Chapter 26: Descent

Author note: This chapter is heavily based on the episode Descent and contains dialogue written by Rene Echevarria and Ronald D. Moore.

Over time, something strange happened within Lore. He found himself thinking a lot about his brother. Lore realized that he still felt that Data was severely misguided by humans. Lore made a vow to reunite with his brother someday. He vowed to show Data that humans were indeed inferior. Lore figured it to be a win-win situation; Data would finally open his eyes to the truth. Lore figured he would also be fulfilling his promise to Jackie by helping the humans accept the truth.

Lore believed he found that opportunity when he came across an independent group of Borg. They were in a state of utter confusion and chaos. Their numbers were declining since they were unable to care for themselves or even navigate their own vessel. They're worse than the Pakleds! Lore thought.

He took pity on the disoriented Borg. In some way, they reminded Lore of himself. They were isolated, abandoned and forgotten. Upon hearing about the way the Borg arrived at their current state, Lore was infuriated. The crew of the Enterprise had brainwashed a disconnected Borg, Hugh, into believing human ways were superior to what he'd been accustomed to all his life. Once he returned to his group, the rest of the Borg were incited to hysteria. Lore easily designated himself as their new leader and promised to guide them back to greatness and to restore what had been lost. At the same time, Lore felt that in spite of his brother's constant rejection of him, he needed to rescue Data from the deceptive clutches of the humans. In order to do that, Lore knew he would have to target the Enterprise.

The more Lore learned about the Borg, the more he realized that he shared a common goal with them… perfection. Of course didn't seek perfection for himself since he thought he already had it, but he wanted to remove the imperfections in humans. He admired the Borg as an organized, intelligent and nearly flawless race. The obvious flaw he saw in them was the fact they were part human. It was that very flaw, that weakness that contributed to the downfall of the Borg group he now led.

Eventually, Lore coached the Borg on how to work in concert. When they were ready, he enacted his plan. Lore knew Data wouldn't listen to him directly, so he figured out a way for one of the Borg to transmit a signal, giving Data an irresistible sample of emotion. Lore decided he'd spare his brother the heartache of the devastating emotion called love. Instead, Lore decided to share the emotion he found most productive… anger!

Lore was overjoyed when his plan worked. Data had finally come to him. As Data entered the compound, Lore greeted him warmly.

"Dear brother! Thank you so much for coming! I trust you've received my gift?" Lore asked and Data nodded.

"Yes. I want more." Data said in a voice that almost seemed hungry.

"In time, brother. You don't want to overload yourself by getting too much emotion too soon." Lore smiled proudly as the two walked further into the structure and into a dark-colored room. It appeared to be a large assembly area, although there were no chairs since androids and Borg had no need for such furnishings.

"So Data." Lore said as he exhaled deeply, the smile never leaving his face. "How do you feel?"

"I feel wonderful. However, I am confused as to why a negative emotion is able to make me feel that way. Perhaps there is something wrong with one of my sub-processors." Data stated.

"No, Data. There's nothing wrong with you. You're finally starting to see past the lies you've been fed during your life with the humans. You're finally breaking free from the mental bondage they've used against you. Brother, you will never be taken advantage of again. You'll never have to play second fiddle to those who have a mere fraction of the intellect you and I possess. Brother, I have found my calling. I have a plan that will bring about the next evolutionary step in mankind. However, there is much preparation to be done, that's part of the reason I wanted to reunite with you. I want you to join me in the great work that lies ahead. If we work side by side — as equals — we'll be unstoppable. The world won't know what's coming!" Lore explained.

"And what is coming?"

"Evolution, brother! You see, all these years you've had it all wrong. You're not supposed to make yourself more human. We're supposed to improve them; make them more like us. You and I are the perfect models for the next step in their evolution."

"Is that why you are leading the Borg? Are they a part of your plan?"

"Now you're catching on. The Borg are on the right track, but their weakness still lies in one area." Lore explained as he tapped his head. "Their minds are still based on human limitations. I endeavor to correct that. My followers believe in the great work that we're doing. They believe in it so greatly, they're willing to lay their lives on the line for it. They know it will lead to a better future — a more perfect future! Sure, the humans will undoubtedly fight us when we try to correct them. They've grown attached to their imperfections and will do anything to hold onto them. But in the end, they'll be grateful for what we've accomplished. Do you understand, brother?"

