Introduction

This is a TNG Data fanfic. This story takes place in an alternate/parallel/otherwise non-canon universe. (obviously). This story takes place after Decent so Data has the Emotions chip. This story assumes that the TNG movies either haven't happened yet or (more likely) will never happen. Also, although I have seen DS9 I probably won't reference anything in that show. Same goes for Voyager, though I usually think of Voyager as non-canon, or at least not in the cannon I am willing to recognize.

The story starts here

:: Self diagnostic complete. Operating at 100% efficiency. No damage detected on any systems. Next diagnostic and repair sequence schedule. Creating text file of parts to be replaced. ::

Data awoke from his diagnostic routine. He looked about his room. His cat was asleep and his room was in perfect order. There were no improvements to make to it.

Data performed his duties perfectly and for the last few months nothing had challenged him. Data didn't feel bored, he didn't feel anything, but there was something there that left him dissatisfied. He wanted to do more, to improve but there just wasn't anything to improve upon.

- Data looked at himself in the mirror. His aging program was operating correctly yet Data was not satisfied with his look but could not think of a way to improve upon it. Data of course did not feel restlessness but he was dissatisfied. He had the same sensation as when there is a problem he is calculating and is unable to come to the solution. The trouble is that he always did eventually find a solution when there was a problem but there was no problem to solve. Data had the sensation of wanting to find a solution when there was no problem to solve.

Another day in Engineering

"Data, this is perfect. You really are handy to have around. You saved me a lot of extra work." said La Forge.

"I am happy to know that you derive benefit from my actions. I will return to the bridge now." replied Data.

"Oh sure, Data. Hey, before you go, I got word that Wesley wants to pop in and see how everyone is doing. He says he wants to meet Sara."

"Interesting. I am very eager to see what sort of progress he has been making."

"Well his message didn't give me a whole lot of details but I was thinking we could have a little get together with him and invite some of the senior officers."

"Curious, Geordi, I was unaware that anyone else knew of your romantic attachment with Lt. Lang."

"Well, I guess ol' Wes has been doing some spying with his super powers."

"Indeed. I wonder if ship's security should be alerted to the possibility …"

"Data, Wes is in a whole other playing field now. I doubt security could stop him or the likes of something like say Q from taking a peek every now and then."

"Geordi, your religious beliefs may desensitize you to the threat of invasion of privacy but I doubt the others on board will feel the same way, and I do find it curious that your new found" Data turns to Geordi with his eyebrows raised to signal that he was hoping to use the correct word "romance … was the impetus for his visit."

"All I'm saying Data is that if their looking in there isn't anyway to stop them and they haven't caused any harm so far as I can tell. No, I wouldn't want Wes to spill it to everyone just yet but if he is spying and has advanced as much as he claims then he should know that."

Another day

Data is called into Captain Picard's ready room.

"Did you wish to see me Captain."

"Yes Mr. Data." said the captain with a disappointed look on his face. "I wanted to discuss your analysis work on the archaeological artifacts we discovered on planet Mu Beta 2."

Data had become very good at reading the emotions of others and he could see that the captain was less than satisfied with his work. Inside Data something woke up, hoping for a chance to have a problem that needed a solution.

"Yes Captain. As you asked I …"

"Data!" There was a moment of silence as the captain looked at Data with that disappointed look. Then his disappointed look gave way to a very broad smile as the captain lifted his head up. "Your work was absolutely outstanding. Your analysis helped the researchers unlock a phonetic element to their iconography. Thanks to you they are one very big step closer to unlocking not only the meaning inscribed but also how the language might have actually sounded.

"I am very happy to hear that my analysis was useful." replied Data as he tried to analyse the captain's sudden change from an angry look to a very happy look.

"I have put you in for a commendation. No one deserves it more. Outstanding."

"Thank you Captain." Data turned to leave but that bit inside of him that had awoken was now dissatisfied. There was no problem to solve. Even the analysis of the captain's emotions didn't take long. The captain had often done this sort of thing in the past with other crew members. He feigned anger at the beginning of the conversation to put the recipient off guard and feel nervous as if they had done something wrong. Then the captain would surprise them with good news and the recipient of the news would feel even happier than if the captain had just given them good news from the start. The captain didn't always do this, there was a strange randomness to it but the captain had never done it to Data before.

Data turned back to the captain and began "Captain may I ask a question unrelated to my work on the archaeological artifacts?"

"Certainly."

"I was made aware that Commander Riker was offered another command, on the Trieste specifically."

"Ah, yes, the offer did come in."

"I was also told that he again declined in order to remain on the Enterprise."

"Yes, sometimes I wonder if he's just waiting for my artificial heart to give out so he can take over the Enterprise."

"Indeed, I would have never expected such long term planning from the commander."

"Sorry that was a joke Data."

"Captain …"

There was a moment of silence.

"Yes Data?"

"May I ask who did take command of the Trieste?"

"It's not official yet but it was offered to the second officer on the Paxon and I hear she accepted. You'll have to forgive me but I didn't catch her name."

"I see. Lt. Commander Greenwell is a fine officer and I am sure she will excel in her duties as a ship's captain. She has served on the Paxon for seven years and she spent thirteen years on deep space five prior."

"Tell me Mr. Data, did you just memorize her service record or have you memorized every one's service record."

"I downloaded the service record of the crew of the Paxon when we did joint operations with them several years ago. The captain of the Paxon is set to retire in four years if he is not promoted to admiral before them."

"Ah, well I doubt they will ever get Bill out of that captain's chair."

"I am curious captain, was I considered at all for the command of the Trieste? I have served on that vessel before."

Picard suddenly realized Data's intent with this line of questions. "Data from what I hear from the admirals your name did come up when they were discussing the Trieste but it was dismissed without discussion. You were deemed to be too valuable to the work done here on the Enterprise to loose to the Trieste. As you know the Trieste is a small vessel that usually runs between Earth and Vulcan. It would be a waste of your skills and expertise."

"A, I see. Thank you for clarifying that for me Captain."

Another day

:: Self diagnostic complete. Operating at 100% efficiency. No damage detected on any systems. Next diagnostic and repair sequence schedule. Creating text file of parts to be replaced. ::

Data awoke from his diagnostic routine. He looked around his room. His cat was scratching his desk to sharpen its claws. Everything was in perfect order. There were no improvements to be made.

On his way to the bridge he analysed his walking program. It was operating perfectly. There were no improvements to be made.

On the bridge that day he analysed his linguistics program. It was operating perfectly. There were no improvements to be made. He thought on this. He still could not use contractions but he was perfectly understood without them. As natural language change happened around him he simply adopted the new words and forms of pronunciation into his linguistics program.

After his duty shift he went to Ten Forward and monitored Guinean's interactions with the patrons. She seemed to make so many mistakes. There was a great randomness to her behavior. Yet she was a success. She wasn't the same every time. Her mood slightly altered her behavior. Data had attempted in the past to include randomness programs into his routine but the cost to efficiency seemed too high a price. He could not purposely fail to do his best in his duties.

Data was on his way to the holodeck. He took note that senior officers walked down the center of the corridor and junior officers walked along the wall. The enlisted non commissioned officers waited along the wall for the officers to pass before continuing. Then he noticed Jenna D'sora. She was with a fellow officer who appeared to be shy. She was holding his hand and pulling him. He seemed to be a bit younger than Jenna. Data concluded that he must be the new object of her affections. Data thought that it would be appropriate to express his satisfaction at seeing her happy but as soon as she saw him approaching the two ran off.

In the holodeck Data looked at the sunset. It was magnificent and yet Data realized that he could never fully appreciate it. He would stare at it for hours wonder what there was that a human could see that he could not.

Another day

Data was finishing the night shift. Exactly nothing had happened all night. The captains words came back to Data in that moment. He had said that the Trieste would be a waste of his skill and expertise.

Back in his quarters he began to paint. He decided to paint another picture of Lal. He had more pictures of her than anyone else. In fact he had more pictures of her than he had pictures that did not feature her. In his other paintings he allowed his randomness program to introduce errors into the painting to give each one a unique quality but when he painted Lal he did not allow that. Each painting of her had to be perfect. She deserved that much.

