Chapter Two

Thanks to their link, explaining what had happened to Jamie only took a few short moments. He couldn’t currently come to her, thus they kept their link open so he could hear what was going on without her having to relay the information and so he could be a comforting mental presence if needed.

Data and Geordi took her to Ten-Forward. Geordi brought drinks for himself and Lisa and they sat at the bar to explain to her what had transpired on Earth. She listened quietly, absorbing it all and not liking anything one iota. She was still angry for everyone’s deception and so the tips of her twitching wings still had a bit of red in them.

“Look,” she said, “I understand why you all were trying to hide Data’s head from me, but just because I understand it doesn’t mean I like it. I thought Starfleet was all about truth and stuff like that.”

Data’s face was, of course, impassive but Geordi at least looked a little ashamed. “It is. And, like the Captain said, you’re right.” He paused briefly. “I didn’t think it was a good idea in the first place.”

With a small chuckle, she gave him the barest of smiles as she sensed the lie. “ ‘A’ for effort, Geordi.” She took a sip of her drink to try to calm down.

The Engineer sighed and turned to Data. “So…do you want to talk about it?”

The android blinked and canted his head. “Are you referring to the foreknowledge of my death?”

“Yeah.” Geordi’s voice was quiet.

He paused. “I have no…particular desire to discuss the matter.” He raised his eyebrows as if a thought just occurred to him. “Do you need to talk about it?”

Yeah!” came the emphatic answer.

“Ah.” Beat. “Why?”

Lisa nearly slammed down her glass in frustration. “Data…okay, I know the whole ‘no-emotions’ thing but…this has got to bother you a little.”

“On the contrary, I find it rather comforting.”

The ping she sensed told her that Geordi was as surprised at his remark as she was. “Comforting?” they said together.

“I have often wondered about my own mortality as I have seen others around me age. Until now, it has been theoretically possible that I would live an unlimited period of time and, although some might find this attractive – ”

“Data…” Lisa interrupted, “I have a long lifespan, too, you know.”

He nodded. “Yes, I am aware. However, your immortality was caused by an outside source and, as you have regular contact with that which caused it, you have a basis for comparison for your lifespan. As there has been no predetermined limit placed on my existence, to me, it only reinforces the fact that I am…artificial.”

Geordi considered his words. He turned towards Lisa. “Is it as tough for you? Knowing that you will outlive all your friends?”

“I always made new friends,” she answered.

“As I had expected to do,” added Data.

Geordi nodded and took a sip of his drink. “True.”

Data seemed compelled to add, “And then to outlive them as well.”

“That’s the price of immortality, Data,” said Lisa, squirming uncomfortably. She didn’t like where this conversation was heading. She decided to go for broke and took a deep breath. “I would’ve stayed with you. You wouldn’t outlive me.” Her voice cracked as she found that even saying that was painful.

“Now that you know that you might not outlive us?” Geordi asked. Gesturing to Lisa, he added, “Well, except…”

She frowned at him but made no comment. Jamie tried to send her soothing thoughts to keep her from breaking down completely.

“It provides a sense of completion to my future. In a way, I am not that different from anyone else. I can now look forward to death.”

“I never thought of it that way,” said Geordi.

Lisa, however, was confused. “Why would anyone look forward to death? I’ve seen it…you’ve both seen it…i-it’s not a nice thing.” She swallowed at the stutter.

Data canted his head again. “One might also conclude that it brings me one step closer to being human.” He made an expression that could almost have been a smile. “I am mortal.”

The comm. system beeped. “Picard to Bridge Officers. We’re approaching the Devidia System. Report to your stations.”

As Data got up to leave, Geordi said to him, “I’ll see you later. Let’s get together for a game of chess or something, okay?”

Data nodded and left Ten-Forward. Lisa watched him go, then leaned on the bar and sighed. Geordi patted her back sympathetically and Guinan took that opportunity to walk over to the morose pair.

“That sounded like a very intense discussion.”

“Yeah,” Geordi replied, “they found Data’s head a mile beneath San Francisco. Been down there about five centuries.”

The look that crossed the woman’s face could only have been described as realization. “That’s why the Enterprise is being sent back to Earth.” She put a thinking finger to her chin. “I didn’t realize.”

“Something, isn’t it?” Geordi asked and took a swig of his drink. “He seems fine about it. Better than we are.” He stood up. “Well, I’d better get to Engineering.” Before leaving, however, he paused and put a hand on Lisa’s shoulder. “You gonna be all right?”

Was she? Truthfully, she didn’t know. Her mind was churning and her hearts ached so badly she could hardly think straight. Nevertheless, she forced a brave face. “Yeah. Sure.”

He nodded, squeezed her shoulder and walked out. The moment he was out of eyeshot, however, she put her chin in her hands and stared into her drink as if the answers she was looking for were hidden somewhere in the depths of the liquid.

“Full circle. Hmm.”

Lisa looked up, having forgotten that Guinan was even there. She studied the other woman, trying to sense what was going through her mind. Unfortunately, as Guinan was just as long-lived as Lisa was, she had learned over the years to shield her thoughts from telepaths. Did she know something? Was she, too, hiding something? Lisa didn’t know and she highly doubted that Guinan would tell her even if she asked.

Come home, Lisa, Jamie urged gently.

