Trepidation

The Soong Compound

"Noonien?" Juliana spoke in a soft voice, her hands clenching the sides of her lab coat.

"Yeah?" Her husband answered not looking up from his computer terminal, he was busy and though he loved his wife deeply sometimes her interruptions jarred him. Yet that was the way that it had always been, although he admitted to

himself it seemed to be happening more often since Lore's activation.

Juliana glanced up from her work station at her husband; she knew that tone in his voice and also knew that he was only minutely aware of her voice. But she had to mention something that had been on her mind for the last few weeks. "You

know you could look at me when I talk to you."

Trying to suppress his exasperated sigh he eventually turned his chair around and reluctantly tore his eyes of his computer screen. "You now have my full attention Juliana, what is so important that you have to interrupt me now, I am working

on something right now and need to focus."

"Well, I'm glad you brought that up, that is what I want to talk to you about. Are you sure that you know what you are doing, don't we have enough on our plates at the moment dealing with Lore?"

"What does that mean?" He said growing slightly irritated.

"You know very well what I mean Noonien." She admonished "I swear you are the most brilliant man I have ever know and yet you can be so thick about some things; thick or blinded I am not sure which."

Noonien raised his hand to head wiping off the perspiration. "I assume that you are referring to my new project."

"Project!" Julian exclaimed "No Noonien I believe that this is more than another one of your, as you put them, Projects. This is about what I saw on your monitor the other day; I thought you could tell me anything, what has changed so

much over the last few months? It seems that you have had a one-track mind when it comes to Lore, but this is different, isn't it?"

"Not so different my love." He replied itching to get back to his work.

"Don't pull that My Love stuff on me Noonien; you know damn well that this is something that we should have discussed before you went ahead full steam."

"I thought you would be happy Juliana." He stressed the last word as he spoke. "I thought that you always wanted a bigger family."

"Don't do that Noonien, Don't you dare make this about me!" Juliana exclaimed. She rubbed her temples slightly feeling a headache beginning to wrap itself around her head.

"How bad does your head hurt Jules?" Noonien asked watching as her fingers made small circles on her temples. He knew that she suffered from tension headaches. She got them more than a several times a year now.

"Don't change the subject." She said a bit more loudly than she had planned, this made her head throb even more. "Besides it's just another one of those headaches, it will pass, they always do."

"Want me to get you something to ease the pain?" Now he felt a twang of guilt in his gut, she was the only person in the universe that could affect him in that way. Strangely enough he admired her for this.

"No, I'll be fine, I want to talk about what you are doing, and I say doing because I know that it isn't just a plan anymore." Juliana knew that he was trying to change the subject, next he would try stalling but she was adamant that

he tell her the truth.

"You know maybe we could talk about this later when you are feeling better." He replied hoping that she would agree but knowing that when she had her mind set on something, she would not venture off topic, headache or no headache she

wanted answers. Answers that he really didn't want to get into right now.

"I knew you would do that." She responded flatly.

"Do what?" He asked, already anticipating the answer.

"That you are stalling for time." She said now rubbing the back of her neck. "That's what you always do when there is something that you don't want to talk about and you know what it's getting old."

She was right of course, his defense mechanism was in full deployment mode. She knew his every habit and more often than not it worked solely in her favor. "Okay, then let's talk, what is it dear wife that you want to know?"

"Can we cut the patronizing tone Noonien, this goes far beyond that and you know it, hell it goes far beyond logic itself."

"You sound like a Vulcan." He murmured, and then bit his tongue. "I'm sorry you are right, I promise to hear you out."

"Good" She stated getting up from her work station to come and sit near him. "Now what the heck are you doing? Are you crazy, this might be a huge mistake and maybe deep down you already know that."

"I disagree with you about that, this is not a mistake, this is wondrous." He said growing a bit excited in his speech patterns. "I want to keep going. And it's the only way that I can keep our legacy alive and that is with my work. I will be

remembered forever that way. Jules we will eventually die, there are few certainties in this universe and death for humans is one of them, but this will assure that even death won't take my legacy with it."

