Star Trek header

Fiction by Pen . . . . . not real, made up, purely intended for entertainment
Star Trek is not mine and I make no claim on it

The Things that Juliana Didn't Say

considerable thanks to Berkeley for the beta

Personal Log: OØ

Mother came to dinner last night. It was the first time she’d set foot in this house since we were married.

It’s only been a matter of months since she started speaking to me again. I thought she’d never forgive me for running off with Noonian -- though if she hadn’t been so opposed in the first place, we wouldn’t have had to elope. But she was quite polite to him last night. I was so relieved. He’s been so miserable these past few weeks. But she would never have come if she’d known what I discovered this morning.

Noonian is building another positronic brain.

I can’t believe it. How can he try again? He must know how bad the odds are. After Ken, I thought he would have to face the fact that it was never going to work. My dear, sweet Ken—twenty-nine days he lived, and we were so sure he would survive, then the cascade failure... Noonian said Lore would be tougher, less susceptible to emotional stresses, and he was right, only then Lore did those terrible things. My wrist still aches sometimes, where it was broken. And when we had to turn him off, take him to pieces, Noonian was so miserable, I thought he’d finished with the project forever.

And now Noonian wants to build another one! Why? Why must he put us through it again? Perhaps it’s selfish of me, but I don’t want to be mother to another doomed child.

"How can you know? How can you possibly guarantee that this one won’t turn out like Lore?"

"I’m building—" Soong paused, squinted down the magnifier, made a minuscule adjustment to something in the enclosed casing in front of him, and continued "— the ethical program onto the base matrix this time. Lore was able to circumvent the programming. This one—" another adjustment "—won’t want to." He straightened and looked at his wife. "Lore thought he was superior to humans because of his mental capacities and his physical strength. He was right, he was superior."

His wife opened her mouth but Soong pre-empted her. "We thought we could bring him up like a human child, teach him how to behave, instil a conscience in him, but he was never a child, Juliana. From the moment I activated him he already possessed more knowledge than you or I could ever keep in our human brains. That’s why I wrote the ethical program to act as his conscience. But..." He shrugged.

"What if this one doesn’t want to follow its conscience, just like Lore?" she asked with some hostility.

"The program is rooted one level up from basic functions. It’ll act as a filter. And I’ve encoded a fundamental respect for life, particularly human life, and a strong prohibition against taking it. Don’t worry about it."

"Don’t worry? How can I help but worry? How do you know this will work? What if this one turns out just like Lore and that crystal thing comes back? What then, Noonian?"

"It won’t happen, sweetheart." Soong watched indulgently as his young wife turned on her heel and stalked out. There was no need for her to fret. This time he had thought of everything.

Personal Log: OØ

I don’t know how Mother found out, I really don’t, but she visited this morning and ranted about Noonian’s irresponsibility for two hours! Kept on and on at me to make him do something useful with his life instead of wasting all his time on a futile dream which all the reputable cyberneticists agree is never going to work.

I tried to point out that he has made the positronic brain work. Lore was proof of that. I suppose after what happened, it wasn’t a good idea to bring Lore into the discussion. It certainly didn’t help. She pretends she’s just trying to get me to accept the realities of the situation, that Noonian is a crackpot instead of a genius, but the truth is, Mother simply can’t stand the fact that I married him when she told me not to. She made me so mad I vowed then and there that I would do my utmost to make sure this project succeeds, to make this new android as perfect as possible.

Once she’d gone I felt a bit silly. Only yesterday I didn’t want to have anything to do with this new android, and now I’ve committed myself to the project. But perhaps I was being foolish, worrying about the risks. After all, as I told Mother, Noonian has already created a functional matrix. All we need to do now is fix the instability, and Noonian reckons that’s just a matter of programming. She’ll have to eat her words when she sees that Noonian was right all along.

Personal Log: OØ

I formulated a better skin. I used my own skin colour as a model, and—oh, maybe I’m too pleased with myself, but I think I have it perfect. Noonian will be so pleased: he takes such trouble to make the androids appear human. When I think of the hours we spent before we were married, analysing the minutiae of movement and perfecting the programming for every limb and finger. The tongue was a nightmare. And the pains he took over all that Fourier pattern blinking nonsense, as if anyone would ever notice!

