DISCLAIMER: I don't own Star Trek or anything you recognize from it, and the idea for the machine was influenced by another machine I read about in a TNG novel called "Immortal Coil."
Captain's log, stardate (Whatever. It's between "All Good Things" and "Generations"): We've sent an away team down to planet Norcimo Theta to examine an extremely interesting piece of machinery. Legends tell of a machine built by androids that had been abandoned on the planet that was used to turn themselves into humanoid lifeforms. Eventually, they all died out, as they were no longer immortal.
The machine was huge. It took up a good deal of the large room they were standing in. Data and Geordi both had their tricorders out and were looking around the machine. There was an open platform in the middle of it all, where whoever was being transformed would stand, and Data's tricorder was picking up some interesting readings coming from inside. After a friendly "Be careful!" from Geordi, Data stepped on the platform and continued his scan.
But when Data entered the seemingly dormant machine, it started to activate. There was a loud hum as systems and lights kicked on.
"Data! Get out of there!" Geordi yelled.
Data tried to run, but was unable to lift his feet. "I cannot move!" he exclaimed over the noise of the machine, "Some kind of force is keeping me rooted to this spot!"
There were bright lights shining down on Data, and years upon years of dust formed clouds around him. A cylindrical wall came up from the platform and met with a "ceiling" above him, trapping him inside.
Riker was frantically trying to stop the machine using a rather promising looking panel but couldn't figure anything out. Besides, who knew what the risk was to Data if he stopped whatever was happening? Geordi rushed to the wall that had formed around Data (with little regard for his own safety) and started banging on it, calling out to his friend. He could not hear any noise from inside.
A few more flashes of light, and the noise and dust started to subside. Soon there was silence and minor hissing as the wall slowly came down. As the dust settled, Geordi could make out a figure lying face down on the platform. "Data?" he called out, slowly approaching the figure. He was confused. Normally his VISOR displayed an aura around Data, signifying that he was an artificial lifeform, but this aura was no longer visible.
Riker also approached. Taking a good look at the man on the platform, he muttered "Oh my God…" He turned him over so he lay face up. There was no mistaking it: The Starfleet uniform, facial features, and neat hairstyle (which had become slightly mussed) all indicated that this was indeed Data, only now…
He was… human.
His skin was no longer pale gold, but normal looking. Riker gently grabbed his shoulder and shook him slightly to see if he would wake up. Data stirred, and opened his eyes, which were now light blue instead of yellow.
"Urrrrg…" he groaned, "What happened?" He still sounded the same, but there was something in his tone of voice that suggested he was experiencing physical discomfort.
"If I could explain it I would," Geordi said.
"Why do I feel… pain?" Data asked, "I am not programmed to feel pain…"
"Must've hit the ground hard when you collapsed in there…" Geordi speculated, "Or maybe you're just sore from all those changes."
"What changes?" Data asked, "What has happened?" After a few seconds silence, he asked "Why is it taking so long for me to access my files?"
"My friend," Riker replied with a slight grin, patting Data on the shoulder, "I believe you have just achieved your lifelong goal."
Geordi and Riker helped Data to his feet, surprised at how much lighter he was now that he wasn't made of metal. As Data brushed the dust off his uniform, he noticed the color of his hands. Startled, he felt his face and hair. "How can this be?" he asked, "I am…"
"Human, like you've always dreamed of being," Riker finished, "And I must say it certainly looks good on you."
"Almost the spitting image of Dr. Noonien Soong when he was younger," Geordi remarked, recalling a picture he had seen of Data's creator, "Of course, you were built to look like him."
"This is incredible!" Data exclaimed, "It would appear the legends were true!"
"How do you feel?" Riker asked.
Data tried his best to describe how he felt physically at the moment. "Sore," he replied, "And cold."
"Do you remember anything from in there?" Geordi asked.
"I remember not being able to run away," Data said, "And the wall coming up, and the bright flashes of light, and for a moment I experienced an odd burning sensation throughout my body and… I was very confused. But then everything went black. And then I woke up and saw both of you kneeling over me."
Riker turned to Geordi. "Do you think there's a way to reverse the process?" he asked.