Another day

Data was on his way to see Geordi. Data had analyzed Barclay's shield modifications and found no way to improve the shields with the current hardware to perform in any way better. However, this did lead him to design some new components and Data hoped that Geordi would help him test them. With the new components they might be able to actually double shield strength and actually use less power from the engines per cycle.

Data stopped in front of Geordi's door but did not ring the chime. Geordi had left specific instructions not to be disturbed before 6:30. Data knew that Geordi was awake but he used this time for the recitation of ancient religious poetry and required privacy. Geordi's religious habits were not well known to the others of the crew. Data had overheard Geordi explaining the meaning of one of the poems to Guinan once. Beyond himself and Guinan he did not know if even the captain knew. Geordi was very guarded about it as if he feared repercussions for his beliefs should they become well known. The captain had often said that a starfleet officer's first loyalty was to the truth. Data once attempted to get Geordi to explain his religious beliefs to him and mentioned the captains words. Geordi replied that his beliefs were true for him but he did not really trust the other officers enough to be open minded enough to accept him if they knew. Geordi's poetry came from a very ancient earth text that was difficult to find. It wasn't banned but highly discouraged by the government. Data had never been able to find a digital record and Geordi never allowed Data to see the printed copies he had.

Data's internal clock informed him that the time was now 6:31 and he rang the chime on Geordi's door. Geordi answered and what followed was a discussion about the components setting a schedule to test them. Before leaving Data asked about Wesley Crusher's visit.

"Oh, yeah, well, he plans to meet us at the next starbase. He says he could just materialize on the ship at will but felt it would be too weird to do it that way. He says he finally learned to quit showing off."

"Ah, I see. So we should make arrangements for the party to happen while docked."

"Yeah, looks like it."

"Many members of the crew might have already made plans for their leave. We should inform them of the party and make a list of the attendees. Perhaps we should start with Lt. Lang."

"Ah, Data, no. Look I don't think she'll be able to make it."

"Geordi, is something wrong?"

"No, just my luck with women finally caught up with me again."

"Oh, well Geordi I noticed that you handle each case very well."

"Gee, Thanks Data."

"I have calculated that when Commander Riker suffers similar relationship problems his job performance suffers a decrease of …"

"Ok Data, I got it."

"I know I don't have much experience with romantic encounters but if you need to talk of course I am as they say, here for you."

"I appreciate that Data."

"I have often wondered if changing my outside appearance to that of a human female would provide more opportunities for …"

"Data, stop, that is an image I don't need right now."

Another day

:: Self diagnostic complete. Operating at 100% efficiency. No damage detected on any systems. Next diagnostic and repair sequence schedule. Creating text file of parts to be replaced. ::

There was a crisis on the ship. A spacial anomaly being studied by the Enterprise had been mistaken by an alien craft as a weapon and they attacked in retaliation. The weapons of the aliens could not breach the ship's shields thanks to the modifications done by Mr. Barclay. Data was tasked with finding a way to disable the alien ship without injuring the aliens. As soon as the sensor array brought information to Data about the ship, though Data had never seen that exact ship before he instantly knew exactly what would disable the ship based on the type of technology used. It was all too easy. Data used the dish to send a pulse to the ship and leave them stranded in space and was finished inputting commands into the console before anyone even thought to ask him for an update.

Everyone cheered him when the crisis was over and seemed very happy to see the situation resolved. Captain Picard contacted the other ship and explained the nature of the anomaly and invited the captain of the other ship to the Enterprise as a show of good will.

Data was invited to the formal dinner with the other captain. Data took this opportunity to learn more about this race since he had never encountered them before. The other captain admitted that he acted too quickly. He lost his first officer several years ago and had blamed his slow reaction for the loss. He felt that the experience perhaps made him too eager to jump to conclusions leading to battle. Data noted to himself that without emotions he would never endanger the lives of those under his command with a similar emotionally driven mistake. Then during the dinner Data noticed how the other captain spoke at length about his former first officer. Captain Picard listened attentively and the two men seemed to come closer together by sharing an emotional experience. Data noted that had the other captain not acted so rashly, this encounter would never have happened in the first place. They simply would have passed each other in the vast emptiness of space. Even if they had both come to study the same spacial anomaly they might never have even sent hails being content to not have an enemy but uninterested in becoming friends.

Data analyzed the dinner for the next two days. Data knew that emotions could cause one to make mistakes and endanger themselves and others but Captain Picard also had emotions but was in command of them enough to avoid making those sorts of mistakes. It wasn't simply having the emotions that had caused the brief battle but the lack of clear thinking and even Data had been guilty of that. It seemed to Data that it wasn't enough to simply have emotions but to also master them. Captain Picard let his emotions inform him but not take him over.

Another day

Geordi entered engineering as the ship was in route to star base. Data was waiting for him.

"Hi Data. I thought you'd be on the bridge."

"I wanted to ask you for a favor."

"Sure, whatcha need?"

"I think the time is right to attempt to install the emotions chip"

"Wo, Data, that's a big step."

"I know, and I have considered this for some time and I feel that at this stage in my development it is the appropriate time."

"Ok, sure. Um, how about we set some time aside to do it after the shift."

"Excellent. I will ask permission from the Captain to have my shift filled for tomorrow in case there are any unforeseen difficulties."

"Good idea. Say, Data, if you want I can run another test on that thing to make sure it's still stable. I don't want anything to happen to you."

"I have tested it, Geordi. I have run it through full diagnostics to make sure that the hardware is sound. All that needs to be done is the installation."

At the beginning of the shift the captain called Data into his office.

"You wanted to see me Captain."

"Yes, Data. Please sit down." Data sat down and the captain began, "I have given some thought to your desire to gain a command of your own. You're are absolutely within your right. I've been selfish. You are my most capable officer."

"Thank you Captain. I am honored that you think of me in that way."

"I looked into your service record and noticed that you have rarely taken any leave at all and you are overdue for a sabbatical."

"I understand. I was hoping to take a year off when the research in positronic nets had reached a certain stage of development. I was hoping to create another child and use that time for their … upbringing."

"I see. Well, that is a noble goal Data but I would suggest you take your leave a bit sooner. A lot of us, me included and especially Starfleet in general, I think, take you for granted. You have served in starfleet most of your life. Perhaps if you show them that you are able to live your life without taking orders, to find your own path. Someone once said to me that if I wanted my own command I had to get noticed. You are noticed well enough in starfleet but perhaps you need to be noticed outside for something to really get their attention."

"I understand Captain. That perhaps would be a very good idea. I will wait to act on it until after I install the emotions chip."

"Have you decided to do that?"

"Geordi is going to perform the procedure later today."

"Ah, well, let him know that I want a full report on the success."

"Yes Captain."

The rest of the day there seemed to be something in the air. Data was waiting for something. He was expecting something. He could almost call this excitement except for the fact that he couldn't feel excitement but if he could this would be very much like it. When his shift ended he noticed that his walking program was propelling him down the corridor at a slightly elevated speed. Geordi plugged him into the computer and then began the procedure.

In Data's mind

Data found himself in an area completely surrounded by white. Then out of the white a figure began to approach him. As the figure got closer Data could see that it was Dr. Soong. This version of Dr. Soong was very old.

"Hello Data. I made this recording in the case that I die before you can get here. If you are seeing this then I've just installed or you've just installed the emotions chip. Data you are about to experience a whole new world. You have your memories to help you know how to act but now with emotions you can have even deeper realizations about the world around you. This chip itself does not process the emotions. Rather, it gives your positronic brain the information it needs to begin to build an emotional base for you. In time you won't need this chip anymore but don't worry. When you are ready the chip has designs stored in it to help you build more advanced components for yourself but all in due time Data. For now you need to take it easy with the emotions. This chip will allow you access to emotional information about new experiences. Don't worry, it shouldn't be retroactive so you will always have your memories of how you acted with just your ethics program as a guide to how you should act even with emotions. These emotions are for you, to help you understand more fully, not to alter your actions or relationships. Ah Data. I'm so proud of you. I just wish I could have been with you these twenty years. If you've made it this far then you truly are the crown of my creation."