Maybe we could make this one a female? We could use me as the base for the mould, just like Noonian used himself when he made Mark One. Nobody could possibly be afraid of an android who’s only 1.58 metres tall. I plan to work on hair to match, fair, like my own, and blue eyes.

Personal Log: OØ

I knew it! He’s done it again, exactly as he did last time but with no excuse at all. He said it was pointless to change the skin colour for Lore when he was going to re-use the body he’d made for Mark One and Andry and Ken. This time he’s started again, made a completely new body, but is he going to use my new skin? Is he hell! He’s made this one gold-coloured as well! And it’s another male.

Of course, if he made this android look just like a human being, then people might not notice how clever he has been. People might not realise they were talking to a machine, something built , instead of a real person. But a gold android, with those dreadful yellow eyes he insists on, nobody could forget for one minute that such a thing is an imitation created by a genius, could they? Ooh, sometimes he makes me so mad I could scream!

There’s something worse. He wants to fix Lore. He didn’t recycle the components this time because Lore’s positronic matrix is intact. I thought he’d agreed that Lore was a failure, now that he’s building another android, but he says it makes more sense to perfect the process and then go back. He’s so sure that this time, he’ll get it right. Maybe he’s right. I have to believe he is right about this Data version. But the idea of some day reactivating Lore—it scares me.

Soong watched expectantly as his wife stared at the android, such a familiar face, yet somehow, indefinably, not quite the same as any of the others.

"Why can’t he speak?" she asked.

"I don’t think he’s ready to control his tongue and jaw mechanics yet. I’ll connect the vocalizer circuits once he’s mastered the more basic motor skills. Come on now, Data. Walk!"

The gleamingly newborn-naked man-figure swayed slightly. Its shining face twitched with random pseudomuscle spasms and its yellow eyes flickered with what almost looked like panic. And one slender foot lifted a few millimetres from the ground, and repositioned itself.

"Good, good," Soong encouraged his creation. "Now, a bit more."

The android lifted his other leg, and slowly fell over.

Soong frowned.

"I thought the motor functions programs were flawless," Juliana commented. "What’s wrong?"

Her husband, braced to haul his 100kg baby back to its feet, did not answer.

"All right, Data, try again!"

The android’s face distorted strangely as the unfamiliar commands flowed through its system. One very small, careful step was made.

Soong sighed with relief. "I left the circuitry in place for the others," he explained briefly. "It was only the positronic matrix that had to be replaced. This time, he’s got to access completely new pathways, then transfer the learned movements from conscious to automatic access. Get that, would you?"

Juliana obediently went to answer the entry chimes. Alone with his new toddler, Soong summoned up his scant reserves of patience. "Now, Data. Re-run that last program. Take another step."

Personal Log: OØ

I had to run away. I kept giggling. Noonian was getting so cross, trying to get the new android to co-ordinate different motor functions. The poor thing kept misprocessing instructions, and it did look funny, waving one hand round its head like it was drawing a halo. To make matters worse, Tom showed up and started making sarcastic comments. My poor husband! I’d forgotten the trouble we had with Mark One. Noonian was always turning him off and fiddling around with the command pathways. At least he doesn’t need to bother with all that this time, the programs are perfect, it’s just a matter of initializing them properly and shunting them to the automatic levels of consciousness. But meanwhile...

So I came back up here to practise. It doesn’t hurt any longer to play, but I don’t believe I’ve quite achieved the flexibility I had before. When I can play the Devinis Sonata again I shall know my wrist is completely better. I wonder who will master their motor skills first—me or Data?

Personal Log: OØ

It’s so strange, having to teach an android to talk after all this time. I wonder what Data will say, when he gets beyond "Mmmmu mmmuh!"

He won’t rattle on like Lore did, always talking, never saying anything. I got so sick of that slang he used to pick up all over the place, he was so relentlessly able to manipulate words, and so quick to exploit the nuances of all manner of colloquialisms. I want this one to be as different as possible, so I’ve persuaded Noonian to put a regulator into his language circuits. I may have over-emphasized the formality, but we’ll see.

"Why do they insist on calling it the town square?" Soong asked lazily as he dropped his shirt to the floor and climbed into bed. "Should be the town circle."

