Disclaimers: Star Trek was created by Gene Roddenberry and is owned by Paramount Pictures.

I make no monetary profits from my fanfic.

Summary: An AU story - An alternate Universe Lal comes to find her father.

Rating PG




Aboard the Galaxy Class USS Enterprise, Captain Picard sat in his large chair on the Bridge.

"Report, Mr. Data."

The Second Officer swivelled his chair around. "I am not certain, sir. I am reading an anomaly in time and space, but I-" A bright flash of light cut the android off in mid speech, and he turned his attention to the viewscreen. A ship began to emerge, and the Enterprise's shields were automatically activated.

"Where did that come from?" Riker asked.

Data shook his head. "Unknown, sir. Off hand, I would say, another universe..."

"Captain, they are hailing us," Worf said.

"Open a channel."


The starfield was replaced with the image of a young woman. She blinked, her dark brown eyes matching the colour of her short cropped hair.

Data stared at her. "Lal..."

"Yes. My name is Lal."

The Enterprise crew also starred at the viewscreen in disbelief.

"How can you be Lal?" Data asked. "I-"

Deanna stood, her eyes fixed on the screen. "She is telling the truth."

Picard motioned to Worf to mute the transmission. "How can that be, Counsellor?"

"I don't know, Captain, but she's definitely not lying."

Data turned around in his chair. "I am also fining her statement difficult to believe, Captain. After Lal died, her parts were given to Starfleet Research at the Daystrom institute in the hope that they might find some way to repair her. And so far they have not contacted me concerning Lal. If she is indeed Lal, her appearance has altered since I saw her last. I am referring to her style of dress and hairstyle. Her eyes however, have not changed."

Picard motioned to Worf to un-mute the transmission, and before he could speak, Lal did.

"I realise this must be confusing for you. I shall explain. I have come here from an alternate universe. In that universe, my father was killed."

Data's expression changed as he looked into Lal's eyes.

"I have come to this Universe to find him again," she continued. "May I come aboard?"

Picard paused for a moment, and Data's and Deanna's gaze turned to him. Seeing this, Picard nodded. "Permission granted."

* * *

The crew sat with Lal in the observation lounge. Lal looked around, feeling very nervous and uncomfortable.

"Why don't you start by telling us more about your Universe," Deanna stared in her comforting voice. "Do the events run at similar times to ours?"

Lal nodded. "We have very similar events, with different outcomes and they run at almost exactly the same times to this universe. I have studied alternate Universes, and this is the closest one to mine ... You're all there ... except now Data..."

"Why is that?" Picard asked. "What happened to him?"

"My father was killed, Captain. Killed by the Federation."

"The Federation? How did Data die?"

"Data was taken apart by Commander Bruce Maddox. You," she pointed at Picard, "handed him over."

"I understand," Data said. "The captain's counterpart in your universe gave my counterpart to be disassembled, however in this universe, Captain Picard stood up for my rights, in a hearing, and it was decided that I had the right to choose."

Lal nodded. "It appears that androids are treated as we should be in this universe - like people. That is one of the reasons I came here and to reunite with my father. I know he is dead, but it's the closest I have."

Picard studied Lal's face. Poor child. Although he kept it to himself, something bugged him about this Lal, but he couldn't put his finger on it.

* * *

Data walked down the corridor with Lal. Although she was not his daughter, she was different, yet the same. Her black attire dress suited her rather well, Data thought. Even the way she walked was different, but looking into her eyes, those deep brown eyes - yes, there was no mistaking it. She was Lal.

"Data, may I see your lab?" She asked.


He led her in the to his Lab, and began showing her what he had done with his Lal. The neurological transfers, and what he had taught her. Lal smiled and nodded.

"My father taught me many things also. May I look around here? I find it most intriguing."

"Of course," Data said, only too happy to help.

* * *

Data sat at his usual OPS position on the bridge. He had allowed Lal to stay in the Lab. She fond it most interesting, and he had also given her full access to his quarters. She got on rather well with Spot and her kittens.

"Data, please come to my Ready Room," sounded Picard's voice over his communicator.

Data obediently stood, and took the few steps to the Ready Room, and entered. "You called for me, Sir?"

"Yes, Data, take a seat."

Data sat in the guest chair.

"How's Lal coping?"

"Quite well, sir. She is fascinated by my lab and is there most of the time. She told me her father's lab was not nearly so well equipped, and I believe she has learned a lot."