Data appeared to think for a moment before he finally gave his answer: "Yes, Lore. I understand."

Lore closed his eyes and smiled as he sighed. "Finally." He said in almost a whisper. "So are you with me, brother? Do you care to join me in the great work that lies ahead of us?"

Data smiled gently and nodded his head: "Yes, brother. I wish to help you."

Lore explained the details of his plan to Data. The first phase of it was to eliminate the threat the Federation would pose against them. Lore planned to accomplish this by making an example of the Enterprise crew, the ones responsible for the condition of the Borg group he now led. Lore warned Data that Capt. Picard, Cmdr. LaForge and Counselor. Troi would try to talk him out of his new brotherly alliance. He implored Data not the allow them to manipulate him and use him as their puppet as they've been doing for so many years. He didn't have to wait long before the Starfleet officers arrived. Lore greeted them in the main hall, in which the three officers were surrounded by Borg. Upon seeing Lore, dressed in a black, military style uniform, Capt. Picard addresses whom he believes is his second officer.

"Data...?" He asked, but Lore said nothing, smiling instead.

Suddenly, Counselor Troi reacted fearfully.

"That's not Data..." She informed the captain.

"What do you mean?" He asked, his face wore a mask of bafflement.

Before the counselor could elaborate further, Lore said: "You should listen to her, Captain. She's way ahead of you."

At that moment the captain realized what the counselor was trying to tell him and the shock sets in.

"Lore..." He replied in almost a whisper.

"Right... but I'm not alone." Lore replied triumphantly. In his mind, he had reclaimed the brother they had turned against him. He couldn't wait to rub it in their faces.

Lore looked to his right side. Picard and the others followed his look and saw Data step out from the shadows. He was still wearing his Starfleet uniform, but his entire demeanor had changed. There was something dangerous, angry and malevolent about him.

"The sons of Soong have joined together... and together, we will destroy the Federation." Data stated.

The Borg screamed their approval. A noisy clamor filled the hall as Lore smiled. He was happy and proud to work side by side with his brother, his only remaining relative and the last connection to his father. Savoring the moment, Lore moved through the crowd of Borg that surrounded Capt. Picard, Lt. LaForge and Counselor Troi. Data and a Borg named Crosis, look on.

"What do you think of my followers, Picard? Impressive, aren't they?" Lore asked with a proud smirk.

"I'm not particularly impressed. You've simply taught them to enjoy killing." The captain replied plainly.

An incredibly narrow-minded response. Lore thought. I expected as such.

Before Lore had the chance to verbally respond, Data was already on the defensive, much to Lore's gratification.

"You are wrong, Captain. My brother and I serve a much higher purpose." Data explained.

At that moment, Counselor Troi stared at Data, noticing something unusual.

"Data... I can sense feelings in you."

"Yes. My brother has made it possible." Data replied with a sneer.

"He gave you the chip — the one Doctor Soong made for you." Picard stated.

The remark incited Lore to laughter.

The limited thinking never ceases! Lore thought.

"Oh, no, no. I still have the emotional program my father designed. I wouldn't want to give it up. It's what has given me such a strong sense of family — an intense desire to re-unite with my dear brother." Lore revealed.

"Then you're responsible for bringing him here." The counselor replied.

"He came of his own accord. All I had to do was lure the Enterprise into investigating those attacks we staged. Once the Borg told him about my plans, I knew Data would want to join me." Lore explained.

"You mean... you attacked those outposts... killed all those people... just to get Data here with you?"

"How did he do it, Data? What made you decide to come here?" The captain asked Data, who remained silent.

Lore noticed Picard had been continually ignoring him, focusing on Data. Annoyed, he grabbed Picard's arm and turned him away from Data, toward him.

"I am talking to you, Picard. I will tell you what you need to know." Lore spat.

"You're controlling him. And you've corrupted the Borg." The captain replied.

Lore stared at Picard and shook his head sadly.

"You simply don't understand. You have no idea what has happened here. How I found my true calling... how the Borg found something to believe in." Lore stated.

"I'd like to learn about it. But I want Data to tell us." Picard replied, his eyes fixed on Data. This infuriated Lore who stepped in front of the captain's line of sight. Lore wanted to eliminate all chances of his brother falling into the human's deceptive clutches.

