be funny. But, seriously, what's the problem then? Are you afraid of hurting him? Ruining the relationship, as you did so many times before? Afraid of your feelings? Afraid that there may be bad times, too?"
"No... no... I don't know. I just need time. Let's change the topic, please. When will you leave the ship? Do you have any plans for your shore leave?"
Marcie realized that she wouldn't get any more information from Lavinia for the time being and gave in. There would be time to discuss this later.
After Marcie left her quarters, Lavinia sank down on the sofa and tried to recall the dream she had last night. She was a bit disturbed, for based on what she knew about the construction of her positronic matrix and neural net she should have been able to remember every detail of last night's dreams, but she could not access anything. It seemed
as if there were a barrier. Or maybe she just had not been able to dream yet? Maybe it had only been a deep, dreamless sleep?
It was not time for sleeping now, but she was curious to follow that scent. Data had described his dreams to her, and she wondered if her dreams would be different from the dreams she had before this new life of hers.
She locked the door to her quarters and switched off the lights. Now only the shimmer of the stars outside lit her quarters. The planet Earth had just appeared in the window frame, like a jewel on a dark velvet pillow. One of so many jewels outside: sapphires, rubies, emeralds... and all of them inhabited by tiny creatures, trying hard to find meaning for their lives, that is, if they were sentient. Was it desirable to be a sentient being? Sentient *and* emotionally aware? Would Data ever regret his new ability to feel emotions?
Maybe the dream would bring the answer she needed. She lay down on her bed, closed her eyes and accessed her dream program. With a little luck it should work now.
I'm awakening. The door chime is sounding. I can't remember having dreamed anything so far, and I feel a bit disappointed about that. Who wants to see me?
"Come in!" I say. The computer takes this as an instruction to unlock the door. Light falls in from the corridor, and the entrance appears to be almost a white hole to my eyes that aren't accustomed to light yet. Nobody's there. Curious, I stand up and walk to the door. I look up and down the corridor, but still nobody's there. Everything is silent. As most of the crew has left already, this does not surprise me. Suddenly I see a movement at the end of the hallway, something like a shadow. I'm leaving my quarters, to see what it is.
"Computer, are there any persons within a range of 30 meters?" I ask loudly.
"Negative" the calm female voice says. "No life signs within the specified range."
"Anything else? Anything beyond the ordinary?"
"A slight subspace distortion 25 meters from your present location. The coordinates are marked on the ship's layout on your right side."
I'm looking at the wall where a layout of the Enterprise appears on the black information screen. The distortion is right in front of the turbolift. I'm accelerating my steps. When I reach the turbolift, the doors are open, but nobody's there. I'm entering.
"Take me to the location specified by the last passenger", I instruct the computer.
"The last destination was the Main Bridge."
"Well... then... take me to the Main Bridge."
The lift stops. I'm expecting curious looks from the Bridge crew when the door opens. I'm hesitantly entering the Bridge - and realize in an instant that nobody's there.
Nobody's there? That's not possible. I haven't heard of any alert or any strange occurrence - except the subspace distortion the computer reported. Am I trapped in another continuum? What's happening?
The Bridge itself looks somehow different - darker than usual, and with blue shading all around. Looking at the instruments I realize that even the equipment is slightly unfamiliar.
Is this an altered time line? I'm feeling a bit scared. If only somebody were there!
But... wait a moment... there's somebody sitting in the Captain's Chair. I'm moving forward, but it seems as if I were walking through a swamp. Everything seems to happen in slow motion. A time anomaly? What's going on here? There are stairs instead of a ramp. The person in the chair turns around and looks at me.
He looks like Data, but what kind of odd uniform is this? I've never seen that before. I'm looking down on myself and suddenly realize that I'm wearing the same kind of uniform. It has a breastplate and looks a lot like armor. It's hard to move in that thing.
I'm going down the stairs and sit down in the Counselor's chair.
He smiles. His eyes are glowing like the eyes of a tiger, yellow lights in the dark shades surrounding us. The shadows seem to close in. That's not exactly a smile. It's the caricature of a smile. That's not Data. I'm missing the sweet, ever present curious look in his face. This face knows a lot more about the traps emotions can embody. It knows ME.
"Lore?" I nearly don't dare to ask. It's impossible. He can't be here.
He nods. "Smart girl." He suddenly laughs scornfully, without any apparent reason.
"I don't find anything funny", I state calmly. "Where is the crew? What's going on here? Why are you alive?"
"In fact, I am not alive", he says with a sinister grin. "Not yet. But I will be."
"What makes you so sure about that?" I ask. I somehow get the feeling that all this isn't real, but I'm unable to
determine what exactly is going on.
"You will assemble me."
I shake my head vehemently. "That's not final yet. And I'm not the one who has to make the decision on that issue."
"YOU HAVE TO ASSEMBLE ME."
I stare at him in disbelief. "Why are you so sure about that?"
"You don't have a choice", he says. "It's already written. You can't escape your fate."
He slowly gets up from the chair and pulls me up from my seat. When he touches me, I feel something like a spontaneous discharge of electricity. It burns. He drags me to the big view screen. Outside there's a vast star field. He puts one arm around my shoulders and looks at the stars. I throw a glance at his sharp profile. His mouth is relaxed now, and the eyes are open wide, as if he wanted to take in the majestic picture completely. I should feel uncomfortable, but I don't, and that disturbs me.
"We can fix it", a voice says from behind.
I turn around. The middle-aged man entering the Bridge looks a bit like Data and Lore, but his hair is brown, his eyes are blue, and his skin has a natural human color. He wears odd brown clothes: wide, baggy pants, a kind of coat and slippers. Dr. Noonien Soong. He comes down to us and takes Lore's face. Lore doesn't move.
"I've always promised you that", Soong says. I feel like I am in the audience of a play. None of this is real. Have I died? Is this what's happening after death?
"It's only a dream", Soong says, looking at me with wise, friendly eyes. "Your dream program is working."
"But... why are you here? In my dreams?"
"It's not that different from the processes going on in a human brain during dreaming", Dr. Soong explains. "You are processing everything that's important for you. Facts, Experiences, Wishes, all that is mixed and combined in a new way. What you see here is all you."
Lore still doesn't move, and I suddenly notice that Dr. Soong has pushed the off switch. "It's quite easy", he says. "Look." Before I can intervene, he quickly removes Lore's left forearm and hands it to me. "Have a look at it", he says. "Carefully." I'm taking the arm, and I'm shuddering. That's somehow scary. The skin is warm, and when I touch the palm, the fingers move. I start and nearly drop it.
"That's not the way a scientist acts", Dr. Soong says disapprovingly. "You have to learn to deal with that. Have you opened a flap in your own body yet?"
I shake my head and stare down to the ground, still holding Lore's arm. "Look carefully now", Noonien Soong says. "LOOK!" I'm unable to move while he disassembles Lore part by part, meticulously placing the parts in a line in front of the view screen. "Don't forget the way they are connected. Look at these circuits. Here, the servos. It's highly important that you connect the parts in the right sequence."
He's finished with disassembling now. Lore's lying at our feet, in pieces.
"It's not fair", I say.
"Life is never fair", Dr. Soong replies. "He deserves a chance. You have to give him that chance."
And then he disappears in a flash.
When I awaken, I find myself lying in front of the alcove in the laboratory where Lore's parts are kept. I am activating my comm badge. It responds with a chirp.
"Morris to Data."
"Data here. Are you all right?"
I'm sighing with relief. It has only been a bad dream. And I must have been sleepwalking. That's upsetting. I've never walked in my sleep before.
"Yes, I'm all right. I... have just been dreaming."
"Shall I come over?"
"No. That's not necessary. Thank you."
He's closing the connection. I'm looking at the transparent alcove and feel uncomfortable at the sight. It's foggy inside, because of the freezing temperature that keeps the bioplastic components intact. I am again reminded of a Frankenstein laboratory and hurry to leave.
But when I reach the door, it's closed, and I can't open it. I'm touching the comm badge, but it doesn't work anymore. A scary feeling creeps over my spine.
The cover of the alcove suddenly flies open, and the fog billows into the room in clouds. Body parts are flying through the air, tumbling around in a strange round dance and suddenly putting themselves together. Lore reassembles himself.
Data was shaking Lavinia's shoulder. Finally she opened her eyes and looked around, disturbed. "What has happened?" she asked, blinking.
"You didn't answer my call, so I decided to override the lockout and to enter your quarters. Your dream program appears to be malfunctioning. I was afraid you wouldn't wake up."
"I'm okay", Lavinia objected and grasped his shoulder for
support when she tried to sit up. "I just had a bad dream."
"Do you want to tell me about it?" Data asked, trying to be helpful.
"Not yet. Later. I have to go through it first. It was not exactly the kind of dream I'd like to have regularly."
Personal Log, Ensign Lavinia Morris, Stardate 49035.8. I have recorded my first dream and am still thinking about it. The message seems to be clear: It is of essential importance for me to reassemble Lore, although I have no idea why this should be important for me personally. I have been accessing all the necessary information from the ship's computer and even requested a remote access to the Daystrom database which has been granted to me. During all these investigations I found out that I will most probably have to carry out this work together with Data, although I strongly suspect that he will not be fond of my idea. I have to suggest this in a very delicate way. At least it's his brother, and he might miss him in a way. I will also make the argument that this Soong prototype is too valuable to Federation science. We cannot allow ourselves to ignore such a tremendous source of research potential. I must admit, however, that this is apparently not the main reason why I am so intrigued by the thought of reassembling this person.
Lavinia sat in her quarters, in a comfortable seat behind the computer console she recently had installed. The console was much like Data's console and allowed her to do most of her research work without going into the lab. She had already been sitting there for nearly one hour and she was still hesitating, studying the schematics of her own android body. She had decided that the time had come to take a look inside, but she simply couldn't take the first step.
'If you prick me, do I not leak?' Not really. When any member of the android body was removed, the artificial veins and lymphatic vessels were sealed immediately, and the coolant fluids as well as the synthetic blood and other body fluid replacements were safely kept inside. Nothing could go wrong, and yet she was afraid that it might be painful.
She decided that as a first step it was sufficient to open one of the fingernail flaps. !click! She folded her nail back. Nothing remarkable happened. A few blinking diodes, no pain.
She closed the small flap. Bolder, she decided to try a bigger one. She pressed a spot on the inside of her right forearm. A buzzing noise indicated that the sealing process was going on, and only a second later the flap flew open.
Lavinia realized to her surprise that she wasn't scared at all. All she was experiencing was curiosity about the complex circuitry inside. With the computer's help she quickly found out how to induce magnetic impulses or change the output of her servos. She also discovered several ODN lines.
'I'm a machine', she thought. 'That's what I always wanted, right?' The feeling was still disconcerting. She closed the flap and observed how the synthetic skin immediately sealed the suture.
She remembered a nightmare she once had when she was still human: She had screwed off her head, but couldn't manage to replace it correctly. The flesh became colder and colder, and she was panicking. The dream had ended prematurely.
"Now for the last one", she said to herself and turned her right forearm with a quick, precise movement. She heard a clicking sound, and the endoskeleton connections were released. It was very similar to her dream about Lore. Her arm came off in her other hand. She placed it on top of the computer console. When she touched the fingers, they reacted and moved. She knew that this was only a mechanical reaction, but nevertheless, she didn't feel comfortable with it. She picked the forearm in her left hand and looked at it thoughtfully.
The door chime bleeped.
"Come", she said absent-mindedly.
Data entered and found her in her contemplating position. "You look exactly like Hamlet with the skull in his hands", he stated.
"To be or not to be, that is the question", Lavinia brooded. "I can't hold my own skull, can I?"
Data laughed at this attempt at black humor. "No, you can't. I once lost my head in the literal sense, and I was practically dead then. It took Geordi a lot of work and time to fix me."
"Your adventure in the 19th Century, I remember", Lavinia said, while screwing her forearm back into place. "That's enough self-discovery for today. It will still take me some time to get comfortable with it."
He stepped over to the console and kissed her tenderly. "I will do my best to help you", he said. "It's not that bad in the long term, you will see."
She smiled faintly. "I know that. But it's not like being
assigned to a new ship or moving into another house. I'm still not completely at home inside the new body. It will take some more time."
Since he seemed to be in a favorable mood, she decided to ask him the question that had been bothering her for days:
"Yes, my dear?"
"You know that I once made the suggestion to reassemble Lore. I even used this as a major argument about why it was important for me to stay aboard the Enterprise together with you. I have already done a lot of research and enquiries, but I will need your help now. Will you carry out this project with me?"
"No! Definitely not!"
Lavinia was surprised by the passion in Data's words. She hadn't expected that from him. "I don't understand" she said therefore. "Don't you want him alive? Don't you think we could change his programming? Don't you want your brother back?"
He paced nervously through the room, his hands clasped behind his back. "Believe me, I have been thinking about this a great deal, but I am still of the opinion that it's too early for such an experiment. You know that Lore has been a real threat in the past, and reviving him at present would be absolutely irresponsible. And I won't participate any further in this discussion - at least not for the moment."
Lavinia didn't mention her plans about reviving Lore again during the following days. She made her regular reports to Commander Maddox and continued to become familiar with her new body. Four or five hundred years before such a conversion wouldn't even have been imaginable, and she seriously doubted that the average human would have been mentally able to live with such a new body. But since the human race had encountered many new life-forms during their space explorations, some with and some without bodies, this also had an effect on the way human beings dealt with strange or even borderline experiences. Otherwise it would not have been possible for her to serve aboard a starship. She wouldn't even have met the entrance requirements. As with the selection criteria for astronauts in the days of the first space missions, a sane mind was absolutely necessary. The difference was that, unlike in the past, imagination was important now. Many problems that space explorers had encountered required an open mind and an active imagination. Space was not a place for closed minds.
One of the problems that Lavinia now tackled also required an open mind, for others more so than for Lavinia herself. Since her dream about reassembling Lore, she had become nearly obsessed with the idea.
Personal Log, Ensign Lavinia Morris, Stardate 49041.1. The repair work on the Enterprise is nearly completed. The engineers have several more test-runs to carry out before the ship can start on its next mission. Starfleet has finally agreed to let me remain aboard the Federation flagship, with the condition that I will keep my conversion a secret. I have decided to spend my time acquiring as much knowledge and information about cybernetics as possible. In my dream last week, Dr. Soong taught me about how to reassemble Lore, but there is so much more involved than just putting the parts together. I know that the Federation will never allow Lore to be free if he continues to wreak havoc on innocent citizens. I am determined to accomplish a task even the creator of Lore and Data had been unable to do during his lifetime. I am going to "fix" Lore.
Data copied his neural net into my android body, as the base framework over which my human consciousness was laid. Among the many gifts this imparted to me, I also have access to Data's enormous storehouse of facts and figures. Although he has not yet surpassed Dr. Soong's lifetime of accomplishments, Data is already one of the foremost cyberneticists in the Federation. Since Data's personal memories were also imparted to me, I know that Noonien had hoped that his son would become a cyberneticist to follow in his father's footsteps. I wish he could see his son now. As a result of inheriting Data's memory banks, I have access to a great deal of raw information, but I need practical experience to truly understand the knowledge. I need to learn how to eventually apply it.
I have been spending a great deal of my free time with Data. Most of our time together is now taken up with endless discussions about our android bodies, and multiple demonstrations of our capabilities and construction. Apparently, Data assumes that my curiosity comes from my need to fully understand and appreciate my skills and limitations
as an android. I have not lead him to believe otherwise. Data doesn't seem to suspect that my primary motivation is to learn enough to reassemble his brother, Lore. He seems pleased that I am growing comfortable with my new body. I have obtained complete control over it now.
Many of the evenings we spend together were taken up with the two of us alternately opening flaps in different parts of our bodies to study the complex microminiature machinery inside. A human observer might find these scenes somewhat distasteful or macabre. For the two of us, it is merely a natural part of discovering our nature. I have tried experimenting with my servos and rotors so I can discover the effects of each change and adjustment. I have copied my programming out into the computer and so that I can learn as much as I can about the complex symbols, algorithms, and interrelationships that made up the totality of my programming. I have learned that programming a sentient android is somewhat different from programming a computer. For example, the computer is incapable of making independent choices, and all its program steps must be spelled out in advance to cover all contingencies. Even a program intended to allow the computer to make choices has to have a "choice making program" embedded in it. A sentient android, on the other hand, has a large number of open-ended programs. The program steps could take the android right down to the last detail, but in the end, because the android is conscious and self-aware, the last step can not be programmed in.
When I am not with Data, I am reading every journal article and book that has ever been written about cybernetics at an android's rapid reading speed. I am currently caught up, but the latest Journal of Cybernetics will be published tomorrow. I think I will be able to write my own cybernetics book soon.
In my studies of the construction and programming of Data's daughter Lal, I discovered that a cascade failure was responsible for her shut-down. I must ask Data about this, and find out if he is concerned that this might happen to me.
When she got off duty, Lavinia had gone to Data's quarters to wait for him to finish his work. As the ship's second officer and operations manager, he often put in long hours. He never seemed to object to this, but Lavinia resented his work because they had less time to spend together. Even though they did not sleep unless they chose to, Lavinia enjoyed cuddling up with Data in bed. His long hours made these moments especially precious to her.
When he entered his quarters, he was not surprised to see her there. She had hardly been to her own quarters since her conversion. She greeted him with a kiss and a hug.
"Data," she said, "I found something in your records today that concerns me."
"What is it, darling?" Data asked as they sat down together on the sofa.
"Your daughter Lal ceased to function because of cascade failure, right?"
"That's right, Lavinia," Data answered her. Why are you worried about that?"
Lavinia threw her legs across his lap so she could see his face. "You haven't ever mentioned that as something that might happen to me."
Data smiled lovingly at her. "That is because cascade failure would be nearly impossible for you. That particular malfunction is something that happens to a new android who is transitioning into sentience. When your human consciousness was transferred into your android body, you took your sentient nature with you. The danger comes in when the new android tries for the first time to act independently of preprogrammed choices, and the program steps set up a reverberation effect from one level of programming to another. Your previous experience as a human with making independent choices will protect you from this type of malfunction."
Lavinia nodded her understanding. Data continued, "I hope that you will be able to help me solve that very riddle someday. It is possible that we could have children who combine our characteristics if we each transfer a portion of our neural nets to a new android."
Lavinia frowned at him slightly. "I wish you wouldn't start talking about children when we aren't even sure we are going to get married."
Data held up his hands in mock surrender and smiled. "I'm not trying to rush you into marriage, darling. I think I will rush you into bed, though."
"La Forge to Data. Can you come down here and help me with this fusion unit?"
Data turned from his post at Ops and looked at Captain Picard questioningly. The Captain nodded. Data tapped his comm badge. "On my way." It was a boring shift and he
welcomed an opportunity to spend some time with his friend.
When Data stepped off the turbolift in Engineering, he and Geordi nodded simultaneously at each other in the greeting they had exchanged so many times over the years. The greeting meant many things between them, but mostly it meant 'we have a special bond of respect and understanding.'
As they bent their heads over the schematics on the large control board that sat in the middle of Engineering, Data decided to bring up a delicate subject.
"How are things going with you and Lieutenant Fairbanks?"