"Is that what this is about? You want to do all this for the selfish purpose of your name going down in the history books? You can't keep playing God Noonien, it isn't right for them. They are more than just a science project, can't you see

that by now. Lore is more than that…a lot more! He is our son Noonien and no one, not even you can convince me otherwise. You know, a while back when he was first activated Lore asked me if he had a soul, I told him that was the one

aspect of humanity that he could never have. But you know what…I think now that I was wrong. Whatever makes him who he is, makes him as unique as you and I, just has to be something more. He is alive. And he's learning and evolving

everyday. You may say that it is just a bunch of programming and electrical impulses in his positronic brain, a series of sparks in his neural net that makes him function. But isn't that the same thing that happens in a human brain? So I ask

you how can all that not be construed as life? Lore having a soul in him which makes him exist, is that so hard to believe?

Noonien was taken aback by the dainty redhead staring at him so intently, those things she had just said to him made sense in a way, but he was a scientist and that was the way that he looked at things. "Juliana, I am not playing God, I am

merely testing the boundaries of what a mere human can accomplish using science and technology, not mysticism and mumbo jumbo. If you think that Lore does have what you refer to as a Soul, then that is what you believe and I won't

try and change that, but scientifically speaking that would be impossible on many many levels. He's made up of mechanical parts, he's been engineered and designed to mimic human behavior, but he will never become one, no matter what

you believe."

Juliana fixated her eyes on his, thinking that he was the most stubborn man in the universe, never willing to see the other side of the shiny coin, never even willing to pick one up, in fear that it would reveal only tarnish up close. "I know that

you think what you are doing is right and that you have nothing but good intentions, but as the saying goes, The road to Hell is…

"Paved with good intentions." Noonien finished the quote for her. "That's a bit harsh Jules; I never dreamed that you of all people would condemn me in that manner. Besides you and I have seen with our own two eyes that Lore is the

culmination of both our good intentions." He saw her eyes look away for a split second and in that little simple gesture she spoke more to him than she had during this whole conversation. She had doubts, she doubted him for the first time

in his life and that was a crushing and sobering realization. "You are not having seconds thoughts about the work we do are you?" The question was strained and barley a whisper.

"You could say that I have some trepidation these days." Juliana replied honestly. "I think that Lore is not what we think he is at times."

"Lore is just fine Juliana, he is still adjusting I know and he's made some mistakes but don't we all make mistakes at some time or another." Noonien was now looking at his feet unable to meet her gaze as he spoke, his chest was tight and

heavy, he could feel in his bones what was coming next and he did not want to go there, not at all.

"Lore is Not fine Noonien and if you spent more time with him outside your precious lab than maybe you would see it too. He worries me and at times he downright scares me."

"You are exaggerating." He stated blithely "Lore is just a work in progress that is all; he will learn to control those emotions in time."

"Those emotions are ruling him Noonien, they are becoming him in ways that you are blind to." She hated to say this, for she did truly and deeply love her son, but it needed to be said and she had bottled it up for far too long. If it were a tidal

wave then there were cracks in the levee. "Those emotions are turning him."

"Nonsense!" Noonien spit out "His emotions are making him what he is and what he is destined to become."

"And what is that? She asked steeling herself for his reply.

"I can't say that I really know Jules, but I believe that it is something wonderful. He will go on to do things that you and I could not even dream. He will fulfill more than any of our expectations. But you are right about one thing the future is

indeed unpredictable for everyone."

"That is right; we just don't know what we have unleashed on the universe." She said softly. "We can't be sure what he will eventually become and that scares the hell out of me. I know that is a blunt statement but I am worried about him,

worried like I was never worried about B-4 and the others."

Noonien sank down in his chair; he clearly was not expecting all this. He thought she adored Lore, that he was wonderful. "It doesn't have to be that way, he is growing up with us as his guides into humanity, he will learn from us and you will

see that he is trying so hard to please us, to please you, he loves you Juliana. We talk about it often and he wants to make you proud, proud like a son to a mother, is that so wrong?"

"But all the anger that roils inside of him, he can't keep it in forever, you have to see that. Look at how many walls that you have had to patch up, how many broken things that you had to fix, all the things that could not be fixed. I tell you

Noonien sometimes I think he enjoys all that anger, I see it in his face when he doesn't know that I am looking. When he notices me there he becomes apologetic and remorseful, but I can't help but feeling that is only an act for my benefit.

He's hiding his true nature from us, I don't know why or even what that nature is but he is hiding something and that is what scares me."

"I thought you loved Lore, loved him like he were our own biological son, what has he done besides breaking things. At his age that is considered a rite of passage growing up, hell I broke many things when I was a kid." Noonien was

exasperated he hated this negative conversation, hated everything about it.

