Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Do Androids Dream...Chapter 9

Star Trek: The Next Generation fanfic
Season 6
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: These characters don't belong to me.

When Data awakened, he found that he was still unable to move from the neck downward.

A few nanoseconds later, he ascertained that his inability to move his body was due to the fact that he no longer had a body.

His head was upright on a table, still perfectly functional. His body, unfortunately, was lying on a table four point three meters away. His body was, he noticed with something approaching dismay, in pieces. Someone had opened his chest and removed a large number of components.
He was even more dismayed to contemplate the distinct probability that his positronic brain would be next.

But there was absolutely nothing he could do about it. A human would have panicked. Data was not human, and was incapable of panicking. He began to contemplate his strategy.

He would be unable to fight his way out of this situation, given that his body was no longer at his disposal. On the contrary, he thought with a touch of black humor, his body had in fact been... disposed of. Therefore he would have to talk his way out.

Talking was inarguably one of his strong points. Picard had said more than once that Data could talk the ears off a Vulcan. Data doubted that was meant literally, and he doubted even more that it was intended as a compliment. Neverthless, there was no doubt that he was a Grand Master of babbling.

The only difficulty was finding something to say that Soong and Maddox would be inclined to listen to. He knew already that they considered him little more than an animate computer. They thought him subhuman and thus were unlikely to give heed to the most reasoned and articulate argument he could devise.

Therefore, the best strategy was likely to be one that Picard was fond of, a strategy known as divide and conquer.

*****

“Have you any hypotheses as to the best way to create a stable positronic matrix?”

Maddox did not bother to look up from his careful examination of one of the sensor nets in Data’s right arm. “Of course I have hypotheses,” he said coldly.

“I suppose you and Dr. Soong have spent a great deal of time coming to an agreement on that subject.”

Maddox shrugged. “We don’t necessarily agree on the subject, no. That’s one reason we need you, in order to confirm the best way to go about the project.”

Data thought it was a rather eerie sensation, watching Maddox poke a spanner into his right arm from over four meters away. Perhaps eerie wasn’t the right word. It was disconcerting, at any rate. “I should think having one working hypothesis would be preferable,” he suggested.

“I have one hypothesis,” Maddox said. He snorted. “And of course I’m right. But Soong has his own opinions, and they can’t be swayed by a little thing like logic.”

“He has always been stubborn,” Data said. “I met him in my universe once, just before he died.”

Maddox did glance up at that. “He died?”

“Yes. He was ill, and his condition was made worse when my brother Lore injured him.”

“Lore,” Maddox said. “Your evil twin, right?”

“Evil is a subjective term, although there is little doubt that Lore wreaks havoc wherever he goes. You could call him my doppelganger, I suppose. However, I generally refer to him as my brother.”

Maddox shot him a humorless grin. “That would make Dr. Soong your father.”

“That is how I refer to him,” Data said evenly. “He asked me to call him Father before he died.”

Maddox’s face twisted into a sneer again. “How sentimental.”

It was evident that Maddox had no sentimental feelings for Dr. Soong. In fact, Data got the distinct impression that their truce was extremely uneasy. That should make his job easier. “It pleased me to call Dr. Soong my father,” he said. “In my universe, he is an honorable man.”

“But not here?”

“Thus far I have not been favorably impressed,” Data admitted. “But you know him better than I do. Is he an honorable man?”

“He’s an old scoundrel,” Maddox muttered as he went back to work on Data’s arm, removing what Data recognized as a main sensor processing unit. He would have little sensation in that arm beneath the elbow until the unit was restored. Of course, at this point that scarcely mattered.

“Indeed? In what way?”

Maddox shrugged. “He makes deals with anyone to suit his purpose. I mean, he’s made a deal with the Klingons, for God’s sake. Of all the—“ He broke off. “Still, he’s gotten the job done, I’ll give him that.”

“But with some degree of peril, if he has involved the Klingons.”

“Peril is an understatement. I’m not sure we’re going to get out of this with our necks in one piece. But in order to get what he wants, he’s willing to sacrifice anything.”

“And anyone?” Data suggested.

Maddox hesitated for a long moment, then looked up and laughed harshly. “You’re clever, Data, I’ll give you that. Trying to make me doubt my ally?”