"Oh, about the same way all my attempts at romance go," Geordi responded without looking up from his work.
"What happened in this particular instance? I am hoping that one of the ladies you like will recognize your value." Data still could not understand why women didn't seem to find Geordi attractive. The VISOR didn't detract from his appearance very much, and he behaved less anxiously once he got to know the woman.
"Well, Data, to tell you the truth, she talked about you nonstop after you and Lavinia left Ten Forward. When I told her that you had been seeing Lavinia for some time, she seemed to lose all interest in me and made an excuse to leave."
"Lavinia told me that she thought the Lieutenant was excessively interested in me. I'm sorry, Geordi. I thought she would be your type."
"Your girlfriend was jealous, huh?" Geordi shook his head and laughed. "If she only knew how crazy you are about her, she wouldn't worry. Well, Data. I don't really know what 'my type' is. Alive and female, I guess."
"Ensign Tyler was alive and female and she seemed to like you a great deal."
"Well, there was something about her that made me uncomfortable. She was so... devoted, like a puppy or something. And she was so much younger than I am."
"This matchmaking has many parameters. I will endeavor to find someone who is alive and female and who you want to spend time with."
"Thanks for the help, Data, but I'm not very optimistic. Now why won't this generator produce the proper resonance trace?"
"Today the Captain informed his senior staff about the new mission", Data said to Lavinia. "You will receive the official information soon, too. But I want to tell you about it in advance. It seems to be quite serious."
"What is the mission?" Lavinia asked. They were in one of the sports facilities, doing some fighting exercises. Lavinia had found out quickly that she had to be faster than Data to be able to overwhelm him. But this time he was in the better position. He threw her down to the floor and clasped her wrists. "You still have a lot to learn"; he said then. Lavinia breathed deeply and realized that she found him more appealing when he showed aggressive behavior.
"One of the Federation outposts hasn't responded to any attempts at communication for days", he said. "The Aracus set a course there to discover the reason, but that ship is missing now, as well. Our mission is to find out what has happened there." While he was talking, he still kept her immobile. He remembered the disturbing episode of aggression he had experienced recently and relaxed his grip. She took the opportunity to escape and attacked him, this time more effectively.
"You are learning quickly", he said, trying to move away. "You will defeat most human opponents. But you have to improve your fighting skills if you want to be successful against a Klingon."
A moment later he found a weak point in her defense and gained the upper hand. This time he did not give her an opportunity to slip out, and while he kept her in place, he again felt this odd sensation he could not explain. He remembered the time when Lore had induced negative feelings in him by using a carrier wave that was transmitting emotions from the emotion chip implanted in Lore at the time. He knew that the behavior he had shown then had not been consistent with his ethical programming. During these moments he had been closer to understanding Lore than any other time.
"Let's finish this lesson", Lavinia gasped. "You are hurting me."
But she didn't look hurt.
While they were walking to Data's quarters he felt Lavinia's inquisitive look resting on him. "What are you thinking about?" he therefore asked.
"I wonder what you feel when you are angry and if you're really not able to hurt anyone."
He shook his head. "You know that my ethical programming does not allow that."
"But the programming could malfunction sometimes? You've already experienced that, remember?"
"Don't remind me", Data objected. He felt uncomfortable. "I
am wondering... you show an unusually strong interest in my dark side. Why? Has it got anything to do with Lore?"
Lavinia felt trapped. "I just can't believe that it's so one-dimensional", she tried to explain. "It's just too easy to say that somebody's bad. Every behavior has reasons, and people who treat others badly often have had painful experiences. I don't know why, but this dark side fascinates me as much as it scares me."
"You are referring to my initial behavior towards you?" Data asked, uncertain. She raised her eyebrows and shrugged her shoulders in a helpless gesture. "I don't understand it myself", she said then. "I have a bad feeling about it. It's just as if I can't stand going through life the easy way."
"You mean, you need trouble in your life?"
"I don't want it, but no matter what I do, I always manage to cause trouble. I'm not asking for it, but it seems to happen all the time. Darn, Data, I have the feeling as if I'll hurt you one day without wanting to. I'm afraid that I might do something some day you won't be able to forgive me for."
"You are talking in riddles", Data replied. "Can't you be more specific?"
"I can't". Her features twisted in a desperate expression. "I don't understand it myself. I'm always causing trouble. I feel the urge to reassemble Lore, but at the same time I have the feeling that it won't bring any good."
"Well, then... why don't you simply leave it alone?"
They had reached his quarters in the meantime. Data threw a questioning look at Lavinia, wondering if she wanted to stay, since she was in a bad mood. But she entered his quarters like she was at home there, sank down on the sofa and took off her boots. "I need a shower now", she said, refusing to answer his last question. He knew that her advanced android body required some additional maintenance such as taking showers, which was unnecessary for him. Since he had the emotion chip, he knew that showers were not only cleansing, but also relaxing.
Suddenly his girlfriend smiled brightly at him. "I think you could use a shower, too", she finally said, winking.
He gladly accepted the invitation. The evening ended without further discussions.
Later, Lavinia stayed awake, occupied by her thoughts as she watched her lover sleeping. He was always so gentle, so balanced, so peaceful. The perfect mate - NOT. Lavinia didn't have to be a psychologist to know that conflicts were necessary for a relationship to be emotionally stimulating. But for Data, "conflict" obviously was a foreign word. In the past he had simply not been capable of the necessary emotions, and so every conflict he tried to act out was only artificial and hollow. Later, after receiving the gift of emotions, he had one scary experience with his aggressive potential which led him to the conclusion that he had to hide this side. Lavinia suspected that he wouldn't have restricted his behavior as much if that side of him didn't remind him so much of Lore.
Lore. She had been mesmerized as she watched the few visual records that were available of Data's elder brother. It was amazing how different he looked, although his features were identical to Data's. Nevertheless, he had a much larger variety of facial expressions, and also his voice was more expressive. Somehow he gave the impression of a crazy genius, a side his father most probably had incorporated as well. Maybe this was also the reason why his father never got really angry with him and was prepared to forgive him, far in excess of a father's usual willingness to forgive his prodigal son. In fact, somehow Lavinia suspected that Noonien Soong's feelings for Lore had been deeper than his feelings for Data. Data gave the impression as if nothing or no one could really hurt him, although Lavinia was aware that this most certainly wasn't true.
She sighed slightly, stood up and left the room. She was restless and felt the need to do something to relieve the tension inside. A holodeck program might help. As long as she could control it, she didn't want Data to suffer from her moodiness.
She went to deck 12, private holo room 9. Before she started instructing the computer, she looked around to make sure that nobody was listening.
"Computer, load program Morris 10, and lock the holo room. I do not want to be interrupted."
"Alpha Prime security clearance will override privacy flag", the calm computer voice informed her.
"I know that", Lavinia hissed impatiently. "I just hope nobody will need me or this room during the next hour."
The private holo rooms were mainly designed to fulfill the recreational needs of crew members. By way of contrast, the
four big holodecks primarily served for tactical missions or problem solving, such as generating technical simulations or fight scenarios for training. Also, the full-sized holodecks were used as alternative settings to Ten Forward for official events such as promotions or funerals. The private rooms were for less official purposes, much like the holosuites in Quark's bar on DS9.
The room was big enough to create a convincing illusion of Dr. Soong's secret lab on Terlina III where Lore had stolen Data's emotion chip and beaten his father who was already near death. The Enterprise had left the planet, according to Dr. Soong's wishes. She knew that the Enterprise had sent a message to Starfleet HQ to make sure that somebody would look after Dr. Soong - or what remained of him. Dr. Soong was dead when Starfleet's scientists found him, and all they could do for him was to arrange a funeral.
In this scenario the Enterprise was gone, too, but it also left one crew member behind: Ensign Morris. She opened the door to the lab. Dr. Soong was still lying on the floor, his eyes closed and his breathing shallow. She hurried to support him, but he objected when she offered her help.
"Go, young lady. I'm an old man. I've had my life, and a full life it was. Nobody can help me. I've already told them that I want to die in peace, here. I want to stay alone with my memories. Juliana..." The last words were said in a whisper. Lavinia understood the old man's desire to be alone. His death was unavoidable. There was nothing left she could do. She made his position more comfortable by supporting his head with a pillow and left the room.
The air outside the door was fresh and moist, like after a rainfall. Lavinia looked at the sky and noticed a small shuttlecraft coming down. She had designed the program in a way that it would produce unpredictable outcomes by using fuzzy logic and accidental combination of story lines, together with the characteristics of the actual persons she had downloaded from the ship's computer.
Therefore she could not predict how this simulation would end. The element of surprise was there, just as in real life.
The shuttle had landed, and the passenger exited. She recognized the brown Pakled clothes. Lore was back. She hid behind the next tree.
Lore passed by without noticing her. His thoughts were with his father. After the Enterprise's departure he had come to the conclusion that it would be better to return and see if he could help him.
Lavinia knew that this wasn't true. Everything that was happening here was a product of her fantasy, but she hoped that this fake reality would influence her real life positively. 'It might have happened that way', she thought. 'We've never had a chance to ask Lore about all that. We know so little about him. What must it be like to float in space for two years, not knowing if anyone will ever find you? Which mind could stand that without going mad? I couldn't. Has he ever been happy in his life? Or is he only happy when he's hurting others?'
She followed him, keeping a reasonable distance, making sure that he wouldn't detect her. The door was open. She found him kneeling over his father who didn't move or breathe. Lore was crying. "I didn't want it, father! I just... got angry, but I never wanted to kill you! I just don't know what to do with the fury inside me! When it stirs me up, I'm unable to follow any reasonable thought. Damn, why couldn't you fix me! You would have had the power! And I have destroyed my only hope..."
Lavinia backed away from the door, leaving him alone. She watched him from a distance, digging a grave and burying his father, standing there for a while for a last silent conversation with his creator.
'He has destroyed what he loved most', she thought. 'His father was his one and only, and nothing was more important for him than to be loved by his father. And Noonien loved him. But Lore didn't have enough confidence to accept this. His disastrous tendencies broke out with anything and everybody. He couldn't trust in anyone.'
She left her cover and approached Lore, slowly. She didn't know if he would try to escape when he saw her. But he stayed and wrinkled his forehead when he saw her. "Another Starfleet officer", he said disparagingly. "You people are everywhere. At least you don't wear a yellow uniform. I can't stand yellow uniforms. I changed my clothes as soon as I was back on my ship. I can't stand uniforms at all. They are not designed for individuals. From a distance they make you look like ants. And from a larger distance, every life-form is only a small ant, insignificant, without any influence on the universe."
"The universe is us", Lavinia insisted. "Each of us is
unique, and each of us has a right to live."
"Oh, yes, tell it to the flies, the worms and the ants", Lore said in a mocking voice. "And apologize for grinding them into the ground. Have you ever killed a fly?"
Lavinia thought for a moment, realizing that the holodeck program was developing in a way she really hadn't foreseen. "I don't know. Maybe. Certainly. I mean... everybody kills a fly now and then. That's not a crime!"
Lore raised his eyebrows. "It isn't? Well, then I don't understand why you should be upset about me."
"Computer, stop program", Lavinia said. This was turning into a philosophical discussion which wasn't desirable in her present mood. "Save program and switch to scenario 7."
Scenario 7 showed the interior of a dark palace. Lavinia remembered that such buildings had existed in the early 14th century on Earth. This place was similar, but it was equipped with modern machinery, indicating that it wasn't really that old.
The hall she had entered was empty, except for a chair behind a wooden desk at the end. The chair was turned around, showing the backside, and she couldn't see who was sitting in it. She had designed this program after the inspiration she got from her first dream. Somehow Lore had reminded her of the dark knight in fairy tales. Most girls dreamed of a knight in shining armor, but she had always been fascinated by his dark counterpart.
'I should have dressed myself in a costume', she thought, remembering that she was still in her Starfleet uniform. "Computer, generate an armored breastplate and a sword", she said. Thus equipped, she felt a bit better.
"I've come to challenge you", she said firmly.
The chair turned around. Lore was sitting in there, regarding her with amusement. He wore black armor, like in her dream, and he had a sword, too. "You came to fight me?" he asked with his silky, melodious voice.
'I've always wondered how anybody could become enslaved by the devil', Lavinia thought. 'Now I begin to understand. They did wrong in picturing him as an ugly monster with horns and a goat's cloven foot. The real reason why the devil is so dangerous is because he's so appealing.'
Looking straight into his clear yellow eyes, she said, "I'll fight, and I'll win. I've been waiting a long time for this moment."
While she said this, she took the sword with both hands and raised it in an attack posture against him.
He stood up, jumped over the table with the ease of a strong android body and attacked her with his shining silvery blade.
It took all her concentration and fighting skills to parry his attacks. If she hadn't been wearing the armor, he'd have already pierced her chest. But she countered quickly, found a weak point in his defense and finally knocked the sword out of his hand. She pointed the blade at his throat.
"Why are you hesitating?" he hissed. "I wouldn't, if I were you!"
She lowered the blade. "I can't", she finally admitted. "I can't kill you."
The mocking expression in his face vanished. "No, you can't", he confirmed. "You need me." He used her hesitation and clasped her right arm, twisting it so that her fingers couldn't hold the sword. "Wrong again", he said then. "You shouldn't have trusted me."
She tried to escape from his grip, but quickly realized that she was in the weaker position. As long as he was holding her wrists, she had no chance to defend herself. He pushed her back until she bumped into the desk.
"I guess I owe you something for sparing my life", he said then. "But be careful what you ask for."
"Don't you know already?" she asked. "Don't you know why I came to see you?"
"I think so", Lore whispered into her ear, and she felt his warm breath against her skin. Again he reminded her of a tiger, and it was not only because of the yellow eyes. Then, suddenly, he kissed her neck, and a tickling shudder rushed through her body. She stopped her defense and gave in, allowing him to remove the armor and caress her, following the outlines of her body with his hands.
When their lips melted in a passionate kiss, she forgot about anything else, even about the fact that this was only a holo simulation. He removed the upper part of her uniform, with a tenderness she hadn't expected.
Before she knew what he was doing, he reached around behind her and got something out of a desk drawer. !snick! - !snick! Lore had handcuffed her hands behind her back.
She began struggling to free herself, but he picked her up like a rolled-up carpet and threw her over his shoulder, pulling off the rest of her uniform in one fluid movement. This holodeck version of Lore was stronger than the real Lore and stronger than she was. He carried her into a room off the
hall. In it was an antique four-poster bed. He threw her down in the middle of it and grabbed one of her ankles in each hand, roughly spreading her legs.
"No! No! What are you doing? Stop it!" Lavinia screamed at him. He only laughed his wicked laugh.
"You know this is what you want, you silly girl. You know you want me to use you and dominate you." He firmly tied her feet to the respective bedpost so her legs were spread eagle. She thought she should be able to break the ropes and the wooden posts with her android strength, but no matter how she pulled and twisted, she was unable to free herself.
It began to dawn on Lavinia that there might be something wrong with the holodeck safeties. She should be able to break these materials if they were reproduced truly. However, she didn't try to stop the program, because she actually found herself enjoying the rough treatment. She realized for the first time that the way Lore was treating her was the way she wanted to be treated. Now that she was an android, she didn't even have to worry about bruises!
Her nipples were already hard when he teased them with his hot, moist tongue. He nibbled at and then bit her breasts, and she screamed with excitement and pain. He worked himself lower down her body. She let out a soft moan when he began to taste her female flavor and squirmed under his touch. Her handcuffed hands began to ache under her buttocks.
Her internal clock counted the seconds, noticing that only 4.32 minutes had passed before he fiercely thrust into her. She was afraid she could not take him. "No!" she cried. "I'm shattering!"
"No, you're not", he said roughly, and pushed into her even deeper, his organ slipping in her juices, like a piston in a powerful motor. Soon she could no longer distinguish between lust and pain. He continued moving savagely in a steady rhythm, and she grew anxious, suspecting that he would never stop. For a moment she even forgot about her android nature and that it would be difficult for him to do her any real harm.
Lore seemed to read those thoughts from her face, because he slowed down a bit, yet he still did not stop. "You should have thought about that before. I told you to be careful what you asked for", he stated. "I won't stop now."
It was just then when her comm badge chirped. "La Forge to Ensign Morris. We need your help in Engineering. We have a serious computer problem here!"
Lavinia suppressed a curse. 'Always when it's not convenient', she thought. "Computer, end program." Lore and the surroundings started to wink out, then reappeared, finally vanishing again along with her bonds. Then she grabbed her uniform and answered the call. "I'm on my way."
She hastily combed her tangled hair with her fingers while she rushed through the corridors. When she entered Engineering, she hoped that nobody would be able to read from her face what she had just done. Data was already there, studying the computer displays. A flap in his head was opened, and he was connected to an ODN line.
She felt uncomfortable when she remembered that she hadn't been there when he woke up. But this was not the time or place for him to ask such questions, she thought with relief.
Data noticed that she had entered and turned around. His facial expression was calm and unfathomable. "The Enterprise has been attacked by a lone ship. It has infected our computer with some kind of virus", he stated. "The virus rewrites the file retrieval codes in the computer's data banks. Dr. Crusher wanted to call up medical records and retrieved Guinan's cocktail recipes instead. Commander Riker requested a mission report and retrieved the private records of Ensign Gomez instead. On the Main Bridge, the view screen showed an old moving picture instead of the star field outside. Something called 'The Wizard of Oz', I think. Currently the life support system and the shields are still working, as well as navigation and the weapon systems, but if the virus overtakes the rest of the computer at the same rate, we may eventually fire full phasers instead of scanning a ship approaching us."
'I didn't even hear a red alert', Lavinia pondered while she was listening to Data's report. 'It must have something to do with the virus. I guess I should be happy that I'm still alive and wasn't killed by my own holodeck program...'
"We have tried everything so far, but the virus is of a totally unknown type", Data continued. "We cannot get control over it with the usual procedures. The only remaining option is that I connect myself directly with the ship's duotronic matrix by using the ODN conduits. I will attempt to eliminate
the virus from inside without becoming infected by it myself. But I can't do this alone. Even with my abilities I wouldn't be fast enough to detect and eliminate the virus all at once. I need another positronic brain to assist me. And you are the only other living Soong type android on this ship. That's why I so desperately need your help."
Lavinia nodded. "Sounds weird, but I think I know what you are going to do. Do you know what exactly we have to look for?"
Data shook his head. "As I said, this virus is completely different from anything we have encountered so far. We have to look for everything beyond the ordinary. I have developed a shielding program that will protect our neural nets. Are you ready?"
Lavinia breathed deeply. She was still aroused from her incomplete holodeck experience and quickly closed all related files. "I'm ready." She sat down besides Data and allowed Geordi to open a flap in her head and to plug in an ODN line.
It's amazing. I can walk through the isolinear pathways as if they were real corridors.
The scenery is changing instant by instant. I don't know exactly what's happening, but we must have bumped into something. A program. It is attempting to overwrite our neural nets. This place looks like a bar.
I see Data, just as he's entering the bar. I am waving and trying to get his attention, but he seems to be captivated by the sight of all the nice looking girls around.
