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PHANTASMAGORIA

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Lt Hawkins sipped her coffee in the 10 Forward lounge, she looked around and smiled as she reflected upon her good fortune to get a promotion to full Lieutenant and posting aboard the USS Enterprise, the flagship of the fleet. For Hawkins it provided enhanced opportunities that most other star ships could not offer namely to work on the most advanced engines in the fleet. Sure, she had benefited and even enjoyed postings on other less salubrious vessels including an old Miranda Class science vessel and a newer Intrepid Class exploration vessel, where she honed her skills as an engineer.

She glanced down at her PADD and continued to read the pages of a novel. “Hi, Emma, how are things with you? Have you settled in, okay?” She looked up and smiled at Guinan the mysterious barkeep who radiated confidence and optimism.

“I am fine, settling in well. It’s amazing how times flies. I have been here just over four months.”

“I’m glad to hear that. Would you care for a slice of Tellerite chocolate cake?”

“No, it might spoil my dinner, but thanks anyway. You always have some delicious confectionary to tempt me.” Guinan nodded her head and returned to her bar and awaiting customers. Emma returned to her book. Twenty minutes or so had passed when Geordi La Forge breezed into 10 Forward, approached the bar then sauntered over to the tables.

“Hi, Lt Hawkins, do you mind if I join you?” He said with a smile, his mouth and face were exceptionally expressive given his sightless eyes were covered by a metal visor.

“Yes, do sit.” She gave a toothy grin.

“The warp plasma intermix test seems to be performing well. I have high hopes for the performance and efficiency improvements that it may offer. Much of the credit goes to you Lt Hawkins…Emma.”

“Thanks, Sir. But it is still very early days in the project.” She modestly replied.

Geordi placed his coffee, decaffeinated, so as not to have a detrimental effect on his fine motor control, he had long learned to avoid the jitters and tremors to his hands. “Do you mind if I read reports?” He asked holding his PADD in his hand.

“Not at all, I will continue with reading my novel.” She replied.

Geordi began surveying the numerous reports and sighed, he prioritised the correspondence, then began to read. He relatively quickly worked through a couple of long tomes, as he was moving to a third, he caught a familiar glowing image in the periphery of his visage, he looked up and turned his head. “Hi Data, are you going to join us?”

“Hello Geordi, greetings Lt Hawkins, I will sit a while with you.” He took a chair next to his friend and placed a drinking glass onto the table top.

“Hi, Commander, Sir” Hawkins replied. She felt uncomfortable, whilst she had cause to speak but briefly with Commander Data during their shared shifts in engineering, they were generally involved in different projects. She nervously looked down and picked up her PADD. The three sat in silence.

Geordi frowned. “I have to go, there is a problem that needs my attention in main Engineering.”

Hawkins looked up “Can I be of assistance?” She enquired, concerned that it was to do with the project that she was heading up with her team of engineers.

“No, Lieutenant, I will see you on shift in the morning. Emma, enjoy reading your novel.” Geordi stated before gulping down his coffee and exiting the bar.

“Lieutenant, may I enquire, what are you reading?” Data stated with interest.

Hawkins caught Data’s citrine eyes, “Sir, you may call me Emma if you prefer. I am reading an ancient literary classic ‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker.”

“Emma, whilst we are off duty, you may address me as Data.” He replied then continued “Ah, a horror story!” Data replied.

“Yes” Emma stated with a smile “Are you familiar with the novel?”

“I am Emma; however, I have not read the story.” He confessed. “But I do not wish to interrupt your concentration.”

“Data, you are not. I have read it several times, so I am familiar with the story.”

“It is a vampire story, is it not?” He replied.

“Yes, I considered it an appropriate read for the month of October.” Emma enthusiastically replied.

“Why is the month significant?” He enquired.

“A long time ago, in many parts of the world it was common to celebrate Halloween.”

Data’s eyes flickered to the side, which Emma had observed when he was accessing data from his memory files. “Halloween, celebrated on the 31st of October. The origin of which lies in ancient Celtic harvest festivals and Samhain which was incorporated into the Christian religion as ‘All hallows Eve’. It has given rise to a number of cultural phenomena over the years often associated with imagery of death including, but not limited to ghosts.”

“Yes, that’s right. Maybe that was an influence on Bram Stoker.” She reasoned. “It is a tale of a vampire called Count Dracula.”

“Interesting.” Data replied

“Would you care to read it? I can send you a file copy.” Emma offered.

“That would be most welcome.” Data replied.

“Done!” Emma stated.

“I will endeavour to read the novel this evening.” He replied then picked up his glass and took a drink.

