"Second Officer's Personal Log: Stardate 44390.1 Record entry for transmission to Commander Bruce Maddox, Cybernetics Division, Daystrom Institute. Dear Commander Maddox,..." Data said.

Supernumeraries was at Con, Ops, and Tactical. Data was near the aft stations, making a visual check of the consoles.

"In reference to your most recent letter, I agree that your study lacks sufficient primary source information on my programming. Therefore in response to your request, this correspondence will include a complete record of my activities during a normal day, focusing on my perceptions of friendship." he said.

Data moved to Command, sat down and checked a few readings on the small monitors on the command chair.

Riker, and three supernumeraries entered from Turbolift so Data stood.

"Good morning, Commander. You are fifteen minutes early." he said.

Riker smiled in a good mood.

"Well, it's a special day. I thought the... father of the bride would enjoy being relieved a little early on the wedding day." he said.

"Thank you, sir."


"I cannot become nervous. However, I do sense a certain... anticipation regarding my role in the wedding." Data said. "All systems normal, sir. Sickbay reported that Lieutenant Juarez went into labor at zero four hundred hours. We remain on station awaiting the arrival of the starship Zhukov and guest quarters have been prepared for Ambassador T'Pel."

"Very well. I have the Bridge."

"Aye, sir."

"Begin day watch." Riker said to com.

In response to his command, the started to brighten, signaling the beginning of "day" on the ship.

Data's people left their positions and Riker's people took the vacant stations.

"Initially Commander Maddox, I found it difficult to maintain friendships since human emotions are often puzzling to me." Data said over above action.

Data entered from Turbolift and moved to Keiko's Quarters.

"Eventually, I developed a program enabling me to predict human emotional responses to specific actions." he continued.

Then he arrived at the door.

Keiko was in her quarters walking from the bedroom to the living area. She seemed serene calm. Then the door chimed.

"Come in." she said and Data entered.

"It is time for the wedding rehearsal." he said.

"I know..." she said flat. "I've decided not to go through with it, Data." she said with a detached air.

As a way of dealing with the pain of the situation, she's opted to take the 'super-rational' approach.

"You do not wish to rehearse?"

"No, I'm... calling off the wedding."

"May I ask why?"

"It's just the right thing to do."

"Have your feelings for Chief O'Brien changed?"

"I'm supposed to be getting married, Data. I should be happy... but I'm not. I just feel this weight pressing down on me." she said calm.

"Will cancelling the wedding make you happy?"

She hesitated for a second... and although she tried to say it with conviction, she's not really sure.

"Yes." she said. "He'll probably be just as relieved as I am." she said. "Data, you introduced us, you mean a lot to both of us... I'd really appreciate it if... you would tell Miles for me."

"If you wish." he said and turned to leave.

Data was moving toward Ten Forward.

"I have often heard my friend Chief O'Brien say that above all else, he wants to make Keiko happy. Since cancelling the wedding will make her happy, I must conclude the Chief will be pleased at her decision." he said and left to Ten Forward.

Geordi, Wesley, O'Brien, and Supernumeraries were in Ten Forward. The Supernumeraries were putting up Japanese lanterns, decorations, etc. Geordi, Wesley and O'Brien were standing around, waiting for the rehearsal. Then Data entered and went directly to O'Brien.

"I have good news." Data said.

"Oh?" O'Brien said.

"Yes. Keiko has made a decision designed to increase her happiness." Data said. "She has cancelled the wedding."

It took a moment for this to sink in, and O'Brien just stared at Data for a few seconds.

"She what?" he asked shocked. "Cancelled the wedding? Today? Without even a word... of all the childish, selfish...!" he said getting angry and left.

Everyone was shocked, no one more so than Data. Geordi came over and gave him a look of reproach.

"Next time, maybe I should break the... good news." he said the moved away and we pushed in on Data.

"Or me." Wesley said.

"Commander Maddox, it would appear that my program designed to predict emotional responses needs... adjustment." Data said.

The Enterprise and another starship was running side by side.

"Personal Log: Supplemental. This is the one thousand five hundred fiftieth day since the Enterprise was commissioned." Data said.

Data was in the corridor heading toward Transporter Room. The Corridor should be filled with supernumeraries in Starfleet uniforms, civilian clothes, sports wear... a feeling of many cultures, activities and traditions aboard our ship.

"Besides the arrival of Ambassador T'Pel, other events occurring today include four birthdays, two personnel transfers, a celebration of the Hindu Festival of Lights, two chess tournaments, one secondary school play, and four promotions." he continued.

He had arrived at Transporter Room.

Data entered the room and the transporter technician at console.

"Overall... an ordinary day." Data said.

"The Zhukov is ready for transport, sir." the technician said.

"Energize." he said and Ambassador T'Pel materialized on the platform. "Welcome aboard the Enterprise, Ambassador."

"I would meet with your Captain." T'Pel said and Data gestured to the door and they left together.

Data and T'Pel were now on the Turbolift. Her face was impassive, unreadable... Data's showed the innate curiosity and innocence which was such an intrinsic part of his personality. The Turbolift was moving.

"Unlike my human friends, I am not affected by feelings or emotional considerations. In that sense, I am closer to being Vulcan than human, but I am not attracted to Vulcan philosophy. Their devotion to logic does have a certain appeal in its simple purity..." Data said.

The Turbolift stopped and they left.

Data and T'Pel entered the main bridge from Turbolift and walked to Ready Room. Riker's shift was on duty.

"... but I find theirs to be a somewhat... stark philosophy, lacking beauty... and joy." he continued.

In the Ready Room Picard and Riker were standing near the desk. T'Pel and Data entered.