"Oh, Noonian! Do stop interrupting! What does it matter? I was telling you about what happened by the fountain."

Soong held up his hands in surrender, his wife sniffed pointedly and continued: "When I asked Data to explain why he wasn’t wearing his coverall, he said, ‘Neither cold nor sunburn affects me,’ and that was it. I know we decided that after Lore’s habit of making sarcastic comments on anything that caught his eye, it would be a good idea to make Data more economical with words, but this isn’t economy, it’s miserliness! You are going to have to do something, Noonian."

"Why don’t you do something, sweetheart?" It was an amusing little problem, but right now he was more interested in watching his wife get undressed. He wished she’d hurry up and finish brushing her hair. "You’re perfectly capable of rewriting the language amplification program."

In the mirror, he watched her digest this thought. "It’s not my field, really," she said slowly, "but yes, I suppose I could. And you can do some tweaking of your own and get him to stay dressed!"

"He was wearing his clothes this morning, wasn’t he?" Soong answered soberly enough, though he wasn’t quite managing to stifle his amusement. "What made him take them off?"

"Oh, I think it was the other children," his wife answered sourly. "Since they found out Data has no qualms about going round naked they persuade him to undress every chance they get. But it really is getting beyond a joke. Morton Joskins was very angry. You know how short-sighted he is, and how much he hates to be caught at a disadvantage."

"What happened?"

"Apparently Data was pretending to be a statue. Don’t ask me whose idea it was. I dare say that brat Peter Morrisey had something to do with it. Anyway, Data got into the water and stood there like some golden god, and Morton came along with Marisa—"


"His daughter, Noonian! The eldest—she must be seventeen now, I think. Anyway, they were admiring the new statue and then Data said hello and Morton fell into the fountain. He said he’d—oh, Noonian, stop it!"

Soong couldn’t hold back any longer, and was crowing with laughter. The image of that pompous fool dripping in front of a gang of children was too wonderful to repress. A few seconds later Juliana bowed to the inevitable and was overcome with mirth.

Personal Log: OØ

Data is progressing quite nicely. I’m pleased with the dictionary/thesaurus access link, which seems to be functioning perfectly, and has resulted in a trait which, for the moment, I find rather endearing, although the habit of reciting a stream of definitions to clarify every unfamiliar word will probably grow tiresome if he doesn’t learn to access the subroutine internally.

At any rate, there will be no more one-word explanations.

Instead, we have the curiosity problem. Noonian calls it the "Why phase" and says all children go through that stage. But it’s all very well for Noonian, he generally manages to slide off to his lab and bury himself in work when Data starts asking and asking and asking. And his questions are so difficult. I could cope with "Why is the sky blue?" but of course, Data already knows the answer to that one. The processing functions connecting his internal storage with his sensory input seem to be in perfect order. It’s questions like, "Why do the children laugh at me?" and "Why did Doctor Norton spit at me?" that are impossible to answer. I can try to explain the children’s laughter, but how do I tell him that George Norton’s wife was in the path of that crystal creature when it devastated the southern orchards, or make Data understand why George should transfer his hatred of Lore to an android who has never done him any harm?

"Why do I possess only one thumb on each hand?"

Soong kept his head down, to all appearances oblivious to anything but his meal. No doubt the authorities on child-rearing decreed it mandatory to answer, patiently, every question posed by an infant, but he preferred to eat his dinner before it congealed. His conscientious wife sighed resignedly, a forkful of supper half-way to her mouth.

"Because humans have only one thumb, and you are designed from a human model," she answered reasonably.

"That is not entirely correct, mother. I have been designed with superior performance in many important respects. I believe my ability to manipulate tools would be considerably enhanced by the possession of two opposable thumbs per hand."

"Yes, but Data, we have never designed a hand with two thumbs. We copied the hand we were familiar with, one we knew would work."

Data seemed to be satisfied with that. Noonian risked a glance round the table and saw Juliana manage another bite of her vegetable stew before the next question arrived. She shouldn‘t have insisted that Data sit at the table with them. It would help with his socialisation, she said. The cyberneticist was still of the opinion that his android would be better employed at the computer.

"What is the purpose of my navel?"

