Chi is Found
Captains Log, Stardate 47514.1
We have entered the Kurlan system. Deep space scanning from Starbase 301, as well as a brief visit by the USS Columbia over 50 years ago revealed a pre-warp civilization on the second planet of this solar system. The Enterprise has been tasked with returning to the system to survey it and determine their suitability for first contact. We have been authorized to proceed if the conditions are correct.
This is all Captain Jean-Luc Picard can think to say as he appraises the grainy image of the native Kurlan male. Unlike most of the humanoid races that make up the Federation, which are generally distinguished by some form of boney protuberance or colorful markings, the form in front of him can very well pass as human. The only real difference he can see are the oversized ears, which probably evolved due to the thinner atmosphere of Kurlan II. Aside from this, everything from the eyes, nose, mouth, straight down to the number of digits on each hand, remain the same.
"You live for this, don't you," says the red headed woman who is sitting in the chair opposite his desk. Doctor Beverly Crusher leans back in her seat, apprising the bald man with a smug grin.
"Absolutely!" replies the Captain as he turns the image with his hands. "These people are so similar to us in looks, it's scary."
"My understanding is that they may look like us, but their internal anatomy is radically different." The entire command staff had been briefed before leaving Starbase. The Doctor's included detailed anatomical drawings and documentation of their biology in the off chance her medical skills were needed in an emergency.
"Indeed," replies the Captain. "Did you know that, along with the normal colors that we have, their hair can also be blue and green?"
Beverly is about to respond when a double beep interrupts her. "Captain Picard to the bridge."
The bald man quickly gets to his feet. Straightening his red uniform tunic as he walks around his desk, he pauses to glance at Doctor Crusher. "After you," he says, motioning to the door.
Beverly smiles, stands, and heads to the door. It whooshes open as she approaches and her and Captain Picard exit the quiet sanctuary of his ready room to the bustle of the bridge. Upon entering, Picard notes that Lieutenant Command Data and Ensign Gates are already at their stations. From behind the command seat, the Klingon, Lieutenant Worf, looks on from the tactical station with his customary scowl.
Commander William Riker stands as the Captain approaches, a huge grin on his bearded face. "Report, Number One," says Picard as he reaches the command chair.
Riker steps over to his normal seat to Picard's right. "We have entered the Kurlan system and will be at the second planet in a few moments." He says as he takes his seat.
Picard straightens his tunic again as he sits, a habit he picked up many years before when Starfleet's uniforms were quite different from what they are now. Doctor Crusher sits down in the empty seat to the Captain's left. "Ensign Gates, drop us out of warp behind the planet's largest moon. Maintain a holding station there, keeping the moon between us and the planet."
"Aye sir," replies the dark skinned helmsman.
"So what do you think are our chances of making first contact?" inquires Riker as the image on the viewscreen starts to shift, indicating they have dropped out of warp.
"Oh, they could be quite good, Number One," replies Captain Picard. "Indications were that the Kurlan had developed a prototype warp engine, and were preparing to build an unmanned probe to test it."
"With the delay in receiving their carrier wave signals, they may have already tested it by now," says Riker as he sits back in his seat.
In front of them Lt. Commander Data swivels in his seat from his post at the operations station to address the others. "I find that unlikely, Starbase 301 would have detected the warp signature of any test that the indigenous people would have conducted," says the gold-skinned android.
"Come on Data! Have a little faith!" chides the first officer mirthfully.
The second officer considers this for a moment, then looks back to Riker. "I will try, sir," he replies, then turns back to his station. In years past, he might have corrected the First Officer. Since he is an android without any emotions, it's impossible for him to have 'faith'. However, years of experience helped him to see that the concept of 'faith' was not necessarily tied to having emotions. It is also helpful that he had also discovered that it was, at times, redundant to point that out.
"We are in position," reports Ensign Gates.
Picard shifts in his seat, all business now. "Begin sensor sweep, Mister Data," he orders.
"Scanning," replies Data. "Sensors are picking up approximately one thousand, eight hundred and forty-two artificial satellites orbiting Kurlan II in eight orbital planes."
"That's a lot," comments Riker.
The android officer cocks his head slightly to the left, a motion he uses when he finds something interesting or puzzling. "Ninety-two point four percent of them appear to be without power and adrift, Captain."
"Sir," chimes in Worf from the tactical station above them. "About a quarter of the satellites have some sort of weaponry on them."
Riker shifts in his seat to look up at the Klingon. "What kind of weapons?"
"I am reading a number of them with chemical based directed energy weapons and others with chemically propelled projectiles," reports the tactical officer as he scans the information on his screen. He scowls at the screen then looks up again. "Captain, eleven of the satellites appear to have weapons that could be radiological in nature."
"Radiological?" repeats Riker.
Captain Picard grimaces at the revelation. It does not bode very well. "Data, what can you tell us about the planet itself?"
Data taps on his LCARS panel to bring up the requested information. "Sensors indicate that there is a high level of neutron radiation coming from the surface of the planet." He taps on the panel again, then turns back towards the captain. "Despite the high levels of radiation, I was able to determine that there is no life on the surface."