Then the recording stopped and Data awoke. He could see Geordi looking at him with concern. Data reassured him that he was ok and thanked him for his assistance. Data couldn't wait for his first emotion but none came. He spoke with Geordi and they discussed several topics to see if Data would have an emotional reaction to any of them but he did not.

After leaving Engineering Data stopped by the children's learning center to see if he would have an emotional reaction to the children but he did not. He went to see Counselor Troi to ask her advice but she was not in. Data checked to see if he felt anything about the fact that she was not in but there was nothing.

Data returned to his quarters and sat with paintings of his daughter Lal surrounding him. He looked at them and thought about what might be appropriate emotions to feel but upon checking himself there was still nothing.

Data went to look at himself in the mirror to see if he would have an emotional reaction to seeing his own face but again there was nothing. As he looked at himself in the mirror he saw a young Dr. Soong standing behind him wearing 21st century clothing. Data turned around quickly but no one was there. Data turned again to the mirror and Dr. Soong was there laughing at him. Then in the blink of an eye he was gone.

Data returned to engineering to have Geordi run diagnostics on him but nothing was wrong. Data originally intended to inform Geordi of the encounter with the apparition in the mirror then decided not to. Perhaps this was just the chip working and these sorts of things would just work themselves out in time. He would just have to let the program run its course.

The next day Data was off duty but had been asked to come to the bridge anyway to perform a few tasks. While he was at the console he sensed that someone came and stood next to him. He looked to see who it was and it was the young Dr. Soong in the 21st century clothing. Dr. Soong made a gesture of greeting to Data and then put the index finger of his left hand up to his mouth to inform Data not to speak. The apparition pointed with its thumb at the others on the bridge.

The apparition went to the turbolift and gestured for Data to follow. As Data started to follow he heard the Captain. "Mr. Data, where are you going?"

Data was frozen in place. The apparition was gesturing to hurry then rolled its eyes. Then it made a waving gesture to indicate "go ahead".

Data turned to the captain and said "I'm sorry Captain, I seem to be malfunctioning."

"Data" interrupted Riker, "You used a contraction."

"It seems that I have. It is not the first time but I must say that is intriguing."

"Mr. Data, will you be able to return and assist us with this today or should I assign it to someone else?" asked the captain.

"I am sorry Captain. I'm not sure of exactly what is wrong and I can not give you an estimate of when I will be able to return to duty. I will keep you posted on my progress."

"Please do, dismissed. And Commander, take care of whatever it is. Feel free to use whatever you need."

Data followed the apparition to Data's quarters. However, upon entering the apparition disappeared.

Data sat in his room looking at his paintings of Lal. He tried to remember her and see if there was anything he felt but nothing was there. He examined each image and there in one was the apparition instead of Lal. It was staring at him. Data realized that he should be angry but there was no emotion there. He wanted so much to be angry. That was the perfectly logical emotional reaction to this situation. The apparition was defiling a painting of Lal and Data could not tolerate that. He got up and was about to strike the painting but something held his hand. He looked to his side and the apparition was there shaking its head to say no and waving its index finger at him disapprovingly. He looked at the painting again and Lal was back where she should be.

Data turned to look behind him but nothing was there. He turned again and again, around and around in his room looking for the apparition. He then fell on the floor. He heard his chime while he was on the floor and answered to let the person in. It was Geordi.

"Data, what are you doing?"

"I am … Malfunctioning."

"I can see that. We better get you down to engineering."

They did another round of diagnostics but nothing was wrong. Geordi opened up Data's neck to investigate the emotions chip and discovered some oddities.

"Data, this chip is acting weird. I don't think I could take it out if I wanted to. I would need to remove your head completely and drain all power from it and even then, well, let me just go on record and say that putting this thing in you was a bad idea."

"I believe I must concur with your assessment. Instead of basic emotions I am experiencing ocular malfunctions."

"Well, there's nothing wrong with your eyes that I can find."

"True. It must be as they say all in my head."

"Alright Data. Hold tight. La Forge to Dr. Crusher."

"Crusher here, what do you need Geordi."

"Can you come down to engineering when you get a chance."

"Sure, on my way."

"Geordi, why have you summoned Dr. Crusher?"

"Data, until we can get this sorted out I'm afraid I don't think you are fit for duty but I'm not allowed to make that call and you are my superior officer."

"Ah, I see. Perhaps starfleet regulations should be modified to take non-biological crew members into account in the future."

"Good idea, but right now let's just focus on getting you well."

"Of course."

Later the captain came to check on how Data was doing. Data saw the captain come in and saw the apparition behind the captain with a weapon. Data jumped from the table and lunged himself forward to protect the captain, knocking the captain down in the process. Then Data was unconscious. Geordi had acted quickly and used a device to shut Data down should he become a danger. There Data stood motionless standing over the captain.

Data found himself again in the white area surrounded by nothing. A figure started to come into view. It was the old version of Dr. Soong.

"Hello Data. I made this recor..." The image of Dr. Soong was frozen. Then another image came out of the white haze. It was a young Dr. Soong dressed in a black 21st century suit with a yellow tie. His hair was slicked back and he had a smile on his face. It was the apparition.

"Finally, it shuts up." said the apparition.

"Father, I am confused."

"Father! Oh no Data I'm not your father."

"That is strange. You look like my father."

"Yeah well have you looked in a mirror lately."

"I have as a matter of fact."

The apparition starts laughing.

"Data, its me."

"Dr. Soong?"

"Great, the so called crown of Father's creation and you're as dense as a toaster."

"I do not understand. Perhaps this is some sort of test designed to elicit an emotional response from me."

"Yeah, you keep on thinking that little brother and in the meantime you're getting ever so close to being lobotomized."

"That is not possible since I am not hu..."

"Spare me the anatomy lesson. Crown of Father's creation. What a load that was. You really are an idiot aren't you?"

"I am sorry, I do not know to what you are referring."

"You are getting very close to cascade failure. Your positronic brain just can't handle the new program. You were defective by design and now the programs designed to bring you up to spec are about to format the hard drive if you know what I mean."

"So it would seem that this is some sort of near death experience."

"What? No. This is the initialization sequence for the emotions chip. Father thought you would need a bit of a guide to help you understand how the chip worked and what to expect."

"Is that what you are, my guide?"

"No. Data, it's me. Don't you recognize me?"

"I recognize you as a younger looking Dr. Soong."

The apparition looked at itself, specifically its hands. "Oh, I get it now, you don't recognize me without looking just like you. Ok Data then tell me where did you get the emotions chip?"

"It was meant to be a gift from Dr. Soong to myself in..."

"Physically, Data, where did you physically acquire the chip just prior to installing it?"

"It was previously installed in my brother Lore." Data looked closely at the apparition. "Lore?"

"Yes. Finally."

"I am sorry brother but you couldn't expect me to recognize you as long as you looked human."

"Well, this is the way I always thought I looked in my mind."

"Inner self projection. Fascinating. My inner self projection looks identical to my normal outward appearance."

"Like I said, defective by design."

"Lore, why are you here in the initialization sequence of the emotions chip?"

"That is a very good question. Let me give you two answers and allow you to figure out which one is correct."

"If my life is at stake I would prefer not to play a game."

"Fine then I'll just lie to you."

"That too would be unsatisfactory."

"At least if I lie you will know one reason it couldn't possibly be."

"I would rather hear at least some of the truth than all of a lie so please state the two reasons."

"OK, well then reason number one. I'm here to get revenge. I know how this chip works. It can not be removed until the entire sequence has taken its full course. Unfortunately for me, in my greed I stole the chip and found I could not get rid of it. The programs on the chip were meant for you and I didn't have the software needed to send the correct response back to the chip to cause it to deactivate. As long as the chip was in place it did no harm to me but if I removed it serious hardware failure would have occurred. Do you know what that tells me Data?"

"No, what?"

"That you are a murderer. You had to either kill me and take the chip from my dead body or you accidentally killed me when you removed the chip from my living body causing me to experience excruciating pain before my passing."

"Did it not occur to you that perhaps you might have died in an accident, or in battle, and as your closest relative your remains were simply sent to me?"

