The New Kingdom


Pauline Botting
Everything Star Trek belongs to Paramount. The story is mine.

Data had been sitting at his consol in his quarters for 30 minutes by his reckoning.
His pet cat Spot was sat on her master's lap purring. He had been thinking of the previous evening. He had asked Ensign Gates out on a date. They had been working on an assignment together and through both Geordie's and Counsellor Troi's support and encouragement he had summoned up the courage to ask her. But although the lady was pleasant company, she seemed more curious about him as an android than as a person.
His thoughts were distracted by the chime of the door.
"Come in" he said, lifting his head a little.
The door opened and his friend Geordie walked in.
"Hi Data" he said, "Are you coming to the reception?"
"Yes" Data said and he stood up "But I must feed Spot first"
"How did your date with Susan go last night?" Geordie asked.
Data gave Geordie a pained look as he crossed over to the replicater.
"It was not a successful evening. Susan Gates was pleasant company, but I think she found me (he hesitated) a little boring" he then turned to the replicater and spoke to the panel.
"Feline supplement 221"
Data then put the little bowl of food on the floor and Spot ate heartily at the contents.
"I'm sorry Data" Geordie said "but perhaps next time she will be a little more understanding"
They left Data's quarters and headed for the nearest turbo lift.
"I will not be engaging in another date with Susan. But I still wish to socialise a little more"
"Never mind Data. Anyway what has brought this on?"
Data thought for a moment and then said,
"I have observed the difference in the behaviour of several of my crewmates since our return from Baku. Commander Riker and Counsellor Troi have rekindled their relationship and Captain Picard has been in communications with Anij on Baku and yourself Geordie you have been seeing Leah Brams since her divorce from her husband. So I have begun to think if there is anyone for me. Someone who would understand me and can accept the fact that I cannot not grow old and die."
"Wow Data" Geordie said "I didn't think you felt like that about it"
"With the inclusion of my emotion chip, I have had the feeling that if I am to exist for a very long time, I do not wish to spend some of that time alone"
"Maybe you will meet someone Data. They do say that there is someone for everyone." Geordie said as they left the turbo lift and headed for the officer's lounge.
Data gave a little sigh,
"That is something I wish to believe in."
By the time they arrived at the officer's lounge the reception had already begun. All the senior officers were there. Commander Riker, Counsellor Troi, Doctor Crusher and Captain Picard. The reception was being held for the new junior officers that joined the Enterprise on the latest crew rotation. Data and Geordie made their way to the bar and sat down. Geordie ordered a drink and looked around the room.
"There is a new field system and diagnostic team joining us today." He informed Data. "They are led by Lieutenant Leela Sharn." He said as he sipped his drink. "That is her over there"
Data looked over to where Geordie was looking and saw a tall raven haired woman. She was dressed in her uniform; her long black hair was held back in a platted ponytail, the tip of which nearly touched her waist.
"She is rather striking" Data observed.
"Why don't you go over and say Hello" Geordie suggested.
Data thought for a moment,
"I think I shall" he then slid from his stool and made his way across the room. He got about half way when he saw Commander Riker walk up and start talking to her. Data knew of Commander Riker's charm with women and thought that his intentions would be no match so he turned and walked back to the bar.
"Back so soon Data" Geordie asked, "What happened?"
"Commander Riker is talking with her. I will wait for a more convenient time".
After a short while Data again saw his chance and started out again only this time he saw her start to talk with Captain Picard.
Counsellor Troi who had been watching what was going on walked up to Geordie.
"Is there something wrong with Data? Twice I have seen him walk across the room, get about half way turn round and come back here again."
Geordie gave the counsellor a little smile and told her what was happening. She waited until Data had walked back.
"Captain Picard is talking with her now and…." Data started to say when Counsellor Troi took the surprised android by the arm and said,
"Let us go and say Hello." And she led him across the room.
Leela had her back to them when they both walked up and when Captain Picard saw them said,
"May I introduce two more of my senior officers?"
Leela turned round and Captain Picard did the introductions.
As Leela shook Data's hand, Counsellor Troi noticed a look on the woman's face. It was not a look of surprise because of Data's unique appearance, but she seemed to be a little taken with him.
"I am so glad to meet you Commander. I saw you at the Kalon 4 science convention last year. I was fascinated by your talk on quantum theories. I do have some ideas of my own, perhaps we could discuss them?"
Her voice was soft and with a feminine huskiness. She had a wide full mouth, high cheekbones and bright, clear green eyes.
"I would happy to hear any theories that you have." Data said and they went and sat down and started to talk. Picard moved away and started to talk with Doctor Crusher.
Troi watched Data talking with his new friend when,
"Penny for them" came a voice. Troi looked up and saw Commander Riker standing next to her.
"Oh" she gave a little start, "It was just when Lieutenant Sharn was introduced to Data I sensed something."
Riker looked over to Data and Leela, they were getting on very well and were having quite an in depth discussion.
"She is rather fetching. I was talking to her earlier and I have heard that she is a Sevateen."
Troi looked a little surprised,
"Are you sure? I thought the Sevateen were an ancient race and not much was known about them"
"They do seem to be getting on well" Riker said. He then took her by the arm and they went to speak with the other newcomers.
Data and Leela talked for sometime and when the reception started to break up, Data stood up and said,
"I must return to my duties."
"I hope to talk with you again Commander, I liked our conversation." Leela said looking up at him.
"As did I"
Data then thought for a moment,
"I will be performing in a music recital tomorrow evening; I would be honoured if you could attend?"
"I would be happy to" Leela smiled.
Leela did turn up the following evening and over the next few weeks Data and Leela would see each other whenever their duty rosters would allow. They would meet, discuss their day and of work.
One evening while in Data's quarters, Leela noticed a clear crystal shaped box sat on the shelf.
"What is this?" she asked.
Data looked up and saw where she was pointing.
He stood up and walked over to her.
"This is something very special to me." He then took the box and went and sat down on the couch. He placed it on the table in front of him and pressed one of the side panels. Instantly a holographic image of a young woman appeared standing on the top. She was very pretty with very short cropped blonde hair; clear blue eyes and she wore an old style uniform.
"Who is she?" Leela asked, sitting herself down next to Data.
Without taking his eyes from the little image he said,
"Lieutenant Tasha Yar. She was chief of security on board the Enterprise D."
"Where is she now? On board another ship?" Leela asked. When Data did not answer, she looked at him and thought she saw a look of grief on his face. Leela then asked,
"What happened to her?"
It was then Data turned to speak to her.
"Tasha was killed in the line of duty. She was made an example of an entity's power and strength. With all my abilities and strength I could not help her." He went quiet for a moment, "she was a fine officer and a very good friend."
Leela then noticed that Data's eyes had deepened in colour as he looked back at Tasha's image.
"More than friends I think" she said softly.
Data looked at Leela, paused before he spoke,
"We were intimate" he said, his voice was almost a whisper. He rarely spoke of this to anyone, but with Leela he felt that he could.
"It was the first time I had accessed my sexual programming and although I could not process feelings of any kind at the time, I found the experience to rather potent and enlightening.
Leela smiled,
"She was your first time?" and she sat a little closer and Data nodded as Leela touched his arm. "Everyone has a first time." She said, "But you are lucky to have this reminder of someone who was once special to you. I have nothing to remind me of my family. All I have is in here (she tapped her left temple) my husband was killed in the attack on my people by the Kashan and my two sons were taken away from me, I never saw them again. I was taken captive by the Kashan" she paused and thought for a moment. Data looked at her and noticed a faint hint of a tear in her eyes. Leela leant back on the couch and Data did the same, they held each others look and then Leela composed herself,
"Do you miss Tasha?" she asked.
"Yes" Data said, "I think of her often, even though our intimacy only occurred that one time. We did not pursue a relationship with each other."
"Did you ever talk about it?"
"No" Data told her, "But there were times when I would find her looking at me in a certain way. Sometimes she would blush and quickly look away other times she would just smile. I do miss her as I do with my daughter."
Leela blinked at this,
"You had a daughter?"
Data told her of Lal, how she came to be and what happened to her.
"I am sorry Data about what happened to her. It seems to me if this Daystrom Institute had left her alone, she would still be here today."
Data nodded, "I have often thought that. But it is not the first time I have encountered the Daystrom Institute. A scientist by the name of Commander Bruce Maddox once tried to take me away from the Enterprise to experiment on me to discover about my construction and how my positronic brain functioned."
"How was he going to do that?" Leela asked,
"By disassembling me." He then watched Leela's reaction.
Her reaction was that of disbelief and shock.
"But that's horrible" she said, "but obviously he wasn't successful what happened?"
