"This is absurd," Jean-Luc Picard said with disgust as he finished reading the message.
"The message had all the proper authorization codes, Captain," stated the Vulcan ensign who had handed Picard the message. "It came directly from Starfleet Command."
"I don't question the source of the message, just the intelligence of those who sent it, Ensign Stavok." Picard fingered the buttons irritably as he pondered the message's content. Starfleet Command had a lot of nerve asking him to return to Earth in the middle of shore leave. After the events leading to the dismantling of Lore and the odd reunion with Hugh, the crew had earned its leave on Raisa and then some. The communiqué had been in no uncertain terms, however, so Picard had little leeway in carrying out its' orders.
"Ensign, alert the crew that shore leave is canceled and all crew members currently on Raisa are to report to the ship within one hour." Picard knew that this order would make him the object of countless curses and laughed mirthlessly to himself as he pictured the kinds of situations his crew would be getting rudely interrupted in.
After Picard's last trip to Raisa during which he had been caught up in Vash's crazy plan to steal an ancient relic called the Tax-u-tat, he had elected to spend this shore leave nowhere near Raisa's famous beaches and infamous tourist traps. Peace, quiet, and a good book were all that the Captain required for relaxation this week.
Unfortunately, shore leave had just been buried by the unstoppable tide of Starfleet's message. An interrupted shore leave was going to be the least of one of his command staff's problems.
"Everyone is present and accounted for, Captain, we're ready to go," drawled Commander Riker. His beard looked untrimmed and his smile looked pasted on as he reported for duty. The rest of the bridge crew looked no better as by the looks of things, everyone must have been saving the last two planned days of shore leave just to clean up.
"Very good, Number One. Give my apologies to the crew for cutting their leave short. Stavok, plot a course for Earth warp factor 7. Will, Worf, and Data, please join me in my ready room," commanded Picard as he arose from his chair.
Once they were inside the ready room, Picard's face looked even more serious than normal. The android had the same placid look about him he always did and Picard momentarily wished he had no emotions as he turned to Data.
"Data, please understand that what I am about to read I do not agree with in any way. Starfleet has obviously ignored my report about the incident with Lore and the Borg and I will help you fight this outrageous summons to the end."
"Fight what summons, Captain?" Data inquired.
Picard cleared his voice and then read directly from the communique, "Lieutenant Commander Data is to be placed under arrest for murder, hijacking a Federation shuttlecraft, assault and battery on a fellow officer, and conspiracy to overthrow the Federation. Because of the defendant's unique status and exposure to alien technology, he is to be confined to the brig in a shielded cell where he cannot send or receive any transmissions."
Picard then sat down beside Data and softened his manner. "I am afraid I have no leeway in how to follow these orders, Data. If you like, I would be glad to act as your lawyer once again to defend you."
"Your track record as my attorney is unblemished, Captain. Thank you for your assistance." Data then stood up and walked next to Worf. "Lieutenant, I hereby turn myself into your custody. Please fasten the handcuffs and we may proceed to the brig."
"I don't think that will be necessary, Data," Worf said with his usual
scowl on his face. They both began heading towards the exit when Captain Picard stopped them with a raised hand.
"There's one thing you should know about these charges, Data," Picard said with obvious distaste, "They are being pressed by Admiral Bruce Maddox."
Both Data and Worf froze in their tracks and turned to face Picard. Picard answered the question reflected on both their faces as he stated, "Yes, the same Bruce Maddox who tried to classify you as property five years ago."
The Enterprise's trip to Earth went without incident despite Geordi La Forge's offer to arrange a warp drive "accident" that would require the Enterprise to return to Earth under impulse power. Picard of course declined the offer but used every free minute to thoroughly read the charges against Data and plan the android's defense. Most of the charges against Data were technically true but surely Starfleet had read how Data had been under Lore's control during these incidents, Picard thought to himself. The murder charge was something Picard could not figure out, however, as Geordi had fully recovered from the experiment Data had begun on him and Data had certainly not killed anyone.
Picard was sure that this was some kind of trick to force Data into being disassembled so that Maddox could learn how he worked and possibly construct an infinite amount of androids. Picard had stopped Maddox from doing this five years ago when he acted as Data's attorney and eloquently defended Data's right to make choices as a sentient being. Picard had no doubt that when he arrived at Starfleet Command, a message from Maddox would be waiting for him offering to drop the charges if Data would submit to his procedures. Maddox would fare no better this time, Picard vowed to himself as the Enterprise pulled into space dock.
