Disclaimers: Star Trek was created by Gene Roddenberry and is owned by Paramount Pictures.
I make no monetary profits from my fanfic.
Summary: AU - Lore escapes the Fderatiopn and finds a primitive planet.
Author's Note: Alternate Ending to Descent II. Lore shoots Data and escapes. Data is later repaired on the Enterprise, but by that time Lore is long gone.
THE GOLDEN MAN
Lore looked back at the Borg planet. He was leaving his loyal subjects, but he forced himself not to care. As loyal as they were, they weren't worth dying for. And Data. Lore hadn't killed him. He'd only set the weapon on high stun.
Where would he go now? He couldn't go into Federation space - unless he was suicidal. If they caught him, they'd disassemble him, and he couldn't defend himself in this shuttle against a Galaxy Class starship. Lore scanned the area. Two planets, both uninhabited. He set co ordinates for the furthest one.
As the shuttle approached the ball in the stars, Lore brought it out of warp. He scanned the planet.
"Whoa ... vicious ..."
A raging electrical storm ravaged the planet. Lore wouldn't risk using the transporter. The thought of his atoms being scattered all over space was none too appealing. He wasn't too keen on transporters either. Drifting endlessly in space again wasn't exactly his idea of a great time ... He'd take the shuttle in manually. Risky, but he'd have a fair chance. He set the shields to maximum and began to penetrate the planet's atmosphere. The shuttle shook violently and almost began to break up, but Lore managed to keep it together. He was through, but he still had to land the damn thing. The shuttle was struck by a bolt of sudden lightning. Lore swore and battled to maintain control, but lost it. The viewscreen cracked. Lore shielded his face, then grabbed onto a ledge as the shuttle crashed on the planet's surface, throwing Lore violently into the far wall.
* * *
Some time later, Lore regained consciousness and stood up slowly. He looked around him. Everything was a mess. He walked to the hatch, throwing obstacles out of his path and cautiously opened it. He gripped the sides firmly, expecting to be blown away by the storm - instead he was most surprised. No storm raged and the skies were calm as ever. Lore saw he'd landed in a dense forest. He climbed out of the shuttle and saw it had been buried deep in the ground with the force of the crash and was tangled with weeds, but the hatch was visible. The android took in his surroundings, then re entered the shuttle, walked to the controls and checked them.
"Shit!" he cursed, bashing them with his fist. Nothing was functional. He hadn't expected them to be, but there was nothing wrong with wishful thinking. The engines were totally irreparable, as were the communications and transporter.
"Great ... I'm trapped here ... Wherever the hell here is ... Well, at least I'm in one piece."
He saw his phaser on the floor, and bent down to pick it up. Then he noticed his Borg clothing was ripped to shreds. He tore the clothes off and tossed them to the floor, picked up his phaser and vaporised them.
"At least something works ... Never did like that suit anyway. I didn't detect any intelligent life here, so I guess nobody is going to mind a naked android walking about."
Lore left the shuttle and closed the hatch. He walked for quite a while, then stopped when he saw some small furry animals scattering in the bushes, and birds fluttering into the trees. Lore quickly lost interest and continued walking. Before he knew it, he was up to his neck in thick mud, flapping his arms about wildly. Before he began to sink further, Lore pulled himself out of the mud.
"Didn't see that one comin'. Great. Where do I find a shower?"
He carried on walking through the forest, until he came to an open clearing, and before him, lay a crystal clear lake. By now, most of the mud had caked on his in the hot sun. Lore lowered himself into the cool water and began to wash the mud off. It took a while, but it all came off. Lore hadn't swam since he was on Omicron Theta, and he'd forgotten how much he enjoyed it.
He climbed out of the water, his naked body glistening with the wet water in the sunlight. He let the sun dry him, unaware that he was being watched.
"Who is that man?" whispered one of them.
"I don't know, Solha," whispered the other. "I've not seen him before."
The first one, Solha looked at the man again, no actually, she stared, her eyes becoming fixed on his body. She sighed.
"Is he not beautiful ...."
Her sister looked at her. "Solha, we do not know where he is from. He might be dangerous."
"Oh, Shalona, how could anyone that beautiful be dangerous?"
"Quite easily. Lolii flowers. Beautiful to the eye, but fatal when touched."
Solha nodded. "But he had gold skin. He is a dream ..."
"Gold skin?" Shalona frowned and looked the them man again.
"Perhaps he is a God?" Solha considered.
"And," Shalona continued, still in a quiet whisper, "if he is a God, I'm sure he'd be quite offended with your childlike infatuation."
Solha took a step forward, and snapped a twig.
Lore's head snapped up from the water, to the direction of the noise. The two girls bolted. Lore went to see who had made the noise. He saw nothing, but heard whatever it was running away.