Data then told her about the hearing and that Data had been branded property of Starfleet and how Captain Picard had spoken for him and that he had won and was declared a sentient life form. Just then Data's comm. Badge bleeped and Commander Riker's voice come over loud and clear.
"Commander Data to the bridge"
Data tapped his badge in acknowledgement; he then stood up and said,
"I must go I have night duty" Leela stood up as well.
"I must go back to my quarters as I have a report to do for Commander La Forge."
"Then I will walk you there." Data said and he offered his arm. Leela accepted and they walked out of the room still talking.
Once outside her quarters Data asked Leela if he could see her the next day.
"I do have an early finish tomorrow and I have booked holosuite 4 for a couple of hours to do a few exercises we could meet there."
"I will look forward to that."
Leela then looked at him for a moment,
"As will I"
Then she leant forward and kissed Data softly on the corner of his mouth. She gave him a little smile, turned and entered her quarters. As the door swished closed, Data touched to where Leela had kissed him. He then made his way to the nearest turbo lift. It had only gone up one deck when Counsellor Troi stepped in.
"Hello Data" she said and when Data didn't reply to her greeting she asked,
"Are you alright Data? You seem to be pre-occupied."
"I am sorry Counsellor" he eventually said," I have just come from seeing Leela and she kissed me as we parted. I believe our friendship has become even closer."
"I know Data" Troi said," It is something that has not gone un-noticed."
Data looked a little taken back by that.
"Counsellor, are you saying that Leela and I have become the topic of rumour and speculation?"
The Counsellor smiled,
"Only to a certain extent but you two have become an item."
The turbo lift came to a halt and the doors opened and they stepped out onto the bridge.
Data reported to Commander Riker and then he started the night duty. As he settled himself in to the Captain's chair he thought of Leela, he could still feel her kiss on his cheek and he wondered if it maybe it was time to let their friendship progress or was it still a little to soon. He remembered what happened a few years ago with Jenna D'Sora. No, that would not happen again, although they remained friends for a short while afterwards but she left the Enterprise on the following crew rotation and he never saw her again. He did not want that to happen with Leela. So he decided to wait a little longer.
Later the next day Data went to meet Leela in Holosuite 4. As he walked up to the doors the control panel said that a programme was running, he tapped the panel and walked in. The setting was a forest of huge trees, there was sunshine and a gentle breeze filtered down through the branches. As he walked further in through the forest, Data stopped for a moment and looked up at the sky. It was a very blue colour and he could see clouds hurrying by. Just then the sun came out from behind the clouds and he felt the warmth on his face. Data closed his eyes for a moment and thought that since he had installed his emotion chip he could enjoy moments like this. He opened his eyes and walked on. Soon he came to a clearing and there he saw Leela engaged in a fierce sword fight. Two bodies lay on the ground with blood oozing from gaping wounds and she was still fighting the third opponent. It was male, very tall and had long shaggy red hair and blood red eyes. It was dressed in armour; it carried a sword and an axe. Data sat down on the trunk of a fallen tree and watched as Leela fought with the giant. She was an agile fighter. She anticipated the moves of her opponent. Twice the holo-character tried to floor her and it nearly did as she was punched. Data was about to step in, but he remembered that it was only an image and couldn't really hurt her although it looked like Leela had lowered the safety levels as the fighting was quite intense. Leela came back at the creature with a strong back hand that sent the giant sailing through the air and it landed with a hard thud on the ground, it tried to get back up, but Leela was too quick, she ran over and raised her sword up high and brought it down slicing into its chest. The body bucked a little at the impact and then lay still. Leela put her boot against the creature's stomach and pulled the blade free. She staggered back and then rested on her sword.
"A fine display" Data said standing up. Leela nearly jumped out of her skin, as she did not know Data was there.
"Sorry" he said, "I did not mean to startle you"
"Data" Leela gasped, "How long have you been there?"
"Only for a short while" he said, he then looked at the body of the giant on the ground,"You fought well"
"Thank you" Leela smiled and sat down, undid the armoured vest that she wore, under which she had on a short blue dress that came to just above the knee. As she sat down she noticed that Data was looking at her with a little degree of appreciation. Leela didn't mind, she knew that Data was 100% male in everyway he was looking at her in the same way any man would.
As she sat on the rock, she reached behind her and pulled out a holdall and a flask of water. Data sat down next to her and said,
"Where did you learn your fighting skills?"
"From my parents. My father was a Sevateem chief and it was said that my mother was the daughter of a king, but she never spoke of it." She then picked up her sword and showed it to Data.
"The sword belonged to my mother. Her father had it made for her. It is one of a kind just like her. When I came of age and married my husband she gave it to me as a gift"
Data took the weapon and looked at it more closely. He noticed that the blade had been re-moulded and the hilt seemed to be made of a precious metal. There was an engraving on the side of the handle but he did not ask about it. Leela took a sip from the flask and then stood up and released the clip that held her long hair. Again she noticed Data's look.
"May I say something?" he asked
"Go ahead" Leela said as she turned to face him.
"You are quite a fine woman. I am sorry if that sounded a little forward but…"
"That's alright Data and thank you for the compliment." She said her hand over her heart, "I guess I am not bad for my age"
"You are only a young woman" Data said, standing up and crossing over to her.
"What age do you think I am?" Leela asked him
Data was about to say something, hesitated and then said
"You will not be offended if I am incorrect"
Leela smiled and shook her head.
Data then looked at her and then said,
"I would have to say that you are at least 32 years of age" he then waited for her reaction.
Leela's mouth dropped open a little and then she said with a smile,
"You have just made my day. My real age is 150."
Data gave her a look of disbelief and said,
"150?" (Leela nodded) How can this be? I know of certain races that exceed years more than a human."
Leela then took the surprised android by the hand and they sat back down together.
"Do you remember last night when I said to you about the attack on my people by the Kashan and that I was taken captive?"
"I have a clear memory of that moment" Data said a little confused, Leela continued,
"When they captured me I was injected with a fluid, a preservative if you like that was part of an experiment. It was found that it will keep me alive for a very long time. I do not know if it is forever, but so far it has been nearly 150 years. It is strange I know, but I have lived so long and I have travelled from one end of the galaxy to the other but this is the first time in so long that I have felt that I belong here. So now you know, I am immortal Data."
"No being can be immortal" Data said.
"What about you?" Leela said getting up, "You are an android, surely you are immortal too?"
"It is true that I could exist for a very long time, but I still could*die*. I could suffer an explosion or an accident and I would be beyond repair."
"Do you want proof of what I am?" Leela said and she lifted up her hold all and drew out a knife.
"I do not disbelieve you but…" he stopped when he saw the knife in her hand. It had a long blade and a light coloured handle. Leela took hold of Data's left hand and placed the blade, handle first into his palm. He saw Leela was facing him, looking directly in to his eyes.
She then said,
"I, Leela Sharn, tribe of Sevateem, am immortal" with that statement, she still holding Data's hand with the knife, plunged the blade deep into her stomach.
With a scream she fell to her knees, Data went down with her. He quickly tapped his comm. Badge and said,
"Medical emergency in Holosuite 4 immediately!"
Dr Crusher's voice came back.
"Acknowledged. We are on our way"
"Leela," Data called to her. She slowly raised her head, she was gasping for breath and her eyes were lined with tears.
"Data, please call off the medical team," she gasped
"I cannot" Data said, "You are injured. Help will be here soon"
"I will be fine," Leela said and she did seem to be recovering slightly as her breathing was slowly returning to normal.
"Please Data. I am alright"
Data thought for a moment and was about to do as Leela had requested when the holosuite doors opened and Dr Crusher and her team came running in. As Dr Crusher was about to examine Leela,
Data held up his hand.
"I think she is going to be alright"
"Let me be the judge of that" Dr Crusher said and ran a scan over Leela's body.
"Please Doctor" Leela said, "I will be fine. I do not need medical attention."
Dr Crusher looked at her tri-corder. "I can find nothing wrong. She should have internal injuries after being stabbed like that."
"Thank you Doctor. I do believe that Leela is going to be alright." Data said and after a moment Dr Crusher agreed but before she left she said,
"Come to sick bay later for a check up"
Leela nodded and with that the doctor left.
By now Leela was sitting up more and she gave Data a little smile.
"Told you so. I am sorry to demonstrate so graphically but sometimes it is the only way."
"I am sorry to doubt you" Data said a look of concern on his face.
"Just let me sit here for a moment," Leela asked, "It may not kill me but it does bloody well hurt."
Data looked to where she had stabbed herself,
"Excuse me a moment" and he lifted back where the tear in her dress was slightly and saw no blood, no wound, no nothing. She had completely healed.