"Don't you think it a little strange, Data?"

The android frowned. "Sir?"

"She told us she came here because her father had died and you were the closest thing she had. Don't you think she'd be spending more time with you?"

Data blinked. "I had not thought of that, Sir. I ...," he paused, "guess I was ...."

Picard smiled. "I know. If only everyone's beloved would come back, but Data, something else bugged me about her too. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but she said that the events in her universe were similar to ours, but occurred in the same time period. I've been looking back on Stardates. Commander Maddox and your hearing took place approximately Stardate 42523.3, and yet Lal was created approximately Stardate 43657.0. That's more than a year apart."

Data frowned, puzzled. "Now that you mention it, Sir. I do not understand why I did not see that myself."

Picard smiled understandingly. "Before you run a self-diagnostic, Data, let me tell you it's all right. I know how you... 'feel,' and you can't tell me that Lal meant nothing to you."

"You are right, Sir. I cannot. She did mean a great deal, and the android female now with us is Lal, and Counsellor Troi did not sense any deception."

Picard nodded.

"But if Lal had lied," Data said, "what would be the purpose?"

Picard shook his head, and Worf's voice suddenly sounded over his communicator.

"Captain, illegal transporter access."

"Stop it," Picard said quickly. "Where did it originate?"

"From Data's lab, sir."

Both Picard and Data looked up in surprise.

"Disconnect all transporters until further notice," Picard ordered.

"Aye, sir," Worf responded.

"Data, I think we should visit your lab.

And Data nodded in agreement. "Agreed, Sir."

The two officers entered Data's lab, with Worf, prepared, only to find Lal, sitting on the floor, crying. Picard motioned to Worf, who left, as his presence was not needed any longer. As Data came around to her, he saw a reassembled android body -- Lore.

"Why have you done this?" he asked.

Lal looked up at him, her chocolate eyes teary.

"I wanted to repair my father."

"I understand, Lal, but that is Lore, not-"

"Don't you think I know that? Lore is my father."

Data and Picard stared at Lal, dumbfounded, as if she'd suddenly grown two heads.

"So you did lie to us," Picard said at last. "You told me your father was taken apart by-"

"I did not lie," Lal said, standing. "I told you Data was taken apart by Commander Maddox, but in my universe Data is not my father."

"You twisted the truth."

Lal nodded. "I knew Deanna Troi would sense any lies I may have told."

"Tell me more of the Lore in your Universe," Picard said.

Lal nodded. "Shortly after he was found by the Pakleds, he stole a starship and created me. There is not much difference between my Lore and yours. The incident with the Crystalline Entity happened in both Universes. Lore had been rejected all his life, and no one would understand him. Data never got a chance to, and Lore resented the Federation for that, even though he never was that fond of Data. He'd been on the run ever since the Federation heard he had been found by the Pakleds. They had questioned the Pakleds, but all they told them was that Lore helped them go."

Picard smiled at that. "Go, on," he said. "We need to know more."

Lal looked at him. At least he was reasonable, unlike his counterpart.

* * *

Alternate Universe, some time ago ...

Lal turned to her father.

"You should be more careful, they nearly got you that time."

He smiled and sat down. "Don't worry about me. This isn't the first time the Federation have dogged me, you know."

"Still, they might catch you someday."

Lore smiled again. "You worry too much."

"Only about you, Father."

"Did I over program you with sentiment or what!"

Lal gave him a gentle sentimental slap. "Seriously, Father .. I can't bear the thought of losing you. You're all I have. Without you my life would be meaningless."

"Don't say that, Lal, I'm not that important."

"Yes you are. You gave me my life, taught me how to fight and survive and how to endure emotional pain and prejudice. You saved me when the Federation wanted to take me away and take me apart and you taught me the rude finger gestures of six hundred and eighty seven races."

Lore smiled and chuckled. "I .., I couldn't let them take away my only child. My reason for living."

"Now who's being sentimental?" Lal smiled.

Lore smiled back at her. "And what's life without rude finger gestures?"

Lal chuckled, then became serious. "If they ever do get their hands on me, will they disassemble me like they did Data?"

"Probably not," Lore said. "You've never committed any crimes, and they've already used Data for all their research." Lore spat the last word. "I may not have liked him very much, but what they did was unforgivable. I wanted to reconcile my differences with him, but ..."

