Disclaimer: Gene Rodenberry created Star Trek.
No monetary profit is being made from this writing.
Summary: Data returns as Jaden, from the season 7 episode Thine Own Self.
Author’s note: Another fic thought long lost when the computer crashed, though, fortunately I also found it on an old backup – Enjoy!
A STRANGER RETURNS
Jaden. Jaden. Jaden. A word? A name? It kept appearing in his head, at times subtle, at times more pronounced. As he sat on a stone stool, a little girl with long blond hair walked to him, her eyes pleading.
"Come back to us, Jaden, please ..." And she held out her hand to him.
Data awoke almost with a start, then looked around his quarters. Everything seemed normal. The android blinked, tossed his covers aside, and swivelled around so his feet touched the floor. He'd taken to wearing light blue silky pyjamas instead of his Starfleet uniform when he chose to sleep. He heard Spot hiss.
"We need you, Jaden."
Data's head spun around to see the girl in his dream sitting on a chair in his room, then an instant later, she was gone.
Data's eyes widened and he blinked again.
He checked his internal chronometer. 3.26.35 am. Counsellor Troi would still be asleep and he did not want to wake her. It was not an emergency. He wanted to talk to her about his dream and what he had seen. He'd found it disturbing and did not know why.
Data sat in Deanna's office and told her about the dream and how the girl had appeared in his quarters.
"She said her name was Gia and she called me Jaden."
Deanna nodded. "Data, sometimes dreams have a way of manifesting as hallucinations, no doubt, you recall," she tapped her shoulder.
Data winced. "I would rather not, Counsellor."
Deanna nodded and dismissed Data with a dilemma on her hands. She knew exactly who "Gia" and "Jaden" were, but could she tell Data?
The dreams continued, the girl, Gia, her father and people appearing in them, and Data always awoke none the wiser.
The senior officer, bar Data had gathered in the Conference Lounge.
"I believe we should tell him," the Counsellor stated.
"Should we? What if he still doesn't remember?" Riker said.
think he has a right to know,"
"I agree," Geordi said. "It's not right for us to keep it from him."
Picard nodded. "Agreed. The Prime Directive is not at stake and the information will not harm anyone."
The officers nodded in mutual agreement. Deanna felt at peace.
With this newfound knowledge, Data thanked his friends for sharing the information with him. It reminded him of a friend he'd made, over seven years ago. Her name was Sarjenka. She would be an adolescent by now, but her memory had been wiped because the Prime Directive had demanded it. Sarjenka would have no memory of Data, and she would wonder how the Alaynin singing stone he'd left in her hand got there. Data had hoped to meet her again somehow when she was older, but with Gia, it was the other way around - he had no memory of her - and he was determined to remember.
Data had gone over every detail in every report with meticulous precision on the mission to Barkon IV, about the radioactive fragments, saving the planet and the reports by his fellow officers. Very vaguely, he remembered something - a bright flash, then a long walk through mountains, and faces flashed through his mind, so fast, no human could have comprehend it. It was even hard for Data. He remembered, but it was extremely vague and it disturbed him to have such a gap in his memory.
Data requested shore leave. He rarely took it, so he had plenty of time up his sleeve and planned to use some of it. Without hesitation, Captain Picard granted it.
"I thought you'd never ask," he smiled. "It'll be good for you to have a break from the routine and to come in touch with your lost memories." A fleeting image passed through Picard's mind - another life - he had a wife and children, and a beautiful melody played in his head.
Picard shook his head. "Sorry, Data. As I was saying, memories are a part of life. It must be awful for you not to remember something so significant."
Data nodded and Picard dismissed him.
Data took the shuttle craft Onizuka to Barkon IV and touched down in a secluded spot, surrounded by rocks and trees. Data disembarked and headed for the village. A few memories seemed to be returning. He walked down the stony stairs. The path seemed familiar. He began to remember where Gia's house and school were and continued on to Gia's house, for a moment thinking he might be intruding, but then continued. He wouldn't enter the house if he was not welcome. He began to remember more about little Gia and wanted to see her again - wanted her to know that he was all right. He was dead for all she knew.
Data approached knocked on the door. A few moments later, it was opened and Data was greeted by an unfamiliar face. For a moment, Data thought he may not have remembered everything, but the woman didn't seem to recognise him either.
"Yes?" she asked.
"I am most sorry to intrude," Data began politely, "but I am looking for the house of Gia and her family."
"Two houses down that way," the woman said.
"Oh, yes," Data said, feeling silly to have made such a mistake. This house looked so familiar. "Sorry to have bothered you, ma'am."
Data walked to the other house and knocked on the door. It was answered by, Talur, the town healer and she nearly fainted.
Gia came to the door at that moment.
"Jaden!" she exclaimed in amazement.
And Data remembered everything. Gia ran to him and embraced him.
"Gia!" Talur scalded.
"It's Jaden!" Gia gasped.