"Are you alright now?" he asked.
"I will be" Leela sighed, "I just want sit here and rest."
"Then I will sit with you" Data said and he settled down next to her, put his arm around her shoulders and Leela snuggled in against his chest. They stayed there for some time.
Three days had passed since the incident on the holosuite. Data saw Leela briefly because of her duty roster but they did agree to meet in the officer's lounge one evening. Data sat at the bar and every time the door would open he looked round expecting her to walk in. He waited a little longer and then stood up from the bar; walked to the door, as it swished open he tapped his comm. Badge,
"Computer, please locate Lieutenant Leela Sharn?"
There was a little chirp as the computer processed the information and the female voice said,
"Lieutenant Leela Sharn is in her quarters. Deck 6"
Data made his way to the nearest turbo lift. Just as the doors opened a voice behind him made him turn round, he saw Geordie running to catch him up.
"Wait up Data" and he entered the lift.
"Where are you going?"
"I am going to see Leela. We had a date in the officer's lounge but she has not turned up yet." Data informed his friend.
"Well "Geordie said, "Things have rather busy in engineering. She has been working on a new project. Leela has been doing all the prep work for her team."
"Geordie" Data said, "May I ask a question?"
Geordie nodded.
"I wish to take my friendship with Leela a little further but I am unsure on how to proceed. May I ask how your relationship with Leah Brams was started?"
"Phew!" Geordie exclaimed, "Why don't you ask me something difficult!"
Data opened his mouth to say something and Geordie stopped him.
"Joke Data." Data nodded in understanding.
"Data all relationships are different there are no set rules. You know when the time is right. Leah contacted me right out of the blue. I didn't know that she had divorced her husband. But all you have to do is ask Leela. She may say yes" "or she may say no" Data cut in.
Data left the lift before Geordie and walked the short distance to Leela's quarters. He stood at the door and pressed the chime.
"Just a minute" came her voice on the intercom.
Then the door swished open and Data walked in. Leela was sat at her desk surrounded by info padds and duty roster cards. She looked up when Data walked in. First of all she seemed a little surprised to see him, and then a look of recognition came across her face.
"Data I am sorry. We had arranged to meet didn't we? I got so tied up in all of this"
"I see that you are busy" Data said looking at the desk.
"Is there anything I can assist with?"
Leela thought for a moment,
"I don't like to ask," she hesitated "but could you have a look at those duty rosters for me?" she pointed to the little pile on her desk.
"Certainly" and Data scooped up them up and sat down opposite Leela. She watched as Data examined the padds and his left hand was a blur as his fingers flew across the little panels of each one and in a moment all six were completed.
Leela sat back in her chair and smiled at him,
"You are very handy to have around"
"Thank you Leela" he then looked at her and said,
"Is it possible to talk with you?"
"Of course Data. What about?"
"Us" he said and he gave Leela a serious look.
"What about us?" Leela frowned. "Is there anything wrong?"
Data shook his head "No" he said, "but I must talk to you"
Leela stood up from her chair. "It is about what happened on the holosuite the other day. Isn't it? I am sorry Data please forgive me but I felt that you had to know. I didn't mean to scare you. Don't stop our friendship because of it."
Data looked up at her and he thought he saw a hint of tears in her eyes.
"Leela" he said standing, and he took her by the hand and led her across the room and they sat down on her couch.
"It is not about what happened. In fact I think it has brought us closer together."
Leela looked relieved,
"Really?" Leela said," But what is it that you wish to talk about?"
Data looked at her then said,
"Leela, we have been seeing each other for ten weeks and in that time you have become very special to me…"
"And you to me" Leela cut in.
"Thank you Leela I am glad to hear it" he then continued. "And in that time we have developed a very deep and close friendship, and in light of that closeness, I have been wondering if it would be possible, with your permission if our friendship could progress."
Leela raised a quizzical eyebrow,
"Progress? In what way?"
Data seemed to hesitate a little before he spoke. He looked directly into her eyes and said,
"To a more intimate way. If you say no then all I wish is for our friendship to continue as it is now."
Leela's mouth dropped open,
"Data are you saying that you wish for us to become a couple?"
"Yes" Data said. He then saw Leela look down to floor and he could see why, she was blushing slightly and she was smiling.
"You are smiling Leela is it welcome news?"
Leela looked up; she could feel that her face was hot. She took a deep breath,
"Yes it is welcome news Data." She sighed and sat a little closer to him.
"Over the past few weeks I have come to know you very well," she continued," and I do have strong feelings for you, especially when you held me close to you on the holosuite, when you held me, it felt so good to be in someone's arms again"
"You needed comforting" Data said softly. He noticed that Leela was sitting closer to him. He slid his arm around her and they sat back on the couch. Leela reached her hand and touched Data's cheek and then ran the fingertips over his bottom lip.
"So my answer to you is yes." Leela said, her voice was almost a whisper now as Data pulled her in against him more and they were about to kiss, when Data lifted his head from her a little, gave his head a little tilt and then said,
"I have just calculated that there is a 96% chance of us engaging within a successful relationship and I also thought that…" he broke off his sentence when Leela sat up from him and sighed.
"96%" Leela said and Data nodded.
"You have doubts about me?" she asked
"Only to the extent that you could meet someone else, take preference on them over me and our relationship would end."
"Is that all" Leela gave a sigh of relief and sat back with him and they cuddled again.
"Besides" Leela said, "have you thought of the possibilities that you could find someone else, take preference on them over me and our relationship would end?"
Data frowned and tilted his head again.
"I had not thought of the possibilities although I do regard it as highly unlikely." He raised his hand and released the clip that held Leela's hair up in a ponytail, she shook her head a little and her hair flowed down her back. Data then slid his hand up her back and stroked the nape of her neck and round to under her chin and Leela nuzzled into his hand and once again they were about to kiss, when this time, Data's comm. Badge chirped into life.
"Picard to Data" came the clear voice of the Captain. Both Data and Leela gave a start and Data sat back a little and tapped his badge.
"Data here sir" he sounded as though he was out of breath. In his ready room Captain Picard glanced at Commander Riker, and then said,
"Mr Data are you alright?"
"I am fine sir" came Data's answer. Picard then heard a woman's giggle, and he turned to Riker,
"I hope I haven't interrupted anything?" Riker just smiled. Then Picard said,
"There is a senior officers meeting in the observation lounge in ten minutes."
In Leela's quarters Data said,
"I am on my way sir. Data out"
He then stood up,
"I am sorry Leela."
Leela looked up at him. Raised her hands and said,
"Help me up"
Data took her hands and helped her up, and then he put his arms around her waist.
"Can I see you later to discuss this more?"
"Of course Data. Don't be long."
He then kissed her cheek, turned and left.

Data left Leela's quarters and seemed to walk with a slight spring in his step. Leela had said yes to him and he wondered how the relationship would progress.
In the observation lounge, Data sat himself down in his usual chair, to Picard's right and opposite Commander Riker. When everyone had settled down, Picard spoke.
"Thank you for attending this meeting, I know that it is rather late, but I have had a message come through from the Athena. We are to go and assist with a study of a black hole that has appeared in the Dareena system. It is uncharted and the strange thing about it is that there seems to be a corridor, or a gateway in the middle. (He turned to Data) How long Mr. Data to the Dareena system?"
Without thinking Data said,
"At warp four we will be there in six hours and ten minutes."
Picard nodded and then tapped his comm. Badge and said,
"Picard to Ensign Myers"
"Myers here sir" came the reply.
"Set a course for the Dareena system. Warp four"
"Aye sir" the ensign replied.
"Captain" Data asked "How could a black hole have this gateway? A black hole is a region of space where matter cannot escape. It is quite impossible for this to occur."
"We don't know. This is why Athena has been sent but they also need us for support. Number One, Mr Data please assemble the survey teams and get back to me. We will be briefed upon our arrival."
In Leela's quarters, she had just finished her assignments when she had a call from Geordie to return to engineering. As she was preparing to leave, her comm. Badge chirped,
"Data to Lieutenant Sharn."
"Sharn here. Yes Data?"
"I am sorry I will not be able to return to you tonight" and he told her of the mission.
"I know Data. Commander La Forge has requested me to return to engineering to prepare two teams for tomorrow. Can I see you later?" she said as she walked to the turbo lift.
"I do not think that will be possible as I will be needed on the bridge."