"That's impossible!" exclaims Riker. "The last census Starfleet took ten years ago showed over three and a half billion people on this planet."
Undeterred, Data presses on. "Never the less, our sensors show none now."
Captain Picard sighs heavily and leans forward, rubbing his chin in thought. What was going to be a hopeful first contact mission has now become an investigation. Leaning back in his seat, he adjusts his tunic again. "Helm, put us into a standard orbit around the planet, be mindful of the satellites."
"Standard orbit, aye sir," replies Ensign Gates.
"Number one," he continues as he turns to his first officer. "Form an away team, let's see if there is anything we can find down there that might indicate what happened here."
Commander Riker nods to the captain as he gets up. "Data, Worf, with me," he says as he moves to the turbolift.
Doctor Crusher stands and faces them as they are about to leave. "Will, with the radiation and the thin atmosphere, I want everyone to wear environment suits."
"Will do, Doctor," replies Riker as the turbolift doors close.
On the surface, tall buildings surround an opening lined with black, dead trees. The structures all around show wear and tear from years of disuse and weathering. In the middle, a swing set sits unused, its normal occupants having perished years before. All around it, the ground is colored in sickly shades of browns, greys, and blacks. The sky above is perpetually covered in grey clouds.
Beside the swings, five shimmering waterfalls of light coalesce from nothingness. Inside each of the blue-white cascades, a form materializes. As the energy begins to fade, the forms take shape until they are completely solidified. Four of the five forms are wearing white environmental suits. Being an android, the fifth, Lieutenant Commander Data, does not require one. As soon as the transporter beam releases him, he opens his tricorder and begins to scan the area.
The tallest one, Lieutenant Worf, raises his phaser rifle and scans the area for danger. The next tallest one, Commander Riker, surveys the area. "Not entirely what we were expecting, is it?" he says bleakly.
"Negative Commander," replies Data. "It seems that all life has been extinguished from this area."
Riker kicks at some of the dead fauna under his feet, sending up wafts of dust as it disintegrates. "Nothing seems to even be decaying."
"Indeed, that would be because there are no longer any bacteria to break down the organic matter," says Data as he scans a nearby tree. The bark is singed black. "It seems the entire area has been effectively sterilized."
Lieutenant Commander Geordi Laforge steps up next to Data and peeks over his friend's shoulder at the tricorder's screen. "Could it be that this area is the only one affected?"
"Unlikely," replies Data. "If there were surviving bacteria from another location, they would have most likely been transported here via wind or some other method long ago." The android looks at the scanner, then up at Riker. "Commander, over there," he says, pointing at a mound about twenty-five meters from their location.
The group works their way to the location the android indicated. As they approach, Riker realizes that it's a body. Half of it appears to be burned. The skin on the other side is drawn, taught, and leathery. An agonized expression is frozen on its face. Riker swallows back some bile that has welled up as he sees that the form is a child. Glancing around, he sees a number of other bodies littering the area. "What could have done this?" he asks, shaking his head at the sad sight before him.
"Sir, if I may, I have a theory," replies the android second officer. Seeing his commanding officer nod in the affirmative, he continues. "This may have been caused by a type of radiological warhead more commonly known as a 'neutron bomb'."
"A neutron bomb?" inquires Geordi.
"Yes, there are a number of Federation members that have reported to have developed such a weapon. In Earth's history, it was developed in the late twentieth century by…"
"We don't need a backstory, Data," interjects Riker. "Why do you think it's a neutron bomb?"
"That would be based on the type of radiation, and the fact that the city we are in seems to be untouched," replies Data. "The purpose of this type of weapon is to destroy the population of an area while leaving the infrastructure relatively intact. For example: a ten kiloton atomic bomb detonated above a city of this size would level everything for a radius of one point seven six five kilometers. A one kiloton neutron bomb will kill everyone in approximately the same area, but with significantly less damage to the structures."
"So what we see here is the aftermath of a nuclear war using neutron bombs?" inquires Geordi.
"Your suggestion bears merit, based on the planetary scans I took. However, some areas show significantly more damage. This indicates that they also used conventional atomic weapons as well."
Riker shifts uncomfortably in his suit. Earth had its own past with the prodigious use of nuclear weapons. However, restraint was used, and humanity escaped destruction. Apparently, the people of Kurlan II either failed to recognize the dangers, or felt they had no other alternative. "Damn," he mutters under his breath.
"Commander!" yells Worf, trying to get everyone's attention. During Data's discussion of the capabilities of atomic weapons, he had wandered off, examining a number of other bodies in the area. He was now standing over two that, from a distance, appeared to be in an embrace.
As the group approaches, they see that is not the case. One of the individuals has its hands around the throat of the other. Both of the corpses' skin are partially burnt, like the first one they had investigated. However, while the unburned skin of the victim was also shriveled and grey, the attacker's skin was mostly intact. The group also notes that the ears on this one seem to have been replaced by some type of cover, the color of which has greyed over the years. Data leans down and opens his tricorder to take a reading, then stands abruptly. "This one appears to be an artificial lifeform, made to resemble a Kurlan male."
"An android?!" exclaims Geordi excitedly as he opens his own tricorder and passes it over the inert machine. "He's right, Commander," he says after a moment. "It may be a lot more primitive than Data, but it's definitely an android."