Lal gently comforted her father.

"I realise now that committing those crimes was wrong, and all humans aren't like that or responsible for what happened to me on the colony, but that's why I created you, Lal. I wanted to create life, not destroy it anymore. I want your life to be better than mine. I wanted you to be accepted and not have to endure the hardship, rejection and pain I had to suffer."

Lal hugged her father. Lore rolled his eyes in mock sarcasm, and hugged her back.

Suddenly a blast shook their ship.

"@#$%! The Enterprise's found us!" Lore exclaimed. "Defensive manoeuvres."

Lal rushed to the controls. "Damn! Warp engines damaged and shields non operational."

"Shit..." Lore sighed.

"They're hailing us."

"Open a channel," Lore said.

"You will surrender Lore, and you will turn over the female android."

"My daughter, Picard," Lore said, catching his temper before it flared right up. "Has a mind of her own. If she chooses to go with you which I doubt, she has every right to and I will not stop her."

"I choose to stay with my father," Lal said, stepping into view, her arms folded.

"You do so willingly?"

"Of course she does!"

"Shut up, Lore. I want to hear her, not you."

Lore glowered.

"My father gave me my life," Lal said.

"Has he mistreated you in any way?"

Lore felt like slamming his fist through Picard's face on the viewscreen, but knew that would accomplish nothing, so he tried to cool down.

"No," Lal said. "He has done nothing to harm me in any way."

Picard nodded, then ended the communication. A moment later both Lal and Lore were transported to the cargo hold of the Enterprise.

It didn't take a Betazoid to sense how furious Lore was. He came forward in a rage, but was repulsed by the forcefield in his way.

"Don't bother shooting your mouth off, Lore," Picard said.

"What do your want with us?" Lal asked, her calm voice hiding her fear.

"I am not going to hurt you," Picard told her.

"How can you hurt us?" Lore scoffed, but was ignored.

"You have not answered my question," Lal stated.

"You are going to be taken to Federation Headquarters on Earth."

"What for?"

Picard smiled. "We're very interested in your design and we'd like to know more about you."

"I can tell you everything you need to know," Lal said.

Picard smiled. "You don't understand. We need to run tests." He deliberately kept his gaze off Lore, but through the corner of his eyes, saw Lore was giving him a look of pure hate.

"What kind of tests?" Lal asked.

"It'd be easier to show you, rather the tell you."

"You're not taking my daughter anywhere."

"Put a sock in it, Lore. This is not your concern."

"Not my concern?! You're standing there planning the future of my daughter and it's not my concern? You're full of shit, Picard."

"I do not wish to go with you," Lal stated.

"I'm afraid you don't have a choice."

"Of course I have a choice. My father and I are not part of your Federation and you have abducted us against our wishes. It is a violation of our rights as sentient beings. My father and I are living people, no matter how we were created."

Lore beamed with pride at his daughter. She was absolutely correct. Who the hell did the Federation think they were passing judgement on people?

Obviously Picard was thinking about what Lal had just said. He knew the Soong androids were considered to be alive and there was an outcry when Data had been disassembled, calling for android rights. Even Lore was alive, Picard reasoned. After all, no inanimate machine would have such a bad-ass attitude! But behind Lore's anger and sarcastic remarks, Picard sensed fear, both for him and his daughter.

"Lal, you don't understand what we're offering you," he said gently. "You want to learn more, don't you?"

"Knowledge ... yes..." she said.

"I can also teach her," Lore said, defensive. "You're not going to take her away so easily, Picard."

"You only teach her what you want her to know, not everything. You keep her in isolation. Don't you think it would be better for her to mix with other people?"

Lore pondered this for a few moments. "I'll be truthful for once," he said.

Picard cast him a dubious eye.

"Yes, Lal does seem lonely on occasion, but we have visited many star systems and interacted with many different species – but you mean around humans, don't you? You want to keep her around humans."

"I think that would be best for her."

Lore gave a disdainful chuckle. "I was around humans for four years. The rejected me because they believed that I was nothing more than a machine. Have you any idea how much that hurt?" Without giving Picard a chance to answer, Lore continued. "It was humans that made me become unstable and ruined my life. I'm sure that you can understand that I don't want my daughter to suffer the way I have."