Picard lifted his hand in the Vulcan salute.

"Ambassador T'Pel..." he said.

"I come to serve." T'Pel said and returned the salute.

"Your service honors us." he said. "My first officer, Commander William Riker." he said gesturing Riker.

"Leave us, please." she said to Riker.

Riker glanced at Picard, plainly irritated at this peremptory dismissal. Picard gave a small nod of agreement and then Data and Riker left.

Data and Riker entered from Ready Room and on the main bridge.

"Charming woman." Riker said to Data annoyed.

Riker was still irritated as he moved to Command. Data studied him for a moment and then headed for Turbolift.

"The tone of Commander Riker's voice makes me suspect that he is not serious about finding Ambassador T'Pel charming. My experience suggests that in fact he may mean the exact opposite of what he says. This is a form of expression I have not yet been able to master." Data said and left.

At the barbershop Geordi had just sat down in one of the chairs and an alien barber named V'Sal came over to look at his hair.

A female alien crewmember was sitting in the other chair while a human barber worked on her large expanse of hair.

Geordi and V'Sal were joking around. Their verbal jabs at each other were definitely good-natured and they've thrust and parried this way many times before.

"You don't need a haircut. You were just in here last week." V'Sal said looking at Geordi's hair.

"Hey, I wouldn't be back here so soon if you'd done it right the first time..." Geordi said joling.

Then Data entered as V'Sal went to the counter to get a sheet and some scissors.

"When I have difficulty understanding human behavior I often turn to Commander Geordi La Forge. I consider him to be... my best friend." Data said over above action.

V'Sal started trimming Geordi's hair.

"I know you want to be beautiful... I'm just a barber, not a miracle worker." he said.

"Just try to keep my ears on straight today, all right?" Geordi said.

They both chuckled a little and Data realized they're joking.

"Friendly insults and jibes... another form of human speech that I am attempting to master." Data said.

"Hi... here for a trim?" Geordi said to Data.

"My hair does not require trimming... you peabrain."

Geordi almost fell out of the chair in shock, but a smile still formed on his face.

"What?" he asked.

"My hair..."


"I am experimenting with friendly insults and jibes. It was not meant as a serious disparagement."

Geordi laughed.

"Well... I wouldn't try it out on the Captain." he said.

Data nodded in understanding.

"Geordi, I am still confused about Chief O'Brien's reaction this morning." he said.

"He was just surprised, Data. He didn't mean to blow up like that. He knows Keiko probably doesn't want to call off the marriage." Geordi said. "She's just getting cold feet."

Data processed this for a moment, then found the reference.

"Cold feet... jitters... a nervous reaction to an impending event of great importance."

"Right. Don't worry, everything'll be fine. She'll change her mind again."

"She will?" Data said surprised.


"Then you believe the wedding will still proceed?"

"Trust me, they'll get married... so you better find a gift."

In the replicating center there were several computer terminals showing images of objects ranging from clothing to furniture. Patrons select the desired item from one of the displays, then took an encoded padd to one of the large replicator consoled in the b.g. two adults were perusing one of the displays with a child.

The parents were making a few final adjustments to the image of a stuffed rabbit on one of the screens. The child seemed happy with the choice. They pressed a button, and the item materialized on one of the replicator stages. They took the toy.

The computer screen was showing a shovel and Data seemed unsure what to do. He tapped a key and the display now showed a chair.

As he saw Worf enter and went over to one of the terminals and started to tap in commands. Data went over to him.

"I find Lieutenant Worf to be what is called a kindred spirit. We were both orphans and were both rescued by Starfleet officers. In many ways, we are both still outsiders in Human society. I do not fully understand why, but I find it... comforting to think that I am not alone in that regard." Data said over above action.

"Are you here to find a wedding gift?" Data asked Worf.

"Yes." Worf said.

"I would appreciate your help in selecting an appropriate item."

"Of course. I have attended human weddings before." Worf said proudly and tapped in a couple commands on the display.

The terminal screen showed a set of crystal wine glasses.

"This is a traditional gift?" Data said.

"My adoptive parents often give these... things at family weddings. A human custom." Worf said and worked the display again and now the image of a delicate glass swan was shown.

"It was my understanding that the item selected should reflect the personality of whoever is giving the gift." Data said. "This does not remind me of you." he said and looked at the screen.

Worf frowned a little.

"Have you ever been an actual participant in a human wedding?"

"No." Worf said with distaste.

"You would not consider it to be an honor?"

"An honor, perhaps. But human bonding rituals involve a great deal of talking, dancing, and crying."

Worf was still concerned with the gift and now he tapped in another command and the display screen showed a vicious-looking Klingon weapon. He smiled to himself. However, Data was no longer watching him.

"Dancing..." Data said concerned.

At Sickbay Beverly was talking to a nurse in the 'birthing area', a semi-private area where a very pregnant woman was lying on one of the biobeds, while her husband sat next to her.

"Continue to monitor the contractions. I'd say she still has a couple hours to go." Beverly said and the nurse nodded and she move over to the pregnant woman. "You're going to be just fine." she said and turned to go to her office.

"I am rarely in need of Doctor Beverly Crusher's professional services as my biomechanical maintenance program (tech) is self-sufficient. But I often observe as she practices medicine on others and have learned a great deal about the human condition from her." Data said over above action.

Data was waiting for Beverly in the vestibule outside her office.

"Doctor, may I ask a favor of you?" he asked.

"Of course." she said.

"Will you teach me how to dance? I don't think Wesley would be able to teach me."

A passing second nurse overheard this and looked at Beverly with surprise. Beverly was embarrassed at the mention of this subject and she pulled Data into her office.

