INSUFFICIENT DATA


 

This story is one of my earliest, and has been rendered somewhat dated by subsequent events in series and movies. Im including it anyway, because I believe that it still has at least some merit.

 


 

            Spock stepped gracefully from the Guardian of Forever, still contemplating his impressive sojourn into Vulcan's history. To actually have had the opportunity to witness the triumph of Surak over the proponents of emotion and violence was a privilege he would never forget. He had been careful of course to observe only, and to alter nothing, just as he had on the prior occasion when he and Kirk together had studied Orion's past. * Kirk had offered to accompany Spock this time, but did not seem really surprised when Spock had reminded him unnecessarily that humans were unknown in Surak's day. The captain had jokingly offered to cover his ears as Spock had so often had to do. The remark had earned him a disparaging regard from his first officer. Thoughts of his commanding officer caused Spock to look around at the immediate environment. Where was Captain Kirk? He had promised to wait for Spock right here, on the normal-time side of the Guardian. He had insisted that, although he could not go with Spock into his planet's past, he was quite eager to learn of all of the data that Spock had accumulated on the orders of the Vulcan planetary government.

            As Spock surveyed his surroundings in perplexity, a figure stepped out from behind the rocks. His uniform, while peculiar in design, was recognizably of Starfleet issue. He appeared to be human, or at least humanoid, although his face was almost alarmingly pale, and there was something odd about the eyes. With his perfect Vulcan memory, Spock was certain that he was familiar with every person aboard, and that this individual was definitely not among them. For his own part, the other was regarding Spock with the same bewilderment.

            "You are not from the Enterprise," Spock stated matter-of-factly.

            The other was surprised. "In fact, I am. I was about to say that you are not."

            "Curious," Spock observed, and then inquired, "Where is Captain Kirk?"

            "Do you mean Captain Picard?" Then the other tilted his head and seemed to be searching his memory. For some reason that Spock could not define, the other's actions gave the impression of being methodical. Quickly, efficiently, the other completed his review. "Yes," he concluded, "Captain Kirk. I do know that name. From the history files."

            History files? Spock pursued, "Do you know the name of Doctor McCoy?"

            This time there was no hesitation. "I have met him. He is a very old admiral. And, if you'll pardon me, sir, he is not at all fond of Vulcans."     

            Spock was taken aback. "He is hardly old, nor is he an admiral." One brow quirked. "But the rest of your description seems to be in order."

            The other put it to the test. "He does not like the transporter, either."

            "That is correct," Spock confirmed. Then he tried a different approach. "You appear to be human, and yet not."

            The other nodded. "I am an android."

            "And you are a crewman in Starfleet? And on the Enterprise?"

            "Yes."

            Spock realized, "Then you are from my future. There are no androids working aboard the Enterprise, or on any other starship, in my time."

            The android seemed stunned. "That is truly amazing."

            "Interesting," Spock corrected in his subdued, Vulcan way.

            The newcomer stepped forward almost eagerly. "What century are you from?"

            "The twenty-third, by human reckoning."

            "And I am from the twenty-fourth."

            "I am Spock."

            The android's eyes widened, sparkling beautifully golden. "I have heard of you. I have always hoped that I would meet you one day, but I assumed that my meeting would be with the venerated Ambassador Spock, not with an earlier, younger version of you, sir. I am indeed honored. Now I no longer mind being left here, and missing out on our assignment. This is much more wonderful."

            Spock's brows rose.

            "Oh," the android confessed, "I apologize, sir, for my tendency to babble. It is one of my worst faults. I have not even introduced myself. I am Data."

            Spock nodded to him. "You are missing an assignment?"

            Data managed to look sheepish. "They would not let me go with them into the Guardian. Commander Riker and Counselor Troi went back in time to witness the founding of the Federation, to gather information and impressions - that's where Counselor Troi comes in - during the actual signing of the treaties among Earth, Vulcan, Tellar, and Andor. I was not allowed to go because as they pointed out, quite rightly I'll admit, there were no androids then, and I would be too conspicuous. My eyes would give me away," he admitted ruefully.

            Your eyes and Captain Kirk's ears, Spock thought.

            But Data went on, "But at least they permitted me to beam down with them and spend time studying the Guardian while we wait for them. Marvelous construction, isn't it?"

            "Indeed," Spock admitted.

            Data continued joyfully, "But as I said, sir, I have always wanted more opportunities to meet Vulcans in general, and you in particular. I am not extremely well-acquainted with your people, but I find you fascinating."

            "What is it that you would like to know?" Spock prompted.

            "Well, as a machine, I know I had a creator. I even know who he was. But the people that I work with represent almost as many different beliefs as there are crewmembers. However, I know that the Vulcans regard humans as illogical, so I suppose that I should not take their views too seriously. So do you, the Vulcans, believe in an ultimate creator?"

            "A few do," Spock answered carefully. "There are still some who believe in the god of Sha Ka Ree. But the vast majority of us view the concept as a myth."

            "I see. And you are evidently in that majority."

            "I am."

            "Then that is truly interesting. I may be among the very few who genuinely have a creator." He let out an almost-human sigh. "In a way, it is a privilege to be unique in so many ways, but then again, it can sometimes be a burden to be so different. You have never met an android before, then?"

            "I have," Spock informed him, but androids are not routinely assigned to starships as you have evidently been. One managed to infiltrate the Enterprise briefly; his name was Norman; but he turned out to be a member of an organization of alien androids in which the vast majority were duplicates of one another. We also encountered a man named Dr. Roger Corby who had transferred his mind into an android body, but he did not, of course, start out as an android."

Data was melancholy. "And again I am unique. Those situations are not even remotely like mine. But that brings me back to another reason why I am so interested in this meeting. I believe that I may possess certain traits in common with Vulcans: non-emotionality, for example. In fact, Admiral McCoy compared me to your people on that point."

            "That is not surprising."

            "But is it true that Vulcans are not without emotions, that they merely conceal them?"

            "It is true."

            Data looked wistful. "You see, then, that I am the opposite of you. I have no real feelings, and wish that I did. I would like to be human, and do not know how."  His face took on a poignancy that Spock would not have believed possible. "Ironic, is it not, sir? Your people reject the very emotions that I would like to cultivate. I try to imitate humans, and to be more like them, but I usually end up feeling inadequate as a human-facsimile. I feel more successful, although less satisfied, when I am just a machine."

            "Then why not just be content with however you function best?" Spock suggested.

            The android tried to smile. He was marginally successful. "I know that that is logical, sir, and that your people value logic above all else. But I cannot expect you to understand that while Vulcans strive to be less human, I want to be more human."

            Spock admitted, "The striving is particularly strenuous for me. I am half-human."

            "And you consider that half to be a burden," Data declared insightfully. "Oh, would that I could take that burden from you." He almost reached out to the Vulcan, then his arms dropped again. "I would gladly settle for half."

            Spock was dubious. "I have, on occasion, through disease or alien influence, experienced human emotion. The emotions were painful. I must conclude that you want something that, if you obtain it, you will regret."

            Data clearly wished that this Vulcan would stop trying to dash his hopes, and insisted, "I even find my name ironic. I wish to be more than just a 'databank.'" He sighed, having doubtless picked up the habit from his human colleagues. "But at least I have friends who are supportive, who try to help me become more human like them." He looked rueful. "Except when I try to tell jokes. Then they are less supportive. And that is when I feel the most inadequate. That is when I especially feel like 'Insufficient Data'." The android brightened. "That was a joke, was it not? Have I actually just made a joke?"

            Spock concurred, "I believe that my human shipmates would think so."

            "And I think that mine would, as well. Maybe I am improving." Then a sudden realization seemed to come to him. "But I am boring you, sir, I am sure. Captain Picard says that I am too verbose, and I know that he is right. And I know that Vulcans do not like to engage in what humans call 'small talk,' or 'chit-chat,' or...I am doing it again. I am sorry, sir."

            "I am not bored," Spock replied truthfully. "And I have found this encounter interesting and enlightening. However, I must get back to my correct time period. The Guardian has evidently returned me to the time of its other travelers, instead of to my own." He turned to face the structure. "Guardian, have you heard me?"

            "I have."

            "Can you now return me to my own century?"

            "I can."

            Spock looked briefly back to Data. "This meeting was an accident. We must tell no one, of your time or mine. We could alter history."

            "It will be our secret, sir. And meeting you has meant a great deal to me." Data raised his hand in the Vulcan style of farewell. "Live long and prosper, Mr. Spock."

            Spock returned the gesture. "May you also, Mr. Data."

            Spock stepped through the Guardian to see an impatient Kirk.

            "Where have you been?"

            Spock hesitated. "Insufficient Data, Captain."

 

 

 


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* See animated episode "Yesteryear."