Star Trek: The Next Generation fanfic
Disclaimer: These characters don't belong to me.
Brace for impact.
As it did every evening, the thought flashed through Commander Daystrom Soong’s mind as he approached the door to his quarters. The door slid open and two small, self-guided photon torpedoes hurled themselves at him at warp speed.
Despite the fact that he was braced for the onslaught, he was nearly bowled over by his four-year-old twin daughters. He knelt on the floor and put his arms around them. “Hello, guys,” he said, pressing his lips against their tousled blonde heads. “Where’s Mom?”
“Still at work,” Ishara volunteered.
“But Uncle Geordi said she’d be home soon,” Juliana added.
Daystrom looked up and saw “Uncle Geordi” lounging on the sofa, with Daystrom’s orange tabby, Spot, purring contentedly on his lap. Geordi La Forge was one of his best friends, and one of the very few people outside of the family Spot tolerated. Most other people were lucky to get out of his quarters alive if the cat was awake.
“Hi, Geordi,” he said, untangling himself from the twins and standing up. “Did Tasha talk you into babysitting again?”
“Just for an hour,” Geordi said. Beneath the silvery VISOR he wore, his teeth flashed in a grin. “That’s about all I can take.”
Daystrom knew perfectly well Geordi loved kids, his in particular. Unfortunately, he and his wife Leah had been unable to have children, despite Dr. Crusher’s efforts on their behalf. Which was one reason “Uncle Geordi” spent so much time with his kids.
That was just fine with Daystrom. As the second-in-command of the Federation’s flagship, he didn’t get to spend as much time with his kids as he would like, and Tasha’s post as Security Chief didn’t allow her to be here as much as she wanted either. Fortunately their friends spoiled the girls rotten in their absence. Even Captain Picard, who was notorious for his dislike of children, had been known to sneak the girls a cookie or two.
Starving after his long shift, Daystrom headed for the food dispenser. “Want to have dinner with us?” he asked over his shoulder.
Geordi shoved Spot off his lap, causing the cat to stalk away in a huff, and stood up, stretching luxuriously. “Thanks for asking, Day, but I guess I better get on home to Leah.”
Geordi had been the first one to call him “Day,” and the name had caught on among his friends. Here on the Enterprise, no one called him anything else. Daystrom didn’t mind. As the child of two scientists, he’d naturally wound up being named after one of the greatest scientists in the Federation’s history. It could have been worse, like Einstein or Hawking, but his name did sound mildly pretentious. He liked Day better.
“Tasha said to tell you she’d be back by eighteen hundred,” Geordi added as he headed for the door. “Some kind of security problem.”
Day frowned. He had just come off the bridge, and hadn’t been notified of any sort of problem. Things had been perfectly normal. Even boring. The section of space they were currently passing through was mind-numbingly dull. “What kind of security problem?”
Geordi shrugged. “I don’t have a clue. I’m just the babysitter.”
Despite his self-deprecating comment, Geordi was chief of Engineering, and any technological security problem would likely involve the ship’s systems. Which meant Geordi would have been hunkered down in Engineering, not hanging out with twin four-year-old disaster areas. This, therefore, was not a technological problem but a personnel one.
Probably the damned Klingon delegation, Day thought with a scowl. There had been Klingons on board all week, causing no end of trouble. They were being transported to a minor planet, Darbeii, where they were supposed to hammer out a peace treaty with the help of Captain Picard, who was serving as an ambassador in this instance. How the hell they were going to make peace with the Darbeiians when they couldn’t keep the peace among themselves was beyond Day’s comprehension.
“Maybe I ought to go check it out,” he said.
Geordi shook his head. “Day,” he said reprovingly. “Haven’t you learned anything in all the years you’ve been the second-in-command? Or for that matter, in all the years you’ve been married? Don’t micromanage Tasha. She can handle it.”
Day scowled. There was still something damned odd about the situation, he thought. Maybe it was just the constant outbreaks of violence among the Klingons that had his nerves on edge, but his instincts, honed over the six years he’d served on the Enterprise, told him that something wasn’t quite right.
At that moment his combadge chirped. “Commander Soong,” said his wife’s voice.
Day hit his combadge. “Soong here,” he responded.
“Commander, I have a problem here,” Tasha said. She was a consummate professional while on duty, and never referred to him by anything other than his rank. No one listening to their exchange would have guessed they’d been married almost six years. “There’s been an altercation in Ten-Forward. Do you have a minute?”
“Uh--” Day queried Geordi by lifting his eyebrows, and his friend nodded. It was a mark of how close they were that no words needed to be exchanged. “Certainly. I’ll be right there.”