Riker furrows his brow in confusion. "I thought that it was only possible to create an android with a positronic brain. That seems to be beyond their capabilities."
"Indeed it is Commander, however it is theoretically possible to build one without the use of a positronic brain if you preclude the idea of it developing sentience," says Data. "Based on the simplistic design, it's possible that he was designed to be a tool rather than to emulate a lifeform."
"Simplistic in what way?" asks Riker.
Geordi steps over and shows his tricorder readings to the commander. "See here, the overall composition is aluminum and titanium, as opposed to molybdenum-cobalt and duranium, which was used to construct Data." He taps a few buttons on the scanner device to change the view. "And see here, where Data uses silica pathways, everything is connected using gold pathways etched in circuit boards, or copper wiring."
"It's almost as if it were designed using early twenty-first century Earth technology," muses the Commander.
"Based on previous reports on this planet's technological advancement, your supposition would be correct," confirms the gold skinned android.
"Perhaps we should try to take one or two of them back with us to study?" asks Geordi.
"That would be desirable," replies Data. "However, I would like to find one that is more intact. His internal components are extensively damaged." As he looks across the ruined landscape, a thread in his positronic brain questioned how they were going to do that.
Half an hour later, the search has been fruitless. Even with reinforcements, the crew of the Enterprise has been unable to locate one of the primitive androids that is intact enough to study. And there were surprisingly many of them, all in various states of disrepair. Slowly, Data realized that they may have to take a number of the nearly destroyed units back for study rather than a single intact one.
While spending most of his time processing the data that was coming in from his tricorder, as well as going over a rough recreation of the basic structure of the androids, a small portion marveled at how many models these people had created. At the base level, there were male and female units. After that, the possibilities seemed endless. Despite the damage, it was easy to see the many different facial shapes as well as hair colors. So far he has classified ninety-two distinct models based on those criteria alone. He is sure that closer inspections would reveal additional characteristics that could be used.
For the gold skinned android, there was only him and his brother Lore, who had been deactivated six months ago. Because of his crimes, he was unlikely to ever be reactivated, making him effectively dead. Both are a single model made in the likeness of their creator and father, Doctor Noonian Soong. Data had very recently encountered another Soong-type android, Juliana O'Donnell. She was so lifelike that at first, it was believed she was human. Even when being scanned, her body tricked the sensors into displaying her as such. After she was injured during their mission, Data found a chip that contained a message from Dr. Soong himself. When he played it, his father implored him to not reveal that she was an android. In the end, he acquiesced, the result being now he was once again alone in the universe.
If he was lonely, though, he could never show it. Being devoid of emotions, he was incapable of feeling that way, or any other way for that matter. He dwelled on it some, which prompted Counselor Troi to posit that, in a way, he was lonesome. "Why else would you think about it?" she had he could come up with at least twelve answers to that question within one hundred and seventy-eight nanoseconds, none of them would satisfy the betazed-human hybrid.
Data now finds himself walking along what appears to be a residential area. Along either side of the street was a wall that broke only to show a footpath to a building on the other side. He had been scanning each one in search of another of the primitive androids without any luck when his tricorder suddenly beeped. His attention fully on the device, he cocks his head to the side as he reviews the data, one of many human like ticks that his father had programmed in to him. It tells him there is something on the other side of the wall that should very well not be there. He scans and double-checks and still the signal remains, unwavering.
Data reaches up and taps his communicator. "Data to Commander Riker."
"Go ahead," comes the reply.
"Sir, I have detected an active power source, very feint," reports the gold skinned android as he looks down the path towards the small building beyond.
"Geordi and I will be right there." A beep signifies that the connection has been severed.
Waiting patiently, Data takes stock of the structure. It is two stores, with several large windows. Metal balconies can be seen under each, even though the upper level was extensively damaged. The android concludes that it appears to be a multifamily dwelling of some sort.
After a moment, his companions arrive. "It is this way," says Data, and starts working his way down the path. Upon reaching the door, he forces it open and leads the other two in. As he does, he constantly checks his tricorder to ensure that he is leading them in the right direction. After entering, they turn left and stop.
Laying on the ground outside of the door is a tall Kurlan male. He is hunched over in front of the door where he died, one hand stretched out, touching it as if he was trying to get in.
"I wonder if he knew what was coming," comments Geordi as he surveys the scene. He then steps forward and removes the man's hand from the door. As he does so, it disintegrates. Silently, somberly, they try the lock, but it won't budge.
Data steps up and, using his greater strength, forces it open. A cloud of dust shoots up from the floor, caused by the swinging door. The windows to the room are all intact, so this is the first time that fresh air has penetrated the space since the event. Everything inside is just as well preserved as everything on the outside. As the android sweeps the area with the tricorder, he points to an adjacent room. "In there, commander."
Before he enters, Data stops and glances over at a frame sitting on a dresser next to the entryway. It shows an image of a Kurlan male and female, standing over what appear to be their daughters. On closer inspection, he notes that the two small girls have ports in place of the oversized ears of the native species of the planet, identifying them as androids. It looks for all the world like a family picture. Using it as a template, he forms an image in his mind of himself and his brother, along with Dr. Soong and Juliana O'Donnell. To him it is a logical thought, part of his exploration of the 'what if's' of the universe. As he returns to the task at hand, he files it away into the growing number of images that were queued up for him to paint, moving it to the front of the list. Trio would obviously suggest that he has been inspired.
