Part One of Seven
Picard didn't let his jaw clench. A Captain didn't show any outward signs of perturbment. He'd keep his voice level and stay calm no matter how stressful the circumstances.
"Number One, can you please explain exactly what has happened do Mr. Data?"
"Yes Sir. After retrieving Lore, we thought it was prudent to check the lab for any other surprises when we passed by the planet on our way back from Vagra II. Data found this unit. Unlike Lore it had no preset program. An empty shell, if you will."
Riker took a deep breath. "Upon discovery of the unit Data touched it, and an electrical charge of some kind dispersed from the unit. Data seemed to go offline, and both he and the unit fell to the floor. We transported both back to the sick bay, and after a few minutes the new unit came online."
"Is it necessary to keep referring to me as the unit?" A high voice piped up from the bed.
Picard fixed it with a grim stare. "Until we're able to ascertain your intentions I'd rather keep it neutral."
"Yes sir." Two large yellow eyes traveled to the floor.
It was uncanny how much the thing looked like Data. Same yellow eyes, much larger in the small head. Same white skin, same inquisitive stare.
It would be uncanny if it didn't have the features and proportions of a four year old child. It was clad in a yellow and black civilian outfit, much like Lore's.
"So this android claims to be Data?" He turned back to Riker.
"Yes sir. We've been unable to bring Data back online which supports the asertation."
"It would seem to. Or it could be another ploy much like Lore used." Picard bent down. The new android was tiny compared to any human adult sized member of the crew. "You assert that you are Lt. Commander Data, transferred from your body into this one?"
"Yes Captain." The android looked to Riker. "I can provide an account of the events that led to revisiting the planet in order to verify my identity. Or perhaps a recitation of my graduate thesis from Starfleet Academy would suffice?"
"I don't think that will be necessary." Picard straightened up. It was unnerving to hear those words coming out of a child. "Well Number One, what is your opinion? Is this Mr. Data?"
"Unless some mitigating proof is presented, I believe so." Riker looked over Data's silent body. "We can't detect any signs of life in his original body."
"So, is this exchange permanent?"
"We don't know sir. Engineering is working on the problem, but-"
"Geordi!" The squeal of delight caught both men off guard. A small white blur whizzed past them and slammed into Lt. La Forge's legs, nearly toppling the man.
"Easy Data." Geordi placed a hand on Data's head. "You're still pretty strong."
"I am sorry." Data let go, confusion on his face. "I do not know what prompted that response."
"You are happy to see your friend. It's perfectly natural." Picard said.
The answer didn't seem to pacify Data. "I have gotten several strange impulses since this happened, sir. Shall I record them?"
"Um…Yes, Data. It may be helpful in fixing the situation." Riker shot Picard a look over Data's head. "Lt. La Forge, can you keep an eye on Data for the time being?"
"Yes sir." Geordi took the small android's hand. Data coked his head inquisitively, but allowed himself to be led from the room.
"He has childish impulses?"
"It makes sense, sir. Lore had a fully functional emotional life. This unit may possess the faculties to mimic a human child: another step in the good Doctor's quest to prove his positronic brain's existence."
Picard nodded. "So, Data's mind has been thrust into the body of a four year old child, with many if not all of the emotions and impulses' that go with it."
"It seems so."
"And we have no idea if we'll be able to get him back to his original body?"
"Too early to tell, sir."
The two men inhaled deeply as one. The next few days were going to be very interesting.
To be continued.