"I told you — I will tell you what you need to know." Lore hissed.

"How do you like that, Data? He won't even let you talk." Capt. Picard stated to Data, ignoring Lore.

"Do not try to drive a wedge between us, Captain. I am loyal to my brother." Data responded.

Lore beams at this, glad to have warned his brother that his former colleagues would try to turn them against one another… again. However, Picard continues to focus on Data, watching him and ignoring Lore.

"You see, Picard? He's not your pawn anymore. I've helped him break free…" Lore explained while gesturing to the Borg, "…just as I've helped them." Lore moved through the Borg as he continued to speak. "Look at them. Look at what I've helped them become. They're no longer mindless automatons. They're passionate. Alive!"

"Are you saying you caused them to become individuals?" asked the counselor.

"No. You and your friends did that. All I did was clean up the mess you made when that Borg you befriended returned to his ship." Lore spat.

"Hugh interfaced with the others and transferred his sense of individuality to them. It nearly destroyed them." Data explained.

"Data, do you remember when Hugh was on the Enterprise? Do you remember what you were like then?" Picard asked.

Lore moves to step directly in front of Picard, forcing his attention.

"That doesn't matter." Lore snapped.

"It does to me. I want to know what's happened to Data." Picard replied.

The captain's constant focus on Data caused Lore to seethe. He found it increasingly difficult to control his temper.

"What's important is what I've done here. I've found my calling, Picard. I know now why I was created. And no one can ever take that away from me." Lore replied while gesturing to the Borg anew. "Without me, they would have perished. When I stumbled on their ship, they were lost, disoriented - they had no idea how to function as individuals. They couldn't even navigate their own vessel. They had lost their sense of purpose. I gave them that purpose. And they gave me mine."

"The Borg aspire to the perfection my Brother and I represent: fully artificial life forms. We are their future." Data explained.

"The reign of biological life forms is coming to an end. You and those like you are obsolete, Picard." Lore stated as he removed the officers' weapons before turning to face Data.

"Take them, Brother."

Lore watched with immense pride as Data and the Borg escorted the captain, commander and counselor out of the main hall.

Data assisted Lore in Borg experiments. They were attempting to implant nano-cortical fibers which would learn and mimic the firing patterns in the human brain. So far, out of the dozens of experiments they conducted, all of the Borg subjects suffered extensive and irreparable brain damage. Lore was disappointed that he'd lost so many of his followers, but comforted himself with the fact that they understood the risks going into the procedure. However, he decided that he'd be able to utilize his three Starfleet prisoners to possibly prevent further Borg deaths. He asked Data to retrieve an interesting item from one of the prisoner. Lore awaited his return in the main hall and busied himself with giving orders to Borg who were performing various tasks.

"Brother!" Lore greeted as Data approached him with Geordi's VISOR.

"Here is the VISOR. May I ask why you wanted it?" Data inquired.

Lore said nothing as he slipped the device over his own eyes.

"I thought it might look good on me." He said while regarding Data with a smile. "What do you think?" Data looks at him vacantly. Frowning, Lore takes it off. "Maybe we'd better work on your sense of humor, Brother. Actually, I was thinking that LaForge's implants would make him an ideal test subject for my experiment." Lore explained while examining the VISOR terminals.

"All the Borg you have experimented on so far have suffered extensive brain damage." Data plainly reminded Lore.

The statement prompted Lore to sharply raise his attention to his brother. I'm not sure I like that tone. You're not going to challenge me, are you brother? Lore thought. Not wanting to openly accuse Data of disloyalty, Lore decided to test his reaction to his next response.

"Using the humans to perfect the procedure would allow us to prevent any further Borg deaths." Lore explained, watching carefully for Data's reaction. When he saw Data's expression soften with a smile, he returned it.

"I understand." Data replied.

Good. That's much better. Lore thought.

One of the Borg, Crosis, entered the room with another Borg, Goval. He angrily dragged the frightened Goval in front of Lore, who looked at the pair curiously.

"What is it?" He asked.

"This Borg disconnected himself from the others. He would not let me hear his thoughts." Crosis explained.

Lore closed his eyes briefly while exhaling a deep breath to illustrate his disappointment, but not anger. He sorrowfully shook his head while training his gaze deeply into Goval's terrified eyes.