There were no messages awaiting Picard on Earth, however, so the Captain took it upon himself to confront Maddox to discover the true meaning of the charges against Data. It was a typically breezy day in San Francisco and the bright sun warmed Picard's spirits. It was nice to walk on good old terra firma once again and Picard hoped that he would have time to check out his family's vineyards in France while he was here. He quickly remembered he wasn't here on Earth just for fun as he arrived at Maddox's office and was immediately shown in.
"Good morning, Captain, it's a pleasure to see you again," Maddox cheerfully greeted Picard upon showing him a seat. "I didn't expect to see you until the trial tomorrow."
"There will be no trial, Admiral," Picard defiantly stated as he wondered how Maddox had become an Admiral so quickly. "I know this is just a ploy for you to pressure Data into allowing himself to be dissected by you."
"The charges are quite serious, Picard," Maddox said as the good humor disappeared from his face. "Data is guilty of all charges and I will prove it. I have a surprise witness in store, you see."
"I don't care what witnesses you have in store, surely you know that Data was under his brother's control during this entire incident," Picard angrily retorted, "and he certainly didn't kill anyone."
"That is for the court to decide, Captain," Maddox smiled grimly, "And he most certainly did kill someone. Lore was deactivated and disassembled by Data at the end of this little adventure."
Picard shot back, "But Lore is an android, not a person."
Maddox's smile grew wider as he answered Picard, "You can't have it both ways, Captain, either androids are 'unique life forms' and deserving of the right to make their own choices, which Data obviously deprived Lore of, or they're mindless robots that are the property of Starfleet. This applies to your defense quite precisely, Picard. Either Data is a robot and was completely under someone else's control or he was able to make his own choices and is guilty of all charges against him."
"To be honest, Picard, I don't really care which way the trial turns out," Maddox continued with poorly restrained glee, "either way you lose. I will get Data this time and there is nothing you or anyone else can do about it. I actually think he is innocent of the charges since he is just an android after all. If I wasn't the prosecutor, I'd be glad to be a defense witness for you."
Picard was not by nature a violent man but he wanted nothing more than to punch Maddox right in the middle of his big grin. Picard was inwardly worried at the strength of Maddox's arguments but would certainly reveal none of his unease in front of his adversary. "I guess I'll see you in court then, Admiral," Picard said as he stood up and walked out of Maddox's office with a confidence he didn't really feel.
"I won't lie to you, Data, it doesn't look good," Picard solemnly said as he visited Data in the Starfleet brig. "To adequately defend you, I need to know everything about what happened to you when you were with Lore. I know this will be hard for you," Picard's voice brightened a little at this point, "but if we win we can put Maddox to rest once and for all."
"I think the defense most appropriate for my case, Captain, would be temporary insanity," Data told the Captain, "I would not have done the horrible things I did without the influence of emotion. My ethical program became disabled as I tried to adjust to emotions."
"Temporary insanity! That's it, Data, I think that is your best hope." Picard smiled for the first time since the Enterprise had returned to Earth, "You should know that the rest of the command staff have volunteered to testify on your behalf."
"I am pleased to hear that I have not created any permanent ill will among the crew with my recent actions, Captain," Data said.
Picard knew that he had a defense to prepare but there was one thing that Maddox had mentioned that still disturbed him. "Data, Maddox mentioned that he would be calling a surprise witness, do you have any idea who that could be?"
"I am not sure, Captain. It is certainly possible that one or more of the Borg that were in Lore's group has been brought here to testify. It could also be a member of Hugh's group or even Hugh himself. You said he was reluctant to help you fight Lore and may still harbor bitterness towards you."
"Well, whoever he is, I don't know what he could say that Starfleet doesn't already know. I put everything in my report," Picard said. "Know that we're all with you, the command staff will all be attending your trial, and I may have some of them speak on your behalf. Keep your spirits up," Picard said with more than a little irony. "We'll win this yet."
Picard then retired to his guest quarters in Starfleet Command to plan his opening arguments but tossed and turned all night thinking of who Maddox's guest witness might be.
Dawn came the next morning with a pounding rain in tow but Picard barely noticed. This is where being bald is really annoying, Picard thought to himself as the rain insisted on dripping into his eyes. Picard decided that the temporary insanity plea was Data's best bet for winning this trial. He had been working all night on how to best demonstrate that Lore was the true villain in this affair.
He also hoped he could get a fair trial here on Earth. Bruce Maddox was awfully young to be an Admiral and must have the ear of some very powerful people in Starfleet to have risen so quickly to power and be able to drag his whole crew back to Earth so quickly. Picard had little choice but to hope for the best and trust in himself.
