Second Officer's orders: No matter how long the acknowledgements are, please read this page before continuing, or this novel will self-combust.
- Please excuse my friend's latest attempt of 'humor', but he was watching Mission Impossible late last night - or was that Inspector Gadget? ...
"Second Officer's Personal Log, EarthDate, 2004
Author's explanations, acknowledgements and stuff:
I spent eleven years on this novel, writing it, working out what to do, and trying to get it just right! I started writing it in June 1992, after I saw DataLore. It started out as a short story and evolved from there, undergoing many major rewrites! Lore has always fascinated me, and I found myself seeing deep into his character. Data was the yin and Lore the yang.
I have put a great deal of effort and feeling into this novel to explain what happened to him in his life, which caused him to behave the way he did.
There are many people I would like to thank, all who made this novel possible. Without these valuable people, I doubt it would have seen print. I hope I've mentioned everyone, if I've missed someone out, my eternal apologies.
My mother, for all her help, support and insight, which helped me greatly.
Ann, my devoted friend. We've been writing to each other for over ten years and became best friends, before we even met. We and share much in common other than our love for Lore and anger at his mistreatment. There is little I feel I can't tell her. We share many experiences, although we live miles apart. I feel we are always together. We met twice and hope to again. It was the experience of a lifetime. As Mr. Pancks would say "What else are we made for, but to share experiences?!"
All my Trek pen pals. Thanks, guys!
My Grandmother, may she rest in peace, for her support and always urging me to try as hard as I can - to persevere and 'stick with it.' And telling me "there is never a night so dark that the dawn doesn't follow."
My father, who told me to get all my ideas down first, then expand on them. Zagga Digga Dagga Dogs, Dad.
My stepfather, who gave me some helpful hints and ideas and rang me up once and told me to turn on the TV quick 'cos Brent Spiner was on Hunter!
Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, may he rest in peace, whom I never met personally, but without his devotion and love to Star Trek, and his perseverance through the good times and the bad, this novel would have been impossible. May his name and his legendary dream live on forever.
Everyone to do with the production of Star Trek - actors, producers, directors, writers, make-up artists, namely Michael Westmore, the FX department, technical people, artists - everyone - Thanks a billion! I'd also like to thank the writers of the novels, parodies, magazines, makers of the merchandise, etc! Next Gen hooked me just like that! Especially when I saw Data and Lore. I love androids, y'know!
Red Skye, for giving me many valuable ideas and scenarios for Lore and helping me with the overall writing of my novel and for much useful constructive criticism. Her help has been invaluable. Thanks, Jen.
Lesley, for making me a Lore costume and sharing her thoughts about Lore with me.
The guys at the Northern Beaches Learning Difficulty support group for beautifully play acting out my life, the two sides of me, Lore and Data. Brought tears to my eyes.
And of course, the talented and gorgeous Brent Spiner, who made Data, Lore and Doctor Soong come alive. He gave the androids personalities, souls and feeling.
Last, but not least, I would like to thank the fans. You all help keep the beautiful legend alive and have carried Star Trek through the ages and will continue to do so until the end of time. When I got into Star Trek, I made many friends with the same interests, and I would like to thank all of you for making being a Star Trek fan something to cherish and be proud of.
There will always be Star Trek. Thank you all. To all of you - Live long and prosper. Peace and Long Life.
“End of log. Please proceed to read novel."
This book contains recreations of DataLore, Brothers and Descent, retold from Lore's point of view.
DataLore, written by Robert Lewin, Maurice Hurley and Gene Roddenberry
Brothers, written by Rick Berman
Descent, written by Rene Echevarria
“Freedom is the right of all sentient beings."
- Optimus Prime
“Commander, can this be another me, or possibly my brother? ... I never dreamed it was possible that I mind find some link with a from like my own ..."
- Data, to Commander Riker,
“I don't have to imagine. I know how hard it's been ... Feelings do funny things ... You may even learn to understand your 'evil' brother ... to forgive him ..."
- Lore, to Data
“Your brother's had good reason to be bitter ... He wasn't given the chance that you and I were given ... to live ..."
- Doctor Noonian Soong, to Data,
“... Brothers forgive..."
- Doctor Beverly Crusher, to Data,
“I love you ... Brother..."
- Lore, to Data,
It came out of nowhere and attacked without notice or provocation. The vessel, or whatever it was, unlike anything the USS Enigma had ever encountered.
Shields up! Red Alert!" the Captain barked, her dark eyes wide.
The blood red glow filled the bridge as the klaxon blared.
Captain Persephone Avalon, normally cool, calm and collected - usually. But now her emotions were running haywire. Now she ran on adrenalin.
Her ship was under attack, for no reason she could see and could foresee no escape. The captain had been trained in military techniques, but being the captain of a Federation starship, those skills were rarely put into operation. If those skills were needed, they were needed right now.
The unknown had taken out warp capability with its first barrage of fire.
“Shileds're weak, Sir,” came the response from Lieutenant Hector Alabasta, at tactical. “We won't be able to take many more blasts at this magnitude."
“Helm, Evasive manoeuvres! Tactical, try to hail them."
“No response, Sir!" replied Hector. “Scanners can't penetrate either."
The captain's brow furrowed. “Why is it attacking? What the hell is it?"
The Enigma was hit by another powerful blast from the unknown.
Everything went haywire. Sparks flying, static crackling, the very hull of the ship showed signs of buckling.
“Fire all weapons!" yelled the captain, struggling to remain in her seat. “Engineering station, boost shield strength!"
The Enigma released a barrage of fire, hitting the attacking unknown with full force.
It responded, concentrating all fire on Persephone's ship.
Carter, the Chief Engineer was catapulted violently from her Engineering post, her body twisting, breaking and falling to the floor with a sickening thud.
“Shields at 20 percent, Sir!" yelled Hector. “If it continues to fire, we're up the creek! McHeller...get to one of the aft stations and find any weaknesses in their defences!"
Ensign Dair McHeller rushed to the console.
Another blast from the alien ship. The aft console exploded with extreme force, ripping the unfortunate Ensign in two. It happened quickly, before he could utter a scream.
Lieutenant Hector, Tactical Chief, though trained to take gore, could hardly bare to look at his mutilated colleague.
“Captain! " he yelled over the commotion, "Dair's dead!"
Who are these people? Persephone thought. These attackers who would attack a vessel on a peaceful mission - without warning?
Avalon had too much on her mind to grieve for the young Ensign at this moment.
“Fire weapons! It's all we've got."
Hector released another barrage of fire. It hit the alien - whatever it was. The shields began to fluctuate.
“Its shields are weakening, Sir."
Finally, they had made a breakthrough. All hope was not lost. Captain Avalon saw a glint of hope. She permitted herself to smile. “Good. Fire again, we might still gain the upper hand, but send out a distress signal."
They did not get the chance to fire. The unknown fired at the Enigma, causing explosion on the bridge ripping apart the tactical station
“Hector!" Avalon screamed.
Before she could turn her head, First Officer Commander Scott Deval, raced up to the aft stations to continue firing. When he arrived, just in a second, he saw Hector's dead form slumped over tactical. Not at all a pretty sight, but there was no time to grieve for the dead at this juncture. He pulled the body off.
“Captain... Weapons inoperable. They're..."
A second explosion blew out of the aft station behind him, cutting him off in mid-sentence.
Avalon shut her eyes.
This was the end and she knew it. She did not want to give up, but she had to think of the people aboard her vessel.
Another blast took out the shields. The Enigma was defenceless and Persephone Avalon knew it.
“Ops ... tell them we surrender."
Relief rushed through the Second Officer. He too wasn't keen on giving up, but fighting was hopeless and he decided the idea of surrendering was better than being a corpse.
A moment later ...
“They're not responding, Sir ..."
Persephone's eyes widened, and she wiped the sweat of her dark forehead.
“What?... Helm, set a collision ..."
The helm and ops consoles exploded simultaneously, instantly killing both officers.
Persephone frantically looked around. She was the only one alive on the bridge now.
She stared at the whatever it was through the viewscreen, that whom she had become to hate. That which had caused her so much grief in just a few moments.
“I hope someone destroys you..." she whispered.
Persephone glared at the vessel, then saw two white hot beams shoot out from it. She closed her eyes. She had seen so many of her friends die in the last few minutes and she did not want to watch anymore. At least upon her death she could grieve for them.
She licked her lips to get rid of the strange taste in her mouth. But she realised that it would not leave her. She was tasting death. And she gave an ironic smile. Like her namesake, she was about to travel to the Underworld, but she had a feeling she would be there for a great deal longer than six months.
The beams hit and Persephone was catapulted onto the floor with incredible force, a piece of stray metal slicing through her midsection, killing her instantly.
The attacker was satisfied. All life forms on the vessel had ceased to exist, it had no need to destroy the vessel. It powered down its weapons and left the Enigma to drift aimlessly in space.
Perhaps someday, someone will discover the ghost ship and hear her haunting tale.
That's what they were. Brothers. Data checked the dictionary entry: A male being related to another born of the same parents.
In this case, created.
Neither Data nor Lore had been 'born' in a manner of speaking. Being androids, they had been constructed, but even so, they were sentient as any biological being and being built by the same creators, mother and father, they were brothers. Brothers.
But surely a brother was more than just a product of the same parents. Kinship, family. But what kinship had there been between them? Data had seen very little of his brother and each time, Lore had displayed jealousy, hatred, betrayal and dominance. There had been no kinship, or at least, none Data had seen, except perhaps once. When Data and Lore had encountered Doctor Soong, Lore had warned him about emotions and had told Data how hard it had been for him, but Data had no way of knowing if Lore had been truly sincere and what had followed crushed all hope of that.
Data accessed one of his first personal logs.
'Second Officer's Personal Log, Stardate 41252.4
Recently, the Enterprise visited Omicron Theta, my home planet, where we made a remarkable discovery. While we were exploring the colonists’ lab, we found a complete set of android parts. I had never dreamed it was possible that I would find another of my kind. I needed to assemble him. To use a human expression, 'I could not wait.'
We assembled him on the Enterprise. He told us his name was Lore.
It puzzled me why he saw fit to mislead us about his abilities. He seems quite insecure. He also underestimates humans. I wanted to teach him everything I knew, to help him. He was my brother. Unlike me, Lore possesses emotions. I find it intriguing that he is so different from myself. Though he puzzles me. He wants to help me become more human, but I am dubious. I want to be human more than anything, but something 'bugged' me about my brother.
The next time he called me to my quarters, he had a bottle of champagne and had poured a glass for me. He said it was an ancient custom practised by humans when they observed events of importance. I was aware of that. I sipped my champagne and started to ask Lore the significance of this custom. Something began to clog up my systems. I recognised the substance as fine grind quadratanium. I stared at my brother. Shocked, but also intrigued. He had drugged the champagne. Intriguing. Unable to fight the particles in the champagne, I slumped before collapsing to the floor. Before I lapsed totally into unconsciousness, Lore revealed his collaboration with the Crystalline Entity which killed the Omicron Theta colonists and now his ploy was to lure it here to kill everyone aboard the Enterprise. I desperately tried to fight the effects of the quadratanium to save my friends, but I failed. I was later turned back on by Doctor Crusher.
We located Lore in the cargo bay, contacting the Crystalline Entity. With a struggle, I managed to stop him and with the assistance of Wesley Crusher, beam Lore out into space.
I watched Lore beam out, sorry I did not get to know him better. I am also disappointed that my only brother is evil and so very much unlike me. Perhaps that was a fault on my part. I did not expect him to be exactly like myself, but I did not expect him to attempt to kill my friends either.
I spent the next few hours staring out of the Observation Lounge window, staring into space. I have often observed humans doing this when they were lost deep in thought as I am now. I am forced to wonder - was Lore killed? Perhaps he was dispersed, or perhaps the Crystal Entity killed him, or maybe he was left to drift in space. If so, how long would he survive out there? Would someone find him? I was doubtful that I would ever see my brother again. In a certain way, I feel at a loss. Even though he was misguided and evil, he was still my brother and the only family thought I had.
END OF LOG.'
Data concentrated his thoughts on Lore. After he had been disassembled, he had stored his brother's parts in his lab. He had hoped to study Lore, to find out what went wrong with him and exactly why he had become unstable. What went so wrong with his programming, that forced him to kill? But as soon as Starfleet Research had learned of Lore's disassembly, they descended upon the Enterprise, like a pack of hungry wolves, intending to study Lore and use his positronic brain as a possible prototype to construct more sentient androids.
Data had protested, as he did not want his brother to be used for research, despite what had happened between them and StarFleet was overruled and Data kept both Lore and Lal's parts safe.