"Probably some animal," he decided.
Lore made his way back to his shuttle. He didn't need clothes, so he didn't bother replicating any.
"Great ... so I'm stranded here. I'll die of boredom ..."
A few days later Lore was back by the lake again. It didn't take him that long to reach it, as he knew where it was now, but he made sure he avoided the mud pit this time.
Lore heard the same animal watching him again. He decided to stalk it, to see what wildlife on this planet looked like. He approached the being. To his utter surprise the being was a medium tanned humanoid female. My sensors didn't detect any intelligent life. Not that I'd consider humanoids intelligent... Lore walked closer to her. When he was almost on top of her, he grabbed her arm. The girl shrieked. She desperately tried to pull away.
"Who are you?" Lore demanded.
The girl was still in a terrified frenzy.
"Who are you?" Lore repeated.
"My name is Solha ..." she said, shivering. "Please let me go... Do not hurt me ... Please do not eat me."
Lore frowned. "Eat you? I'm not going to eat you ... or hurt you," he said, feeling uncomfortable. No one had ever begged him not to eat them before.
Solha calmed tremendously. "Thank you, Golden Man."
"Your skin is golden and you have golden eyes. My sister and I saw you a few days ago, and I told my village about you."
"Village?" Lore felt uncomfortable. "How many people in your village?"
"Eight. We are the last surviving people of our race."
"You mean there are only eight people on this entire planet?"
Solha nodded. "The storms above rage for most of the year, but they are only far up in the air."
"How old are you?"
"Sixteen," the girl replied. "Almost seventeen. Are you a God?"
A God .... Lore thought. If I say that I am, these people will worship the ground I walk on .... Lore began to smile. He then stopped. What am I doing? I'm sick of controlling people out of fear. The colonists were afraid of me, so were the Pakleds and the Borg were terrified. I want these people to accept me for what I am ... if that's possible. It's not too late to change now, is it? ...
"No," he said. "I'm an android."
Solha frowned. "What is an Ann Droyd?"
"A mechanical life form," Lore said, amazed that she didn't even know what an android was.
"Oh," Solha said, still confused. "Where are you from?"
Lore wondered how to tell her. "Uh, I'm from ...." he pointed upwards, "another planet."
Solha smiled. "A visitor from the stars," she said. "Another visited us a few summers ago. You survived the storms. You are most welcome. Come, I will take you to meet my family."
Lore wondered if she was nice, naive or stupid, or all three. Before he could say anything, she was pulling him by the arm in the direction of her village, and Lore followed.
The trek took about half an hour.
"This is my village," Solha said.
Lore looked around. A few shoddy huts, open and very limited shelter.
"Solha, where have you been?" a woman scalded.
Solha turned around. "At the lake, Mother. This is the Golden Man I was telling you about."
"Then it was true..."
Solha nodded. "Golden Man, this is my sister, Shalona."
Lore smiled at her, then became embarrassed, as he realised he wasn't wearing anything.
"Uhh, do you guys have any clothes I can wear? Mine kind of got wrecked ..."
"It is hot weather," the mother said. "You do not need clothes, but we will give you some for when the Winter comes."
The woman entered her hut and returned with a piece of cloth to cover his private parts, and a drape of fur and wool for the colder months.
"Thanks," he said, tying the cloth around him and draped the fur over his shoulder.
"Will you not you join us for dinner?" Solha asked.
"Solha," her mother said, scalding. "We do not invite strangers to dinner. We do not even know where he is from."
"He is a visitor from the stars, from another world. Please can he stay, Mother?"
Lore was finding the whole scenario quite amusing. Solha's mother gave in, but was clearly not happy about it.
"Solha, come here," she said, entering their hut.
The daughter followed.
"You know we have barely enough food for ourselves in these tough times."
"I know, Mother, but we can share, can we not? And he must be hungry..."
Lore came into the hut. "Listen," he said. "I don't want to intrude."
"You are not," Solha smiled.
"I don't need to eat," he said.
"You do not?" Solha's voice rose with surprise. "Don't you ever get hungry?"
Lore shook his head. "But thanks for the offer."
Solha smiled. "Another thing .... How did you hear us? We were whispering."
"I've got good ears and eyes," Lore said.
"Do not ask too many questions, Solha," her mother scalded. "It is rude."
"It's all right," Lore said. "Look, I gotta go."
"You may stay here," Solha's mother said. "We have a spare bed."
"I've got a place to stay," Lore said, "but thanks anyway."
Lore turned and left on hi way, back to the shuttlecraft. Solha watched him go. She looked at her mother and sighed.
"Isn't he wonderful ...."
* * *
A few days later, Lore saw Solha was bathing in the lake.
"I had a feeling you'd be here."
