"What a Tangled Web We Weave"
Disclaimer: I do not own anything that belongs to Star Trek; I just enjoy borrowing their characters for my amusement.
Summary: Nemesis was not the end of Data. In fact, he is now a prisoner of war and in the process of being blackmailed into helping the Federation's most vital enemy. There he encounters the daughter of Natasha Yar, a woman who could very well be his undoing, but is she really who she claims to be?
*Author's Notes: I know this is an unexpected pairing but I promise that if you guys hang in with me on this, you'll be surprised by the end. Apparently, I have something very wicked brewing in my mind as to what really happened to Tasha and Data. Which I promise to explain it all.*
Chapter 1 ~ "A Shocking Revelation"
"Oh, what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive" ~ Sir Walter Scott
Data wondered down the abandoned halls of the damaged Reman ship, desperately trying to make his way to the main bridge, where he hoped to find his Captain. A few more meters and he was standing outside the massive rifle blast that was caused by Picard in order to gain easy access the bridge. Data cautiously peered through the gaping hole, as he saw the only light illuminating the shattered bridge coming from three steadily green warp core relays soaring up through the floor.
The android immediately ran up the steps, only to find a paralyzed Captain Picard pinned against the wall of the Scimitar, an impaled Schinzon lying lifeless against his chest. Data sprinted towards him and quickly opened the panel of his wrist, removing the small, silver disk that will undoubtedly seal his fate. Picard slowly turns his head and makes eye contact with Data but the android reacts too quickly for him to protest as he pins the emergency transport unit onto the Captain's shoulder. A final look between the two long-time comrades served as their silent farewell; as the android activated the transport unit and watched Picard dematerialize.
Data stared forlornly at the empty space his Captain had just occupied and whispers his last words into the deafening shrieks of metal falling from the damaged ship.
He turned quickly to face the warp core relays as the overhead computer voice announces its final countdown before completely destroying the Enterprise. With a new sense of humanity, Data takes a deep breath, an undaunted look of commitment to his mission now fixed upon his visage. He fires and…..then all goes dark as the ship explodes into the blackness of space.
The remaining crew of the Enterprise watches in horror, as their fears are confirmed by Picard's returning presence. Deanna announces the inevitable as she runs to hug her husband, she draw's back to meet his imploring gaze.
No other words are needed to confirm the death of the last living testament to a Doctor's ingenious, nor the man that had overcome all the odds of redefining humanity by testing the brinks of his artificiality.
The Romulan soldiers roughly pushed the human into the brig where Commander Suran was patiently waiting, his hands clasped tightly behind his back, blocking the human's view of the prisoner.
Cautiously he walked toward the Commander as the lone Romulan turned slightly to peer at the man in his peripheral, a sly smile accompanying his lips along with the disdain in his eyes. The human paused immediately, taking in the site of the incapacitated android that now lied upon the bed.
"I believe we can skip the formalities…." The Commander snarled at the man, the words rolling off his lips with pure distaste. "Since you two seem to be so familiar with one another." He added nodding toward the indisposed android.
"How did he get here?"
The Romulan rolled his eyes from the obtuse question. "We beamed him aboard shortly before the Reman ship exploded." He shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly, as if innocent of any wrong-doing. "What can I say the new Praetor believes he can be of some use to us after all?"
"Let him go!" The human demanded.
Commander Suran's eyes narrowed with displeasure.
"If the Federation finds out what you've done…." The human took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, trying to lower his rising blood pressure. "It will mean war."
The Romulan laughed maniacally. "With the new alliance the Empire has formed..." The Commander leaned in tauntingly. "We sincerely hope so."
The human looked down at the comatose android, obviously distressed.
"What do you want me to do?"
"What you do best… fix him!"
Slowly, the middle-aged man closed the distance between him and the android.
"It may take a few days."
Again, the Commander's eyes narrowed with disapproval.
"You have two hours!"
The guards escorted him into the Chambers of the proconsul. Data couldn't help but notice how tenebrous the room was. Large green marble pillars were holding up the walls of the chamber, adorned with a large grey bird of prey suspended prominently below its ceilings.
The Romulan soldiers roughly pushed the android forward, a brutal unspoken invitation for him to advance further into the room alone. Data wearily complied, noting the lone occupant of the cabinet's gloomy décor standing in the distance; the Romulan's back sternly turned from him in the shadows.
Tentatively, Data advanced further into the cabinet as the Proconsul turned to face the intruder, walking confidently into the light. He sneered softly as the android immediately halted from his sight.
"Tomalak…" The android whispered disconcertingly.
"Ah…I see you remember me, Commander Data."
"Yes…." He confirmed softly. "You boasted about your desire to display the Enterprise D's hull in the Romulan capital to not only inspire the Romulan armies but to serve as a reminder to any other traitors of the state, such as Alidar Jarok."
"You make the aspiration sound so cold….purely devoid of the emotion."
"That is because such desires are often found in the depths of a delusional mind." Data countered sternly, his jaw fixed with the tension that filled the cabinet walls.