Now, Data sat in his quarters of the new Enterprise, NCC 1701-E, by his computer screen. The new quarters were a tad larger and the computer able to store zettabytes more information. He knew the reason he had to deactivate Lore. He'd wished it could've ended on a happier note, but for the good of the Federation, he decided it had to be done.
Lore's body was dead, but what if he could be vindicated? Where was Lore now? Did androids go to heaven? Though Data questioned whether his brother may have gone the other way. The android officer remembered when his own life was in jeopardy in the courts of Starfleet. He wasn't capable of fear, but he experienced the sensation of not wishing to be terminated.
Data had kept Lal and Lore's parts safe from Starfleet. Lal's parts were once again safe, as were Lore's though his brain had been destroyed when the Enterprise's saucer section has crashed on Veridian III when the failsafe mechanism in Data's lab had been triggered accidentally. The android officer was regretful and wondered if Lore could have ever been repaired and stabilized. He was grateful that he had previously removed Lore's memory chips for safe keeping, to keep some part of his brother alive. Data had not revealed this to a single soul until now. What had gone wrong with Lore? Why was he so hateful, so belligerent? Data felt he had to know. He accessed another of his more recent logs.
'Second Officer's Personal Log, Stardate 47185.7
I believe I could describe the following event as one of the hardest things I have ever done - the deactivation and disassembly of my brother, Lore. It was by no means a pleasant task. I did not want to do it, but saw no other alternative. Lore is a threat to Starfleet and the Federation and life forms. I could not allow him to go on, endangering innocent lives. No one is sorrier than I that it had to come to this, but I see no other way.
I hope to repair him someday and make him stable, as my father had planned to do.
A team of engineers and scientists disassembled him in my lab. I oversaw the procedure and removed the emotion chip from his body. It had been damaged when I was forced to fire upon him, but none of his other systems were permanently or critically damaged.
Shortly after we had beamed Lore's body to the Enterprise, from the planet, one of the Engineers had asked me: "Do you want Lore to be destroyed?"
It was a simple question which required a simple answer.
A single word would end Lore's life forever. Another would save it.
I looked at my brother's naked body lying on the workbench, deactivated and helpless. It was up to me to decide his fate. I thought about the things he had done. He had lied to me, abused me, hated me. Controlled me - suppressed my will and used me to hurt my friends. Yes. I wanted him to die. I opened my mouth to utter the word yes, then closed it. Lore is the only other one of my kind. If I allowed him to be destroyed, something - someone unique will be lost forever, and there is still much about him which remains a mystery. That would be like genocide, destroying half a race and a mystery which would forever remain unsolved if he were destroyed forever. And my father, Doctor Soong ... He cared for Lore as much as he cared for me. We were both his sons. Both his beloved children. He would be ashamed of me if I let Lore die. I did not want that.
However, Lore had caused so many deaths. Does he deserve to die for that? He was unstable and he did not directly kill the people, but he was the cause. A human would be imprisoned for such an act, not terminated. I could easily utter the word and have him killed. Killing seemed easy for Lore... but not so for me. I am not Lore.
“No," I told the Engineer. “I would like to have him disassembled, in the hope that someday he can be repaired and stabilised."
As I watched continue to disassemble Lore, I pondered Lore's final words: “I love you ... Brother ..."
I have no way of knowing how truthful or sincere he was being.
But I am forced to wonder, If I had emotions - true emotions, would I love him back?
END OF LOG.'
* * *
Geordi La Forge stood with Data in his quarters
“Install Lore's memories into your neural net?" he said, doubtful. “Is that wise?"
Data blinked his gentle yellow eyes once before continuing. “I predicted with one hundred percent accuracy your asking that question and I thank you for your concern."
“And to answer it, I have analysed the danger, and although it is possible, it is slight. I will not become Lore. His memories will be isolated, however, I will be able to access them fully."
Geordi still looked concerned.
Data regarded his friend. “Last Sunday you watched an old 1980s horror holovid about a psychopathic serial killer entitled House Three. Did it give you the urge to take up a meat cleaver and start running amok, killing Enterprise crew members?"
Geordi chuckled. “No, of course not, although it was very creepy and I care not to repeat the experience ... No more horror vids for me! I see your point Data, but then again I didn't have the psychopath’s memories put into my head."
“I understand your concern, Geordi, but believe me, the danger is minimal."
“If you say so, but I'm keeping a close eye on you." Geordi pointed at him.
“Agreed." Data gave a small smile.
“Did you ever consider repairing Lore?" the dark-skinned Engineer asked after a pause.
Data hesitated for two full seconds before he spoke. “I would have liked the opportunity to repair him, perhaps even construct a new and stable brain for him, but at this moment, it is unfeasible. I would need to make comparisons to his old brain, which would be considerably difficult, as it is in five hundred and eleven pieces."
“Yes, that would be very difficult."
“As Lore would say, ‘excrement occurs.’"
Data sat in Picard's Ready Room in front of the Captain's desk. “With the help of Geordi and Doctor Crusher, I believe we can install Lore's memories."
“You told us his brain had been destroyed."
“Yes, sir. It was. His brain - though I removed his memory chips from it before I locked it in the vault..."
Picard sat back in his high arm chair. “Ah. I see."
Data paused, a tad guilty. “Up until now I had not wanted anyone to know that I saved Lore's memory chips. It was the last link I had to the only brother I knew and-"
“No explanation necessary, Data. I have lost a brother as well. In a way, I envy you. You're about to have a very deep connection to your brother than I ever had with Robert, than most people will ever have."
Data nodded slowly.
“But are you sure you want to do this? After everything Lore's done..."
“Yes, sir. I feel I know so very little about him and I feel that accessing his memories will give me a greater insight into his psyche."
“Data, your own father disassembled him because it's just too dangerous for him to be allowed to continue."
"Sir, you stood up for me in court in an action that resulted in my status as a life form being legally recognised and I was given the freedom to choose. That I was more than just a toaster - that I had rights and that I was not the property of Starfleet. Lore is a life form also. To deny him his last right of vindication would be ... cruel, Sir. Doctor Crusher and Geordi will not assist if you do not give me permission to proceed, but I must try to help him. I am the last chance he has."
“Before I give permission. I need your assurance that there is minimal or no risk involved. Every possible precaution must be taken. Lore's actions have caused a lot of destruction and grief... Brought death to hundreds of innocent people. He almost caused the deaths of every person on the Enterprise when we first reassembled him. I must be certain that will not happen again."
“It will not, Sir. You have my word. The risk is marginal and if anything does go wrong, I have advised Geordi to turn me off and remove all of Lore's memories. It is like the android equivalent of reading someone’s diary. There would be no risk of becoming that person. I am hoping for better comprehension of why he did what he did. I doubt it will excuse his actions, although I must know why."
Picard nodded. “Understood. Permission granted."
“Thank you, Sir, and I hope it will prove positive. There is still much about Lore that still remains a mystery."
“Just as long as you don't start to twitch, Data."
The android smiled. “Heaven forbid, Sir."
"You're certain about this?" Geordi said, one final time.
Data nodded. “Affirmative. I must know more about my brother and since he cannot be reactivated at this time, this is the only way I know of. There must be more to it than just Lore becoming unstable and going crazy for no good reason. When I checked his brain, shortly after he was disassembled, I noticed most of his neural pathways were either twisted or severed. I am sure my father would not have created him that way. Perhaps accessing Lore's memories will give me the answers I am looking for."
Geordi nodded. “All right, Data, if you’re sure and if it means that much to you."
“It does, Geordi, thank you."
The Chief Engineer opened Data's head, using a fine tool, revealing the complex net of circuits and blinking coloured lights.
He carefully picked up Lore's memory chip with it and inserted it into Data's neural matrix.
THIRTY-EIGHT YEARS AGO
"There, that should do it ..."
"When will we know ..."
I slowly opened my eyes for the first time as a conscious entity.
I'm in a laboratory.
A face was peering down at me. A humanoid male. Doctor Noonian Soong. I recognized him.
Name. My name is Lore.
I looked at Doctor Soong and sat up.
Noonian Soong. Father? My father?
"Father" I said. It was not a question.
Doctor Soong smiled. “Yes, Lore. I am your father."
I smiled back, then looked around the lab.
Many different faces. All humans. The Omicron Theta colonists.
There were seven people here. They were all looking at me with a variety of expressions... wonder, surprise, scepticism, fear ...
Why are they all staring at me? Had I done something wrong?
I felt nervous, uneasy, but then - something caught my attention. It was if everything had stopped. The nervousness vanished and was replaced by wonder. All the other faces in the room seemed to become a blur, bar one. I stared. It was human - but somehow different from all the others. It had a larger, protruding chest. Its waistline was shaped differently and its face had a softer, more delicate complexion. Its hair was long and wavy. I was intrigued.
I tried to come to terms with what I had seen.
Ah ... Female. A human female.
The enigma was gone. I had discovered why she was different, but still, I stared, mesmerized. She was beautiful.
I blinked and snapped out of it. My father called my name. I turned my head around and looked at him.
“How are you feeling?"
“I am functioning within normal parameters."
Doctor Soong smiled. “That is good."
As I stood, I could feel the eyes of the colonists upon me. It made me feel nervous again, uneasy. What are they staring at? Why were they staring? Maybe they'd never seen an android before and were intrigued, like I was with - I looked around. The woman was gone.
Where has she gone? Why did she leave? Will I ever see her again?
I turned followed my father. The colonists began to return to their duties and my nervousness began to subside. I had many more questions, but they could wait for now.
Doctor Soong led me into another room. I wanted to ask him about the woman, but I wasn't sure if it was the right thing to do. I decided to leave it for now.
My father began to show me around the colonists' base.
He had programmed the layout into me, but decided it would be more beneficial for me to see everything for myself - become more familiar with the place. I kept an eye out in case I saw the woman, but paid close attention to my father. I could quite easily do both things at once.
I was introduced to some of the colonists on my tour. I was hoping to get introduced to the woman, but didn't. I felt disappointed. The image of her beauty kept creeping back into my mind. I hope I can officially meet her. I don't even know her name...
Doctor Soong led me into his workroom.
"There is someone I'd like you to meet, Lore," he said.
A woman looked up. She was quite pretty, but I didn't feel the same way for her as I did for the woman I had seen earlier. I wondered why. They were both female.
"Lore," said Doctor Soong, "I'd like you to meet your ... mother, Juliana Soong, formerly Juliana O'Donnell."
I stared at my father.
“Your mother's identity has to remain a secret - in case we are ever found out here. The Federation has no idea that we're married - or that I'm here. As far as they're concerned I disappeared and am presumed dead."
This seemed strange, until I accessed the memories my father programmed me with.
“Hello, Lore,” she said with a smile.
I turned around. “Hello ... Mother."
She smiled warmly. “Don't be afraid. It's all right. I helped your father with your construction. He couldn't've done it all by his lonesome, y'know."
I smiled. “I guess not."
“I'm nowhere near as good as a scientist as your father, Lore, but as far as the Federation's concerned, Noonian was a failure - but as far as I'm concerned, he's brilliant in more ways than one."
My father smiled and began to blush. “Come on, Juliana," he said. “I can't take all the credit. If it wasn't for you, I'd still be the laughing stock of the Federation. It was you who saved me from that humiliation. There's no way I could've accomplished what I've done here if you hadn't helped me."
“All right, Noonian," she smiled. "One thing I have learned - It's hopeless to argue with you."
He smiled and kissed her. “I'll be back later, darling."
Doctor Soong left the room with me.
"Father," I said, "why did you call me Lore?"
He smiled and paused for a moment.
“It's a name I chose for you, specifically. I spent many months trying to think of a suitable name for you. Went through billions of name listings, dictionary words, you name it ... and then, just a few days before I was going to activate you, it just popped into my head. Just like that." He snapped his fingers. “Lore. It was perfect."
“Thank you, Father. I like my name."
“That's good, Lore, it'd be tough luck if you didn't! ... Listen, I have some computer files to sort out. I'll be rather busy for a few hours."
I nodded. “Okay, Father. I'll be in my quarters if you need me."
I had been programmed with a map of the entire base.
Sitting down, I accessed my computer. “Computer, please display the meaning of the word or name 'Lore.'"
I looked at the monitor.
1) The act of teaching; the condition of being taught; a lesson; learning or erudition.
2) A strap like appendage or part in certain insects, birds and snakes.
That was an interesting one.
3) The body of traditional, popular, often anecdotal knowledge about a particular subject; folklore; mystery.
For example: the Lore of the woods; the Lore of the world; Faery Lore.
I considered. I think the third definition best describes my name.
