“I want to live, however briefly, knowing that my life is finite.” - Data
Lieutenant Commander Data was a Soong-type android with a positronic brain, the only such being to ever serve with Starfleet.
Creation and Specifications
Data was created on the Omicron Theta science colony by Dr. Noonien Soong and Dr. Juliana O'Donnell Soong Tainer sometime around 2236. After his creation, he was deactivated when the Crystalline Entity attacked the colony. He was permanently re-activated Feb. 2, 2338, by the crew of the USS Tripoli, this date would serve as Data’s birthdate in his record. Juliana loved Data as a son, but worried about the failings of his past brothers, like Lore.
Data was composed of 24.6 kilograms of tripolymer composites, 11.8 kilograms of molybdenum-cobalt alloys, and 1.3 kilograms of bioplast sheeting. His mass was approximately 220 pounds/100 kilograms. Data's upper spinal support was a poly-alloy designed to withstand extreme stress. Which meant he could fall safely 12 meters without damage, as he once did on the planet Minos. He was capable of casually holding a 1950's automobile at bay against the full force of its engine with a single hand. His skull was composed of cortenide and duranium. His legs were exactly 87.2 centimeters in length. Data was built with a memory storage capacity of eight hundred quadrillion bits (100 petabytes) and a total linear computational speed rated at sixty trillion operations per second. He later augmented his computational speed by converting his interlink sequencer to an asynchronous mode of operation, removing the performance constraint created by having space between his positronic links. His computational speed became virtually instantaneous after this modification.
His capabilities made him an important asset to Starfleet and the Enterprise-D. He was either unaffected by or highly resistant to conditions such as disease, radiation, oxygen deprivation, mind control, and his chemical balance was crucial to the survival of the ship on numerous occasions. There were times, however, when he was more vulnerable than either Humans or Klingons to atmospheric conditions that involved the presence of high concentrations of ions. During the Enterprise's mission to Galorndon Core in 2366, Commander Riker noted that had Data been with the away team, the crew would have been "unscrambling his circuits for a week" if he had been exposed.
Data's design made him incapable of alcohol intoxication, yet some of his components in his processing systems were susceptible to disruption. This was evidenced by his "intoxication" when the crew was affected by the "polywater infection". While not needing sustenance, he did occasionally ingest semi-organic nutrient suspension in a silicon-based liquid medium to lubricate his bio functions. While he could eat and drink, without a sense of taste there was logic to do so. Data did not require sleep or rest and remained fully active till 2369. An accident activated circuits in his positronic net that allowed him to experience dreams. He began to sleep regularly to experience these dreams.
Data had an aging program designed to simulate the external effects of aging on his physical appearance. The blinking of his eyes was governed by a Fourier series, to simulate randomness. In 2369, Dr. Julian Bashir of Deep Space 9 expressed his fascination for all the trouble Dr. Soong took to make Data seem "Human." He observed that Data was "breathing" and had a "pulse." These seemingly aesthetic elements of his body served functional purposes. His circulatory system was designed to produce biochemical lubricants which regulated his micro-hydraulic power. His respiratory system helped to maintain thermal control of his internal systems. While helping, neither system was entirely necessary, Data could easily withstand the vacuum of space without suffering any problems. Swimming was problematic until the 2370s when floatation devices enabled his heavy dense body to stay afloat. He was also not waterproof as it took several weeks to get water out of all his servos.
An interesting point of Data’s uniqueness, although he was completely ambidextrous, his programming showed him favoring his left hand more so than his right.
Starfleet Academy and Service
Data’s first weeks reactivated, without memory, were difficult without the guidance of his makers. Starfleet’s early influence and their rescue cemented a desire to give back to them. He applied to join the Academy in 2340. He found resistance from committee member Bruce Maddox who saw Data as a way to further his cybernetic research interests and became the only member of the evaluation committee to oppose his entrance because of his beliefs that Data was not a sentient being. Eventually, Data was admitted to the Academy in 2341. As expected, during his time at Starfleet Academy, Data did extremely well scholastically, being able to quote any source needed, but his lack of understanding of humans and others, as well as social interactions, lead to issues. He fell victim to several practical jokes and had difficulty with social gatherings. Data graduated in 2345, with honors in exobiology and probability mechanics.
Data's first assignment after he graduated from Starfleet Academy was aboard the USS Trieste. He spent three years as an ensign and twelve as a lieutenant before being promoted to lieutenant commander in 2360.
In 2364, he was assigned to the USS Enterprise-D as its second officer and science officer. He helped Admiral Leonard McCoy tour the Enterprise-D. McCoy responded to Data, attempting to provoke him as he did Spock, by turning little details on him as they broached the topic of his age, which was 137 years in 2364. McCoy sarcastically noted that Data may not have pointed ears, but that he sounded like a Vulcan. Data responded that he was an android, McCoy retorted "almost as bad". Data was very puzzled at this response as he noted that Vulcans were an advanced and respected race. McCoy replied, "They are, they are – and damn annoying at times." McCoy imparted finally on Data to treat the Enterprise like a lady and that she will respond by always bringing him and the crew home.