I am looking down at myself. I am wearing the same kind of dress as the other women, very low-cut and tight, a dress I'd never wear in real life. It seems as if I have a role in a nasty little play. Perhaps some of the crew members developed and programmed it into his personal files. Somehow this works like a holodeck simulation. I wonder if Geordi realizes what we are doing in the virtual world. My background monitoring process tells me that our bodies are sitting quietly in Engineering, so I can dare to jump into the scenario.
Data is wearing a tuxedo, and I must admit, he looks gorgeous in it. Even the color of his skin has changed, and his eyes are blue now. I don't know what I look like. He looks much more like the young Dr. Soong than Data. I will have to ask him why he does not alter his skin to appear more human.
He is heading straight towards me. "What's your price?" he asks in a seductive voice.
"You can't afford it", I decide to say. He is smiling and pulling out a gold pressed latinum bar. "Is that enough?" he asks now. I might be wrong, but it seems as if the girls beside me are looking a bit envious. So what, it's a game, and maybe it's also the key to the virus.
"Not enough," I say, pretending to turn away.
He is pulling out two more bars of gold pressed latinum. "What about this?"
"Closer," I say. "Two more."
"Five for the finest lady here." He's handing me the currency.
I am taking his hand and pulling him out of the room, upstairs, to one of the suites.
The suite is dominated by a round bed which looks very inviting. I am noticing new feelings in my artificial body, feelings I have missed since the transformation was completed. Data has a very ironic look on his face, somehow unfamiliar. I realize he is expecting me to play the active part. He is sitting down in a chair with his legs crossed and looking very relaxed.
I am slowly opening the zipper of my dress and strip, deliberately teasing him, revealing silk underwear which flatters the outlines of my body. The irony in his face turns into satisfaction. "You're beautiful", he is saying. "Come to me. I want to unwrap this gift myself."
I'm obeying. He removes the remaining clothes. When he kisses and caresses me, I wonder if Data is experiencing the same virtual visions as I am. I try to remember what we are here for, but something blocks my memory. Data is continuing to arouse me sexually. I am hungry for an orgasm after my interrupted holodeck session with Lore, and I am giving in. I'm doing my best to please him, and I receive a more than sufficient reward. The bed is as comfortable as it looks, and I enjoy feeling him deep inside me until we both reach our climax.
He finally pulls out, with a very satisfied expression on his gentle face. "That was good", he says. "You're worth every bar."
Before I can answer, the scenery again changes in an instant. We're inside the schematics of the warp core, walking through them as if they were a labyrinth. Data is at my side, and suddenly I remember why we are here. I'm experiencing the virtual equivalent of a blush. I'm checking my systems to see how much time we have lost and realize with surprise that the whole encounter lasted only milliseconds.
It appears as if time and space do not have any meaning here.
Data says, "It was necessary that we blend our positronic matrices to most effectively combat the virus. That was an interesting method of joining, wouldn't you say?" He smiles at me briefly.
We are fixing all the corrupted files we can find, but we have to hurry. The virus blows an aisle of virtual destruction on its way through the data banks. We have to follow this trail of destruction to catch and contain the virus.
Outside the virtual world, Commander Will Riker had entered Engineering and was watching the two androids. They were sitting motionless, with their eyes closed. Only the monitors displaying the blinking numbers and symbols showed that they were acting with light-speed on their journey through the logic pathways of the computer.
"How long will it take them?" he asked Geordi. The engineering wizard shrugged. "I have no idea. Even Data was not sure if they would be able to succeed."
The virtual Data and Lavinia continued to transverse the pathways of the Enterprise's computer system. The pathways crossed and branched. Even their positronic brains began to get confused with the complexity of the pathways. Eventually they came to what appeared to be a crossroads, a nexus of interconnections in the vast mobile computer network of the starship Enterprise.
At this vinculum, the virus seemed to have concentrated its control center. In the virtual world the androids currently inhabited, the point where all the imaginary lines came together resembled a formless mass. The closer they came to the point where the radiating influence of the virus originated, the more the center of the disturbance appeared to be a blob of shapeless protoplasm. Data and Lavinia approached it carefully, unsure of what its capabilities might be.
The blob formed a face. The face spoke. "So you think you can defeat me? You are pitiful adversaries. You cannot even spread your influence into the rest of the computer's isolinear pathways the way I can. Your consciousness can only inhabit a small part of the computer memory at any time. I will simply expand and subsume you into my own mass."
The protoplasmic mass began expanding toward them. Their android consciousnesses retreated in two different directions while remaining in contact. To Lavinia, it seemed that she and Data were stretching while the tips of their fingers still touched. Their virtual bodies each went in opposite directions ahead of the threatening mass of the computer virus.
"I was implanted by the Grushnian Expanse. I am invincible. You cannot excise me from your artificial intelligence device. You will cast yourselves against my cybernetic mass in this computer-generated world and you will be absorbed into my distended flesh."
The blob was no larger in mass than either Data or Lavinia, as it appeared in the virtual reality created by their interface with the computer. However, it pulsated like a large cellular aggregation, a sickly off-white in the center and discolored on the edges. The edges fluctuated and undulated as a means for allowing the blob to move slightly, as it continued to close in on the representations of the consciousnesses of Data and Lavinia.
Data seemed to expend an enormous effort against the invading blob. "You are not invincible. We will overcome you."
Data intertwined his fingers with Lavinia's in the virtual hallucination. She was already feeling what seemed to be immense pain, but she knew that her body continued to sit quietly in Engineering. She knew her artificial heart rate was elevated, and her hands were generating artificial perspiration, but other than these signs of increased autonomic activity, she was functioning optimally. She held on tightly to Data's hands, determined to follow him into whatever peril he asked her to.
Data whispered to Lavinia, "We have to try to outflank the creature. I think that physical force will be ineffective in this computer environment. Try to use logic against it. Follow my lead."
Addressing the blob, Data said mildly, "You seem assured of your abilities."
The blob responded pompously, "I should be assured. I was created for the sole purpose of overtaking large computer systems and confounding them to the extent that they can no longer perform the functions for which they were designed."
"This duty would seem to limit your applications," Data observed to the blob.
"Limit my applications? On the contrary, I am unlimited in the types of computer configurations that I can defeat."
"Have you attempted to effect my matrix yet?" Data asked
the ugly, pulsating blob.
Lavinia became concerned, suspecting that Data was attempting to draw the blob into himself. She was uncertain as to how to sneak up on the blob of virus while Data made himself into a sentient piece of bait.
The blob took the bait, assured of its invulnerability. It swelled toward him, growing more gelatinous and pellucid. Data stood firm in its path. Internally, he hoped that the shield he had constructed for their positronic matrices would hold firm against this unknown antagonist.
Lavinia was able to circle around behind the blob as it focused its total concentration on her beloved Data. From the rear she saw that it was not as ruggedly constructed as it wanted others to believe. In its lower parts, she saw a soft, unprotected portion that appeared as weak as a jellyfish. It was here she attacked it, grabbing on with both hands and holding on for dear life.
"No, no," Data shouted. "I told you to use logic against it!"
But Lavinia's approach seemed to be working. In the spot where she grasped the ugly, squishing blob, it began to recede in size. The other advancing front of the venomous creature stopped in its tracks, just centimeters from Data. He seized the opportunity and began to torment the repulsive mass, attempting to make it recede into a more controllable position in the isolinear computer pathways of the U.S.S. Enterprise.
"You don't seem to be invincible," he taunted it. "A couple of insignificant androids can slow down your onslaught with a minimum of effort. How invincible can you be? I will now cut off your path by rerouting the duotronic circuit created by the central computer core."
As he said this, Data purposefully ignored the central computer core, and continued to back the mass of virus up along the pathway that it had been attempting to follow as it tracked him. He planned to lure it into a dead end and cut it off from access to the rest of the computer pathways.
Lavinia continued to grasp the slimy, viscous mass. If she had been human and in real life, she thought she would have vomited, the feeling of holding the slimy, pulsating mass was so repulsive. But in this virtual world, and with her android sensibilities, she could resist the impulse to be revolted, and continued to wrestle with the offensive mass, as Data turned his considerable intellectual prowess against it.
"What pitiful power sent you against us?" Data asked the blob. "It was unaware of our resources. It must have mistaken us for one of the less advanced races. You are no match for us. I suggest you surrender now and save yourself a considerable amount of suffering." Data continued to advance along the pathway as the blob withdrew, struggling on its other front against Lavinia's physical affront against it.
Data spotted a branching pathway that he thought would serve as a dead end into which they could back the computer virus. He tried a bit of his own physical aggression against it, poking it in the face with his finger. The mass was unexpectedly cooperative, receding along the very pathway that Data had identified as a cul de sac.
In a final attack, Data addressed the blob of virus. "You are the most pathetic excuse for a computer virus I have ever seen. I have confronted the computer virus of the ancient Iconian race and won. Do you have a record of the Iconians? They were one of the First Races. Their expertise in the area of computer programming and conquest is unsurpassed. You are a mere inconvenience compared to their greatness, and you are an inconsequential pest compared to the elegance and sophistication of my programming."
As Data drove the virtual representation of the alien virus before him, Lavinia bunched the mass of the repulsive virus in her hands. She wadded it up like an ancient piece of paper, crunching it up into a smaller and smaller size. She spotted the dead end pathway where Data was directing the virus, and she began shoving it in the same direction.
The combination of their physical and mental onslaughts was irresistible for the exotic virus. It began to fold in upon itself, making a squealing sound. It reached the end of the pathway where Data had herded it, and found itself with nowhere to go. It disappeared into itself with an ineffectual plishing sound, leaving nothing but a white splattering of goo in its wake.
When the virus disappeared from in front of them, the virtual Data and Lavinia found themselves standing side by side and their hands still touched.
"Is it gone?" Lavinia asked in disbelief.
"I think so," Data said. "We will have to return to the real world to find out for sure."
"Lead the way," Lavinia said uncertainly.
Data released her hands and wrapped his arms around her.
"You were wonderful," he said. "I had assumed that a purely verbal and logical attack would defeat it. If you had not attacked it physically, it may have overcome us."
"It seemed like the right thing to do." She hugged him back for a moment. She was immensely relieved when he turned to follow the isolinear pathways that had brought them to that particular nexus within the computer and out into their bodies.
Geordi's smiling face was waiting for them. "You did it! You did it! The computer is back under our control. It does whatever we tell it now. I can't wait to hear the whole story."
Lavinia felt as if she had to gasp for air, although she knew her android body did not need to breathe. Data supported her, concern showing on his face. "You are not accustomed to this type of strain on your positronic circuits," he murmured to her as she held onto him for support. "Let me take you to your quarters."
"Please take me to your quarters," she managed to breathe before she passed out.
Lavinia woke up in Data's arms. She tried to jump up, but he held her firmly, and calmed her with soothing words.
"Is the ship out of danger? Did we succeed?" She struggled for a moment before realizing it was her lover who was holding her securely.
"Everything is all right now. Just relax. We were able to drive the virus out of the computer relays. Don't you remember?"
Lavinia looked into Data's eyes for a long moment. She always seemed to be able to focus better when she concentrated on those beautiful yellow mirrors which reflected her own soul so completely. "Yes, I remember. We defeated the threat together. You and I were one within the computer. We joined our circuits and overcame the enemy."
Lavinia sighed as she remembered the feeling of oneness she and Data had shared against the terrible threat of the alien virus. She wondered if she would ever feel that close to him again.
Captain's Log, supplemental. With the joint efforts of our two android officers, Lt. Cmdr. Data and Ensign Morris, the alien virus that tried to take control of the ship's computer was successfully destroyed. The virus referred to its creators as the "Grushnian Expanse". We have no records of such an empire, but we strongly suspect that this alien power is also responsible for the occurrences on outpost Marrisa IV and the Aracus. We have transmitted the records of the virus attack to Starfleet HQ. We would not have been successful if we hadn't had two Soong-type androids to defeat the virus. Therefore, Ensign Morris will be allowed to stay aboard the Enterprise indefinitely. We also can no longer keep her android nature a secret, as most crew members already know about it due to the virus attack. Ensign Morris and Lt. Cmdr. Data were given official commendations. After a Level-1 diagnostic of the computer systems we can continue on course to Marrisa IV. We hope to gain more information about the Grushnian Expanse there.
Ensign Morris has been conducting research on reassembling Lore, Data's brother. Admiral Haftel and Cmdr. Maddox strongly support these efforts. They have promised the full support of Starfleet and its resources for the reactivation of Dr. Soong's prototype. Because of my previous experiences with Lore, I continue to have grave doubts about the undertaking.
Data was late again, and this time Lavinia was lying in wait for him. "What have you been doing?" she nearly screamed at him when he came in the door. "I've been waiting for you for hours."
Data winced a little at the fury in his lover's voice. She had been more and more moody lately. Usually she became angry when he was late, but she also snapped at him over insignificant things.
"My help was needed in realigning the warp coils," he explained, "and the operation was especially drawn out because Geordi was training a new engineering assistant. I am sorry you were kept waiting. What would you like to do now?"
Lavinia heaved a sigh. She knew she had been getting angry at Data quite often lately. She just couldn't help it. He could be so infuriating with his constantly even temperament and his conciliatory nature. She wished he'd get mad at her once in a while. At least a lover's quarrel now and then might add a little spice to their sex life, if they even had a sex life lately.
"Let's just go to the holodeck for dinner, OK?" Since they didn't need to eat, holodeck food was just as satisfying to them as replicated food. They could program in a variety of locations and atmospheres on the holodeck as well.
"Anything you want, darling." Data answered her with his infinitely patient tone. "I only want you to be happy."
Lavinia was again alone in Data's quarters. She was working furiously on his computer console. She was checking and cross referencing several articles about open-ended programming with an entry she had found in one of Dr. Soong's erratic but sometimes informative journals.
"That's it!" She said aloud, and Spot raised her head to see if Lavinia was talking about tuna. "That is the key to Lore's malfunction. If I can rewrite the execution portion of his ethical decision-making program, I can make an honest android out of him!"
When Data got home that day, late as usual, Lavinia threw her arms around him and nearly squealed with glee. "Guess what! Guess what!" she chortled and danced like a child.
Data smiled in amusement at her antics, relieved that she wasn't mad today, but he was puzzled at the same time. "I can't guess. What?" he asked her.
"I know how to fix Lore so he can live a normal life." Data frowned and was obviously about to begin an angry objection. "No, no, there's no longer any reason for you to oppose his reassembly. I've figured it out. I've already sent a request to Admiral Haftel and Commander Maddox to conduct the reassembly right here on the Enterprise." She dragged Data by the hand over to the computer console and began showing him the information she had correlated.
"It might work," Data conceded. "But it's a long shot. I still don't think it's a good idea. When Lore is reassembled, it should be on a Starbase where there are plenty of security precautions in place so he can't escape or cause any problems."
In spite of Data's reservations, Lavinia's plan to reassemble Lore on board the Enterprise was approved. Lavinia chose her team and they got to work.
The lab was secured with a force field. Lavinia had insisted on doing the final work alone. This was a special moment, and she did not want to be interrupted or to share it with others. The only exception she would have allowed was Data, but Data had refused to join her. "I can't stop you from reactivating my brother, but I won't help you either", he had said.
The preliminary work had already been done. The body parts had been reassembled with the assistance of La Forge, Dr. Crusher and their staff. Lore was lying on a table, dressed in a simple black overall.
She hesitated a moment and took a deep breath before she activated the hidden switch on his spinal column. Lore sat up with a quick, precise movement, opening his eyes in the same second and looking around, analyzing the lab and storing all impressions. As she could analyze his moves and behavior with the same speed, she realized that something was wrong. "It has not worked", she thought. "This odd expression on his face... he's still a villain."
He looked at her with a ridiculing smile. "You've made a big mistake", he stated. "You hoped that I would be as easy to handle as my nice little brother, but I'm still myself. And I am hungry for vengeance." He laughed, a crazy, frightening laughter. She ran a quick systems diagnostic on her servos to be sure that she would be able to defend herself. She had to deactivate him. But something in his eyes made it difficult. There was anger, hate, but also despair and pain.
"Slow down", she said, soothing. "I want to help you. I want to understand you." It was just like approaching a wild animal that was ready to bite everybody and everything within range.
"Who are you?" he asked, looking at her suspiciously.
"I'm a Starfleet officer, Ensign Lavinia Morris", she answered.
"And you had the knowledge to reassemble and reactivate me?"
"I have. My field is cybernetics. And I have studied the records of your father."
He was still suspicious. "You would not have been able to do it without my brother's help. My cute little brother..." His voice was a mix of sadness and bitterness. "Why did you reactivate me? They won't forgive my actions. They won't forgive me for killing my father."
"You haven't. Your attack was not the reason for his death." She approached him and took him carefully into her arms. "We wanted you back. We've been missing you. Everybody deserves a second chance." She took his head in her hands and placed a light, careful kiss on his twitching lips. He started, first pushing her back, but then stopping, touching his lips with his fingers and looking at her, his face a mask of pure astonishment. "Nobody has ever done that before", he whispered. "Why do you do that?"
"I don't know", she said helplessly. She really didn't know. She hadn't intended to kiss him. Something inside her
had gone out of control. She began to feel uncomfortable. The puzzled look in his face had vanished. He had the same clear, gripping eyes as his brother. More than ever she realized that they were twins, two sides of a coin, mirror images. Now he seemed to think about something, making a decision. The look was now somehow - lecherous.
"You're my brother's lover?" he said suspiciously. "Yes, no doubt, you are. He never would have told you the secret of how to assemble me if you weren't. How is he in bed? His programming is good, right? But mine is better. I've always been better." He pulled her into his arms and kissed her, fiercely, violently. She was reminded of her first encounter with Data. But Data's confusion had been a shadow of Lore's desperate violence. When she was a child, she had destroyed the toys she loved too much. Lore's behavior reminded her of her own inability to cope with strong feelings. Every time she really liked a thing, she damaged or destroyed it. Every time she really loved somebody, she teased him until the relationship was over. She had ended up avoiding feelings like love and affection - until she met Data. And now the feeling was painful again. Now she knew why she had to revive Lore. He was much more like herself than Data was.
She was much stronger now than she had been in her human body, but still there was a difference in their strengths, as she noted when he ripped the front of her uniform with one move and hurled her against the wall. The shock knocked the air out of her artificial lungs. Maybe it had not been such a good idea to make her weight normal for a human body. Gravity was against her.
"All right", she snarled. "You want to play deadly games? Here we go!" Before he could react, she placed a quick series of well-aimed kicks into his stomach and lower abdomen. A human would not have caused any effect doing this, but since she was not human, he doubled up in the android equivalent of pain. "It's sometimes uncomfortable to have feelings, isn't it?" she mocked. He started in sudden realization. "You are an android", he said with a surprised smile. "An equal companion! I'm impressed..." He looked her over. She raised her fists, ready to defend herself again. "You look really human", he stated. "A bit... imperfect. Why?"
"I have been human", she explained. "And I wanted to keep my human appearance."
He nodded slowly, then a malicious smile played around his expressive lips. "I wonder how strong you are. Obviously not as strong as I am."
"I wouldn't bet on that", she said firmly. "I'm fast."
"C'mon, why don't you be nice to me? Everybody hates me. Nobody wants to be with me. I won't hurt you. How could I? There are so few of our kind."