Solha smiled and swam to him. "Hello, Golden Man."
"My name's Lore," he said.
"Lore," Solha repeated. "It is a beautiful name."
"Where do you live? If you don't mind me asking."
"Come with me. I'll show you."
Lore walked with her to his shuttle. He opened the hatch and showed her inside.
"It's wondrous!" she gasped in awe.
Lore had cleaned up since the crash.
"Where did you get this hut? Did you make it?"
"It's not a hut," Lore explained. "It's a shuttle. I was travelling through the stars inside it. I tried to land on this planet, but crashed here."
"So it is broken?"
"Can you fix it?"
"I tried. It's kaput."
"It won't work again."
"Oh, so you are stranded here? You cannot go home?"
I never had a home Lore thought, but all he said was, "yes."
"I wish I could help you," Solha said upset, feeling sorry for him. She looked outside. "There is a storm brewing. May I stay here tonight?"
"Is the storm as fierce as ..."
"Oh no," Solha said," but last time I was lost in a storm... and I was very frightened. It took me weeks to find my way home, and there are vicious animals out there ... They seldom come out in the day, and they are frightened of the village, but at night..."
"All right," Lore said, giving a half smile. "I just have to get something." He left the shuttle, but not before Solha cautioned him to beware of the wild animals. He wondered how to tell her exactly what an android was, without having her reject him.
* * *
Lore later returned with some nuts and berries.
"Solha," he said, but she was nowhere to be found. "Solha?"
There was no reply. Lore looked around, but she was nowhere in sight. He began to get angry. He'd spent quite a while gathering the nuts and berries for her and she's split. He put the goodies in a compartment and bashed a console in anger. A panel crashed onto the floor, and there was Solha, curled up, sleeping contentedly away in the shuttle's engine compartment. Lore's anger disappeared. He was grateful he had not woken her. He waited patiently until morning.
Solha dazedly opened her eyes and yawned. "Lore?" She climbed out of the compartment and stood. Lore smiled and brought her the nuts and berries. She nibbled on some and offered Lore some.
"I don't need to eat."
"But you can eat, can you not?"
He nodded, and took a few from her. She smiled as she watched Lore put them into his mouth, chew and swallow.
Lore felt his face; his body drawing closer to hers. He tried to stop himself, but he couldn't. Solha felt the same, then they kissed gently.
Lore broke away. I'm sorry."
"Do not be," she said. "I want it too."
Then he realest - she loved him. He didn't know what to say or do. He found himself feeling embarrassed at being attracted toward her. She was a biologic, and a child at that.
"Listen, Solha ... this is wrong."
"What is wrong?"
"This. You're too young - a child and ..."
"A child!" she fumed. "I am not a child. I will have you know that I have reached the age of decision."
Lore almost laughed at her display of anger, but he kept a straight face. "Age of decision?"
"Yes. Once a person reached the age, she, or he can decide what they want to do with their life."
"But you're still so young."
"Maybe, but I love you, Lore ... Golden Man..."
"Solha, I'm not used to this. Being around humans for so long, a person of the age of sixteen is considered to be still a child."
"Well, if that's the way you feel - hmph!" Solha threw the berries into his face and stormed out of the shuttle and ran away in tears.
Lore wanted to be angry, but he was not and he decided not to chase her, in fear of making matters worse.
Solha arrived at the village puffed out an in tears.
"What's the matter?" her mother asked. "Where were you last night?"
"I stayed with the Golden Man. When I came back I was chased by a Tarammba beast."
Her mother looked at her. "Do not lie to me, Solha. You were chased by no beast. It is that Golden Man, is it not?"
"No ... it's not ..."
"Yes it is. What did he do to you?"
"Nothing, mother, just..."
"LEAVE ME ALONE!!"
Solha bolted. Her mother called after her, but she was gone.
"I will talk to her, Mother," Shalona offered, going after her sister.
Solha sat by the lake, let her feet dangle in the water and cried. Shalona found her there and sat next to her.
"How did you know where I was?"
"You always come here when you are upset ... Listen, I want to help you."
"You are not helping. Go away."
"Solha, why do you like the Golden Man?"
Solha sighed. "He's beautiful, Shalona..."
Although none of them were aware, Lore was concealed behind a large bush, watching them.
"... He's got the most gorgeous body I have ever seen and his face ... He's so beautiful ... and he's got a big -"
"Is that why you like him, Solha?"
The other shook her head. "He's been so kind to me. No one has ever been as kind to me as he has ... And last night he let me sleep in his modern hut. He calls it a shuttle. It's actually his craft which he crashed here in. He's trapped here and I feel sorry for him. He probably wants to go back to his people. This morning he brought me a bowl of rain nuts and sweet jooba berries - and we kissed. It was unlike anything I have ever known ... He was so gentle ..."