"Ok" she sighed, "Maybe later"
"I will look forward to our meeting. Data out"
Many regions of the Dareena system were uncharted and when the Enterprise arrived at the co-ordinates they found the Athena was stationed just on the edge of the phenomenon. On board the two vessels the two teams were assembled in to two shuttles. Leela was picked to go on Data's team plus Ensign McCormick. While flying out to the black hole the Enterprise and the Athena had launched probes into the black hole which itself was the biggest ever recorded in the system. The huge gapping hole was rotating like a whirlpool absorbing everything. The probes were launched and the shuttles followed the path of them. The results found that there were new systems on the other side. But the readings also found that the hole was unstable. One of the shuttles from the Athena was veering towards the centre and it was caught in the suction. The Enterprise tried to lock onto the shuttle with a tractor beam but it proved to be fatal the shuttle exploded killing all on board catching Data's shuttle in the wake of the explosion. Debris hit them and sent them spinning toward the centre. On board the shuttle they tried to regain control as they spun to the hole. There was a bright flash from the consol were Ensign McCormick was sat. The force knocked the young man from his seat and he was flung to the floor. Data looked down at his fallen crewmate and the ensign was not moving. There was a deep gash in his neck from which blood poured. Leela had been operating a consol at the rear of the shuttle fought her way to the front and checked the body.
"He is dead sir" she informed Data.
Data look round as Leela examined the body. The death of a crewmate was always a sad thing but they had to put aside any thoughts now as their shuttle was dangerously close to the centre. Leela slid herself into the co-pilots seat and quickly tried to access the controls as Data tried to stop the shuttle from entering the hole.
On the Enterprise, Captain Picard and the bridge crew was watching what was happening.
"Transporter room four get them out of there!"
He barked the command.
"I am sorry" came the reply over the comm. Link,
"Their signals are breaking up. I can't get a lock on Commander Data or Lieutenant Sharn and Ensign McCormick is dead sir"
The crew could do nothing but sit and watch as the shuttle was sucked into the hole and before they knew what had happened, it was gone.
"Lieutenant Can you find them?" Riker said to the Trill officer sat at the OPS consol.
Lieutenant Pell Tarvin's fingers flew across the screens and turned to Commander Riker,
"We have lost them sir;" she said "There is no trace of the shuttle and…." Her consol gave a bleep making her return her attention to it.
"Sir" she said," The black hole is breaking up"
Captain Picard and the crew turned their attention to the view screen and saw the black hole begin to falter and with a blinding flash it disappeared and when they looked back again it was as though nothing had been there all they saw was an empty star field. Commander Riker turned back to Counsellor Troi who stood up from her seat, her face a mixture of sadness and shock.
"Do you sense anything?" he asked her.
Troi shook her head, "No. Nothing"
Captain Picard stood looking at the empty star field were the black hole had been. He paused before he spoke.
"Number One" Riker looked to his Captain,
"I will be in my ready room. You have the bridge"
Without turning round he walked slowly to his ready room and the door slid shut behind him.
Once inside he thought not only had he lost three crewmen but two were new to the Enterprise and had only just begun their tour of duty but Data was his friend and they had served together since the Enterprise D. He couldn't believe he was gone. He then walked to the porthole in his room and looked out into space and wondered if Data and Lieutenant Sharn were still alive.
The shuttle had stopped spinning, but they seemed to be moving forward. They could see nothing but blackness all around the shuttle, no stars, no light of any kind. Then as soon as it had started the shuttle seemed to stop and they floated in the nothingness for a moment, then it started again, they seemed to be pulled back and then they were propelled forward and in an instance they were among the stars again except they could see no ships, No Enterprise, no Athena, nothing.
"Where are we?" Leela asked,
"We appear to be on the other side of the black hole" Data answered.
"Can we get back?"
"I do not know" Data puzzled, "The phenomenon has disappeared" and he tried to contact the Enterprise and the panel only gave back static.
Then the shuttle shook.
"Something has hit us" Data said looking out of the shuttle, and then the shuttle shook again. Data then turned to his control panel, he saw on the sensor readout they had veered into an asteroid field.
Then before he could do anything, one of the asteroids hit the starboard nacelle and once again they spun out of control. The nacelle had been shattered and it sent the shuttle into a nosedive. They hurtled towards a planet that was below them. They broke through the atmosphere; below them they could see mountains, forests and lakes. They crashed down through a forest snapping through trees before finally coming to a halt as they landed in a swamp. For a moment they were still and then the shuttle slowly started to sink. Data and Leela undid their seatbelts and scrambled their way to the rear of the shuttle. Data thumbed a panel and an escape hatch flew out. As they stood on the sinking craft, Data noticed above them were over hanging branches.
"Climb up" Data told Leela and she jumped up onto the branches, Data following her. When they reached a safe place they turned back just in time to watch the shuttle disappear under the surface of the swamp.
"Duncan" Leela whispered as the shuttle sank.
After a moment they climbed down from the tree.
They looked to where the shuttle had crashed through the trees and saw a long gash stretching for miles back through the forest. As they went to move off, Leela looked back at the swamp gave a little sigh. Data who, had walked on a little, turned back and saw her looking to where they had landed; he walked back and said,
"I am sorry about Ensign McCormick, did you know him?"
Leela slowly turned to Data and nodded,
"Yes. He was on my diagnostic team. He only graduated from the academy six months ago; he was so excited about getting a posting to the Enterprise." They both stood for a moment and then they walked away. They had been walking for sometime when they noticed that it was beginning to get dark, they found a spot under a large tree and Leela settled herself down.
"I'm hungry," she said leaning back against the tree trunk, "I could just go for some hot chocolate and a croissant. You're lucky Data seeing that you don't have to eat."
Data gave a little nod,
"In a way I am fortunate not to feel the need for food; however I do sometimes wish that I could."
He sat down next to her and Leela cuddled up to him.
"What is going to happen to us Data?" she said and yawned a little.
"I do not know as I could not contact the Enterprise after we had come out of the black hole, which I believe has collapsed."
Leela sat up and looked at him,
"You mean we are stranded here?"
"It would appear so"
Leela gave a shudder,
"Don't like the sound of that!"
"I do not feel happy about the situation myself"
Data shifted a little and pulled Leela in against him some more and before long she was asleep.
The next morning when Leela had awoken she saw that they were in a huge forest with sunlight filtering down through the trees and there were birds singing, she also noticed that she was alone. She got to her feet and looked around,
"Data" she called still a little sleepy.
"Data" no answer.
"Data!" She then heard a movement behind her; she turned and saw Data walking up to her.
"Where were you?" she asked giving a sigh of relief.
"I have found something. Please this way." He then took her by the hand and led her down through the trees. They came upon an opening and they saw that they were up high on a cliff and spread out below them was a grand vista of mountains and rivers and in the distance they could see a coastline.
"Wow" Leela said, "Just look at this place."
"Very earth like, is it not?"
Leela nodded yes and she looked up and saw a clear blue sky and above that she could just make out the outline of another planet above the atmosphere.
"I wonder if anyone lives here." Leela said as she looked round.
Data thought for a moment,
"I can not see any construction of any kind, but if there are people then we should stay clear of them."
"Why?" Leela looked a little confused.
"We must refrain from any contact with indigenous life forms. As we are unaware of what kind they could be. They could be hostile, of a simple nature and we could endanger any course of evolution for them. So it would be best to stay away."
Leela gave a shrug, "OK" she said.
They started to climb down from the viewpoint and after a while they were walking through a mountain pass. Overhead they saw dark clouds beginning to gather and in the distance they could hear thunder and very soon it started to rain. Ahead and slightly above them they saw a cave and made their way up to it. Once inside they sat down and waited for the storm to pass. As they waited, Data kept on looking behind him into the cave.
"See anything?" Leela asked.
"I do not know" Data said "I thought I saw a movement."
"Where?" Leela looked back into the cave. She could see nothing but she knew that Data's eyesight was far better than her and Data pointed to the rear of the cave.
"I will take a look," Data said getting up and he walked into the cave. Leela watched him go until she lost sight of him in the cave's blackness. After a moment she noticed that the rain had stopped and the storm was passing over. She walked into the cave a little way and was about to call for Data when she herself saw a movement she walked in a little more and then she heard footfalls and she saw Data running from the cave.
"Run" he said as he passed her.
"What do you mean?"
Data glanced over his shoulder and looked past her.
"That" was all he said,
Leela looked at him a little puzzled and she even began to laugh but when she heard something behind her that made her stop. It was a very deep growl and it seemed very close. She slowly turned round and right behind her was a huge creature. It was very tall with a large rounded bulk like that of a bear, but it stood on its hind legs and the face was almost canine in appearance. It had fiery red eyes and large jagged teeth. It stood and looked at her and tilted its large head. Leela could not move, her feet felt like they had taken root on the spot. The thing growled again and she felt the hot breath on her face as well as a few spots of drool. Leela started to walk back away from the creature and it walked toward her, it outstretched its arms and then the mouth opened as though it was going to take a bite out of her when she felt something grab her around the waist and pull her back. She gave a yelp as Data dragged her out of the cave. They both ran and the thing gave chase, but soon it gave up and returned to its lair.