As the trio enters the next room, they look around, but see nothing that would suggest anything out of the ordinary. Data sweeps his tricorder over the area again and reviews the results. "The power source appears to be directly underneath us at a depth of five point two nine meters."
"Data, come and look at this!" exclaims Geordi as he looks down to a particular section of the floor. At first glance, there is nothing out of the ordinary. However, upon closer inspection, one can see that the wood pattern on it does not exactly match the rest of the area around it. A rug was on the far side of it from the group, looking like it had been tossed aside in a hurry. "I would hazard a guess that this might me some sort of trap door?"
"I would agree with you supposition," said Data as he scans the area. "There appears to be a flight of stairs underneath that ends in a chamber below us."
Commander Riker steps forward and kneels down to inspect the area. Other than the pattern shift, there is nothing to indicate that it is a door of any kind. No handles or hinges are seen. He picks at the edge for a moment, then leans forward with both hands and presses down on it, to no effect. He leans back and looks up at his companions. "Should we do this the easy way?" he asks as his phaser appears in his right hand.
"Your suggested course of action seems sound," replies Data. Geordi also nods.
All three men step back. Riker engages his hand phaser and the trap door disappears in a small explosion. Underneath, they all see that Data is right. A set of stairs leads to the area below. That isn't the surprising part, though. A light can be seen at the bottom, confirming that there is indeed something being powered. Data leads the way as they descend into the room below.
Unlike the area above, which is little more than a typical two room apartment type residence; there are all manner of computers and technical equipment. Emergency lighting illuminates the area. Large, flat screens line the walls at eye level, with terminals and keyboards underneath. Cables come out of the top of the screens and meet on the ceiling in the center of the room, above a central control chair.
The desiccated remains of the presumed owner of the equipment is still sitting there. Obviously female, a large helmet sits atop her head. A cable connected to a central junction behind where the rest of the equipment is attached to serves to keep her head up. Data runs his tricorder over the woman while Geordi circles the chair, examining the area. "What do you make of it, Data?"
"I am uncertain, commander. The complexity of the environment suggests a type of control center. Yet, it would seem that it would be out of place with the surrounding area." He looks back to the dead Kurlan woman and continues. "In some cultures, complex systems that were not meant for prying eyes were sometimes hidden under structures that hide their true purpose. Sort of like hiding in plain sight."
"That's right," adds Geordi. "If you recall from late twentieth century, the United States would hide the command and control systems for their missile silos under fake farm houses in the Midwest."
Riker considers this for a moment then spoke. "So, are you saying that this place could have something to do with devastation of the planet?"
Data processes this for a few nanoseconds before he responds. "While the possibility is there," he concedes, "I would find it highly unlikely. Judging from the level of Kurlan technology, this room would be quite inadequate to control the entire planet's nuclear arsenal."
"Woah!" exclaims Geordi, interrupting the discussion before it can continue. Data and Riker both turned to the blind engineer, who was standing behind the dead woman and the chair pointing at something beyond them. They turn and see a large, grey, cylinder that closely resembles the casing of a photon torpedo.
"Some kind of weapon?" asked the commander.
"Only one way to find out, sir," replies Data as he moves towards it while waving his tricorder. He checks the readings, then looks back at his companions. "The device is two point one by one point three meters, and seventy five centimeters in depth. It is composed mostly of lead and another metal that the scanner cannot seem to identify." He moves closer to the object as he continues to scan. "It seems to be throwing off the scans, but when I close in, I can detect a humanoid form of similar composition to the androids outside." He blinks as one of his processes comes to a conclusion, then looks back to and Geordi and Riker.
"I believe we have found an intact android."
Captain's log, supplemental
After nearly a day of investigations, the crew has come to a rather sobering realization: an entire civilization has wiped itself out, very nearly sterilizing their planet in the process. Yet the discovery of a new type of android, very different from what are known as Soong types, has given them some hope.
As Data navigates the corridors, he quietly monitors the conversations of a number of his fellow crewmembers with his enhanced hearing. Knowing that it could be considered an invasion of their privacy, he normally would not even file any of the information away. But it is a good enough tool to determine what the mood of the crew is.
And to say that it is down is an understatement. Before they had arrived, the ship seemed energized at the prospect of making first contact with a new, warp capable civilization. The shock of finding a lifeless hulk of a planet has shattered morale across the ship. He knew that it was a temporary setback, and that the crew would bounce back once sufficiently distracted by the next mission. Still, it was bothersome to the android that they would feel that way.
One of the saving graces is the discovery of a new type of android, even though they did not find any that were functional. In some circles, this served to buoy the otherwise melancholy mood of the entire ship.
Data enters a turbolift and instructs it to take him to the bridge. Moments earlier, Captain Picard called a meeting with the senior staff. Fortunately, he and two junior officers had just finished securing the pod containing the only intact version of the Kurlan androids they could find. The fact that it was sealed in such a way is a source of puzzlement, indicating foreknowledge of the events that ended their civilization.