Later in 2364, the Enterprise visited the Omicron Theta colony and the crew found Lore, Data’s older troublesome brother. Lore had been deactivated and disassembled. The crew restored Lore and he incapacitated his brother soon after boarding the Enterprise and began masquerading as Data. Wesley Crusher saved the ship before Lore was able to take control by transporting Lore into space. He would be picked up two years later by a Pakled trade ship.
In 2365, Data had his civil rights and sentience again challenged by Bruce Maddox. The Cybernetist wanted to subject Data to procedures and tests that could endanger his life. He refused. Maddox went to Admiral Nakamura and they ordered Data to submit. He again refused and resigned from Starfleet. Not stymied by this, Maddox then asserted that Data was the property of Starfleet to Captain Phillipa Louvois of the Judge Advocate General's office, in the 23rd Sector, telling the court, “Would you permit the Enterprise computer to refuse a refit?" Louvois agreed and ordered “Data is a toaster. Have him report to Commander Maddox immediately for experimental refit."
Captain Jean-Luc Picard, challenged this ruling and sought Data's due process. Picard asserted Data's sentience as a matter of law, requesting a legal hearing acting in Data's favor while Riker was forced to act in Maddox's favor. After speaking with Guinan, Picard took her inspiration to assert that Data represented an entire race and that forcing Data to be experimented upon was potentially-dangerous labor. Without any legal recognition of rights to self-determination, this essentially would result in the institution of slavery. Ultimately, Louvois ruled that Data was not the property of Starfleet, and had the legal right to choose. Data refused Maddox's procedure but did instead offer to discuss with him matters about his work, which the cyberneticist accepted.
In 2366, Data perfected the submicron matrix transfer technology that made it possible to reproduce a positronic brain. Data designed and built his daughter, named Lal. Lal means "beloved" in Earth's Hindi language. Using his positronic brain as a design template he created his offspring.
Starfleet Vice Admiral Haftel, a cybernetics specialist, wanted to move Lal off the Enterprise-D to a Starfleet cybernetics research facility for study to increase the Federation cybernetics agenda. This was totally against Data's wishes. Captain Picard again asserted strongly in favor of Data's civil rights. Unfortunately, the issue was made moot when Lal ceased functioning due to positronic neural-pathway cascade failure arising from the positronic development within Lal after the simulation of a heightened human psychological emotional response.
Later in 2366, Data’s immunity to hyperonic radiation helped him save 15,000 colonists at Tau Cygna V. The planet had been ceded in a treaty to the Sheliak Corporate and they ordered that all human life must be removed. Data was able to convince the settlers of their impending doom and prepared them for evacuation.
Data’s death was faked to kidnap him into the collection of Kivas Fajo, owner of the ship Jovis and "rare and valuable" items. The Enterprise saw through the ruse and pursued. Data would have killed Kivas had the transporters not stopped him, noting that after Kivas murdered his own partner, all non-lethal options were exhausted.
Data was instrumental in saving not only Captain Picard but the Federation and Earth from the Borg. He accessed the command codes that controlled Borg regeneration, sending a command that convinced the Borg that they all needed to regenerate. It shut the ship down which then triggered a feedback loop that caused the cube to self-destruct.
In early 2367, Dr. Soong took control of Data and through him the Enterprise. Data commandeered it to the planet of Terlina III. The same program had activated in Lore's positronic brain which brought Lore to Soong's lab as well. Soong explained he had brought Data to him to give him the emotion chip he had created for him. Only one because he had thought Lore to be dead. Lore, incensed by this, incapacitated Data before implantation so that Soong mistakenly implanted the chip in Lore. After obtaining the chip, Lore attacked Soong and left. Soong died shortly afterward, his last words to Data that he would grieve for him in his own way. In return, Data called Soong "Father" for the first time.
In 2368, during the blockade of the Klingon-Romulan border during the Klingon Civil War, Data got his first command, taking charge of the USS Sutherland. His first officer was openly hostile to being a subordinate to an android. Data ignored a direct order from Picard to fall back when the Romulans appeared to have slipped through the blockade. Data figured out how to detect the Romulans by firing a low strength torpedo and using tachyon signatures to aim them. The ships were detected and turned back.
Back aboard the Enterprise, Data submitted himself to Captain Picard and recommended he be disciplined for disobeying the direct order of a superior officer, but was instead praised by Captain Picard for his ingenuity in discovering the cloaked Romulan convoy: "Starfleet does not want officers who blindly follow orders."
Captain Picard participated in a covert mission in Cardassian space, during this time Captain Edward Jellico briefly took command of the Enterprise. Jellico and Commander Riker came into conflict and the Captain relieved Riker of duty. Data took up the position of the first officer until Captain Picard's return.