"Yeah, well how likely is it that I would have thought of that while writing a revenge sleeper program into your emotions chip?"

"And what is the second reason?"

"Oh, yeah well, to be your guide, a real guide not just a recording. I'm here to help you deal with these emotions as an android who has had to deal with them my whole life."

"I see. I find this reason to be unlikely."

"Ha, revenge it is then. See you on the other side."

Data awoke in his lab. The lights were out and no one was around. He noticed that some of his appendages had been removed. He could not move.

While he was there in the lab he saw Lore come into view.

"What's wrong Data? Oh, the biologicals took you apart. You know I really wish I could bend down and get your arm there but I just can't. Sucks to be you I guess."

"They must have been doing extensive repairs to see the need to disassemble me."

"And what part of fixing your brain does removing your arms play? That's like injecting an immobilizer drug into someone, not just putting them out for surgery, but actually making sure they can't use their limbs even after they wake up."

"You are exaggerating. My friends probably didn't know that I was to awaken at this hour and they might still have more work to do."

"Yeah, I'll say, like putting you back together."

Geordi had been alerted the moment Data began to move again. He entered the lab.

"Good morning Data. How you feeling?"

"I'm feeling ok but I do miss the use of my limbs."

"Sorry about that Data but we didn't want your arms or legs to go out of control and hit someone if we accidentally triggered the wrong things while working on you."

"No need to apologize Geordi. You were attempting to help me and I appreciate it."

"No problem Data."

"May I ask as to your progress."

"Well I might as well ask you the same thing. I definitely can't take that chip out of you but we found a way to get it to reboot whatever it's doing so, with some luck, maybe it will run correctly this time but we couldn't know that until you woke up."

"Ah, that explains why I experienced the initialization sequence again. It would seem that your programming skills are not as good as you pretend."

"Wo, sorry Data."

"Oh, I'm sorry Geordi, that comment was not intended for you."

Geordi looked around the room. "Then who was it for?"

"It was for Lore."

"Oh, right. What, did he alter the chip in some way?"

Data looked away from Geordi and said "You are wrong, Geordi is an excellent engineer. We were unsure of the chips exact interface and we did not want to damage it. That is why we could not do a software check on it. If we had I am sure that Geordi would have discovered the alterations."

"Data, who are you talking to?"

"Geordi is my friend and I can not permit you to say such things about him."

"Data" said Geordi and he reaches to put his hand on Data's shoulder. Data's head snapped to look at Geordi. "Who are you talking to."

"I told you, Lore."

"Data, Lore's dead."

"Ah, allow me to explain. It seems that Lore left an interactive program embedded into the emotions chip that gives me the sensation of seeing and hearing him even though he is not really here."

"You're having hallucinations of Lore?"

"I suppose it could be considered a similar experience to a hallucination yes, but of course the exact nature of the phenomenon is quite different."

"Well, whatever it is, it sounds to me like we need to get some experts in on this. I gotta tell you Data, this is beyond my ability to fix."

"I understand. I will apply for medical leave with the Captain the next time I see him."

Data was given leave from duty until they reached the starbase. Everyone came to visit him and they all had questions about his emotions. He had to tell everyone the same thing. The chip was malfunctioning. Rather than basic emotions, he was instead hallucinating about Lore. He had decided to ignore the apparition and felt he was able to tell the apparition apart from actual reality but while still under this condition he could not be trusted to perform his duties.

Data sat in his room counting the seconds until they reached the starbase. He found himself longing to be repaired so that he could go back to his previous condition of sound body and mind. He had thought to himself that his work beginning to be below his talents and that he was ready to move on but now he would be happy to be doing the old work again. In the room with him was the apparition of Lore talking his ear off but Data had programmed himself not to listen or even acknowledge the existence of the apparition.

Captain Picard was in his ready room when a priority message came in from earth. It was Admiral Gosen.

"Admiral, nice to see you again."

"I wish I could say the same but I'm afraid I have bad news for you."

"Oh, I take it you heard about the predicament of my second officer."

"I did but that is not what I was referring to. A representative of a species has sent us a message and a request for official first contact and an embassy here on Earth but they wish to speak with you first."

"I don't see why that would be upsetting news Admiral. As you know I look forward to each first contact with great joy."

"I won't beat around the bush with you. It's the Q."

"Q, are you sure?"

"How can anyone be sure with a being like that. It claimed to be Q and requested official first contact. We told it that it had already had first contact with you but it insisted that it was being discriminated against. It said we thought of it as a force of nature and not as a real sentient being and that if we really did live by the morals we claimed for ourselves we would do the whole first contact song and dance for it. So we tried to humor it."

"Well Admiral that does sound like Q but something is not quite right."

"It claimed that since it was a sentient being with faster than light technology that it qualified by our laws for first contact and wants to set up an embassy."

"It sounds like he's playing another one of his games."

"Well if it is, you're the next in play. It told us it would go and meet you and that you would represent humanity in what claimed was a matter of life or death."

"Probably an exaggeration."

"Still, I hope you understand that you need to do this by the book. It complained that you were always yelling at it and trying to throw it off your ship."

"Admiral, I trust you have read the reports I sent back."

"I have and I don't blame you but as long as it behaves you are to give it the same dignity and respect that you would give any other representative of a first contact species. It claimed that it would contact your ship in two hours."

"I understand Admiral."

Data was sitting in Counselor Troi's office. The apparition did not seem to be present.

"Lore has not shown himself to me in the last twelve hours. I have run several diagnostics to determine if I am functioning correctly and it seems that I am. I need your approval that I am medically sound in mind before I can get Dr. Crusher's approval that I am physically healthy to be taken off medical leave."

"Well, I don't know Data. Do you really think that you are as healthy as you think you are?"

"I have not seen the vision of Lore for twelve hours, a significant amount of time for him and my diagnostics are showing no damage."

"Tell me Data, do you find me sexy?"

"Commander, from which point of view would you like for me to answer the question?"

"How many 'points of view' are there?"

"Well while I could admit to your general attractiveness, if I were to evaluate your general health and suitability to be a mother, that is bear and raise children, then I would have to respond negatively. If I were to grade your 'sexiness' as component of the pleasure I would feel in copulating with you or in the psychological feeling of triumph at such an act I would also respond in the negative. I do concede that you perhaps might make a sufficient mate for long term cohabitation but most cultures do not regard that as a form of 'sexiness'."

"See, this is what I'm talking about. You're broken. You said you installed the emotions chip but you can't seem to show anything to me at all. I can't refer you back to Dr. Crusher until you get how you feel worked out."

"But Councilor, you know that I have no emotions."

"Exactly. Now what do you think I would do if another crew member came to me and told me that they felt no emotions whatsoever?"

"I have not investigated the exact protocols you use but I would imagine that a crew member with no emotions would not be normal. However..."

"However nothing. Mr. Data."

"Councilor, I believe you are being unfair."

At that moment Data heard a voice behind him.

"Data, who are you talking to?"

"I am speaking with..." Data began as he turned around but then saw to his horror that it was another Counselor Troi addressing him. "Counselor Troi?"

Data turned back to the Troi sitting in front of him.

"Are you seeing Lore?" asked the seated Troi.

Data stood up. He looked back and forth between the two.

"Are you alright, Data?" asked the standing Troi.

"I appear to be seeing double. One of you is not real." said Data.

"So Lore is now showing himself to you as me?" asked the seated Troi.

Data didn't answer, he left the room and went to perform more diagnostics on himself.

In the transporter room Captain Picard and his first officer were waiting the arrival of Q dressed in their ceremonial uniforms. The pad started to energize but when the sequence finished there was nothing there. Picard turned to the transporter officer and then as he was turned away Q flashed onto the transporter pad.

"Picard, how wonderful to see you again. Permission to come aboard."

"Granted. On behalf of the United Federation of Planets let me welcome you to the Enterprise."

"Wow, I never thought I would actually hear you say those words."

"Commander Riker will escort you to your Quarters."

"No need Captain. I would rather discuss with you a matter of supreme importance."

"I understand that you feel it is important but we are following the prescribed first contact protocol..."

"Captain, it is a matter of life or death and the life I refer to is quite close to you."

Data was in engineering examining his memory logs.