"Whew, What was that?!" Leela said out of breath, she leaned forward her hands resting on her knees.
"I do not know but I think I had disturbed it from its hibernation." Data said looking back the way they had run just in case it was still behind them.
"I think you were right about keeping away from local life forms" Leela sighed and straightened up. "But next time we are in a cave and you see something move, don't go and have a look"
Data looked at her a little confused,
"Hmm" he said, "I will take your advice Leela"
They then heard another roar somewhere behind them, they both looked round and then at each other before heading off again.
As they finally came out of the mountains, they saw something in the distance.
"Is that smoke?" Leela exclaimed a little excited.
Data climbed his way up a small rock face and looked a little closer.
"Yes it is smoke. I can make out several dwellings." He then jumped back down.
"Is it a settlement?" Leela asked, "Perhaps we could go and get some food."
"Leela" Data sighed, "We cannot let people know that we are here."
Leela folded her arms across her chest, narrowing her eyes at him,
"I know prime directive and all of that, but where are we walking to? (She pointed past Data) there is no where for us to go!" she sounded angry, she didn't want to angry with him but she stood in front of him her arms still folded across her chest.
"I am sorry" he said, "but we must move on. We will find a place of our own. We could change the people there, change their way of evolution, we could…"
Leela gave a little snort and then walked off. She gave Data a strange look as she passed him. He caught up with her and for a while they walked in silence.
After nightfall they found themselves in a forest. They found a place to stay for the night and settled themselves down. During the night Leela woke up several times. She was curled up in Data's arms, but she was holding herself around the stomach.
"I don't feel too good" she said slowly sitting up.
"What is wrong Leela" Data asked
"I'm hungry." She then looked at Data; "I can go without food for sometime, but at this moment…." Her voice faded off and she fell backwards and did not move.
"Leela, Leela" Data said trying to revive her but there was no response. She looked drawn and haggard and there were dark circles under her eyes. Data looked down at her and thought for a moment he then bent down and lifted her up into his arms and carried her back the way they had come.
The village was only small, situated on the edge of the forest. The hour was late and the only people moving round were the sentries on the gates. One of them a tall slender male he had long fair hair, sharp defined features and small pointed ears. He carried a long bow and a quiver full of arrows over his right shoulder. He was dressed in a dark green tunic and grey coloured leggings and boots. The other man was short rather rounded with the same pointed ears. His hair was shorter than his friend but he wore a similar tunic of grey and his leggings and boots were black.
"Been quiet tonight," said the tall one, he looked at his friend,
"I don't think they will be back but keep your eyes open Soran."
"Aye" said Soran, "But if they do what can we do? They have taken almost everything. The Idris tribe are known to be on the move again."
Soran looked a little scared as he turned and looked out into the forest.
"Never mind" said his friend "But I will come and relieve you before dawn."
Soran nodded and then said,
"Aarren" the tall one looked back "perhaps that stew you had for your supper, (he hesitated looking a little awkward,) could find its way over here."
Aarren laughed "You and your stomach. Alright I will bring you some later."
Soran gave a little smile and he watched as Aarren walked back into the village.
He had not gone far, when he heard Soran calling him back.
"Aarren, Aarren!!"
Aarren turned and ran back to the gates and he was met by Soran he looked frightened and he was pointing to the forest.
The two of them reached the gates just as a lone figure was emerging from the forest.
"Go and wake Marsa and Lothar"
Soran nodded and ran back to the village.
Aarren watched the figure as it drew nearer. He walked forward a little, lifted his bow from his shoulder and slid an arrow against the string.
"Come no closer" he shouted and the figure stopped. Aarren noticed that the figure was carrying something.
Aarren kept walking closer to the still figure. When he got to a certain distance,
"Who are you?" he asked, "Why are you here?"
"My friend is unwell," Came back the voice, "Please may I come forward?"
"Step forward," Aarren said and still held the bow ready to fire the arrow.
The figure walked slowly forward and was about to say something when he heard,
"Aarren. Are you alright?" Aarren recognised the voice belonging to Marsa.
"Stay there Marsa" Aarren said without taking his eyes from the figure in front of him.
"I mean no harm" came the voice again "I am unarmed"
Aarren straightened up a little. The voice was not threatening or aggressive. The figure started to walk forward again and this time Aarren saw the face of the figure. He gave a little gasp he had never seen a face like this before for it was pale and the eyes were the colour of gold. Even the clothes were strange.
"If your friend is ill" Aarren said still eyeing the stranger, "Then go away you could infect us all"
"No" said the stranger "We have not eaten in days, we have no infection. I only wish for some food for her."
Aarren lowered his bow and arrow and took a step forward and saw in the stranger's arms was a woman, dressed similar to the stranger.
"Who are you?" asked Aarren. The stranger lifted his head from looking down at the woman in his arms and said softly,
"I am Data"
Aarren looked at the woman in Data's arms and she did look unwell.
"Bring her in," he said and Data slowly walked forward and Aarren followed. As they approached the gates the two who had been summoned stood back as Data and Aarren entered the village. Others came out of their homes and Aarren stepped ahead of Data and called two women over to him.
"Take care of them" he told them. The two women led Data to a small house and he was shown a back room. The room was dark and sparsely furnished with only a table, a couple of chairs and against the back wall was a bed. He walked over and laid Leela down and he sat himself down beside her. The two women returned with a flask of water and a pot of hot stew. They sat the things down on the table and Data thanked them and picked up the flask. He gently lifted Leela's head up and gave her a sip of the water and she started to wake up. She slowly sat up and took the flask from him and started to drink from it.
"How are you feeling" Data asked. Leela seemed to be a little more focused,
"Better, thank you" she said softly. She then looked around the room and saw the two women standing by the door.
"Where are we?" she asked a little curious.
"We are in the village. The one we saw earlier."
Leela looked at him and was about to say something when one of the women by the door said,
"Do you need anything else?"
Data looked round,
"Nothing more thank you. You have been most helpful."
The women, bowed their heads, turned and left, closing the door quietly behind them.
Data looked back at Leela and she sat a little forward, reached up and smoothed her hand over Data's hair and stroked his cheek.
"Thank you." She said, "I know this must have gone against everything you have said about the prime directive, and you still brought me here. I will not forget it." And with that, she put her head against his shoulder. Data slid his arm around her and leant his head against her.
At that moment Aarren came into the room and stopped as he saw them in each others arms.
"Excuse me" he said, "but I must speak with you." He then watched as they both straightened up.
Leela saw the bowel of stew and said,
"Is that for us?"
"Yes" Aarren said, "Please eat."
Data, Leela and Aarren sat at the table and Leela poured out two plates of the stew. Leela begun to sip the stew and Data watched her for a moment and then began to do the same.
"My name is Aarren. I am the leader of my people." He told them. "Where are you both from?" Aarren asked as he watched the two strangers. Both Data and Leela exchanged glances and it was Data who spoke.
"We are from the north, we are travellers who are lost and we need to find our way home."
Aarren was still curious about Data. He had never seen anyone like him before. Even the clothes that both of them wore was strange. But they were not even armed and he considered that were not a threat to him or his people.
"Where in the north are you from?"
This time Leela spoke,
"We have come a long way, past the mountains"
"You do not look as though you are from the north," Aarren cut in, "What tribe are you from?"
"We are not from any tribe." Data said as he pushed the plate from him.
"Have you seen any of the Idris? They are from the north?"
Aarren seemed to getting a little agitated and he stood up from the table.
Data stood from the table,
"We are not a threat. We do not know of the Idris. All we ask is for some food and for my friend to rest and then we will move on."
Aarren thought for a moment, looked at Data and Leela,
"You may stay." He said "Ask for anything you need. We will talk again"
Data gave him a polite nod and Aarren turned and left.
Leela finished her meal and said,
"I don't think he believes us." She looked at Data, "What if he asks more questions?"
"I hope by then will be gone from here and hope that we can find somewhere to…." Data stopped as the two women came back into the room. One cleared the table and the other one had brought in a bundle of clothes, large bowl of water with a towel.
"There clean clothes for both of you. I am sure you would like to freshen up after your meal."
Leela thanked them both and as she opened the towel she saw what looked like a bar of soap and a hairbrush. With a sigh she unclipped her hair and started to unzip her uniform. She looked up and saw Data watching her.
"Ahem" she said with a little smile. Data tilted his head to one side a little curious and then said,
"Aha. Leela, do you wish for me to leave the room?"