"Do you love him?"
Solha nodded. "More than anything."
Lore watched from behind the bushed. No one had ever felt this way toward him before. No one had ever truly loved him.
"But," Shalona said.
"But he said I was too young and that I was still only a child."
"You are, Solha."
"But I've reached the age of decision."
Shalona nodded. "Yes, I know, but you are still very young and well, naive and immature in some ways and ... perhaps you are a child to him. Perhaps his people reach the age of decision much later in life. Did you consider that? You might have hurt or offended him."
Solha shook her head. "I must admit I did not and I did not mean to upset him. His people are different ... You are wise, Shalona..."
At that moment, a wild boar like Tarammba beast leapt out of the bushes and carried off Shalona in its mouth. Solha leapt up and screamed in horror. Lore was already tearing after the beast. He caught up to it and saw it about to tear Shalona apart. He aimed the phaser at t and set it to kill. The beast saw Lore out of the corner of its eye and lunged for him, knocking him of balance and the phaser out of his hand. It tried to dig its sharp claws into him. Solha caught up to them. She the beast and Lore rumbling. Terrified, she stayed out of the way. Lore grabbed the creature's throat and pushed it away from him with such force, he broke its neck. It fell limply to the ground.
"How did you stop the Tarammba?" Solha asked in awe. "They are the strongest beasts on our world."
Lore smiled and stood. Even for him the creature was tough. He retrieved his phaser, fired at the beast to make sure it was dead.
Solha's eyes widened. Lore knelt down to Shalona, who was just regaining consciousness. She was in a state of shock, but alive. Lore calmed her, and Solha told her what Lore had done with the Tarammba. Shalona thanked him and hugged him.
"What is that light which shot at the Tarammba?" Solha asked. "Is it magic?"
"It's a weapon from where I come from," Lore explained. "It's called a phaser."
"But surely it must be magic. Can I have a look at it?"
"Yeah, but be careful." Lore set it to stun and handed it to her.
Solha looked it and looked down the business end.
"No, don't to that," Lore said. "You might shoot yourself."
"Oh? Will It hurt me?"
"No it's set to stun."
Lore stifled a smile. "A phaser has many settings, the lower settings are stun, just to make people unconscious."
"Oh. You use this weapon for defence."
Lore nodded. Perhaps that wasn't entirely true, but he had no wish to hurt anyone here.
Lore brought back the beast he killed to the village. The villagers were eternally grateful to have her back, and not to mention the satisfying meat of the Tarammba which would sustain them for many months.
Lore stayed with the villagers for many more months and got to know them. Besides Solha's family, there were Troian, Bocke and his lady Fionuu, the hunters, who bring food to the village, Vian and her man Boltan, who wove the blankets and made pottery for the village. Shalona, 21 was learning to become a blanket weaver. She also looked after her ageing mother, Muria. The villagers took care of Muria. Her man was killed by a Tarammba beast many Summers ago, leaving her with two children to feed. Solha also looked after her and had decided to become a hunter and pottery maker, both tasks which she enjoyed, but it would be a while before she would hunt Tarammba!
Lore had repaired the sensors on his shuttle. It took months or work, but finally it was done. He tried to repair the other systems, but as hard as he tried, his efforts were futile.
He was beginning to like it very much here. The people accepted him whole heartedly and the atmosphere was always simple and relaxed.
* * *
It had been two years since the Borg incident at Ohniaka Three. The Borg, however had fully recovered, and so had everyone aboard the Enterprise, but ever since that incident, the Federation had been hunting for Lore - in fear that he might perform similar acts of violence again.
The Enterprise had created the tachyon disturbance and gone through the conduit to the planet Lore had colonised with the Borg, 65 light years away from Federation space. They were detecting a strange shuttle energy signature.
"It is definitely the shuttle Lore escaped in, sir," Data said, studying the console. "The energy readouts match it exactly. It has been located on the farthest planet in this system."
"Set a course. Warp eight."
The Enterprise shot off into Warp.
* * *
Lore was inside his shuttle, monitoring the damage the recent storm had done. He had cleared the little flood water out. His sensor gave a sudden blip. Lore walked over to it and checked it.
"This indicates an approaching ship."
Lore frowned then checked it again. He did a double take.
"Oh my God ... It's the Enterprise ...."
In a panic, Lore bolted as fast as he could to the village.
"We're going to have some more visitors from the stars," he said.
"You look worried," Shalona said. "Are they dangerous?"
"Uh ... no ... well, not to you. They won't harm your people in any way, but they are to me."
"But why would they want to hurt you?" Solha asked.
"I did some bad things ... to them .... They've probably come to kill me ..."
"Oh no!" Solha gasped. "Can't you fight them?"