Picard gave a nod. "I see your point, Lore," he grudgingly admitted, "but you do not see mine. You are isolating her. Denying her from what every child needs, friends." Picard shook his head. "You're selfish keeping her all for yourself and denying Lal her future. You're neglecting-"

Lore fumed. "How dare you accuse me of neglect, you bloody F@##$&%...." He lunged at Picard, but was thrown back by the forcefield. Lore flinched as he felt the pain surge through his body, then tried to compose himself.

Lal looked with concern at her father, but turned to Picard when Lore recovered. She glared at Picard. "He's right. He's never neglected or mistreated me in any way. He loves me and cares for me and protects me form all harm. I don't care how much you can teach me. I want to stay with my father."

Picard knew that tone of voice. The proverbial foot down. So he decided to try another approach.

"You have to come with me."

"No she does not," Lore scoffed.

"I'm afraid she does. It's Federation law to take children away from their parents if we see fit. I am obliged to take Lal to earth where she will be trained and-"

Lore looked at him. "That's a load of crap, Picard and you know it. You've played your last card and now you're trying to cheat. It won't work. And that law does not apply to non Federation citizens."

"It is my-"

"Put a sock in it, Picard," Lal said.

Picard turned to Lal, not bothering to further his ploy. He should've known Lore would see straight through it. Damn! Why does he have to be so intelligent? "I'll return you to your ship," he said.

Lal smiled, a gentle, pleasant smile. "Come on, Father."

"Uh, Lal..." Picard interjected. "I'm afraid he can't go with you."

She frowned. "Why not?"

"He is wanted for the deaths on Omicron Theta and..."

"You can't keep me here," Lore said.

"You said I was free to go," Lal said, "because I am not Federation citizen. Neither is my father."

"That is most certainly true," Picard said, "but Omicron Theta was a Federation colony and the Enterprise a Federation starship - which gives us the right to detain him. And since his crimes were so severe - punish him. The punishment being permanent disassembly."

Lal's mouth hit the floor. "You can't!" she blurted.

"We have the right."

"My father has a right to life..." she turned to him. "Please say it isn't true, Father. They can't take you apart, can they?...."

Lore sighed. This was a moment he'd been dreading. "Yes, Lal, I'm afraid they can."

Lal shook her head. Tears began forming in her eyes and Lore gave her a comforting hug.

"Don't worry about me, possum, you can take care of yourself."

"Physically," she said, "but I can't live without you."

"I'm afraid you don't have a choice," Picard said

"SHUT UP!" Lal yelled at him.

"Hardly the way for a lady to behave. Is this what your father teaches you?"

Lal glared at him. "Let me kill your father or someone you love and see how you feel." She burst into tears.

"I'm truly sorry," Picard said.

"I'll bet..." Lore said in disgust, comforting his daughter.

Through Lore's anger, Picard saw fear in his eyes.

Lal looked at him, her eyes begging. "Please don't kill him ... I'll do anything..."

Picard shook his head. "I can't, Lal."

"Please .... he's my father .... He's the only person I have in the whole universe and he's my best and only friend."

Picard truly felt sorry for her, but shook his head. "I'm afraid we are authorised to disassemble Lore immediately."

"No...." Lal wailed. She put her hands on the forcefield, but there were repulsed, but she hardly felt the physical pain. The only person she had ever loved and that cared about her was going to be killed and there was absolutely nothing she could do about it. She hated feeling so helpless and she hated the Federation. "Please don't kill him...."

"Your father has committed crimes that-"

"I know what he did," Lal snapped, wiping her tears away, "but if you knew how those colonists treated him - like an unfeeling thing. If only you knew how much that hurt ... and he ... ohh, you can't ... please..."

"I'm afraid we can, Lal and we intend to do just that. I'm sorry."

"I'm sure you are. How could you be so cruel? If he were human, you wouldn't be doing this ..."

"We must be sure that Lore will not do it again."

"Then help him. Fix him and give him that chance."

"I'm afraid he's beyond that."

"Have you tried? But then why would you bother? You don't even care."

"That's not true."

"I don't believe you."

"Believe what you will. You're free to return to your ship whenever you wish.

"I am not going back without my father." Lal stood firm. "I need him and he needs me."

"We can offer you care," Picard said. "We-"

"Like the care you offered my uncle? Where were your morals when Data was taken apart as if he were a toaster, Picard?"

Picard was obviously hurt by that. Inside, Lal was breaking up. She couldn't bear the thought of losing the only person she had ever loved and who had loved her. The only person in the universe she felt close to.