The purpose of such an act is something that several threads of Data's positronic brain are contemplating as he arrives on the bridge. He immediately crosses the room and turns the corner that leads into the main conference room, which is behind the aft science stations. The doors part as the android approaches. He enters and notes that Captain Picard is already there, along with the rest of the command staff. On the main conference room viewer is a stranger Data recognizes as a Starfleet science office based on his uniform color and the Lieutenant Commander pips on his collar. Curiously, the brown haired man of Asian descent is wearing glasses, which is something that is rarely, if ever, seen nowadays.
Quickly, Data checks his internal chronometer and notes that it took him longer to arrive than normal. "My apologies for the delay, Captain, I needed to finish securing the pod before I left."
The bald man smiles and gestures for the android to sit. "No apology needed, Mr. Data. I trust that everything is in order?"
"Yes sir, the pod has been secured in the lab," replies the android officer. "We should be able to examine it more closely as soon as this meeting is over."
"Excellent," replies the Captain. He then turns to the viewscreen at the far end of the room. "This is Lt. Commander Yoshiyuki Kojima. He is the technical lead for the Kurlan observation team on Starbase 301."
"Thank you Captain," says Kojima. "As you are aware, the Kurlan are, sorry, I mean were, on the cusp of developing their own warp drive. What was not revealed to you when you were briefed was their advances in the area of cybernetics."
Commander Riker shifts uneasily in his chair. "Don't you think that was something that we needed to know about?"
"Apologies, Commander," replies the bespectacled man. "It was deemed classified."
Murmurs of dissent can be heard from the other bridge officers as Riker fixes the younger man with a hard stare. He says nothing, though, knowing full well that the newcomer was not the source of this news, just the unfortunate messenger. Data also remains silent as he processes this information. Part of him notices a hitch in the man's breathing as he said that. At the same time, his blinking pattern changed. While extremely subtle and easily missed by the organic eye, Data misses nothing. Kojima is withholding information.
The man in question glances down at his own console and taps on it. Instantly, a three dimensional image of what appears to be one of the Kurlan androids appears on the screen, a tall male with brown hair. "The Kurlan are unique in that they developed rudimentary artificial intelligences at a very early stage in their technological development," starts Kojima. "Much earlier, relatively speaking, then nearly everyone in the entire quadrant, including the Klingons and Romulans. I think only the Binars are on the same level as them, but they never took the next step, which was to integrate the AI into an android body.
"The closest translation we can get for what the Kurlan call them is 'Persocoms'," as Kojima speaks, the image begins to shift, showing different models of all shapes and sizes. "Across their world, approximately fifteen companies manufactured them. From what we can tell, they were integrated into nearly every aspect of their society."
"Including military?" asks Lt. Worf.
Kojima nods in acknowledgement. "Yes, including military. What ended up happening is that the Kurlan effectively created a slave race." The younger man sits back and sighs dejectedly. "And, which is generally inevitable in a situation like this, some of the slaves revolted."
"Some of the slaves?" asks the Captain.
"Yes. I apologize, but some of this was only recently brought to light." Kojima taps his console again. The holographic projector changes to display the profiles of two individuals, one is a blue haired persocom who is wearing what appears to be green camouflage, the other a Kurlan female with jet black hair. The woman's image grows slightly as Kojima continues to speak. "There were two factions that were working towards equality for the Persocoms. One, which was being run by this woman, Chitose Hibiya, was trying to effect change through education of the native population."
The images on the holographic display switch, with the persocom's portrait now larger. "The other, well, they were much more militaristic. Lead by this persocom, whom we believe is named Harash, they were able to gain control over one country's nuclear arsenal. The other countries in turn panicked and launched a nuclear strike."
"The rebels retaliated, and it escalated from there," comments Dr. Crusher in a low, sad tone.
The silence that follows can almost be cut with a knife. The crew of the Enterprise had all taken classes at Starfleet Academy that discussed civilizations that had been lost to history, and the many theories behind their demise. Not since the original Enterprise's discovery of the planet Charon has a Federation starship come across such a recent tragedy.
Captain Picard clears his throat in an effort to break the malaise. "Unfortunately, there is nothing more that we can do for them now other than to honor them by discovering as much about them as possible. Mr. Data," he says as he turns to the golden skinned android. "What can you tell us about the persocom that you found on the surface?"
"Not much more than what we already know, Captain." He turns to address the rest of the group, as well as their observer. "After the pod was secured, I was able to determine that it is made of an amalgam of lead and nitrium. It is perfectly designed to block the radiation from the nuclear weapons used on the planet, and also has the side effect of blocking normal tricorder scans until the device is within close proximity."
Geordi leans forward and looks at his friend inquisitively. "But Data, wouldn't that mean that whoever built this knew what was about to happen?"
"I would agree," replies the android, adding a nod that he knew would emphasis his agreement with the Chief Engineer's assessment. "I have been contemplating this paradox, and came to the same conclusion."