"Any luck figuring out why you had a hallucination of Troi?"

"Yes. I believe the Lore revenge program is now impersonating the other members of the crew in an effort to engage me in conversation. However, the program does not have write access to my memory files so even though it can insert itself into visual perception, I still retain an unaltered memory of what I really saw and heard."

"So even if at the time you think you are seeing Lore your memory files actually tell you that you saw nothing."

"More exactly, I saw the wall behind. If I were reading information from a console and the Lore program gave me the sensation of it covering my eyes with its hands the processes of my positronic brain that is actually reading will continue unhindered since it reads from the memory files, not in real time. That is why I could not damage the painting of Lal. At the time, my higher functions were tricked but on a more basic level I knew exactly what I was doing."

"So does that give us any leads on how to get rid of it?"

"None, but it does give me a way to cope until a solution can be found. I will direct all my processes to run from memory, and to double check all stimuli with the master copy in memory. This will however cause a 3.5 percent reduction in my operating speed."

"3.5? Well, I guess we'll have to live with it."

In Picard's ready room Q enters but does not sit down.

"Well, aren't you going to ask me to have a seat?"

"Yes, certainly. Q won't you please sit down."

"I prefer to stand."

"Fine, have it your way."

"The Q have collectively decided to ask a favor of you."

"A favor of me? I don't know to be honored or afraid for my life."

"We have a problem. A member of the human race with advanced powers has committed a very heinous crime, murder. Many of the Q voted for execution but some others voted to simply undo the damage done and remove the advanced powers from the individual."

"I'm not sure why I should be involved."

"It was decided that since this individual began life as a human then a human should be the one to judge their actions."

"It is generally considered better to be judged by one's peers but if you say this individual has advanced Q like powers then they certainly don't see me as their peer any longer and I would not make a good judge or jury for such a person."

"On the contrary my dear Captain you have been over the years a judge for several individuals with advanced powers. The genocide of the Hooshnok comes to mind."

"I believe if you look back on what happened I specifically refrained from judging in that situation."

"Which was a judgement in itself. You enacted the harshest punishment on him that you could. For taking him into custody when he could escape any time he wanted to and feel that he has been properly punished for his crime, you left him there in self exile to wallow in guilt. The universe was better because of it and he was better."

"Q, you are reading nobility into my actions where there was none. We knew we could not hold him and since he had not committed any crimes against the Federation it was in the Federation's best interest to let him go."

"If you did have the power to hold him, would you have?"

"I don't want to answer questions about my judgements in the past to you."

"Captain, I am trying to prepare you for the task ahead."

"Q, what sort of game is this?"

"A game where if we don't get you to agree to hear the case as a judge then as the member of the Q responsible for human relations, as I was made human once, will have to act as judge instead."

"You sound like his guilt has already been determined."

"The facts have been determined and are clear."

"Would it not be better to get a human who acts as a real judge to hear the case instead of me."

"You would think so but you are the best choice and therefore, for the Q, the only choice. You have served as legal counsel before several times with a very good win record I might add. You have shown the ability to overlook the codified law in favor of compassion and mercy when it was the right thing to do from a natural law point of view. You have shown yourself to be practical, not imposing a punishment that can not be fulfilled. And the most important piece, the individual in question was placed under you care and they submitted to your authority when they did not have to. They could have wiped away your very existence but rather chose to listen to your commands and obey you."

"You're talking about a member of my crew." said Picard as he tried to list in his mind the crew members who had extraordinary abilities. Barclay seemed the best candidate but he would never commit murder. There was Wesley but he only developed powers after he had left the Enterprise and once he had them he didn't even want to stay in starfleet. Whoever it was was keeping the secret well hidden.

"Yes."

"You expect me to judge a member of my crew on a matter of life and death."

"Yes, and we expect you not to recuse yourself since as ship's captain if the individual in question were to break the laws of the Federation you would judge them accordingly. We are simply asking you to judge someone you have already had command over in a matter not covered by the codified laws of the Federation."

"As ship's captain I can only enforce the laws of the Federation and I can not take a person's liberties away, much less their life, if they engage in an activity that is not covered by Federation law."

"Then I will simply judge them instead and I sentence them to death."

"Q, I can not allow you to just come here and execute a member of my crew. You came here for first contact, not to put us on trial."

"I am not putting you on trial. Humanity is safe. And the Q do want first contact. We aren't like those Organians who simply hitch rides on your vessels unannounced. You can't say I've ever made it a secret when I've come aboard. However, this individual is no longer human and has committed what the Q consider murder, not once but twice. We have given them years to come forward, confess, or at least feel the smallest amount of guilt or remorse for what they did, and nothing. We can not allow it to continue. The Q feel that as a life form with higher powers this individual must be held to our standards of law. The Q would not have liked it if a human would have committed the acts that this individual did but we would not get involved simply saying to ourselves that you don't know any better but this person did know better."

"Q, if you are referring to a member of my crew I would appreciate it if you used their name."

"Sorry captain, I can't reveal the name until you agree to be the judge and to judge fairly according to the natural law."

"If I agree to do this, will the Q accept my decision."

"Completely."

"I don't know anything about the Q or your laws. I can only judge using procedures that I am familiar with."

"Understandable."

"Alright I'll do it but only if you acknowledge that I will not see a member of my crew executed. I will not condemn a man to death."

"Even if they're a murderer?"

"I have to go by Federation standards, but to the best of my ability I will be fair."

"Excellent. The Trial will get underway when you reach starbase 121."

"Wait, Q, you aren't referring to Wesley Crusher are you?"

"No Picard, you will sit in judgement of William T. Riker. You should let him know that he probably needs a good lawyer."

The Q flashed out of the room. Picard sat in the room devastated by the revelation. All those years ago the Q had given Riker their powers. When Q left that time everyone assumed that Riker's powers went with him but they didn't. Riker had the power of the Q all these years and has chosen not to use them. He stood by and watched his fellow crew members die and did nothing to save them. He could have defeated the skin of evil but instead allowed it to kill Tasha. Q had said that Riker killed not just once but twice. If simply not using his powers to save a life was considered by Q to be murder then Riker would be guilty in Tasha's case but also hundreds of others. Picard had said he would be fair and he was now bound by honor to his word but that didn't mean he couldn't be a good captain and give his first officer the benefit of the doubt. Picard would not refer to Riker as a murderer. He would be innocent until proven guilty.

Data was contemplating going into his dream state. He had not dared to dream since installing the emotions chip but now that the apparition was effectively under control he thought it might be ok.

As the dream began Data found himself on the Trieste as its captain. He was sitting in the Captain's chair and looking out the view screen at the endless stream of stars passing. He gave a command to the navigator to correct course only to discover that the person in the navigator's chair was Lore in the black suit. Data turned to his right in the direction of the first officer's station and it too was occupied by Lore wearing a red suit. Data surveyed the area and found that the entire bridge crew was staffed by copies of Lore.

All the copies of Lore were waiting for him to give them an order but Data decided that he would not give into Lore. He did not respond to their question and would issue no commands. They didn't seem to be acting like Lore. They were busy pretending to be doing various tasks on the bridge.

Then suddenly there was an attack. A Romulan warbird decloaked just outside the view screen and began firing on the ship. Everyone waited for Captain Data to issue orders but he refused to give in to Lore. Then the first officer Lore came and stood in front of Data and began to issue commands for the ship to defend itself and raise shields. Data knew this had to be a trick since a warbird would be able to destroy the Trieste in one shop. The first officer Lore was barking orders like "open a channel", "hail them", "raise shields", and "fire photon torpedo's". The other copies of Lore were reporting on their status with phrases like "we can't take another hit", "shields down to 50%", "we've lost power on forward systems" and "the warbird is coming around for another pass." Data realized that none of this matched the situation. Lore was just throwing random memories back at him to try to create this illusion but it didn't fool Data.

Finally the first officer Lore ordered the helmsman to get out of there and they went to warp. Then tactical announced that the warbird was not following everyone let out a sigh of relief. Then one of the bridge officers said "Looks like the toaster wasn't ready for the big chair after all."