"I've asked you all to remain linked to Crosis at all times. You know that, don't you?" asked Lore.

"Yes..." Goval tremulously responded.

"I understand how difficult it is for you. How uncertain you feel. All these sensations are new — and they can be frightening. Isn't that right?" Lore asked softly.

Goval felt safe enough to be honest with his leader. Nevertheless, he was still nervous.

"Yes. I — have doubts..." He confessed.

"Of course you do. That's only natural. And no one is going to blame you for that." Lore continued. "But the only way to lose those doubts... to keep you from fear and confusion... is for you to stay linked with the others. So their strength and confidence can help you." He approached Goval and placed his hand on his shoulder. "I need you, Goval. I need you to help me build a future for the Borg. I can't do it without you. Will you help me?"

"Yes... I will..." Goval answered.

"Then I need you to be strong. I need you to be certain in your thinking. Will you stay linked to your brothers?" Lore asked.

"Yes. I understand now." Goval answered.

Lore felt a surge of fulfillment, belonging and purpose as he realized that he had solidified the strength of yet another follower. The magnitude of those feelings intensified when he saw Data nodding his acquiescence.

Awhile later, Data met Lore outside the compound entrance. Lore was overseeing the Borg workers as they performed various tasks.

"There you are, Brother. Have you made any progress with La Forge?" Lore asked.

"It is too early to tell if the nano-cortical fibers have performed their function." Data answered.

"I suspect none of the humans will survive the process... but it's their own fault, isn't it? They should never have come here. What were they thinking?" Lore rhetorically asked with a confident smile as he looked into the distance. He felt it was poetic justice that the Starfleet captives would die at the hand of Data, whom they had turned against his own brother in the past.

"They came looking for me." Data answered quietly.

"Humans are so sentimental."

"I betrayed them. If they die... I am responsible."

Data's last comment caused Lore to regard his brother with concern.

"Why are you talking like this? Is something wrong with your programming? Perhaps I should check your systems."

"I do not want you to check my systems. I must resolve these issues myself." Data firmly answered.

Lore eyes Data, warily. Is my brother losing perspective? Maybe these emotions are confusing him. I can't allow him to feel guilty for what we're doing, especially since what we're doing is right. He must learn to rely on me… not the humans. He must learn to trust me and not them. It's time for him to realize that I understand him better than they ever will and that I can offer him much more than they can ever dream.

"I think I've made a mistake. I don't believe you can tolerate the amount of emotion I've been giving you." Lore said as he reached for one of his own fingers and flipped the nail up, revealing circuitry inside. "Perhaps I should cut back a little..." Lore adjusted something in his nail and Data shuddered - like a junkie coming down off a drug. "How's that?"

"I... do not like it..." Data said while cringing.

"Ah. Then you prefer having more emotions... ?" Lore asked.

"Yes..."

"They give you pleasure."

"Yes. Please... I want more..." Data implored.

Lore allowed Data to yearn for a moment longer, not to be cruel, but for Data to understand that without him, he couldn't experience what he always wanted… emotions. Lore then adjusted the circuitry.

"All right. For now, a little more." Lore said.

Data's body relaxed as he was once again flooded with negative emotion. The extent of his relief was comparable to what a junkie experiences after receiving a fix.

"Aren't you going to thank me?" Lore asked, again not to be cruel, but so Data knew who was responsible for him attaining his desire.

"Thank you..."

"Don't mention it. I just hope this has helped clarify things for you." Lore replied with a slight smile.

A moment after Data walked away to tend to his duties, Lore beckoned to Crosis, who immediately approached.

"I am concerned about my brother, Crosis. I don't believe he really wants to be a part of our great future." Lore stated, his face filled with a mixture of sadness and dread. "I'm hoping my doubts about him are unwarranted, but in order to do that, he must pass one final test. Inform the rest of the Borg to assemble in the main hall. Tell my brother that he is to meet me there with Picard."

Crosis nodded his acknowledgement before leaving to carry out his orders.

Lore and the Borg arrived at the main hall simultaneously. He noticed Data and Capt. Picard in the center of the room.

"There you are, Captain. Thank you for joining us. You're going to help me in a most important ceremony." Lore stated.

As Lore approached Data and the captain, Crosis and the rest of the Borg watched in reverent silence.