"This court is now in session, the honorable Judge Berezin presiding," intoned the bailiff with a harsh banging of the gavel. The judge then walked in, black robes trailing behind her. Sarah Berezin had been a judge for fifteen years and greeted the courtroom with her typical icy stare. She knew that this case would attract attention due to the fact that an officer on the Federation's flagship was on trial here and she was determined not to let it get out of hand. "Be seated, everyone," she said in a tone that warned everyone she would not be ignored.
The bailiff then read the charges, "The defendant, Lieutenant Commander Data, is accused of aggravated battery on an officer, hijacking a Federation shuttle, aiding and abetting a fugitive, conspiracy to overthrow the Federation, and murder in the first degree."
Data looked emotionless as only Data could while the charges were read. Picard wished he was so lucky as he was extremely worried about this trial. Picard knew that if Data was found guilty of any of these charges, his career would be over for sure. Picard was also sure that Data would be sentenced to serve his prison time under Maddox which would mean disassembly.
"Opening arguments, Admiral," said the judge to Admiral Maddox as the trial got underway.
"Thank you Judge Advocate," began Maddox, "I will keep this brief. I will
prove to the court that Lieutenant Commander Data, on or about Stardate 46984, did in fact help a Borg escape from the Enterprise brig, commandeered a Federation shuttlecraft to make good his escape, conspired with his brother Lore to overthrow the Federation, performed a medical experiment on Commander Geordi La Forge, and deactivated and disassembled his brother as he tried to escape his brother's headquarters. Data fought for his rights to be treated as a sentient
being and because a previous court saw fit to grant him those rights," Maddox didn't even try to keep the disapproval and disgust from his tone at this statement, "He should be treated the same as any other officer with no special treatment for his, shall we say, unique status."
Maddox then sat down and folded his arms to indicate he was finished. Picard rose and then began his opening argument, "Your Honor, we will stipulate to the facts as the prosecutor has stated them. Our defense will show that Data was not of his right mind when these acts were committed. We will show that Data was in fact under Lore's control and in a condition that can best be described as temporary insanity, a condition that Lore caused."
Picard sat down beside Data and awaited Maddox's first witness. Picard tried to make his face as impassive as Data's as he readied himself for whoever Maddox's voice would summon. Maddox had an evil grin as he stood up to call his first witness.
"I call the android known as Lore to the stand," Maddox said with relish as a door opened from the back of the courtroom and Lore entered with a bland look on his face, a far cry from the evil smirk that he seemed to permanently show. The arrogant swagger was gone as well, as Lore calmly walked to the witness chair and sat down as if he had done this several times before.
Captain Picard bolted up from his chair and yelled, "I object, this witness could easily have been tampered with during its reconstruction and even when fully functional, Lore has been known to lie whenever it suited him. He is responsible for the deaths of untold thousands through his evil deeds."
Maddox calmly replied, "Your Honor, this witness has a unique knowledge of the acts committed by Commander Data and what's more, I have removed his emotion chip and disabled his personality subroutines. He is a mere automaton, like any computer we use today. Records can be looked up and Lore's memory can be accessed just like a shipboard computer. I swear on my honor as a Starfleet Admiral that I have not tampered with his memory in any way." Maddox then chuckled as he added, "Lore will be the most truthful witness to ever appear in this court."
"I am not a robotics expert, but as the defense plans to blame Lore for Data's actions, he certainly should be allowed to testify to events he took part in and Admiral Maddox's honor is certainly above reproach," said the judge as she ruled in Maddox's favor.
"Thank you, your honor," Maddox said with a pleased look on his face as he began his questioning.
"Lore, on or about Stardate 46979, did you ask Data to leave Starfleet and
join you and your Borg soldiers?"
"Negative," Lore stated with all the emotion of a calculator.
"Did you exert any kind of control on Data, via reprogramming, emotion chip manipulation, or any external means before Data came to join you?"
"Describe the circumstances leading to Data's arrival on the base you had established with the Borg on or about Stardate 46991," Commander Maddox folded his arms as his smile grew.
"I had become the leader of a group of Borg that had been isolated from the collective. I intended to use them to either destroy or alter all biological life forms. A Borg under my command returned in a shuttlecraft stolen from the USS Enterprise. Data was with this Borg and said he wanted to experience full emotion and join my cause. He was my brother and I welcomed him."
"Thank you, Lore. The Prosecution is finished with this witness," Maddox said as he seated himself.