"Like your brother….Lore?" Tomalak valorously smirked at the androids murderous glare posed by the insult. "You know, I always admired your brother. So sly…" The proconsul slowly began stalking around his prey. "So devious..." He taunted. "So…." He waved his hand in the air, searching for the perfect word. "Romulan!" He announced with pure conviction.
"The character of my brother does not concern you."
"No….but yours does."
Data arched an eyebrow in question.
"I wonder what kind of man you truly are, Commander Data?" He chuckled knowingly. "The Federation has obviously taught you well; since you were so willing to sacrifice your life for your Captain's. And let us not forget the unmistakable offense you just took toward my poetic description of your brother." He nodded toward the guards still vacating the entrance. "Why, if you weren't surrounded I believe such words would have inflicted my harm." He leaned in to whisper the truism. "There is an old earth saying… Let me see, how does it go?" Tamalok lightly tapped his chin in contemplation. "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree."
"You are insinuating through your idiom that the violence found in my brother is also engrained within me. I assure you, it is not."
"But you have already proven that you will defend those you love, no matter what the cost."
Data looked down from the revelation, pondering, he cocked his head slightly in admission. "I must confess that your basis for that claim is accurate."
"Good….I was counting on it."
The android eyed the Romulan dictator suspiciously.
"Are you familiar with Section 31, Commander?"
Data deflected with a question of his own. "Why have you brought me here?"
The Romulan smirked. "Intriguing….You should exercise your patience a little more Commander Data." He continued to travel around the android, trying his best to intimidate the synthetic man. "I will ask the questions in this room…" Tomalak stopped directly in front of his prisoner, staring dangerously into his eyes. "And you will answer." He demanded.
Tomalak's steely, dark eyes glared into Data's amber ones. "And I thought you were impervious to lying." The proconsul clenched his jaw, his impatience wearing thin. "Come now Commander Data, I am certain that a walking encyclopedia such as yourself is more than familiar with the Federation's Black Ops Agency so commonly referred to as Section 31."
Data remained silent.
"I must confess that the Tal Shiar covets your government's tenacity in turning a blind eye. Their unending lawlessness being excused away by the Federation's Article 14 Section 31 and I quote directly from Starfleet's ludicrous Prime Directive." Data noted the amusement laced within the Romulan's voice. "'During times of extreme peril, the Federation of Planets is exempted from any measures of force, in order to prolong and protect its right to exist.'"
The android still refused to comment, as he stood with his hands folded predominantly behind his back, his shoulders straight, his chest taut with defiance and his back stiff from his 'at attention' stance.
The proconsul smirked at his pose. "Something you learned from Starfleet, no doubt."
Again, Data withheld his answer.
Tomalak's nostrils began to flare and his brows creased causing the notable 'v' shape trademark of his forehead to deepen.
He decided to try another tactic, after all patience was a virtue.
"Are you aware of the Tal Shiar?"
"Yes. It is an elite intelligence agency of the Romulan Star Empire. It is highly-respected, although a feared force in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants. Its purpose is guarding the security of the Empire, both from the Romulans' interstellar enemies - most notably the Federation and the Klingon Empire - as well as from traitors within the Romulan population itself."
Astonished, Tomalak looked up toward the ceilings of the cabinet, as if crying out to the bird of prey that hung directly above.
"Finally, it speaks." He shouted.
Data ignored the outburst but the proconsul continued in his interrogation.
"And are you aware of the Typhon Pact?"
The android broke eye contact with the Romulan, staring off in the distance toward some unknown object, his inability to answer as quickly giving away his folly.
"You have no prior knowledge of this alliance, do you?"
Data simply nodded his head back and forth.
And for the first time, Tomalak smiled.
"Well, let me enlighten you Commander Data. The Typhon Pact is an alliance of races recently formed in opposition to the Federation - specifically the Romulan Star Empire, the Breen Confederacy, the Tholian Assembly, the Gorn Hegemony, the Tzenkethi, and the Holy Order of the Kinshaya (β)."
Data's brows furrowed in confusion. "But you assisted the Enterprise in disarming Shinzon. Why form such an alliance now when the prospect of peace would be a much wiser course of action?"
The Romulan laughed deviously. "We have to at least give the appearance of good intentions before annihilating the Federation. I'm afraid the vote was unanimous, befriend the enemy and then crush them when their defenses toward the Empire no longer exist. As my Vulcan cousin's would say, it is only logical."
"I am inclined to disagree. I believe that the Vulcans would find your motives irrational and unfounded."
Tomalak stared curiously at the android. "Tell me, Commander Data. Would you assist the enemy in order to free an innocent man whom has been enslaved by us for five decades?"
Without hesitation, Data answered confidently. "No."
"Perhaps you should become more aware of the specifics before answering so assuredly." He held his index finger up. "Let me explain. I am sure that you are aware of Shinzon's natural existence, nothing more than a mere clone of your Captain."
"But what you don't know is that he wasn't the only one." He chuckled a little to himself. "It's amazing what scientists can do with one strand of hair and synaptic scanning to bring back the memories of a life that had already been lived, only to discover that their son didn't even care enough to bury the remains, but instead left the body in plain sight for the taking." Tomalak explained.