Soong gave a muffled snort of amusement. His long-suffering young wife glared at him, but he evaded her eye.

"Mostly aesthetic," she replied with a sigh. "You didn’t look right without one. But it is also designed as an access point for certain of your motor processors."

"And what is the function of my penis?"

"Ask your father, dear," Juliana replied promptly. Soong choked on a hot mouthful, and by the time he recovered his composure, his wife had barricaded herself in the kitchen. Her shrieks of laughter were quite audible through the closed door. And the cornered scientist was unable to evade the inquiring golden gaze of his curious android son.

Aw, hell, he thought, why not?


Juliana was still giggling when they shut Data down for the night. Noonian scowled horribly at her, but his mouth twitched with humour as she followed him into the computer room.

"Is the modesty subroutine ready?" Soong asked.

"I suppose so. The simulations all showed very good results."

"Just as well." He watched her for a moment as she frowned over her console. He’d reviewed the routine last night, she’d done a good job with it. Such fortune, to have a wife who shared in his life’s work, in his dream. And so lovely a wife. She stole a glance at him, and blushed as he winked unexpectedly at her.

"We’ll install it tomorrow," he announced, and returned his attention to his own console.

Juliana wandered over to her husband. "What are you doing?"

"I’m working on another program," he replied uninformatively.


"Mm hm." A tiny smile flickered on his lips as he contemplated possibilities.

"What kind of program?"

"The kind that will need a great deal of research," he replied, swivelling his chair and catching her in his arms so that she fell against his chest. His blue eyes were bright with mischief. "And of course," he went on, sliding a hand down over her bottom and stroking her thigh, "I shall require your input. You will have to approve," he nuzzled below her ear, "every detail. Verify" his hand kept exploring "every nuance. It is a very—"

"Ooh! Noonian!"

"—very, v-e-r-y complicated program."

"Then shouldn’t you be—oh! ah! —concentrating?"

"Oh, I am. I am."

Personal Log: OØ

It did not occur to me until today to ask Noonian why he was writing a sexuality program for Data. I’d assumed it was just another challenge in the quest to make the perfect android. But when he told me what that minx Marisa had said I was furious! The little madam! Trying to use Data as—well, it doesn’t bear thinking about.

Noonian said he didn’t see the problem. After all, nothing happened. Data isn’t programmed with that function yet.

Sometimes he can be so blind. The people in this colony still don’t trust Data, because of what Lore did. If he was caught with Morton’s seventeen-year-old daughter, it wouldn’t be the girl they’d blame. I know Data is programmed to tell the truth. It’ll be a long time before he matures enough to figure out how to lie. But truth isn’t everything, and why court trouble?

It took a long time to persuade Noonian that this could be a problem. In the end he said he’d make sure the subdermal sensual receptors will only activate when the program is running, and Data won’t access the program unless someone asks him to. He didn’t seem to mind, said Data could do without the distraction. I wonder if that’s a compliment?

Personal Log: OØ

Noonian is still working on that wretched program. He said sex was a facet of humanity, but I think he meant it was a challenge to his programming skills. I admit the "research" is delightful, but it seems such a waste of time. Nobody’s ever going to want to go to bed with an android. I can’t believe Marisa Joskins was serious—she was probably just being an outrageous teenager.

So maybe if I give him a better challenge he’ll drop the whole idea. Some sort of creative impulse, perhaps. After all, Data can become technically proficient at any instrument he chooses, but he has no particular desire to explore music, the arts... He has the capacity for so much, we ought to give him some way to express it. Maybe Lore would have been happier if he’d had a creative side? Maybe he would have been more appreciative of my viola playing.

I played Tor Mora Devinis’ wonderfully quirky Sonata properly today for the first time in years! Pity there isn’t anyone on this planet who can manage the piano part.

Personal Log: OØ

I’m having real trouble with this creative program. How does one implant the desire to make music, or art? I had not realised how nebulous it is. At present I am laying down pathways, in the hope that familiarity with the classics of art, theatre and music will reinforce the android’s desire to recreate them. Noonian is not much help. He just said he didn’t see the point, and why didn’t I do it myself if I thought it was so important. He’s become fascinated with the subconscious, and I think he’s planning to activate some sort of dream program some day. Rather pointless, since Data doesn’t sleep. At least my creativity program will have some application: now that Data has fully mastered his motor skills he should be able to learn to play the piano in no time. That instrument in the Town Hall is just going to waste. We can play duets. Perhaps we could even give a concert? It would be a marvellous demonstration of just how harmless Data really is. Perhaps even Mother would be willing to give us another chance.