He ruffled the twins’ already wild hair and headed out the door toward Ten-Fore at a half-run. Damn Klingons, he thought sourly, certain they were the cause of the problem. Fights had been breaking out all over the ship all week. Most had been relatively minor, by Klingon standards, requiring nothing more than a few broken bones set, knife wounds sutured, and a hasty cleaning of the ship’s carpet to remove lavender blood stains. One had involved a broken neck, but Dr. Crusher’s quick intervention had saved the Klingon’s life.
Not that the damned Klingon had been appreciative, Day thought sourly. He’d totally trashed sickbay when he woke up, smashing quite a lot of delicate medical equipment. Tasha had had to physically restrain the irate Dr. Crusher to prevent her from killing him a second time.
The heavy wooden doors of Ten-Forward slid open, and Day bounded through them, expecting to see tables thrown on their sides, pools of blood on the carpets, or bodies littering the floor.
Instead he saw his wife.
Her short blonde hair was slicked back, and she wearing much more makeup than usual. Her body, which as the head of security she kept honed and fit, had been poured into a sexy, form-fitting outfit that exposed her muscular midriff. A faint smile curved her lips.
She looked exactly as she had the night she’d first seduced him.
“Oh, hell,” he said. “I forgot our anniversary again, didn’t I?”
In his darkened quarters Lieutenant Commander Data awoke with a start.
It was, of course, more accurate to say that his dream program terminated abruptly, causing the unplanned cessation of his dream state and restoring him suddenly to consciousness. But it was certainly as close as he’d ever come to a start.
He had set his dream program to wake him after six hours. Yet, according to his internal chronometer, which was never wrong, only three point eight hours had passed.
“Computer,” he said. “Lights.”
The lights came on, and Data sat up and looked around his quarters. All was as it should have been. His orange tabby cat, Spot, was curled at the foot of his bed, blinking sleepily in the sudden brightness. His quarters were as spartan and organized as ever.
Yet something must have awakened him.
Puzzled, he stood up and crossed his quarters. He was fully clad, since he “slept” in his uniform. There was really no point to an android wearing pajamas, as far as he could see. He opened one of the cubbies where he kept his personal effects, pulled out a small clear plastic object, and pushed a button.
The image of Tasha Yar appeared.
He stared at the hologram for a long moment. Tasha had died young, her skin very nearly as smooth as his own artificial dermis was. But in his dream she had aged. Not significantly, to be sure, but there had been decided lines at the corners of her eyes that had not been there when he knew her, and a few gray hairs mixed in among the gold. It was odd, he thought, that he should have dreamed of her as she might have been had she lived. It was odd that he had dreamed of her at all.
Turning off the hologram, he hit his combadge and spoke. “Geordi.”
There was a pause, then Geordi’s voice answered. He sounded like he’d been awakened from a sound sleep, which, given that he and Data were both on the night shift this week, was very probably the case.
“Yeah, Data. What’s up?”
“I just had an extremely peculiar dream.”
Geordi groaned. Data’s dream program had only been activated three months before, and he had developed a habit of discussing his dreams with his friend, a habit that he knew Geordi sometimes found a trifle irritating. Considering that his dreams were usually, as his creator Dr. Soong had put it, “grounded in the mundane,” he found it difficult to blame Geordi. A dream about working on relays in the Jeffries Tube seemed rather dull compared to the oddly random dreams humans seemed prone to.
But this particular dream had been very strange indeed.
“Do we have to talk about it right now, Data?” Geordi’s exasperated voice said.
“It is not merely the dream,” Data said. Still curled at the foot of his bed, Spot lifted her head and yawned widely, looking as reproachful as Geordi sounded. “I had an unexpected anomaly in my dream program. I woke up several hours before I should have.”
“That’s weird.” Faced with an engineering problem, Geordi immediately sounded much more awake. “Maybe we should take you down to Engineering, run some tests on your neural net.”
“It might simply be a normal side effect of my dream program,” Data suggested. “We do not yet know all the details of how it may affect me, after all.”
“Yeah, it might be. But I don’t think we should take any chances. Meet me in Engineering, okay?”
Spot jumped off the bed and rubbed against Data’s legs, purring. He bent and rubbed his hand down her back briefly, then straightened up and headed for Engineering.
“So what was your dream about?”
Data frowned. Geordi was attaching wires to the back of his head and couldn’t see his expression, but he felt a frown was appropriate anyway. He was working very hard at using human expressions in social situations. “It was most peculiar.”
“Yeah, you said that already. Peculiar how? Were you working on relays in the ready room instead of the Jeffries tubes?”