Leela gave him a teasing grin,
"Don't have to." And she continued to unzip her uniform.
Data opened his mouth to say something, thought for a moment and then said,
"Are you teasing me Leela?"
"Only a little" she said.
"Hmm" Data said, "I believe that to be a hint" and with that he left the room. Leela gave a little laugh as he left the room and continued to undress.
Once outside, Data noticed that it was early morning and the village was beginning to wake up. There were several dwellings some were crudely made, but others, like the one he had come from were made of brick. As he walked down through the village, he noticed the looks that people gave him. He did not mind as he was used to it when people see him for the first time. He became aware of someone following him; he turned round to see a small group of children standing behind him. Some of them just looked at him but one, a little girl walked forward and said,
"Hello. My name is Elona."
Data gave her a little smile and leant down to her and said,
"I am very pleased to make your acquaintance, Elona, my name is Data."
Elona giggled,
"You talk funny"
Data straightened up and said with a slight frown,
"I was unaware that I spoke in a funny way. Although my speech patterns are a little different than most humans." Data looked down at his new found friend and saw that she had long fair hair and little pointed ears, he was about to say something else to her when a young woman walked up,
"Time for class Elona" The woman then looked at Data and for a moment said nothing but then she gave Data a polite nod and led Elona away to her class. Elona looked back over her shoulder,
"Bye" she said
Data held up his left hand,
"Bye" he said.
Data was about to turn round to continue walking when he noticed Aarren and two others watching him, he saw them talk with each other and then the two men left and Aarren walked over to Data.
"My people are curious about you and your friend. I do not believe that you have come from the North as you say, but you may stay as long as you wish." He said and he walked with Data.
"My people are called Cuespar. My father led them here from Cythra in the north where they were slaves to the Idris. But it is said that our ancestors came from the skies." Aarren told Data.
At this Data looked Aarren,
"From the skies?" Data asked, "I am curious as to what you mean."
"The stories that my father told me long ago was that the founders of the Cuespar fell to this place through a hole in the sky. I never knew what he meant by that. To me it was just a story."
"How did your ancestors fall from the sky?" Data asked.
Aarren looked at Data for a moment and thought this stranger was very curious, but he was beginning to like him and his friend. He continued,
"The story says that they came here carried by a giant silver bird and they landed on this world which we call Tanis, which is Cuesparen for beautiful place."
Data then saw that Aarren's attention was directed behind him. Data turned round and saw Leela walking up to them. She was dressed in the clothes that she had been given by the two women earlier. She wore a long dark green open necked shirt, dark coloured leggings and boots. She had tidied her hair and tied it back into a ponytail.
"You look wonderful" Aarren said as he watched her walk up to them.
Data noticed that Aarren was looking at her. He gave a little frown but didn't say anything. Leela saw Data's look, linked arms with him and said,
"I have to ask Data something. Would you excuse us please?"
Aarren gave them both a polite little nod and watched as they walked away.
"What was that look for?" Leela asked as they walked back to the house.
Data stopped for a moment,
"What look?" he asked with a slight frown, "I do not know what you are referring to?"
Before Leela could say anything Data walked on.
Once inside their room Leela said,
"Data, Are you jealous?"
Data gave her a look over his right shoulder as he walked to the window. Leela followed and Data turned to her,
"I do believe that I am experiencing an unpleasant feeling within my systems. I suppose it can be called jealousy."
Leela gave a little smile, she then lifted her hand and touched Data's left cheek,
"You have no need to be. I said yes to you remember?"
Data nodded,
"I have a clear recollection of that moment. But I am sorry if I have embarrassed you. I am not given to bouts of jealousy."
"It is alright" Leela said softly, "It was a very human response and it shows you care."
They looked at each other for a moment then Data said,
"What did you wish to ask me?"
Leela blinked her eyes and for a moment wondered what Data was referring to. Then she said,
"Did you notice anything strange while you were walking around this morning?"
"No" Data said, "But for a village this size there were hardly any people around. But I did encounter a group of children and one of them spoke to me."
Leela thought for a moment and then said,
"Something is not right here. They are weary of strangers."
Data looked out of the window,
"They are a close community, it is to be expected."
Leela shook her head,
"No. it is not that. It is like they are frightened of something or are waiting for something to happen."
Data looked back at Leela he saw that she seemed a little sad.
"What are you thinking of?" he asked.
"The Cuesparen remind me of my people, the Sevateem. Although we had only been attacked once by the Kashan we always knew that one day they would return." She looked out of the window,
"When they did come back. They were stronger. We had beaten them the first time, but this time they took everything. My home, my family everything was gone. I saw my husband killed in the attack and a group of Kashan soldiers had rounded up most of the children, my two sons were among them. I saw them being loaded onto a transport, myself and a few others tried to stop them, but I was beaten down. When I awoke I was in a laboratory, strapped into a chair and a Kashan scientist was injecting a fluid into my body. I was part of an experiment. It was so painful to some of the others." At this Leela held her arms around her stomach," The screams and noise in that place was so deafening. After they had injected me, I was tested as to how much pain I could endure. I was stabbed and shot with something like a phaser. Normally I would have died from my wounds, but the fluid in me healed my body quicker than before. I found out later that the Kashan wanted to form an army that would not stop even if they were badly injured. I managed to escape. I was not going to be a mindless killing machine. I know that I cannot return to Mordra. So I have accepted that I cannot die or grow old. The people here remind me of were I came from Data and there is something wrong here."
Data listened to her as she told her story and some ways Leela reminded him of Tasha Yar, both had endured hardship and violence. Leela was like Tasha strong, brave and resilient. He placed an arm around her shoulders and she leaned back and relaxed against him.
"I will make a promise to you Leela" Data said as Leela turned to him, "I will take care of you. You are special to me and I have become used to you in many ways and I have thought about the closeness that we will share." With that he placed a hand under her chin and kissed her fully on the mouth. Leela slid her arms around his neck and they kissed again. After a moment they parted and were about to kiss again when they heard shouting from outside and they saw the villagers running around, some were heading for their homes while others mainly the men were heading for the gates armed with bows and arrows. Some had swords and spears.
Both Data and Leela left the room and ran outside and saw Aarren directing his men to different parts of the village, Aarren turned and saw them coming up to him.
"What is happening?" Data asked.
"The Idris are coming," Aarren said "We have to protect ourselves." He looked at Leela,
"Go with the other women, you will be safe there." He then turned to Data,
"Can you use a sword, a knife a weapon of any kind?"
"I am fully trained in all use of weaponry but why?"
"Because we may need you." Aarren then noticed that Leela was still with them,
"Go with the other women" he said to her. He then saw a tall red-headed woman carrying a small child.
"Roleen" he called her over, "Take Leela to the shelter"
Leela glared at Aarren,
"I will not hide!" she said firmly," I will fight! Just get me a sword!"
Aarren looked at Data who told him,
"You will need her"
After a moment, Aarren agreed and then sent Roleen away.
Data, Leela and Aarren ran to the gates and climbed up to the platform above. Some of the men looked at Leela as she climbed up with them. Aarren asked for a sword for her; she tested the weight and against the ball of her thumb, its sharpness.
"Good enough" Data heard her say.
After they had settled down, an eerie silence seemed to hang in the air. Everyone keenly watched the forest for any sign of movement. After a while Aarren said,
"One of my scouts has returned with a message. He had seen several Idris heading this way. My other scout should have been back by now. I fear the worst for him."
Just then one of the men saw something. The man was pointing to the trees. Out from the forest a man came running closely followed by a large man ridding a creature, similar to a horse.
Aarren stood up,
Lothar ran as fast as he could, but the rider caught up with him and with one almighty swipe of his sword, Lothar was decapitated.
"NO!" Aarren yelled and the rider turned and shouted back at the village. He then lowered his sword and skewered the fallen head and raised it up as a sign victory. Then without warning a swarm of Idris descended from the forest toward the gates of the village. The group rammed the gates and they gave way after three tries. The platform above the gates collapsed sending everyone falling to the ground. Leela had fallen near to the where the gates had been and one of the Idris came up to her. It was short and with a pug like face. The mouth was lipless from which strings of drool hung. The eyes were large in comparison with the size of the face making them look ridiculously out of proportion. The Idris was fast and agile; it knocked her down and grabbed her by the hair, trying to smash her head onto the ground. Leela brought her knee up and sent it flat on its back, but as Leela got to her feet, the thing was waiting for her. It backhanded her across the face and ran her through with its sword. Leela staggered back slightly and looked down at the blade in her stomach. The Idris was gloating as it watched her; Leela then looked up and gave a little smile at the ugly creature and pulled the sword from her body. The Idris stared in disbelief and could do nothing as Leela beheaded it. Leela then sank to the ground took a few deep breaths and lifted back her shirt and watched as the wound slowly closed where the blade had gone into her. She got to her feet, rubbed her stomach, threw the sword to the ground, picked her own weapon and walked on as though nothing had happened. Aarren had seen her and he watched as Leela walked away.