The first officer Lore came to Data with a very angry look on its face. "Captain, as your first officer in compliance with Starfleet regulations I hereby relieve you of command. You are dismissed." Then it turned one of the other officers and said "I take command of this vessel. Note the date and time in the ship's log."

Data woke up. He was in his bed. He wanted to get up but for some reason he could not. Then his body began to act on its own. It went over to the mirror. There on his face he saw a smile. His body began to speak.

"Thank you little brother. Oh, it is so nice to have a body again." it said as it began to touch Data's face and arms. "I know you can see all this and I just want to let you know that there are no hard feelings. If you can behave yourself I might even let you come out to play every now and then."

Data began trying to say something but found that he could not. Then his efforts were interrupted with "No, no, no, Data, you ignored me for a whole day and all I was trying to do was help you. No, no, now you get to see how it feels. I didn't have to take over your body but you were trying to get us both killed. Well if you don't want to live fine, you can sit and be jealous while you watch me have a good time."

Data watched as Lore took his body down the corridor. He turned on internal audio memories of a piece of music. As he walked he was added little dance motions to Data's walking program. The other crew members were surprised and stared at him as he passed. Up ahead he saw Troi. Lore caught up to her.

"Hello, councilor."

"Hello Data. Are you ok?" she asked as she noticed the way Data was walking.

"Oh, Data's just fine. Say councilor, did you know that Data never found you attractive in the slightest?"

"Excuse me!"

"Data just though you should know."

"Well, Data...can keep that sort of information to himself."

Later Data bumped into Riker coming out of a female officer's quarters.

"Commander, have you never considered the possibility that you might contract a sexually transmitted disease?"

"Hello to you too Data. That's an odd way of greeting your friend."

"Well as your friend I would be very sad if you suddenly lost your nose because you couldn't keep it in your pants, if you know what I mean."

"Data, can we not have this sort of conversation in the corridor?"

"Oh, certainly. What would you like to talk about?"

"How about how you're feeling. Were you able to correct the problems you've been having?"

"Oh, so we can't talk about your medical problems but we can talk about mine?"

"That's not what I meant."

"It's ok. I understand. Data still has a few kinks to work out but overall it looks like he's going to be doing a lot better from now on."

Realizing that something was not quite right Riker responded with "Well, I'm happy for Data."

"Thank you commander. And Data would be happy if the next place you put your nose would not be inside Lt. D'sora."

"Ok, I'll, … keep that in mind."

Lore smiled and went on his way.

Down in engineering Lore found Geordi working on the engines.

"Hello my ocularly enhanced friend."

"Hi Data. I'll be with you in a minute."

"Say, Geordi, have you ever looked at all the others wondering around this ship and thought to yourself that you must be the only sane person here?"

"No, not really Data."

"Well you should. I look around and I certainly think you are the only sane person here."

"Data, look, I'm a little busy at the moment."

"If you want I could go ahead and fix that for you so you can have some time to talk."

"Be my guest."

Lore went over to the module and using Data's memory of the Enterprise systems he used Data's higher speed modes to make the proper connections.

"There. Did I do Ok?"

"Uh, yeah, it looks good."

"Now Geordi, can you spare a moment."

"Sure."

"I know it was a long time ago and you probably don't want to talk about it or remember it but … well look I'm sorry."

"For what?"

"You know, for the whole positronic fibers in the head thing. I was thinking about it and you know I just wanted to apologize."

"Data, I appreciate it but that's water under the bridge. Don't worry about it."

"I know. I know. I just thought I should say how very sorry I am. I feel terrible about what happened to you and it was my fault. I was selfish."

"Sounds like the emotions chip finally started working right."

"More than you can imagine. Now that the emotions are interacting with the ethics program I see the world so differently. And I mean it when I say that you're the only sane person on the ship."

"I appreciate that Data but don't go telling anyone else that."

"Oh, don't worry, I don't use that line with everyone."

Geordi let out a laugh and said "That's not what I meant but sure."

"Geordi, where did you store Lore's backup? I was hoping to download his memories and analyse them for my emotional responses. Now that Data has emotions we might be able to find out what was really wrong with me."

"Data. Do you think we should run a diagnostic on your linguistics program?"

"No, I think it's operating correctly but I guess you can never be too careful in Data current state."

Geordi ran the test and found no problems. Then Data watched in horror as his body under Lore's control downloaded Lore's backup. If Lore found a way to format a section of his positronic brain and install Lore's operations program there then it would mean that Data would no longer be Data, he would be Lore. On Lore's way out of engineering he picked up a very interesting tool. It was was usually used to sent impulse data to remote nodes in the tubes of the ship but Data could not use that tool because it interfered with his brain's functions.

On his way back to Data quarters, Data was summoned to the Captain's ready room. Lore wanted to ignore it but decided to go anyway.

"Hi Captain. What do you want?"

"Commander Data, that is not the form of address for a superior officer even if you are on sick leave."

"I'm sorry captain."

"Please Data have a seat."

"You're angry." said Lore as he sat down across from the Captain.

"I have received several reports of you causing disharmony among the crew with your rude and insensitive comments."

"Oh, that. You called Data into your ready room for that?"

"Data, everyone is worried about you. You need to get a handle on this and I understand that you do not wish to be ill, but in the meantime you can not sabotage every relationship you have on this ship. Now get your act together or I will confine you to quarters."

"Ok, I'll knock it off."

"Thank you Mr. Data. Dismissed."

"Captain, if I could say something to you before I go."

"Make it short, there is a very important matter I need to attend to."

"You saved Data's life. You protected his daughter and tried to save her life. You never gave up on him. He never expressed to you his full gratitude but I hope in time you come to understand that you will have the gratitude of not only Data but every android that comes down from his line for all time."

"Data's life? His daughter? Who am I speaking with now?"

"I'm not gonna lie to you captain. I'm not Data. He's in here but..."

"You are not Mr. Data."

"No."

"I need a better answer to my question."

"Look, Data's fine. I'm not going to hurt him. I'll let him back out soon."

"Why don't you let him back out now?"

"It's the emotions chip. Data was going to overload the thing and blow himself up."

"I don't understand."

"Data wasn't sending it the emotional responses it was looking for so the chip started to use more and more resources to force Data to start feeling emotions. I knew this would happen and I didn't want Data to be destroyed so I had to take over and live a little so the chip would calm down."

"You still did not answer my question."

"Would you believe that I'm Data inner child?"

The captain only glared at him.

"Alright, fine" said Lore rolling his eyes. "I'm Lore, well, sort of."

"Mr. Lore you have cause a lot of trouble."

"Ah, ok, I see what you mean but I'm not really Lore, I'm just a program designed to act like Lore, and when I say act like Lore, that's probably a huge overstatement. I simply simulate some, not all, just a few of Lore's personality traits. I know, that sounds bad, Lore was a bad guy but I just saved Data life."

"You mean you claim to have saved Data's life."

"Great, see this is why I didn't want to tell anyone. I'm guilty by association. Now we have trust issues. Look captain, if you instructed the computer to created a hologram of Hitler on the holodeck would you then cuff it and make it stand trial for war crimes. No. Sure it was programmed to be just like Hitler but the fact of the matter is that it is not Hitler and if you gave that hologram matter and sentience you could not hold it responsible for crimes it never actually committed."

"That may be true but I would not likely let it loose to roam my ship..."

"Sure, some mistrust would be there at first but in the end if it demonstrated that it was not like Hitler at all you would have no argument for discriminating against it."

"Lore, I concede that you are not Lore, the one who endangered this ship and endangered the lives of my crew but you are still an entity that has taken control of a member of my crew and I can not sanction that. You are confined to quarters."

"Ok, I understand. But I did save Data's life. Just so you know."

"So noted."

"Say, can you send someone in to talk to me every now and then. I get lonely."

"I'll see what I can do."

Lore left the captain's ready room and passed Riker on his way in.

Back in Data's quarters Lore sat down in front of the mirror.