"What?" Beverly asked.

"I would like to learn how to dance." Data said.

"Why me?"

"It is in your service record. 'Awarded first prize in tap and jazz competition, Saint Louis Academy-"

"Okay, okay." she said trying to quiet him then glanced out the windows to see if anyone heard him.

"Have I said something to upset you?" he asked puzzled.

"It's just... that was a long time ago." she said. "I'd rather not be known as... as the dancing doctor. Again." she said off his look.

"Then your answer is no?"

Beverly struggled for a second... looked out into the hall again to make sure no one's listening.

"All right. But let's keep this between us." she said quietly.

"Of course, Doctor."

"Commander Data, please report to the Bridge." Picard said on com.

Data hit his. communicator.

"Acknowledged." he said.

In the main bridge Picard and T'Pel were standing near aft science station. Riker and his shift were still on duty then Data entered.

"Mister Data... I need a tactical projection of possible future Romulan deployments along the Neutral Zone. Access all Federation records on the subject and then report to my Ready Room." Picard said.

"That is a very general request, Captain. Is there a more specific area you wish me to study?" Data asked.

Picard glanced at T'Pel and she shook her head.

"No." he said.

Data sat down at the station and started to work and Picard and T'Pel headed for Ready Room.

"Set course one-three-zero mark two-four-six. Warp seven." Picard said to Riker.

Data turned around at this command and Riker was a little surprised.

"That course will take us very close to the Neutral Zone, Captain." Riker said.

"I'm aware of that. Proceed." Picard said and he and T'Pel left to Ready Room.

Riker was fairly itching with questions, but he knew his duty.

"Lay in the course." he said.

The Supernumerary at Con worked the console. Data turned back to the console and started working.

"It is fortunate that I am able to perform my duties without emotional distractions. If that were not the case, a sudden course correction toward the Neutral Zone would make me very... nervous." he said.

"Personal Log: Supplemental. Commander Maddox, there are still many dynamics of social interaction which I do not understand." Data said.

On the bridge Riker and his shift were still on duty. Data was working at the aft science station... after a few seconds, he stood and went over to the Ready Room door.

"The belief among humans that a captain must remain distant from his crew is puzzling. Captain Picard and I have worked together closely for over three years..." he continued.

Data ha arrived at the Ready Room.

In the Ready Room Picard and T'Pel were seated. Then the door chimed.

"Come." Picard said and Data entered.

"... and yet I cannot truthfully refer to him as my friend. I find that thought to be... disappointing." Data continued

"Based on your analysis, what is the current Romulan strategy behind the deployment of their ships in this sector?"

"Their ships are deployed to support a policy of confrontation designed to test Federation defenses along the Neutral Zone." Data said.

"Do you predict any change in the near future?"

"I project a ninety percent probability that they will continue to pursue this policy."

"Are there any indications of a more conciliatory attitude on their part?"

"No, sir."

Picard looked at T'Pel. She was unperturbed by this information.

"Caution is clearly called for, Captain. However, the mission must proceed as planned." she said.

"Starfleet Command agrees with you, Ambassador. But I would feel better if you would consent to an escort or..."

T'Pel pointedly looked away from him toward Data and Picard understood her concern.

"Thank you, Mister Data." he said reluctantly and Data left.

Later Data entered his quarters and crossed to the food replicator.

"Feline supplement seventy-four." he said and a small dish of food materialized and he takes it.

Then he set the dish down near a wall and then went over to the desk unit and Spot walked over to the dish of food and started eating as he sat at the desk.

Then he placed his hand on the console and a small series of lights came on in response.

"Computer, run fluidic sensor diagnostic." he said.

Lights blinked on the console and he waited patiently. His cat jumped up into his lap and he automatically started to pet him.

"Diagnostic complete. All systems functioning within normal parameters." computer said.

Then the door chimed.

"Come in." he said.

O'Brien entered upset, but somewhat apologetic.

"Am I intruding, Commander?" he asked.

"No." Data said. "Would you care to sit down?"

O'Brien sat very agitated, having trouble saying what's on his mind then he got up again, started to say something, changed his mind and moved about uncomfortably.

"When one of my friends is distraught, I know that I should attempt to make him more comfortable." Data said over above action.

Data stood and went over to the food replicator.

"May I offer you some refreshment, chief?" he asked.

"No, thank you, sir. First of all... I'd like to apologize for this morning in Ten Forward..." O'Brien said.

"There is no need to apologize. I was not offended." Data said. "Perhaps you would like a pillow or a more comfortable chair to sit upon."

"Uh... no sir. Thank you, sir."

"Would you care to listen to music? Brahms? Aurelia? Mexler?"

"No, sir... really... I'm fine. I came here to... to ask for your help." O'Brien said. "It's about Keiko... I'd like youtalk to her... convince her to go through with the wedding."

"Would Counselor Troi not be a more appropriate choice to speak with Keiko?"

"She already has... it didn't help." O'Brien said. "You've known her longer than I have... I just thought she might listen to you." he said having a hard time with this. "She won't even talk to me..."

"I do not know what to say to her."

"Just talk with her... try to make her see reason. She's going off half-cocked and not thinking this through. You've worked with her for a long time... she respects your opinion."

Data thought for a second and decided to do it.

"Perhaps she has not fully analyzed her decision." he said.

"Thank you, sir. I won't forget this." O'Brien said relived and left.

As O'Brien left, Data thought for a second then stood and headed for the door.

"Commander Maddox, I noted that Keiko was quite calm and rational when she informed me of her decision this morning." Data said over above action.

Data was walking to the Arboretum.

