Aug 1, 2020

Data Corruption: A Star Trek TNG episode I dreamed last night

A clone of Data snuck on board the enterprise and tried to kill Data. He was caught in the act and thrown in the brig. When questioned, he claimed that the Data on the ship was from a race of shapeshifting aliens who had imprisoned him, the real Data, and been living among the rest of the crew gathering intelligence on the Federation for years. He said that he had just broken out of his confines, made his way back to the ship, and was there to expose the imposter and take his place back on the ship.

No one believed him, but just to be thorough, Picard asked the Enterprise's Data to open his maintenance access panel. Data refused. He said opening his access panel for someone is a major breach of his privacy, and it should only be opened in absolute emergencies, which this clearly wasn't. He was shocked that Picard would suggest such a thing because of some imposter's obviously made up story.

A 3d render of a bald Commander Data, in uniform.
I haven't watched Star Trek yet. Sorry.

Back at the brig, Picard asked the doppleganger to open his access panel, which he did without hesitation. Picard checked his serial number against the registration database, and it did match the serial number of the Data assigned to the enterprise. It seemed unlikely that an imposter would be able to get such a small detail right.

After much soul-searching, Picard stunned the ship's Data with his phaser, tried to open his access panel, and discovered that it was fake. Just lines drawn on his back. He asked Dr. Crusher to analyze the person, and it was indeed some type of unknown alien, not an Android.

Picard and his crew threw the fake Data in the brig, and Picard had a tearful and apologetic reunion with the real Data. However, not all was well. The knowledge that an imposter had been on board their ship for years without their knowledge rattled their crew. The real Data was changed by his years imprisoned by this hostile race, and acted erratically. The doppleganger race didn't know how to adjust Data's programming to manipulate him, but that didn't stop them from trying. Their random tinkering had strange, lasting effects on his cognition and personality. He would frequently lash out at the other crew members, have lapses where he stared into space unable to talk, and was generally aloof and standoffish. His behavior was un-androidlike, and others on the Enterprise found it suspicious. Picard asked Data to wipe his memory of the time with the aliens, but Data said no, it was too valuable to the Federation. This unknown doppleganger race posed a huge threat to the galaxy, and every detail he had about them would be crucial in defending against them.

The fake Data, meanwhile, awaited his fate in the brig. He still maintained that he was the real Data and the new one was the imposter. His demeanor was calm and utterly androidlike; he was unflappable. He said he was disappointed in the actions of the crew but knew the truth would come out. Some crew members, unable to deal with the cognitive dissonance, refused to accept that this Data was an imposter. Even though it didn't make any sense, and they could see the X-rays showing that this was an organic life form and not an android, they knew that this somehow HAD to be the real Data. A schism starts to form....

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