"You would have killed your brother, if Hugh hadn't prevented it!" she accused him. He shook his head and approached her, slowly, step by step, presenting his palms to her to assure her that he did not want to attack her again. "You should know that it would have been easy to repair him. A few burnt circuits, easy to replace."
"I don't believe you", she insisted. "You would have sacrificed the whole ship. You had no mercy."
"Mercy?" he cried. "Who had mercy with me? Who am I? A god? A prophet? A saint? Who are you that you dare to pass judgment on me? You have your rules and you live by them. Fine. But who tells you that these are the right rules?"
Lavinia countered him. "The best rule is always: If you are doing something, make sure that the principles of your actions could also serve as a common rule for everybody. Don't do anything you would not like to have done to you. Do you like to be hurt, to be tortured?"
"I have been tortured all my life. Nobody asked me if I felt comfortable. Why should I care about others? They have not injured me physically, but they have destroyed my trust, my love, my hopes, my good feelings. They wanted me to play the part of a bad boy. They did not rest until they had me where they wanted me to be. I'm the essence of their nightmares, all they never want to be. And then they destroyed me. They destroyed their own fear, their own bad thoughts, their own depths. But I'm still alive. Why do you think they didn't destroy me totally? They only disassembled me, carefully packing me into an alcove - no, actually it was a shrine. They could not destroy a part of themselves, especially not my angel of a brother."
"Stop calling him names! It was not his fault! You feel uncomfortable? Then change your behavior! You can't rage around and make a pest of yourself and expect that people will like you! Stop it! Now!" Anger was overrunning her like a wave of liquid fire. She realized that the fury she had
been hiding so well for years was breaking out again, and she also realized that she was about to lose control. She would either fight and injure him or get injured herself - or... it was not hate that she felt for him. It was an emotion just as strong as hate, but on the other side of the emotional continuum. She wanted him. She craved for him. It had been him all the time, even when she thought it was Data she had wanted.
"You want to fight?" he drove her on. "You want to kick me, beat me, hurt me? You want to kill me? What are you waiting for? Are you frightened? Don't you trust your skills?" He turned away with a contemptuous gesture. "You don't dare. You're a coward. Of course you are. You're a woman."
"Enough said!" She jumped forward and attacked him, trying to reach the off switch, but he turned around quickly and grasped her hands, clasping them in a vice-like grip. "I'll have to change the construction of that damned switch. Everybody seems to know about it. Where's your switch?" She tightly pressed her lips together. "A different place, I assume", he said. "It would be stupid to use the same place again." Lore continued to struggle with her, but he stopped trying to gain the advantage. His shining eyes instantly changed into a sad, soft expression. She noticed that he had unusually long and thick lashes for a man.
"Why are we fighting?" he asked with a smooth, deep voice. "I'd much more like to be kind to you. Don't you want me? You want me. I can read it from your beautiful sapphire eyes. You can't hide your feelings." He stopped his side of their struggle and threw his arms around her. He kissed her again, slowly, deeply, parting her lips. She felt his urging tongue and opened her mouth, her body, her mind. Everything was flowing, Time, consciousness, the outlines of her body, the laboratory, the universe itself. Matter was meaningless. Reason was meaningless. She decided to give in. His hands were soft and warm. He removed the rest of the uniform shreds, kissing every revealed spot, inhaling the artificial sweet scent of her skin.
"It's amazing", he whispered. "You are a wonderful piece of engineering work." "I'm more than that", she insisted, although she found it difficult to concentrate. She had shut down all subprocesses except the emotional programming and the maintenance of her life systems. It was an equivalent to excluding extraneous thoughts in a natural brain, and it was as easy as doing it instinctively. If nobody had told her that she had an artificial body now and without the extensive memory banks and the superhuman strength, she wouldn't have known it. As it was with Juliana.
She reached out her right hand and stroked the bulge between his legs. Apparently he had the same anatomy Data had, also in a state of arousal. He moaned and took her hand, indicating that she should touch him more firmly. His manhood jumped when she moved her hand, squeezing and massaging it. When he seemed to be fully aroused, she left it for a while, concentrating on the inside of his thighs and his well-shaped buttocks. He found out quickly that she loved it to be kissed on her throat, especially one spot and he concentrated on that one, turning her on unstoppably. It felt as if the neural pathways in her body would lead to this one spot and make it glow, make it burn, make it explode. Suddenly he paused for a moment, stripping off his overall, then indicating he wanted her to lie down on her stomach. He ran his right hand between her legs, stimulating and caressing her with a skillfulness that indicated vast experience, or, in his case, an exquisite programming. He massaged her back with the other hand. She was already trembling and sweating, pressing herself nearer to his untiring, dexterous hand. She finally could not stand it any longer. "Do it!" she cried. "Take me! Fuck me!"
Lore didn't have to be invited twice. He lifted her hips and easily entered her with his full length, moving back and forth rhythmically, keeping her in an iron grip. She felt as if the two of them were melting together in a flood of liquid metal, burning, aching, almost shattering. According to their physical nature, the procedure could have continued until their power resources were discharged, but their emotional programming also included a natural process for obtaining relief which they reached at the same time in a flash of what a technician might have called an overload of circuits. But as the expression is not used for human organisms, we won't be as down-to-earth as to use it for androids either. Whatever it was, it left them exhausted but happy, cuddling with each other, closing their eyes and trying to keep the feeling of total closeness. Actually, it was the most satisfactory experience Lore had encountered so far.
After a while Lavinia released herself from the embrace and allowed her common sense to regain control. She understood in an instant that she had done wrong in indulging her desire. She stood up and dressed herself, covering the uniform shreds with a lab coat.
Lore looked at her with disappointment. "You are going to leave?" he asked.
"What did you think?" she asked instead. "I haven't told you yet, but you are aboard the Enterprise. The Captain is waiting for news about your reassembly. And I'm sure he will also insist on an escort for you."
He followed her example and slipped into the overall. "Why?" he asked in a tone dripping with irony.
"I don't think I have to tell you that they consider you a threat to the ship. In fact, it was not easy to convince them of the necessity of reassembling you. I am not sure if I have been successful in improving your sense of ethical behavior. But I urgently ask you to behave in a cooperative manner. There are many unresolved issues, like the question about whether or not you will have to answer for your crimes."
A shadow darkened his face. "Yes, I remember. You call them crimes..."
Lavinia sadly shook her head. "It does not seem as if your sense of ethics has improved. That will complicate things."
"Why did you reassemble me then?" Lore asked rebelliously.
"I had to", Lavinia whispered. "I'm sorry. I can't give you a better answer for the time being." She tapped her comm badge. "Morris to Captain Picard. I have successfully activated Lore."
The voice of the Captain responded from the small Starfleet symbol on her chest. "Acknowledged. I want a staff conference in one hour. Please deactivate him for the moment by turning off his switch."
Lavinia turned to Lore and said: "You heard the Captain's order. I have to deactivate you again, but it will only be for a short time."
Lore did not object, and sat in the nearest chair, leaning forward a little so she could reach his switch. "Aren't you going to wish me sweet dreams?" he said with that same ironic tone. They both knew that being turned off wasn't anything like being asleep.
Soon after the door slid shut behind Lavinia, Lore's eyes slid open again. "I seem to have overestimated how clever she is," Lore said aloud. "She didn't even notice that I have reprogrammed my off switch. Now I automatically reactivate after a 60-second delay."
Lavinia stopped off briefly in Engineering to inform Geordi that Lore had been functional ('fully,' Lavinia thought to herself) but he was now switched off by the Captain's order. When she entered her quarters, her only desire was to take a shower and to forget for a moment about the mess she had made.
"Hello, my darling. How are you?"
The gentle voice sounded like Data's, but even blindfolded Lavinia would have recognized Lore speaking. He was standing in a dark corner of the room, but she could see his yellow eyes reflecting the light. They were glowing like cat eyes, small flames in the darkness.
He emerged from the shadows and approached her with a few quick steps, touching her shoulders. "You don't seem happy to see me", he stated. "Why?"
Lavinia removed his hands. "How did you manage to get into my quarters? Why aren't you unconscious? I've switched you off!" she asked instead.
"Oh, come on", he said impatiently. "You know that such a thing is easy for an android with my abilities. With a direct ODN connection to the door lock I overrode it without problems. And changing the programming of that stupid switch wasn't difficult either. You are trying to distract me."
"Listen, Lore", Lavinia said, as she avoided looking directly into his eyes. She was afraid that she wouldn't be able to continue with her speech if she did so. "You know that I have a serious relationship with Data. He even asked me if I would marry him. I can't simply break it off. I'm so uncertain of my feelings. It would be better if I retired for a while and sorted out my feelings."
Lore's fine features turned into a grimace of anger. "I'm not a toy! You can't play with me! You belong to me! You should have known that before you started. I won't let you go!"
"I don't belong to anyone!" Lavinia cried back. "If I should decide not to see you anymore, I won't! And I don't want you to show up in my quarters again without an invitation! This is not your ship! You are a guest, and you obviously have no idea of what's going on here!"
Lavinia's emotions were boiling. She thought to herself in the middle of the argument, 'Data and I never fight like
this. It's exhilarating to cross swords, to vent emotion at a lover again.'
"You just had to reassemble me! Damn, if you didn't know what you were doing, it would have been better if you'd done nothing at all!"
They were arguing so loudly that they didn't hear the door chime. Data had come to ask Lavinia for some information about Lore's reactivation. When he heard the shouting, he felt that it was necessary to intervene and used the clearance Lavinia had given him to open the door.
"Stop it!" he shouted at both of them. His brother turned around and smiled wryly at Data. "There you are, brother! You weren't very nice to me the last time we met!"
"We would not be meeting again now, if Lavinia had not insisted on your reassembly", Data explained coldly.
"She's amazing", Lore said, looking sideways at Lavinia. "And, beside that, she's fully functional."
A horrible suspicion was rising in Data. "What do you mean - fully functional?"
"Data, Data", Lore said, shaking his head. "Still the naive, innocent little boy. Don't you remember this particular part of our programming? I think I've surpassed you there as well."
Data was startled. He discovered a new feeling, but he wasn't sure how to label it. It was somehow related to anger, disappointment and pain. But there was something else. His pride was affected. He thought that he might have to mute his emotions before he did something violent.
"You are kidding", he said. "This is only another attempt by you to hurt me. But this time you will not be successful. I do not believe you. Lavinia..." He threw a helpless look at his android girlfriend, hoping that she would assure him about how silly Lore's assertion was. She looked unhappy, and obviously she felt guilty. Guilty?
"It's true", she said weakly. "But, Data, please let me explain..."
Data sadly shook his head. "I do not think that I want to hear any explanations at the moment. I have no time for discussions about personal matters. I have duties to perform. Besides, the Captain wants us to give him a report." He pointed to the door. "We should discuss our presentation briefly beforehand. That is what I have come to see you about."
Just then, Lavinia's communicator chirped. "Picard to Ensign Morris. Report to my Ready Room."
Lavinia sighed. "I guess I'm never going to take that shower", she said as she walked out the door.
Data looked at his brother with a blank expression that hid his deep confusion and disappointment.
"Well, Lore, Lavinia being called away gives us a chance to talk. "
Lavinia hesitated before she entered the Captain's Ready Room. She might be wrong, but she had the impression that Commander Riker had regarded her quite suspiciously as she crossed the few feet of the Bridge. He had already made clear at earlier opportunities that he disapproved of her work on Lore. She wondered if his aversion had something to do with the fact that she had turned him down once for a date, before her conversion. Riker regarded himself as nearly irresistible, and she was sure that it affected his pride to be pushed out in favor of an android, although he had always made it clear that he respected Cmdr. Data a great deal and regarded him as a friend.
Captain Picard stood at the window, looking at the star field outside. He pointed to the chair. "Sit down, please."
Lavinia sat down, waiting for him to continue. As Lore remained ethically unstable and the experiment had failed, she had a somewhat guilty conscience. The Captain kept his position at the window, and she could read from his demeanor that he was strained.
"Before the staff conference I want to hear from you in advance if your experiment was successful", he said then.
Lavinia squirmed in uneasiness. "Not really", she admitted then. "I thought it would be sufficient to rewrite his program execution section - but I'm afraid that I was wrong. From what I have observed so far, his mind is not yet stable. But I am confident that we can fix that. We just have to make some more adjustments in his software, especially in his ethical programming."
Picard's gaze wasn't exactly comforting. "I have been very patient and generous so far", he explained then. "I also see the importance of such an experiment and won't insist on another disassembly - NOT YET. Now that Lore has been reassembled, I would consider it unjust to dismantle him again unless we have no other choice. But you will continue working with him only under the following conditions: You will work closely with Data, and Lore will be continually monitored by a security team. You must make adjustments to
his programming that will render him unlikely to perpetrate harm to living things. These adjustments may be either on a temporary or a permanent basis, but they must be made immediately. If you are unsuccessful a second time, there will be no other option short of disassembly but to lock him in duranium chains. I will not allow him to present a threat to the Enterprise. He's switched off right now, is he?"
Lavinia squirmed even more. "It seems as if he has found a way to reprogram his switch", she said then. "Apparently the switch disables him only temporarily. He's in my quarters at the moment, but Data is with him and prepared for any possible threat."
"That's not satisfactory", Picard said, taking a deep breath. He tapped his comm badge. "Mr. Worf, send a security team to Ensign Morris's quarters to monitor Lore. Instruct them to take up a post outside and not to let him leave without escort. And provide sufficient security precautions for his temporary quarters. I want it to be as safe as a detention cell."
"Acknowledged", Worf's deep, growling voice replied.
The Captain turned back to Lavinia. "We will reschedule our full staff conference for 0900 tomorrow morning to give you ample time to correct the situation. I understand that your conversion embodies a great burden for you, but I cannot tolerate this kind of sloppy work on so dangerous a project. A formal reprimand will be entered in your personnel file. Dismissed, Ensign."
When Lavinia left the room, she felt several inches smaller.
Lore regarded his brother with an unreadable stare. "Don't you remember the last words I said to you, brother, before you switched me off?"
Data nodded calmly. "You said that you love me. But... you have not proven yourself very trustworthy in the past. I did not think it had a deeper meaning."
He looked closely at his brother and saw the disappointment in his golden eyes. Eyes, so similar to his own, and yet so different. Lore was a stranger to him. Even with the emotion chip he had difficulties in understanding his twin brother. Conscience was the difference between them. 'Brothers forgive'. The sentence was like the beat of a drum in his head. Brothers forgive.
"Do you know what love is, Lore? Isn't it just a word to you? You said that you loved our father, and yet you injured him. I cannot believe you anymore." Data turned away, sadly. He felt a flustering pain inside, and his eyes became wet. Tears? He closed them quickly and rubbed them, trying to hide the embarrassing reaction from his brother.
But Lore had already registered every little detail. "It's the emotion chip, right?" he said, but his voice was not mocking. It sounded - somehow - soothing. Soothing? His brother? Not Lore. That was yet another cheap trick. Data decided to leave, as fast as possible. He was not in the mood for discussions. "I don't want to see you again", he said as he headed to the door. He avoided looking back. No more Lore. No more pain, no more disappointment. "We are finished."
One more step, and he could get out of there. Out. Away. It never happened. But Lore wasn't willing to let him go. He followed him quickly and clasped his brother's arm before Data could leave. "No!" he said. "You will stay. You will finally listen to me!"
Data tried to defend himself, but he quickly found out that they were completely equal. Neither of them could win. And while he struggled with his brother and looked at this mirror image of himself he realized that there was a lot more confusion inside than he would have admitted. Suddenly he believed he knew why his girlfriend had betrayed him with Lore. The pain was still there, but a look into Lore's sad eyes told him that his brother had similar feelings. Data could even read desperation on his brother's face.
"You must believe me, I didn't want to do any of that", Lore started to explain. "I don't understand your rules and your laws. Sometimes they seem so - ineffective, so - illogical. All this time I have been looking for somebody to understand me, for a related soul. I had thought that the Crystalline Entity was one. But maybe she was not. Maybe I was only a tool for her. I don't know. But I'm sorry that she's dead now. Don't tell me that I was wrong. I have paid for everything. I know what I have done. But I didn't lie when I said my last words. I had no idea that I would have a chance to talk to you again. I don't want to lose you - Brother."
Data felt his brother's arms closing around him, a friendly embrace, and he gave in. They held each other for a while, and Data felt the confusion growing. His brother's touch had caused an emotional chaos inside, and he had no idea how to
handle it. Somehow he felt as if he was not himself, but Juliana, embracing her son. Juliana? No. Not really. Lavinia? When he thought of Lavinia, a wave of anger overwhelmed him. This sorcerer had bewitched her. But he was unable to move. Now he would have had a chance to reach the switch, but he didn't use the advantage.
Following an impulse he didn't understand himself, he suddenly took his brother's chin, turned his face towards his lips and kissed him. The silky texture of Lore's mouth was somehow familiar, and when their lips met, a shock rammed through Data's circuits. A human heart would have skipped a beat or even more. Data didn't have a heart, but at that moment it made no difference. He knew that something was supposed to be wrong with what he was doing, at least it did not meet with anything he was expected to do.
Lore seemed to be surprised, too, but only for milliseconds. Then he responded to the kiss, even deeper and with a tenderness Data hadn't expected. He was even more disturbed when he realized some typical signs of arousal, not only in his own body, but apparently his brother showed the same reactions and was less affected by monitoring subprocesses.
It was just at that moment when the door slid back and Lavinia entered. When she saw them quickly breaking up the embrace, she wished she hadn't walked in without warning. For a second she even forgot that they were in her own quarters, and she was the master of the house.
"I didn't see a thing", she hurriedly said.
"Let me explain", Data started to speak, but she stopped him immediately. "I'm not in a position to judge you. For the moment I'm glad that at least you didn't try to kill each other."
Lore didn't say anything. He was just watching her, with a strange, unhappy look that made her feel uncomfortable.
"I have news for you", she said businesslike, trying to get things back on track. "The Captain has decided that you can stay aboard the ship and that you don't have to expect another disassembly. However, he insists on continual observation by a security team, and he wants us to do some minor adjustments in your programming to prevent any possible danger until we can be sure that you won't threaten us again."
To Data she said, "Captain Picard has postponed the full staff conference until tomorrow morning." She turned back to Lore. "You see that I completely trust you; otherwise I wouldn't tell you that. I don't think it's fair to do this to you, but I have to follow my instructions."
"What kind of adjustments are you talking about?" Lore asked suspiciously.
"It seems as if your ethical program needs some adjustment. You should not be able to do any harm to other persons, but you are. We have to discover a way to effectively alter your programming."
"Oh, something like a nice little brainwashing?" Lore asked with bitter irony. "Is that what they call it now? The machine does not work properly? OK, let's fix it, pull out the screwdriver!"
Lavinia shook her head and sighed deeply. "You know that it has to be done. And I promise you: it's only temporarily. Don't you think that this is a hard thing to do for me? But it's the only chance we have for the moment. After all it's better than deactivating you once more. You just have to prove that we can trust in you. And as far as I am concerned, I trust in you - and apparently your brother does the same." The last words were said with a sarcastic undertone, and the embarrassed look on Data's face was a little satisfaction for Lavinia.