"Therefore, I can predict that she will respond to an objective analysis of the situation based on the available facts." he continued.

Data entered the Arboretum. Keiko was staring at a flowering plant, lost in thought.

"It is fortunate that she has not let emotional considerations cloud her judgment. It should make my task much simpler." he continued.

Keiko noticed Data. She wasn't as sure of herself as earlier in the day. The decision was starting to weigh heavily upon her and she's a little emotionally fragile right now.

"Hi." she said.

"Am I disturbing you?" Data asked.


"There is a high likelihood that your decision to cancel the wedding was an error."

"What?" she asked startled.

"I believe you made an incorrect analysis of the facts at hand."

Keiko didn't expect this from him and it took her a few seconds to get her bearings.

"What do you mean?" she asked.

"You do not seem happy."

"Well, no..."

"Your decision was based on the assumption that cancelling the wedding would bring you happiness. That has proved to be incorrect."

"Data... it's not that simple."

"Since your action did not produce the desired results, the most advisable solution is to re-examine the decision-making process and look for errors."

Keiko felt pressured, boxed in... her feelings of pain and guilt started to get closer to the surface... she's defensive.

"I knew what I was doing. It's my decision." she said.

"That fact is not in dispute. However, you may have acted with undue haste... and in doing so, you have unintentionally hurt Chief O'Brien's feelings."

"I did what I had to! Why are you doing this? I thought you were my friend." she said angry.

"I am your friend."

"Then leave me alone."

"If I have offended-"

She backed away from him... tears mixing with the anger.

"Just... leave me alone." she said and left.

"It is clear that I need guidance to resolve this situation. Counselor Troi's advice should be useful."

In Deanna's office she was pouring a cup. Then she picked it up, crossed the room and sat down on the couch with Data.

"In many ways, she is the friend that I understand the least. Her life and her duties are predicated on her understanding and perception of emotions. Since I have none, no doubt she finds me as much of a mystery as I find her." he said.

"Chief O'Brien talks to me... Keiko talks to you... why do they not talk to each other?" Data said.

Deanna smiled.

"That's a good question, Data. I wish I had a good answer for you. Perhaps when they're ready, they will." she said.

"Many aspects of this situation are puzzling. I have been studying relevant texts on the subject of marriage, but I have not found a suitable guide."

"A suitable guide for what?"

"In an effort to be helpful, I am trying to calculate the variables involved in a successful marriage."

"Good luck."

"There are many different opinions. On Galvin Five, a marriage is considered successful only if children are produced within a year of the wedding. Andorian marriages require groups of four people unless two-"

"Data... would you like my advice on how to help them?" she asked and he nodded. "Don't. This is something they need to work out for themselves now."

"But I am their friend. Should I not stand with them in a time of difficulty?"

"There are many ways of helping a friend... sometimes the best way is to leave them alone."

Data thought about that for a second.

"Do you believe marriage to be the right decision for them?" he asked.

"I don't know. They are very much in love, but sometimes that isn't enough. Marriage is an agreement to share who you are with someone else... to spend your lives together... to grow old together."

Data thought about this.

"'To grow old together?' Is that an integral component of marriage?" he asked concerned.

"Why do you ask?" she asked cautious.

"Although I am an android, I have not excluded the possibility that I too may someday marry."

"There's nothing wrong with that."

"I believe I have much to offer a potential mate, however we cannot grow old together, Counselor, because I will not grow old."

She smiled.

"You do have a lot to offer, Data..."

"Commander Data, this is Ambassador T'Pel. Please report to my quarters." T'Pel said on com.

Data hit the communicator)

"Acknowledged." he said.

Meanwhile T'Pel was in her quarters pacing, a little restless for a Vulcan, but not nervous. Then the door chime.

"Enter." she said and Data entered.

T'Pel sat at the table... an impassive look on her face.

"You have a priority three clearance aboard the Enterprise?" she said.

"That is correct, Ambassador." Data said.

"I require information on this ship's defense and navigational systems. Access code kappa alpha four-six-zero-one-seven-zero-four."

Data processed for a second.

"That code is valid." he said.

"What is the field strength of the ship's deflector shields at maximum output?"

"May I ask what is the purpose for this request?"

"I require the information."

"I have the same safeguards as the ship's computer. Therefore, I must report any inquiry regarding restricted information to the Captain along with a report stating the nature and purpose of the inquiry."

Her eyes narrowed a bit as she reconsidered for a moment. Data frowned in puzzlement.

"Your reaction suggests that you do not wish the Captain to be informed of your inquiry." he said.

"No. I was not interested in the information. I was curious as to your security safeguards. They appear to be adequate." she said cool. "Cancel request. You may leave." she said so he left.

Then he headed for a Turbolift.

"Commander Maddox, I have often wished for the sense that humans call intuition or instinct. Since Vulcans do not lie, I must accept the Ambassador's explanation... but I still wish I could have a... gut feeling to back up this conclusion." he said.

Data stepped up to the keypad outside the Holodeck doors and pressed a button.

"Program Crusher Four in progress." the computer said and left the Holodeck.

The Studio was plain: wood floor, mirror, practice beam. Data entered. Beverly was already here warming up. She saw Data and came over excited to be dancing again.

"Hi." she said. "Whatta ya think? It's a recreation of the studio where I took my first dance lesson."

She said it with affectionate nostalgia... Data couldn't appreciate the emotional attachment.

"It appears to be quite suitable, Doctor." Data said.

"All right, then. Let's start with something real simple." she said and tapped out a very rudimentary step. "Go ahead, try it." she said and Data repeated the move smoothly. "Good! Now try this..." she said surprised.

A slightly more complex step... again Data picked it up without trouble, but he kept his arms stiffly at his sides.

