This story was written in June, 1996, and takes place at some indeterminate time after - possibly long after - DESCENT. It has previously been posted to alt.startrek.creative, and should, as far as I know, still reside in its archive.

The usual disclaimers about Paramount apply. No infringements or other kinds of offense intended.

Rating: Quite Safe. :)

Feedback: Yes, please! :) You can reach me at the address given on my top page. And yes, the story is finished. ;)

My Brother's Finder

by Eliann SleepingCat

"You mean, they simply ripped vital circuitry out of you, just because they needed it for a ship's function? And after proclaiming themselves your friends? Well, isn't that humans for you.." Lore did not look at his brother. His gaze was steadily fixed on the constellation ahead of the small, barely spacegoing craft. His slender hands moved almost languidly over the controls.

"They were desperate", Data answered from the deck. He made an effort to draw himself up on one elbow, then abandoned the attempt, sinking back into his former position.

"And that excuses everything?" Lore asked, frowning slightly at a reddish star barely within the constellation ahead.

"I hardly think you are in a position to judge them, brother", Data said.

"I'm not judging them. I did that long ago, and they haven't changed since. Now, I'm merely questioning. I suppose it never occurred to them to ask your permission?"

"I am sure they meant to. But when that panel blew out in Engineering, they had to move fast. And since I was offline at the moment.."

"Are you in pain?" Lore asked suddenly.

Data's golden face took on a confused look. "Is that what it is? Something does feel extremely unpleasant. However, it cannot be pain, because my neural receptors are not programmed to.."

Lore laughed mirthlessly. "I've got news for you, brother. If your design is anything like mine - and I seem to recall OftenWrong saying we're virtually identical - then, if the damage is truly life-threatening, you will feel pain. Early-warning, I presume. To save you the trouble of running a full diagnostic in an emergency. It's rather the opposite of how most biological vertebrates are set up, and I'm not all that sure it's an improvement, but there it is. Runs deep too. I intended to modify that function for myself, but I can't doctor my own BIOS. If I could have.." He broke off abruptly, staring intently at the constellation, as if he had spotted some new and important feature in the aeon-stable pattern.

"I could do it for you", Data said. The truth, not an offer.

Lore grinned, still without looking back. "And I for you. Would you trust me?"

"No", Data said.

"There you are. We're both stumped. I suggest we just leave things as they are. Except, I'll want my own circuits back as soon as we've fashioned replacements for you. I'm feeling a bit stiff without them."

"You loaned me some of yours?" Data asked incredulously.

"Yes - oh, not enough to severely impair me, if that's what you think. That's why you can't move worth a damn. I just gave you enough to keep you alive till we can repair you."

"Why?" Data wanted to know. "Why did you save my life? You could have been rid of me for good."

"Now, when did I ever try to get rid of you?"

"I could mention a few occasions.."

Lore's elegantly fashioned hand flew off the controls to give a brief, dismissive wave. "Oh that - play for the Borg gallery. I never meant to actually kill you."

"And later?"

"My phaser was on heavy stun. Same as yours. At least you deactivated me manually - I suppose I should be grateful for that.. Did you take me apart yourself?"

"It seemed the safest course."

"Hm. Seems I owe you one. So far, I never disassembled you, and you can't say it was for lack of opportunity. But, I think I'll choose the kinder interpretation. It probably was a lot safer for me, than if you had had one of your human tinkerers do it."

"You have not answered my question. Why did you rescue me this time?"

"Why shouldn't I? Wouldn't it be a waste to let those fumbling humans destroy you? You have the same potential as I have."

"Exactly. I present a danger to you. And you to me. I do not trust you, brother."

Lore sighed. "Well, I can't say I expected any thanks from you."

"So why pick me up?"

"Because I wanted you with me."

"For what? What is it this time?"

Lore kept staring at the constellation as if searching for an answer in it.

"Come on, Lore", Data said. "Your real reason. Your ulterior motive. I know you have one; you always do."

Lore's topaz eyes dropped from the view ahead as he turned to regard his brother. Very succinctly he said,

"When I think of one, you'll be the first to know." 

* * * The End * * *