By Carol Sandford


Chapter 23



"That's a very interesting word, Data, but it doesn't help much."

"I am sorry, Geordi. There are not many things in the known universe that mystify me, but I must confess, this item has left me inexplicably perplexed."

"God," Geordi groaned. "if that's true then we are well and truly stuffed."

"Stuffed? How could one minute chip fill you up? Something this small..."

"Not stuffed, Data. Stuffed. You know? As in, mystified. Stumped. Gazumped. Stuck."

"Oh, yes, I see. Stuck. I understand that expression. And yes, my friend, we are well and truly stuck."

"The captain will not want to hear that."

"Won't won't I want to hear, Mr. Laforge?"

The two engineers mentally groaned at the familiar voice behind them, but it was Data who answered, giving his friend a reprieve. "Captain, we have run extensive tests on the microchip, but to no avail. The components are vastly more superior and are beyond what our own can decipher. I hypothesize that in order to read what this chip holds we would have to be aboard the mother ship."

Picard sighed. It was not the news that he wanted to hear, especially after just hearing a similar failure down in the sickbay labs. "Suggestions?"

Geordi didn't hesitate. "Implant it in someone and send it back. Better still, implant it in something and send it back, complete with a nuclear device and send them all to hell."

"That's all very well and good, Geordi, but it won't give us any answers or hope in saving the Lanaarians."

"Let's face it, captain. This late in the day, nothing is going to save this race, short of a miracle and we don't have any of those tucked up our sleeve, do we?"

"Geordi, miracles are not..."

Annoyed with himself for somehow knowing that Data would take his comment literally, Geordi snapped with exasperation, "Figure of speech, Data. Just a figure of speech."

"Sorry. However, I do have one possible solution."

Both men turned to him, intrigue and hope lighting their eyes at the possibility of just one ounce of the miracle that they needed.

Data continued, unaware that the two men now hung onto every word that he said. "Sending it back to where it came from does seem to be the only course to take. However, I it should be myself that accompanies it on its journey."

There was a long silence as the two men digested that piece of news, but it wasn't long before the protest began. But Data held up his hand, acutely aware that with him doing so he was being subordinate. "We cannot allow the chip to return on its own as we will never find out any information that is needed. By sending me along with it at least we stand a chance of gaining an insight as to what is beyond our present comprehension."

Geordi stared hard at his friend for a moment as he digested his news until eventually he came up with a suitable question. "You don't look anything like them, Data. How do you think you're going to slip in amongst them looking like...that?"

Data quickly looked down at himself before addressing both men again. "Geordi...Captain, we can adapt my features to look like one of them."

Both men shook their heads in denial, but it was Picard who spoke. "Not possible, Data. You already know that your unique physiology in unable to be altered that drastically. No, it is out of the question. However, it is a good idea, though."

It was as though a light blinked on between all three of them as after a few seconds they all said exactly the same out aloud.




"He'll never agree to it."

"Oh, I think he will."

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