"Wait a minute..." Beverly said and he stopped. "Try it again, but watch my arms..." she said and repeated the step using her arms.

Data tried again and used his arms in exact imitation of Beverly.

"And... you say you're never done this... ?!" she said shocked at his skill.

"That is correct. Perhaps it would be beneficial to show me the final lesson."


She did a more complex dance routine. Data looked for a moment... then joined her, matching her step for step.

"That was the easiest lesson I've ever given." she said as they stopped with a quick flourish.

"Then I have succeeded in learning how to dance?"

"You seem to have... picked up the basics."

"Thank you, Doctor. I am now ready to dance at the wedding."


"Keiko's wedding."

"But you never... you didn't say it was for the wedding."

"Is that important?"

"Well... yes. They don't do a lot of tap dancing at weddings..."

"Why not?"

"Because... well... actually I'm not exactly sure, Data. But we'd better try a style of dancing they will do at the wedding... Computer, run "Blue Moon"."

Beverly positioned his arms correctly and then started to dance.

"Compared to what we were just doing, it's very simple. Just follow me. One, two, three, four-" she said but he didn't get this at all and quickly made a wrong move and stepped on her foot. "No, no... you're trying to-Ow! Move more slowly... that's it... no, now you're-Ow! Stop music." she said and the music stopped.

"I am sorry." Data said.

"I don't get it... you picked up tap dancing so quickly..."

"I cannot reproduce your performance if I cannot see your feet."

"You need something to copy. You can't just... dance?"

"No, Doctor."

She looked at him with wonder and compassion... amazed at this simple inability by someone so incredibly gifted. Her heart warmed... she finally took his arms again.

"All right... this time, watch my feet. Computer, start music." she said and the music started again. "Don't try to imitate me. You have to lead."

"Lead where?"

"Indicate to your partner where you're going to step."

"How is this accomplished... ?"

"Watch me, I'll lead..." she said and they switched arms. "Notice I don't repeat the same pattern over and over... I improvise... Good... Now you lead..." she said and switched positions again. "Look up... into my eyes... Good... You're holding me too tight, Data..."

"This is a very complex set of variables to coordinate."

"You're doing fine... now smile, like you're enjoying yourself..."

He put on a pleasant face.

"Doctor Crusher please report to Sickbay." a nurse said com.

The interruption broke their rhythm and Data stepped on her toes again.

"Is it Lieutenant Juarez?" she asked wincing.

"Yes, Doctor. Her contractions are now one minute apart."

"I'm on my way." she said. "Why don't you try it with an... artificial partner for a little while? Don't be afraid to experiment." she said to Data.

"I will. Thank you, Doctor." he said and she left with a slight limp.

"Computer, create dance partner, female." Data said and a female dancer appeared.

She smiled sweetly at him and he took her in his arms.

"Begin music." he said and the music started and he tried to dance.

Later Data entered the bridge. Riker's shift still on duty. Riker was telling a joke to the Supernumeraries at Tactical and the Aft Science station. Data watched him as he moved to Ops and took his station.

"... he still won't talk... so they put the Count's head on the chopping block... 'one more chance' says the Queen. 'No' says the Count. The headsman swings his axe and just as the blade falls, the Count says 'Wait, wait, I'll talk!' but it was too late. And the moral to the story is don't hatchet your counts before they chicken." Riker said.

"Commander Riker's easy-going manner and sense of humor is fascinating. It is one reason why he is so popular among the crew. I believe it may also be partly responsible for his success in matters of love. There may be a possible correlation between humor and sex... the need for more research is indicated." Data said over the above.

The Supernumeraries groaned at the joke, but Riker was pleased with himself and moved back to Command. Data noticed something on his console.

"Commander, we have reached the designated coordinates." he said.

"All stop." Riker said. "Captain Picard to the Bridge." he said to com.

Picard and T'Pel entered from Ready Room and Picard was grim.

"Hold position. Long range scan." he said and looked at the viewscreen for a tense minute.

Everyone was waiting, unsure what's coming next.

"I have detected a ship in the Neutral Zone, Captain. Configuration... Romulan Warbird." Data said.

Picard looked to T'Pel... she was pleased by the news.

Picard's grim expression didn't alter and he didn't look away from her.

"Yellow Alert." he said.

T'Pel disapproved, but neither of them said anything... they stared at each other in a silent battle of wills as the Bridge went to condition yellow. Worf entered and went to his station. Picard finally turned away from her and back toward the viewer.

"Mister Worf, hail the Warbird." he said.

"Aye, sir." Worf said and worked the console. "They are responding... text only Captain." he said and read the message. "We are to proceed to the agreed coordinates."

Picard took another minute to think this over.

"Set course zero three seven mark zero zero five, warp four. Take us into the Neutral Zone, Ensign." he said.

There were reactions around the Bridge the Supernumerary at Con carried out the order.

In space the ship went into warp.

On the bridge.

"Captain, the Warbird is holding position. In three minutes we will be within phaser range." Worf said reading the console.

"Red Alert." Picard said and T'Pel reacted and gave him a warning look. "My crew knows their duty, Ambassador. They will take no provocative action... without my order."

There was something close to anger on T'Pel's face, but she maintained her cool Vulcan reserve. She tapped in some numbers at one of the Command terminals.

"Hold position at these coordinates." she said.

"Slow to half impulse." he said and glanced at his terminal.

"Open a channel." T'Pel said to Worf.

Worf looked at Picard and he nodded agreement.

"Open." Worf said and worked the console.

"This is Ambassador T'Pel. I have arrived." T'Pel said.