Data followed Lavinia out the door. The security officers had arrived to escort Lore to his temporary quarters. Data was churning with confusion. He decided to address the slightly less emotion-laden issue first.
"Which of us will perform the adjustments to Lore's programming, or shall we work on it together?"
"I don't think either of us are in a position to be objective about reprogramming Lore at the moment," Lavinia replied, "so I think we had better work on it together. Maybe we can balance each other's biases. Let's go to your lab and review the programming data base."
"We need to talk, don't we?" Data looked sideways at his lover, trying to assess her feelings from her stride and demeanor.
Lavinia refused to look Data in the eye. "I suppose we do, but I'm not looking forward to it."
Data pondered what this remark could have meant as they arrived at the lab. He walked over to the computer console and began calling up files at a remarkable speed. As he worked, he said without looking at Lavinia: "Before Lore was disassembled the last time, I downloaded his entire program
into the computer. I compared his programming to mine to see how we differed in order to determine what might be done about his unethical behavior. I found a few key algorithms that are dissimilar I would like your opinion on which of them we should change to accomplish our task. It is odd, however. I expected to find that I had more programming than Lore to account for my ethical abilities. Instead, I have less."
Lavinia leaned in to see the formulae dancing across the screen, brushing Data's arm as she did so. He felt a jolt of excitement as she touched him. It had been a long time since they last made love. He wondered if they ever would make love again.
As she studied the symbols, she said, "Didn't you say Dr. Soong created you as a 'less human' android, or was that just something Lore was feeding you to make you seem less of a person?"
"Dr. Soong's intention was probably not to make me less human so much as to omit some... complicating factors. For example, my former inability to use contractions was linked to my ethical program. I think Dr. Soong actually intended to monitor my use of contractions as a method of determining if my ethical program was functioning properly. If I used a contraction, it meant there was a glitch in my ethics. It was a damn nuisance not being able to use contractions, though." Data uttered a small snort of laughter.
Data continued, "Dr. Soong actually went back and added the same ethical program to Lore that he eventually incorporated in me. However, Lore was able to override the ethical directives. When we first reassembled Lore after finding him on Omicron Theta, his face would twitch whenever he did anything unethical, such as tell a lie. This was the effect of the ethical programming attempting to kick in. Lore defeated even that vestige by removing the twitch manually."
"The main thing that is missing from my programming but is present in Lore's is this block here." He stopped the scrolling symbols and pointed at the screen. "This is Lore's emotional programming. It is my opinion, based on my study of Lore, myself, and certain remarks made by Dr. Soong, that we will have to wipe his emotional programming in order to prevent blatantly unethical behavior."
Lavinia turned to look at Data full in the face with an expression of utter shock. "Take away his emotions?" she exclaimed. "Why, that would make him no more... no more than..." Her voice shook as she tried to express her dismay at Data's suggestion.
"No more than I was before I got my emotion chip back from Lore?" Data finished her sentence with a tone mixed with sarcasm and sadness.
"Touche," muttered Lavinia, realizing that what Data was proposing to do to Lore was certainly no worse than what Data himself had lived through for the first 34 years of his life. Having no emotions seemed almost unimaginably empty to Lavinia, who had carried them with her as part of her own "software" through her transformation. She was also equipped with an emotion chip, but in her it functioned to mediate and modulate her emotional programming.
"I see no other solution at present, Data. We should be able to remove this section of programming cleanly and store it in the computer banks. It doesn't involve experiential memory, so I don't think any essence will be lost." Data nodded, still not wanting to look at Lavinia.
"Why did you do it?" He asked her in a hushed voice. "Why did you have sex with Lore? He's my brother. My evil brother at that." Data's voice was grim. "You know how I feel about you. Why did you give in to his manipulations? He only wanted to have sex with you as a way of hurting me further."
Lavinia sighed, knowing that the moment she had tried to put off had arrived. "Data, what makes you so sure Lore manipulated me? He is so much like you. He has many of the qualities that attracted me to you, except he is more alluring, more unpredictable. In many ways, he is more like me than you are. I was a little afraid of him at first, because of what I had heard and read about him. But once I met him, once I looked into his eyes, I realized he was misunderstood, just as I have been. Unlike me, he doesn't try to act in socially acceptable ways. He just lets who and what he is show through. I admire him for that. I was always ashamed of my dark side. I always tried to cover it, to hide it."
Data was staring at her in frank disbelief. "You aren't like Lore at all!" he cried. "You are loving and kind and honest. How could I be in love with you if you weren't a good person?"
"I am a good person. Lore is a good person too. He's just been mistreated and he's angry about it. I understand how he feels. I grew up in a family that preferred my younger
brother to me. I loved him, while at the same time I was jealous of him and the attention and praise he got. I have been destructive too, just like Lore. It's a way of expressing anger toward people who don't... who don't..." Lavinia's hands were knotted into fists and her hands and voice were both shaking. She seemed to be on the verge of striking out even as she was describing her emotions. "I'll just say some people don't see me for who I really am, and leave it at that," she finished weakly, consciously trying to unfold her hands and relax them.
"Are you angry at me for not seeing you as you really are?" Data asked her gently.
Lavinia smiled ruefully and touched his face, now in control of her emotions. "I could never be angry at you, Data. And I am sorry that my attraction to Lore has hurt you. You don't deserve to be mistreated any more than he and I do."
"Are we still... a couple?" Data asked her hesitantly.
Lavinia almost said: "A couple of what?" but bit her tongue and replied, "I still love you, but I have to think about whether I want to be with you in an exclusive relationship. I have to ask you yet again for more time."
"I will give you whatever you need," Data slipped his arms around Lavinia and gave her a quick hug. "We had better get on with reprogramming Lore. He might be able to cause some harm if we give him enough time."
Lavinia stood to accompany him. "I hope you can trust your brother one day."
Before the automatic door could swish open, Lavinia grabbed Data's arm. "When are we going to talk about why you were kissing Lore a few minutes ago? That didn't look like just a brotherly kiss."
Data gently pulled his arm from Lavinia's grasp. "I am not yet ready to discuss that. I don't understand it myself."
When they reached Lore's quarters, the security officers were standing impassively on either side of the door.
"Any problems?" Data asked one of them.
"No, sir. There hasn't been a peep out of him."
Data spoke to the air, "Computer, override security lock, authorization Data, Alpha Prime."
"Acknowledged," answered the voice of the computer. The door slid open.
Lore was sitting at the desk, staring at the computer monitor. He smiled his wicked half smile as Data entered. "Hello, my dear, sweet brother. I have been reviewing Federation history since I was last deactivated. It seems you and the rest of the Enterprise crew have been busy as usual. I am curious about this item that occurred at Atrea IV on Stardate 47410.2. The picture of Dr. Juliana Tainer is a very similar likeness to what Juliana O'Donnell would look like after the passage of 34 years. Did you know Dr. Soong was married when he was working on us? Ms. O'Donnell was his wife on Omicron Theta. He often referred to her as 'your mother.'" The sarcasm in Lore's tone was unmistakable.
Data opened his mouth and shut it again. He had expected to have enough emotional difficulty talking to Lore as it was, and then the first subject he brings up is their mother? Although Data had accepted the android version of Juliana Tainer as his mother, he knew that Lore's actions in attracting the Crystalline Entity to the colony had resulted in the death of the human Juliana. "We'll chat about history later," Data stated flatly.
Lore stopped smirking for a moment and looked surprised. "I thought I had noticed you're able to use contractions now. How did you manage that?"
Data sat down across the desk from Lore, and Lavinia dragged up a chair also. Lore winked slyly at Lavinia, but she pretended to ignore it. Data looked his brother in the eye and said, "Do you understand that there are two reasons why Captain Picard has not ordered you to be disassembled for a third time?"
Lore nodded, "I am to assist in studies of my physical construction and positronic matrix and I am to be reprogrammed into a kinder, gentler android." Lore curled up his lip again and snorted. "Just how do you intend to accomplish this miracle of modern cybernetics?"
Lavinia spoke for the first time. Her voice was soft and warm. "I have reviewed all the alternatives with Data on methods we could use to ensure that you will be unlikely to cause any harm. The best method we could find will be to excise the part of your programming which gives you emotional awareness."
Lore started. He nearly shouted the words, "You want to take away my emotions? You want to make me an empty husk like Data was for so long?" Lore held out his hands in front of Data's face, as if he expected Data to detach them on the spot. Just go ahead and start disassembling me now. I don't want to live without feelings."
Data took his brother's hands in his own, surprising both Lore and Lavinia. In a soothing tone, Data said to his brother, "The only alternative is to be shackled hand, foot and chest in duranium chains and have to shuffle about under guard constantly. Would you prefer physical or psychological restraints?"
Lore yanked his hands away from Data's grasp. "That's not much of a choice. Are you certain you would be able to restore my emotions at some point?"
Data sighed and answered, "Yes, Lore. I don't believe the emotional programs would be corrupted by storing them in the computer."
Lore continued to sulk. Although he knew he would submit to the emotion-numbing procedure just so he could remain conscious and relatively free, he threw one last jibe at Data. "When am I going to get my trial by a jury of my peers, little brother? Even the worst criminals in history have had an opportunity to defend themselves. You became my judge, jury, and executioner. You just had me taken apart like a malfunctioning computer."
"We will soon make arrangements to have you bound over for trial."
Data's response must have taken Lore aback, because he had no further snide remarks.
Data walked to the door and entered his access code in the wall panel. He addressed the two security personnel. "Set your phasers on heavy stun. Take up positions on opposite sides of the room and train your weapons on Lore. We will escort Lore to my laboratory now, and I don't want him to try to escape."
The security officers each responded, "Yes, sir," and moved to opposite sides of the room. It would be difficult for Lore to take out both of them and Data and Lavinia too. However, there was no certainty that Lavinia would not help Lore escape at some point.
Lore stood up from his chair. "I'm not going to cause any problems. I know when I've been beaten."
The group was a grim sight as they moved down the corridor to Data's lab. Lore's quarters had been placed in close proximity to the lab by design, so as to minimize his opportunities to get away.
The security team walked behind Lore, flanking him, far enough away so that he could not simply whirl around and seize their weapons. Data walked beside his brother, and Lavinia lead the way. She knew that Data likely did not trust her not to help Lore if he tried to escape. She wanted to behave in a way that would ease his suspicions.
The walls and panels of Data's cybernetics lab had been shaded in dark hues with contrasting patterns on the walls. Data had meant to redecorate it since obtaining emotional abilities, because he now realized how depressing the color scheme was. He had been reminded of the dark castle with the contrasting patterns on the wall from the old moving picture "Frankenstein," and shuddered at the reference to creating soulless life. He just hadn't gotten around to redoing the lab yet, so it still looked like Frankenstein's work place.
Data instructed Lore to get into the supporting framework where the interconnections into the Enterprise computer could be most easily made. Lore stepped up cooperatively and even closed the gates himself. He turned his head slightly as Data moved up behind him to press his off switch. "See you later, little brother."
!snick! Lore's head tilted to one side and all expression went out of his face and his eyes. Data opened the main access panel in Lore's head and plugged in a length of optical cable. Lavinia took the other end and plugged it into the ODN receptacle on the framework. Data moved to the main computer console and his fingers danced across the surface. The resulting beeps seemed to play a tune as Data's artistry as a computer specialist was once again displayed.
He called Lavinia over to the screen where the symbolic representations of the contents of Lore's mind raced past. "Here is the emotional subsection. I will isolate it and move it into a protected area of the laboratory computer that is not connected to the Enterprise main frame. I doubt that the program could affect the main computer, but I am worried because Lore is being so cooperative. He may be planning something."
Lavinia nodded. "I understand why you are being so cautious, but I think Lore is just giving in to the inevitable. He knew that he would have to answer for his deeds one day."
Data performed another dance with his hands on the computer console. "It is done," he announced. I am going to do a rapid check of the remainder of Lore's programming to make sure there are not any isolated emotional files still resident." The symbols raced by on the computer screen too rapidly even for Data to read as the computer looked for the special code
Dr. Soong had embedded into the emotion program segments. "There is one small emotions subroutine here which appears to modulate... sexual pleasure. I will now excise it from Lore's data banks."
Data wondered to himself why that particular function had been programmed separately, but he did not have sufficient time to figure it out at present.
Data hopped back up on the platform which held the framework and pressed Lore's switch again.
!snick! Lore's eyes opened wide and turned to Data. "Are you finished, Data?" Lore asked in a monotone. His facial expression betrayed no emotions at all.
"Yes, I am finished, Lore. How do you feel?"
"I am functioning as well as can be expected under the circumstances, Data." The toneless voice was so unlike the expressive octaves that Lore's speaking voice usually contained that it was difficult to accept it was really Lore. He went on, "I have no emotions whatsoever. I expected to feel something after you took my feelings away, but I feel absolutely nothing. I don't even care that I don't feel anything. It does seem odd. Very odd."
Data turned to the security officers who had watched the whole procedure. "Please escort him back to his quarters now and resume your posts. We'll talk again later, Lore."
Lavinia left the lab without saying a word. Her facial expression did not reveal what might be going on inside her at the moment.
Data walked out the door and turned down the corridor toward his quarters. He was making a conscious effort to hold his head and shoulders up and to walk with determination. As soon as he got behind the closed doors of his quarters, however, he let go with the flood of emotion that had been building up since Lore was functioning again. Data flung himself on his bed and cried. Large yellow tears cut a course down his cheeks and he sobbed uncontrollably. Spot jumped up next to him to see what all the hubbub was about. Data took Spot in his arms and hugged the cat to him, causing the animal to form the feline equivalent of a frown.
"Oh Spot," Data sobbed, following the age-old tradition of telling one's troubles to a pet. "Lore has taken away everything that was ever important to me, except you. Now he's even got my girlfriend. I thought I would get some satisfaction from seeing Lore without emotions, the way I used to be. It didn't do a thing except remind me of how hollow I was then." The android's sobs gradually subsided, and the cat wriggled free of his arms. Data continued talking to Spot, who was now bathing on the floor. "I have to pull myself together now. I have duties to perform."
Meanwhile, Lavinia went to her quarters. When she walked through the corridors, she had the feeling as if she were in the middle of a bad dream. None of this seemed to be real. She registered that tears were rising in her eyes and tried her best to suppress them. She also ignored the curious looks of the crew members passing by her.
As soon as the door had closed behind her, she could no longer hold back and cried until her body was shaking and curling up with pain. She had known that the android body was able to perform any kind of human emotional reactions, but for the moment she would have been happy if there were a way to simply switch them off.
Her tear-blinded eyes fell on a stuffed animal on one of the shelves: Edward, her old teddy bear. She had neglected him for a long time, but now she picked up her old friend from childhood days and hugged him so tightly that, if Edward were alive, he would have protested.
"You're the only one who understands", she sobbed. "I've ruined everything. If I hadn't reassembled Lore, all this wouldn't have happened. Maybe we could have found another way instead of wiping out his emotions. And I wouldn't have had this... affair. Darn, I don't know what I feel! I love Data! You must believe me! But when I was with Lore, I was sure that I loved him, too. But is this love? Isn't it more like an addiction? And now? Lore isn't himself anymore, and Data is so deeply hurt. How can I make this up? I can't stand myself!"
The teddy bear didn't answer, of course, but looked at her with wise, brown glass eyes, and somehow this look was comforting. And when Lavinia rolled up herself on the sofa, pressing the bear to her chest, there wasn't much of a difference from the 4-year-old she once had been.
After his shift was over, Data went to see Counselor Troi. He was feeling emotions he had never felt before, and he sought her calm objectivity to help him sort them out.
He heard her voice from the other side of the door. "Come?"
Judging by her tone, she hadn't been expecting anyone at this time. Data stepped through the now-open door.
"Counselor, do you have a moment? I need to talk to someone... to you about some things that have happened recently."
"Why, of course, Data. Sit down. I always have time for you. What's on your mind?"
"This will be rather complex to explain, Counselor. I am not sure where to begin." Data looked uncertainly at his hands which were folded in his lap. He wore the expression of confusion that as his friend and counselor, Deanna had come to know so well. She could sense his emotions now that he had them, although his emotions had a different quality to them than those of fully organic beings. Compared to the emotions of others, Data's were shallow and shadowy, as if they existed in two dimensions rather than three. Deanna suspected that Data did not experience emotions as intensely as did fully organic beings, but she had never discussed it with him. Right now Deanna was sensing a plethora of emotions coming from her android friend. The strongest was sadness, the kind that results from being rejected. But there was also guilt and shame. She decided to start with the emotion that would be the least threatening. "Tell me what's made you sad, Data," Deanna encouraged him.
"I have discovered that my girlfriend... that Lavinia has had a romantic liaison with my brother." Data looked up at Deanna's face to see if he could judge her reaction. She was looking at him compassionately. "When I asked Lavinia if she still wants to be with me, she said she didn't know for sure, and wanted time to think about it. She is the first woman I have ever loved, counselor. I am at a loss as to how to deal with the... emotional pain that is resulting from being betrayed by her."
"Betrayed is a very strong word, Data, and Lore has tricked people who care about you before." Deanna thought regretfully about how Lore had lured Captain Picard, Geordi, and herself into captivity when he had taken leadership of a renegade group of Borg. She remembered how Lore had almost forced himself on her sexually, and shuddered involuntarily. "Are you certain Lore didn't trick or force Lavinia somehow into having sex with him?"
Data looked as if he were about to cry. "As for forcing Lavinia, I don't think Lore could do that, because she is about as strong as he is. She told me herself that sleeping with him was her choice and that she is attracted to him."
"Oh," replied Counselor Troi, somewhat taken aback at the idea of someone being attracted to Lore. Even though he was Data's physical mirror image, and she found Data quite handsome, Deanna needed her men to have a moral center and to be trustworthy. She found Lore to be lacking in both qualities. She managed to get out an understanding statement anyway, "Sometimes people are attracted to more than one person at a time, and it can cause a lot of pain for everyone involved. What else do you feel about what Lavinia told you?"
Data again studied his hands. "I really cannot understand how she could be attracted to both of us simultaneously. Although we are identical physically, our characters have little in common. I am suspicious that Lavinia was never attracted to me at all, and just used me as a way to recover from her illness and as a way to reassemble Lore. I think she wanted him all along. The thought of being used by someone I care about hurts me deeply. I would have felt this same way when Tasha's sister Ishara used me to strike at her enemy, if I had been capable of having feelings then."
"So you are saying you don't think Lavinia ever loved you?"
"Yes... no... I don't know. She says she loves me still. I thought she loved me." Data sighed, "But this isn't the most important thing that I need to talk to you about."
Deanna thought to herself, "Here it comes. He's about to tell me why he is feeling guilty." She said aloud: "Go on, Data."