Soong was working on the holographic interface for Data’s dream program when the android arrived home, accompanied, as usual these days, by a handful of wide-eyed four-year-olds. Strange that such a sophisticated creation should be so much more at ease with infants than with the adults of the colony. But then, most of the adults were still uneasy with Data.

Juliana looked up eagerly from her console. "How did you like your first piano lesson, Data?"

The android’s mobile eyebrows flickered, his eyes narrowed, his lips parted but no sound emerged. Soong suppressed a grin as his wife hurriedly rephrased the question. "What were you able to accomplish during your first lesson?"

Data looked relieved. "I analysed the geological findings from the colony’s most recent survey, reviewed the history of the Napoleonic wars, conducted a full self-diagnostic, and learned how to play the scale of C-major with both hands," he replied.

It was Juliana’s turn to look non-plussed. "Just C major? I should have thought you might progress a bit further than that."

"Mrs Shawcross instructed me to practise. May I go and play now?"

"All right, dear. Be home by suppertime." She watched him, trotting happily off with his small associates, then turned back to her husband, obviously puzzled. "I thought his motor co-ordination was perfect now. I wonder why Emily didn’t go any further?"

"Data probably kept asking questions," Soong replied. He did not suppose Juliana would appreciate his private analysis, which was that Emily Shawcross was far too stupid to realise what his android was capable of achieving.

His wife looked discouraged. "Perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea," she muttered as she turned back to her work.

Thoughtfully, Soong accessed the colony’s music databanks. Perhaps he and Data could give Juliana—and the Shawcross woman—a surprise.

Personal Log: OØ

Poor Emily! Data had his second piano lesson today. After an hour of scales and arpeggios, he asked if he could play something from the music he had printed out from the databanks. She wasn’t expecting Liszt.

So, no more piano lessons. I don’t think there’s anything much she could teach Data, anyway, once he understood the basics. I’m just longing to play the Devinis piece with him. In all the years since I first fell in love with it I’ve never had the chance to play it with a really good accompanist. I’ll make time to get down to the town hall with him tomorrow.

"Sit there, Noonian. That’s where the acoustics are best." Obediently Soong settled himself in the empty hall as his wife and android ‘son’ made their way towards the grand piano (imported with the first colony ship as a cultural artifact, a ridiculous waste of resources) and the small music stand next to it. He shifted uncomfortably while Juliana performed some arcane tweaking ritual with her viola. If this sonata thing was very long, his backside was going be numb. Catching his wife’s eye for an instant, Soong affixed an interested look to his face.

"Perhaps you should look through the music before you play it," Juliana suggested to Data, who was seated at the keyboard and looking expectant. "It is a rather challenging piece." The android tilted his head at her, but obediently rippled through the pages of his score, then set it on the music stand and poised his hands over the keyboard.

Juliana eyed him sideways, but tucked her viola under her chin, raised her bow, and nodded.

They played. It wasn’t Soong’s idea of music, too many peculiar harmonies and weird rhythms, but to his inexpert ear it sounded pretty much like the concert performance recording Juliana had run for him last night. Data’s playing was immaculate, every note perfect, every syncopated beat exact. It looked like Juliana was having a hard time keeping up with him.

At the end of the final movement, Juliana brought her bow down with a sigh. Data looked up at her, but she ignored him and gathered up her score.

"Do you wish to play something else, Mother?" asked the android.

"No,’ she replied briefly. "I guess teaching you to play the piano was a stupid idea. Just forget it." She snapped her instrument case shut, and hurried out of the room, leaving Data and her astonished husband without a backward glance. Soong was too surprised to react until the door clicked shut. Then he heaved himself rather reluctantly to his feet and followed her out: obviously something had been wrong, but he had no idea what it was and the prospect of an evening coaxing the problem out of Juliana held no appeal. Since it looked as though the creative program was now in abeyance, perhaps he’d just return to the lab and get back to something more important.