The image of Mendak came on the screen. His attitude was a shrewd negotiator careful not to give anything away.

"I am Admiral Mendak." Mendak said.

"There is no established protocol for a meeting of this nature. The logical course is for me to transport aboard your ship and begin the negotiations." T'Pel said.

"Yes..." Mendak said noncommittal then looked at Picard.. "Captain, I note your defensive systems have been activated."

Picard glanced at Worf and received a quick nod in return.

"As are yours, Admiral." he said and Mendak smiled.

"It was not meant as an accusation..." he said. "Indeed, I salute your show of strength. Ambassador, we are honored by your presence. You may transport aboard at your convenience." he said to T'Pel.

"The honor is mine." T'Pel said.

The view screen returned to a shot of the Romulan ship. T'Pel turned to Picard more than a trace of arrogance in her attitude.

"Instruct your Transporter Room to stand-by. I will beam to their ship without further delay." she said.

Picard was reluctant... he made one last attempt.

"Ambassador, I must once again urge you to reconsider. The Enterprise can accommodate a Romulan delegation without sacrificing security or-" he said quietly.

"Captain Picard, I find your arguments illogical. Please carry out my instructions." she said withering and headed to the Turbolift.

Riker and Picard exchanged a look of exasperation with the Ambassador.

"Bridge to Transporter Room Three." Picard said to com.

"O'Brien here." O'Brien said on com.

"Prepare to beam Ambassador T'Pel to the Romulan ship."

"Aye, sir."

"Maintain a lock on her signal once she's aboard their vessel. At the first sign of trouble I want to be able to bring her back." Picard said to Worf.

"Understood." Worf said. "Transporter activated..." he said as he read the console.

Worf reacted with alarm at something on the console just as O'Brien's voice came over the com.

"Captain-!" Worf said.

"Transporter emergency! I'm losing her signal!" O'Brien saod on com.

"Boosting power to autosequencers."

"Engaging computer override." Data said.

"O'Brien what's happening down there?" Riker asked on com urgent.

"I'm losing the pattern... trying to re-establish..." O'Brien said on com.

An ominous silence everyone on the Bridge waited for a long, tense minute.

"I'm sorry, sir... I wasn't able to retrieve the signal... the Ambassador's dead." O'Brien said defeated.

Picard, Data, and Riker were in the transporter room listening to O'Brien's report. Wesley, Beverly and a medical technician were examining the Transporter pad in the b.g. with a couple of tricorders. The Technician had a carrying case into which residual samples from the Transporter pad were being placed.

"The signal lock wasn't broken, sir. I had just entered the transfer sequence when the Ambassador's pattern began to break up. I tried to go to emergency manual control, but the pattern deteriorated too rapidly and..." O'Brien said and shook his head.

"Personal Log: Supplemental. The risks aboard a starship are accepted by all who serve, but I have never failed to observe a deep emotional response to the loss of a comrade. It is at times like this that I greatly miss the ability to share human feelings." Data said over the above.

"Captain, there is no prior record of this type of accident occurring on a starship. Back-up systems and safeguards are designed to prevent just such an occurrence." Data said to Picard.

Wesley came over from the Transporter pad.

"I can't find any system flaws in the unit, sir. All the Engineering status reports were normal. None of the backups were activated and the auto sequencers all functioned normally." he said.

"Any prior malfunctions with this Transporter unit?" Picard asked.

He was surprised Geordi was letting Wesley do this himself.

"No, sir. In fact, we replaced the transition coils only a week ago." O'Brien said.

"Could there have been some kind of interference from the Romulans?" Riker asked.

"Nothing that I could see... their shields were down... there was no power interruption... no subspace bias."

"I want that unit pulled and its systems checked again. I also want a level one diagnostic performed on all Transporters." Picard said to Wesley.

"Aye, Captain." Wesley said and left.

Beverly had finished her work and the Technician left carrying the medical case.

"Her molecular structure dissipated instantly once the pattern was lost. There were a few organic compounds left on the pad, but there's not enough material for an autopsy." Beverly said.

"To die in a Transporter accident... Hardly a fitting end for one of the Federation's most honored diplomats." Picard said.

A quiet moment as they contemplate the death of the Ambassador.

"Bridge to Captain. Admiral Mendak wishes to speak with you." Worf said on com.

Picard knew what's coming and not looking forward to it.

Later on the bridge with Picard, Data, Riker, and Worf. Mendak was on the viewscreen.

"We're still waiting, Captain. Is there a problem?" Mendak said.

Picard hesitated for only a moment... but there was no way to hide this.

"There's been... an accident. Ambassador T'Pel... was killed in a Transporter malfunction." he said.

Mendak was surprised and took a second to digest this information... then his eyes narrowed and looked at Picard with suspicion.

"What kind of malfunction?" he asked.

"We're investigating that right now. I'm sure that-"

"I should have known the Federation wasn't serious about this conference."

"Admiral, I can assure you that the Federation places the highest priority on this mission and its goal."

Mendak wasn't buying this... but his attitude showed grudging admiration.

"Well played, Captain... well played. Starfleet opposes normalization of relations with the Romulan Empire and so you are ordered to create... an accident." he said.

"You're mistaken. I am ready and willing to discuss the establishment of full diplomatic relations under the same terms as Ambassador T'Pel."

"A generous offer, since you know that we were only willing to negotiate with T'Pel." Mendak said with a derisive laugh. "I salute you again, Captain. It was a maneuver worthy of a Romulan. I suggest we both leave the Neutral Zone before there is... another accident." he said and shook his head.

The image went blank. Ominous silence filled the Bridge.