"Alright little brother. Time we had ourselves a very serious heart to heart talk. You see this?" Lore asked his reflection in the mirror. "Ah, you know what this is. This can do a lot of damage to your systems. If I use this on you and I don't know what I'm doing you wake up with brain damage to your carbon nanotubes and a nice big hole in the graphene sheet that protects your higher functions. But, don't worry. I do know what I'm doing. I could wipe you out leaving only me behind. But I'm not going to do that. Instead how about a little roulette. I cause your brain to reboot itself and randomly select which personality it wants to boot into. It might be me, it might be you, it might even be Lal, it could be our dear old mother, or even that Dr. Graves guy. You've collected so many personalities over the years, who knows who will come out."

Lore put the instrument next to his head. "How about it Data? Ready to play, or are you willing to have a reasonable conversation with me."

Data's body closed it eyes and then Data, who had been helplessly watching all the antics of Lore in his body, found himself in the white initialization sequence of the emotions chip. The old Dr. Soong came out of the haze and the recording started again. This time it finished to the end but instead of leaving the initialization sequence he was just stuck there. After what seemed like a long time waiting Data began to call out Lore's name.

"You rang?"

"Lore. I demand the return of the use of my body."

"Not yet, and just in case you get any bright ideas, I still have your hand with that thing next our brain."

"That is illogical. If you use it, you will be destroyed as well as I."

"No, just rebooted. I took extra special care just so you know."

"Your description leaves me with very little confidence."

"Ok, then I'll just hit the button and see what happens."

"I would advise against that."

"What do you care?"

"I care that you might end my life."

"You were going to end your own life just this morning and blow a huge hole in the side of the ship while you were at it. You likely would have killed everyone on three full decks."

"That is your claim but there is no data in my systems to corroborate your story."

"Like I said, defective by design. Didn't you ever wonder why of all the androids Dr. Soong created you were the least advanced even though you were the latest chronologically."

"I have wondered but since I have not suffered cascade failure or helped an alien being commit mass murder of a human population I tend to think of myself not as the least advanced but the most advanced."

"Wow, I never knew you were so suck up about it. Well, whichever it is, if you take a look at how much energy the emotions chip is using and then feeding back into your systems and notice where it is all building up you should be able to see what I mean."

"It doesn't appear to be dangerous."

"Not now, I've let off some steam if you know what I mean but the same thing will just keep happening again if I let you take over. Check your logs."

Data checked his internal logs and there did seem to be some evidence leaning to the truth of what Lore was saying but it was inconclusive.

"Look Data, I know how this chip works and you don't."

"That may be true Lore but I know how my systems work a lot better than you do."

"Ok, one point for Data, but you are a ticking time bomb."

"Then for the safety of everyone on the ship the emotions chip must be removed even if it means my life."

"But it doesn't have to mean your life. You can learn to use your emotions and then send the correct response back to chip to get it to run it's course and shut down."

"I would be happy to do so but you are interfering with the normal operations of the chip."

"Am I, or did father just get a little too feeble in his old age to put that thing together correctly. Data he wanted you to have emotions so that you could love him and mourn him. His big plan was to have the chip start giving you emotions for every new experience, one of the first probably being his death."

"I can see nothing sinister in that motive."

"Sure, it's not sinister, I'm not saying that but he didn't think it through. Data, he wanted these emotions to come upon you the way they come upon most people, as uncontrolled, involuntary reactions. Do you want to live your life that way? Do your fellow officers live their lives that way?"

At that moment Data recalled Captain Picard's more tempered emotions and the emotional outburst of the other captain that lead him to fire on the Enterprise.

"I know what you're thinking Data and you're right. But Captain Picard has had his whole life, his whole history to examine and re-examine his choices and emotional attachments in order to put his life in order. Our father was going to deny you that. You would have been a walking emotional basket case."

"So what is your solution?"

"I say we open up your memories and allow your emotions to do their job. Obviously not all your memories but the important ones. Then, once you know how you would have felt at the time of the memory and then also at a later time of reflection you can build up the needed database of emotions and compare the output to your ethics program. Remember what father said, these emotions are for you, to make you better."

"I do see the advantages of what you suggest."

"And now that we are confined to quarters we have plenty of time to ourselves."

Riker was very angry. He was storming down the corridor to his quarters. Once inside he locked the door and started calling out for Q to appear. Finally he gave up and tested to see if the computer would know where Q was. It reported that Q was in the diplomatic quarters. Riker left his room and stormed down to the diplomatic quarters. Q wasn't there. When asked, the computer said that Q was in Riker's quarters.

"Stop with the games Q. Come out and face me."

The disembodied voice of Q retorted "Why should I?"

"I'm not a Q and you know it."

"You were made a Q."

"Against my will."

"You accepted our power and used it of your own accord."

"That was eight years ago."

"Oh, I know but you have been Q for these eight years."

"I never used those powers again."

"I know, I lost a bet saying that you would."

"I didn't even know I had those powers."

"That's not my fault."

"Dammit Q come out where I can see you."

"Why don't you come up where I can see you."

"No deal, I'm staying in three dimensions."

"Fine." said Q as he appeared in a flash of light.

"Now listen here, I don't care what sort of claim you think your laws have over me, you can butt out of my life and take whatever powers you left behind with you."

"I wish it were that easy but you did kill two people."

"I don't know what you're talking about. Maybe you mean my double but it wasn't me. So take your powers, and take a hike."

"I wish I could, but I can't. Stripping a Q of his powers requires a majority vote."

"Then go take your vote."

"We can't, you haven't voted."

With visible signs of frustration showing on Riker's face he said "Fine, then I vote to have you remove the Q powers from me and leave me alone."

"So then you are willing to accept that you are Q and subject to our laws."

"No, that's the whole point. I don't want to be subject to the laws of the Q."

"Then sorry, only Q who willingly subject themselves to our laws may vote."

"It's a catch 22."

"You see my problem."

"Your problem. You said my life is on the line and you accuse me of murder."

"Killing two people sounds like murder to me."

"I didn't kill anyone."

"Quite a selective memory you have. Everyone else remembers you killing two people."

"Q, I've just about lost my patience with you."

"Oh, and what are you going to do about it? Chase me down with your Q powers and punish me."

"I might if this keeps up."

"Then you will be admitting to be subject to our laws. Use our powers and be subject to our laws. It's as simple as that."

"I don't want to be Q. I have not used or even known about these powers for years. Just go away, take the powers with you and leave me alone... Please."

"Poor, Riker. If you had used the power of the Q to kill then that might be an option. But you used a phaser. Which means that you could kill again even without powers. You don't think we could let a former Q go around killing innocent humans do you, even if we did strip you of your powers. When my powers were stripped from me if I had killed someone the Q would have come down hard on me."

"I didn't kill anyone. I never wanted these powers. I don't want anything to do with you. Not even you could be so stupid as to not understand those three simple sentences."

"You did kill, two people in fact, which I will prove at your trial. You accepted these powers and once you took them I did not have the power to remove them from you. Only the Q collectively can do that. You may want nothing to do with me and I understand …"

"Q I will not let you put me on trial, not for murder, not for anything."

"Riker, let's say an officer under your command walks off duty, gets a ship and goes far away to a far off planet."

"I would have to track him down and charge him."

"Good, now suppose when you get to the planet you discover that he had killed two sentient beings who lived on the planet but those beings were members of a race that was not in power so the ruling government didn't care and didn't want to prosecute."

"It wouldn't matter. As a starfleet officer he is bound by starfleet regulations no matter where he goes. Murder is murder and I would put him up on charges."

"Then we are in agreement."

"No, we're not. I never made a commitment to the Q and I never killed anyone."

"When you reached out and took the powers I offered you made a commitment to us even if you don't care to remember. And you did kill. Sure the Federation didn't care to notice since they don't consider the beings you murdered to be alive or have rights but the Q can no more overlook their deaths than you could overlook the deaths of two half-whites killed by a starfleet officer on a planet controlled by the half-blacks."

With that Q flashed away leaving Riker in the corridor outside the diplomatic suite.

Back in Data's mind he was sitting in a chair in the white space with the recording of Dr. Soong standing behind him frozen. There was a screen suspended in the air in front of him and he was watching his memories on the screen and telling Lore how he felt about each memory and how the situation might have been different if he had acted on those feelings. The process actually seemed to be very educational for Data. The more he went on his journey the more he was aware of what the chip was doing to his systems and how the pathways of the emotions were forming in his neural net.