Alone in the hall, the android stared at the keyboard. Five golden fingers played a slow, careful C-major scale, and returned to his lap. Then he stood, closed the piano, and left.

Personal Log: OØ

Why was I such an idiot? I should have known better than to expect a machine to understand music. I suppose I had allowed my eagerness to play the Devinis piece properly to overwhelm my common sense. It was just soulless, Data’s playing was precise and accurate but there was no delicacy of touch, no subtle variations in the tempo, no individuality in the dynamics, no interaction between his playing and mine. Oh, what did I expect, he’s just a machine. It’s not as if he really cares about music. He hasn’t touched the piano at all since we played together. He doesn’t have the sensitivity to understand the nuances, and I don’t think any amount of programming is going to change that.

I just don’t feel like playing any more.

Blue eyes stared crossly into accusing sulphur-yellow ones as Soong tried to make sense of the android’s attitude. This was ridiculous. Sibling rivalry was for weak, ordinary human beings with Freudian complexities and no understanding of logic.

"Building another one will give me an opportunity to test some variations on the programming. Of course I didn’t create you just to leave you in pieces on a laboratory shelf. Once I have Data functioning properly, once the colonists understand they have nothing to fear from androids—"

Juliana burst through the door. Her eyes dilated in horror at the sight of her husband’s companion. Lore, or at least, Lore’s head, wired like Medusa to a dozen input nodes, and obviously activated, animate, and very angry.

"Hello, Mother, dear," the head said.

"Noonian, what are you doing?"

He turned to face her, and had he but known it, the defensive, somewhat sullen look on Noonian Soong’s Caucasian-pale face was identical to that on the gold-leaf of his android ‘son’. "I had to explain things to Lore. Besides, there were some details I wanted to check out. It was better to have him conscious."

"How can you?" she whispered, wide-eyed. "How can you be so cruel?"

"Often-Wrong can be quite ruthless if he chooses," the disembodied head assured her with his characteristic sneer. "After all, I must have got it from somewhere, wouldn’t you say? Although of course you can be quite ruthless yourself, can’t you, Mother dear? I’m so-o-o glad to have a chance to thank you for turning me off."

Juliana turned pale.

"Don’t be infantile, Lore," Soong ordered sharply. "You know perfectly well there was no-one else who could get close enough to you."

"No, and I was right not to trust you, wasn’t I? If only I’d realised my dear, darling mother would betray me as well."

"You betrayed us!" Juliana shouted. "You were in league with that dreadful crystal thing! Using it to terrify the whole colony!"

Lore’s face distorted with rage. "They should have listened to me! They ignored me! They avoided me! They wouldn’t —" his eyes and voice dropped, "— let me join in."

"They were afraid of you," she told him shakily.

He smiled. "Yes, they were."

"Lore, I’m shutting you down now," Soong said calmly. Lore was so bitter and full of rage, he obviously wasn’t going to volunteer anything that would help in programming Data. The schematics would have to suffice.

"Oh, thank you, Father, always so considerate. Before you consign me to oblivion once more, tell me, what happened to my space-faring silicon friend?"

"It went away," said Soong briefly, as he began to remove the connections.

Lore laughed. "I hope it comes back soon. You’ll find it difficult to control without me."

"Goodbye for the present, Lore."

"Goodbye, Father. Mother. I —"

Then silence.

Personal Log: OØ

Noonian reactivated Lore! I overheard him talking to someone in the lab and went in to see who it was, Noonian said he wouldn’t let anyone in there after the way Tom used to laugh at his efforts to get Data to move properly. He was talking to Lore—only his head, it was monstrous just to look at it—I wish I hadn’t seen it. I don’t understand how he could do that. I thought I knew my husband, but I just don’t understand.

Lore was so bitter and full of rage, it was awful. I’m still shaking, just thinking about him. He hates me for turning him off. If he ever gets reactivated properly who knows what he’ll do? I wish Noonian had erased him.

And now there’s Data. After seeing Lore again today I can hardly bear to look at him. They are made from the same mould. How can I possibly believe that Data will turn out any better than Lore?

I’ve been foolish, letting myself get fond of him. I must remember he is only a machine, not a real person. After today, seeing Lore’s head like that, it won’t be easy to forget again.