"Set course for Federation territory, warp two." Picard said and the Supernumerary at Con worked the console. "Engage." he said. "Mister Data, take charge of the investigation. Study computer logs, sensor information... everything. I refuse to believe this was a simple malfunction." he said to Data.

"Yes, sir." Data said and left to the Turbolift.

Later at the main engineering Datawas working at the pool table.

"Picard was the person who first interested me in the works of Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle." he said.

Later Data and Geordi were running some tests on a console... Geordi getting frustrated.

"I have subsequently become a great admirer of the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes and his ability to solve mysteries by careful examination of the available evidence." Data continued.

Later Data and O'Brien were in the Transporter room running tests on the Transporter... objected dematerialize and rematerialize.

"I have found Holmes' methodology of deductive reasoning to be quite useful in performing my duties. One of his adages is that once you have eliminated the impossible..." Data continued.

Later Data entered Sickbay and Beverly was working at a lab table with a large scanning/analysis device with a single computer screen and keypad built into it.

"... whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." he continued.

"I'm afraid I can't give you another lesson right now, Data." Beverly said.

"That is not my purpose. I wish to examine the remains of Ambassador T'Pel found on the Transporter pad." he said.

"I'm working on my report right now."

"Have you compared the genetic code with the Ambassador's last recorded Transporter ID trace?"

"No... that's not part of the standard procedure. Why?"

Data hesitated.

"I could be pursuing an untamed ornithoid without cause." he said.

She looked at him blankly for a moment.

"A wild goose chase?" she said and he nodded. "Okay... let's see what happens... Computer, access Transporter ID trace of Ambassador T'Pel."

"All right... there's the genetic record of the Ambassador when she beamed aboard the Enterprise." she said and took a small disk containing some organic material and set it into a slot in the machine.

She started to work the console and now genetic information from the material comes up on the other side of the screen. Beverly started to run both sets of information through a test... the information on both sides should be virtually identical.

"Now, the breakdown of the organic material found on the Transporter pad should be identical." she said. "Mitochondrial structure fits all general parameters... no change in the nucleotide bases..." she said as she read the screen.

The test stopped and the two screens highlight sections of the genetic code that are different.

She frowned.

"There's a slight discrepancy in the base pair sequence." she said then ran another test and the screens then stopped on another section of code that's different.

"Chemically, these are identical... however, the organic sample from the Transporter is showing numerous single-bit errors... like replicated material." she said to Data.

"Can you postulate an explanation for the discrepancy?" Data asked.

"I'd say the DNA was either mutated by the Transporter during the rematerialization process..."

He expected this.

"A supposition not supported by the Transporter records."

"Or these aren't the remains of the Ambassador."

Data, Geordi, Riker, and Picard were in the Ready Room.

"The only abnormality found during my investigation was a temporary increase in the matter to energy signal ratio. This fluctuation was well within operating parameters and would normally not invite further consideration. However, due to the circumstances, I decided to investigate the possibility that a second Transporter signal had caused the fluctuation. Although this was highly improbable, it was the only remaining theory." Data said to Picard.

"A second transporter signal? From where?" Riker asked.

"From the Devoras."

"Romulan transporters operate on similar subspace frequencies to our own. With minor adjustments they could be made to simulate our own transporter carrier wave." Geordi said.

"So they beamed the Ambassador off our own pad." Picard said.

"While simultaneously a small amount of genetically similar material was left in the Ambassador's place." Data said.

"To make us believe she died as a result of the 'malfunction.'" Riker said.

"Yes, sir."

Picard hit his communicator.

"Mister Worf, where is the Devoras?" he asked.

"The ship is still in the Neutral Zone..." Worf said on com. "... on course zero seven nine mark one two five... speed warp two."

"Heading for home." Riker said.

"The safest and most logical decision in this situation is to contact Starfleet and await further instructions. However, based on past experience, I project only a seventeen percent chance Captain Picard will choose that alternative." Data said over above action.

Picard thought for a few seconds... got up, moved to the window and looked out for a few moments before making the decision.

"Red Alert. All hands stand to battlestations." he said and they left.

Then Riker, Geordi, Data, and Picard entered from Ready Room and took their positions.

"Lay in an intercept course to the Romulan ship." Picard said.

"Shields up, load all torpedo bays, stand-by phasers." Riker said.

"Course laid in, Captain." Data said.

"Warp factor eight. Engage." Picard said.

The ship at warp.

Back on the bridge.

"Open a channel to the Devoras." Picard said.

"Aye, sir." Worf said. "No response." he said and worked the console.

"The Devoras is dropping out of warp... their weapon systems are powering up." Data said.

"Go to impulse power." Picard said.

"Aye, sir."

Worf saw something on his console.

"Message coming in, sir." he said.

"On screen." Picard said.

Then Mendak's image appeared.

"Captain Picard, you agreed to leave the Neutral Zone without-" Mendak started.

"Admiral Mendak, you are holding our Ambassador captive." Picard said firm.

A wisp of a smile played about Mendak's lips seeming to enjoy this a little.

"I can assure you... there is no one being held captive aboard this ship." he said.

"We know about the Transporter 'malfunction' and that you are holding Ambassador T'Pel."

Mendak waited for a minute... then nodded to someone o.s.

"Captain, Romulan Warbird decloaking to starboard!" Worf said.

In space another Romulan ship decloaked and now two Romulans were facing the Enterprise.

Back on the bridge

"I suggest you leave... now." Mendak said.

Picard wouldn't be moved.

"It is my responsibility to protect the lives of Federation citizens. I will not permit this abduction to succeed." he said.

Mendak wasn't taking him seriously yet.