Data thought he detected sarcasm, but he wasn’t certain. Human sarcasm tended to be too subtle for his language program to cope with. “It was nothing along those lines, Geordi. It was—“ He hesitated. “I dreamed I was a different person. In fact... I dreamed I was human.”
Geordi gave a slow, long whistle. “Wow. That’s something, all right.”
“I have never dreamed anything like that before, Geordi.”
“No kidding. So tell me about your dream. You were human, but not yourself. Who were you?”
“It would be more accurate to say I was not quite myself. I was a commander, second in command of this vessel. My name was Daystrom Soong.”
Geordi picked up a tricorder and started to study the readouts. Data turned to look at him and saw his forehead puckered above the VISOR. Geordi, he realized, was worried. “That’s interesting, Data. If you used a last name I suppose it would be Soong. And Daystrom is kind of similar to your name, but I guess you wouldn’t expect a human to be called Data. Anything else?”
“I was married.”
“Really?” Geordi looked over the tricorder and grinned. “Married to whom?”
Data hesitated. He was aware the night he’d spent with Tasha in the first year of the Enterprise’s mission was common knowledge, thanks to Commander Bruce Maddox, but he still had difficulty referring to the event. Tasha had told him it never happened, and those words, spoken as a command, had forced him to put an access-denial on those memories. He could overcome the block and discuss the incident, but only with a strong mental effort.
“Tasha,” he said at last.
“Yes. We had two children, twin daughters. And—“ He paused again. “It was the sixth anniversary of the night we...” His voice trailed off as the access-denial on his memory file asserted itself.
“I see,” Geordi said. Data thought he detected a sympathetic note in his friend’s voice. “So is it?”
“Is it what?”
“The anniversary of, uh, that night.”
Data nodded slowly. “Yes. Six years ago today.”
Six years ago today Tasha had seduced him, under the influence of a virus that acted much like an intoxicant on humans and androids alike. It was the one and only time in his life Data had ever been intoxicated, and the virus interfered with his memory of the event to some degree, which was slightly annoying to a person who was accustomed to perfect recall.
But as the only woman he’d ever been intimate with, Tasha had meant something to him, something indefinable but significant. Androids were incapable of love, but he couldn’t deny she’d had an important effect on his life.
Unfortunately, she’d died not long thereafter.
“So I guess you’ve been thinking about her a little more than usual,” Geordi said. He disconnected the wire from Data’s head and closed the access port. “Maybe imagining things had turned out differently, huh?”
“That would be wishful thinking, Geordi.”
“Well...” Geordi paused. “Maybe consciously you don’t think about stuff like that, but maybe your subconscious does. Or whatever you have that passes for a subconscious.”
“I suppose that is possible.”
Gordi took a last look at his tricorder. “I don’t see anything wrong with your neural net, Data. All your readings are right where they should be. I think you probably just woke up because your dream was so different from the ones you’ve had before.”
“Perhaps you are correct.”
Geordi shrugged. “Isn’t that what you said Dr. Soong told you he wanted, for you to experience real imagination? Maybe after a few months, your dream program is starting to get a little more random.”
Data said nothing. He couldn’t refute Geordi’s statement. None of them knew precisely how his dream program was supposed to work. Anything was possible. And yet—he thought about it for a moment, then realized exactly what was bothering him.
“I experienced emotions, Geordi.”
Geordi frowned. “Must be a product of your imagination, Data.”
“No. I remember...” He trailed off. Did he remember? He vividly recalled seeing Tasha, recalled clearly the gown she wore, the way she looked and smelled, and yet...
He believed he had felt love for her. But the memory of that love had somehow dissippated. He had no trouble recalling the events of his dreams, but the emotions were somehow much more elusive.
Had he really experienced the emotions at all?
“Perhaps you are correct,” he said at last. “Perhaps it was merely... my imagination.”
Geordi shrugged. “Maybe you ought to talk to Counselor Troi tomorrow anyway. Just to see what she thinks.”
“That is an excellent suggestion, Geordi.”
“In the meantime—“ Geordi dropped his tricorder onto a table and grinned. “I’m going to bed. I suggest you do likewise.”
Data stood up. “Good night, Geordi.”
“’Night, Data.” Geordi flashed another grin at him. “And pleasant dreams.”
“That’s extremely interesting, Data.”
The next morning, Data sat in Counselor Deanna Troi’s quarters. She was seated on her couch, sipping tea as she listened to him talk. He was fond of Deanna, inasmuch as he could be fond of anyone. She had a gentle, unprepossessing personality, not unlike his own, and she rarely laughed at his attempts to become more human. He knew he remained something of an enigma to her, however, as the only lifeform on board whose thoughts were a complete blank to her.