"Theoretically yeah," Geordi replied, "I've heard stories of another machine that turned humans into androids… But what's the rush? Data's always dreamed of being human, and now he is."
"You do realize, Data," Riker said, turning to Data as he spoke, "that now you won't be as strong or as fast or as quick-thinking as before, right?"
"All of my memories and knowledge are intact… I think," Data said with slight uncertainty, "It is simply taking me longer to access them."
Suddenly Riker's combadge went off. "Number One, we noticed a major power surge in the equipment down there earlier… Is everything alright?" Picard asked.
"I think so, sir," Riker replied, "In fact, we were just preparing to leave. Have the transporter chief beam the three of us to sickbay."
"Sickbay?" Picard repeated, "Are you sure you're alright down there?"
"I suggest you meet us there, Captain," Riker said, "This is going to take a lot of explaining, and you need to see this for yourself. Bring Counselor Troi with you."
After the comlink was closed, the away team was beamed to sickbay. As Beverly wandered to and fro around the room dealing with various equipment, she merely acknowledged that the three people who had just arrived were standing upright and none of them looked sick. "I don't get it, you three look fine…" she said, before turning around and taking a good look at Data. "Oh my God!" she exclaimed, quickly grabbing a tricorder and running over to scan him. "Data! You're human!"
"I know," Data replied, grinning.
"Seems like the former inhabitants of the planet were able to figure out how to turn androids into humans after all," Riker explained.
At this point Captain Picard entered, and stood in stunned silence when he saw the ex-android. "Data?" he gasped.
"Hello, Captain," Data replied cheerfully.
Counselor Troi was surprised as well. "I can sense emotions from you, Data!" she exclaimed, "It seems as though you are completely human after all! And rather handsome, I might add…"
"I'm going to have to run a bunch more scans and tests on you, Data," Beverly said, "Have a seat." She indicated a biobed, and Data got on it.
As she ran all the scans she announced all her findings. "He is completely human," she said, "and in excellent physical health. Biological age is exactly 34 years…"
"That is correct, in a way," Data explained, "I was activated by the crew of the Tripoli 34 years ago… today, in fact."
"This is the anniversary of your activation?" Geordi said, "Well, happy birthday, Data! In more ways than one, since it's also your first day as a human."
"What about DNA?" Riker asked, "I'm curious how a being with no genetic material could become human."
"He does have DNA now," Beverly replied, "And it indicates that he is the biological offspring of Dr. Noonien Soong and Juliana Tainer."
"Well he certainly bears a resemblance to his father," Deanna stated.
"How could that machine know who Data's creators were?" Picard asked.
"Perhaps it accessed my memories during the process," Data explained, "I do recall thinking of my 'parents' before I collapsed."
"You collapsed?" Picard repeated, finding that somewhat hard to believe, as in his eyes Data had always been near indestructible.
"The physical strain of the metamorphosis seems to have been a bit too much for him to handle," Geordi explained, "We found him lying face down on the platform when the dust cleared. When he woke up he said he was sore all over."
"Are you still sore?" Beverly asked Data.
"A little," he replied, though that was a bit of an understatement. Data of course had no clue how much pain humans were capable of enduring comfortably, but he figured since it wasn't completely debilitating it must not be that bad. Besides, he was too busy focusing on how awesome it was that he had become human to focus on how sore he was.
"Here," she said, grabbing a hypospray and applying it to Data's neck. Instant relief swept over him.
"Wow!" he exclaimed, "That is amazing! I feel much better now! Thank you, Doctor!"
"No problem," Beverly grinned, "Just take it easy for a bit."
"Well," Picard said, "Counselor Troi, Mr. Laforge, I want both of you to look after Data for the next couple of days while he learns to cope with being human. Until then, Data, you are temporarily relieved of duty. We need to be sure that your transformation won't have any negative effects on your job performance other than the inevitable lack of speed and strength."
"Aye sir," the three officers replied as Picard turned to leave.
"And Mr. Data?" Picard said, pausing briefly and turning back around.
"Yes Captain?" Data asked.
Picard gave him a warm smile. "Happy birthday," he said.
Well, Chapter 2 is well on it's way. Just some finishing touches to add. Stay tuned, and PLEASE review!