Monday, March 24, 2008

Chapter 4


The anderoid, Data was then called as witness, and being duly sworn, testified as follows.

Question by Judge Advocate: What is your name and rank?

Answer: My name is Data, Lieutenant Commander, Starfleet

Q: State what you know in regard to the loss of the USS Enterprise-D.

A: I was on the bridge of the Enterprise during our battle with the Duras sisters. Our hull was breached on decks thirty-one through thirty-five and only our hull integrity force fields were holding us together. Commander Riker was able to exploit a weakness in the design of the Bird of Prey that allowed us to make their cloaking device come on line. Since this made their shields drop for a moment as it took effect, it allowed us to send a spread of photon torpedoes that hit their Warp core causing it to impload.

Captain Solok took over the questioning, his sallow, expressionless face showing only a hint of academic interest.

Q: Commander Data, you had been implanted with an emotion chip that malfunctioned. Do you feel that it impaired your ability to perform your duties?

Data’s mild expression and equally logical turn of phrase matched his well, however there were subtle differences, as for example when his face would light up with animation as he spoke of his friends. Just for a second Deanna thought she saw the sheen of nervous perspiration on his forehead as he faced the inquiry board. Did he have his emotion chip turned on right now?

A: The emotion chip initially performed its function by generating emotions in me but it overloaded and fused itself into my positronic relays so that it could not be safely removed at the time. It did affect my conduct during the phaser exchange on board the Amargosa observatory but Captain Picard ruled that I was not in complete control of myself at the time.

The Vulcan raised an eyebrow in what could have been an expression of sceptical query. It was no secret that he had a deep and abiding loathing of the very concept of emotions.

Q: But you were in control of your emotions during the battle with the Klingons?

A: Sir, Captain Picard reminded me that millions of people were relying on me to discharge my duties as a Starfleet officer. During the battle I was swamped with all kinds of new emotions but my Academy training and experience on the Enterprise gave me a framework that I was able to hold on to.

It was quite enlightening. I still felt the fear, the desire to live and the remorse at my earlier failure, but they were overpowered by anger, confidence and a desire to regain the respect of my friends.

Solok paused, blinking, as if trying to grasp the idea of emotions being used to cancel each other out. No, the idea was patently impossible.

Q: Considering the problems that the emotion chip has caused, why should it remain in your system? How can we be confident that you will discharge your duties competently?

A: Sir, I have been through intensive testing at the Daystrom Institute and the emotion chip has been certified compliant within operational parameters. I have asked that the emotion chip be allowed to remain because it is the logical step in my development as a sentient being. I would respectfully submit that its presence in my positronic matrix brings me closer to an understanding of humanity and to say that my emotions make me untrustworthy would be to discriminate between myself and other Starfleet officers who have emotions.

Solok's expression was frozen in its perpetual look of pained disdain. Such a waste! This sentient machine, born into perfectly objective logic, seemed bent on experiencing the depths and heights of an emotional existence. Why would you want to destroy perfection he felt the urge to cry out. However this emotion - like all others - was instantly confined to Vulcan Hell, that closely guarded area of their forebrain where all emotions were stored until the time came, once every seven years …

No comments: