Disclaimers: Star Trek was created by Gene Roddenberry and is owned by Paramount Pictures.
I make no monetary profits from my fanfic.
Summary: Lore's afterlife.
Author's Note: Inspired by Julie Evans' beautiful fanfic entitled Waiting
INTO THE LIGHT
"I love you, Bro...ther..."
It had been something eating away at Lore for a long time. He had been wanting to tell Data that ever since he first saw him, but couldn't even admit it to himself. He'd been too embarrassed and angry. Fear raced around inside him now. He was terrified that if he didn't tell Data now, he might never get another chance. Data seemed unmoved by Lore's parting words, but then that was Data. Impassive. Perhaps he did understand. Then again, perhaps not. When Lore uttered those words, they were more than just words, and he smiled slightly, feeling a warm inner peace settle within, whether or not Data believed him. Inside, Lore knew he had never been more sincere.
He felt alive, but that was impossible. He felt himself die. There was a flicker of hope, that perhaps he had been reassembled and reactivated. That flicker died when Lore opened his eyes to find himself staring down at his lifeless body, slumped over the chair. He gasped, his hand flying instantly over his mouth in shock, and he saw Data kneeling before him.
"I am sorry, Lore, but you left me no choice."
Lore was surprised - not at Data's words - at himself. He had expected to be furious and want to deactivate and disassemble Data, to see how he liked it, but found himself silently forgiving his brother. Data stood to leave.
Lore stared after him, horrified. "Oh, God, you're not going to leave me here ... Data, please..."
Data did not respond. In tears, Lore watched his brother leave. He waited a few moments and wiped his tears away, and looked down at his body.
"You stupid idiot! " Lore cursed, knowing he had only himself to blame. "Oh why the hell didn't I see this before?" He kicked at his head and jerked backwards as his foot passed harmlessly through.
Lore breathed a sigh of relief when he saw Data return. He watched his brother kneel down and pick up his body.
"Enterprise," Data said, thorough the open com-link. "One to beam up."
Just as the transporter took hold, Lore leapt into the beam.
In a panic Lore looked at himself. For one terrible moment he feared he might have dispersed in the beam, but he was whole and on the transporter platform of the Enterprise, right behind Data. He reasoned with relief that the transporter chief could not see him either.
* * *
Lore stood in a large science lab, where Data had taken his body. He heard Data assign Ensign Chriswey to be in charge of the disassembly, as she had completed a very interesting Academy thesis on cybernetics and had come just two points behind Data's, who held the record high mark.
Lore didn't want to look at his now naked, defenceless body lying on the table but felt he had to. He was frightened, although he knew nothing could harm him now. It was not an easy thing, watching your body about to be literally taken to pieces. He wanted to run and hide, but he knew he couldn't hide from himself. A pitiful tear rolled down his cheek as he looked at his chassis again. What had once been so strong and powerful was now utterly helpless. He looked up for a moment, realising that now power was not in the physical form, but in the heart and soul. There were many things the extraordinary android abilities could not give him ... love and friends, and he knew he had used his abilities wrongly. Lore looked at his body again, wishing it was someone else. He shut his eyes for a moment, wishing it was all a bad dream. He would wake up in his old quarters on the Omicron Theta colony, like Dorothy in Kansas and start all over again. But he knew that was a fantasy. Lore forced his eyes open to face the cold reality. This is what he had done with his life and he knew he'd hadn't made the best of it.
"Why didn't anyone tell me, or help me ..." then he paused. "It's my fault. I should've taken another path ... I should have realised ... How could I have been so damn blind? ... So stupid..." He bit his lower lip. "Why couldn't I have seen this before? Why didn't I see it coming? ... It's so clear to me now... before, I was sure what I was doing was right, but now I know it was wrong .... Is it too late to set things right?"
Lore almost jumped when he heard the doors to the lab open, then jerked. "Do you mind!?" he snapped fiercely as the two engineers walked right through his ghostlike form and approached his body.
"Great ..." said one. "I've got better things to do."
The second one nodded in agreement. "Give us the schematics. We've gotta do this right. Commander Data won't be pleased if we damage it."