"Clear screen ... Computer, please search your data banks for the origins of the name 'Lore.'"
There was a pause.
"The name Lore originates from the names Elanore or Lorelei."
“Computer, please give me the meaning of the name Elanore and any names that originated from."
"The name Elanore is a French form of Helen, meaning 'light.' Helen is a Greek name which also means 'the shining one.' Helen of Troy was a famous Greek maiden 'the face that launched a thousand ships' in the infamous mythological ten-year battle of Troy."
I nodded. “Intriguing... Computer, please search for the origins of the name Lorelei in detail."
"The Lorelei is a German name meaning 'lurer to the rock'. The Lorelei was folklore. The legend says Lorelei was a beautiful maiden who threw herself into the swift and dangerous Rhine River between Mains and Koblenz, in despair over a faithless lover. She drowned and was transformed into a rock siren, whose lovely, echoing, captivating songs lured many a sailor to their deaths. Lorelei was considered a beautiful, but mysterious and deadly water nymph.
The Lorelei rock siren can still be seen today on the Rhine River in, Saknt Goarshausen, Germany. Some say the beautiful, enchanting Lorelei songs can still be heard today, especially on crisp clear, quiet nights when one is alone.
The tale is said to have been invented in 1802 by Clemens Brentano in the ballad Die Lore Lay in his novel Godwi. Since then, the Lorelei has been the focus of many literary works, both in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The works include poems, songs stories, novels and operas.
The best-known adaptation is Friedrich Silcher's song Die Lorelei 1838, set to the poem of the same name by Heinrich Heine which first appeared in Heine's Buch der Lieder, 1827. The poem has been set to music by more than twenty-five different composers.
The name Lorelei means 'rock elf', and remains in occasional use today.
The Lorelei is also the name of a precipitous cliff towering about 130 meters above the Rhine River between Mainz and Koblenz in Germany. At that point the river is swift and dangerous and legend says that the voice of the Lorelei can still be heard."
"Wow ... Some story ... I wonder what her voice ... Computer, can you replicate the songs of the Lorelei?"
“Negative. Many individuals have claimed to have heard the Lorelei, but it has never been proven. The songs therefore, if they exist have never been recorded."
I turned away from my monitor, wondering what her songs sounded like.
I listen to some instrumental tracks, some quite lovely, some awful, some boring. I repeat the ones that were for want of a better word, music to my ears.
* * *
Later that week, I was walking through the lab, on my way to Doctor Soong's office. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her. I stopped and looked at her. There were at least ten other colonists in the room, and I didn't want to look suspicious, so continued walking.
“Have you finished with the diagnostics, Alana?" a colonist asked.
I looked around. I now know her name.
“Yes," she said to the other colonist. “Just about. You can download the information to your terminal."
It was the first time I had heard her speak. Her voice. It was like ... I can't describe it. Sweet, gentle beautiful ... All of the above. Like the Lorelei.
Her name is Alana and her voice ... maybe that's what the Lorelei sounded like.
Alana. A..la..na. Such a beautiful name.
I looked at her, at work on the computer, then turned and continued on my way to Doctor Soong's office, hoping to actually meet her.
I learned that the name Alana was Earthen Irish for "Oh, my child!" Its origins were from 'a leanbh', meaning "O child," in old Irish.
* * *
I found my father his lab. Messy as always. Bits of mechanisms, book, printouts, bits of this and that, lying strewn across the floor. If I didn't know better, I'd say the place was bombarded by a bunch of photon torpedoes, and then I saw my father, slumped over his desk. My first instincts were to run to him, then my worried expression changed into a smile as I saw him breathing and snoring softly. He'd fallen asleep, whilst working, I guess.
The computer made a few bleeping noises. I turned it off, so not to disturb him, then quietly said, "lights off," and left my father to his little nap.
Doctor Soong was fifty-seven when he left for Omicron Theta.
He told me that he had tried to make other positronic androids, three in fact, before he made me, but they all failed to function properly.
That's how he earned his nickname 'Often Wrong Soong.' They could've at least gave him one that rhymed, but what rhymes with Soong?
His failures virtually destroyed his reputation as far as the Federation was concerned.
He was the centre of ridicule and even his name became 'taboo' so to speak.
The Federation ceased to fund my father's project, because they didn't think he was serious. They thought he was mad. But then they thought Einstein was mad too. And Edison? What a nutter, right? Wrong.
But instead of gracefully accepting his forced retirement, my father gathered his true followers together, ready to leave Earth and leave the ridicule far behind.
My father told me he also pursued my mother. At first she had resented him, because of his reputation, but she became fascinated at his unusual ways of proposing to her. Finally, she gave in and they were married in secret. It was then that she developed a fascination for my father's work and wanted to leave Earth with him. The colonists all travelled under assumed names. My father under Ian O'Donnell.
They set up base on a remote planet called Omicron Theta and built a secure underground base. They cultivated the land around the new base, maintaining farms, but the colony's principal interest was science.
It was always a constant fear that the base would be discovered, so it's hidden from sensors by various dampening fields and the entrance looks like a natural hollow in the rock.
When they had settled in, my father started constructing me. It had taken close to a year. He said the reason he didn't program me with Asimov's Laws of Robotics was that he wanted a son not a slave. Not just some mindless automaton which would blunder blindly forward, because that' what its programming required of it. I was more than a collection of sub processors and parts to him. I was his son and he was my father. He wanted me to do what I felt was right, not because it was part of some program. I knew it was wrong to hurt people or to let people come to harm and I wouldn't. I was not a bad person.
My father was somewhat of a workaholic. He was a devoted individual, and I respected him for that, but he had always mixed work with pleasure. He enjoyed tinkering around with mechanics. After all, he was the greatest cyberneticist in the galaxy, wasn't he? But he had other hobbies too. He loved reading. Science fiction, mainly. He'd devour a book in no time. I'd see him reading a book, and then I'd come past later and he's be reading another one. Maybe he's got a positronic brain tucked away in there, somewhere!
He also loved pot plants and always talked to them. The big one in the corner with the orange flowers, he calls Shalom, Earth Hebrew for 'peace'. He was also a fan of archaeology and has collected many fossils. He also studies chemistry and the Human body.
Another thing I also found quite fascinating, is that he was intrigued by twentieth century television shows involving robots and androids. One of his particular favourites was called The Transformers. They're sentient robots that came to Earth from their mechanical home planet of Cybertron. I saw all the episodes, both of the original and later shows on the viewer that my father had. Very interesting. My father actually has one of the antique models from the show. He tells me that it's extremely rare and fragile. He showed me the date stamped on it. 1984. My Gods that's old!
I put it down carefully on the ledge, scared that I would accidentally break the delicate figure. My father told me that the Transformer's name was Optimus Prime and transforms into an articulated Earth truck. My father is also fascinated by dinosaurs, extinct Terran reptiles, ranging in size from tiny to huge.
Another thing about my father was every time I looked into his blue eyes, I could see how dedicated he was to his work and how much he cared. It made me angry that those Federation people shunned him into exile, just because he was different.
When I look at my father, it's like looking at myself - staring into a mirror. He looked very much like me, but it's not just physical. I see some of myself in him, being so different. I wonder how much of himself he sees in me.
* * *
I saw my father eating his dinner alone, and walked to him.
“Can I eat something?" I asked.
He swallowed a mouthful, then stood, walked to the replicator and ordered me a serving of what he was having. A large osso bucco steak with marrow, accompanies by fresh steamed minted peas, mashed potatoes and other vegetables. He brought it over to me. I watched him eat for a while. When I was confident I could do it myself, I gave it a bash. I did it the way my father did, but somehow, it didn't feel right.
“Lore!" he exclaimed, "don't eat with your fingers and chew with your mouth closed. Really! your table manners are appalling!"
I looked at him, apologetic. “I'm sorry, Fath..."
“And don't talk with your mouth full!" Juliana scalded, frowning.
I swallowed, then apologized again, contrite,
My father's face softened and he smiled. “Here, watch me again. It's done like this."
He cut a small piece of the steak, raised it to his mouth, chewed it a number of times, then swallowed. I watched him a few more times, then tried again myself, slowly.
I chewed very fast as I am an android, I couldn’t see the point in doing things slowly.
Slow down, Lore, you don’t want to choke and it’s not going to run away.
I laughed. Surely not. The cow was dead.
I slowed down and carefully swallowed. I think I've got it right this time. My mother clapped. I looked at my parents and they were smiling. I felt a warm wave of pride flush over me. I loved to please them and I loved to see them smile. Doctor Soong always smiled when I did something right, even if it was just a silly trivial thing, but nevertheless to see him smile was a wonderful feeling.
Sometimes I think I do things just to my parents smile.
* * *
I found another fascinating book on my father's shelf today. A large and illustrated copy of Peter Pan and Wendy by J. M. Barrie. I could read the entire book in under five seconds, but this one, for some reason, I wanted to savour. It was a very old copy, hundreds of years in fact and very valuable. I promised my father I'd be very careful with it and I began to read. Reading this was quite a different and please pardon the pun, but a novel experience.
* * *
I had been working out on the farms today. It was okay, I suppose. Though old Tom Handy chased me off his land for stealing a couple of nectarines. He's very possessive of his fruit. I had to smile. Not much he could do with a wooden walking stick against an android now is there, despite holding it in such a threatening manner. Nevertheless, in respect, I left him shaking his old fashioned wooden walking stick in the air, swearing obscenities that would make my mother blush. I have never heard him use that language at anyone else staling his fruit. Maybe it was just me. And I got to eat my nectarines, so there, Old Tom! The unique flavour filled my taste sensations with delight. It was the first time I had eaten one. Sweet, but tart at the same time. An exquisite blend of flavour.
Nature's bounty is so much more delightful that that processed stuff that humans eat. I can't understand how anyone can eat real meat though. The thought of eating a living creature feels so alien to me. Natural fruits, vegetables and ancient grains are so much better for humans as well, so I wonder why they don't eat more of them. Processed foods are so dull and lifeless. Very strange creatures humans are.
I don't normally need to bathe or shower, but after working on the farms all day, and thanks to a late afternoon dust storm, I was utterly filthy. I took my jumper off and began walking to my room.
I walked past my parents' room ... and began hearing strange noises coming from there. Some sort of a loud groaning noise, but it wasn't groaning, it was something else. Something that sounded very weird and then I heard screams. I paused, and the scream again. It was my mother. I heard another loud groaning noise. I recognised that as my father.
What the hell was going on in there?
My mother screamed again. I became worried. What was happening to them? I rushed in to the room. The place was pitch black.
“Father... is everything..."
The next thing I knew, a shoe hit me in my chest. I didn't see that one coming. I was still very confused. I walked further into the room.
“But, Father ..."
A whole closet of shoes and trinkets were thrown at me. Pillows hit me in the chest. Why were they doing this?
“Get out, Lore!!"
“Get Out and stay out!" My mother yelled.
I'd never heard her yell before. She was angry too. Why?
“OUT!!!" yelled Soong, brooking no arguments.
I backed out of the room and the door closed behind me.
What had I done wrong? Why were they so angry? I was just worried about them. Was that a crime? To care for your own parents? What were they doing in there? Maybe something private, but how was I to know? They sounded as if they were in excruciating pain. I just wanted to help.
* * *
The next morning ...
I had been sitting in a chair all night, pondering why my parents had been so angry and why they chased me out of the room.
Then my father came to where I was sitting. He glared at me.
He was seething, fuming. I'd never seen him so mad before. Come to think of it, I'd never seen him mad before. I don't know why, but I felt scared.
“Lore ... don't you ever, ever come into my room like that again!"
“But, Father ..."
“Don't 'but Father' me! ... You ..."
“But why? ... I don't understand why you're so angry ... I didn't do anything wrong ... What were those strange noises coming from your room? Mother was screaming I was ... worried. Anything could have been happening to you and mother in there. I just wanted to help." I paused for a moment. “Please don't be angry with me ..." I pleaded, looking up at him.
My father's tense features began to soften. He didn't look angry anymore, but sorry. He sat down beside me and sighed.
“What we were doing was very private, Lore."
“I figured that out now, but I didn't know. I -"
Soong nodded. “I should have realized. You couldn't know... But it was very embarrassing for both your mother and I to have someone walk in on us like that."
“I'm sorry, Father. I won't do it again and I won't tell anyone, now that I know, but ...what were you doing in there? Will I ever get to do that?"
Soong smiled and hesitated for a moment. “There are some things you're just going to have to learn when the time's right, when you're old enough. You're only two weeks old now... And, Lore, if ever you hear those ... noises coming from my room again, rest assured, everything is okay."
I nodded. “Yes, Father, I'm sorry."