Sighing again, she downed the last of her drink and walked out of Ten-Forward, not noticing Guinan had watched her leave.

Jamie was sitting on his perch when Lisa entered their quarters. She flopped down on the couch and put her arm over her eyes. The flit’s draconic shadow fell over her as he glided to alight on the back and he leaned over to nuzzle her elbow.

“What’s wrong with me?” she asked, sitting up. “Why does the thought of him dying hurt so much? It’s not like I’m not aware that I’ll outlive almost everyone on this ship…” Her voice trailed away as she realized what she just said.

Maybe you never thought he would, he offered. He said so himself that he doesn’t know how long he’ll live. He’s an android, not a biological being.

“Maybe.” She stood up and walked across the room, wings twitching. She could sense that everyone on the ship was having a similar reaction; there were traces of anger and disbelief floating about. She tried to block it out but her own feelings threatened to overtake her.

You’re not going to be able to think if you don’t calm down.

Sighing, she leaned against a bulkhead. “This is like…finding out someone you love has a terminal illness.” She spread her hands. “I just…I feel so helpless.”

Jamie knew that Lisa hated that feeling. He flew over to stand on a chair near her and nuzzled her. She dropped to her knees, took his face in her hands and pressed her forehead to his. Tears traced wet tracks down her cheeks.

I just… she thought miserably. I don’t know what to do

The flit caressed her hands with the claws on his wings as gently as he could, at a loss at what could be done to help her through this. After a few moments she sniffled and stood up, heading towards the bedroom.

“I’m going to go lay down…I don’t feel so good…”

Of course.

She positioned her wings so she could lie down on the bed and told the computer to dim the lights. Placing her glasses on the bedside table, she shut her eyes, but she didn’t sleep. She instead asked the computer what the status of the Enterprise crew was.

“Lieutenant Commander La Forge, Commander Riker, Lieutenant Worf and Counselor Troi are on Devidia II.”

“Data’s not with them?”

“Lieutenant Commander Data is on the Bridge.”

Lisa sighed. Although her telepathy would extend to Devidia II, the emotions on the ship itself were overtaking everything else so she couldn’t hope to sense anything on the planet without the effort of extreme concentration. Feeling it was her only hope as she wasn’t allowed on the Bridge without permission, she lay back on the bed and concentrated.

Trying to relax, she opened her mind and was immediately assaulted by a cacophony of thoughts and feelings from the thousand other people on the ship. Wincing, she attempted to filter out what she didn’t need and focus on the blips that were the Bridge crew and the away team.

Through the din, she could feel something else. An underlying sense of…terror. It wasn’t coming from anyone from the Enterprise; it had to be on Devidia II itself, but not from the away team. Counselor Troi was probably feeling it, too. They felt…human? On Devidia II? No, that didn’t make sense.

She felt confusion from the Bridge crew, followed by an extreme sense of what she could only call dread. Her stomach did a flip-flop as she was filled with anxiety and anticipation. She desperately wished that she could hear what was going on.

“Computer, is Data still on the ship?”

“Lieutenant Commander Data is on Devidia II.”

Oh, no

Jamie flew into the room. He went down? Oh, dear

Lisa grabbed her glasses and instructed the flit to stay put. She contemplated going straight up to the Bridge, but decided against it. She could only get away with so much on this ship. Instead she took the turbolift to Deck 2, then located a Jeffries tube and slipped inside unnoticed. Not really sure of where to go, she only knew she needed to go up. She merely had to get close enough to the Bridge in order to hear what was going on.

She crawled through the tubes and climbed ladders but eventually she found herself able to hear the comm. system. Data was on the surface and his voice sounded oddly distorted as he spoke.

“I have made visual contact. There are life-forms here. They are either unaware of me or choosing to ignore me. I am moving approximately ten meters north of my starting position to observe more closely.”

The anxiety from the Bridge crew was growing. They didn’t like whatever it was Data was doing. Lisa knew exactly how they felt.

“They range from two to three meters in height, silver-gray in color. They have four limbs, no eyes or ears are noticeable. There is a single orifice where a humanoid forehead would ordinarily be. They are reclined against the rock face surrounding an apparatus of some sort, approximately one-point-five meters in height. It is releasing what appear to be energy fragments which are then ingested by the entities through their orifice. Perhaps some sort of nourishment. The upper portion of the apparatus seems to be a holding facility for the energy segments. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of these fragments inside. I have resumed a northern direction. There is no evidence yet of humans.”

“Okay, Data…” she whispered to herself. “That’s enough…please come home…”

“I have encountered another life-form – an ophidian.”

…a what?

“It seems to be restricted by a force field. Two of the silver-gray entities are approaching it. They have released the force field.”

Suddenly there was the sound of a sonic boom followed by the deafening swirling sound of a tornado. Fear enveloped everyone. Lisa forced her racing hearts to slow and fought off the urge to go down to the planet herself so she could keep listening. Data’s voice was breaking up now.

“I am reading a temporal distortionof mass…-ortionsthe ophidian is ca-time-space continuumcaught in the after effectI am attempting

There was an explosion and she heard Counselor Troi cry out over the comm. The next voice she heard was the Captain on the deck above.

“Commander Riker, report!”

There was a long, long pause.

“We’ve lost him.”

End chapter two.

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