"Your witness, Captain Picard," the Judge Advocate said to Picard.
Picard drew himself up with a regal bearing and began his questioning. "Lore, did you exert any kind of control over Data after he joined up with you.?" Picard wanted to make this point very clear.
"Affirmative, I transmitted only negative emotion to Data when he joined my cause and disabled his ethical program so as to keep him angry and unlikely to return to the Enterprise. The ethical program had already crashed due to the conflict between it and the emotions Data was beginning to feel on his own. He remained under my control until he refused to shoot you on my command and shot me instead," said Lore in the manner of one reading a cargo manifest.
Picard then addressed the Judge Advocate, "Your Honor, I move for the immediate dismissal of the charges of conspiracy to overthrow the Federation and assault and battery on a fellow officer. Data was obviously under Lore's control during these acts. The other charges can be explained by Lore's own testimony. Data's ethical program crashed so he ended up being easily malleable to Lore's will. As for the charge of murder, Lore is here in the courtroom right now."
Maddox stood up to counter Picard's argument. "No thanks to your client, Captain. Lore was as good as dead when he came to the Cybernetics Lab. At best, the Captain can try for an attempted murder plea which would still result in Commander Data's dishonorable discharge.."
Picard grew more angry as he answered back. "Data's ethical program was disabled, nobody can be expected to know the difference between right and wrong without ethics."
"Ethics by nature can't be programmed, judge. A person has to form his own ethics through observation, life experiences, and his own innate sense of right and wrong. Everyone's ethics are slightly different. Data's ethical program is really a set of if-then statements. If Noonien Soongh's program says to help people, then that's what Data does. If it says to kill them, well that's OK too. Data doesn't choose his ethics. Three years ago, a small boy was dying on the Enterprise and the ship was en route to a medical starbase to help him. Data hijacked the Enterprise and forced it to go to Soongh's home planet, jeopardizing the boy's life and breaking just about every rule in the book in doing so. Data did this because Soongh programmed Data to respond to his distress call whenever it was signaled and to do whatever was necessary to respond. Fortunately, the boy survived and no harm was done. If the Enterprise had been the lead ship of an escort mission or a critical battle was taking place, the effects of Data's hijacking would have been much less fortunate. I don't blame Data for this, however, after all he was only following his programming."
"Your Honor," Picard spat out the words with obviously restrained fury, "you and I are the victims of a sham. This trial is obviously just a ruse for Admiral Maddox to circumvent the ruling made by Judge Corvoir that granted my client sentience and the right to make his own choices."
Maddox was quick to respond. "Something your client is obviously incapable of. Program Data to be bad, he's bad. Program Lore to tell the truth, he tells the truth and is not the evil mind-controlling megalomaniac everyone would have you believe. If I program a starship computer to turn off the life support, killing everyone on board, is the computer guilty or am I guilty? Am I enslaving my replicator when I program it to make me coffee every morning? Computers and androids only do what they are programmed to do."
The Judge Advocate frowned as she said, "Admiral Maddox, you seem to be arguing for Data's innocence. Is Captain Picard right about the real reason for this trial? This Court will not be used to further your own personal designs."
Maddox softened his tone to try to placate the obviously annoyed judge, "Your Honor, this trial can have only two outcomes. Either you find Data innocent of these charges because he was reprogrammed, thereby classifying him as a computer and not a sentient being or you find him guilty of these charges and sentence him to a sentence a Starfleet Officer would deserve," Maddox said with relish.
Picard tried to calm himself and smiled as he saw an opening. "Your Honor, I suggest a third possibility. These incidents all sprang from Data's newfound emotions conflicting with this ethical program, causing something similar to what a human experiences in times of extreme turmoil. Is not anything a human does a result of ethics combined with emotion? Data is not a threat to anyone in his present condition, and he has of his own free will," Picard took care to emphasize this phrase, "chosen to disable any emotional programs until a way can be discovered to control them. My own chief engineer, whom Commander Data is accused of assaulting, is by his own choice working closely with Data to perhaps allow him to evolve as the natural life form a previous court has found him to be. Admiral Maddox wants to tear him apart, dissect him to learn his secrets and do God knows what with that knowledge."
Maddox could not help interrupting at this point, "Maybe Commander La Forge is motivated by fear, I would sure be afraid to be in the same room with Data again next time he goes berserk."
Picard was outraged, "Your Honor!"
"Withdrawn," Maddox cooly replied as he prepared to continue.