At that moment, my mother walked into the room.
“There you are, Noon-"
She then saw me and stopped in mid-sentence.
“I'm sorry, Mother," I said. “I was just worried about you both, that's all. That's why I went into the room. I didn't know what you were doing in there, and I heard you screaming. I was worried."
She burst out laughing.
“What's so funny?" I asked, frowning.
She shook her head and smiled. "Nothing, Lore ... Perhaps your father'll teach you some other time, when you're older. By the way, Lore ... you didn't see anything in there, did you?"
“No, it was dark. I could make out your naked silhouettes, but that's about all."
She smiled. “Good."
* * *
I was working with the computer, trying to determine the growth rate of the crops since the last rainfall. I was alone in the room. Then, the door opened and someone entered. I turned. It was her. Alana. The first woman I had ever seen.
I wanted to rush over to her, but thought better of it. She walked to the other computer. She was only a few meters away from me, but it seemed like miles. I looked over at her. She began punching in commands. I tried to draw myself back to my work. My father said he needed the results as soon as possible, but I could not draw my attention away from Alana - and then, as if she knew she was being watched, she turned her head around and looked at me. I quickly looked away, then at the computer screen, hoping she didn't notice that I had been staring. I gradually turned my head towards her again and saw she had turned back to the computer. I hesitated, but then decided to approach her. I gradually walked towards her, feeling more and more nervous with each step. In what seemed like an eternity, I reached her.
"Do ... do you need any help?" I asked. It was the best I could ad lib at the time.
She turned to me. "Help with what?"
There was a short beat. “Ahh ... help with what you're doing."
“No thank you. It's quite simple."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes. Quite sure."
I felt like an idiot. I'd better back off before I really mess this up. I could not resist turning to her. “If you need any help, just let me know."
“All right, Lore."
There was a hint of irritation in her lovely voice. I'd better shut up.
Gods above and below, you're such an idiot, Lore.
I nodded and began to walk back to my computer. I wanted to say something else to her, but decided against it.
I looked at her again.
Her head snapped around. “What are you looking at?!"
I had been caught out. What do I do?
“I...I ... uh ... I don't ... don't know ... I was just looking ... at ..."
“Stop staring at me. You're giving me the creeps!"
Great. You've done it now, Lore ...
“I ... I'm sorry ... I didn't mean to. Um... I was just trying to see what you were doing. I'm sorry if I upset you."
Alana looked at me, puzzled. She finished what she was doing, turned and left the room. I watched her walk out. When the door closed behind her. I sighed, spun around on one foot and clasped my hands together. I think I'm in love ...
I found many a romance novel in my mother's collection. Most were utter crap, bar a few. I liked the mystical ones about witches and wizards falling in love and ones about ancient mythology. I found the Gods fascinating. Earth Gods and so I began to find out more of them. It took a total of one hour and fifty-five minutes to learn all the information there was about the Gods of Old of all types of mythologies and I found them all very intriguing. Did they really exist? Were they only in stories? Were they watching over me? I hoped so.
I found out more about different types of magick as well. Was it real? I hoped so. Was there a spell to make everyone like me? I doubted it, but it was nice to dream. After I had finished my fascinating research, I began to read more of Peter Pan.
I decided to sleep for the first time that night. It was a novel experience. I found myself in glorious fields, stretching further than the eye could see, forests stood tall. In the distance were glorious snow-capped mountains, the other direction, the vast ocean. I saw an enormous albino white humpback whale breach and it was magnificent. I had never seen a real whale before, although my mother has a picture of one in her lab. Where was I? It was the most beautiful place I had ever been. The most gorgeous world I had ever seen. I saw unicorns running free on the fields, mermaids swimming in the oceans, fairies and pixies like Peter Pan and Tinkerbell in the forest. It was so serene and peaceful and no one hurt me here. It was beautiful. It was perfect. It was perfect. It was bliss. Where was I? And then I knew it was Elysium ... the Elysian Fields a blissful land the good and virtuous ancient Greeks believed they went when they died. Wherever it was I felt like I was home and I never wanted to leave.
When I awoke, I was on the colony of course, but where had I been? Could I go there again. I was disappointed that I could not access the exquisite land that I had seen.
Excitedly I told my father about my wonderful experience.
“You had a dream, Lore," he told me, excitement lighting his face. “I didn't know you could dream."
“Neither did I. Until last night, I didn't know what a dream was. Will I ever be able to go back to that beautiful place?"
“Sometimes dreams repeat themselves, but I have never had the same dream twice."
"Oh, I said, disappointed, though it did give me hope that I may be able to go back to that beautiful world someday. But could I stay forever?
Enthusiastically, I began some research.
“Computer, please give me all available information on the ancient Greek Underworld and the Greek God Hades in detail."
It took a moment for the computer to chirp into action.
“Hades, brother of Zeus and Poseidon. In Ancient Greek mythology, he was the Lord of the Dead, and the Underworld. He was not an evil God, for he rightfully punished the evil, for wrongs they had committed in their mortal lives, such as murder, rape, paedophila and other such crimes, though he takes no pleasure in punishment, he would rather not have to punish. Hades rewards the good for leading virtuous lives, as he is also the God of Justice. Contrary to reports that Hades was unhappy with his realm, the Underworld, Hades created the Underworld as he believed the souls of the dead needed a place to spend eternity, as opposed to oblivion, the Underworld be either their sanctuary or their prison, in accordance to how they lived their mortal lives.
Some of Hades' other names include Aidoneus, meaning the unseen, Polydectes, meaning the receiver of many, as all souls went to Hades, Pluto, Pluton, Ditis Pater, Dis Pater, all meaning the rich one, and Eubuleus, meaning the giver of good counsel. He is also called The One of Many Names. No kidding, Sherlock!
Even in his own time, Hades was misunderstood. Mortals were terrified of him. They feared that if they said his name or invoked him he would kill them and take them to the Underworld. Hence, they despised him. However, Hades would only ever have a mortal escorted to his realm if it was their rightful time to die. He would often send the souls of deceased newborns and infants back up into the mortal world, to give them a chance to live. He was one of the few Gods who did not abuse the power that was given to him.
Contrary to popular belief, Hades did not rape Persephone, the Goddess of spring. The Patriarchal telling of the myth was that he kidnapped her and took her to his Underworld, however the older matriarchal telling of the Myth is that Persephone sought out Hades and went to the Underworld and willingly ate the seed of the pomegranate. Persephone dearly loved Hades, as his love for her was genuine and she chose to remain with him.
Hades has also been portrayed in Earth television shows and movies such as Ulysses 31, Disney's Hercules, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess. And Myth Quest. He has also been portrayed in books such as Roberta Gellis’ romance novel Dazzling Brightness. Hades was portrayed as a Mage in this novel with a fierce love for his beloved Persephone. Hades has also been written about in various young adult novels.
The God Hades had been portrayed many times, since, most notably by human actor Stephen James Thomson in the play Aidoneus in 2090.”
I sat back in awe. Here was a God, misunderstood just like I was. He had so much power, but was also responsible in that he never abused that power. Could I do the same if I had that power? I endeavoured to obtain holovids of all those portrayals.
* * *
Later that day, I gave my father the report I’d been working on.
“What took you so long, Lore?"
“I'm sorry, Father ... I ... I was distracted."
“How? Was it by your dream last night?" "
He had to ask.
“No ... it was ... ... Just something I found ... uh ... intriguing ... "
“And ... well ... I ... well she ... I-"
My father smiled warmly. “Walk with me."
I followed him. We walked outside the base, into the farmlands.
We were walking for quite a while, when my father stopped and turned to me.
“I knew this time would come," he said. "But I didn't expect it to come so soon."
I frowned. “What time?"
Doctor Soong smiled.
“Lore ... I think it's time I told you about the birds and the bees ..."
I became puzzled. “But you've already programmed me with the knowledge of animal life forms. Birds are feathered creatures capable of flight."
I pointed up into the sky as a bird flew past
“And bees are insects that make honey."
My father laughed.
“What's so funny?" I asked, irritated.
“Nothing, Lore, nothing. Sit down."
We both sat on two large rocks, opposite each other.
"I know what distracted you from your report, Lore ..."
I shifted, uncomfortably, embarassed. My father saw this. He smiled, understandingly.
"It's all right. It happened to me many a time. It's all part of being a man."
"But I'm not a man. I'm an android."
My father nodded. “Yes, Lore, but you have been ... Programmed ... sorry, I can't think of a better word - as a fully functional male ... with all the ... parts ... and ... feelings."
I nodded. “So what do I do?"
"Be careful, Lore. Love is a dicey game. There's always a chance of getting hurt. Sometimes it's a game you just can't win."
I nodded, understanding - well, trying to at least.
“Lore, listen to me here. I may be an old man, but I've been through this many times."
“So you know what to do? You understand women."
My father laughed hard. “Oh Gods no. I don't think there’s many men who can claim to do that."
I was puzzled. “Then how ...What is the right way?"
My father chuckled. “There's no right or wrong way, Lore. You just have to take it one day at a time. Some women like the hands-on approach, other the more subtle, gentle approach... It's hard to know exactly what they want, and when you know what they want, you have to feel that you want it too."
“It sounds very complex."
“It is and then again it's not."
“What do you think Alana will like?"
“Alana ... Alana Vashele. She's very talented. Very work orientated."
“Uh ... Nothing ..." I said, ignoring the question
My father nodded. “Ahh, that she is, my son - a bit young for your old man, though."
I smiled. “How old is she?"
“You should never ask a woman that."
“Why? And I'm not asking her. I'm asking you."
“Women are sensitive about their age, especially when they’re getting older. Human life is finite after all. And she'd kill me if I told you."
“Please, father. I won’t tell her."
“Oh, all right…" he gave in. "She's twenty-eight. Don't tell her I told you that. She'll have my guts for garters."
I smiled. “Garters?”
“Things humans used centuries ago to use to hold up socks and stockings. It’s just an expression that has hung around.”
“Oh. And of course not. I won’t tell Alana, I promise. Thank you, Father."
Then there was silence for a while.
“Lore, are you perfectly clear on your feelings for Alana?"
My brow creased a little. “What do you mean?"
“Before you plunge into a relationship, you must know the difference between Love and Lust."
“Lust? What's that?"
A smile spread across his face and he patted my shoulder. “I think it'd be better if you found that out for yourself."
I nodded. “But, Father, you haven't told me what I should do."
“Do what you feel is right, Lore, but I'm warning you - Please be careful. I don't want you to get hurt."
“I'll be careful, I promise."
“We best be getting inside," he said. "It's starting to get dark."
The senior officers of the Enterprise had gathered in the observation lounge.
Admiral Llewellyn was on screen.
“The USS Sydney was sent to investigate what happened to the Enigma in the Aurorian sector. They have recently returned with their report. All life on the vessel was destroyed, and the Enigma is damaged beyond all repair. Starfleet is not accusing anyone at the moment, until we conduct an extensive search in the sector where the Enigma was destroyed."
“The weapons used to destroy the Enigma were none that we can identify. I am sending the Enterprise to investigate further."
“Picard nodded. “Acknowledged, Admiral," said Picard. “We'll keep you posted if we find anything."
Llewellyn gave a nod. “Good. Llewellyn out."
The screen went blank. Picard looked at Data.
“We're en route to the Aurorian sector now. We'll do our best to solve the mystery there."
Data nodded. “The game is afoot, sir."
Picard smiled. “Indeed. Dismissed."
Everyone began to file out of the Observation lounge.
“Data," Picard called after all the others had gone.
The android turned to face his captain.
“You seem somewhat distracted."
Data paused for a moment.
“Accessing Lore's memories is proving difficult."
Picard's brow furrowed slightly. “Difficult? In what sense? Are they damaged?"
“No, sir. The memories are all intact. Lore appears ... very childlike," Data said. “I am beginning to grasp an understanding of him, and I am unravelling a mystery that has long eluded me."
“I understand how you feel, Data, but please do not let this interfere with your duties."
“I will not, Sir," Data promised.
Picard stood and walked to the replicator. “Tea, Earl Grey, hot, two."
The two steaming teas materialized. The captain took them and handed one to Data. Data frowned, puzzled, but had grown accustomed to the captain's ways and Earl Grey tea seemed to be a traditional drink. Not wishing to offend his Captain, Data took the cup and politely began to sip the tea. He found the spiced bergamot flavour to be quite pleasant.
After his first sip, Captain Picard looked at his Second Officer and set his cup down. He began to sit.
“Commander, do you mind if I ask you a question of a personal nature?"
“Of course not, Captain. You may ask me anything you wish."