Data's visage creased with bewilderment. The proconsul looked past his prisoner toward the awaiting soldiers. A quick wave of his hand gave the order for the guards to introduce the man in question. The Romulan dictator placed his hands lightly upon Data's shoulders, maneuvering him around to view the slave.
The android's eyes widened in horror as the man in question stared back at him; almost ashamed.
Tomalak mockingly asked. "Tell me Commander, do you recognize him?"
Data's mouth fell open but he was completely unable to vocalize the man's identity due to his numbed state.
Tomalak leaned in dangerously and whispered in a reviling tone. "It's amazing how many acquaintances are so willing to betray a man of that caliber, all driven by one motive – Envy."
The android stared at the human before him, his long brown hair laced with tiny streaks of white accompanied by his un-kept beard along with his tattered clothes and sandaled feet.
"Fifty-two years ago, we were approached by this man's mentor; a Professor Vaslovik who was willing to sell a small strand of his hair to us. Of course, we couldn't ignore the possibilities that this unknown invoked. So the Empire accepted the deal. Only to our surprise thirty years later, your dear brother, Lore would appear with information concerning his creator's final resting place, a small un-habited world known as Terlina III where we found the remains of one, Dr. Noonian Soong."
Data interrupted the Romulan's musings. "That is not my father."
"Oh but it is. Not only does he possess your father's DNA, his brilliance in the field of cybernetics but he also holds all your father's memories, as well as the emotions that accompanied them." The Romulan smiled profoundly. "All thanks to a little device called a synaptic scanner, constructed by Dr. Soong himself. Once the body was brought to Romulus, we linked the clone version of your father to the deceased one and waited with bated breath until the scan was complete. And to much of the council's elation, it worked, he remembered everything from his former life." He leaned in to whisper half-heartedly into Data's ear. "You can thank me later."
"You have me now…I implore you, please release my father."
"I'm afraid I can't do that. You see, Praetor Tal'aura has other intentions for him."
"What purpose could Dr. Soong serve in fulfilling your objective?"
"It's simple really. We plan on using him in order to get what we want out of you."
Data looked back in the direction of his father. "May I?"
The proconsul eyed the android suspiciously, unsure of his intent.
"Please." Data added.
The Romulan nodded his approval, watching keenly as Data slowly approached his creator.
"Data don't do this." Soong whispered. "Whatever they're asking of you, don't comply….please."
"Have you been harmed in any way?"
Noonian chuckled a little. "Not lately." He then imploringly searched his son's eyes. "Data, please - Don't!" He added more sternly.
"Sir, did you not create me to do what is ethically right?"
His creator reluctantly nodded.
"Then how can you expect me to compromise what you designed me to do."
"Because you're my son and it's not worth it."
"Your concern is appreciated." Data reached out and lovingly patted his father's cheek. The gesture reminded him of their last moment together, shortly before his other- self died. "It is to me - father." He whispered reassuringly.
Noonian grabbed his son, pulling him into a tight embrace. "I love you, boy."
"I love you too, father."
His father leaned back, shocked to hear the sentiment from his son.
"The emotion chip?"
Data confirmed his suspicion.
"That's good to know."
The android smiled and then turned to make his way back to the Proconsul.
"Data…" Noonian called out, as the android turned to face his father one last time. "Be careful, son."
Data nodded a silent promise to his father's plea as the guards removed him from the chambers.
Tomalak strolled over to the android's side. "Should I explain the terms of our agreement?"
"What is required of me?"
"It would appear that the Empire has been compromised."
Data thought that was an understatement considering the events following Schinzon.
"It seems we have an operative among our midst. One that is causing a lot of problems for the Empire by leaking vital information to the Federation, so much so that the Typhon Pact has alienated themselves from us until the dilemma has been terminated, on which they will reconsider our reinstatement." He shook his head disconcertingly. "The Empire can literally see the element of surprise slipping from our grasps unless the operative is found."
Tomalak placed a confident hand on Data's shoulders. "We need you to find this spy."
"And what if I refuse?"
The Romulan snarled in disdain, as the threat was irrefutable. "Then your father will die." And then just like the personality of Jekyll and Hyde, the dictator smiled. "Do I have the promise of your cooperation?"
Data smirked, the distaste of the complying word even nauseating to him. "Yes."
"Good, you will be escorted to the Tal Shiar Intelligence Agency tomorrow morning, where you will meet with Vice Chairman Koval. There, you will be informed of the operative's latest activities."
"May I ask what will happen if I am successful in my endeavors?"
"Your father will go free of course."
"Will I be returned to the Enterprise?"
Tomalak chuckled at the ridiculousness of the android's inquiry. "I simply cannot allow you to penetrate the depths of the Empire's secrecy and then return back to the Federation bearing such knowledge, now can I? So let's call it what it is, Commander…A prisoner exchange."
The proconsul motioned for the guards to take the android away, as the Romulan's words began to sink in, confirming a fate that will be more futile than death itself.
Author's Notes: Here's the first chapter of my new story. This one has been running around in my mind way before the beginning of "Within the Confines of Time". Please Read and Review!