"Captain, you're not going to start an incident which might-"

"I am prepared to take whatever action is necessary to obtain the Ambassador's return." Picard said final.

Mendak took Picard's measure for a moment.

"In poker, there is a moment when a player must decide if an opponent is being deceptive or actually holds a winning hand. This decision is based not only on the odds, but also on an appraisal of the man. Is he bluffing or does he have the cards?" Data said over above action.

Mendak finally saw that Picard means business.

"Fortunately... I'm not ready to start a war today..." Mendak said.

Then he gestured to someone o.s. and Ambassador T'Pel moved into view, wearing a Romulan uniform. There were shocked reactions around the Bridge.

"T'Pel?" Riker said.

"Sub-Commander Selok, actually." T'Pel said.

It's all clear to Picard now.

"A spy." he said.

"A patriot, Captain... she has performed her service to the Empire with distinction." Mendak said.

T'Pel/Selok smiled.

"Thank you for your... help, Captain." she said.

"You can see now that we are not holding one of your citizens... and we thank you for returning our sister to us." Mendak said. "But my patience has limits... the game is over. I expect you to leave peacefully. Now." he said in a harder voice and the transmission stopprf..

"Sir, long-range scanners show three more Romulan ships moving into this sector." Worf said.

Picard took that in and looked at Riker.

"Some days you get the bear, some days the bear gets you." Riker said quiet.

Picard saw the only rational course of action.

"Reverse course... take us back to Federation territory, warp six. Engage." he said.

In space the Enterprise turned and moved away.

"Captain Picard once drew an analogy between life and a chess game... he said that the loss of a single piece does not concede the game itself." Data said.

Data glanced over his shoulder at the others on the Bridge. People were returning to normal business. The Red Alert indicators turned off.

"The Captain has also said that out of the ashes of defeat rise the victorious dreams of men. I find that to be a worthy philosophy and I have incorporated it into my programming." he continued.

In the Arboretum Keiko was scanning a tree with a tricorder. In contrast to her earlier attitude, she was bright and cheerful. Then Data entered.

"Keiko, I need your help." Data said. "I have offended you and need to find a way to rectify my mistake. I am not sure what to do." he said and she was surprised.

"You didn't offend me." she said.

"I should not have interfered. It would be best if I apologized."

"It would be best if you got dressed." she said. "For the wedding?"


"Oh, come here... I have a beautiful carnation for the father of the bride... don't be nervous now..."

"I am not nervous." he said to her before she left. "I am just... confused." he said to himself.

In space the ship stopped.

Data was looking at something o.s... Japanese wedding music was playing in the b.g. After a few seconds, he was standing in Ten Forward, which was decorated for the wedding.

Picard was standing in front of the center window with O'Brien before him and Geordi standing in place as best man. A white, earthenware goblet sat on a table next to O'Brien. Riker and Deanna were standing to one side and there were supernumeraries gathered around.

Keiko was kneeling in prayer off to one side of the room wearing a semi-traditional Japanese wedding kimono of black silk, with a few modern touches.

Data waited just behind her. Keiko finished her silent prayer to her ancestors and stood. Data took her arm and they walked toward O'Brien.

As they moved to O'Brien Data handed the bride to him and then he took the goblet from the table and handed it to Keiko. She drank from it in three quick sips and then handed it to O'Brien. He also drank in three sips. Then Data took the goblet and set it back on the table. Everyone now looked to Picard.

"Since the time of the first wooden sailing ships, all captains have enjoyed the happy privilege of joining two people in the bonds of matrimony. And so now it is my honor to unite you Keiko Ishikawa, and you Miles Edward O'Brien together in marriage here in the sight of your friends and family." Picard said.

Data as he watched the ceremony.

"There are still many human emotions I do not fully comprehend... anger, hatred, revenge..." Data said over part of the above.

As O'Brien kissed Keiko everyone cheered. The Japanese music was replaced by a bright, lively, Irish tune and people gathered round to congratulate the happy couple.

"But I am not mystified by the desire to be loved..." he continued.

Later Data danced gracefully with the new bride.

"... the need for friendship... these are things I do understand." he continued as they danced.

In space the ship moving at warp speed.

Data entered the nursery. The room was quiet and dark. Picard and the Nurse were near a small cradle... the Nurse gestured to the cradle and then walked away from Picard as if she had just showed him the way over there. Picard looked down for a minute and then noticed Data.

"I was looking for Doctor Crusher. I wished to thank her for my..." Data said quietly the trailed off not wanting to give away her secret.

"She just left." Picard said quietly then looked back into the cradle and Data moved over for a better view.

"The Juarez child?" he said and Picard nodded.

"A boy." he said. "At the same time we were facing destruction... this small miracle was taking place."

The baby was sleeping in the cradle and Picard leaned forward.

"Welcome aboard." he said softly.

On the bridge Worf was in Command and supernumeraries were at the other stations. Data and his shift entered from Turbolifts.

"All systems normal, sir. We are on course for Adelphous Four. Engineering is realigning the main deflector dish, Sickbay reports Lieutenant Umbato broke two ribs during a Holodeck exercise, and sensors continue to gather long range information on the Murasaki Quasar." Worf said and stood up.

"Very well. I have the Bridge." Data said.

"Aye, sir."

"Begin night watch." Data said to com.

The lights darkened to signal the end of the 'day'. Data's people smoothly took their positions and Worf left along with his shift. Data sat in Command and contemplates the stars on the main viewer.

"If being human is not simply a matter of being born flesh and blood... if it is instead a way of thinking, acting... and feeling... then I am hopeful that one day I will discover my own humanity. Until then Commander Maddox, I will continue... learning, changing, growing... and trying to become more than what I am." he said.