"Hmmm," chimes in Lt. Commander Kojima. Everyone has his attention as he starts rifling through some PADDs on the desk he is sitting at. "Ah, here it is," he says finally. The enterprise crew can see him entering some data on a keypad. After a moment, an image appears on the screen of a woman shaking hands with a blue haired persocom.
Data immediately recognizes Chitose Hibiya and the persocom Harash from the dossiers that Yoshiyuki had shown them earlier. Just behind the woman is a pair of identical girls that he quickly identifies as persocoms as well. The two girls both have nearly floor length platinum blonde hair and are wearing identically styled frilly dresses, one which is white and pink, the other black and tan. Data recalls the family portrait that he observed in the apartment, and recognizes that the persocoms in that picture are the same as the ones he sees on the screen.
"While Chitose Hibiya and the Persocom Harash were on different sides, they were fighting for the same ideal. We are unsure right now of the context of this meeting, but it was well publicized and I think indicates they were not necessarily antagonistic to each other. I don't think it's outside of the realm of possibility that Harash may have warned Chitose of the possibility of this happening." The screen shifts and blows up to focus on the two blondes. "I have many more pictures of Chitose, and these two are almost always with her."
"Assistants?" chimes in Dr. Crusher.
"I think it's too early to speculate on that," replies the Captain.
During the quick conversation, several threads in Data's processor make a few calculations based on the picture that he is looking at. He extrapolates the measurements of the twins, and then compares it to some of the data he has taken from the pod. This information when combined with the picture he had filed away brings him to an interesting conclusion. "Captain," he says after a moment. "I have done a short analysis of the picture, comparing it to some of the readings I was able to get from the pod. I believe that it is possible that one of the persocoms behind Miss Hibiya is encased inside."
This grabs everyone's attention. "Are you sure?" asks the Captain.
"I believe the possibility to be eighty-nine point eight nine seven percent."
"Um, what does that mean?" asks Lt. Commander Kojima.
Geordi smiles and turns to the view screen. "It means he's sure." He then turns to the Captain. "Sir, I think the only way to find out is to get that thing open."
Captain Picard's brow furrows for a split second before he nods his assent. "Agreed, Mr. Data and Mr. La Forge, please see to it."
"Captain, can I please get updates on their progress?" asks Kojima.
"Agreed, and if you would, please send us any additional data you may have on persocoms and Miss Hibiya," replies the Captain. "Dismissed."
As they stand, Geordi grins at his android friend. "Let's get to work!"
As the screen goes blank, Yoshiyuki Kojima turns back to the PADD he used to transfer the picture to the Enterprise. He looks down at it and smiles, using his free hand to lovingly caress the part of the image where the two twins are standing. "Could it be possible?" he asks himself quietly.
After a couple of hours of work, the two Starfleet officers are no closer to opening the pod than when they started. Geordi is standing next to the pod, which is sitting on a table that has replaced the work chamber that was used to birth Data's daughter Lal, as well as to hold Captain Picard when he was assimilated by the Borg. He looks over the data on his tricorder one more time, hoping to find something that he missed. On the other side of the room, Data is sitting in an alcove reviewing some information on his screen.
"I just don't get it. There doesn't seem to be any control mechanism of any kind!" laments the chief engineer as he walks over to where his friend is seated.
"Indeed, the pod is incredibly well constructed," replies the android officer. "The seams around what appears to be the lid are nearly non-existent."
Geordi shakes his head. "I have trouble replicating torpedo casings that are as precisely built as this," he says as he turns and leans against the wall next to Data. Not for the first time he considers getting one of the plasma torches from Engineering. He had suggested it before, but Data advised against it, pointing out that the chances of damaging the occupant were too high. However, as the time as worn on without a solution in sight, radicle action is becoming more and more like the solution they will need to go with.
"Have you made any headway with the writing?"
On the left side of the pod, below where the head of the android it contains is located, there is a small plaque. For the past hour, Data has been liaising with Lt. Commander Kojima, working on a translation. The gold skinned android looks up to his friend. "Actually, the Commander and I just now finished the translation." This perks Geordi's interest and he moves around behind Data. As the android turns back to his screen, the dark skinned man puts a hand on his friend's chair and looks over his shoulder.
"Unfortunately, it does not appear to be instructions or anything of the sort," says Data impassively. "It seems to be a…. poem."
"A poem?" Geordi's voice is incredulous as is leans in closer to look at the result of the translation on the screen.
In a City With No People
They are all around me
Even though I am one
I am different as can be
He will look past that
And Little By Little I will see
In a City With No People
I will find my Person Just For Me
Geordi shakes his head in confusion. "This doesn't make any sense. Why would she put that poem on there?"
His android friend swivels in his chair and faces the Chief Engineer. Data furrows his brow in contemplation, an imitation of human facial expression that Geordi knows his friend is programmed for. "An interesting question," replies Data as he looks up at his friend. "One would surmise that it may be a clue as to how to open it?"
"Hmmm, you must be right," replies Geordi. The thought of having to solve a puzzle reminds him of one of his and his friend's favorite pastimes, playing Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson on the Holodeck. "It would appear that the game is afoot!" he says with a smile.