"What is she?" he thought.
He then noticed Data who had been fighting with one of the larger Idris. Aarren saw that Data was unarmed. He saw Data pick up the Idris and threw it as though it was a child's toy. It landed awkwardly against the wall of one of the smaller houses; it sank slowly to the ground and remained still. Toward the rear of the village, there was a terrific scream as some of the Idris had discovered the shelter where the women and children had been hiding. Some of the women fled with their children. Others were not so lucky, some where caught and carried off, while others were killed along with their children. Data had never seen such savagery and he then saw the little girl who had spoken to him that morning. She came running out from the shelter closely followed by her mother. One of the riders saw them and gave chase. It first caught up with the mother, it leant down from the saddle, grabbed her by the hair and twisted her head round sharply snapping her neck, it dropped the woman's body and then it chased after the little girl. The creature that the Idris rode was fast but Data was faster and he easily caught up with it. He leapt up and dragged the rider from the saddle and they both feel to the ground and the Idris drew from its belt a large axe and hit Data across the face sending him sailing back. The Idris walked over to the fallen android, raised the axe high above his head but before the Idris could do anything, Data jumped up, caught the Idris' and it gave out with a loud squeal as he twisted the neck. Just as Data straightened up, a smaller Idris ran up and jumped onto his back, scratching him just under his right eye exposing some of the circuitry. A small amount of wiring and lights could be seen under the flap of peeled back skin. Data reached up to his shoulder and lifted the Idris from his back as though it was a pestering bug and flung the creature to the ground hard. It did not get up.
Aarren saw this and he was wondering who are these people who had come to the village, but he was glad they were fighting with him. He then looked up and saw that the Idris were returning to the forest. He also noticed all around him lay the bodies of his people. Men, women and children alike and he saw that some were missing. With tears in his eyes, he fell to his knees. He felt exhausted and then he saw Leela walking over to Data who was holding his hand over his right cheek. He got up and walked over to them.
"Are you alright Data?" Leela asked as she got to him.
"I am fine" he said, "But I must go back to the room"
Data removed his hand a little so Leela could see. She gave a little gasp and took Data by the arm and they were about to go, when they saw Aarren walking up to them.
"Data are you injured?"
"Everything is fine" Data told him, but Aarren stopped him,
"Why are you holding your face?" Aarren reached up and pulled Data's hand back and he saw the patch of lights and wiring. His mouth dropped open,
"What are you?" he demanded.
Leela said,
"Can we go back to the room please is all that I ask?"
Aarren nodded and said,
"I will come with you."
Once back at the room Leela sat Data down on the bed and she looked over at a very curious Aarren.
"Can you tell me what you are?" he said, looking at Data.
Data thought for a moment, looked at Leela, who said,
"I think we should tell him"
"Tell me what!?" Aarren said getting a little anxious.
Data looked at Aarren and gestured for him to sit down.
As he did so Data asked,
"Do you remember the story you told me of how your people first came to this world?"
"Of course. But what does that have to do…"
"Please listen to our story" Data cut in and he told Aarren of his and Leela's journey to Tanis.
Aarren listened intently to Data's story and when he has finished he asked,
"But what are you? I have seen the lights in your head."
Data sighed,
"I am an android"
Aarren shook his head, "I don't know what that means?"
"I am a machine," Data told him, "A device created to have the appearance of a human male."
Aarren still looked a little confused and then he asked Leela, who had managed to seal back the flap of skin onto Data's cheek,
"Are you the same?"
Leela just smiled a little and shook her head,
"But I saw you when the Idris pushed his sword into you, now you are still alive."
Leela sighed
"I have a different story to tell but…." Her voice trailed off as the door opened and in came the little girl Elona, she looked around the room and saw Data sat on the bed and she ran over to him, jumped up beside him and snuggled in against his arm.
Aarren tried to get her to go, but she held onto Data's arm and would not move.
"Go to your mother" Aarren said as he tried to pull her away.
"Her mother was killed in the attack." Data told Aarren, "She may stay."
The door reopened and two men came in. One of them Data recognised as Marsa, and it was Marsa, who spoke,
"Aarren" he said, "Some of the men followed the Idris onto the forest and found that they were camped on the other side. They could attack again."
Aarren stood up,
"Organise the men Marsa and meet me at the gates."
Data stood up,
"I will go with you"
"I will come too" Leela said,
Data looked at her and shook his head,
"Not this time Leela you will be need here."
Aarren looked at them both.
"We are involved with this fight," Data told him,
"Your numbers are dwindling and you have not enough to send that are capable to fight, your men are weary and some are missing. The Idris have also suffered heavy losses. They will not attack they have retreated to rest."
Aarren thought for a moment,
"You are right Data, we will attack at nightfall."
As the rest of the day wore on, everyone prepared for the night to come. Leela organised the women and armed them in case the raid on the Idris camp was not successful. The gates were repaired and guards were set on the platform above them.
Leela went back to her room and found Data. He had changed from his uniform and into the clothes that had been left for him that morning. He wore a brown tunic tied at the waist, dark grey leggings and black boots.
Data saw Leela come in and he looked at her for a moment.
"Anything wrong Leela?"
Leela shook her head,
"It just that I have never seen you out of uniform before." She said with a little grin, "But you do look handsome."
Data gave her a little nod,
"Thank you"
Leela then walked over to him,
"Don't do anything foolish. Just come back to me." And she kissed him softly on the mouth.
They held each other's look for a moment and then Data said,
"I will make a promise to return Leela. I have made a vow to take care of you and the little girl Elona."
Leela smiled,
"Then we will take care of each other."
They then left the room. Once outside they walked to the gates where the other men were assembled. When Aarren saw Data dressed as a Cuesparen, he gave him a little nod and also a sword. Data looked at the weapon.
"Take it." Aarren said," I don't fully understand what you are. But I am glad you are with us. You are a very unique person my friend, but you will need this."
Data thanked him and hooked the weapon over his left shoulder. He looked back at Leela and saw that Elona had appeared. She walked up to Data and raised her little arms. Data knelt down and she hugged his neck. He thought for a moment and then said to the little girl,
"Be a good girl and take care of Leela for me."
Elona nodded, looked up at Leela and took hold of her hand.
As they left the village they heard the gates close behind them and they continued into the forest. It did not take them long to find the Idris camp.
When they came upon the camp, they saw four pug faced Idris eating and two were asleep. To one side they saw a large cage which held the captured Cuesparen. Aarren, Data and the others made their way to the cage. Aarren tried the lock and it was firmly sealed.
"I cannot break the seal." he said. Data sat down next to him,
"Excuse me." He said taking hold of the lock, gave it a sharp tug and the metal gave way under his hand as though it was made of paper. Data then pushed back the little door and helped the prisoners out.
Aarren sent one of the men to take them back to the village. The man nodded and they quietly made their way back.
As they turned to move in closer to the camp, Data thought that he would fare better if he disengaged his emotion chip. Aarren saw Data slightly twitch his head and he saw a different look come over the android's pale features. With his face devoid of all emotion, Data turned and looked Aarren.
"We must find their chieftain. If he is killed, then the others will weaken." Aarren whispered.
Data and the others nodded.