"It's not like that, Solha, they'll send more and ..."
"We can hide you."
"No, that won't work. They can locate me anywhere on this planet. Just don't tell them my name. Refer to me as Golden Man. Oh, and listen carefully. They have one which looks exactly like Me. He's my brother Data."
"But surely your brother will help you?" Solha said.
Lore shook his head. "It's not like that. You can't tell him anything about me. It's complicated, I know, but trust me. Have you got a cloak?"
Fionuu hurried to her hut and brought Lore Bocke's brown cloak.
No sooner had he said that, Lore heard a noise outside. One which he knew only too well. A Federation transporter.
Just as Lore had said, there was one whose resemblance was uncanny, and standing beside him was distinguished looking bald man and a fair faced female with long wavy brown hair and enchanting black eyes.
The bald one spoke. "I'm Captain Picard of the Federation Starship Enterprise."
"I am Lieutenant Commander Data."
"And I'm Deanna Troi."
The woman's gentle flowing voice set the villagers at ease.
"Pleased to meet you," Bocke said. "Please feel welcome."
"Forgive me," Deanna said, "but you act as if you knew we were coming, but I see no evidence of scanners, or..."
"I apologize for our lack of technical knowledge, but we have ways of knowing such things."
Muria led the strangers into her hut and motioned for them to sit down.
"Why have you come here?"
Picard spoke. "We have reason to believe your planet is in danger."
"In what way?"
"A criminal escaped from us approximately two years ago. We have located his shuttlecraft here, it's a form of interstellar-"
"Transportation," Muria completed. I am aware of technology, but we do not posses any. How dangerous is the criminal you speak of?"
The Golden Man's brother spoke "He is responsible for the deaths of many individuals, fraud and theft."
"I have not seen such a man here," Muria said, " and if I ever do see such a man, the Golden Man will protect us."
Picard's brow furrowed. "Golden Man?"
The woman nodded, knowing the Golden Man was the one to whom they were referring. She told him that he had not harmed her people and that he had saved her elder daughter from a terrifying beast and her younger daughter adored him. "He is like a God to us, but he insists we treat him like a person. He has all our respects."
Data leaned toward his captain and spoke in a hushed tone. "Sir, if I may, this Golden Man she describes sounds very unlike Lore. Lore would have more likely killed these people or forced them to believe he was a God."
Picard nodded. "I am inclined to agree, Data." Picard spoke up. "I would like to meet this Golden Man."
"He does not like strangers."
"If he doesn't object I would like to speak with him."
"I do not think he would like-"
"That's all right," came a voice from behind them.
Picard looked up to see a cloaked man.
"I will speak with these strangers to put their minds at ease." The Golden Man spoke in a different voice, then sat down. "Leave us," he said to Muria and her two daughters. When they had gone, he spoke. "I do not wish to offend you, but I do not often speak to strangers, let alone let them see my face."
Picard nodded. "I understand."
"You came to warn us of your escaped criminal."
"Yes. His name is Lore."
"And what to you intend to do with this Lore?"
"He must be disassembled for his crimes."
"Disassembled? - You mean to tell me that you have a death penalty for your criminals?" The Golden Man sounded shocked. "I am sorry, but my people find such a notion absurd and very cruel. You must be very unethical people."
"We ... we didn't mean it like that..." Picard said. "Lore is an android. An android is a ..."
"A mechanical being. We are not totally ignorant of technology, Captain. We have been visited by others."
"Who had androids?" Data asked in surprise.
"No, but we have learned of them. But surely an android is an intelligent life form, and like all mechanical that can be fixed, can they not?"
"Perhaps," Picard considered. "But the behaviour Lore has displayed is dangerous and-"
Deanna Troi motioned to the Captain. "May we talk outside?"
Picard nodded, and left her. Data stayed behind with the cloaked man.
Deanna spoke in a whisper. "I sense that the girl, Solha, is attracted to this Golden Man. And he is definitely hiding something from us. He's terrified of us, that we're going to take him away."
Picard paused for a moment, then his expression changed dramatically. He walked back into the hut and sat down, joined by Deanna.
Picard looked directly at the Golden man. "I know who you are."
There was a pause, then the Golden Man spoke, in his own voice. "An educated guess, Picard."
He removed the hood.
"Golden Man," Picard mocked.
"That's what they call me," Lore said. "I haven't hurt any of these people, Captain, if that's what you want to know. I've been here for over two years and I've grown accustomed to life here."
"Do you really expect me to believe that you, Lore, have found solitude in a primitive village, living amongst biological beings? The very beings you sought to destroy? I'm sorry, but I just don't buy it."
"Captain, do you think a person is incapable of change?"
"I don't see what-"
"Answer the question."
"No," Picard answered. "I don't believe you have changed."