Data lifted his eyebrows. “In a manner of speaking, perhaps. I am endeavoring to make you see that an alliance with me is more sensible.”

“An alliance with you?” Maddox looked down at the inert body on the table and snorted. “You’re in pieces, Data.”

“That could be remedied,” Data said carefully. “The fact is that I have successfully built a working android, and Soong has not.”

Maddox studied the body on the table for a moment longer, his head tilted down so that Data was unable to see his face. “Unfortunately, Data, I just don’t trust you.”

“And you trust Soong?” Data fired back.

There was a long silence. Then Maddox dropped the spanner with a clatter, leaving the room without speaking another word. Data sincerely hoped that meant he was considering the question.

Probably that was too much to hope for, but Data hoped anyway. Otherwise his brain would shortly be broken down into tiny components and scattered all over a workbench.

And that was a prospect that did not appeal to him in the least.

*****

Two point seven hours later, Maddox appeared at the door to the workshop. “You have a visitor,” he said.

Data lifted his eyes and regarded Maddox with mild surprise. “I assume you are referring to Dr. Soong.”

Maddox’s lips twisted in an unpleasant sneer. “I’m afraid not.” He reached to the side, grasped something, and flung it into the room. Data had only a fraction of a second to observe that it was a human before the person leapt to his feet.

Her feet.

Data saw the short, dishevelled blonde hair and realized it was Tasha Yar.

*****

Maddox reestablished the forcefield just as Tasha flung herself at him. She hit the forcefield hard enough to throw her backwards, hard. As Maddox walked away, she sprawled on the floor, near the table where Data’s head sat.

“Tasha?” he said incredulously.

By peering downward, he was just able to see the top of her head as she sat up groggily. She stood up slowly and looked at his head, perched grotesquely on a table, then looked behind her at his sprawled and partly deconstructed body.

“Oh, my God,” she said at last.

There was a distinct note of revulsion in her voice. He hoped the revulsion was aimed at the men who had done this to him, rather than because he looked like Frankenstein’s monster waiting to be assembled, but he guessed his appearance was responsible for her distress. “What are you doing here?” he said without preamble.

She turned slowly back and looked down, into his eyes. “I was looking for you.”

Hope shimmered along his circuits—those circuits that were left to him, at least. “The Enterprise is here?”

“No,” she said shortly. “I’m AWOL.”

Data lifted his eyebrows. He could hardly conceive of Tasha, whom he thought of as the quintessential officer, leaving her ship on her own initiative. Tasha was hotheaded, reckless, and fierce, to be sure, but never insubordinate. “Why?”

“Picard refused to come after you,” she said harshly. “Once he realized that Maddox had left of his own accord, he didn’t want to start an incident that could escalate into war. So he refused to find you. He refused to even try, damn him.”

Data blinked at her, surprised and bewildered by the tightly suppressed emotion vibrating in her voice. “Then why are you here?”

“I had to find you,” she said in a rush. “If I didn’t find you, I knew I’d never see Day again.”

That was probably true, Data realized. In all likelihood Daystrom could not return to this universe unless he himself was returned at the same time. Tasha hadn’t risked her life and her career for him—she’d risked herself for her husband. Which was entirely logical.

He wondered why he felt a stab of disappointment at the realization.

“I presume you did not intend to be captured,” he said dryly.

Tasha cursed under her breath, and he observed her hands knotting into tight fists. “No, goddamn it. There were too many Klingon fighters, and all I had was a shuttle. No weapons to speak of. I couldn’t get away.”

Had he been able to, Data would have shaken his head. The situation, which had already been bad enough, had just taken a turn for the worse. Now he did not merely have to worry about himself; he had to concern himself with Tasha’s fate as well. He recalled the bargain the Klingon had proferred when they fought for Tasha.

If I win, the woman is mine, and I take her and do as I will.

Tasha, he realized grimly, was most likely to be used as a bargaining chip by Maddox and Soong, a toy to keep the Klingon soldiers happy.

The thought troubled him. He of course had an ethical program, which forbade him to countenance the treatment of men or women as chattel or sex toys. And yet he felt that something more than a mere subroutine was causing his perturbation. The idea of Tasha being used that way disturbed him at a fundamental level.