“Now that you're getting a deeper insight into your brother's psyche, are you beginning to understand him at a greater degree?"
“Yes Sir, I am beginning to. Although I do not think anything can justify his actions, I am starting to understand him."
“That's good, Data. Perhaps one day you can share your findings with us."
“Perhaps I will, but I do not think Lore would want the whole ship knowing his innermost feelings."
Picard nodded. “Please forgive your old Captain's curiosity."
Data smiled. “Of course, Sir."
Picard smiled back. “Dismissed."
The Captain watched Data leave, and wondered if the chip was on or off, for Data appeared to be upset.
* * *
Picard sat in his Ready Room.
“Incoming message from Federation Headquarters," the computer chirped.
The Captain's eyebrows went up. “Put it through," he said instantly.
An older face appeared on the screen. One which Picard recognized instantly.
The face on the screen smiled.
“It's a pleasure to see you again, Jean-Luc."
“The feeling is mutual."
Seeing Connaught Rossa again, reminded the captain of her grandson Jono. He had often wondered how she felt about leaving him with the Talarians. She must have come to terms with it somehow, after all the boy had grown up with them, and it seemed wrong to take him away from the only life that he'd ever known. But today, the captain knew the admiral was not making a social call.
Rossa nodded. "I'm contacting you on a serious matter, Captain. The USS Tolkien's long range scanners have picked up something unusual in the Aurorian star system. It may be a vessel, a satellite of some kind. It is in orbit around an uninhabited class M planet. We're unable to determine exactly what it is, but we have reason to believe and it is highly likely it may be what attacked the Enigma, killing everyone aboard. It may have also killed everyone on the planet. Your top priority, Captain is to investigate and to destroy it if necessary. Its composition is unknown to us. Proceed with extreme caution, Captain Picard. I do not want the Enterprise to suffer the same fate and I am sure your feelings are with me on that."
“We know nothing about these aliens, but for the moment we are treating them as very hostile. All of the Enigma's hails were ignored. This satellite has powerful weapons, Captain, if it were commandeered by the Romulans or Cardassians ... or worse ..."
Picard nodded. “Agreed. We will do all we can to subdue the threat, Admiral."
Connaught nodded, just before she signed out she said one last thing, "and, Captain, if you hear from Jono, please let me know."
Picard smiled. “You know I will."
A few moments after Admiral Rossa's image had been replaced by the starfield.
Picard walked briskly onto the Bridge and addressed the helmsman.
“Set co-ordinates for the Aurorian star system, warp nine, Starfleet's top priority," he ordered. “We have something of a crisis on our hands."
“Aye, Sir," Ensign Rager said, punching in the co-ordinates on her console.
The Enterprise's warp engines glowed as she took off into Warp.
“Mr. Data," Picard said, "I have an assignment for you."
The Second Officer swivelled his chair around to face the Captain.
“I want you to access the ship's computer to find everything you can about the Enigma And her crew."
* * *
Data sat at the aft station, trying in information request after request. Picard walked up the ramp and joined him.
“What've you got, Data?"
“So far, sir, I have been working with the computer for a little over two hours. I have been able to obtain bio-files on the Enigma's crew."
Data typed in a name, and a picture appeared on the screen.
“This is Greek born Persephone Avalon, Captain of the Enigma for over three years. Pervious assignment, the..."
“Data, I appreciate your thoroughness, but a history lesson is not called for here."
“I apologize, sir."
“Quite all right."
Data gave his captain a brief profile on the Enigma's bridge crew.
"The Enigma was a science vessel, send to investigate Gallaria IV, an M class planet. To make first contact."
“And they never..."
Data nodded. “It is yet to be decided whether the race is hostile, but all reports show they did not respond to the Enigma's hails and so one would assume that they either are hostile or the contact was not understood."
“Agreed, but I am not taking any chances."
"A wise precaution, Sir."
"And the other crew members?"
"First Officer Scott Deval, 38, Dutch, Second Officer Hector Osiri Alabasta, 42, Egyptian, Chief Engineer Di Carter, 32, North American, Science Officer Ellani, no surname, 3874."
“That is her age, Sir. She was Tolairan. An Elf like aquatic race. Everyone else aboard the ship was human, bar Ensign Dair McHeller, 19. He was half Betazoid."
Picard nodded, sadly. “Please continue."
“Helm officer Lieutenant Viccario Andero, Italian, 39, Ops operator Ensign Miranda Fahey, 21, Australian."
Picard sighed. “We will have to give them a burial with honours," he said in respect.
Data nodded. “Agreed, Sir."
* * *
In his quarters, Data looked over another of his old personal Logs
'Second Officer's Personal Log, Stardate 43738.3: I have created an android and named her Lal, which in Hindi means beloved. Lal is my child - my daughter.
I have done a great deal of parental research. Do all parents have this much difficulty with their first child? I was prepared to take the risks and responsibilities of becoming a single parent. As the days progressed, I taught Lal more and more. Sharing her experiences, I feel as though I am learning as well. Lal asks many questions. Some I can answer some I cannot, such as 'what it is like to feel?' I have to tell her - I do not know. I decided to send her to school. I feel she will learn by being with humans, but she is having difficulty relating to them, because she is different. I felt the same. I suggested building up a rapport with them, as that is what helped me.
I went to Doctor Crusher for advice. She advised me to tell Lal of the difficulties I had at first. Perhaps that would encourage her.
I took Lal to Ten-Forward, the social centre of the Enterprise. She can learn a lot more about humans here. Guinan will also be able to teach her a great deal.
Later, I came to Ten-Forward and found Commander Riker engaged in a passionate kiss with my daughter. Naturally, as a father, I was concerned. I discovered it was Lal who had kissed him, attempting to emulate the human emotion of love. Also, while we were in Ten-Forward, Lal used a verbal contraction. She said I've instead of I have. I do not understand how this has occurred, as my program has never mastered that.
Lal has much to learn about humans and I cannot teach her everything. Emotion is involved and I am incapable of that. She expressed concern about being able to emulate humans but not feeling anything.
“I will never know love ..."
I told her it was a limitation we had to learn to accept. She asked me why I continued to try to become human. That is a question I often ask myself. "It is the struggle itself that is important, Lal." I told her.
"I learned today that humans like to hold hands " she said. "It is a symbolic gesture of affection. " Lal then placed her hand on top of mine. I gently closed my fingers around it. I wish I could have felt the emotion.
Captain Picard informed me that Admiral Haftel from Starfleet research wished to relocate Lal. He stated to the admiral that Lal needed to be with me, and he is correct. I cannot give up my child I wonder what the Admiral's reaction would be if he had been ordered to give up his children.
"It is my duty, not Starfleet’s," I told him, "to guide her ... to support her as she learns. No one can relieve me from that obligation and I cannot ignore it. I am ... her father ..." I was relieved when Captain Picard told me to delay Haftel’s order.
“There are times, sir, " he said, "when men of good conscience cannot blindly follow orders."
A statement I will always remember.
Counsellor Troi urgently called me to my lab. She told me Lal had experienced fear. I was puzzled, but there was no time to think about it now. Lal had malfunctioned. Her condition was critical and she needed immediate attention. I had to work quickly, or she will die.
Yet, as hard as I tried, I was unable to save her.
"We must say goodbye now ... " I said to her.
"I feel ... " she said.
"What do you feel, Lal?" I asked her.
"I love you, Father ..."
I hesitated. If it were possible for me to feel sadness, it would be now. "I wish I could feel it with you."
"I will feel it for both of us Thank you for my life..." Lal's last word was
Even though I have transferred her memories to me, it is not the same. I feel empty without her I will miss my daughter. I wish I could have returned her love, but that is impossible. I gave her all I could, but being incapable of loving her makes me feel empty, incomplete. Sadly, I must accept that emotion is one human aspect that may forever be beyond my program.
END OF LOG.'
Data sat back, he did have emotions now, and they were harder then he thought they would be. Even when he switched them off, they would flood back to him once he reactivated the chip.
He was grateful he could finally grieve for Lal and Lore, but would that pain ever subside? What was death? Was it the end of everything or a new beginning as some said it was? Data wondered.
"Father, do you think Alana will view me differently because I'm an android?"
“I don't know, Lore. You're the first sentient android ever created. Some people may view you as nothing more than a machine, simply because they don't understand. But I know differently. I know you have feelings. Feelings that can be hurt. You are my son. My child. You mean as much to me as any human son would, but others may not be so accepting. You just have to be patient."
“Thank you, Father. You've been a great help."
He smiled. “That's what fathers are for."
* * *
I spent all night pondering what my father had told me about love, relationships and Alana.
The next morning, I walked to the computer terminal in my room and sat down. I knew what love was - or thought I did, and had some idea what lust was, but I wanted to be exactly sure of the differences between them.
"Computer, please display dictionary meaning of the words 'Love, and Lust'."
I looked at the screen.
1) An instance of warm affection; also an act of kindness.
2) To have a strong affection - to be devoted to; to care deeply for someone, or something - to be in love.
1) Pleasure, delight; also source of pleasure.
2) Sexual appetite or desire, passionate desire; to have a strong excessive sexual desire.
My eyes widened.
“I feel both of those ... I think, but will Ala ..."
“Lore..." called a voice. It was Alana.
I jumped the proverbial ten feet.
“Screen off!" I snapped to the computer, quietly
The screen obediently went blank.
“I'm ... I'm coming, Alana, just ... er ... wait a second."
I composed myself as best I could and went to join her.
“Doctor Soong asked me to do the crop survey with you."
Thank you, Father!
I tried not to look excited.
“Yes, well ... let's get started."
I helped her with some of the heavier equipment, but she seemed to be managing quite well, despite her fragile looking frame.
We climbed onto two separate hovercrafts and began our survey.
“You do the North quadrant, Lore. I'll do the South."
She was about to leave.
“Alana," I said. “I think it'd be more beneficial if we worked together on the same quadrant. That way we can share our findings and make comparisons."
She hesitated for a moment.
“All right, Lore. We'll do it your way."
We began our survey.
The survey was over in less time than I would have liked. As they say time flies when you're having fun. I enjoyed and savoured every moment with Alana. Crop surveys are dead boring, but with her... It felt wonderful., like I was truly coming alive. Alana and I shared our readings and came up with virtually the same findings. I only wish I knew how she felt about me. If she liked me, she was very good at hiding it.
I sat at the computer in Alana's office, and helped her input that data we gathered today. I nodded as she read from the recorder. I could have easily done this myself, and a great deal quicker too, but I wanted to be with her.
“All right," she said, "that's all of it."
I stood. "It's all in the computer."
What a corny thing to say, Lore. Of course it's in the computer!
She turned around. “Yes?"
I had a mental block. I was too scared to say what I had originally intended to.
“...Are you happy with the survey results? ..."
She looked puzzled. “Yes, Lore. They were fine. They showed nothing out of the ordinary. The crops are growing and there's no abnormalities in the soil. Your instruments should've shown that."
“They did ... but I wanted to know if you felt okay with the results."
“I feel fine with them. Lore ... is there something wrong with you? Are you functioning correctly?"
“Yes ... yes. I am."
“Then why do you sound as though you're ..."
“As though I'm what?"
“...As though you're ... unsure ..."
I said nothing.
“Maybe Doctor Soong had better check you out."
“No, Alana. I'm fine. What are you doing later?"
“I'm going to file these results."
“Is that all?"
She frowned. “Yes. Why?"
“I was wondering if you'd ..."
“If I'd what?"
“If you'd like to have dinner with me?" I tensed, terrified she would refuse.
I tried not to sound too hopeful.
She looked puzzled. “But you don't need to eat. You're an android."
“I am capable of eating, and you need to eat."
She paused for a moment. “No ... no thank you, Lore."
I felt more disappointed than I looked.
“Maybe some other time?" I said, hopefully.
She turned around and gave me a weird look. She also looked a bit more uneasy.
“I really think Doctor Soong should check you out."
She spun around. “What?!"
I felt scared. I didn't know what to say. I didn't even know why I'd called after her.
“Nothing..." I said softly, leaving. “It doesn't matter..."
Alana left. The last thing I wanted to do was frighten her. She doesn't like me. Was it because I was an android? If only I could tell her how I feel and that I was really feeling it, then perhaps...
But I can't force her to love me. If she doesn't, that is her choice. I felt upset. It was not a nice feeling. I wanted it to go away, but it wouldn't. My father had warned me about getting hurt and now I was.
* * *
I was working in the main room with a few other colonists. We were sharing our computer findings on the crops and finding out ways to better maintain them.
They weren't doing all that well.