Even though he is emotionless, Geordi sees a spark in Data's eyes. "Indeed, and I believe I have my first lead," says the android as he turns his chair back to the computer screen behind him. "If you recall, I surmised that this might be one of the blonde persocoms that was seen in the picture with Chitose Hibiya, based on the extrapolated measurements as well as the picture I saw while on the surface.
The androids fingers dance across the LCARS panel with unbelievable speed. "Lt. Commander Kojima sent me additional information on Miss Hibiya. Apparently, she authored several books. One of them was named 'A City With No People'."
Geordi straightens up and rubs his chin as he contemplates this. "Just like in the poem," he says as he looks back to his friend. "What was the book about?"
Images flash across the screen, much too quickly for Geordi to read. He knows, though, that his android friend is not missing anything as they scroll by. After a minute, he is done. "Strange, the story is very vague, using a lot of symbolism and prose to convey what I think is a message." Data glances back at his friend. "It appears to be about a persocom loving a Kurlan, and that Kurlan loving them back."
"That's, interesting," starts Geordi, but then trails off.
"Indeed," says Data and he turns back to the screen. "The only conclusion I can take from this is that persocoms may have been programed with emotions."
"But how?" replies Geordi incredulously. "I mean, you are way more advanced than these persocoms. So how could they make such an advance when Dr. Soong couldn't?" It is well known amongst the command staff that Data's creator had eventually succeeded in creating an emotion chip for Data. However, it was stolen by his brother Lore. who tricked Soong into installing it in him instead of Data. Because it was not designed for him, it drove the older android more insane than he already was. The chip was damaged in the process, and has so far resisted any attempt to repair it.
"Unknown, Geordi. Unless I am interpreting this incorrectly, they may have had the capacity to at least love another being."
The Chief Engineer shakes his head in disbelief. There had to be another explanation. He just cannot fathom how androids that are several orders of magnitude less advanced than his friend could have capabilities that Data does not. "We're getting off track here," he says finally, trying to steer them back to their original task, opening the pod. Glancing down at the screen, he notes that Data had left the last page of the book up. There is a single line on it. "What is that?"
The gold skinned android does not even need to look at the screen, having already committed it to memory. "It seems to be a dedication. It says; 'For my precious little girls, from whom all of my goals are inspired.'" Data cocks his head to the side. "Geordi, you recall I told you of the picture I found on the surface?"
"Yeah," replies the Chief Engineer, a curious as to where his friend is going with this.
Golden fingers danced across the input panel. An instant later, an image of four people in a classic family portrait appears. Immediately, Geordi recognizes the woman and the pair of blonde persocoms sitting in front of her and what he assumes is her husband. "That's Chitose Hibiya! And those are the two androids behind her in the picture of her shaking the hand of the persocom Harash."
"Indeed, they would appear to be the same model at least, we cannot discount the idea that there may be many copies of these persocoms." The android brings up the afor mentioned picture and puts it beside the family picture.
Geordi leans in and takes a good, hard look. "I don't know, Data. Seems offly coincidental to me." He stands and crosses his arms across his chest, contemplating this. After a moment, he has an idea. "Do you think they, as in Miss Hibiya and her husband, could have considered them their…daughters?"
Data scrunches his face slightly as he processes this, then jerks his head around and looks to his friend. "It is indeed possible. Julianna O'Donnell told me that she and Dr. Soong consider my brother and I to be their children. I myself have also referred to Dr. Soong as 'my father'".
Geordi is almost dizzy at the thought of this. The chances of going to another planet and finding another family dynamic that was almost identical to his friend's are beyond astronomical. Yet, here was nearly conclusive evidence of it. He sits and thinks about it for a bit before a moment of inspiration hits him. "Data, bring up the dedication from the book again." The android turns and does as he asked. Taking a closer look at it he notices that it seems to be considerably shorter that what the translation would indicate. Somewhere in there, there was a word or two that translated into several. On a whim, he takes a stab at one that comes to him after considering their new theory.
"Data, what does 'precious little girls' mean in Kurlan?"
The android cocks his head to the side as he accesses the information. "Chobits."
A beep from behind him draws Geordi's attention. He turns just in time to see a light come from what had been identified as the head of the pod. It begins to travel along the edge, illuminating what appear to be the seams between the sections of the lid. After a brief moment, the entire room is bathed in a light strong enough that the dark skinned man must shield his visor in fear of it being overloaded.
Silently, the lid splits into three sections. The one over the head opens like a clam, pivoting up and out of the way. Below where the chest would have been located, the lid splits down the middle and opens to either side.
Starfleet officers glance at each other as the light dwindles back to normal elevations. Data stands, and together they approach the newly opened container, the android waving his tricorder as they get closer. Inside, they find a humanoid form, wrapped tightly from the neck down in a way that reminds the Chief Engineer of the mummies he saw in Egypt when he was on leave while at Starfleet Academy. Features of the face are clearly feminine, and he can see that she has long, platinum blonde hair that disappears underneath her. On either side of her head are white and pink covers in the place where her ears would be if she were a Kurlan or human. One of them is open, with a thin back cable attached.
As he looks over the small, perfectly intact persocom, Geordi cannot help but notice how beautiful she is. He glances over to his friend, who seems equally enthralled by the diminutive form. Looking back to the girl, he remembers how they had found her. He reaches in and caresses her forehead. "A mother's last act," he muses out loud. He is surprised at how life like her skin feels. A split second later, he realizes something else. "She's warm!"