It. Lore winced at that and felt anger welling up within him. They have better things to do, do they? Why don't they just piss off and do them? How would they like it if they were about to be taken apart? He glared at the two humans studying his schematics.
"It should be simple enough," said one.
"Where should we start?"
"Who cares? The sooner we dismantle it the better."
Lore winced again at those words, and his face showed the pain he was feeling. He wanted to yell at them, but what good would that do? Perhaps he deserved this; nonetheless, he didn't want it to happen to him - again. 'Dismantle' was such an ugly, horrible word. One used for taking apart things, not sentient life forms, but then life didn't get taken apart. Was a sentient android any different? He preferred the word disassemble - it sounded less horrible, even though they both meant the same thing. Frankly he hated anything to do with being taken apart. It was sickening. It wouldn't happen to a human or any biological life form. It was not fair.
"Let's start with its head and move down from there," one of the engineers said.
"Please don't treat me like a piece of junk," Lore pleaded, tears in his eyes, knowing they could neither see nor hear him. He watched them disconnect his head and wanted to throw up.
"Come on, the sooner we dismantle this thing, the sooner we can go to the holodeck and try out that new amusement program."
The other grinned. "Yeah... Let's dismantle this thing and get it over with."
Lore winced again. "Stop it! Stop it!" He looked at the two humans. This was how the colonists had treated him ... and he felt guilty about what he had done to them now. He only wished they would understand that he was alive, not some piece of junk. Even though his body showed no sign of life, he was alive. Lore tried to forgive the engineers for the way they were treating him, and wondered if he were back in his body and functioning what he would do with them. He shook his head. He wouldn't kill them. There had already been too much killing and he wanted it to stop. He knew he could do it if he was given a chance. Was it too late for that now? Lore's attention was diverted to a small young woman in a Starfleet uniform who had come from the other part of the lab, approaching the two men.
"Excuse me?" she demanded, looking at the two engineers.
She looked at them expectantly. "I have been put in charge of this operation, and I will have you know that 'this thing' you are taking apart happens to be a sentient life form."
Lore's eyes perked, and he listened.
"Perhaps you haven't heard what it did down there," snarled one of the engineers with a touch of sarcasm.
The brown-haired woman scowled. "I know what he did, and I also know of the other things he's done."
"And you're telling me that it doesn't deserve to get dismantled?"
"Tell me, Lieutenant," she said. "Do you consider Data to be alive?"
"Of course I do. What sort of a question is-"
"Well - it," she said with sarcasm, "is his brother and it's illogical to assume that Lore is any less alive just because he was 'evil.' Perhaps he could have been rehabilitated."
Lore winced at being referred to in the past tense. It felt like a cloud of doom hanging over him, as if it was truly over.
"I don't think anyone could help Lore," one of the engineers retorted. "I mean i... he's unstable, erratic, and frankly I don't really care."
Lore made a rude finger gesture at the man, then slapped his hand. He was trying his best not to lose his temper at this human's ignorance.
"Perhaps you'd see differently if you were in his shoes," the woman snapped.
"Listen, Ensign," said the other, "your concern is, well... out of place here. I mean it's just an android - artificial. A machine."
Lore flinched at those words.
The woman glared into the engineer's eyes. "Well, why don't you tell that to Commander Data? I mean he's 'just an android' as well."
"Well ... that's different..."
"Is it? You know Data is alive, so therefore his life is not artificial. How would you like it if someone called you artificial - that your life wasn't real? Who are we humans to say that someone isn't alive just because they're made up of different parts than we are? Both Data and Lore are mechanical life forms - no less alive or living than any humanoid. Only a stupid fool wouldn't realise that."
"How can a bunch of circuits be alive?"
Chriswey shook her head in disbelief. "I don't believe I'm hearing this! How can a bunch of organic tissue be alive?" She grabbed the skin on her arm and shook it vigorously. "Don't ask why. I don't know. There's no explanation for it, and yet people have been searching for an answer since the dawn of time, but the fact is that we are alive. Life is a miracle, no matter its form."
"Well ... perhaps this is a good topic to discuss," the other engineer said, feeling guilty, "but we'd like to get this over and done with so we..."
"Can play your stupid Risa Girls holodeck program, well go."