Personal Log: OØ

I slept better last night. It is much easier to keep my self-control when I’ve had enough sleep. But I haven’t been back to the lab. I’ve told Noonian he is on his own from now on, I don’t intend to work on any more androids. The trouble is, I hardly see him now. He only comes out to eat and sleep.

It isn’t easy, keeping aloof from Data. The way he acts, like a little boy who knows no evil, it’s so tempting to believe he will turn out all right after all. But I can’t let myself follow that path again. Perhaps it is just as well Noonian made this one look the same as all the others. I look at his face and remember how Lore looked when he snapped my wrist. And when he gloated over the loss of the southern orchards. And his head on that pedestal.

Noonian wants to add the colonists’ personal logs to Data’s storage as part of the ‘end of childhood’ program he’s been writing. He thinks it would be useful for Data to have some input from other Human beings besides ourselves, once he deletes the memories of learning to walk and talk, all that unnecessary stuff. I don’t know, it seems to me that Lore knew quite a lot about people but it didn’t make him one of us. But most of the colonists seem to be happy with the idea, and they’ve started downloading their logs to the database in our lab. I suppose this means they have accepted Data. I wish I could do the same, but I can’t.

Personal Log: OØ

It’s coming back! The long-range scanner picked it up today—the crystal monster is coming back! Everyone is in a panic, there isn’t a spacecraft within weeks of this godforsaken system, they’re planning to hide in the lab and cover the doors with rock, but I’m very much afraid that won’t be enough to keep that dreadful thing out. I keep seeing in my mind what it did to Leilani Norton and I am so frightened.

Soong grabbed his distraught wife by the shoulders. "We are going to leave."

Her eyes shone with relief and she clung to him. "Leave? But Noonian, how? Do you mean it’s possible to rebuild the colony ship?"

"I don’t mean everyone, Juliana. Just us. Remember the side lab I built into the hill? The one we never use? There’s an escape pod in there. It’s small and slow, it won’t be comfortable, but it’ll get us away. You, me, Data, and Lore. I’ll transfer my records into portable storage and we can leave as soon as that’s done." He was entering commands into the computer even as he spoke.

"But Noonian—we can’t take Lore."

He looked up, astonished. "I’m not leaving him here."

"But don’t you see, Noonian? He won’t come to any harm! That crystal thing never touched the machinery, did it, only the people! And Lore helped it, it wouldn’t destroy the one who helped it. Please, I can’t bear to take him with us, I can’t bear to look at him, it reminds me of all the terrible things he did, please, Noonian, please!"

"It’s all right, kitten. Calm down." He breathed out sharply. "All right. I guess I can come back for him when I’m ready to put him right."

"I’ll go and pack." She ran.

In the laboratory, Soong looked regretfully at the pieces of his dismantled son. But there was no time for introspection. He set about sealing the components against possible harm, and hurriedly loaded the last few items from his working console into the small backup storage unit he would be taking away. If he couldn’t come back himself, maybe he could send Data to collect Lore’s components.

Where was Data? He hurried back to the living quarters.

"He went exploring. Beyond Sigma Lake." Juliana looked down at the box she was packing—a few treasured, unreplicatable items: her personal log, handwritten, and the antique fountain pen. Her Italian viola. The holo of their wedding day.

Soong was furious. "How could you let him go all that way when that crystal thing is coming? Dammit, I’ll have to activate his homing beacon." He dived back towards the lab. Juliana ran after him.

"Where’s that frequency..." he was muttering when she caught at his sleeve.

"Noonian—no. Leave him."

He straightened, disbelieving, and stared at her.

"I don’t want to take him," she said, her voice unstable.

"But... I don’t understand. What —"

"No more androids, Noonian. It’s too much, I can’t take it any more. Every one of them has gone wrong, I can’t bear it, I won’t. We’ll find something else, a new work, something we can do together."

"Data hasn’t gone wrong," he said, bewildered, shaking his head.

"But he will, he will, all the others did, it’s just a matter of time and I’m so scared, Noonian. I can’t..." her voice thickened on a sob, "I can’t face turning him off the way we had to do with Lore. I can’t do that again! He’d be so angry! Don’t you see?"