In early 2370, Lore influenced Data again. It became evident after Data began to savagely beat a Borg drone found at the Ohniaka III outpost. Data took the captured drone, Crosis, and aboard a shuttle, left the Enterprise. His crewmates tracked the shuttlecraft down finding Lore being the one pulling the strings. Lore had modified Data's chip so it could be remotely adjusted, able to trigger anger and hatred in Data, along with his ethical program deactivated. Data did the unthinkable and betrayed his crew, resulting in the capture of the away team consisting of Picard, La Forge, and Troi. La Forge instructed Picard on making an interlink transceiver that reset Data's ethical program with a kedion pulse. He could still feel the intense negative emotions but he could make a choice on acting on them or not. Hugh, the Borg drone the Enterprise had rescued before, helped Worf and Riker overtake Lore. Data shot him and he was dismantled after the recovery of the emotion chip.
Data assumed command of the Enterprise when Captain Picard was presumed dead, and Commander Riker left the Enterprise to find Picard’s killer. Riker stumbled into the ruse Picard was using, posing as Galen, a smuggler, and was taken aboard the ship. Data picked up on the ruse when Riker used codes he knew would be changed. Worf, unaware, openly questions Data’s orders to lower the shields. The Enterprise simulates being damaged when Galen attacked, keeping the ruse going. Picard got to the bottom of the plot which was that the Romulans were planning to use three ancient fragments to make a weapon. Picard stopped them before completion. Back in command, Picard jokingly ordered Riker to the brig, which Data didn’t understand to be a joke, and drug him off.
Data installed the emotion chip in 2371 and it malfunctioned fusing it to his neural net. Unable to cope with the overwhelming tidal of emotions, he was curled up in fear when the rogue Tolian Soran stole La Forge to help him complete his device on Veridian III to again join a force known as the “Nexus”, an extra-dimensional place where you could live forever in a utopic fantasy. During a battle with the Klingon Duras sisters, the Enterprise crashed on the planets surface. Data experienced 261 emotional responses including tears of joy when he found his cat, Spot, intact after the crash.
In 2372, with the new Enterprise-E completed, Data rejoined his shipmates. In 2373, the Enterprise-E participated in the battle of Sector 001 with the Borg in violation of direct orders not to. The ship was thrown back to 2063 with the Borg as they attempted to alter Earth’s history. The Enterprise-E itself became a battlefield with the Borg attempting to assimilate it. The Borg captured Data but instead of assimilating him into a Borg, the Borg Queen took human skin and adapted it to him. The Borg Queen made a show of her control over Data to the captured Picard and fell completely into Data’s ruse. He destroyed her with plasma coolant, which destroyed his human skin, leaving him to remark that “ he didn't feel as bad as he must look”. Picard asked Data, was he ever tempted to join the Borg's cause? Data replied that, for 0.68 seconds, he was. He added that, for an android, that is "almost an eternity."
The Ba'ku mission
In 2375, Data was assigned to a United Federation of Planets operation on the Ba'ku planet where they were studying the inhabitants. Data discovered a cloaked holoship submerged in a picturesque Ba'ku lake made to displace the people without their knowledge. The goal was to mine the metaphasic radiation in the planet's rings. Data was fired upon and was hit in the head causing Data's memory loss fail-safe system to activate. Data's ethical and moral subroutines asserted themselves over all his basic functions. He was effectively in a very simple state of right or wrong. He alerted the Ba'Ku people of the Federation and the Son'a people's presence.
The Enterprise-E crew pieced together what had happened and fought against the Federation-Son'a partnership. The crew defended the planet and defeated the Son'a.
In 2379, Commander Riker had finally agreed to take a promotion to command the USS Titan. En route to the second part of Riker’s wedding to Counselor Troi on Betazed, the Enterprise-E came across B-4, one of the Soong-type android “siblings” of Data. He possessed a less sophisticated positronic brain. Trying to help him become more human, Data copied his memories into B-4's positronic net.
The Enterprise was ordered to Romulus before Data could take on the role of the first officer of the Enterprise. Shinzon, the new praetor, had come to power. Shinzon's self-asserted good intentions, were a lure to get Picard because Shinzon was actually a clone of Captain Picard. Shinzon needed Picard's blood to reverse a genetic degeneration to save his life. Shinzon with his ship, the Scimitar, nearly destroyed the Enterprise after a long battle. Both ships severely damaged, Shinzon planned to eliminate the Enterprise crew with a thalaron radiation weapon before turning it on Earth. Picard defeated Shinzon in hand-to-hand combat but was trapped aboard the Scimitar due to damage to the Enterprise's transporters. Left with no viable options, Data physically jumped into the void of space through a hull breach in the forward section of the Enterprise and into the Scimitar from the outside. Proceeding to the Scimitar bridge, Data utilized a prototype emergency transport unit concealed in his forearm, returning Picard to the Enterprise. With the thalaron radiation weapon seconds away from firing, Data used his phaser to destroy it, saving the Enterprise and Earth at the cost of his own life.
Data’s consciousness lived on in part in a massively complex quantum simulation which was finally disconnected as his friend and Captain, Jean Luc was being uploaded into an android body. Data said that he did not regret sacrificing his life for Picard. Picard did as his friend asked, ending the simulation. As the simulation ended, Data enjoyed a glass of wine while listening to "Blue Skies" on a record player and reclining on a sofa until he passed with a simulated Picard by his side.