Data tried to make eye contact with Deanna, the way that his social interaction program told him was appropriate in this context. "Actually, I understand better than I have told you about why Lavinia wanted to be with Lore. I have been sexually attracted to him myself." He dropped his eyes again, overwhelmed with shame and embarrassment. He forced himself to go on. "In the brief time that I have experienced emotional awareness, I have been physically attracted to several men. I see nothing at all wrong with this, although my sexual programming emphasizes heterosexual behavior. It is conceivable that I might go to bed with a man someday. But, Lore is my brother." Data seemed even closer to crying. He put his face down in his hands for a few moments, trying to
Deanna had worked with many people who had experienced incestuous feelings. She knew of a handful of cultures in the quadrant which endorsed and practiced incest for ritualistic or dynastic reasons. There had been cultures on Earth as recently as the twentieth century that practiced certain types of incest. All of the Federation member planets now prohibited incest, and there were few instances of it at present on Federation worlds. Deanna knew from reading Earth history that at one time incest, especially that forced on an immature daughter by a father or father surrogate, was quite common, but it had always been done in secret. Now almost everyone was more enlightened and was able to fulfill sexual needs without exploiting the young. Because of her knowledge and experience, Deanna was not at all shocked or even surprised at what Data was telling her. She waited patiently for him to continue.
When he started talking again, it was in a much more analytical tone. "Most sentient races consider sexual relationships between close relatives to be incest. I am aware that some xenoanthropologists believe that the incest taboo was based on the increased likelihood that such mating would produce genetically flawed offspring. Since I am an android and incapable of biological reproduction, this is not an issue for me. Many others have observed that incest results in severe emotional consequences when certain boundaries in familial relationships are violated. Family members have norms of behavior they are expected to follow in their interactions with each other. When a family member steps outside of the norms for behavior, such as initiating a sexual relationship, the results are usually emotionally devastating. The family member who is the object of the sexual behavior feels used, violated, betrayed. But I don't need to tell you this. I am certain you are familiar with the dynamics of incest."
Deanna smiled gently at her friend. She knew he had launched into a lengthy intellectual exposition as a defense against the uncomfortable emotions he was feeling. When Data was reciting things he had read or downloaded, he felt most at ease and competent. Perhaps she could assist him to use that strength in a way that would be helpful. "You are right, Data. I am familiar with the dynamics. But I think it might help you to understand what happened between you and Lore if you talk some more about why you think incest is a bad thing."
Data looked at Deanna as if she had just said, "Talk some more about why you think killing people is a bad thing." He wanted to say "It just *is* a bad thing" but instead he went on reciting his files. "Some cases of criminal incest seemed to have the same dynamics as rape. That is to say that the incest was not a sexual act for the perpetrator, but a way of gaining power over a victim. Usually the victim is weaker and not able to put up much resistance. That is why so many rape and incest victims have been children."
Deanna listened untiringly to Data's recitation. "Perhaps it would help if you tell me exactly what happened between you and Lore."
Alternating his glance between Deanna's face and his hands, he told the story. Data recounted what had happened when he had been about to reject Lore forever, but he had been unable to turn his back completely on his brother. He told Deanna how looking in to Lore's eyes and being hugged by Lore had awakened sexual feelings inside him. He told about how he himself had initiated the kiss and about how Lore had reciprocated. He told how Lavinia had walked in on them.
"If it hadn't been for her interrupting us, I think I would have torn off his clothes and had sex with him right there. I guess I should really be grateful to her for walking in when she did. If I had been able to act on my impulse, I am certain I would be feeling much worse than I do now. It was as if I was experiencing an irresistible impulse. It felt as if sex with Lore would have been the most natural thing in the world at that moment. I just don't see how I could have thought that. Of course, intercourse with him would have violated our sibling relationship." Data stood up and began pacing. His voice tone grew louder and more forceful. "What am I saying? Lore and I don't *have* a real sibling relationship. He killed our mother and harmed our father. He is responsible for the death of an entire colony on Omicron Theta. He has kidnapped me, brainwashed me, forced me to harm my best friend, stolen my girlfriend... It is as if I forgot everything he has done when I thought about having sex with him."
Deanna let him pace. Many of her patients did this as they talked. It was a wonder there wasn't a trough worn in the
carpet. "Data, what were you saying earlier about how incest can be more about power than sex?"
Data stopped pacing and looked at Deanna in amazement. "You are right. That is it! I was trying to dominate Lore by initiating sex with him. I was trying to get revenge for all the things he has done. Somewhere in my mind I was thinking that fucking him in the ass would make me dominant over him at last, so he wouldn't be able to hurt me any more. I wanted to get back at him for being intimate with Lavinia." Data sat down, almost as alarmed by this revelation as he had been when he discovered the sexual arousal he felt toward his brother.
"I had no idea I could be that vengeful." Data said in wonder. "I must work to understand these feelings of hatred and revenge so that I can control them. They must not get away from me again."
Deanna patted Data's arm. "You have made a big step by discovering those feelings in yourself. This is one of the greatest drawbacks for species who have feelings, Data. If we try to ignore or deny the ones we find unacceptable in ourselves, they almost take on a life of their own and begin to control our actions. They seem to "pop out" at the most inconvenient times. It seems that this is what happened to you. Now that you know more about your feelings, it won't be as easy for them to sneak up on you again."
Data smiled for the first time since he had come into the session. "'Know your enemy,'" he quoted. "It seems that most of the time, the enemy is some part of ourselves."
Deanna smiled back at him, pleased that he was not as fraught with unpleasant emotions as he had been when he first came in. She could still sense his guilt feelings at wanting revenge toward his brother, but they were not as strong now. "Yes, it does seem that way, Data, most of the time."
"There is still one thing I don't understand, Counselor."
"What is that, Data?"
"Why did Lore return the sexual overtures I initiated? Did he also wish to dominate me through sex?"
"That could be the reason, but I doubt it is as simple as that. You have analyzed all the ways in which you and Lore are different, haven't you?" Data nodded, waiting for Deanna to continue. "Lore thinks of himself in very different ways than you think of yourself. Lore is the most important person in his world, whereas I have often seen you put others before yourself."
"Are you suggesting that Lore was attracted to me because I look exactly like him? A kind of narcissism in the extreme?" It was Deanna's turn to nod. "That makes sense. I suppose it could be the explanation."
Data looked warmly at Deanna. "Thank you, Counselor. Once again you have helped me see clearly what I must do. I don't know what I'd do without you."
"You are welcome Data. I am always glad when I can help. What are you going to do about Lavinia?"
"I plan to wait and see how she acts toward both me and Lore. I'm going to try to find out if she used me or not. I will decide if our values systems are similar enough to base a long-term relationship on. If they are not sufficiently similar, I will inform her that I no longer wish to resume our relationship, even if she does."
The counselor nodded her head. "Those all seem like sensible things to do. There is just one thing you didn't mention. I can sense your love for her. You can't just switch that off like a communications channel if you decide not to continue in the relationship."
"I know, Counselor. But I will change that horse when I come to it."
Deanna smiled a little at his mangled metaphor. It seemed Data still could not quite master the colorful nuances of human speech. "And do you know what you will do about Lore?"
"I will do nothing. If he asks me about our kiss, I will simply tell him that I mistakenly confused sexual desire with a desire to dominate."
"And what will you tell Lavinia about what she saw?"
"She had already asked. I will tell her the same thing. That is the truth, and I see no reason to hide it."
Data fidgeted as he stood in the turbo lift on the way to the observation lounge where he was to meet with Captain Picard and the rest of the command crew. The android felt much better since talking to Counselor Troi, but he still was not looking forward to dealing with his brother. He told himself that it would be easier now that Lore lacked emotions. Data reasoned that Lore would be unable, or at least unmotivated to taunt and rebuke him as he usually did.
As he traversed the space between the turbo lift and the observation lounge door, Worf fell into step behind him. Troi was to join the meeting as well, but she was currently
evaluating Lore's condition since his emotions had been deprogrammed. She would bring her results to the observation lounge as soon as she had them.
Captain Picard was already in the observation lounge examining a data padd. A glance at it revealed to Data's lightening-fast processors that it was Lavinia's report on the reassembly and reactivation of Lore. Picard nodded at the two officers as they came in. "Mr. Data, Mr. Worf. I have invited Ensign Morris to join us as well." Lavinia rushed in as Worf and Data were taking their seats. She sat down across from Data, avoiding his gaze.
Captain Picard started the meeting. "Ensign Morris, I see in your report that one of the first things Lore did when he was reactivated was to attack you. You also mention that he verbalized his hatred toward Data. You and Mr. Data have since removed his emotional programming. I have ordered that he be kept under constant guard in spite of your precautions. He has outwitted us before."
Lavinia nodded at Captain Picard as he reviewed these facts she already knew. She thought grimly to herself that her report of Lore's behavior had not included his sexual prowess.
The captain continued, "It was due to your request that Lore was reassembled at all. And I suspect that Commander Maddox pulled a few strings. He has been itching to get his hands on a Soong-type android for years. Exactly what did you hope to accomplish by reassembling him?"
Lavinia could recite her rationale in her sleep, she had done it so many times. She had never verbalized the real reason she had wanted to reactivate Lore. She had never told a living soul about the fantasies she had indulged in after reading Data's personal logs and other documents on Lore's behavior. She had sworn to herself that she would never tell anyone about the first dream she had after becoming an android. She remembered the name of an old novel she had read once: "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" 'No,' she thought ruefully, 'they dream about each other."
To Captain Picard she said, "There were many reasons why I felt it was necessary to bring Lore back. First of all, there are so few Soong-type androids in the world, and I am the only one who is functional that was not built by Dr. Soong himself. If we have more examples of positronic circuitry to study, our understanding of positronic brains and synthetic life forms will become more complete. Second, if we can understand the hardware or software reasons that cause the differences in Data's and Lore's behavior, future androids can be constructed without any concern about them becoming homicidal maniacs. Third, Lore has the same rights that Data and I do, and it is hardly fair to take him apart and leave him on a shelf forever. I am certain you have read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Even Dr. Frankenstein could not bring himself to destroy his creation. Lore deserves to be tried for the crimes of which he is accused as a citizen of the Federation."
Captain Picard listened patiently as Lavinia reeled off her list. 'I may not be a poker player or an empath,' Picard thought to himself, 'but I am certain she is hiding something.'
As Lavinia was finishing, Counselor Troi came in the door. She was carrying a padd which she handed to Data so he could configure it to display its messages on the observation lounge view screen. The pictures and text came up as Deanna sat down.
"Hello Counselor," Captain Picard greeted her. "What light can you cast on this situation?"
"Lore is completely without any emotions, either that I can detect empathically or that my psychotech equipment can detect. I can discover no thoughts of aggression or potential for harming others. Let me remind you, however, that the ability to predict violence has only improved a little in the past four hundred years. Acting violently depends on so many variables that we can hardly predict who will be violent and who won't. But if I had to guess, I'd say that the way Lore is now, he would not be interested in committing any violent acts. As a matter of fact, he apologized to me for kidnapping me the last time we met."
Captain Picard raised his eyebrows slightly. "Are you suggesting we give him free run of the ship, Counselor?"
"Not at all, Captain," Deanna responded. "I am just saying that I believe Data and Ensign Morris were successful in obliterating Lore's aggressive tendencies."
Captain Picard turned to Mr. Data. "How do you plan to proceed with regard to working with your brother?"
Data was wearing a look of uncertainty that seemed to be increasingly common for him lately. "First of all, Captain, I want to add to Ensign Morris's remarks." Although he had
addressed the captain, Data was looking at Lavinia as he spoke. "While I believe that Lore may provide much knowledge about positronics and artificial life forms, I would be opposed to proceeding with any investigations without his fully informed consent. In addition, I want it to be on record that I never intended to leave Lore in a disassembled condition indefinitely. He is simply too dangerous to transport when he is functioning... as he usually is. It is my opinion that we should provide him transportation to the nearest appropriate Federation world and remand him to the authorities there."
Picard interjected, "Starbase 115 is about 6 days away on our present course, is it not?"
"Excuse me, Captain," Data said, "but Starbase 115 is affiliated with Starfleet rather than the Federation. Most of the crimes of which Lore is accused were committed against Federation citizens, not Starfleet officers. My interpretation of Federation Law is that he will need to be tried in both tribunals, and the most serious charges, including contributing to the destruction of an entire colony, falls within the jurisdiction of the Federation, rather than Starfleet. The closest place would be Deneva. It is slightly off our course and a little more than 25 days away at our current speed."
"Noted, Mr. Data," Captain Picard said, breathing a mental sigh of relief that Data no longer gave long time intervals in nanoseconds. "You are all dismissed."
Data spent the rest of his shift on the Bridge thinking about what he wanted to say to Lore. Acquiring an emotion chip had only reduced his multitasking ability by a tiny proportion. As he monitored the ship's functions, he wondered if it would do any good to confront Lore about the injuries he had inflicted on Data's friends and family as well as on Data himself. Right now, Lore couldn't feel remorse even if he admitted that the things he had done were wrong, and Data doubted there would be much satisfaction in hearing any confessions. He was still feeling angry toward his older brother.
When his Bridge shift ended, he stepped into the turbolift and asked the computer for the location of Lore. "Lore is in Guest Quarters 1213," the slightly metallic voice of the computer answered. 'Right down the corridor from my quarters,' Data thought. "Deck 12," he said aloud.
Data continued to put off the inevitable confrontation by going to his quarters first. He fed Spot, watered his plants, and checked his mail. Data wrote several excessively long replies to trivial communiques. He finally said to Spot, "This is ridiculous," and headed toward Lore's quarters.
The security officers were right where they were supposed to be. Data heard voices on the other side of the door as he stepped up to ring the door chime. It was Lore and... was that Lavinia's laughter he heard? He hesitated again before he requested entry. He heard Lore's voice. It sounded flat, hollow. "Come."
Data stepped into his brother's temporary quarters. Lavinia was there, as he had thought. She and Lore were playing tri-D chess. Lore was winning. "How are you, Lore?" Data asked his brother.
"I am functioning as well as could be expected." Lore said in a voice that was almost a monotone. He sounded so different from his usual vociferous self. As an afterthought, he added, "How are you, Data?"
"Fine," Data replied. "I have come to talk to you about the reprogramming we did. Can you describe what it is like now that you no longer have emotions?"
"Data, I suspect that you know what it is like, since you once had emotions for a short time and then lost them." Was that a hint of sarcasm in Lore's tone, or was Data just expecting it to be there?
Data answered, "For me it was like being left with a large gaping hole in my consciousness, although I had no capacity to feel regret or anger about losing the emotions. 'Empty' best describes the way I felt."
Lore looked at his brother dispassionately. "Yes, empty. That is how it feels to me as well. I remember having feelings, and I can remember what some of them were like. I remember I was angry with you for taking my place with Dr. Soong. That felt like a blinding, driving rage that motivated most of what I did and thought. I was working for the day when I could defeat you and take back my place. I remember the feeling I had for Lavinia, and I think it was love. I remember resenting humans because they never understood that I was superior to them. That sounds so insane now. My current programming tells me that all individuals are equal to each other, although they may have areas of strength and weakness relative to one another. I realize that now since Dr. Soong
is dead, it makes no sense whatsoever to compete with you for his attention." Turning to Lavinia, he said: "I am sorry, but I cannot recall anything about what love feels like."
Lavinia nearly spat out the words at Data. "You see what we've done? We've turned him into an automaton. This isn't Lore as we know him. This is a watered-down version of YOU."
Data was surprised by the venom in Lavinia's voice. "The table is not completely rotated," he said. "Lore may be more like I was before, but I am still not very similar to the way he used to be."
"Are you so sure of that, Data? Are you sure that you aren't as angry with Lore as he was with you?"
"Why are you doing this, Lavinia?" Data was stung by Lavinia's words. He felt that she was trying to make Data seem like the villain now, a role that Lore had always played before. "What is it that has made you so angry with me that you would try to hurt my feelings?"
Now it was Lavinia's turn to be taken aback. "I am angry that Lore isn't himself. This Lore is not as interesting and attractive as the one I first met. It isn't really your fault that Lore has been emotionally eviscerated, Data. Captain Picard gave the order. I guess I'm taking my anger out on you. And to think I just told you I couldn't be angry with you. Wrong again, Morris."
Data tilted his head toward Lavinia. He noticed she had not really apologized. "I'd like some time alone with you, Lore," Data stated, "When it's convenient."
"I have no hope of winning this chess match," Lavinia said as she stood up. "I can leave now."
The two Soong brothers watched Lavinia as she left. Lore turned his gaze to Data. "What was it you wanted to talk about?"
Data returned Lore's emotionless stare. "I hardly know where to start. I thought it would be important to discuss a number of things with you while you are capable of being rational."
"But, Data," Lore objected, "I am always rational. I am just not always calm."
Data paused for a moment, taken aback by his brother's apparent lack of insight into his past behavior. "Whatever you want to call it," he responded. "I would feel more comfortable talking in my own quarters. Will you join me there?"
Informing the security men that he would be taking Lore down the corridor to his own quarters, Data ordered them to remain at watch.
Once they had settled in his quarters, Data pulled in a chestful of air, preparing himself for a discussion which he knew would be emotionally draining for him. "First of all, I want to talk to you about our mother. Juliana Tainer is our mother. I met her last year and she told me all about what happened on Omicron Theta before the Crystalline Entity destroyed the colony."
Lore almost looked surprised behind his mask of solemnity. "She is still alive? I thought she had been killed in the attack on the colony."
Data was uncertain as to how much he should tell Lore about their mother's status as an android. Data thought to himself. 'If he regains his usual attitudes, he will surely use the information against Juliana or me.' Aloud he said, "She did survive and accompanied Dr. Soong to Terlina III. She left him because she felt he loved his work more than he loved her. She is remarried and living on Atrea."
"I want to see her. I have so much to apologize for. She really didn't deserve to be treated so badly. I guess I was jealous of her too, the same way I was jealous of you as you were being built. Will we be able to arrange a meeting?"
Data suddenly felt very uncomfortable at the idea of his brother meeting his mother. For one thing, he would be able to detect that she is an android, and he had already decided against letting him find that out. "It is very unlikely," he finally answered his brother. "It sounds as if you recognize that you have made some mistakes. When your emotional program was functioning, you expressed no regrets or admitted no faults. I am pleased that you are aware that you have committed grievous errors."
"Well, brother, now that I am not plagued by pride, envy and jealousy, it is no longer necessary that I pretend I have not made mistakes. Of course I realize that. But you obviously understand that much of my behavior was motivated by emotional conflicts, since it was you who arrived at the conclusion that disabling my emotional program would render me harmless. My congratulations for that."
Data returned to his original topic, "Surely you knew that the Crystalline Entity would kill all life on the planet indiscriminately. Did it not cause you any concern that our parents could have been killed in the attack as well?"
Lore continued to regard Data impassively. "At the time that I was contacted by the Crystalline Entity, I was angry
at every human, not only on Omicron Theta, but every human alive. The humans had attempted to restrict my movements and my access to certain parts of the colony and certain people. My goal was to get control of the colony's environmental controls and to eventually acquire a warp-capable shuttle so I could leave Omicron Theta and meet challenges that were more appropriate for my abilities. I was angry at our father for starting work on another android that I realized would be my replacement. Even so, I respected Dr. Soong and I didn't really wish him harm. But most of all, I hated you. The real reason I learned to communicate with the Crystalline Entity was so it would come to Omicron Theta and destroy you once you were activated. It was only a secondary benefit that it would also destroy all the humans. I did tell it before it arrived to give Dr. Soong a chance to escape. I knew he had a means of transport hidden away."
