Commander Will Riker, Lieutenant Commander Worf, and Lieutenant Commander Data of the starship Enterprise beamed down to the uninhabited planet named Sumera Ten.
Because over eighty percent of the planet was covered with mountains that contained an unknown element which heavily distorted communication and technology readings, the three Starfleet officers had come to the surface with the aid of a new beaming probe.
The probe was still in the experimental phase but had proved itself enough that the three were confident in its capabilities. It had worked beautifully as it was launched to the surface ahead of the away team only to ignite a pattern enhancing field that was strong enough to allow the team to reach the surface. The three points of the probes triangular shape worked like pattern enhancing poles used by O'Brien.
Worf studied the large triangular structure that they stood on. Its platform, in the center of the shape, was a dead ringer for the transporter pads back on the ship. "This probe will be very useful for us."
Riker held out his tricorder and surveyed the land ahead of them as he spoke, "It could be useful for the rest of Starfleet too if it wasn't so large."
Data looked at the metal side in front of him and did a quick calculation. "At this point in time it is not possible to build a functioning probe such as this in a smaller size."
Riker glanced at Data for a few seconds and then let his eyes return to the land in the distance. "Thank you, Data."
Data blinked. "You are welcome, Sir."
Worf carefully stepped to an edge of the probe. With both ease and caution, he jumped down and landed on the planet's surface. When he landed on his knees with his hands dug into the earth in front of him he was surprised to find the ground was a mixture of sand, rock fragments and dirt.
Data and Riker were surprised too when they noticed it on landing. (Data did not land on his hands and knees).
Riker took a handful of dirt and studied it in his palm, "I have never seen anything like this."
Worf looked at Riker's palm, "I haven't either."
Getting to the business at hand they all turned their attention to their tricorders.
Data changed and rehanged the settings and pointed his tricorder at different directions around them. "It appears that we are having the same issue that we had on board the Enterprise. The signal from the Emergency beacon appears clearly for a few seconds, disappears, and then reappears in a new location."
Riker looked at his own tricorder and attempted a scan also. "Mr. Worf, is there anything we can do to get an accurate location?"
Worf looked at a peak of a mountain in the south. "Perhaps we could get the beacons location if we were at the top of a mountain."
Riker looked to Data for confirmation. "Mr. Data?"
Data looked in the same direction as Worf. "The idea is plausible, Sir."
"Okay then gentlemen. We're climbing that mountain."
After climbing for three hours the trio reached the plateau of the mountain.
Worf reflected on their ascent up the mountain. "That was much easier than I had anticipated."
Riker looked at the probe that shined in the far distance. "Yeah it was more like a hike than a climb."
Data observed that though Lt. Worf and Commander Riker were saying that their climb had been easier than expected, both were taking deeper breaths and had faster than normal heart rates. Of course Data understood that humanoids began to struggle to breath at higher elevations.
Cmdr. Riker must have been struggling to breath more than he wanted to show because he sat on a large boulder to take readings with his tricorder. "I'm picking up a signal from the Eastern side of the plateau." Data and Worf acknowledged that they had the same reading.
The three of them began to advance in that direction. When they reached the exact coordinates that the three tricorders read, they found no indication of a beacon.
"Commander, the mountains are continuing to hinder the tricorder readings. However, the readings indicate that the beacon is somewhere around this area. It is unlikely that all three of the tricorders would lead us here if this location is not where the beacon can be found."
Worf shook his head in agreement. Riker thought it over for a quick few second, made a decision, and stood up.
"Each of us will walk straight ahead in a different direction for exactly ten minutes. When ten minutes is counted, we will turn around and walk straight back to this spot. Assuming that none of us run into trouble, we should all meet back at the same time." Riker looked to Worf and Data. He didn't expect them not to understand but he still asked, "Understood?"
"Yes sir." Said Data and Worf in unison, verifying what Riker already knew.
The three officers nodded, turned to face different directions, and began to walk straight ahead in their separate directions.