"Well, believe me when I say I have changed. I like it here. I like the people here, even though they're biological. They've given me more in return than anyone ever did."
"How can I be sure you didn't force them into this."
"I didn't force them to do anything..." Lore fought to keep his temper under control. He couldn't risk blowing it all now. They had a right to be suspicious.
"Do you intend to let these people come to harm by either direct or indirect means?"
"No," Lore answered. "They're the only beings in the universe who have ever truly accepted me for who and what I am. I will not turn on my new found friends. Now I realise this might be hard for you to believe. I know what I did in the past and I am sorry for that, but I'm trying to change, Captain, I really am. I could have let these people think I was a God and have them falling about worshipping me. I could have used them as slave labour, but I'm tired of pretending."
"The girl," Deanna said, "Solha..."
The question caught Lore off guard and he felt a tad embarrassed.
"We have a special bond," he said. "I have not hurt her in any way and I don't intend to." And as though he was sensing the next question, Lore added. "No I have not forced her to do anything against her will."
The counsellor seemed satisfied.
There was silence for a while.
"I'm telling the truth," Lore said. "I don't intend to harm any of these people. Isn't that right Counsellor?"
She looked at her Captain. "I'm afraid he's telling the truth, Captain."
"Don't take me away from here ... please. This is the only place I've ever felt at home."
"If I'm not mistaken, you said a similar thing when you were with the Borg."
"I know, but I wasn't sure what I wanted then. I thought I wanted to feel superior, but to be honest I still felt insecure. I don't feel like that here. I know what I want now. I've always wanted to belong and now I do. What do you think, Brother? Do you think I deserve to be disassembled?"
"I do not believe that is a fair judgement, as you say, it is equivalent to the death penalty, but it is not up to be to decide, and I do not believe you should be set free either."
Lore nodded. "So put me on parole or something. I can prove I'm no longer a danger or a threat."
Picard nodded. "All right. From this moment forward you are on parole. The term depends upon you. We will be leaving now, and returning in the next year to check your progress."
A wave of relief rushed through Lore, but he said nothing except, "thank you."
The Captain stood with his officers.
"Just one more thing," Lore said. "I would like to speak to my brother alone."
Picard looked to Data who gave a nod.
"All right, permission granted, but if you even think of taking his place ..."
"Relax, captain. I just want to talk."
Picard cast Lore a dubious eye, but Counsellor Troi gave a nod and the Captain left with her.
Lore sat down and motioned for Data to do the same. Data took a look around the room, then sat.
"Data," Lore began, "I know you may find this difficult to believe, but I feel at home with these people."
"You said the same thing about the Borg."
Lore paused, then, "that was different. I thought, or wanted to believe I belonged with them, but deep inside I felt more alienated than ever."
Data looked his brother in the eye, but said nothing.
"Data, I've been here for a little over two years. If I wanted to kill these people, they'd be dead by now. At first they thought I was a God, and I could have made them worship me, but I said was sick and tired of pretending. That wasn't me and I thought it was high time I realised who I was."
"That is very ... mature of you, Lore."
"But I still think you have a long way to go, but it is ... a good start."
Lore smiled. "So you believe me?"
"It is true what you say. You could have easily overpowered these few people, but you chose not to. That in itself, says something."
"Thank you, brother ... and, listen, I want to apologize for the way I've treated you in the past, it's just that ... I..."
"You were jealous of me, because I was accepted and you were not ... and because, to use a colloquialism, 'I had it better than you.' I have had time to think about your actions and I have grown too, brother. And with the Borg, I realised much later that you must have overcome your jealousy of me, to want me to be with you. In your own way, you were trying to apologize, however warped it may seem."
Lore took a moment to compose himself. "You said it even better than I could. It hasn't been easy for me to admit..."
"I know, Lore, but as I said, you are growing and you have potential."
"Thanks, Data, I think that's the nicest thing you ever said to me."
Data gave a small smile. "I had better be returning."
"We'll be returning in the next year," Picard was informing Solha's mother, when he spied Data emerging from the hut.
"Data ... What was the time difference between this star system and ours?"
"You have forgotten already, Captain? I have relayed this information to you twice already. It is -"
Picard smiled. "Just checking Data."
"Oh, I see, Sir."
Picard tapped his combadge. "Three to beam up."
Data caught one last glimpse of Lore before the three officers dematerialised.
Things in the village began to calm down over the next few weeks. Solha took Lore to the lake, where she took off her covering cloth, and dived into the lake.
"Come in," she beckoned. "Do not be shy."
"Well ... uhh, I just remembered I had to ..."
Solha swam to Lore and pulled him into the water. His covering cloth came undone and rose to the top of the water. Solha grabbed it and tossed it away.
"Swim with me."