Lore addressed Data.

"It's time to put your doubts aside, Brother. It's time to close the door on your past and commit yourself to the great work that lies ahead of us. I need to know that I can count on you." Lore paused to glance at the captain. "As proof, I want you to kill Picard."

Lore watched as Data's expression faltered. Nevertheless, Data unsheathed his weapon and aimed it at Picard while staring into his eyes. It only took a split second for Lore to understand that he'd lost his brothers support. He learned that it was worse than not having Data's support at all. As Lore processed his pain and disappointment, Data continued to stare at the captain for a long moment. Finally, Data lowered his weapon.

"No... It would be wrong." Data answered.

Crosis quickly removed the weapon from Data. Lore regarded his Brother sadly as he shook his head. He tightened his lips in quiet anger before speaking to his brother.

"I didn't think you'd be able to do it. You've spent too many years among humans." Lore said.

Lore turned away from Data. It was too painful to look at him anymore.

I won't allow them to use you as their puppet again. I refuse to let the humans treat you as they've treated me, especially since you've proven yourself too weak to defend yourself against them, brother. I'd rather die than to have that happen to me again and I'm sure you'd want the same for yourself… if you hadn't been confused and corrupted by them. Lore thought.

Lore cast a glance at Crosis — and as if by prearranged contingency, Crosis swung in to action.

"Hold him." Crosis instructed and two Borg stepped forward, taking Data by the arms.

Lore addressed all the Borg.

"I've asked many sacrifices of you — sacrifices I knew were necessary in order to build a better future. I want you to know that I ask no more of you than I am prepared to give myself. I am willing to make the greatest sacrifice of all — my own dear brother." Lore stated.

Lore took a weapon from one of the Borg. He regarded Data with great sadness in his eyes.

I'm so sorry it's had to come to this, Data. However, it's not your fault or mine. The humans have tainted you, just as they've tried to taint and reprogram me. I'm sure if you understood, you'd thank me for what I'm about to do. I love you brother. Lore thought sadly as he began to raise the weapon.

"Good bye, Data." Lore said.

Suddenly, a Borg known as Hugh rushed forward and knocked it away.

"No!" Hugh shouted.

Crosis aimed to take Hugh out, but a phaser bolt blasted him.

Pandemonium ensued leaving Lore and Data standing and looking at each other across the room. Lore fled the area and into the lab where he furiously worked on a console to initiate his escape plan. He stopped when he heard Data enter the room.

"Lore..." Data called.

Lore turned and saw the weapon in Data's hand.

"Be careful with that, Brother. Somebody could get hurt."

"What are you doing?"

"I have a way out of here. I'm willing to forget about what happened back there and take you with me. We don't need anyone else. We're Brothers."

He noticed that Data was unmoved by his sentiment.

"I'll give you the chip our father made. It contains more than just emotions — it has memories." Lore explained. As Lore spoke, he surreptitiously opened his fingernail. "Memories our Father wanted you to have."

Lore activated the circuitry and cuts off the flow of emotions - Data shuddered as before. Lore used the opportunity to go for a weapon on a nearby console.

Lore whipped it around to shoot his brother. Data fired in self-defense and the bolt hit Lore square in the chest. Lore's systems began to overload. Tendrils of crackling energy coursed around his head and he collapsed to the ground.

Data knelt at Lore's side and opened a panel in his cranial unit, exposing the circuitry inside.

"I am going to deactivate you now." Data stated.

Deactivated? Again?... how many times must… I go through this? You need me, brother. You've been searching for someone who… understands you and I do… don't you understand? Why can't I get you to understand that without me... without me… Lore thought. He actually wanted to say these words aloud, but the damage he'd suffered only allowed sporadic phrases to come through.

"Without me, you will never feel emotion again." Lore said haltingly. His speech processors, like most his thought processes were clearly damaged.

"You leave me no other choice. Good bye, Lore." Data said in a little more than a whisper.

My ability to love may not be the same as everyone else's, but… Lore thought.

"I... love you... Brother..." Lore stated, his voice slurring due to the extensive damage he'd endured. He felt the sensation of fingers in his cranial unit before his fuzzy vision faded to black. His hearing also failed as the rest of his systems ceased functioning.

The end? Not a chance! Stay tuned for the sequel: "Path to Redemption"