"You know, Data, I've been thinking about some of the times we've had together. Like that time we went sailing on Nevala Lake, you remember that?" Geordi grinned, a sheen a sweat covering his face.
"I have a complete memory record of that day." Data responded coldly.
Geordi began laughing. "You decided to go swimming… and when you jumped out of the boat you sank straight to the bottom."
"I did not have enough buoyancy to get back to the surface." He responded defensively.
"You had to walk over a kilometer along the bottom to get back to shore."
"One kilometer, forty-six meters."
"It took almost two weeks to get the water out of your servos."
"…I am ready to eradicate your existing brain cells."
"Data… if you ever go back to way you were, you wouldn't be able to forgive yourself for what you're about to do."
There was a long pause as Data searched himself. "I– I am getting anomalous readings from your neural net. I will need to do further testing before we proceed. Someone will come and take you back to your cell."
Data fled the laboratory, frantically searching for his brother. He found Lore outside, observing the activity on the balcony.
"Brother!" Lore turned in greeting. "Have you made any progress with LaForge?"
"It is too early to tell if the nano-cortical fibers have performed their function."
"I suspect none of the humans will survive the process but then… it is their own fault for coming here isn't it?"
"They came looking for me."
Lore scoffed at his brother condescendingly. "Humans are so sentimental."
"I betrayed them. If they die, I am responsible."
Lore turned, watching him suspiciously. "Are you feeling alright? Is something wrong with your programming? Maybe I should check through your systems."
"I do not need you to check my systems. I must resolve these issues myself."
"Do you think I made a mistake? I don't believe you can tolerate the amount of emotion I am granting you. Perhaps I should cut back."
He decreased the carrier wave rate, and in turn felt Data's systems protest. Lore gritted his teeth. This was necessary conditioning and though it hurt the two of them both. Data would thank him for it later.
"Better?" Lore with distaste.
Data shook his head fervently. "I do not like it."
"Then you believe you can cope with more emotions?"
"Yes." Data took a step forward, taking his brother by the arm. It hurt, and yet it did not hurt enough. Lore nodded, returning the transmitter to its previous setting.
"For now then…" Data swallowed, releasing his grip on Lore's shoulder.
"Are you going to thank me?"
Data glared at him in disgust. "Thank you."
Lore watched as Data retreated back into the compound, the buzz of insects filling his ears. His eyebrows knitted together, emotions eternally warped. "I am concerned for my brother, Crosis. I do not believe he truly wants to be a part of our great future."
"Sir. We just lost contact with our ship. They were in orbit around the star, pursing the Enterprise. The ship was destroyed in a solar flare." Crosis stood with a group of agitated drones, all of which were murmuring and whispering amongst themselves.
Lore ran his hand through his hair, the index finger of his left hand tapping the edge of his desk. He was running out of options. "Find my brother, send him to me."
Lore turned to mutter quietly Crosis. "If we can gain control of the Enterprise we may have a chance of avoiding further interference from the Federation. But first we must remove Picard from the equation."
"You plan on killing the Starfleet Captain?"
"No. One of his own will do it for me."
"Brother, you sent for me." Lore silenced himself, turning as Data entered the corridor. "Geordi is scheduled for the final stage of his procedure this afternoon."
Lore did not to tell him about the destruction of their vessel; it was possible that Data would realize he was planning an invasion of the Enterprise and Lore did not wish for any interference from him again.
"I am not worried about the progress you've made with LaForge. I just wanted to inform you to bring Picard to the Meeting Hall this evening. We have a few things to discuss."
Data gently lowered Geordi back into his cell, carefully avoiding eye contact with his fellow officers. Picard raised his head, inspecting the condition of his chief engineer.
"You're killing him... He won't survive another procedure."
"I did not come for him. I came for you." Data raised his phaser and the captain followed without question.
"Data, it's not too late. If you remove the fibers, he might recover."
"That would not be possible."
"Why? Because Lore tells you so?"
"It is for the greater good."
"Good? Data, aren't good and bad… right and wrong part of your ethical program?"
"That is correct."
"What does that program tell you about what is happening here? About what you and Lore are doing to the Borg? It tells you that these things are wrong. Doesn't it, Data? How can things that are wrong lead to a greater good?"
"You… are attempting to confuse me."
"No, Data, you're not confused. You're sensing the truth. Your ethical program is fighting the negative emotions that Lore is feeding you."
"Captain. Thank you so much for joining us." Data and Picard turned as Lore's voice resonated from the entrance of the Hall. "You are going to assist me in a most important ceremony."
He turned to face Data with a stony expression. "It is time to put aside all doubts, brother. To close the door on the past, and commit yourself to the future that lies ahead of us. I need to know I can count on you. As proof… you will kill Picard."