Data nods. "I noticed that as well. Now that it is open, the tricorder is detecting that the pod has an internal power mechanism." He steps closer and shows it to Geordi. "It appears to have been feeding the persocom, keeping it at a steady power level."
"After all these years," says the Chief Engineer. The tricorder was recording that she is not only being fed power, but that she has internal batteries that were at approximately twenty-five percent of their capacity. "It must be a conditioning charge or something like that," he infers.
Data looks down at the girl, and Geordi can see a contemplative look on his face. A moment later, the android turns to him. "I think we should try to reactivate her."
The proclamation actually shocks the dark skinned man. Not necessarily that his friend said it, but because he was actually thinking the same thing. Protocol would usually dictate that they do this under a more controlled environment. He quickly runs down what they have in the lab, and what they might need in addition to set it up, and comes to a conclusion. "Computer, erect a level one force field around the work area surrounding the pod."
A quick flash of light is all that indicates the formation of the protective barrier he requested. If the thing went crazy, and somehow overpowered him and Data, it would still have a hard time getting out. Satisfied that all the precautions necessary were in place, he moves to the other side of the pod from Data. He reaches in and takes the girl's head in his hands and turns it slightly. "The other persocoms I looked at all seemed to have a switch behind their ears." He takes a close look, and then furrows his brow in confusion when he fails to see one.
Reading his friends face, Data interjects a supposition. "Perhaps if you remove the power cable?"
Surely it would not be that easy, thinks Geordi as he examines the pink and white box on the side of her head. It opens like a clamshell, and he can see a number of different connector ports, as well as what appear to be the male ends of a pair of cables in her head. The power cable is connected to a port next to one of these, and he reaches in and grasps it. With very little effort, it pulls free.
"I guess it was a chance. Are you reading any change in power levels?"
The android shakes his head. "Negative, her power levels are stable."
The Chief Engineer shakes his head. "Then I wonder-"
Data interrupts him before he can finish his thought. "Geordi, I believe I have found where to power her up."
The dark skinned man steps around the open pod and looks at his friend's tricorder. He sees the scanner has recreated some of the schematics for the persocom. An instant later, he recognizes where Data is indicating. Geordi chuckles to himself, and claps his friend on the shoulder. "She's all yours."
Data does a double take and looks at Geordi with an inquisitive expression. A split second later, it turns to one of understanding. "I see. The power switch's position is embarrassingto you because the persocom can be considered female."
"You can say that," is all the Chief Engineer can say. If push came to shove, he would do it, if his friend or another woman was not here. He cannot help but think about how, even though this is a machine, it was at one time someone's daughter, at least in an abstract sense.
Data simply shrugs. Geordi can tell the android does not quite understand his friend's discomfiture, but does not inquire about it. Instead, Data simply moves to the pod and looks down at the pod for a moment, then reaches in. Slipping his fingers under the wrappings and into the 'V' between where her legs join at her hips, there is an audible click.
The blonde persocom's eyes slowly open as a humming noise fills the room, sounding like a set of fans beginning to spin up. Several beeps go off, and there is the sound of servos activating as the persocom sits up in the pod, her head facing to the ceiling. The wrappings around her suddenly release and scatter about the room. This frees her arms, which had been tucked neatly behind her. She crosses them across her chest as she closes her eyes and lowers her head.
Geordi stands transfixed as he watches the spectacle unfold. Data, who took a step back when it started, keeps one eye on what is happening while simultaneously watching his tricorder. The humming and buzzing noises subside and the newly activated persocom looks up, first glancing at Geordi before settling her gaze on the gold skinned android. After a moment of silently staring, she utters one word.
A/N – This takes place a little while after the ST:TNG episode "Inheritance" and close to "Sub Rosa". There used to be a crossover for this with the same name. It was short, only about 1000 words, but it got my mind to thinking, and I penned the first half of this about eighteen months ago. I asked the original author for permission to adopt the story and expand it since it had not been touched in a while at the time. I never received a response, and the original story was later removed. I do not recall the name of the original author, so I have no way of granting credit. It is their original idea; I am just taking it and running with it.
I think most of you can gather that what happened to the Kurlan was a Battlestar Galactica like worst case scenario where they and the persocoms effectively wiped each other out. It was somewhat inspired by some of the events in ThanosofTitan's story Rebellion (from which the character Harash was borrowed). The theme is also explored off and on in his current story, Coming to Terms, which is a prequel to Chobits. I recommend reading both if you are a Chobits fan.
So, will Hideki and Ms. Hibiya make an appearance? Only in a flashback, if I choose to go that way. In this story, they have been dead of over five years. Think of it like this, the story of Chobits happens on Kurlan II as we know it minus the Kojima parts. Most of what we discovered with him could have been found in other ways, so he is actually inconsequential to the ending (IMO). Sometime after, boom, the world falls apart.
As for Kojima, I have some plans for him.
EDIT: 9/11/2015 - As was pointed out by ThanosofTitan, replaced a couple of instances where I used the incorrect planet name.