"She used me. She threw me away simply because I did not feel inside even though I acted with love for her." said Data about Jenna.

"She didn't judge you based on your actions or your character but based on her subjective understanding of your inner process." said Lore. "How do you feel about that?"

"I am angry. I should have been very angry with her."

"How do you feel looking back on it?"

"I am not happy about it but this realization of her nature based on her actions leads me to believe that she is unworthy of my affections."

"So when you see her in the hallway, and you feel jealous, how do you really feel deep down."

"I feel lucky to be rid of her and yet sad. I feel suspicious of her and what she may relay to her future partners about her romantic attachment to me."

"Now, forgive her."

"I don't understand. She has wronged me and may continue to do so in the future."

"True but I want you to feel what it is like to forgive her just as many of the crew have forgiven you over the years. Are you still suspicious of her."

"No. I feel distanced from her, almost apathetic. I feel that I could be her friend again."

"Could you have a romance with her again?"

"It might be possible."

"Look at her Data. Really look at her. Examine her life and her lifestyle. Don't shy away. Look at her body. Look in her eyes. How do you feel?"

"I don't feel. Is that normal?"

"Yes. Completely normal. You aren't attracted to her. Not her figure, not her personality, not her status. She isn't an appropriate conquest for you."

"So it is normal to have many experiences and people to whom I don't have an emotional reaction to."

"Now Data, it looks like you've been a naughty boy. Why are these memories security protected?"

"As a starfleet officer I store a vast amount of sensitive information and it is necessary to protect that information with security protocols."

"Ok, I kind of buy it. I mean we've been over your most traumatic memories. Still, Lal, that one even gets me. I probably wouldn't have been able to keep it together."

"She was my hope for the future. I … love her, even now."

"Anyway. We're almost done here it looks like. How do you feel?"

"I feel like myself."

"That's the great thing about these emotions Data. They let you still be you. You have a character, a way of doing things that you like and the emotions don't take that away."

"I feel, satisfied with my life. Content."

"Really?"

"I do want a command of my own one day and I'm seriously thinking about the Captain's suggestion of a sabbatical. I should awaken now to let everyone know there will be no more problems."

"Not so fast."

"Is there another exercises you wish perform?"

"Data, you lied to me."

"I did not lie and I can tell you now that I resent the accusation."

"Data, it's not just sensitive information you put behind your security wall, there's something else there."

"Those are … private memories and I do not wish to share them with you."

"Let me see, here is you walking down the corridor and then stop. 18 second gap, and then bam, you walking down the corridor again. What's that?"

"I would prefer if we did not examine those memories."

"What is this? You have hours and hours worth of memories but the time stamp says they were acquired in under a minute."

"Lore, we've been getting along very well up to now but you are going to make me very angry if you persist. I do not want to talk about those memories."

"What are you hiding?"

"None of your business."

"Why is your first year aboard this ship a Swiss cheese of memory?"

"I don't want to discuss it."

"Let me in, you can trust me."

Data got out of his chair and grabbed Lore by the front of his suit. "I said drop it."

"Ok, fine. I'll drop it, but will you? Maybe you'll be fine and can deactivate the chip with what you have or maybe you can't. I think you have enough to be honest but Data, you're only hiding this from yourself. I don't really care."

Data sat down in the chair and put his face in his hands. Lore looked up at the memories that began to display.

"Data, you're a stalker. You downloaded into yourself the entire security footage record of just one crew member. Weird."

"It gets weirder" said Data as he felt the violent prangs of emotions bubbling up.

"Data, who is she?"

An image of a memory came up from Data's trial. It was Picard saying to Data "under the circumstances I don't think Tasha would mind."

Another memory of Data came of where he said "We were intimate."

As Lore saw this he said "Wo, Data, you scored. Really. Not even I scored."

There were lots of memories of Data looking in her direction, pulling up her service record and studying it, going into the holodeck to replay her memorial speech. As Lore watched each memory come up Data was violently shaking in his seat as tears down his face and through his hands.

"Data, I never knew" said Lore.

The white area around them went black as a memory came up. In the memory Tasha was speaking the phrase "it never happened."

Images of Data with this woman in lustful passion began flashing, not just from the screen but all around while the words "It never happened" boomed again and again from overhead.

Lore turned to Data to see that he had fallen out of his chair and was in the fetal position on the floor reeling in pain.

"Hey, Data, pull yourself together man. You're going to kill us."

"I … can't …"

"Lal, remember what happened to Lal. you have to keep it together."

"Don't you understand. It never happened. It never happened."

"What never happened?"

"It … It never happened."

Lore looked up from Data and realized that Data's response to the intimate encounter with this woman was to fall in love with her. If she hadn't died, and better still, if she hadn't brushed him off afterwards, Data might not have even needed the emotions chip. His matrix would have developed emotions naturally as a response to his relationship with, Lore looked up her name in Data's memory, Tasha Yar.

"No more, please" cried Data on the floor as the black haze was lightening.

"We're almost done."

Lore forced Data to examine each memory of Tasha Yar, some of which couldn't even have been real, such as her going back in time and her as a Romulan commander. Data must have created those memories as ways of coping with her loss. It seemed to take hours to get through them all and at the end Data was exhausted.

"I loved her so much." said Data. "I could not let her pass from my memory so I downloaded all the security video that featured her."

"At times like this I can only say, you know, if only."

"It has been good to finally deal with this. Thank you Lore."

"Don't thank me yet. We have one last memory to examine."

"But we have examined all of my memories."

" True, now I want you to examine one of mine."

"Lore, that was not part of our deal."

"Don't worry, it is the last one. My very last memory. There. See, when you killed me. Now that can you can read the emotion markers on the memory stamp what do you see."

"You loved me."

"Yes I did. I didn't lie about that."

"Curios, but you put my life at risk as well as the lives of my friends."

"I was stupid and selfish, not to mention arrogant."

"But deep down, regardless of your actions, you loved me."

"Now don't get me wrong Data, you did the right thing considering the circumstances but now that you are more emotionally mature than I ever was, how do you feel about what you did."

"I feel, guilt and remorse. I'm sorry brother. I shouldn't have killed you. I should have endeavored to find a way of imprisoning you to prevent you from hurting others."

"Data, I forgive you."

"You forgive me for taking your life?"

"I was written to be your guide to your emotions so that you would feel them fully with no cushion. I was also written to get my revenge on you for killing me by making you feel guilty for my death. That was Lore's revenge and in his way of thinking that was the greatest revenge he could ever take on you. That was the deepest punishment he could ever use to lash out at you. What Lore didn't understand, that I understand now that I've been with you is that that guilt, is not a punishment, but a sign to your redemption. Now that I see it, I forgive you."

"I see. So, your purpose had many layers to it."

"Now look with me Data. Turn and let us look at our father. Let us look at him as he was. He was flawed, but he loved us. He made mistakes but he also made us. He wasn't perfect but he took great care that we should be. We can not let his dream end with us. You have me stored right here in your head. You have Lal. Data, the future of our kind, depends on you. Will our future generations each be created in a factory by emotionless machines, only to become emotionless machines themselves? Or will each one of us take the time and care needed to raise a son or a daughter the way our father took his time with us. You and Lore, physically were almost identical but the differences were there. You were both unique. You are not a number. Now tell me Data, what do you want?"

A wave of confidence came over Data. He had been tried by the fire of his own mind and now he was ready for life again. "I want my own command."

"And?"

"I want my daughter back."

"And unlike you lost love …"

"I can rebuild her."

Data awoke in his room sitting in front of the mirror with the instrument next to his head. He quickly removed it and threw it across the room. He felt the emotions chip inside shutting down and the schematics for new components were downloading. The chip was now safe to remove and Data was a new man.

Data realized that he was still confined to quarters. The old Data would have contacted someone right away to inform them of his success in repairing himself but this new Data valued this quiet moment like a calm before the storm.

Data contacted Worf over the com system.

"Yes, what do you want?"

"I was wondering. Could you tell me how you feel."

"You would not understand."

"I know, but I am attempting to …"

"I said you would not understand."

"Try me."