Data held his tricorder diligently in front of him, simultaneously reading its data and focusing on his surroundings with each step that he took. After 15 and a half seconds into the eighth minute Data found that he would have to divert off his straight line path and round a boulder that was larger than an Enterprise shuttlecraft.
It went against Commander Riker's exact orders to round the boulder and leave the straight path but Data had evolved to know that that doing so is what Commander Riker would want and that this was a situation that allowed a loose interpretation of orders.
When he rounded the boulder and was back on the straight line path, Data found a curious sight.
Ten meters in front of him was a large circular pit that dug into the earth about twelve feet down.
Data approached it cautiously and peered into the abyss from the edge.
He was surprised to see a being, white as his own skin with red eyes, pinned to the ground by a fallen tree trunk. The eyes looked at him intently for a second, then they shifted to focus on Data's right, and then they looked back at him again.
Data quickly read his tricorder and found that it was not registering any living being.
That is odd. The being is alive.
Data accessed his programming for a millisecond and then directed his attention on the being.
"Do you need assistance?"
The being tried to move and failed helplessly, "I am trapped."
From its soothing and gentle voice Data knew it was female.
Data cocked his head thinking the situation over again. Decision reached, he jumped and landed effortlessly into the pit.
Drawing closer to the pinned being he realized that only her head were visible. The rest of her body was shrouded in some way by a robe or dressing of some kind. He attached his tricorder to his waist and then bent down and lifted the tree high above the being's head. It quickly scampered under the arch of the trunk and began to float ethereally in the air.
Data watched the being loom above him in disbelief (or his version of it). In all his memory banks and programming he could not determine what the being was. So he decided it could be the most illogical choice. "Are you a ghost?"
The being shook her head. "No. I am alive."
Data thought about her answer and set the tree truck down, careful to land it where he wouldn't be pinned also.
"Are you native to this planet?"
Once again the floating being shook her head. "No. I am native to the stars."
Data looked down as he continued to contemplate the being's origins.
Before he could speak again, the being spoke. "You are not human."
Now Data shook his head. "No, I am not."
The being floated a bit lower than before. "That makes you sad."
Data blinked. "I cannot feel sad. I can feel no emotions."
The being floated at the same height but came closer to Data.
"You want to be human."
Data shook his head yes this time. "More than anything."
The being said nothing. She only floated lower and closer to Data.
Data considered moving away from her, but something kept him still as he stood watching her. Before he had time to realize what was happening, the being held out her arm as she came nearer.
In a second, she touched his shoulder.
His body became paralyzed everywhere except his neck and head. He looked down and to the side to see her glowing arm.
"What are you?" He managed to say as his positronic brain registered a strange feeling flowing throughout his body.
The being continued to hold onto his shoulder. "I am the One."
Now Data was struggling to speak. Before he could form and verbalize the words, the being let go.
She floated back somewhat, but Data could hardly tell. His vision was deteriorating, and his hearing was fading. Also, his programming was slowing down at an alarming rate.
He became aware that he did not like the unknown feeling emanating through him at all….
The being vanished and Data felt himself lift off the ground.
But by now feeling was all he could do. He was deaf and blind.
The lifting feeling stopped and Data felt himself touch the ground on his stomach. The feeling he didn't like ended.
He went unconscious.
Worf and Riker waited at the meeting spot for ten minutes before they decided to trace Data's steps in the direction he had walked.
After barely a minute Worf read an intriguing result on the tricorder. "Commander! I am picking up human life signs."
Riker stopped in his tracks in front of Worf, and read the same life signs on his own tricorder. "No signs of Data though."
Worf again studied the readings of the tricorder. "No, Sir."
They continued on the path noting the readings grew stronger as they moved further ahead. They advanced until they reached the boulder. Neither thought twice as Data had when they proceeded to go around it.
They halted immediately when Data's body appeared in their visual feed as they finished rounding the boulder.
Worf looked from the tricorder in his hand, to Data's body, to Riker, and back. "Sir? Data is the source of the life signs."
Riker looked at Worf disbelievingly and then looked back at Data.