Deanna had recently started wearing a blue-and-black Starfleet uniform, rather than the more casual outfits she had previously affected, and her hair fell in a curly black mass down her back. Her dark Betazoid eyes regarded him intently.
It was the first time he’d ever visited her quarters as a patient. Even after Tasha had died he had refused any sort of counseling, feeling that it was superfluous, if not outright silly, for an android to be counseled. But now he was surprised to find that he felt—well, perhaps awkward was the best word. Not uncomfortable, for that implied an emotional state. He simply felt oddly out of his element.
“I am not certain my dream could be considered interesting to anyone besides myself,” he said candidly. “But I found it intriguing. I have often wondered what it is like to be human, yet I know my wildest flights of imagination fell far short of the reality.” He paused. “But in my dream, I knew. I knew what it was to be human.”
Deanna leaned forward slightly and regarded him more closely. “Humans experience emotions almost constantly, Data. Are you trying to imply you experienced an emotional state during your dream?”
“More than one, I believe. I experienced friendship for Geordi, exasperation toward the Klingons, love and affection for my children, and love and sexual desire for my wife.”
“Do you remember those aspects of the dream?”
Data paused, sorting rapidly through the images in his mind. “Not precisely. I remember every event of my dream, but when it comes to the emotions it evoked, it is as if I have a faint memory of those emotions, but no real access to the emotions themselves.”
He paused and met Deanna’s eyes. “And yet, in my dream—I felt. I am certain of it.”
“Interesting,” she said. “But you are not capable of feeling a real emotion, Data. Are you?”
“Not that I am aware of, Counselor.” He uttered what he thought was a human-sounding sigh. “It is a paradox I cannot explain.”
Humor flickered in the dark depths of her eyes, causing him to suspect his sigh had not sounded as natural as he had hoped. “I can’t explain it either, Data. Perhaps you should activate your dream program again tonight. Maybe that will help clarify what’s going on.”
Data nodded. “I planned on doing that, Counselor. It seemed like the logical thing to do.”
“Yes,” she said, a small smile quirking the corners of her mouth. “I rather suspected you would.” She hesitated. “Do you want to discuss the content of your dream, Data?”
Data gazed at her, puzzled. “I already told you the entire dream.”
"I mean—“ Deanna sighed, a much more natural-sounding sigh than he had managed. Data carefully recorded it for later examination and practice. “I mean, do you want to talk about what these images might mean to you?”
“You mean the possible reasons why I might have dreamed of being human?”
“I hardly think it takes a psychology degree to guess at those reasons, Data. You’ve never made a secret of your desire to be as human as possible. I was thinking more of the reasons you might have dreamed of being married to Tasha.” She hesitated, looked down into her teacup, then looked up again and met his eyes. “Do you have any regrets, Data? Can you have regrets?”
“Not in any emotional sense, Counselor. And yet...” He hesitated, trying to put something indefinable into words. Which was, by definition, impossible. It was therefore most illogical of him to make the attempt, but he did his best anyway. “I have wondered, more than once, what might have happened had I not accepted Tasha’s rejection. If I had tried harder to establish a relationship with her.”
"Tell me, Data, why did you accept her rejection so easily?”
“I barely knew her, Counselor. She had always treated me with respect, even with friendliness, but when she told me it never happened, I sensed she was... embarrassed. At the time, I felt certain her embarrassment arose from the fact that I was a machine.”
"Do you still believe that?”
“I am not certain, Counselor. I grew to know her better before she died, and I came to see that she was reluctant to experience any kind of intimacy with anyone, probably as a result of her unfortunate childhood. I now suspect she might have reacted to any male precisely as she did to me.”
“So you believe if you had refused to accept her rejection, you might have established a relationship with her?”
“It could hardly have mattered, since she died six months later.”
Deanna looked down into her teacup again and spoke softly. “’It is better to have loved and lost...’”
Her voice trailed off, but Data instantly accessed the reference. “Ah. You are suggesting it might have been preferable for me to have six months in a relationship with her than a lifetime without her.”
“I can’t say, Data.”
“Nor can I. But the quote you are referring to is inappropriate, Deanna. I cannot love.”
Deanna set her teacup down on the glass table with a sigh. “No, Data. I suppose you can’t. But evidently you can dream of love.”
Data frowned. “I do not understand how it is possible for me to dream of something I have never experienced. It is most peculiar.” He shook his head. “But then, it was a very peculiar dream.”
Read Chapter 2 here.