Picard forcibly calmed himself down and listened to Maddox continue. Maddox had always been excellent at getting under his skin, but Picard vowed that he would not give Maddox the pleasure of seeing him thrown off his game.
"Your Honor," Maddox said, "Commander La Forge is a knowledgeable engineer but is not an expert cybernetics technician. Data should be reassigned to the care of Starfleet's cybernetics division at the Daystrom Institute so that we can figure out what makes Data work and avoid future occurrences of the tragic actions that have brought us here today. These are certainly not the only dangerous actions that Data has committed. He recently assaulted Counselor Troi with a knife, yet nobody seems bothered by this. Your Honor, as recent events have shown us, until we know more about Data, he is a threat to everyone on his
ship and while most of the time he is no doubt an able crewman, the Federation can't take the chance that the Enterprise could be destroyed by Data someday. It's been fortunate to survive this long." Maddox saw Picard jump up to object and beat him to the punch by cheerfully saying "Withdrawn."
"Your Honor, I will go with him," said a voice that shocked everyone. Data stood up and said, "By reconstructing my brother, Admiral Maddox has shown that he knows a great deal about positronic nets and might be able to help me after all. I said to the Admiral after the last trial that I find some of his proposals intriguing and that I would be here when he is ready. He is ready, and I am here."
Picard turned to face Data and said, "You don't have to do this, Data."
"I'll be the judge of that," snapped the Judge Advocate to Picard. She then turned to Maddox, "Admiral, will you dismiss the charges if the defendant turns himself in to your care?"
"Of course, Judge," Maddox said with a grin, "I thought he was innocent by reason of being a robot all along."
Captain Picard was anxious as he stood at the door to Admiral Maddox's office. Two months had passed since Data had taken a "leave of absence" to remain at Starfleet's cybernetics center while the Enterprise had gone on a supply mission near the Romulan Neutral Zone. Picard hoped that Maddox had abided by the conditions set down by Judge Berezin and not altered Data's programming in any way.
The door finally opened and Picard was ushered in by Maddox himself, looking smug and overconfident as usual. "So two months is up already, eh, Picard? I can't tell you how much we've learned about artificial intelligence and positronic nets from Data. He's jump-started our entire research program."
For once, Picard saw Maddox not as an adversary but as a scientist eager to learn all he could about his field of study. Something Maddox had said made Picard uneasy and he had to ask him, "Research into what exactly, Admiral? You're playing God with the knowledge you have obtained and I can't imagine that working for the common good."
"Well, I can't tell you the details of course, but let's just say that the Federation will be a more secure place because of the work we do here at the Daystrom Institute. I know you like to demonize what I do and envision my crafting an army of robot warriors in my own image but that is of course dead wrong. My goal is to save human lives by using intelligent robots to do work that is menial or dangerous, the same goal Richard Daystrom had before he became unbalanced. Think of it, Picard, millions of lives could be saved by having robots explore space, fix our ships, defend our borders. But fear not, Captain, your job is not in jeopardy because you would be commanding it all. I wouldn't dream of sending out ships made up of robot only crews because I believe the human element is absolutely necessary when the unexpected is encountered."
"You seek to make an android slave race!" Picard yelled at Maddox. "The Federation is sworn to uphold all forms of life and artificial life deserves consideration."
"Picard, that is a very slippery slope. Next thing you know, you'll be hauling me off to the stockade for oppressing my computer by making it call up my mail. But we've already argued this before, Captain, and I don't think we're going to change each other's minds. I will leave you with one final thought, however. The universe is not a nice place. There are rumors of armies of beings from the Delta Quadrant that would make your blood run cold. The Federation has to do whatever it can to ensure its survival, Picard, and I can tell you our current army isn't going to hack it against this new threat. It's my job to use cybernetics to make our ships more efficient and that's what I am going to do. And now if you'll excuse me, I will go get Data and return him to you."
Maddox left Picard to stew alone for a few minutes until he re-entered the room with Data. Picard was relieved to see his friend again and wasted no time greeting him. Maddox excused himself with a "Pleasure doing business with you, Picard" and left the pair alone.
"Data, I hope you are not the worse for wear after your time here," Picard asked.
"Quite the opposite, Captain. Admiral Maddox was able to optimize some of my subroutines and I am now functioning at 100.9% of my previous efficiency."
"I am glad to hear it, Data. The Admiral has some well-intentioned ideas but I still don't trust him, even if he intends to combine the best things about humanity and robotics in starships of the future."
Data had an almost thoughtful look on his face as he considered Picard's statement. "I wonder, Captain, if the Borg were created long ago under similar circumstances."