"Jaden died. This is clearly some devilish trick!"
Data spoke up. "I am sorry to intrude." He began to tell them how he had survived, how his friends has saved him.
Talur was suspicious that such technology existed and suspected evil spirits, but Data explained to her in very simple terms and she began to understand.
"Such technology is ... wondrous ..."
"Yes, it is," Data said, "but due to a code I must abide by, I am forbidden to share it with you."
"Jaden," Gia said, after you ...died... some people came to us. They said they were friends of yours. A lady with red hair said your name was Data. What does that mean?"
Data smiled and told her the meaning of his true name.
"What kind of person are you?" Talur asked.
Data explained to her that he was an android - a mechanical life form.
"One would not expect a machine to be alive," Talur said, "but you, Jaden ... Data, are so very different."
Data smiled. "Gia, is something wrong here? I had dreams about you - which eventually lead me here."
"I didn't know what to do ...." Gia said, sadly. "Father is very ill. I prayed to the spirits to help him. I wanted you to help, but I thought you were dead."
"Garvin is very ill indeed," Talur said. "None of the remedies I give him have any effect."
The two females lead Data upstairs.
Garvin lay in his bed, looking very sickly indeed, but even in his weakened condition, he didn't hide his surprise when he saw Jaden. Gia explained to him what had happened.
"Can you help him?" Gia asked.
Data took a tricorder out of his Starfleet issue carry bag and scanned the man.
"He has a severe case of Zeflan flu."
"I've never heard of it," Talur said, suspicious again.
"It's extremely rare - a sparse virus which travels through space and occasionally lands on a planet. Casualties are few, because most spores burn up in the atmosphere. Fortunately it is not contagious, but it is fatal if not treated properly."
"Is there anything you can do for him?" Talur was worried.
"There may be," Data said. "But we are going to need some specific supplies."
"We must go into town and fetch them," Gia said.
Data looked down at Garvin. "You will be all right for now," he assured
The man smiled weakly.
"I will stay with you." Data complied a list of substances he needed.
Gia and Talur were most happy to rush off and get them and returned as quickly as they could, and began to help Data prepare them.
"This will ease the pain your father is in," Data said.
"Are you sure?" Gia asked, looking at the murky, sloppy black liquid they'd made from the ingredients.
"Yes," Data said. "I learned this from Doctor Beverly Crusher, the red haired woman you spoke to," he looked at Gia. "The virus is very strong and it does not like the taste of thus stuff one bit."
"By the look of it, neither will I," Garvin smiled.
"Open up," Talur commanded.
The man did so and swallowed the liquid and made a face.
"I sure hope it works...."
"It will take effect with in the next twenty minutes," Data promised.
"I'm beginning to feel a little better," Garvin said.
"The virus is still within you," Data said. "The substance will weaken it for a few minutes, giving me enough time to," he pulled out the tricorder and activated it, "eradicate it completely ..."
"That's it?" Garvin asked.
"Yes," Data said, "you are cured."
Gia threw her arms around him. "Ohh, thank you!"
"How did you do that?" Talur asked in amazement.
"As I said, I am unable to divulge our technology to you, but rest assured, the odds of your planet having another run in are," Data paused, sensing the astronomical number would confuse them, "very small indeed."
The three Barkonians smiled, thanking him again.
Garvin was up in no time, his usual self again, and the town grateful to have their magistrate back with them.
"We must tell the village of your miraculous survival," Talur said. "Skoran, the Blacksmith has been at woe ever since the incident. He has given up his work - his life and had retreated for a lonely life of shame. Everyone has tried to help him, but nothing seems to. The other villagers have come to accept you has a hero, Data - Jaden. Often flowers are left at your ... grave ... in memory and the village has suffered the guilt and the burden for our misunderstanding.
"No offence was taken," Data said. "I shall go into the village."
"And we shall go with you."
Gia took Data's pale hand in hers and led him outside. Talur ventured forth preaching the good news about Jaden's return. The villagers were amazed, quite taken aback and bewildered, but also grateful. They came to Data and asked for forgiveness for their sins. Data accepted their apologies forgave them, telling them he bore no ill will toward them. He was grateful to be accepted into the village, remembering their harsh treatment of him when he has first arrived. Had he emotions at that time, it would have been much harder for him to cope and the emotional scars would have needed more time than the physical to heal. It forced Data to think of the pain his twin brother Lore went through, due to the colonists harsh treatment of him. Data wanted to repair Lore someday soon to give him a real chance at life.
Data and Gia arrived at Skoran's door and knocked.
"Go away!" snapped an angry voice.
The knock came again.
"Mr. Blacksmith," Gia said, "there is someone who could like to see you."
Hearing the little girl's voice, Skoran forced himself to get out of his chair and open the door. He flung it open, and glared - and then his mouth hung open. "By the very Gods! Do my eyes deceive me?!"
"They do not," Data said. "My people saved me."