It was so easy. I couldn't understand why the colonists were so puzzled by it, but then again, they're humans and they don't have the intelligence that I do and I can't blame them for that. I don't hold that against them. They think I look down on them because I'm better than them. I don't. I want to help them. That's one of the reasons why I'm here.
But I've found the colonists would rather ask each other for advice rather than me. Why? I can give them better and more valuable advice. I don't understand what they have against me. I only want to help. I guess they feel intimidated by me, well I can't help that. I was created with mega strength and intelligence. Can they help the way they're created? No one can. But I don't think it's the intelligence that bothers them. It's because I'm a mechanical life form. They say humans are not prejudiced anymore. I find this to be untrue. They used to be prejudiced against different skin colours, sexual preferences, different cultures and religions ... I don't understand why, though they seem to be more open minded now, but I guess it will be a while before they learn to accept androids. They're prejudiced against me and it's not because of my skin colour or culture. It's because I'm an android. They can't understand how a machine can have real feelings. I'm just different, that's all. Why can't they realize that inside I'm just like them? I can feel. I can be hurt. All the things they feel, I can feel, and they just don't realize. Humans are so single minded. They don't accept anything they don't understand. They don't even try.
I walked over to Ron Dane, one of the colonists.
He was working on a computer analysis program to monitor changes in the crops. He had a good idea, but he was doing it all wrong. I could see the bugs in it even with my eyes closed.
Dane was looking rather frustrated.
“Let me help" I said. "I know what you're doing wrong.
He looked at me and seemed not to want my help, but he had no other choice.
I began rewriting his program.
“What are you doing?" he asked.
“Taking the bugs out."
“Yeah, but you're changing the whole thing."
“The way you had written it wouldn't work and you didn't account for the severe colder temperature of the winter nights."
A few seconds later, I turned to Dane.
“It's done," I told him.
“Done? So soon?" He looked very surprised. “Let me see."
I showed him the program. He stared at the screen.
“It took me six months to do that. Six months!"
I became puzzled. “Why are you so angry? I did what you asked me to."
“I didn't ask you to do anything!"
“But I helped you with-"
“It took me six months to write that program and you come in here and write the whole damn thing again in six seconds!"
“It didn't take me six seconds. It took twenty-one."
Dane looked ready to explode.
“Isn't that what you wanted?" I asked, puzzled. “You wanted the program to work and-"
“You think you're great, don't you, android? Just because you're more intelligent than us... you're nothing more than a machine!"
That hurt a lot. Why won't they accept me? What have I done wrong? I try to help them. I'm nice to them. I've never hurt them in any way and look how they repay me, and you know what? It's just because I'm an android. Would it even matter if my skin and eyes were the same colour as theirs?
They're all the same. They're all human. I know I'm not human, but close enough. I look human and have needs, wants, desires and feelings just like they do. Why can't they realize that? It's just blind ignorance.
“Do you want me to erase the program?" I asked.
“Of course not!" snapped Dane. “We need this program to-"
“Then why are you so mad at me for-"
“Shut up, android," snapped, Glynn, another colonist.
I turned and looked at him.
“Look, I don't understand. First you want my help. That's why I'm here and then you yell at me for helping and-"
“Look, Android, we don't want your help."
“My name is Lore" I snapped, "and if you don't want my help, why the hell did you create me in the first place? Why did you want an android?"
“Who said we wanted an android? Soong wanted to create you, but now, we wish he hadn't. You're more trouble than you're worth."
“What do you mean, trouble? All I-"
“What I mean, Lore, is that it was a waste of time and material to create you. Soong would have done better using that time on bettering the machinery here. The last thing we needed is an android."
"Is that what you think? That I'm just a machine?"
“Well what do you think you are, a human?"
“I know I'm an android, but that doesn't mean I can't feel."
“Of course it does. Soong programmed you to be act human and you do. You even think you're alive."
“Think I am ...I-"
I really wanted to thump him one, but refrained myself. If I hurt anyone here, that'd really look bad, and besides, he didn't know what he was saying. How could he know how much he's hurting me? I'm just a machine, remember?
Glynn continued. “Doctor Soong made you so human that you're really becoming pain in the ass!"
I didn't want to hear anymore.
“Well, if you don't need me fine."
I pushed past them and stormed out of the room in high dungeon.
I burst into my quarters, almost breaking the door.
It was my father.
"What?!" I snapped.
“What happened with-"
"Great, now you're rousing me. Can an android not have a moment's peace!"
“Lore, calm down, I just want to know what happened."
“I'll tell you what happened. I helped him and he yelled at me."
“Lore," my father sighed, "you've got to understand that humans can't work as fast as you and don't have your superior intelligence."
“I know that and I don't expect them to."
“They're rather possessive of their work."
“So I've noticed, but if they don't want my help - fine."
I pushed past my father and left.
I ignored him and left the complex
* * *
I walked briskly for approximately three and a half hours before I came up on an old watchtower. From my programmed memory banks, I knew that the watchtower was an old abandoned relic from the previous inhabitants of this planet. They killed each other in a civil war, apparently, over three hundred years before we came here. I entered the deserted stone watchtower, climbed the stairs to the top and smiled. No one around for miles and miles. This was the perfect spot, the perfect getaway, this old watchtower. A small amount of the colonists believed the ghosts of the other race are still around, but there was nothing here, only the gentle wind.
I lay down on the floor on an old pile of blankets. If only my entire life could be this peaceful.
* * *
I often came to the old watchtower in times of need, times when I just wanted to be alone. I even played there, though I told no one about it, not even my parents. It was fun to pretend the enemy was coming and to man the ancient trebuchet atop the tower. I smiled to myself. I loved that old grey stone watchtower. It was a place where I finally found solace. My proximity detector could detect anyone within a three-mile radius, but it was fun to use the watchtower to keep lookout, but no one ever came out here. Good.
That's what they thought - that I was just an unfeeling machine. No matter how hard I try to convince them otherwise, that's what they'll believe. As I said, they're so damn single minded, not willing to give anything a chance. Why can't they understand? Why can't they see that I have feelings, just like them? Can't they hear the emotion in my voice? No. They believe it's all part of a blasted program. Well, if I'm programmed to think I'm alive, maybe I'd be better off thinking I'm dead. I don't want to go on the rest of my life being rejected. I've done nothing to upset them and yet they hurt me without even realizing it. I wish they could understand, but can I blame them? They're only human. Perhaps one day, they'll accept androids as a life form, but unfortunately for me, not yet.
How would Glynn like it if I rejected him just because his skin was a very dark colour? People used to get rejected hundreds of years ago just because of what colour they were. Stupid, isn't it? What difference does it make? Do I have to wait hundreds of years before they'll accept androids?
* * *
That morning, I emerged from my quarters, tired of sulking. The colonists didn't want to accept me and that was that, but what they said still hurt a lot and I couldn't shut the pain out. Sometimes, I wish my father hadn't given me emotions. Then I wouldn't feel any pain, but then again, I wouldn't feel love either and that was a beautiful feeling.
I saw Alana walk past. I fell into step behind her. There was something I really wanted to say to her and I hoped I could say it properly this time without making a complete idiot out of myself. I admit I was shy when it came to her.
Alana then stopped. I did too, almost bumping into her. She turned around.
“Lore" she said. “Were you following me?"
“Ah, no, Alana ... I was just going to the room over there."
I pointed and started to walk toward the door. Great. Now I sound like an idiot. I turned around, just as Alana was starting to walk away.
“Uh ... Alana, there's something I need to show you ... in here."
“What? Have you found new information on the crops?"
“Uh ... not quite, but come in and I'll show you."
She followed me into the room.
"Lights" I said and the room was illuminated.
“This is the old computer room. It's not used anymore. What could possibly be of use in here?"
She looked at me, expectantly.
“Er... Alana, there's something I've been wanting to tell you for a while ..."
She looked uneasy. “What ..."
I hesitated for a moment. She became more and more uneasy.
“Don't worry," I said gently. “I'm not going to hurt you."
She still looked unsure.
“What I wanted to say is .. is ..."
I took a deep breath, then grabbed her and kissed her. She dropped her papers. This was the first time I'd kissed anyone. It felt wonderful, then Alana began to struggle. I wished it could have gone on for longer, but I let her go, the next thing I knew she belted me across the face.
“Don't you ever do that again!" She held her smarting hand.
She tried to slap me again, but I grabbed her wrist. She tried to jerk free.
“Let me go!! You're hurting me..."
“Sorry ..." I released my grip.
“Just what do you think you're playing at?"
“I ... I wanted to say that ... I ... Alana ... that you are the most beautiful woman I've ever seen and ... I love you."
She nodded. “Right - and I'm your fairy godmother."
“But it's true ..."
“I don't need this. I've got enough on my hands without a deranged android who thinks he's human and in love of all things."
She bent down and picked up her papers. I looked at her.
“I guess that means dinner's off..."
She glared at me, made a noise of annoyance and threw her papers in my face. Then she stormed out of the room.
I watched her go. A tear rolled down my cheek.
Why, of all the colonists, why can't she understand? She's just like all the others and she's the one I care most about. I love her. I really do, but now I know she sees me just as all the other colonists do. Why can't she see? Maybe I have to show her more. Maybe she will understand if I show her more love, I mean all I've done is ask her for dinner and kiss her. Maybe she doesn't think I can love her after such a short while. My father had told me that you can't fall in love overnight and perhaps she thinks the same thing. I hope that's all it is. If she really knows that I love her, perhaps she'll love me too. Is that too much to hope for?
I was walking past Doctor Soong's office and heard yelling.
"I've had it with that android of yours!"
It was Alana doing the yelling.
“What happened?" asked Doctor Soong.
“I'll tell you what happened! It followed me, then led me into a room, telling me it had something to show me. So I went in."
It? is that what she thinks I am an it? I continued to listen, hoping my father would help me by saying something good.
“And then what?" he asked.
“Then it said it loved me, grabbed me and kissed me! ..."
My father laughed.
“This isn't funny, Soong!" Alana raged. “That android has been getting on my nerves since day one. Ever since it woke up for the first time, it was always staring at me wherever I went."
“Lore's just fascinated by you, that's all."
“Yes. You were the first woman he ever saw and ... well, he's developed a liking to you."
“Well, tell him to keep his fascination to ... He? Hey, Let's not get carried away here. I know you and Juliana spent quite a while creating Lore, and it's quite a step forward for you, but..."
“Listen, 'Lana, Lore is the closest thing I've ever had to a son. I know that may sound strange to you and everybody else. He may be just a machine to you - an android, but to me he's my son."
“I respect your view, Noonian, but don't expect us to feel the same way about Lore as you do."
“I'm not excepting anything, 'Lana, just hoping. Hoping that mankind will someday accept androids as a life form."
“Perhaps we will, Noonian, but not today. Maybe we're not ready for that yet."
“You can be assured of that, Alana."
The two then left my father's office. Alana saw me leaving.
“An eaves dropping android, what next?!"
I turned around. “You were talking about me."
“Yes. Not to you."
“I have a right to know what's being said behind my back."
“Maybe you do. You heard everything?"
“Most of it."
“So you love me, Android? ... How about it? You and me. Let's get married ..."
“Yeah, well, why don't we? I can detect sarcasm, you know."
I spun on my heel and left. Time to visit the old watchtower again.
And so I went. I was there for about an hour and lay on the hay again.
"So you've found the old watchtower..."
I jumped to see Old Tom Handy.
“I used to come here often, pretend I was a sentinel. I brought the hay to make it more comfortable to lie down."
I smiled. “It's nice out here, nice and peaceful."
"Aye, that it is, young Lore."
“Well compared to me. I'm pushing ninety."
I nodded. “A well derived comparison."
And we spent the day in the watchtower. Though, this was the last time Tom would visit it.
* * *
2.00 am. I walked down the corridor, towards the exit. The corridors were dimly lit, as hardly anyone was awake at this hour.
I approached the exit and touched the door panel. It opened to my palm print.
It was dark outside. Dark and quiet. Everything seemed to stop here at night. If there were any nocturnal creatures, they were very quiet. Even I couldn't hear them.
I walked into the night. The only sound to be heard were my footsteps.
I knew where I was headed. The flower gardens out yonder. A few miles past the farmlands. I could go on a hovercraft and be there in a few minutes, but I wanted to walk.
And so I walked. Past the vast farmlands, which the colonists cultivated for a lot of their food supplies. They had replicators, but felt they needed to remain true to their heritage. Some had been farmers for generations, my father had told me.
I walked on. I could see light brimming on the horizon - 'the crack of Dawn' they call it. I wonder why. Funny people. I didn't hear a crack.
It was gradually beginning to get lighter.