"How is that possible?" He asked and then rushed to Data.
Kneeling next to Data, Riker looked for something that could be emitting life signs. Finding nothing, he put his hand on Data's shoulder and took it off almost instantly.
Data's body was warm.
Worf watched over Riker's own shoulder a few feet away. "Commander?"
Riker was lost in the moment and didn't hear Worf's words. He put his hand back on Data's shoulder, now expecting the warmth, and placed his other hand on the other side of Data's torso. Worf understood what Riker was going to do so he joined him.
With great care they both flipped Data's body over, each looking for injuries on his back and limbs.
Now that Data was on his back, Riker put two fingers to and held them to Data's neck. "He has a pulse. It's steady."
Now Riker reached over and pulled up Data's left eye lid. The eye stared straight ahead. Worf and Riker looked at it curiously.
The iris was an awesome shade of green.
Next Riker took the tricorder clipped to Data's waist. It readings read the same readings as the others.
Worf silently put his hand on Data's and felt the skin. It was smooth, and yet rough like a human's.
Needing to do more, Worf bent down further and rested his head on Data's stomach.
He did not hear the grumbling and ticking of machinery, or the faint humming that would normally be heard in an android's body. No he heard the inhale and exhale of organic lungs, a beating heart, and the sounds of a hungry stomach.
Worf lifted his head and looked at Riker. "There is no doubt about it. He is human."
Finally, Riker's facial expression changed. He gave a faint smile. "Uh huh. Wait until we tell the others."
Nearly an hour later, Worf and Riker reached the triangular probe. Worf had carried Data the entire time.
Riker pulled himself onto the metal structure. He leaned down and held out his hands. Worf lifted Data high above his head so that Riker could pull him onto the structure with him. Once Data was safely up there, Worf climbed up too.
When they were all three in the center of the triangle, Riker tapped his communicator. "Away team to Enterprise. Three to beam up to Sick Bay."
Dr. Beverly Crusher had been informed immediately when the away team asked to be beamed straight to Sick Bay. She and two other medical officers waited on edge ready to spring to action on a seconds' notice.
In no time at all, the away team materialized. Crusher looked to Riker the moment she realized Data was on the floor. Riker and Worf stood up and moved out of her way, she spoke as she went to Data's side. "Was he deactiv…" Beverly's question trailed off when she made the discovery.
Soundlessly, she put two fingers on Data's neck wanting to feel the pulse herself.
Beverly continued to kneel down. After a minute, she collected herself, and stood up to face the observers.
Riker and Worf shook their heads to indicate they had no idea. Riker answered, "We found him on the ground like this."
Beverly nodded to her officers. They picked Data off the floor and set him on a bed.
Beverly surveyed Data with a tricorder once more, performing a more specific series of scans. Just then Captain Picard entered Sick Bay, followed by Counselor Troi.
The captain knew something was wrong as soon as he entered the room. He looked from face to face and then approached Data with a quizzical expression.
Troi could feel that everyone in the room was nervous, on edge, but for some reason, happy?
The Captain looked at Data as all the others had done.
Riker decided the news should come from him. "Captain, there is something you should know."
Captain Picard read Riker's body language. He could tell that whatever was going on wasn't a bad thing…
"Data is human."
Captain Picard looked to his First Officer as if he was the victim of an elaborate joke. "Commander. I do not like practical jokes."
Riker held his serious expression. "I'm aware of that, Sir. I'm serious."
The captain looked to Worf, Dr. Crusher, Riker and then back to Data.
He too felt for Data's pulse, found it, and looked up in disbelief.
His only response was to tap his communicator and call Geordie LaForge to Sick Bay.
Geordie looked to each person in the room in astonishment, as his hand remained cupped around Data's wrist where he had felt for a pulse.
"This is a joke." Geordie looked to Captain Picard, and then Commander Riker. "Right?"
Everyone in the room showed a facial expression of complete seriousness.
Geordie looked back to Data. "Congratulations Data. However, it happened, you're human."