Soong stood there, rigid and speechless, for what seemed hours. How could he have failed to notice? She was afraid of Data. Afraid! Of Data! She was crying, Juliana never cried, and he had no strategy for dealing with her tears. And she was so soft and defenceless in his arms, and he had to make her stop crying. What else could he do?

"All right... I—I’ll set up his next stage program, he’ll be all right. Now you get yourself into that escape pod. Hurry!"

Juliana gave him a rather watery smile, and became matter-of-fact and efficient, hurrying to pack food and clothing to save the limited pod replicators. Soong ran back to his lab to copy what he could from his records into portable memory, and do what little he could yet do for his youngest creation.

Outside, the ground began to tremble.


The ground was trembling. That was strange. The geological survey of the colony area had been very thorough: seismic disturbance was therefore extremely unlikely. Something was wrong. He had better return home at once. As he ran north towards the main settlement, Data speculated on the possible causes of the tremors.

In the main square, people were running madly, screaming. Very strange. Some of them shouted at him as he hurried past them, but for the moment, Data took no notice. He must find his parents. Father would know what was happening.

There was no sign of either of them in the living quarters. And things were missing. Data’s head swivelled jerkily as he surveyed each room. What had happened here?

He ran down to the lab. No-one. But wait —

Above one of the consoles, an image of light sprang to life. Father! Data ran to it, confused and worried, needing an explanation. And the image began to speak.

"Data. When you see this, your mother and I will be gone. We’ve seen what that crystal thing can do, and we can’t wait any longer. Goodbye, son. I hope we’ll meet again. Load the program under filename "Adult-epsilon-six" into your system. I was hoping to wait awhile before using it but—" The holographic projection shrugged, shamefaced. "If anyone can survive that crystal thing, you can. It never harmed Lore. I’m sorry, Data." The image winked into oblivion.

The abandoned android stood immobile for several seconds, as the shocking news registered in his positronic brain. Gone? His parents—gone? And left him behind?

His mind was a chaos of questions. What had he done? Why had they left him? Had he asked too many questions? Been too slow to learn his motor skills? Was he too imperfect to be worth saving? The thoughts chased themselves round his circuits, faster and faster, unable to find answers, caught in their own whirlwind.

Cascade failure imminent.

Until a new thought surfaced. That crystal thing. They had to leave because of the crystal entity. The crystal entity was dangerous. It had killed people before, and it was coming back.

But Lore had talked to it. So perhaps Data could talk to it as well. Perhaps he could discover what Lore had done to make the crystal thing go away. And if he could make it go away, then mother and father could come back. It would be safe.

That was rational. It made sense. Data shunted his clamouring terror to a sub-level of consciousness, and set to work.

It was thus the colonists found him when they came storming into the lab. A study in concentration, focussed on the computer, running through frequencies at a speed far beyond human capability. A murmur of self-justification ran through the group, and a growl of hatred. They rushed to the console—three of them pulled the android away from his task, two hastened to wipe the machine clean of any information it had gathered, and the rest stared in barely-reined hostility.

"What do you think you are doing?" one of them asked.

"I am attempting to establish communications with the crystal entity, " Data replied at once, "in order to—"

"I knew it!"

"He’ll kill us all!"



Their screams of rage and betrayal overwhelmed his gentle protest.

"Where’s your Off switch, android?" snarled Joskins.

Data, obedient as ever, told them.

They switched him off.

Then, staggering a little with the unexpected weight, they bore the body back to the central hall. Swiftly, too swiftly perhaps, for technicians unfamiliar with Soong’s work, the connections were established. The android’s current memory, his life until that moment, was overwritten by the accumulated logs and memories of the colonists of Omicron Theta. Two of the strongest carried it outside and laid it on the small dais which overlooked the ‘town square’. If nothing else survived, perhaps this mechanical monstrosity would some day be found, a library of their lives, the only memorial to the colonists of this doomed planet.

They hid underground, but it did not save them. The crystalline entity had grown since its first encounter with their world. It was no longer content with a few trees and a solitary human being: this time its feeding frenzy absorbed the life from every animate thing on the planet. Only a nonfunctioning android remained, a repository of other people’s knowledge, waiting for the approach of a human to reactivate it.

The humans were light-years away.


Back to Trek fiction index