I reached the flower gardens about an hour after I left the base. There were many flowers here, both from Earth and ones indigenous to Omicron Theta. 'Fluffs' as the colonists had aptly named them. They were small fluffy flowers, which grew in bundles. Almost every flower in the bundle was a different colour. However, they didn't like to be touched. They closed up into a bud when they were exposed to unnatural pressures.
It was almost as if they were alive. Were they? One really didn't know. There was no way we knew to communicate with them. They were unlike Earth flowers. Essentially, the 'Fluffs' had as much right to be here as we did, so the colonists chose to leave them alone. They had survived quite well without our help, so it would seem.
I touched one of them gently. The yellow flower closed up and retreated back into its bud. I waited for a while, until it re-emerged.
At least they didn't treat me like a machine. Even if they were 'just plants.'
It gradually started to get lighter.
I stood up and walked to the rose bushes. There were many of them, each bush with a different colour roses. Red, Yellow, orange, violet brown, white, black and other colours the colonists had bred, such as mustards, blues, greens and more.
I walked to one of the red rose bushes. I needed thirty-six bright red roses for Alana. The flowers of love. Essentially, I'm against humans, but I still love Alana. I guess I always have, even if she does reject me. Perhaps today will be different. I hope. I looked around the bush and started to pick only the best ones. It took a while. I could've done it much faster, but I didn't want to.
I sat down with the three dozen red roses and began individually picking the thorns off them.
“She loves me, she loves me not. She loves me ..."
I know you're supposed to do that with daises, but there aren't any around here, not with the roses, anyway.
It took quite a while to pick all the thorns off them. I didn't want her to prick herself.
I picked off the last few.
“She loves me ... she loves me not ... She loves me!"
I wish ... Perhaps she will love me, someday. Perhaps today, if she knew how I really felt for her. I feel great today. I don't know why, but I just do. I suppose it's just one of those days where you get off on the right side of the bed for a change. I haven't had many of those days since I've been activated.
I'd spent about an hour, carefully choosing the roses and preparing them for her.
Carefully, I gathered up the vermilion flowers and began to walk back to the base.
It was 0600 when I returned.
I had already prepared a card the night before. All I had to do was write some a love poem in it. I looked through the computer files, but none of them seemed right. None of them fitted my how I was feeling. However, a self-written poem would be more meaningful and it'd be more ... me.
I'm not much of a poet, but I'll give it a bash.
I've spent over half an hour, thinking, writing lines, changing words around, swapping lines, but I think I've come up with one. A good one at that.
One which describes how I feel exactly.
To my dear Alana
These roses, My Love, are only for you
I'd give anything for you to love me too.
What can I do,
To prove my love for you
Everything I've done,
These thirty-six roses red
Or so I have said,
Are a small token of my love
Please accept them, or I'll feel blue
The rest of my life, thinking of you.
I love you, Alana, I really do.
I promise my feelings for you
But I cannot force your love
And I will not
But you do not even see my love
All you've seen
Is that I'm only a machine
Who cannot feel a thing.
Love Lore xoxo
I hope she'll understand after she reads this. I gathered the roses, the card, with the poem written inside it. I suddenly remembered. Chocolates! Oh, how she loves chocolates!
I rushed to the replicator and replicated a box of macadamia and hazelnut milk chocolates. Her absolute favorite. I put the card inside the ribbon on the chocolate box and went to Alana's quarters. I was happy, but at the same time scared. What if she rejected me again - like she always has? What if she never understands how I feel about her - that I can feel? I didn't want to think about that. I knocked on the door and tried my best to hide the roses and chocolates.
“Wait a minute" was the reply.
That minute seemed to go on forever, until she opened the door.
“What is it, Lore?"
I then shyly and gingerly handed her the roses and chocolates. She just stared at me.
"Isn't it obvious?"
“Why are you doing this?"
“You know why."
“But, Lore, you can't..."
“Just open the card." I said, hastily. “Please." I added, gently.
“Oh ... all right ..." she sighed, resigned.
She took the card from me, tore open the envelope. I had drawn symbols of love on it. Cupids, Roses ...
Alana opened the card.
To my dear Alana
These roses, My Love, are only for you ...
She finished reading and looked up.
“You wrote this?"
“Well, it's quite a good poem, but-"
“But, what?" I felt nervous.
“Lore..." Her voice sounded resigned. “You can't be feeling this."
"You're an android, for Pete's sake! You're not capable of emotions!"
“But I am. Everything I've done ... Can't you see that?"
“Lore, Doctor Soong created you to help us, and so we wouldn't be intimidated by an android, he ... he made you look and act human. And he did a good job at that. If you weren't an android, I might've thought you were human."
“I know what you're saying."
“What am I saying?"
“You're saying that because I'm an android, programmed to think I'm alive, so I think I'm alive. Didn't it ever occur to you that I might be alive?"
I looked into her beautiful oceanic blue eyes. And a tear rolled down my cheek.
“See," she said. “You're crying. Not because you're sad, but because that's the thing a human male would do in this situation - now get outta my room."
I looked at her, hurting even more.
“Okay, I'll go, but just tell me one thing - Would you love me if I were human?"
“If you were human Lore." she said, after a long pause, "you might be considered charming. Everything you've done for me suggests that. Perhaps ... Perhaps I would."
I let the roses drop to the floor, then met her eyes, “Then I wish I was human."
And with that, I left her quarters.
At first, I wasn't aware that she was following me. I was so upset and hurt, I might not have cared. I walked into a room and wanted to burst into tears, but she came in and turned on the light.
“You wish you were human?" her voice was ever so sarcastic.
I turned around and looked at her.
“Yes. Then perhaps you would love me."
“Love?" she scoffed. “You don't even know the meaning of the word and don't bother to quote the dictionary. I'm sick of you, Lore! Pretending you're alive, playing on our sympathies, well, you're not going to get any from me. Nothing I say will hurt you, although you'll claim it does. You're nothing more than a machine, Lore and nothing is ever going to change that."
I turned around, more hurt than ever, but she wouldn't understand. She never will. Nothing is ever going to change that. I know that now. I only wish she felt the way I did. Why can't she love me? What have I done wrong? I did everything by the book, and more. I don't understand ...
“I wish Doctor Soong had never created you!" she screamed. "All you've caused this colony is trouble, from the moment you awoke. You're just a thing, Lore and things can be replaced."
“Stop it ..." I pleaded, but she continued.
“I often wondered why Doctor Soong didn't build something more worthwhile ... or make an android who doesn't think he's - It's alive."
“Why should I? Is it hurting you, Lore?" Her voice dripped with sarcasm. “Oh, I'm so sorry... forgive me, Mr Sentient Android. I didn't know circuits could feel."
It was doing more than hurting me. What she was saying was angering me. Why can't she - why can't they all understand?
“So, Lore, do you want to marry me? Do you love me that much?"
Yes. I did love her that much, but she'll never know or understand.
But that's not why she asked the question.
“Let's get married right now!" she jeered. “We'll go on a honeymoon and..."
“Stop it, please..."
“Oh, you don't love me anymore? ... Oh, Lore, how could you? All the things you said to me...The roses, the card, the poem..."
She pretended to cry, then she laughed.
“You see, Lore. You don't love me. You can't love me. You can't feel any-"
“Stop what? Oh, so now we're angry? Is that it? Trying out another human emotion? You're nothing but a walking pile of circuits and-"
I could barely control my temper and whacked her. Alana reeled back and stared at me.
I stared at her in disbelief at what I had just done. “'Lana, I'm sorry ..."
“Get away! Just get away!"
“'Lana... Sorry if I offended"
“LEAVE ME ALONE!! AND DON’T CALL ME ‘LANA"
Unsure of what to do, I left, angry and frustrated.
Bitterly I grabbed Peter Pan and Wendy and finished the old book.
Is that right? ... I sighed to myself. If I took the first star on the right and went straight on till morning, would I reach Neverland? I hoped so. Would the Lost Boys reject me? I hoped not. I was a lost boy myself. Would I be able to fly with a little pixie dust? One needed ot think happy thoughts in order to fly in Neverland and happy I was not.
Yes, it was a work of fiction, but I really wished it wasn't. If I clapped my hands loud enough and long enough would fairies appear? I highly doubted it. I thumped the book closed the book and slammed it to into the shelf, where it would gather dust until someone decided to visit Neverland again.
This was the first time I'd been really angry at Alana. She was asking for it, but I felt I done the right thing. Although I was mad with her, but I still felt I loved her. I needed some advice, so I walked back to my father's office.
“Hello, Lore" he said.
“Father, I need some ..."
There was a loud thud and clash from inside my father's bedroom. We shared startled glances and rushed in.
“Lights!" yelled Soong.
My mother was lying on the floor. Doctor Soong rushed over to her and turned her over.
“Darling... what happened ... are you all right?"
She groaned slightly and opened her eyes.
“Don't know ... felt weak and fell ... fainted..."
Doctor Soong looked at Alana and I. “Get me a tricorder."
I looked around and there was one of the ledge. I grabbed it and gave it to him. Doctor Soong scanned her body.
“Keep still" he said.
“What's wrong with her. “Is she going to be all right?" I asked anxiously."
Soong paid no attention to me and continued to scan. He nodded, relieved. “You're going to be fine. A little too much stress, that's all."
We helped her up unto the bed.
“I can't rest..." she said “I have lots of work to do."
"Mother, you have to rest" I said, then turned to my father.
“You have to rest, Juliana," Noonian said to her. "We'll take care of you. I'll get some of the other colonists to do your work."
“Mother, please" I said. “You work too hard and you'll wear yourself out."
Noonian turned to me.
“Lore, I'd like a moment alone with my wife, please."
I nodded and left. I did understand, but again, I felt shunted aside. I felt for my mother, but was I not her only son?
Doctor Soong came to me a while later.
“Alana told me what happened.”
“Great. Now you’re on my case too?”
“It’s best of you leave it with her. She’s clearly not interested and the colonists are beginning to protest that you are a danger.”
“I didn’t mean to hurt her.”
“It’s easy to say that in retrospect.”
“It’s because I’m an android. If she knew I could really feel, would she be interested in me? She’s gorgeous, but I don’t see any of the other colonists vying for her attention.”
“Difficult to say, Lore. She may be, she mightn’t be.”
I signed and even though I was proud of being an android I wondered if I’d become human for Alana.
* * *
I began to lose myself in music, whenever and wherever I could. I listened to millions of tracks. Some wonderful, some just plain awful! Some songs seemed to speak my feelings as if the songwriters knew my soul. Some jarred and grated on my cyber-nerves. As if they were writing about me, but they lived and died hundreds of years ago.
Perhaps they felt the way I did, lost even amongst their own kind. Humans are such strange creatures. I listened to much alien music, and some of it was just as beautiful, however some the less said the better. Some of it was passionate, like Klingon opera.
My father came into my room when I was bellowing a well-known Opera in perfect Klingon and I could have died. Fortunately, he just smiled and left my quarters and never said a word then or since. Ferengi music, the less said the better. As you guess, most of it is about profits and to tell you the truth, they could not sing if their profits depended on it. Their instrumental stuff isn't too bad though. Some nice pieces. I find a lot of wordless music just as moving, some of it you feel you can sway like the trees in the wind. It seems books and music were my only friends here.
* * *
I had finished checking the equipment in the main control room. I was about to leave when I heard two colonists enter from the far entrance.
“I can't believe it, Elai!" one of them said. “It's so easy!"
“I'm not a mathematical genius, Albert," she said.
“That's obvious ... Elai, it's so simple!"
“My name is Elanore, if you don't mind. And I can't help it if I'm not a numerical whiz like the other people here. I don't even like it here."
“Then why did you come with us on the transport? You should have stayed on Earth."
I looked at the woman he was abusing and could see she was hurt.
“I don't even know why you came in the first place."
“I admire Doctor Noonian Soong and his accomplishments."
“We all do," Albert said, "but you're a useless contributor."
I'd had enough. “Leave her alone," I ordered, walking toward them.
Albert looked at me. “This isn't your concern, android."
“Maybe not, but I don't think your treatment of this young woman is fair."
“Not fair?" he said with a trace of sarcasm. “She doesn't know anything."
“Mathematics isn't everything," I said. “There must be other things she knows."
I glared at him. “Why don’t you ask her? It’s also puzzling ot me why you would purposely be trying to hurt her feelings."
“What would you know of feelings?" Albert sniffed.
“A hell of a lot more than you do."
He said nothing to that.
“Okay," he said, turning to me, "if you're so intelligent, give me the proof for Pierre De Fermat's Last Theorem - x**n + y**n = z**n when n>2 which has no solution in whole numbers. He said there was remarkable proof, but no proof was included in his notes. And until this day, no one, to my knowledge, has ever found proof."