"...Commander Data ordered us to take apart Lore."
"He put me in charge of this operation I am well aware that you both outrank me, but and I can't take any more of your ... rudeness or prejudice. Dismissed."
"But, Ensign, we were-"
"Dismissed. Or I will report this to the captain. I'm sure he'd be very pleased to hear of prejudice toward other life forms within the Starfleet ranks and I'm sure Data'll be very interested to hear how you're regarding his brother."
For an Ensign, she sure was forceful. The men nodded apologetically. So they should. Chriswey had made her point and stood firm by it. Lore stepped aside as they went out. It was a horrid sensation to have someone walk straight through you, then he gave his attention to Ensign Chriswey.
"I didn't want to do this..." she sighed as she walked around the table to where the man had put Lore's head. She looked at it sadly, then ran her hands down his face and closed his eyes. Lore smiled and felt grateful. The empty blankness in his white eyes had sent frightening, chilling shivers down his body. He watched as she ran her hands through his dark hair.
"You're quite cute, you know."
Lore smiled. "You're not too bad yourself."
At that moment, Chriswey's head jerked up. She stared at Lore and gaped, almost dropping his head as she backed up against the wall. "You... but you ..." she gasped, eyes wide as planets.
"You can see me?" Lore stated, bewildered.
She nodded hurriedly, about to go for her communicator.
"There's no need for that," Lore said, and he demonstrated by sticking his hand through the closed door and dragging it back in effortlessly. Chriswey stared in disbelief.
"What's the matter?" Lore asked. "You look as though you've seen a ghost."
The ensign managed a weak smile.
"Don't worry," Lore continued, "even if I could hurt you, I wouldn't. I don't want to. I ... well, I guess I ... I want to thank you for..."
Chriswey started to calm. "It's all right. All my life I've hated prejudice of any sort. I studied prejudice on Earth, until the late 22nd Century, when it was finally abolished and it baffles me how anyone could be against another person just because of their skin colour, nationality, beliefs, religion, background ... It's all so senseless. Why couldn't they see that they were all people, despite their differences? I'm glad there's no more prejudice like that on Earth."
Lore had often wondered when androids would be universally accepted as life forms. Sooner, rather than later, he hoped. Perhaps if there were more of them. Fortunately, a lot of people, he had learned, did accept androids as sentient life forms, otherwise Data would never have been able to enter Starfleet. The people on the Enterprise had accepted him and regarded Data as a close friend, but Lore hadn't realised that until later. He'd been blinded by his hatred for humanity. He wished had he seen that now, then things could have been different for him. He knew he couldn't change the past, and he must go on, hoping he had a future to look forward to.
"What if there was prejudice on Earth now?" he asked, also thinking racism was silly and imbecilic.
"I guess I would have stayed on Earth and become a peacemaker or something. At least then I wouldn't have to wear this silly uniform." Chriswey tugged at it, and Lore smiled. "I can never get it to look right. Neither the style nor the colours suit me. I don't know if I'll stay in Starfleet. One of the reasons I joined was because of Data. I was thrilled when I heard an android had been accepted into the Academy. I'm very interested in cybernetics, so I want to pursue that."
Lore smiled. "Perhaps you'll become better than Dr. Soong."
Chriswey smiled. "I doubt it, but I'll try."
"What's your name?"
"I know that. Your first name."
"Oh, sorry. I'm Michaela. That's another thing I don't like about Starfleet. It's so formal."
Lore smiled. "That's a nice name. I'm ... well, you know who I am."
Michaela smiled, then there was a pause for a while.
"You know, some of the things those guys said about me were true ... I did cause the deaths of a lot of people, and I guess I deserve to be punished for that."
"Perhaps," Michaela said, "but I objected to the way they were regarding you."
"So did I."
"Even though you may be 'evil' ... well, I've always been a sucker for hard luck cases. I studied all the information I could about you, even pried my way into some locked files. Shhh. Don't tell Data." Lore smiled as she continued. "I must admit, I've always been fascinated by you, but I never told anyone. I've always thought that maybe someone could help you. You know, fix you or something."