A little nervous, Lore swam with her deeper into the water.
"It is all right, Golden Lore."
Solha wrapped her arms and legs around Lore's body and pressed her face to his. Something he wasn't expecting, so he lost balance, pulling them both underwater. The two surfaced, and Solha was smiling.
"Did you like that?"
Lore gave a nervous smile.
"I am sorry if I have offended you," Solha said.
Lore shook his head. "Sorry, I just don't ... I just wasn't ... Oh, what the hell..."
He grabbed Solha, pulled her towards him and kissed her.
Then their lips parted.
"I love you..." Solha said.
Lore gazed into her lovely brown eyes. She was so young, yet so devoted. But he wasn't sure of his feelings toward her. He was scared to love her, in fear of being hurt. He admired her, but love? He wasn't sure if he was ready to make such a commitment.
* * *
Many months later, Solha walked with Lore. It was a quiet day with mild sunlight shining through the trees, and the ocean could be heard, sending her waves upon the shore. Slowly, subtly, the winds began to blow, rusting the trees.
The winds became stronger, and Solha frowned. This was not the usual thing to happen.
They reached the village, and Solha found her mother kneeling on the ground, counting ancient shells, handed down for more generations than there had been sunsets.
Muria looked up at her daughter, great worry in her face.
"My dear daughter, it is the great legend."
Solha shook her head. "But that's only a legend. A silly tale passed on from generation to generation."
"I thought so as well..."
The winds began to get colder and the clouds blocked out the sun.
Solha clutched onto Lore's hand.
"What legend is this?" he asked.
Solha was shivering, and Lore held her. Whatever it was, it was scaring the life out of the villagers.
Solha looked through the clearing, to the ocean, and saw it bubbling. The waves began to get bigger and bigger.
"Oh my God!" She exclaimed in sheer terror. "The legend! It's true!"
* * *
As they had promised, the Enterprise returned.
Captain Picard, Data and Deanna materialised in the village. What met their eyes shocked them. Mutilated bodies lay everywhere. Deanna gagged and clutched onto Data's arm.
"Do you wish to return to the Enterprise, Counsellor?" Data asked, concerned.
She took a deep breath and nodded. Data looked at the Captain and he have the go ahead.
Troi tapped her communicator. "Enterprise ... one to... beam up..."
"I can't ..." came the reply from the ship. "Something down there's shielding transporter activity."
"Can you beam any weapons down to us?" Picard asked.
"Negative, Sir, but I'm trying to compensate for the disturbance. I'll keep you posted."
"I'm sorry, Counsellor, but you're just going to have to bear with the discomfort."
"... Yes, Sir."
The officer looked around. Although only seven bodies lay on the ground, the mutilations made it look like much more. Picard scanned the gross carnage.
"It seems their Golden Man tarnished ..."
Data shook his head.
"You don't think it was Lore, Data?" Deanna asked.
"It is not that, Counsellor. The last time he was here, we talked and he seemed to be much improved. I got the impression he cared about these people. I know Lore has killed many other people in the past, but indirectly, and their deaths were instant and painless ... I cannot believe even he would do such a thing."
"We all know what a liar Lore is. Perhaps he was just telling you what you wanted to hear."
Data nodded, seeming sad. "If that is the case, I will deal with him."
"But I sensed no deception," Deanna said.
The Away Team arrived at Lore's shuttle.
Data entered, but he could not see Lore. "Perhaps he is hiding."
"Perhaps he's not here ... wait .. I'm sensing someone inside the engine ... someone terrified ..."
Data ran to the engine and ripped off the panel. Solha dashed out screaming hysterically. She calmed down when she saw Data.
"You ... oh, you are the Golden One's brother. You have returned."
"Yes, " Data said. "We saw what happened in the village." Tears streamed down Solha's face. "We must leave before the Great Monster returns."
"She must mean Lore," Data said quietly to his Captain.
Picard bashed his combadge. "Chief, have you got a fix on us?"
"Yes, Sir, but I'm still having trouble with the transporter."
"Well hurry. " Picard turned to Solha "Where is Lore?" he demanded.
"We ran away," Solha said. "There was nothing he could do to save my people. We came here. I hid from the monster. Lore tried to protect me and the monster ... ate him ..."
"Ate him!" Deanna exclaimed, sharing surprised looks with the others.
Solha nodded in tears. "It happened not very long ago. We must leave before the Monster returns..."
"So Lore did not hurt the villagers?" Picard said.
"Oh, no. He is our protector. He wanted to save them, but he couldn't. He said he'd never forgive himself. He died trying to save me ..."
A almighty deafening roar was heard.
Solha screamed. "It's the Great Monster!"
The ground began shuddering under the creature's weight. The
huge grotesque approached. It rather resembled a cross between a tyrannosaurs rex, a raptor, and Godzilla Picard thought.