“Well then, your knowledge is obviously faulty," I stated. "Apparently, the theorem was proven by Doctor Andrew Wiles, a twentieth century English mathematician who worked at Princeton. And there are many written documents that have documented the proof."
I proceeded to give him the proof. Albert was stunned and snuffed. Before he stormed out, I said, "do you see me rejecting you because my intelligence is much greater than yours?"
He turned around and looked at me.
“You shouldn't reject people on accountability of their intelligence. That's not the only thing that makes a person special."
Albert gave me an apologetic look, then left, obviously not knowing what to say.
Elanore turned to me. “Thank you, Lore. No one's ever stuck up for me before."
I smiled. “I don't like to see people get rejected. It happens to me all the time."
“Me too," she said. “I feel lonely here. I mean I admire Noonian's work, but I' just haven't got it up here," she tapped her head," to become a scientist."
“I'll help you," I said, and I really wanted to. I hadn't had much to do with her, but at least she wasn't rejecting me like the other colonists.
She shook her head, embarassed. “No ... I can't ... You have more important things to do."
I looked at her, sympathetically. “I'm not going to look down on you because you're not a mathematical genius. There's got to be something you are good at."
"I love cooking and writing stories," she said.
“There you go," I smiled. “I bet that Albert guy couldn't write anything more than an equation and I shudder to think what his cooking is like."
With that, Elanore laughed. “I really don't like him. He's been on my case since day one."
"I’m not a fan of him either. Well, if he bothers you again, just let me know."
She smiled. “Thank you, Lore."
I turned to leave, but there was something else. Was it the way she looked? She was quite attractive.
Short, but pretty. Her long wavy brown hair suited her delicate face and her emerald eyes seemed to penetrate into mine, but somehow, I don't think that was it.
“What is it, Lore?" she asked.
“Oh ...nothing ..."
I started to leave.
“I don't have any friends here," she said.
I turned to her.
“Neither do I ... Like you the others reject me - because I'm an android."
“That makes no difference to me," she said. “No one has ever been kinder to me. Will you be my friend?"
She sounded nervous, afraid of rejection and I'd be damned to Tartarus if I would reject her.
Overjoyed, I smiled. “Thanks, I'd like that a lot."
She moved toward me and kissed me on my cheek.
“I have to go. The others are expecting me."
I nodded and watched her leave, then smiled. I had made my first and only friend. It was a wonderful feeling. She didn't reject me like the others do and I would respect her friendship deeply. So what if she's not that bright in the numerical department? She's a very nice person and nicer that some of the so-called geniuses we have here, anyway.
That night, I had another dream ...
I stood in the hall, looking immaculate and smiled to myself, then paused for a moment. All of a sudden, the place seemed familiar, as if I'd been here before, but I knew I hadn't. I gazed down the aisle, and the music started to play, soft, gentle, inspirational.
Then I saw Elanore, walking toward me, dressed in a beautiful, many shaded brown wedding dress. Her face covered by dark brown veil.
She was the one for me. It seemed to take forever, for her to reach me, but I didn't mind. I would wait that long for her.
She stood beside me now. And the music had come to an end. Gently, I took her delicate hand into my own. She turned to me. With my free hand, I slowly began to lift the veil… Her rusty coloured hair shone like the sun. I drowned himself in her beautiful verdant eyes, and slowly lowered my hand from her veil, now pulled back over her small head. I put my arms around her, gently, and slowly, drew her toward myself. When I kissed her, I felt something. A feeling that was almost foreign to me - distant. I had felt it once before. After Alana, a feeling I swore I would never feel again. Love.
I awoke from the dream with my arms around my pillow and I chuckled sadly to myself. Would I marry Elanore? Somehow I doubted it. Yes, she was my friend, and the experience was lovely, but now I was awake and it was gone. Along with Elysium.
It was only a dream.
“How is it going with Lore's memories?" Geordi inquired.
“Quite well,” Data answered looking up at his friend.
“I'm so relieved."
Data smiled. “Thank you for your concern." The android officer paused before he spoke again. “My brother speaks of a woman called Elanore Elai, though my records show no such person on the colony."
“Perhaps they missed a few?"
Data shook his head. “Negative. I am programmed with the knowledge of four hundred and eleven colonists I find it unlikely that they would diligently program me with all those memories and leave someone out."
“It does sound strange. Could Lore have falsified his memories somehow?"
“No, they are genuine. He speaks very highly of her. I think he might have been in love with her."
Geordi's eyebrows shot up. “Oh ... Well that is a surprise."
“Indeed. I did not know my brother was capable of love, despite the last thing he ever said to me."
Geordi didn't ask, but guessed.
“I'll leave you two alone."
Data gave a smile. “I still have quite a few memories to go, but it should not take long."
The android watched his friend leave, before accessing another of his personal logs, this one about his father.
'Second Officer's Personal Log, Stardate 44097.2
I have just returned from my father's planet, where he passed in my arms.
I was inadvertently summoned to his world and was very surprised to find that at that point, my father was still alive.
He told me that he believed that having children gave humans a sense of immortality. That is why he created myself and Lore.
At 8.51 precisely, we were both surprised by the unexpected arrival of my brother, Lore. I had often wondered if I would ever see him again. I must admit I doubted it, as the possibilities were too great, but now he stood here, in a dazed state, right before my very surprised eyes.
I implored my father not to reactivate him, as I feared for our safety, but he ignored me.
At first Lore was angry with Doctor Soong for disassembling him and myself for allowing him to drift endlessly in outer space for two years. I told him I had no alternative. He was about to leave, when Doctor Soong revealed the fact that he was dying. Lore turned around, and for the first time, I saw a compassionate side to him. He was genuinely concerned for our father.
My father explained to Lore why he had disassembled him. Lore was still upset and angry. I tried to understand him, but it is hard to understand someone's feelings when you have none.
Dr Soong explained that he did not know Lore was alive and that he wished he had now, so that he could have been helped.
My father held up a chip designed to give me emotions. I stared at it. Could it be possible? After all this time? I could truly have what I have wanted all my life?
Lore warned me about the emotions. He seemed sincere. He told me what it would be like and perhaps I would become more like him, emotionally. He said perhaps I would understand him and forgive him. Perhaps I would. Then he said that he was happy for me. Somehow, I doubt that.
Doctor Soong became tired and he walked to his room to rest.
Lore watched him go, then turned around and smiled. From experience, I knew what that smile meant. I kept my distance.
Lore proceeded to ask me what I had been doing and then he asked me to forgive him. Again, he seemed sincere. Foolishly I trusted him again and it cost me the chip. My emotions. I am still puzzled at why Lore stole the chip. Perhaps he thought it would rectify his instability, but he hurt Doctor Soong in the process. Perhaps it was intentional, or perhaps it was a result of the chip. It was not made for his circuitry.
I can feel no emotion, but sometimes, I seem torn apart - between the two. I wish more than anything and that I had human emotions, but I do not. My friends believe and insist that I do, but they are wrong. I am emotionless. I have considered talking to them about my dilemma, but even though they are my friends, I feel that sometimes I just want to be alone, to have my own private thoughts that I do not want to share with anyone.
I have learned so many aspects of humans that I was not designed to emulate. Perhaps one day I will go beyond the boundaries of my programming and finally be capable of feeling emotion, but then again, perhaps I never will.
I returned to the Enterprise. Fortunately, we were able to reach Star base 416 in time to save Willie Potts's life. The child had remained in quarantine due to a seemingly harmless practical joke by his older brother, Jake.
However, they were in Sickbay now, playing with toy dinosaurs I had given them as compensation.
“The two boys appear to have reconciled their differences" I observed.
Doctor Beverley Crusher looked at me. “They're brothers, Data. Brothers forgive."
Brothers forgive. I pondered that statement for a long while. Five seconds to be exact. Does that mean that I should forgive Lore? He is my brother. Can I ever forgive him? Should I forgive him?
END OF LOG.'
The Enterprise arrived and dropped out of warp. The planet could be seen on the viewscreen.
“There it is, Sir," Ensign Rager said, "Gallaria IV in the Aurorian Sector."
The captain fixed his gaze on the planet. A pastel greenish colour and very peaceful-looking world. “Life signs?"
“I am detecting none, sir," Worf replied, "apart from vegetation ... And something else ... an artificial satellite, heading straight toward us ... Sensors cannot penetrate its hull, but its weapons are powered up full."
“Shields up. This could be what attacked the Enigma."
Without warning, the satellite turned and fired upon the Enterprise.
“Red Alert!" the captain barked.
The ship rocked violently as the klaxon blared, as the blood red glow illuminated the bridge.
The ship jolted. Captain Picard clutched onto the armrests of his chair and struggled to remain seated.
“Weapons ready," Worf said, anticipating.
Worf did so, concentrating on the satellite.
“It is heavily shielded, Sir."
Another blast shook the Enterprise. The bridge shook forcefully. Counsellor Troi was thrown from her chair. Commander Riker gave her a hand up. The Bridge dimmed and the emergency lighting flared.
“I'm reading damage on decks seven through eleven," Worf said. “And shield strength is down eighteen percent."
Worf again fired at the satellite, this time with phasers and photon torpedoes.
The satellite responded with firing on the Enterprise, further damaging the ship.
The vigorous jolt threw the captain onto the floor.
Worf’s fingers flew across the tactical console. Despite the satellite's delicate and harmless appearance, it sure packed a fine wallop.
“Captain, shields will not provide much protection against its weapons," Worf said. “They are superior to ours."
He was angry to be outwitted by a machine. Not including Data, of course.
The Enterprise continued to shake vigorously.
Tension on the ship was escalating. It was obvious not that this is what had destroyed the Enigma. The Enterprise had superior weapons to the ghost ship, but it would seem that this satellite had superior weapons to them both.
“Fire again!" Picard barked.
The satellite responded, concentrating all fire on Enterprise.
The order was carried out, but anticipated by the satellite. It released another barrage of fire on the Enterprise.
“Shields are down to twenty percent," Worf barked, eyes wide. “Captain, we cannot withstand any more than three blasts at this magnitude!"
Engineering was in utter chaos. Geordi was madly trying to secure the antimatter containment tanks. He slapped his combadge.
“Captain, I've lost two crew down here! And we're in danger of a coolant leak!"
The ship rocked again.
“We're doing everything we can, Geordi," came the captain's broken voice. “Keep everything in order down there."
Hardly reassuring, but as usual, Geordi would do the best he could in a crisis situation.
“Hang onto your uniforms," he said.
Back on the Bridge ...
"Captain, we can't withstand more than more two blasts."
No sooner had Worf said that, the satellite fired upon them again.
“Shields're down, Sir! Systems damaged, I cannot re-route any power to them" Worf yelled.
“Fire!" Picard yelled. “And keep on firing!"
The phasers blasted the satellite relentlessly. “Its shields are beginning to fluctuate, sir."
Picard allowed himself a controlled sigh of relief. They had finally made a breakthrough.
“Captain, it is preparing to fire."
Is this the end? Jean-Luc thought. The end. I have always known the risks involved being the captain of a starship, I always knew it would come. But not now. Not like this ...
Captain Picard closed his eyes, thinking particularly of the families aboard his ship and what right he had to risk their lives like this. They knew there were risks involved when they signed up, but the reality didn't make it easier to face. Worf grabbed for support as the vessel rocked violently.
“Phasers!" Picard barked a second later.
The Klingon fired gain, hitting the satellite with everything they had.
It fluctuated slightly as it turned its massive hill, firing
The Enterprise swerved out of the way as the thing fired.
“Data, what have you got on that thing?"
“I am not detecting any life signs aboard the vessel," the android replied, the Enterprise rocking with another blast.
“Photon Torpedoes," Picard barked. “Fire!"
Worf launched two torpedoes from different directions. One hit home, further weakening the hostile's shields. The other was blown asunder by the satellite's weapons.
Ensign Rager expertly swerved the ship out of the next blast path.
“It's gearing for a full spread!" Word bellowed.
The phaser exchange took place
Worf tried this tactic again, but this time he fired his phasers as the torpedo hit. He fired relentlessly, damaging the hostile's weapons. Seeing the shields fluctuate even further, he fired two more phasers, with a full spread of photon torpedoes.
The satellite fired at the five torpedoes, obliterating one of them, but they others hit their target along with the phaser blasts, together which were enough to cause the hostile to erupt in a brilliant ball of flame.
Back aboard the Enterprise ...
“Systems returning to normal," Worf said.
Picard wiped his brow, relieved, then he looked concerned. "I hope that was the only one."
“Aye, Sir," Worf said.
His words were like the voice of the ancient Gods.