Lore smiled, sincere. "Thanks ... I didn't think anyone had ever really considered that. Up until now I have always hated humans because I thought you were all like the colonists on Omicron Theta. If you think those two engineers were bad, you should have seen what I had to suffer on the colony."
Michaela felt for him and felt a pang of resentment for the colonists. "I felt it may have been something like that."
Even if Lore had taken the wrong path or a wrong turn somewhere, she didn't believe he should be treated like junk. She was sure he could be fixed and helped. "I did a paper on counselling," she said, "if that's any help. Got good marks too, but when it came to the crunch, I chose cybernetics."
"Stick with that," Lore said. "Maybe you can fix me one day."
Michaela was pleasantly surprised at his suggesting that. "Do you really think I could become that good?"
"If you stick to it. I mean even my father had to start somewhere."
"I guess. You know, for an oh-so-evil android, you're really not all that bad."
Lore gave her a smile. "Believe me, I was, but I've learned a great deal in the past few hours. It's amazing, but sad that it's only now that I can see it."
"Perhaps you'll get another chance someday."
"I sure hope so, and I hope it's soon. I don't know what to do... or where to go ... Am I condemned to wander endlessly? I dare say the gates of Heaven won't part for me."
"Don't be so sure."
"I appreciate your ... words, but I've hardly been an Angel."
"Neither have I."
"Have you ever willingly caused over six hundred people to die?"
Michaela was silent.
"I'm sorry," Lore said, "but it's only now that I'm feeling sorry for what I did ... if only I'd seen it before..."
Michaela sighed. She so wanted to help him, but what could she do? She would never get permission to reactivate him, even if she told others what had transpired here.
"I don't know what else to say to you, except that I hope you do get your fondest wish someday, Lore."
Lore smiled. "So do I," then his face became worried. "Data's coming."
"How can you tell?"
He shook his head. "I don't know. I just can." He walked to the other side of the lab, around the corner, away from Michaela. The last thing he wanted was for her to be distracted by him and have Data think she'd gone mad. He reasoned why Michaela could see him was that she cared about him. Data hadn't seen him before, so Lore didn't think it'd be any different now ... did that mean that Data didn't care about him? Lore felt he couldn't blame his brother for that. Still, it hurt deeply. The doors parted and Data entered to see Lore's body lying on the table, still virtually intact.
"I had expected you to be finished by now," he said. "Where are the two lieutenants I assigned to this task?"
Chriswey stood firm. "I saw fit to dismiss them. I found their prejudicial remarks offensive."
"Were they directed toward Lore?"
"Some of them, but they were also directed toward androids in general." Michaela didn't like to think of herself as a tatter tale, but she felt she had to bring the matter to Data's attention.
The android gave a nod. "I shall speak to them."
She nodded in approval. "With all due respect, sir, I know Lore's committed quite serious crimes, but I do not believe he should be treated in this manner. I realise you had no choice, but I was wondering what was going to happen to him after he is disassembled, if you don't mind my asking."
"Of course not, Ensign. You are curious. I understand." There was a short pause, which was quite long where Data was concerned. "I have not yet decided, to be truthful."
Lore listened, feeling a tight knot tie in his middle. His throat became tense, and he swallowed. He stood firm, as a cold shiver took hold, traversing his body, starting at his feet, and slowly upwards. Lore closed his eyes for a moment as he felt the tension in his brain, and he almost blanked out I that was possible for a spirit.
"Perhaps he can be fixed since he's unstable," Michaela suggested. "Now you've removed the chip, shouldn't that help?"
"I understand. You're still angry with him for-"
"I cannot be angry, Ensign."
"Well, you know what I mean, sir. It must not have been a desirable experience."
Data shook his head. "It was not."
Lore winced at that but knew she was right, and he was sorry for it, more than anything. He had matured enough now to allow Data to be his own person, even if Data wasn't like him. He had grown to appreciate their differences, no longer resenting them. He hoped to someday come back to Data, to learn from him and teach him in a way Data would benefit. He was through with being selfish and wanted to help his brother. He needed Data to understand and help him, not to discard him like a pile of scrap. But how could he tell Data that now?
"So what's going to happen to Lore?" Michaela asked.
Lore felt the tension grip him again.
"I have not ruled out the possibility that he can someday be repaired."