The Blacksmith knelt down. "Can you ever forgive me? ... I thought I acted rightly at the time, but I realize that I was gravely wrong. I committed a devil's act ... and I must be punished for it. Kill me and take everything that is mine. That is your right."
Data helped the Blacksmith up. "I commend your nobility, sir, but killing is not the way of my people. I forgive you for what you have done."
The blacksmith threw his arms around Data and cried. He hugged so hard, Data was glad not to be human at this time!
"You live amongst very noble people," Skoran said, "but misunderstanding is an evil thing and I am - we all are ashamed to have succumbed to it."
Data nodded. "I understand how you feel."
"But there is one who knew all along you were doing the right thing," Skoran said, looking down at Gia and rubbing her head. "You're a very special girl. Come inside!"
Skoran had brightened considerably since he first opened the door - he even seemed to look healthier! He excitedly lead Data and Gia into his house.
"I have been wanting to give these to someone special for many years now. They belonged to my great, great Grandfather. He picked up two necklaces and put one around Gia's neck. "This symbol is a Adanac. It symbolises a person with a good heart. And this," he put the second necklace around Data's neck, "symbol is a Erutan. It symbolises a very special person."
"I will treasure it, Data said, looking at the beautiful intricate brass colored symbol.
The villagers eagerly welcomed Data and were very curious about him and how he survived. Naturally, Data thought, since they had never really seen a sentient machine before. Data received more apologies and gifts which he accepted, telling the people they were all forgiven and that he was not offended or wrath in the slightest. The grateful villagers held a large banquet and village fair in his honor. Data felt they were overdoing it, but didn't want to offend them. They offered him many delicacies at the banquet, and even though he didn't need to eat, he accepted, feeling grateful to be accepted here.
Data stayed at Gia's house for the remainder of his shore leave. Gia and her father were most happy to have him as a guest. Gia excitedly lead him upstairs to her room and began showing him her toys.
"Do you have any toys?"
"No," Data said, "I never had any."
Gia looked sad. "I know you were never a "child," but everyone needs toys. Here, you can have Pookah." She gave Data a multicolored scruffy looking, stuffed toy animal, with four shirt legs, a plump body and a big snout.
"He's a toy Pizit," Gia explained. My father gave him to me when I was five."
"I cannot," Data said.
Gia smiled. "I want you to have him."
"All right," Data accepted, studying the strange looking toy, "thank you. What is a Pizit?"
"Don't you have Pizits where you come from?"
Data shook his head.
"They're colorful like this, and furry. People keep them as pets. My father said I can have a real one when I'm older. They love it when you scratch them under the chin. Like this-"
"Ahh," Data said. "Like a cat."
"What's a cat?"
Data smiled. "Do you have any colored paints and paper which I can use?"
Gia nodded, and brought Data what he asked for, from her desk draw. She was amazed at the fast rate Data painted. When he had finished and was satisfied, Data gave his painting to Gia.
"This is Spot," he said, "my cat. As you can see, she is orange, but cats can be other colors too."
"It's beautiful," Gia said. "You painted her really fast. Are all the people you live with as fast as you?"
Data smiled again. "No," he said.
He looked at Gia and could see she was starting to get tired, and so he decided to let her sleep.
He tucked her into the covers.
"Good night," he said.
"Good night, Data."
Data's shore leave was almost up and the
"I'm going to miss you Jaden - Data," Gia said.
Data had learnt that 'Jaden' in Gia's language had meant "Special Person" and he felt grateful that Gia had faith in him from the beginning. She hugged him goodbye. He returned the embrace, wishing he could stay longer, but knowing he had to go.
"I'll miss you," Gia said.
"And I you."
"Perhaps I can join StarFleet one Day?"
"Perhaps," Data smiled. He hadn't told her anything which would have proven to be against the Prime Directive, but he had told her enough to satisfy some of her never ending curiosity!
"Data," Gia said, "to me you'll always be Jaden."
And Data smiled. At that moment his communicator beeped. "Are you ready, Mr. Data?" It was Picard.
Data tapped it. "One moment, sir."
Seeing the surprised look on Gia, Talur and Garvin's face, Data said, "it is the way we communicate ... As you know, I am forbidden to share our technology with other cultures ... but do not be alarmed when I ... disappear. It is the way we transport."
Talur, as always, looked very suspicious, but said nothing.
Data looked at Gia. "I promise I shall return someday,"
he said, sincere, then tapped his communicator.
Gia wasn't anywhere near as surprised as Talur when Data actually did disappear.
"Well he's certainly full of surprises" she muttered. "He'll be telling us they can travel faster than the speed of light next..."
And Gia smiled.
Data reported for duty, dressed once again in his mustard colored uniform.
"How was it, Mr. Data?" Picard inquired.
"It brought back memories, sir. Good ones."
Picard smiled as Data resumed his position at OPS.
Data took one last look at Barkon IV, Gia's
world, before the