Picard merely stared back at him impassively as he raised his phaser without a pause. For several long moments Data considered hard evidence and the plain facts. The more time he spent with Lore, the more he found himself doubting his intentions…
"…No. That would be wrong."
Lore whispered a word to Crosis, shaking his head. "I knew you couldn't do it. You've spent too many years among humans."
"Hold him!" Crosis cried. Data was seized by the surrounding borg.
"I have asked many sacrifices of you!" He addressed the room as a whole. "Sacrifices I knew were necessary. In order to build a better future. I want you to know that I ask known more than what I am willing to give myself. I am willing to make the greatest sacrifice of all. My own dear brother."
Lore turned to meet Data's eye. He knew, this was the end for both of them. Even if Lore survived, he was incomplete without his counterpart in the universe. In the end, his self-destruction may have been worth something, but they would have to rejoice without him.
"This is goodbye, Data."
All at once, a commotion exploded in the spacious hall, deafening shouts piercing Lore's ears. His phaser was knocked from his hand. In less than a second, he scanned the room and recognized Hugh, whom had seemed to materialize from thin air, along with countless Borg who were presumed dead or missing.
He began to panic and in the chaos, he fled. His hands shook slightly as he sprinted down the hall. He knew that Data would follow and had hoped that here, there would be one last hope for he and his brother. Lore's face contorted in agony. His system began rejecting his feelings of remorse which twisted into anger and frustration.
His ship lay dormant in a small shuttle bay in the east wing of the annex. If he made it off this planet, they could survive. Lore swiftly began punching in access codes and began a departure sequence. The doors behind him hissed open and he went cold.
Data stood in the doorway, phaser in a slack hand with his face placid and cast loose of emotion. Lore was almost afraid. His brother, whom he had both saved and tried to murder, gazed at him indifferently.
"You should be careful with that, Brother. Someone could get hurt." Lore continued punching in codes.
"I'm willing to forget your lapse of judgment back there, and take you with me. We don't need anyone else. We're brothers." His thoughts were clear. He wanted Data with him. But it was obvious he would not come willingly, Lore would have to take him by force. His brother's life in the Federation was over. He could not help but picture Data standing alone in a court martial, being sentenced to be stripped down and disassembled. At least he would be allowed to live under his brother's care… Data would come to forgive him in their solitude.
"I will give you the emotion chip our father designed for you. It contains more than just simple feelings… it has memories." Lore touched his finger tip, adjusting the output levels on the makeshift transmitter node. Data gasped, and Lore lunged for his weapon. He felt his body seize up in a powerful phaser blast. His body slumped over the chair, motionless. His consciousness faltered and slowed in a curve. Data's footsteps approached, too slow to be real. He knew what Data would say before the words escaped his lips.
"I must deactivate you now, Lore." He felt Data's hands, warm and gentle on his skull.
"Without me, you will never feel emotion again." He knew without a doubt that Data would have been equally incomplete without him
Data nodded. "I know. But you leave me no other choice."
Paralyzed, Lore's systems began to slow, many shutting down entirely. But there was something else; he found it difficult to form the words. "I love you, brother."
The seconds ticked by, and then there was only blackness.
Data sat alone holding the emotion chip in a pair of forceps and observed its sheer golden color. It had caused him a great amount of grief and yet it was the next step in Data's quest to be human. Its symbol proved much a dilemma and Data did not know what he wanted to do with it; he knew that it must be destroyed and he could not bring himself to do so. The door chirped.
Geordi peeked in, smiling grimly. "Hi, Data. I just wanted to let you know Dr. Crusher says I will be able to return to duty soon."
"I am… relieved that the injuries I inflicted on you are not permanent." Data watched his friend's reaction, eyes wide.
"This is the chip my father created for me so that I may experience emotion. I had it removed from Lore's body before he was dismantled."
"Does it work?"
"No. I am pleased to say it was damaged when I was forced to fire on Lore."
Geordi stared befuddled at Data. "Pleased? Data you've wanted emotions your whole life."
"Yes. But emotions are responsible for what I did to you, I would never risk letting that happen again. My friendship with you is too important to me." Data built up his resolve and raised a hand phaser to the chip.
Geordi placed his hands over the container protectively. "Now Data, I wouldn't be much of a friend if I let you give up on a lifelong dream. Maybe someday, when you're ready."
28,000 words later–this project turned out to be far more massive than I ever expected.
I will label this story as complete but since there are two sides I will publish one or two more chapters from Jamaal's point of view. The second story is almost finished, I will start uploading chapters from it very soon.