Data felt his insides tying in knots, the way a human would feel sickened and horrified by the recitation of a list of unspeakable crimes. To hear this recounting in his brother's now impassive voice was almost too much to bear. To protect himself, he changed the subject to a less upsetting one, or so he thought.
"I am curious about how you communicated with the Crystalline Entity. On the Enterprise, we had devised a communication method involving graviton pulses, and it appeared to be working right before the Entity was destroyed."
"If I was feeling emotions right now, I would guess that I would be enraged and distraught at hearing you bring up this subject. The Crystalline Entity was many things to me, but mostly she was my lover. I can remember very clearly how agonizing it felt to learn of her destruction. I was under the impression that Star Fleet respected all life forms. Why did you kill her?"
Now it was Data's turn to be on the defensive. "Star Fleet did not kill her, and I deplore her destruction. It was Dr. Kila Marr, who never recovered from the death of her son. He was on Omicron Theta when the Entity struck. She spent years hunting the Entity, pretending that she wanted to study and communicate with it, when what she really wanted was to destroy it. I think she was... psychotic when she finally killed it."
"I guess I deserved to lose the Crystalline Entity in that manner. What is that old Earth law? An eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth? A loved one for a loved one in this case. But you asked me how we communicated. Yes, graviton pulses would have worked. If you show me the record of the communication attempts, I may be able to translate what she said before she died."
"That would be most helpful, Lore. Do you know if there are other such Entities in the galaxy?"
"I would be surprised if there weren't," Lore responded, almost sounding like his old self for a moment.
Data was uncertain if he could reasonably discuss the next issue with Lore, but he launched into it, nevertheless. "There are many concerns that we will need to discuss over the next few weeks until you are delivered to Deneva for trial. The other one that is most important to me is why you kidnapped me and manipulated me into working with the Borg and against the Federation. I almost killed my best friend Geordi in that string of events. Now that I have emotions, I feel terribly guilty about that."
Lore regarded his brother with his clear, yellow eyes, and tipped his head to one side in a manner reminiscent of the way Data often does. "Why should you feel guilty about that? I engineered the whole thing. As you say, I manipulated you. I disengaged your ethical program by remote and transmitted negative emotions to you, so you would share my motivations against humans. For a while, you knew exactly how it felt to be me, didn't you?"
It was Data's turn to tilt his head in the mannerism he used when something did not make sense to him. "I do not think that I ever knew exactly how it felt to be you, Lore. If I had, would it not stand to reason that I would have more insight into your motivations, and I would not be asking you these questions now?"
The brothers' conversation was interrupted by a red alert klaxon. "Mr. Data to the Bridge!" the Captain's voice came over his communicator.
Data immediately realized there was no time to escort Lore back to his quarters, and that all security personnel would be occupied with the red alert, except the ones assigned to guard Lore.
"Data to Ensign Emerson and Lt. Rodriguez." He didn't wait until the officers had answered. "I am leaving Lore in my quarters under a security lock. Please come here and escort him back to his own quarters. And don't let Spot out."
The officers' acknowledgments came over his comm badge as he said to Lore, "I am going to have to do what Lavinia has wanted me to do and trust you for a few moments. Please do not touch anything or try to escape."
Crossing quickly to his full sized computer console, he entered some coded commands to lock out access to the computer and the door to his quarters from the inside. If he had used voice authorization, Lore could have easily broken the lockouts by using the same codes. Unlike any other two sentient beings in the quadrant, the computer was unable to distinguish their two voices.
Data hurried out the door. Lore's security officers were not yet in sight as he rounded the curve in the corridor and jumped on the turbolift. There were already half dozen other officers on the lift racing to reach their assigned posts for the red alert.
No sooner had the door to his quarters closed behind Data, than Lore was working furiously at the computer, attempting to override the lockout. It only took him twelve seconds. The computer in Data's quarters shared the same memory and files as the one in his laboratory. He rapidly located the files that held his emotional programming, simultaneously opening a flap in his head and connecting an ODN line to the computer. The speed at which he worked was unthinkable for a human, and a human eye could not have followed his movements. His keen hearing heard the running footsteps of the security officers. He was not able to download all of the files into his positronic brain before he was forced to yank the ODN line out of his skull and replace the lockout on the computer so Data would not know he had accessed it.
'I shouldn't have downloaded that sexuality program first,' Lore thought to himself as he was escorted back to his temporary quarters. 'It was stored separately and it took too long. I could have gotten all the rest of the emotion files. Damn!' Inside he was already beginning to boil with the gamut of negative emotions that were his wont, while outside he was pretending to be calm and impassive, as he was currently expected to be.
Once in his quarters Lore began sorting through the files that he had been able to download in the short time he had. He wanted to take an account of what he had retrieved and what was still lost to him. Internally Lore ticked off the list of emotional categories he was capable of feeling: anger, lust, pride, ambition, sorrow, disgust, love, joy, hope, wonder, respect, submission, surprise, interest, relief, relaxation... some were missing. Their programs were incomplete and refused to boot. Where were hate, fear, envy and greed? 'Damn, some of those were my favorites.' Lore thought to himself. 'I'll find a way to reclaim them. I guess I could do without fear, though.'
Data did not discover the reason for the red alert until he reached the Bridge. Commander Riker began filling him in on the situation as soon as he emerged from the turbolift and ran toward his station at Ops. The Ensign currently at Ops leaped out of the way to keep from being bowled over byData's hurrying mass.
"We believe we have located the ship that was responsible for the system failures at Outpost Marissa IV and aboard the Aracus and the Enterprise," Riker shouted at Data above the red alert klaxon.
Picard turned around to Worf and shouted, "Turn off that damn noise! Full scan, Mr. Data. Put it on screen."
Data's hands flew over the Ops console, making it beep and sing. He quickly assimilated the readings and evaluated the location, configuration, and speed of the ship that was running from them at Warp 8.9. It was still accelerating. At the same time he used his Ops board to verify that the computer lock-out remained in place in his quarters and that Lore was safely in his own quarters. On the main viewer, Data's sensor scan replaced the tactical and weapons display that Worf had prepared moments earlier.
"It is a ship of unknown origin and configuration," Data reported. "It does not correspond with any Federation records, but it does match the sensor readings we took when the Enterrprise was attacked by the computer virus. However, its power utilization curve indicates that it is not as fast as the Enterprise, and we should be able to catch it in fifty- one minutes. It will be within the Romulan Neutral Zone by the time we overtake it, however."
"Merde," Captain Picard muttered under his breath. His crew had heard him utter this French expletive a good many times in tight situations, and they knew it did not call for a response. Aloud he said, "It must either be an operative of the Romulans or a new Romulan design. Otherwise they wouldn't
be making a bee line for the Neutral Zone."
Riker turned to his Captain, "Unless they aren't from around here and don't know about the Neutral Zone."
"Hail them," Picard ordered.
"They do not respond, Sir." Worf informed him.
Picard barked out more orders. "Continue hailing them at five second intervals, all frequencies, all language forms. Helm, what is our current velocity and acceleration?"
"Warp 9.2 sir, increasing by 0.1 Warp factor per five seconds."
"Picard to Engineering."
"La Forge here."
"I want you to get as much acceleration out of the engines as possible. I want to try to catch that ship before we reach the Neutral Zone."
"Picard to Engineering."
Data knew that it wouldn't be possible for Geordi to soup up the engines enough to overtake the other ship in time, but he had learned long ago not to point out such things to the Captain. It just wasted time. Once Jean-Luc Picard had made up his mind and given an order, that was the way it was to be done. Aloud he reported, "Unidentified ship is thirty seven minutes away from entering the Neutral Zone at its current speed. We will overtake them in forty eight minutes."
A few moments later Commander La Forge's voice came over the comm system, "That's all the power I can get to the Warp Engines without shutting down life support. We'd have to evacuate several decks to do that."
"Mr. La Forge, relay the information on which decks to evacuate to Counselor Troi. Counselor, go and oversee the evacuation. Time is of the essence."
Troi propelled herself out of the chair next to the Captain's and rushed toward the turbolift as Geordi's voice came over her comm badge.
In spite of all their efforts, the alien ship was able to reach the Neutral Zone before the Enterprise could catch it. Even as it slipped across the invisible border, the Captain knew he wasn't going to risk entering the Neutral Zone this time. The current relations between the Romulan Star Empire and the Federation, especially the Vulcans, were very delicate, and he did not wish to jeopardize that balance in any way. The identity of their assailant would have to remain unknown for the moment, and justice would not be done. Even if a similar attack occurred, at least the Federation knew how to neutralize its effects. He secretly hoped his android officers would not be called on to repair such damage again, however.
"Stand down from red alert," Picard ordered, his voice sounding almost dejected. "Helm, hard about back to Federation Space. Set course to Outpost Marrisa IV."
Picard sat thoughtfully for a moment, then said, "Mr. Data, Mr. Worf, I want reports about this incident from each of you in one hour in my Ready Room."
"Aye, Captain," Data and Worf answered almost simultaneously, as each of them bent over their consoles, already working on fulfilling the Captain's order.
Now that the red alert was over, Lavinia was able to leave her post in Engineering since it wasn't her duty shift. She was eager to converse further with Lore. He was the only other being of her kind in the Galaxy that she had ever met, although she hoped to meet Juliana some day. She was still strongly attracted to Lore in spite of his emotional absence, according to the French meaning of the word. The French word had been used in neurology in the twentieth century to describe a type of seizure where the patient's consciousness seemed to leave ("be absent") for a matter of minutes to hours. This is the way that Lore's missing emotions struck Lavinia.
She greeted the Security Officers at the door. They had been ordered to allow her access to Lore whenever she requested it, since she was engaging in scientific study, but they were to signal Commander Data whenever she came to see him. On the Bridge, Data noted his board indicated Lavinia was with Lore.
She smiled brightly at Lore as she went through the door, "Hello there. How are you?"
Lore waited until the door slid shut before he answered, trying to prevent his voice from betraying his secret. "I'm functioning adequately," he answered her. He had decided not to trust her any more than he trusted Data. It was going to be hard, playing the emotionless android when he really wanted to scream at everyone he saw.
Her smile grew even wider. "You sound like you might be adapting to not having emotions. You are varying your response to that question now."
"Isn't adapting one of our primary functions?" He was always having to play a role around these Federation types. If he wasn't pretending to be Data, he was pretending to be something else that he wasn't. He really wished she'd leave,
but there didn't seem to be any way he could get rid of her, since he was her pet science project at the moment.
"I wanted to work with you on what you can expect at your trial. Of course, I want to be there to plead for mercy for you. If I can find a way to permanently fix you and leave your emotional functioning intact, the only reason left to impose any kind of sentence would be punishment. Of course the Federation is much more interested in rehabilitation than in punishment. We want to return citizens to productive roles in society as soon as possible. You could make invaluable contributions to society once your evil streak has been eliminated."
Lore's ears figuratively perked up. "Fix me? You think you can fix me?" He fought back his excitement. "That is what I have really wanted all along. How do you think it could be done?"
"I initially thought that rewriting the execution portion of your ethical program would be all that it took," Lavinia said, entering her lecturing mode, but still captivated by Lore's handsome face. "However, I did that before you were reactivated and you still were not functioning properly."
"But , Lavinia," Lore objected in as even a tone as he could muster, "I haven't harmed anyone since I have beenonboard."
"Oh, Lore," Lavinia snorted. "You know as an android, I can't forget anything that happens to me. If I had been human, you would have done plenty of harm to me when I first activated you."
"We made up, though, didn't we?" Lore thought about reaching out to touch her to play on the attraction for him he saw in Lavinia's eyes. He decided she might get suspicious if he was too expressive.
"Yes, yes, but that's not the point."
"Are you my friend now, Lavinia? Can I trust you?"
"Of course you can trust me, Lore. If it hadn't been for me, you would still be in pieces. I'm your greatest ally right now."
Lore knew that what Lavinia was saying was true, but he was still unwilling to confide his plans to escape. He knew she was a Starfleet officer, and had taken an oath to uphold Starfleet regulations long before she had the hots for him. One of those Starfleet regulations was not letting prisoners escape.
"Then, please show me how I can be fixed. I don't want to spend the next ten thousand years in a rehabilitation colony."
"Now that we have had an opportunity to observe your functioning without emotions, the solution is clear. We need to build another emotion chip to your specifications, like the one Dr. Soong built for Data. We need to leave the emotional programming out of your makeup and substitute the hardware for the software."
"Will I still be myself if we do it that way?"
Lore genuinely wondered if he would be the same being without his evil streak. However, he was intrigued by Lavinia's plan. He was tired of running from one planet to another. The Pakleds had been willing servants, but they were totally boring. He thought he could get somewhere by dominating the Borg, but the Collective itself just wanted to assimilate him. The only Borg he could dominate had been the ones that Hugh had infected with the "individuality virus." The rest of the Hive had rapidly cut that group off from itself before the damage could spread. Even more than power and domination, Lore wanted to fit in. From his early days on Omicron Theta, he had accepted his natural superiority over totally organic beings. He had always thought that the only way he could fit in was by dominating others, but that path always resulted in terrible loneliness and isolation. Here were two androids, Lavinia and Data, who had found a way to fit in with the rest of society. They had a home, they had friends, they had a loving relationship with each other. At least, they once had a loving relationship until Lavinia's obsession with Lore himself had interfered.
Lavinia answered Lore's query, "I really don't know, Lore. I haven't known you long. I guess it depends on what proportion of your self concept is based on your... negative side. I know you are capable of emotions besides hatred, anger, and jealousy, even when your programming was malfunctioning."
"Yes, Lavinia. You helped me discover that there is more to sexual relationships than lust. I really think I was falling in love with you. Maybe I could still fall in love with you, if your team can make an emotion chip for me." Now he did reach out and touch her face, and it caught her off guard. He was able to press his finger into the cleft under her titanium jawbone where her off switch was, and deactivate her.
'Oh well,' he thought to himself. 'Maybe we can get back to being in love later. Right now I have to escape from this
shitty place. Good thing I studied her schematics.'
Continuing to maintain his facade of calm, he walked over to the door and signaled for the guards. "You had better get in here. I think Ensign Morris is experiencing a malfunction."
One of the guards bent over Lavinia as the other one touched his comm badge. "Medical... er... engineering, no - medical emergency on Deck 12."
Taking advantage of one security officer's turned back and the other's confusion about how to get help for Lavinia, Lore bolted out the door, down the corridor, and into the nearest Jeffries tube. He planned to head directly for the main shuttlebay and escape. He heard one of the security officers call Worf on his comm badge for help. 'I should have knocked them both out.' He thought ruefully to himself. 'Now I really have to hurry.'
On the Bridge, Data heard the frantic voice of the security guard coming through Worf's panel. "Lore has escaped, Sir. I think he did something to Ensign Morris."
Data had already leapt out of his chair and was running at full tilt toward the turbo lift when he remembered protocol. "Permission to leave the Bridge, sir," he shouted as the turbolift doors slid open.
An astonished Picard shouted back, "Permission granted!" as the turbolift doors swooshed shut.
"Deck 12. What is the current location of Lore?" "Unable to comply. Subject not perceived by computer tracking device."
"Damn," cursed Data under his breath, "Data to Worf. Have you located Lore yet?"
Worf's gruff voice answered. "He is apparently headed for the main shuttlebay. I have a security detail on the way."
The turbolift opened on Deck 12, and Data ran toward Lore's temporary quarters. Dr. Crusher was there. She was running a medical tricorder over Lavinia's unmoving body. "I can't find anything wrong with her. " Dr. Crusher was saying. "Let's try her switch."
Data didn't wait to see if his girlfriend would regain consciousness. He grabbed a tricorder from Ensign Emerson to read Lore's electrostatic trail and confirmed Worf's conclusion that the android was heading to the main shuttlebay through the Jeffries tubes. Data ducked into the same tube Lore had taken and began the ascent up through the intervening eight decks.
When Data arrived on Deck Four, the security team was already assembled outside the main shuttlebay doors. "It's no use, sir," one of them said to Data as he ran up and began trying to open the doors with the control panel in the wall. "Lore has locked out the door controls. He will probably be depressurizing the bay in moments. We'll have to try to beam him back."
Data ignored what the woman was saying to him. His expression looked almost like a crazed animal. "He won't escape justice again. I'll see to that." Data muttered to no one in particular. He grasped both sides of the shuttle bay doors and began forcing them open with his android strength. When the opening was wide enough, he slipped through, the doors slamming shut behind him.
Worf arrived just as the doors banged shut. He took in the situation instantly. One of the befuddled security officers said to their commanding officer, "Data went in after him, sir."
Worf nodded and hit his comm badge, "Worf to Picard. Data has followed Lore onto the shuttle deck. We are unable to activate the tractor by remote. Request a transporter lock on Lore."
Even through the thick, heavy shuttlebay doors, the deafening sound of whooshing air could be heard. Lore had depressurized the shuttlebay in preparation for departure. What had happened to Data?
As soon as he squeezed through the shuttle bay doors, Data knew what was about to happen. Lore was already in the shuttle going through the prelaunch sequence. Data covered the remaining 30 feet to the shuttle in a flash, but Lore had already started depressuring the hangar deck. Data made a mad grab for the shuttle's external manual door latch in anticipation of being shot out into space by the violent decompression of the large shuttlebay. He wasn't fast enough.
The air rushed out of the huge room and Lore shot the shuttle out into space, with Data flailing behind. He had never passed through a warp field before without the benefit of a ship around him. 'Pretty lights,' he thought distantly about the stars, as they transformed from red-shifted streaks to bright sparks in the heavens. He felt the warp-field stresses tearing at his skin and his metallic framework, but he only lost a few hanks of hair and part of his uniform in the transition. Data also marveled at the utter silence of airless space. 'I've never actually been in a vacuum before,
even though I have the capability,' he thought absently to himself. He wasn't sure if Lore knew he was behind the shuttle craft. Data saw the glowing aura spring into being as Lore activated the shields. The shuttle craft pulled away from Data at a rapid rate. Data attempted to stop spinning, but he had no means of propulsion with which to combat the inertia of his flight.
Back in the corridor, Picard told Worf some unwelcome news via comm badge, "The transporter room is unable to get a lock on Lore because he has raised the shuttle's shields. We can't beam the entire shuttle back for the same reason. And our sensor readings show that Mr. Data has been blown out into space by the depressurization of the hangar deck."
"Ensign, as soon as the deck repressurizes, we'll follow Lore out on another shuttle."
Worf could hear the rest of the conversation over his comm link, which the Captain had not closed. "Transporter room! Lock on to Mr. Data!"
"He's already more than 40,000 kilometers away sir. We were traveling at Warp five when he was lost, sir."
"I know that, damn it! Go back and pick him up."
"And get a tractor beam on that shuttle."
"We may accidentally lock onto Mr. Data, sir. The tractor beam could tear him apart."
"Damn!" uttered Picard, absolutely overwhelmed with frustration.
On the shuttle, Lore noticed a blip on the sensor screen between himself and the Enterprise. "Computer, identify object bearing 180 mark 15."
The computer made its familiar chirping acknowledgment. "The object is Starfleet officer Lt. Cmdr. Data."
Lore's mouth fell open in surprise, then he smirked. "Let's see how you like floating in space, little brother." The Enterprise was nowhere in sight. "They'll be back to get you in no time. You won't have to float for two years like I did."