"Listen, Captain," Lal said, "I've changed my mind. I will go back to Federation Headquarters with you.

"Lal?" Lore's voice rose in surprise.

Picard smiled. "That's a good decision. I promise no harm will come to you and you will be taught-"

"On one condition."

"Name it," Picard said, eager.

"That my father is allowed to return to the ship and set free."


Lal shook her head. "Absolutely no buts. He's been trying to improve, yet you persecute him. If my terms are not net, you can kiss your valuable research goodbye."

Picard thought. She was making it tough, but he made his decision. Lal would be more valuable and more beneficial to them than disassembling Lore. Picard only hoped that Lore was really trying to improve.

"All right ..." he sighed.

Lore looked at his daughter and swallowed. "Lal, you didn't have to –"

"Yes I did. It was the only way to save you. I couldn't let them kill you."

Lore looked into his daughter's eyes and saw the love burning in them, and realised he would have done the same for her.

The containment field lowered, and Lore wanted to wring Picard's neck, but knew if he did he most certainly would get disassembled and Lal's sacrifice would be all for nought.

"I'd like a moment alone with my daughter..." Lore said.

Picard nodded. "I warn you not to try to escape. This room is monitored, guarded and protected against transporter activity. It's energy shields were activated after you were beamed and you will not be able to bean through them without serious damage to both of you." Picard left, a tad uneasy.

"I did it for you, Father."

"I know, and I can't thank you enough. I feel so selfish..."

Lal shook her head. "I couldn't them butcher you."

Lore gave his daughter a gentle hug, which Lal returned.

"I don't want you to sacrifice your life for me. I know they won't harm you, but they'll treat you like a rat in a maze."

"I know, Father, but better that than have you dead."

Lore smiled at his loving daughter. He swore to be reunited with her again someday and he planned to go far from Federation Space and start a new life with her.

Picard later returned.

"The Federation officials have agreed to let you, Lore, go in exchange for Lal."

"Lal, it's not too late to change your mind," Lore said. "I don't want to 'hand you over to the state.'"

"I don't have any other choice, Father."

There was a pause for a while.

"You," Picard said to Lore, "are free to go, but you have a restraining order not to come within one million kilometres of Earth's Solar System or to contact Lal in any way. Violate this and you will be disassembled. We'll be keeping tabs on you."

"You think of everything don't you..."

"Oh," Picard added, "if you decide to go on another killing spree, that will also be considered a violation."

"You needn't worry about that, Picard, but not even allowed to see my own daughter... My child..."

"And try to escape with her, I suppose."

Lore shook his head. "Humanity - what does it mean?" Where in your stupid Prime Directive does it say that you can take children away from their loving parents? And forbid them to see each other?"

Picard was silent.

"Exactly, you selfish pig. You want her for your pathetic research because you don't understand how androids can be alive. How can a bunch of circuits, wire and synthetics be alive? Tell me, how can a bunch of biological cells and tissue b alive? Who knows? It just happens. Don't ask how. You're only letting me go because it suits your purposes. Let me tell you one thing - my daughter might be light years away, but our love will cross your boundaries and there's nothing you can do about it and you can't forbid it."

"True, but I find that statement rather odd coming from you."

"You don't know me at all, Picard."

The Captain said nothing for a few seconds, tapped his communicator. "Prepare to beam Lore back to his ship."

"Aye, sir," came the voice of the Transporter Chief.

"Oh, one other thing, Picard," Lore said. "If any harm should come to my daughter. Rest assured - I will destroy the Federation."

Those words sent cold shivers up Picard's spine, because he knew Lore meant every word.

Lore felt the transporter beam grip him. He took one last look at his daughter, but before he had totally dematerialised, he heard Lal's last words: "I love you, Father..."

* * *

Lal stood, in the lab, facing Picard and Data in tears.

"You said the Federation killed your father." Picard said. "Did he violate the-"

"It's a long story."

"We've got the time."