Somehow they had to escape, before that could happen.

“Tasha,” he said in a low voice. “Do you think you can reattach my head?”

*****

Fifteen minutes later his head was reattached to his body. There were, unfortunately, various problems. His arms and legs were lacking in sensation, and several key components were missing from his chest. He found, to his intense annoyance, that he could not walk properly no matter how he tried. His gait was best described as a shamble, and even that might be a kind description.

Tasha kept casting glances over her shoulder. “This doesn’t make any sense,” she said in a whisper.

Data tilted his head, a habitual gesture which nearly caused him to fall over. He caught himself with a hastily outflung hand. “What makes no sense?” he said, equally as quietly.

“They shouldn’t have put me in with you,” she said softly. “They must have known I’d try to repair you.”

“This is Dr. Soong’s laboratory. I doubt he has a great deal in the way of prison cells. That may be the only forcefield on the planet, for all we know.”

“They could have kept me in a Klingon brig, on one of the ships. It doesn’t make any sense. I think it’s a trap.”

Data was less inclined to question their good fortune, but he recognized that her concerns had some merit. She was not the Head of Security aboard the Enterprise for nothing. “It makes less sense for this to be some sort of trap,” he pointed out. “They had me effectively helpless before your arrival.”

Tasha looked at him for a long moment. “Maybe you’re right,” she acknowledged. “But there’s something damned weird about it. Why did they bring me down to the planet, anyway?”

Data pushed away his mental picture of Tasha being abused and tortured at the rough hands of Klingon males. “I have been unable to formulate a hypothesis,” he replied, doing what Geordi referred to as lying through his teeth. “But since you are here, we should take advantage of the situation.”

Tasha looked at the forcefield a long moment. “We still can’t get out.”

Data regarded the forcefield as well. “That is not a Klingon forcefield,” he said, noting the telltale shimmer of distortion. Klingon forcefields were effectively invisible unless touched.

“No. It’s not as secure as the ones aboard a Klingon vessel would be.” Her eyes lit up. “We might be able to disrupt it.”

She began looking around the room hopefully. A few moments later she had cobbled together a device, made partly from one of Data’s sensor processing unit and partly from a positronic device discarded on a workbench. Data offered directions and advice, but was unable to help because of the lack of sensation in his fingers.

At last Tasha aimed it at the forcefield. “Ready?”

“Affirmative,” Data replied, although he was uncomfortably aware he would be a liability in an attempt to escape. He was as uncoordinated as a newborn giraffe and came close to falling over every time he moved.

“Now!” she whispered, and activated the device. There was a whining sound, and the forcefield collapsed. Tasha darted forward. Data attempted to follow her, blundered into a wall, reoriented himself, and managed to make it through the doorway.

Only to find himself staring into a phaser.

Read Chapter 10 here.

6 comments:

SelfAppointedCritic said...

Great update Elly; and I was pleasantly surprised to see one so soon--especially since you're still on fire on the 'Chlark' front! But my poor Data! Disassembled? NOOO!!! You must save him for me Elly. Although I admit that I laughed hysterically at the thought of Data walking into that wall. Great visuals. And throwing Tasha into the mix was another nice touch. Not unexpected, but well done. Please keep the good stuff coming and thanks for your hard work.

{Psst...Data used a a contraction!}

Elly said...

Oooooh, you're right. Thanks for being my beta reader. I'll fix that:-).

I'm glad to see you're still around, BTW. I hadn't seen any comments from you lately and I was afraid you'd left me:-(.

SelfAppointedCritic said...

You're very welcome Elly. And the chances of me abandoning your writing are pretty much slim to none. Better chance of TW showing up on my doorstep!

OrionMatrix2015 said...

Hi, my name's Stefan. This is a really great story Elly, original and intense. Have you dropped it though? I checked the dates and you havent updated it in a year.

Elly said...

Hi, Stefan. There's one more chapter out there-- I put the link, which got left off somehow. I haven't been updating this one because the only person who was really following it is no longer frequenting my blog:-). But I'll try to get to an update, since you're interested. Thank you for the kind words!

Anonymous said...

Hi Elly!
I just found your site and really am enjoying Do Androids Dream
Would you please do mroe?
Thanks!
Tracy
princesspisceped@charter.net