Lore sighed with relief at hearing Data say that. Silently and sincerely, he thanked him. In fact he felt he wouldn't have blamed Data if he'd told Ensign Chriswey to shove his parts out of an airlock, to disperse them, but was extremely grateful that didn't happen. After all, cruelty wasn't in Data's nature, and Lore was proud to say that it would no longer be part of his.
"Disassembling him will not be a pleasant task," Chriswey said, looking at Lore's headless body.
"I realise that, but I trust you to complete it, Ensign," Data said, about to leave.
"Sir," Michaela called after him, and Data turned around. "Do you believe in ghosts ... or spirits?"
"I have never seen one," Data said, "and there are no logical or scientific explanations for how they are able to exist, but I have seen many things in my life that I would never have believed to be possible."
"Is that a yes?"
"I cannot say if they exist or not. I believe I will have to see one first."
"Ensign," Data said, looking at her, "if you are asking me if Lore has a ghost or spirit, I would have to say that is very farfetched and very unlikely indeed."
Lore spoke up. "Oh ye of little faith..."
At that moment Data spun around, eyes wide, and his hand flew up to his communicator, but Michaela stopped him.
"It's all right, Sir."
"You can see me now ..." Lore said, surprised.
Data nodded. "How could I not?"
Lore sliced his hand through the console. Seeing it pass right through surprised Data even more.
Lore looked at him. "Do you believe in the supernatural now?"
Data was speechless but let his hand at the communicator drop to his side.
"Are you going to fix me one day?"
Data looked at him. The question was blunt and to the point, with an almost childlike innocence to it. Data heard the hope and fear in Lore's voice and also saw it in his eyes.
"I know what I did was wrong," Lore said, "and I don't expect you to ever forgive me, but at the very least give me a chance...Please, Data..."
Before the other could respond, a bright pale yellowish light began to appear behind Lore. He turned around, to see it growing larger and saw illuminated humanoid forms appearing within. One of them began beckoning toward Lore, but he refrained from responding.
"Go into the light, Lore," Michaela urged gently. "You need to."
Lore shook his head, frightened, but found himself being drawn toward it. There he saw the person who had been beckoning. His father. Lore stared at the old man, then looked into his eyes, expecting to see anger, hatred and disappointment. Instead he saw only love, gentleness, and forgiveness in those old blue eyes. He looked at the other people around him, seeing faces he recognised as the Omicron Theta colonists and some he didn't know. Yet somehow he knew they were the people the Borg had killed on Ohniaka Three. Fearful, Lore began to back away, but Noonian gently took his hand.
"Why am I here?" Lore asked, his voice shaky and barely audible. "Why didn't I go ..." He pointed downward.
His father smiled. "My son, you've realised your wrong-doings, but you've got too much potential to go that way."
Lore managed a small smile. He couldn't bring himself to look at the people around him, so he turned back to Data and Michaela and pointed to his body.
"Take me apart," he said, "but be gentle."
"I will," she promised.
Lore smiled at her.
"I will ensure that your parts are well looked after, Lore," Data said. "I do want to help you."
Lore felt a wave of relief take him. "Thank you," he said, sincere, "I love you."
Data looked into Lore's eyes. "I know, Brother."
Lore felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude, then Dr. Soong took his hand. Lore stayed close by his father, clinging to his hand, like a timid, shy child, frightened by the other people. What were they going to do to him, now they were all equals? But he noticed they were not giving him looks of disgust, anger or hate, nor were they rejecting him. They were glad to have him with them. He could see the gentleness and forgiveness in their eyes and was overwhelmed by it. He looked back to see Data and Michaela, but they were no longer there. In their place was more pale yellow light, now surrounding everyone within.
A bright white light cascaded down from above, in front of Lore brighter than the yellow. He now knew this was his true calling. To go into the light. He gained the courage to let his father's hand go. Noonian smiled, now a young man. He watched Lore enter the special light. Lore found himself no longer wanting to hurt others, but to help them. He was confident that he would get his chance. And his fondest wish be fulfilled. He felt his uneasiness and fear beginning to subside as the gentle, warm light showered down upon him.
And he slowly began to Ascend.
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