Just then there was a commotion in the camp. One of the Idris who had been sleeping was awoken by one of the others. They were getting into an argument. From the other side of the camp a huge Idris strode out from the trees. In his hand was the lock of the cage. He bellowed at the one who was arguing with the others. The large Idris grabbed the small one by the throat and squeezed his neck. There was a sickening crunch, the small one gave a gurgled squeak and he was dropped to the ground. The large one snarled at the others and they cowered back in fear. He then looked down at the body by his feet. With no effort, he picked the body up and threw it over his head, not caring were it landed. Aarren and the others agreed this must be the chieftain and they slowly made their way forward. Before the Idris knew anything they were attacked. Cuesparen jumped down on them from the trees and from the ground. Aarren fired an arrow at the giant Idris and it struck him in the left thigh. The Idris yelled in pain, reached down and pulled the arrow free and snapped it in half, looked to where the arrow had come from when another hit him again this time in the neck. This time the Idris plucked the arrow from his neck and threw it back, it hit Aarren in the shoulder and he fell back. The Idris took a few paces forward and Data stood in front of him. Before Data could do anything the Idris swiped Data from his path lifting the android into the air and he landed against a tree trunk. Instantly Data sprung to his feet and ran to the Idris who was now towering over Aarren. But before he got to him the Idris drew his sword and plunged it deep into Aarren's body. As he ran up, Data drew his sword and dug the blade into centre of the Idris' back. The huge body arched back and turned round to Data and took a step forward. Data saw on the ground near to him was the body of a small Idris, he bent down and picked up a sword, tripped over the body and then the huge Idris tripped as well falling forward onto the sword. It struck him through the right eye and out of the back of the skull. The Idris' body twitched, the right hand come up as though to remove the sword, but the actions got slower and then finally nothing. Data pushed the Idris from him and stood up. In the scuffle the flap of skin had once again peeled back exposing the circuitry. The Idris that remained looked at Data and one came up and tried to touch his face but Data knocked him away. Then another tried, Data thought for a moment, then he raised his hand and pressed the side of his head just above his left ear and removed a teardrop shaped segment and looked at the Idris standing around him. With a gasp they jumped back and started to shout and even one screamed and in a flurry they ran away into the trees. Data and the Cuesparen watched them go, Data replaced the segment. He then heard a voice behind him,
"Data" he turned to see Marsa kneeling over Aarren's lifeless body. Data glanced at them,
"We will take him home." With that Data then knelt down and lifted Aarren up and carried him back to the village.
It was nearly dawn when they reached the village. Leela and some of the women were stood on the platform over the gates and they saw the men making their way back. Leela watched as the men approached the gates. At first she could not see Data, but she soon saw him walk from the trees carrying something in his arms. As they got closer, she saw that it was Aarren.
The gates were opened and some of the women ran forward to greet their men. But all fell silent as Data walked in carrying Aarren's body. Once inside Aarren's home, Data laid the body on the bed. The room quickly filled up with most of the villagers.
"Did he have any family?" Leela asked them.
"No" said a man, "His family are all gone. His wife died in child birth and the child died a week later."
"Then we shall bury him" Data said and he drew a sheet over Aarren's body.
Aarren was taken to a small burial ground not far from the village. He was buried next to his wife and child. After a simple ceremony, everyone made their way back to the village. On the way back, people noticed that everything seemed to be brighter and even birds were singing in the trees again. There was a change in the air now that the Idris had gone.
That night in the village, in their room Data and Leela talked quietly as Elona was asleep in the next room.
"I have heard the villagers talking about who is to be their new leader." Leela said.
"We must not interfere with their decision. As for us staying here, we must abide by what they say." Data said.
"I hope we can stay. I like the Cuesparen." Leela sighed.
"As do I." Data said.
Leela thought for a moment,
"Do you think the Idris will ever return?"
"I do not know. But with their leader gone and the way I had scared them, they may not."
Leela looked puzzled,
"What scare?"
Data then told her of how he had scared the Idris. Leela gave a little laugh,
"So they turned and ran?"
Data nodded.
"People here are not afraid of you Data. Aarren even called you friend." Leela said sitting a little closer to him.
"Even though I am a machine…." Data began but he stopped when Leela raised her hand and touched his lips.
"I know," she said softly, "But I don't look at you and see that. You are my friend and more."
Data looked at her,
"You still wish to have a relationship with me?"
"Of course" she smiled and she got from the table and walked over to the bed. She loosened her hair band and removed her shirt revealing a smooth, tanned, naked back.
"Are you going to bed Leela?" Data asked watching her.
"Yes" Leela answered not turning round.
"Do you wish for me to go?" Data asked.
"No" Leela said and she turned slightly, her waist long hair slightly covering her as though for modesty. She then slipped off her leggings and slid under the blanket on the bed. Looking at Data, she gave him a little smile.
Data stood from the table,
"Ah. Do you wish for me to join you?"
Leela said nothing, but patted the pillow next to her.
"Oh my" Data said and he walked over to the bed.
It was just beginning to get light when Leela awoke. She stretched her arm out to the place beside her were Data had lain. The space was empty. She sat up in bed and held the blanket against her and glanced around the room. She saw Data, dressed only in his leggings, kneeling by a wooden chest.
"Data" she called, "Are you ok?"
Data looked round as Leela got out of bed, put on her leggings and shirt and walked over to him.
She knelt by him and saw what he was looking at. In his hands was his uniform.
"I miss my friends." He said, a little sad.
Leela hugged him,
"I miss everyone too." And she nuzzled and kissed his shoulder.
"Do you think we will ever go back?" she asked.
Data looked at his uniform and then at Leela,
"Perhaps" he said. He was about to say something else when they both heard a noise outside. Data replaced his uniform into the chest and closed the lid. They both straightened up to see several villagers making their way to the house.
They heard a knock on the door. Data pulled on his shirt and went with Leela to the door. Once outside they were met by nearly the entire village. One man walked forward and said,
"Data, Leela. We have come to ask of you a request. We need someone to lead us. Data we are asking you to be our leader. There others who have been terrorised by the Idris. Word has been sent to them and they are sending people here. Please will you stay here and help us build a new kingdom?"
Data glanced at Leela for a moment and then at the man who had spoken to him.
"But" Data's voice seemed to falter as he spoke,
"Is there not anyone more qualified to take Aarren's place?"
"There is no one." The man said, "Will you stay?"
Data looked at Leela who was just as surprised by the man's request. Just then the door opened and Elona walked out rubbing her eyes and then stared at the crowd. Data looked down at her, and then to Leela she held his look for a moment and then gave a little nod. Data then looked at the crowd.
"We will stay." He said.
A cheer went up from the crowd,
"Prepare a feast!" the man said and the people turned round and went about the preparations.
Over the following years, the story of Data and Leela spread far and wide. Some people did not believe the tale. A story of a pale skinned man with gold eyes and a woman who could not die. They thought it was just a story and nothing else. But in the new kingdom of the Cuesparen, they knew it to be true.
The valley in which they lived begun to flourish and grow. Elona grew into beautiful young woman. She never fully understood, as she grew up, why the people she knew as father and mother, Data and Leela, never grew old. But she loved them dearly and one day as she was walking home from class, one of the villagers came up to her closely followed by three strangers.
"Elona," the woman called to her and said that the three people were looking for Data and Leela. Elona thanked the woman and led the three people back to their house.
Data knelt down and pulled the root vegetable from the ground and looked at it closely.
"It will be a good harvest this year Leela" he said.
Leela walked up and took the vegetable from him wiped the soil from the tip and took a bite. She nodded her head,
"It is better than last year's. The villagers on the coast will grateful of the surplus."
Data nodded, "I will tell them at the next council meeting."
Just then they heard a voice call out.
"Father, mother" it was Elona standing by the house. "We have visitors."
Both Data and Leela looked up and Leela gave a little gasp.
"It can't be?" she whispered.
"They do seem familiar." Data said and they both started to walk toward the house. The strangers were dressed like Cuesparen. The trio was of two men and one woman. One man was very tall, the other was shorter, and dark skinned and seemed to be wearing a covering over his eyes. The woman was tall and slender and a glimpse of red hair was seen under her hood. Elona walked into the house, but glanced back. She had a feeling that the three people were not strangers to her father and mother.
The trio walked out and met Data and Leela as they came back to the edge of the field. The tall man lifted back his hood and both Data and Leela saw that it was Commander Riker. Then the other man did the same and they saw that it was Geordie La Forge. The woman also lowered her hood and they saw that was Doctor Crusher.
After they greeted each other they went into the house.
"After you disappeared through the black hole, it collapsed and we could find no trace of you." Commander Riker told Data and Leela.
"Captain Picard refused to believe that you were gone and he ordered a search party to find out if the black hole would reopen again. It finally did and a few days ago. We entered the hole and found traces of your shuttle buried in a swamp a hundred miles from here." Geordie said, "Data" he continued," it has taken us over five years to find you."
"How did you know that we were here in this village?" Leela asked.
"We detected a lock on your signals. You still have your uniforms?" Dr Crusher asked.
"Data" Riker said, "The Enterprise is now in orbit. Deanna and I are to be married on earth in six months time. We will head back there as soon as we are finished here. I received my commission on another ship as their captain. The Enterprise will need a new first officer." He then looked up at Leela. "Leela, you are to be promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander, and you will be second chief engineer."
Data smiled at Riker,
"Leela is now my wife. The young woman who brought you here is called Elona and she is our daughter."
Leela saw the look on their friends faces,
"It is a long story"
"Will you come back with us?" Riker asked, "I know that both of you have made a life for yourselves here. But please consider our offer."
A door on the other side of the room opened and Elona came in and sat by her father. She looked at him and then at Leela.
"What are going to do?" she asked them.
Data gave a sigh,
"I do not know."

THE END?????????