"I do love him Noonien, more than you know, that is why I brought all this up. He is my son in all ways that truly matter, so don't you dare think otherwise." Juliana felt her headache increasing to a pulsating thumping around her temples and

knew she was becoming increasingly stressed the way this conversation was going. "I have caught him in numerous lies; I thought that androids were incapable of lying?'

"My other…Our other children were Jules, but Lore is different, he is special. I have given him emotions and a drive to do better, to learn and to grow as he goes through this life we created for him; he has the ability to make his own choices,

his own decisions. He is not just a mere automaton; I thought that you of all people would be pleased with that."

"Don't get me wrong Noonien, I am so glad that he has a mind of his own, but with that comes a whole new can of worms. Something you and I never even considered when we made him that way, what if he chooses the wrong things, and

what then? We are not always going to be around to teach him and guide him. Yes we will die someday and Lore will be on his own in this vast universe, what will he be like then when we are gone and there is no one to make him understand

the consequences of his actions.

Noonien pondered that thought briefly before adding "We will teach him now Jules, teach him how to make it without us, you will see he'll make the right decisions in time, we just have to be more diligent with him from now on."

"Really?" Juliana was astonished "You are willing to take a long breather from your work and devote it all to teaching Lore.

"Well... um I will make room." Noonien replied, unsure that he would be able to even do that much.

"Not good enough Noonien, it's make or break and we both have a part to play in this. Do you even realize that Lore acts out and destroys things to get your attention! He yearns for it even if you don't realize it. Make the time, maybe it's

not too late to save him from himself. He's on a backward slide and although I have tried to be there for him as much as I can, I am not a substitute for you, he worships you Noonien. You're his father, the only one he will ever have and he

knows this, but I think it's even more than that, he desperately seeks out your approval…to be blunt he wants nothing more than to make you proud."

"I am proud; just look how far we have become with him. No one said a stable positronic brain could be accomplished and I made that a reality. He is my legacy."

"You just don't get it do you, he doesn't want you to be proud because he exists, he wants you to be proud of Him.

"Well…He's smart and clever, he can do so much on the computer and his help in the lab is invaluable to me."

"That is still not good enough, do you know that he can play the piano so beautifully that it makes me cry, the way he laughs with me and asks a million questions about life, he is so curious about everything. He even sculpted me a wonderful

vase. Lore is very talented and yet very vulnerable at the same time. He is like a child Noonien; he wants nothing more than to please us. And there are times that I see him sitting near the window just gazing up at all the stars and he has a

look of wonder about him."

"Well he does have top of the line programming for creativity installed, I am not surprised. He could very well paint the Mona Lisa blindfolded." Noonien boasted a bit.

"Forget the programming and all the sub-routines for a minute will you! What I am trying my best to articulate is that Lore is more than his programming at times."

"I find it very improbable but you seem to think otherwise, why is that?"

Juliana shifted in her chair and looked him deep in the eyes. "Spend some real time with him outside of this place and really take notice of him. You will see that there are differences that deviate away from that programming; he is an

individual capable of many things that neither you nor I understand. You will be in for a surprise. For he is indeed unique."

"Okay if you insist, I will do as you ask but I don't expect to find whatever it is that you think he inherits which goes against his programming."

"Good, you do that and then we will talk about that later." Juliana smiled at last and took her husbands hand in hers. As stubborn as he was, she loved him completely.

Noonien smiled as well and caressed her soft warm hand in his "It will all turn out okay my love; you'll see Lore will exceed in being everything we have dreamed of and more."

"Oh, and one more thing" Juliana added "I hope you are right, I really truly do for the sake of everyone not just us. But if you sincerely have no doubts about Lore then why are you moving forward with the creation of another?"

Noonien gasped "How did you know?" His face took on a look of hesitation perhaps even shame for hiding it from her.

"We live in the same place Noonien; I am your wife do you really think that you could keep such a secret from me. Does Lore know what you are doing?"

"Heaven's no, but he will when the time is right, I am giving him a brother because I think that will balance things out in the long run. And it will give Lore the companionship that he will need when we are gone."

"Have you picked out a name yet?" Juliana asked.

"No, not yet, the new android is just data in the computer right now." Noonien replied turning back to his computer.

"I think that's just perfect." She replied getting up off her chair ready to leave.

"What's perfect?" Noonien asked perplexed.

"The new androids name." She said over her shoulder "I think you should call him Data. It's fitting don't you think."

Noonien paused and looked over at Juliana as she walked farther away "Hmm interesting but very fitting indeed. I like it." He said with a grin on his face

"Data."