"The Enterprise dropped me of at Federation headquarters on Earth and left me there. The scientists took me to the lab. It was the loneliest time of my life. My father was right. They did treat me like a rat in a maze. I often stared out of a window, hoping to escape somehow. I longed to see my father again, and he no doubt longed to see me. The Federation kept me in their headquarters for over three years. Do this, so that... and all the experiments they performed on me...It was so degrading ... so humiliating ... I was nude for most of them ... and I felt so helpless. They treated me like a thing ... I came to know exactly how my father felt on Omicron Theta... I was so...so alone...I didn't have a single friend. And they didn't let me go outside. I often cried, but they told me to 'stop mimicking human behaviour.' Sometimes I refused to co operate, but they said they would disassemble me if I didn't do as they said, and they also threatened to disassemble my father. I was scared, but I did what they told me to, even though I hated it, and them. Sometimes I felt like killing them, but they'd limited my strength to that of a human, and there's nothing I could do about what they were doing to me ... and then, much later I thought of something. If I died, I would stop feeling so alone, but I didn't want to die. I was confident that someday I'd leave the Federation prison and reunite with my father and forever, so I faked my death."

"Faked it," Picard said, surprised, "How?"

"I faked having cascade failure, and when they tried to fix me, I temporarily shut down the pathways they repaired. They didn't even care when I 'died.' I was just a research tool to them. The only thing they were upset about is that I was a unique 'tool' and they couldn't get another one. After they left, I stole a Federation uniform, shut down the security systems and escaped in a shuttle, which they weren't able to track, until it was too late."

Lal paused for a while.

"Than what happened?" Picard prompted gently.

"Apparently my father had been keeping tabs on me, because the Federation documented everything they did and sent it via subspace to various research outposts. I guess he would have been very angry at his daughter treated like a piece of meat. I only found this out after the war, of the few Federation records that were left."

Picard frowned, puzzled. "War?"

"Between the Borg and the Federation. Apparently the Federation documented that I had died on Earth and sent that information to the other outposts. I could not break radio silence to contact Lore in case I was intercepted, and then the Federation would get me again. After the war I found some records. My father got wind of my 'death' and went berserk. He couldn't bear the thought that I was gone. And his hatred for the Federation now totally blinded him. He commandeered a Borg vessel, and assisted them in a war that destroyed both sides. My father was killed by the Federation in that war. Oh, if only he'd known I was still alive, then none of this would be necessary..." Lal wiped tears away from her face. "It makes me feel important to have someone love me so much, but guilty that so many people were killed because of me... It scares me, but I love my Father, no matter what he did."

"I understand that," Picard said, "and he loved you very much, but you must understand. He," Picard pointed at Lore's reassembled body, "may be Lore, but he's not your father."

"Maybe not, Captain, but he's the closest I have."

"I can't let you reactivate him. He's unstable, and a war between the Borg and the Federation almost took place because of him."

Data nodded. "If only there were more time, perhaps I could have come to a better understanding of him and helped him."

"I have repaired most of his instability," Lal said. "He should be mostly stable now. And if you leave him disassembled forever, you're no better than your counterpart in my Universe. He needs a chance that no one is willing to give him. I'm sure he'll be almost exactly like my father. He loved me, and if he was given a chance, I'm sure he'll learn to love others as well. He's been so hurt by humans, but if he knows there are humans who care about him, the I'm sure he'll return that in kind."

Picard nodded. "I'm all for android rights and it's grand that you've fixed him. That takes care of his unstable, erratic behaviour, but, Lal, what if he does not want to accept you? Lore has no offspring in this Universe."

Lal nodded. "I've thought about that, and I'll be willing to accept it, but as long as he's alive, then I'm happy. He may not be my real father and I may not be his real daughter, but I guess that kind of makes us even."

"I'll be willing to let you reactivate Lore," Picard said,

"- under supervision - and with security forces."

Lal's face brightened like a Solstice tree, lit for the very first time. "Ohh, thank you, Sir..." She threw her arms around him and gave him a kiss. She hadn't felt this happy in many years.

* * *

Data, Picard and the other Bridge crew members met in the observation lounge. Picard had briefed them on Lal's history.

Deanna nodded. "I had sensed something was amiss, but I wasn't sure. I guessed that she was scared."

"She is scared, Counsellor."

"With all due respect, sir, is it wise to repair Lore, I mean he's-"

"I don't need a lesson on what Lore's done, Geordi," the Captain said. "I am fully aware of it. But I agree with Commander Data that leaving him in pieces is a virtual death sentence and a human or any biological life form would not receive such punishment for crimes such as Lore's."

"We propose to repair him," Data said. "And cure his instability. When Lal reassembled him, she repaired the worst of it. If he was repaired and stabilised, then perhaps he will not continue with his violent antics."