Deanna gasped and drew back.
"What is it, Counsellor? Do you sense anything from the monster?"
She shook her head. "It's mind is too primitive .... But Lore's inside it, sir, and he's still alive ... and terrified."
Picard's eyes widened. "Can he break out of it?"
Deanna shook her head. "No, sir. It's too strong for him, and his life force is weakening ... if we don't do something now ..."
Picard bashed his combadge. "Transporter Chief?"
"Yes, Sir. I believe I can transport through the disturbance and there's something else registering on the monitor -- something big."
"You don't say. I want you to lock onto a life form inside the creature."
"Yes. Transport him directly to sickbay - and hurry! And as soon as you've done that, get us out of here - fast!"
The Monster roared and snorted as it felt Lore transporting, then it came form the others. Data tried to hold it off, as it came to get him with an open mouth.
"Don't!" exclaimed Solha. "That's exactly what your brother tried to do."
Data let go and tumbled away, as the monster shut it's jaws. Had Data still been there, it would have bitten him in half. The crew felt relieved as they felt the transporter beam grip them. Solha felt afraid, as she wasn't sure what was happening.
* * *
Picard, Data, Deanna and Solha arrived in sickbay and saw Lore lying on a bed.
"I've cleaned him up, Captain," Dr. Crusher said. "But he still hasn't regained consciousness. It'll take a few hours for his systems to come back on line."
Data walked toward his brother and stood by the bed.
"Solha," said the Captain, "you stay with Data and the Doctor. I'm needed on the bridge."
Solha walked toward Data.
"This is a wondrous ... vessel you have," but Data could tell she cared more about Lore. Truth be known, he did too.
"Solha, would you like to see my office, Beverly asked. "I think Data needs time alone with his brother."
Solha followed Beverly inside.
Lore slowly began to regain consciousness. He strained his eyes and tried to sit up.
"Do not strain yourself, Brother," Data said.
Lore opened his eyes. "How can I be here?"
"We transported you out and ..."
"They're all dead aren't they? I didn't kill them, Data..." Lore said, desperately. "Please believe me. I didn't-"
"I know ..."
"And Solha ... I hadn't realised how much I loved her until now. Damn those creatures! Damn them all to hell!"
Lore's head spun around. "Solha!"
She ran to him and threw her arms around him and he did the same. "Thank God you're all right ..."
She smiled. "I could say the same for you."
Solha met with Captain Picard. "I need to ask a favour of you. We can never return to my planet. We need you to take us away."
"Our ethics forbid us from destroying life, but in this case... We could use our ship's phasers, they're powerful enough weapons to destroy this monster of yours."
"That is a remarkable feat, but the legend predicts that there are millions of similar monsters under the sea, and each day from the first, more will surface. You could not possibly kill them all. The Great Legend prophesies that on the three thousandth year, the monsters will take over our world. Until recently, the legend was thought to be just an old tale, used to scare children into behaving."
Lore turned to Picard. "Captain, this may sound a little forward, but could Solha and I borrow a shuttle for a while? Until we find a place to settle..."
Picard sighed. "The Federation are still not quite sure about you, but Data and Deanna are and they have convinced me. We have quite a few shuttles. I guess you can have one."
"Thank you, Sir. Are you sure?"
"Well, I don't expect to get it back."
Lore smiled. "Thanks ... and if you don't mind, I'd like a few words with my brother ... in private."
In respect, Solha and Picard left the two androids alone.
"Data, I believe this is yours." Lore handed him the chip. "Dr. Crusher removed it and I thanked her for it. I shouldn't've taken it, but I thought it would fix me."
Data nodded. "I thought as much. Thank you, Lore."
"I am trying to understand what you must be feeling. You have always wanted a place to belong, and now that has been taken away from you."
"Lore nodded. I still have Solha. She's something to live for. I don't know what I would have done if she had died."
"You love her, do you not?"
Lore nodded and pointed to the chip. "Yes, Brother, I do. Perhaps with that you'll know what it means to love. It's a wonderful feeling."
Data smiled gently.
* * *
Lore entered the shuttle with Solha, who was now fully clothed.
"I'll teach you everything you want to know about technology."
Lore piloted the shuttle clear of the Enterprise.
"Where are we going, Golden man?"
"You can call me Lore ... and who knows? There's a whole Universe out there."
"Thank you, Lore for everything. I'll miss my old home and my family, but thanks to you I've found a new one."
Lore held her hand. "I am truly sorry for your loss."
"My family and friends are amongst the stars now. We no longer need to grieve for them."
Lore smiled and hugged Solha tight, but being careful not to hurt her. "Thanks to you I finally know what home means." And he kissed her gently.
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