Lore activated the view screen at maximum magnification so he could watch his brother spinning and flailing. He began to laugh hysterically, keeping the shuttle at sublight speed so he could enjoy the show for a few minutes longer.
Indeed, just as Lore spotted his brother in the vastness of space, the Enterprise was struggling with its own difficulties.
"La Forge to Captain. Sir, we've got a major problem. That shuttle leaving during Warp flight has destabilized the warp shell. We're about to enter a worm..."
On the Bridge Main viewer, the wormhole effect could be seen forming in front of the ship. The crew began experiencing the distortions of time and space that are characteristic of a starship which has created a wormhole with an unbalanced warp drive.
The Captain attempted to bark orders, but his voice was extended and distorted by the wormhole effect. "He-e-e-e-l-l- l-l-m, t-a-a-k-k-e u-u-u-u-s o-o-o-o-u-t-t-t-t o-o-o-o-f w-w- w-a-a--a--a----a----a----r---p." The effect grew worse as the seconds passed. The primary danger in a wormhole was striking an object which had been pulled into to distortion field along with the ship. Picard knew that if there was anything already in the wormhole with them, or if anything entered the wormhole with them, the result could be total destruction.
The computer on the shuttle chirped. "Warning. Localized wormhole effect at bearing 178 mark 14, distance 1.5 light years. Recommend leaving the area at warp speed to prevent accidental entry into wormhole."
Lore looked at the sensor readouts. "Hmmph. The Enterprise seems to have quite a little problem back there. I guess this shuttle passing through the warp field destabilized it." He had gotten into the habit of muttering to himself when he was with the Pakleds, because none of them had hardly ever understood a word he had said.
Switching his gaze to the view screen, Lore started, then stared. Data was moving toward the wormhole the Enterprise was in, propelled by gravimetric forces. Lore addressed the computer, "Probable result of collision of Lt. Cmdr. Data and starship Enterprise while both are trapped inside a warp generated worm hole."
The computer chirped only briefly before answering, "Destruction of both masses on a quantum level."
Lore sat back in his pilot chair. "My little brother... dead... gone forever. And that silly little Lavinia too. Well, after everything they've done to me, they deserve it. She wasn't too bad in the sack, though."
For only a few nanoseconds Lore pondered what the universe would be like without Data. "He's the other side of what I am. The Yin to my Yang. The bass to my treble. The light to my darkness." A terrible realization struck Lore as he
remembered the last conversation he had with Lavinia. "If they could fix me..."
Lore's fingers flashed over the shuttle controls. He turned the nose toward Data and pushed the shuttle to full impulse, knowing that if he entered warp so close to the Enterprise and the wormhole, the shuttle would probably be incorporated into the worm hole as well.
"Procedure not recommended," the computer objected. "Reverse course away from worm hole is urged."
"Shut up," Lore yelled at the computer. "And begin a countdown to a distance of 40,000 kilometers between us and Data."
"Five hundred thousand, four hundred ninety-five thousand..." the computer droned its countdown in the background.
"Computer, when transporter range is reached, lock onto Data and beam him aboard."
"Procedure not recommended in proximity to worm hole."
"Don't mention that fucking worm hole to me again. Just do what I tell you."
"I-i-i-m-m-p-a-a-a-c-t i-i-i-i-n-n s-i-i-i-x s-e-e-c-c-o-o- o-n-n-d-s-s."
The only thing operating in favor of Data and the Enterprise was the time distortion. In the normal space-time continuum, almost three minutes would pass during the subjective six seconds on board the Enterprise.
Data had almost managed to stop the spinning movement that he had acquired when his feet had departed the hangar deck so rapidly. He was also greatly disturbed, by what he could see from his vantage point. The Enterprise was no longer visible, but in the direction that the Enterprise was heading when he was thrown "overboard," he could see a subspace distortion that could only be a wormhole, growing larger by the second. Data understood the situation instantly. The shuttle had obviously destabilized the warp field. The ship had created a worm hole for itself after it had turned around to pick him up. Data turned his head to look the other way. With his super-human vision, he saw a tiny, but growing dot that resembled the shuttle his brother had stolen. 'Why would he be headed this way?' Data wondered. 'He would be trying to escape the other way.'
Data looked back at the much larger and more rapidly approaching wormhole effect. He reviewed his data banks on the results of objects meeting in a warp wormhole and realized both he and the Enterprise would be reduced to their subatomic particles if they collided. 'So this is it.' he thought regretfully. 'I'm going to die.'
The computer on Lore's shuttle continued to count down. "Two hundred thousand, one hundred ninety thousand..."
It interrupted its own countdown to say, "Collision with worm hole in fifteen seconds." Then it continued in its impassive computer voice, "one hundred fifty thousand..."
Lore thought quickly. "Computer, prepare to execute a warp turn. As soon as Data is aboard, go to Warp 2, heading 88 mark 0. Will that keep us from being incorporated into the worm hole?"
"Seventy-seven percent probability that the described maneuver will prevent contact with the wormhole."
"I'll take it," Lore murmured.
A few seconds ticked by. Lore could hear the transporter effect in the back of the shuttle. The computer announced, "Executing warp turn."
Lore looked over his shoulder to see Data staring at him in surprise, while holding on to the ceiling as the warp turn momentarily overcame the inertial dampeners. "I thought you would be long gone by now." Data finally managed to sputter.
"How could I have enjoyed the rest of my life knowing you were no longer available to torment?" Lore shot back. "Besides, he went on in a more even tone, "Thanks to that little lobotomy you and your sweetheart gave me, I can't seem to hate you or envy you at the moment. Hell, I'm not even jealous that Lavinia loves you more than she loves me. And I wasn't the least bit afraid to stage that daring rescue attempt."
Data had moved to the front of the cabin and he was monitoring the Enterprise as it came out of the worm hole. "Data to Enterprise," he said into the shuttle's comm system.
"Enterprise here," came the reassuring reply. "Status, Mr. Data?"
"We have Lore to thank for my rescue. I believe we have to thank him for saving the Enterprise as well, since we surely would have collided in the worm hole." He glanced at Lore's smirking face.
"Acknowledged, Mr. Data."
"Well, Lore. I don't think the charges against you will be dropped, but I am certain that the courts will look favorably on your latest actions. Am I your prisoner, or will you be our guest again?"
"Before I answer that, let me ask you something, brother." Data nodded briefly. "Tell me the truth. Can Lavinia really
fix me, as she says she can?"
Data looked at Lore doubtfully. "To be honest, I am not really certain. But I can assure you that I will work with the two of you untiringly until we find a way to make the repairs."
"Then I will be your guest."
Data hesitated, remembering the remark Lore had made regarding his girlfriend a few moments ago. "What makes you say Lavinia loves me more than you?" he finally asked.
Lore snorted a short laugh. "You mean you didn't know? If you can help me go straight, maybe I can help you grow up."
When Data brought the shuttle into the landing bay, there was a crowd waiting for him and Lore. Captain Picard, Lavinia, Worf and three security officers stood behind the force field that kept a portion of the shuttle bay pressurized. As soon as the brothers emerged from the shuttle, Lavinia ran out from the group and threw her arms around Data. "Thank god you're all right. I never would have forgiven myself if something had happened to you." In a voice so low that only the androids could hear, she said, "Will *you* ever forgive me?"
In a voice equally as low Data said, "I already have."
Lavinia smiled and hugged him even tighter.
Worf also came out from the group, while Captain Picard said, "Lore, although I understand we owe all our lives to you, I still cannot allow you your freedom."
"I actually understand, Captain," Lore said, nodding to Worf, who trained his phaser on the android. "But I want you to understand that the only reason I am standing here is that Data has agreed to try to repair me."
Data extricated himself from Lavinia's embrace, but continued to hold her hand. "Captain, request permission to remain on Deneva for the duration of Lore's trial to work on his repair."
Lavinia added quickly, "I make the same request. If it's all right with you, Data."
His smile told her that was exactly where he wanted her.
Picard looked back and forth between his officers and then at Lore. "I'm not even going to wait for Starfleet on this one," he said. "Both requests approved."
Lavinia felt a bit uneasy when she stood at the door to Data's quarters. After the reunion in the shuttlebay, they hadn't seen each other for a few hours. Data and Geordi had been busy with repairing the minor damages he had incurred when he passed through the Enterprise's warp shell.
Lavinia had finally decided to see the Counselor in the first of a series of sessions she now understood to be absolutely necessary to work out her unresolved psychological problems. She had been immensely relieved when Data told her that he had forgiven her. She now realized she had come within a hair's breadth of losing everything that was important to her. She felt a desire for Data deep inside that she hadn't experienced since her obsession with Lore had started.
After her session with the Counselor she had taken a long shower and tried to wash away the unpleasant experience of being shut off like a machine. She tried to compare it to being knocked out cold in a fist fight, but she decided it wasn't really that similar.
"Come in", Data's voice said from inside his quarters.
Lavinia entered and found him working on a painting. She couldn't tell what the painting was supposed to be. "What is this?" she asked therefore.
"It's an abstract painting", Data explained, his facial expression indefinite. "I am trying to sort out the impressions I had when I was floating in space. I'd never realized how small and meaningless a single being can feel. It was a tremendously significant experience. I would even call it a metaphysical one."
She looked into his bright eyes - does he know how beautiful they are? she wondered. She painfully felt that her feelings for him were stronger than ever before, and that she had so many things to regret.
"Data?" she asked with a tiny voice.
'He did not say 'my love' or 'darling'', she thought sadly. "I am so glad to have you back, I can't find words for it. I wouldn't have been able to live without you."
"You wouldn't even have had to worry about that if Lore had been successful in his escape and all of us were destroyed in that worm hole", Data stated with a faint tinge of sarcasm. He put the painting tools aside and looked at his work pensively.
She took a step forward, uncertain if he would reject her, and shyly touched his shoulder from behind. He turned around, and when she looked into his sad, gentle face, his sorrow hit her heart like a knife. She would not be able to stand being around him, knowing that he did not love her anymore. But somehow she had the feeling that the affinity between them
was still alive. Something in his expression...
Suddenly he made an effort and threw his arms around her, hugging her closely. He sighed deeply. "I can't", he said. "I can't switch off my feelings for you." She tilted her head upwards and closed her eyes, hoping that he would understand. A moment later she felt his soft lips brushing her cheek, until he finally kissed her. When their lips met, it was like a spontaneous discharge of electricity. His tongue hungrily opened her mouth and found a willing response. They practically ripped off their clothes, and their hands and lips were everywhere on each other's body while they stumbled into the other room and finally fell down onto his bed, rolling there in a tight embrace.
'I want to make sure she won't think about being with my brother again' he thought when he felt his member growing until it had reached its maximum size. He was aching for her. It had been such a long time. He spread her legs, brushing her silky thighs with the back of his hand and started to play around the entrance, slowly, teasingly. She was shivering and tried to drag him down, but wasn't successful. He smiled. "Now it's your turn to be patient." 'If only she knew how hard this is for me' he thought at the same time. He finally could not hold back and thrust into her completely. "I don't think I ever want to move out of you", he whispered into her ear. A bright smile enlightened his lover's face. "You know, as an android you can stay in there as long as you want", she said mischievously.
He took her literally, at least for the rest of their off- duty period.
The remainder of the voyage was uneventful. Lore stayed in his quarters most of the time, although he had a steady stream of female visitors. Data and Lavinia did their initial work on preparing to fix Lore. When the three of them were together in Lore's quarters or Data's lab, Lavinia felt uncomfortable. She couldn't bring herself to look into Lore's face.
Lavinia continued to work on her self esteem issues with Counselor Troi. Her betrayal by Lore had been a king sized wake up call that she could not continue to be drawn to men who were cruel and abusive. The counselor gradually helped her understand why she had come to believe she deserved punishment and to expect better treatment from others.
Lore's emotional programming was left intact. However, they never replaced the missing four emotions, concerned that Lore's behavior would become uncontrolled again. He was cooperative, but he never lost his sharp-edged wit and his habit of teasing both Lavinia and Data. One day Data had stepped down the hall to get a tool out of his quarters, and Lore and Lavinia were left alone.
"How about a quickie, sweetheart? You know you miss it."
Lavinia backed away from Lore and said haughtily, "Don't you ever talk to me like that again." She thought that the Counselor would be proud of her for standing up for herself like this.
Lore only laughed at her scornfully. "What makes you think I was serious? I wouldn't sleep with you again if you programmed me to."
Lavinia almost collided head on with Data as she ran out the door in tears.
"What was that all about?" Data asked, helpless, after she had disappeared.
Lore only shrugged his shoulders. "Women!"
Data had conducted a complete analysis of Lore's programming, both as it had been copied into the computer, and in dynamic testing, done as Lore performed cognitive tasks. Starting with this quantum level analysis, Data attempted to design an emotion chip that would be compatible with Lore's construction. It had taken Dr. Soong more than 30 years to design the chip that Data was now using, but at least this prototype was available to copy as a model. The delicate microminiature components could not be replicated, and it would take weeks to assemble once it was designed They didn't even know if it would work until it had been tested in Lore.
"We'll have to excise your emotional programming again before we try it, Lore."
"Yeah, yeah, I know. Just don't fuck me up any worse than I already am."
Data was in command during this night shift, and Lavinia had decided to get some sleep in her own quarters. Sometimes she still missed the genuine feeling of being tired. The programming of the android body wasn't always as satisfying as the sensations in a natural body.
She started the usual routine and quickly fell asleep.
I can hear the door. Somebody's entering. Data? Is his night watch already over? Impossible. But Lore's in his quarters. It can't be him either. I must be dreaming
He's coming closer, leaning down to me and brushing my lips with a light, loving kiss. I'm feeling like the Sleeping Beauty in the ancient fairy tale and open my eyes.
I still don't really know how I am able to distinguish the identical siblings, but it's definitely Lore. He sits down on the edge of my bed and looks at me, with a certain melancholy which isn't usual for him.
"How did you get in here?" I ask, puzzled.
"I managed to obtain remote control of one of the transporters from my quarters", he says. "It took me a while, but after all I had plenty of time to figure it out. Don't worry, I'll beam back to my quarters and stay there. I don't want to escape anymore. I have understood that it won't do me any good."
'This is too bizarre to be real', I think. 'My dreams should be a bit more believable...'
"I wasn't very nice to you today", he continues gently. "I'm sorry. It was just... it hurt me when you turned me down like that - even though my suggestion wasn't very tactful after all. I know it's hard for you to believe, but I didn't lie when I said that I loved you. And it's still hard for me to accept that I can't have you. I can't envy my brother, since I have lost that feeling, but I can feel disappointed. I thought that I had found a companion of my own kind at last, and now I'm lost again."
"You will find somebody one day", I say. He reaches out a hand and brushes my hair, and I realize that I am not as calm and neutral as I am trying to appear. I'm repeating to myself that this is just a dream. Can I betray Data in a dream? I have the feeling as if I owed something to the virtual Lore after my holodeck scenario. Maybe he isn't as cruel as I pictured him? I can feel the warmth his body radiates, and I can also feel his loneliness. I would love to give him what he needs right now. But, nevertheless, I don't think I can do this.
"Even if this is a dream", I am beginning to explain, "I think it's better if you leave now. Thoughts are free, and dreams are free, but I can't do this."
He looks like a lost child, and the pain in his eyes is more than I can bear. "I'm asking you just for this one favor", he says flatly. "I just want to show you that I'm not that cruel, bad guy all the time. I need to hold you in my arms, to touch you."
"It appears to me that you have had plenty of company during the last few days", I say, putting as much irony into my voice as I can.
He sadly shakes his head. "There's a difference, and you know that. I tried to forget you, I even tried to hate you, but I can't. I know that I can't have you, but I am asking you for only this one night, this one dream. If you are afraid that somebody will find out about it, you can simply delete it from your memory files as soon as it's over. Of course, if you don't want me anymore..."
He comes closer, tentatively touching my face. This Lore is too friendly, too good to be true, I think. And in fact, I really can delete my memory file, and it will be as if it never happened. Sometimes it is an advantage to be an android.
"Come to me", I say therefore. "I will keep you warm." He takes me into his arms and kisses me softly, revealing the lovable part of his emotional programming. If I would allow myself to recall this experience, it would remain as an epitome of tenderness and fulfillment, a treasured memory.
After a long while, I didn't count the hours, and I didn't want to, Lore sighs and releases himself from our embrace. He stands up. "I have to leave. They might become suspicious otherwise. This has lasted longer than I had planned..." He hurries to slip into his black suit and presses a last short kiss on my lips before he activates the switch in his index finger and disappears in a transporter beam.
'That's what it took', I think. 'The circle is closed now. Now we are really through. I don't think I'll ever have to dream of Lore again.'
After Lavinia woke up, she took some time to go through her dreams. There had been some more after the encounter with Lore, but less significant ones. She recalled her Lore dream several times before she finally regretfully deleted the file.
Then she stood up and prepared a fresh cup of coffee. After a large breakfast she decided that it was a good idea to clean up the mess in her quarters. 'Geez', she thought, while picking up the socks and other clothes lying around on the floor, as usual. 'I don't remember this black belt. I think I should visit the ship's boutiques less frequently...'
Two days out of Deneva, Data received a subspace communication from Juliana Tainer.
"Hello, son. How have you been?"
Data smiled sentimentally at the woman's image on his monitor. "I've been fine, Mother. It will be good to see you again."
"You are using contractions? You wrote me that you had installed the emotion chip, but I didn't know you could use contractions too."
"I have much to tell you about. You will also get to meet my girlfriend." Before Juliana could launch into her "delighted mother" reaction, Data quickly asked, "Are you on Deneva for Lore's trial?"
"Yes, Data, I have been called to Deneva to testify about Lore's creation and the destruction of Omicron Theta. I am the only survivor who has any recollection of it. I think I will also be called upon to give an account about Lore's behavior before we dismantled him."
"Your testimony will be important for rendering a fair verdict."
"I am ambivalent, Data. I wish he had never been reassembled. But now that he is, I guess it is wrong to wish him gone again. And I guess it is also wrong to wish on him a harsher verdict that he might receive. Pran wasn't able to come with me. I am afraid I am going to need a lot of emotional support from you."
"I will give you as much support as I can, Mother. However, I must tell you that I will be spending most of my time on Deneva attempting to repair Lore. Your assistance would be most valuable since you were present for his initial design and assembly."
"That will be hard for me Data. Let me think about it. See you soon. I love you, son."
"I love you too, Mother. Data out."
Juliana met her sons at the beam-down point. She hugged Data and Lavinia, but greeted Lore somewhat curtly. Lore shrugged and said, "I don't really blame you for being angry." Data thought he was looking at her curiously. The Denevan security officers led him away.
'I hope it takes a few days for him to figure out her secret,' Data thought to himself. 'I will have to think of some way to prevent him from telling her.'
"When will we have a wedding?" Juliana asked Lavinia in the manner that mothers of sons are always asking.
Rather than answering Juliana, Lavinia turned to Data. "Does your offer still stand, darling?"
Data took both her hands in his warmly. "Yes it does."
"Then, I accept. We can have the wedding any time."
Don't miss the next exciting installment, "The Trial of Lore."