"But what if he does?" Worf asked.

"There are several reputable rehabilitation centres which I have contacted and are willing to take Lore in if he displays any such behaviour, but I am confident that he will not," Data said. "When we were with Dr. Soong, he said that Lore had never been given a chance to live, and Lore was very upset also. He tried to start a new life for himself by taking my chip which he thought would repair him, but unfortunately made him worse. I know He has hardly been the perfect brother, but I have come to understand him, and the way he thinks and feels, and I believe he deserves another chance."

"The instability shouldn't be hard to repair," Beverly said. "I studied the schematics all yesterday and last night. We should be able to repair him in a couple of days. And I agree with Data. Lore might not be the nicest person in the Universe, but he deserves a right to life, and if we can give him a better life, I'm all for it."

"Well, he's your brother, Data," Riker said, "and you seem to be pretty sure, but keep both eyes on him."

"I intend to, Sir."

* * *

Now, fully reassembled and clothed, Lore looked at himself. He felt the absence of the chip and was grateful. It had been more trouble than it was bloody well worth. He felt guilty about taking it now, but said nothing. He felt uncomfortable as he felt the eyes of the Enterprise crew on him, as if they were burning through him, he then looked at Data.

"You fixed me. Why?"

"We'll be on the bridge," Picard said, as he filed out with the other officers, sensing Data wanted some time alone with his brother.

Data smiled gently and explained to Lore why, he had repaired him, but told him nothing of Lal yet. Lore gave a Data small, insecure smile.

"Thank you. I always hoped that you'd help me."

There was a pause for a long while, and then Lore apologised. "I guess I was jealous of you at first and also envious. You had everything I always wanted...I realised that while I was drifting through space...and when we were with our father, I wanted to warn you about emotions. I still didn't like you very much then, but even so, I didn't want you to suffer the way I had...and when I was with the Borg, I found all my jealousy and resentment I had for you had gone and I found myself wanting to be with you. I don't expect you to understand, Data, and I know it was wrong now, what I did and I'm sorry. I just wanted to-"

"I know, Lore, and I forgive you."

Lore was left speechless for a few moments, then shook his head. "I don't deserve it."

Data smiled gently. "Yes you do, more than anyone I know, and I've repaired you so you can have the chance you always wanted, but please do not abuse it. It would put me in an ... awkward position."

Lore smiled. "I can't thank you enough ... and I don't intend to abuse it. It's taken me this long for my fondest wish to come true and there's no way I'm going to balls it up."

"But Lore," Data began, "there is something else."

"What...?" Lore asked, nervous.

Data opened the doors, and there stood Lal, now fully composed, not the crying wreck she had been a few days ago. She smiled at Lore, and he did the same.

"Your daughter?" he said, "but I thought she-"

"She did," Data said. "And she has not been repaired as yet. This Lal is not my daughter, she is...yours."

Lore's eyes widened. "Mine?! But-"

Data smiled. "Well, technically not yours, but..."

And the next hour was spent explaining to Lore the events which had taken place in the past fortnight.

* * *

Lal had beamed across with Lore to her ship, the Family. She looked at Lore, across from her and wanted to tell him all about her father and the things they did together and the special bond they shared. He might not be my real father, but he's all I have...and I love him. I will share a special bond with him also. It might not be the same, but it's no less unique and special.

Lal more had shown Lore so much love in the past few hours than he had received in his entire lifetime, and he had been overwhelmed by it, and a little frightened too. Did he deserve this after all that he'd done? Could he give her as much love in return? Could he rely on himself to fulfil such a commitment? Lore looked at Lal, plotting a course away from Federation Space.

My counterpart in the other universe was so much like me and he committed himself. Lore felt a little scared to commit himself in case of hurt. But she feels the same toward about me...I'll do it for my unfortunate counterpart and Lal, and myself. She might not be my real daughter, but no one's been this kind and loving to me, and I damn well not going to let her down. Lore smiled at her, then gave her a hug. Lal placed her arms around him gently and Lore realised in that moment there was nothing in the Universe that he wanted more and nothing in the Universe that could tear them apart. They both began to cry into each other's arms. Tears of happiness and joy at finding one and other and the special bond was born again. Lore pulled Lal a little closer to him, as the Family cruised out among the twinkling stars.




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