“I am curious Data; I did not realise that you drink.” She enquired somewhat puzzled.

“Although I do not require sustenance, I occasionally ingest a semi-organic nutrient suspension in a silicon-based liquid medium. The silicon liquid lubricates my bio-functions and aids my micro hydraulics.” Data explained.

“Oh okay, cool” Emma replied.

“I have observed that you have in the short time that you have been on board the Enterprise, you have created an effective and cohesive working team of engineers. Also, I have reviewed your warp field project, which appears to hold much promise.” Data informed.

“Thank you, Data. I enjoy the challenge of being onboard a Galaxy-Class ship. I hope that I can bring something novel to enhance the performance of our warp engines.” She replied.

“And you read novels in your free time.” He stated the fact interested to learn more.

“Yeah, I like rock music and I run, to keep fit and to relieve tension.” She offered “What about you?”

“I like classical music and play the violin and also the acoustic guitar, I appreciate art, paint and I enjoy novels most notably the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.”

“Data you have a lot of interests. I like art particularly Rigelian, some classical music and I am familiar with Sherlock Holmes. I just don’t really have the time to fully immerse myself in hobbies, a novel I can pick up and put down as the need arises.”

Data finished his drink. “Emma, I shall leave you to continue to read your novel as I have kept you long enough. No doubt I shall see you in engineering. Perhaps we can meet to discuss the novel.”

“Okay, goodbye Data, Sir.” She replied. Emma then slurped up the now near cold coffee then decided to return to her quarters and change out of her gold and black uniform and into running gear and then head off to the gym followed by her evening meal and an early night.

------------------------------------

Emma found herself in Geordi’s Chief Engineer’s Office shortly after she arrived on shift, to be informed that her teams test was producing seemingly random anomalies. “Sir, I don’t understand. I accounted for the ‘Hux variable’ in my calculations.”

“Even so Lieutenant, the figures don’t lie. We just need a workaround. I will leave it in your capable hands.” Emma sighed in response to Geordi’s statement. He continued “Pushing the edges of practical engineering is always a challenge, but you are rising to it well. I have every faith in you.”

“And I in my team.” She replied. She returned to her section and called her engineers to tackle the latest development, she did so with enthusiasm. Each went to work on their respective tasks.

Mid-morning Emma went to a break-out room with a food replicator and ordered a hot decaffeinated coffee. She drank and considered the hectic morning so far. She walked out and bumped into a passing figure. She looked up and noticed that it was Commander Data, “Oh, I am sorry Sir, I should have looked before stepping out.”

“It is quite alright Lieutenant. Perhaps. If you are available, we can meet up to discuss the novel. I have many questions.” Data replied.

“Yes, Sir. I am available after my duty shift ends.” She replied.

“Shall we meet at 10 Forward at 4pm?” Data suggested.

“Yes, I will meet you there.” Emma replied, she looked around and saw a number of her team trying to get her attention.

The duty shift ended with steady progress; she was however relieved to return to her quarters. She rarely changed out of her uniform on days that she had duty shits however today she decided it was time to break that rule. She decided to change out of her one-piece uniform and into a pair of slim pants and a peach top she released the clip holding her hair which then fell to her shoulders. She applied some mascara, natural lipstick and a spritz of fragrance. Finally, she slipped on some flat comfortable shoes. Then she headed out PADD in hand.

She walked into 10 Forward and noticed that Data was sat at the same table as yesterday, she walked up to the bar and collected a sparkling drink and walked to the table. “Hi Data.”

“Greetings Emma” Data replied. Emma placed her drink and PADD onto the table top.

“Did you enjoy the novel?” she enquired with interest.

“It was interesting. The novel was in the form of letters and journals from one of the central protagonist’s Johnathon Harker, a lawyer and his business engagement with the eponymous character Count Dracula, who is actually only featured in a small amount of the book but is ever present in the consciousness of the main characters. He drinks blood without apparent concern for his victims. He is without any redeeming qualities and as all morality tales he meets a grizzly end. I do not understand the appeal, perhaps you can explain it to me?”

“I find horror tales to be thoroughly engaging, to vicariously experience the thrill of high, often gothic, drama, to get taken to a new place and time and imagine being within the alluring landscapes. The classic vampire as created by Stoker is an ancient predatory creature whose primal drive to seek blood, as the Count himself stated ‘Blood is the life’. He is a potent and powerful figure with the act of blood sucking being a metaphor for sex, in a more puritan time, where his victims are mesmerised into following his every whim.” Emma explained the appeal.

“Despite his feted breath and his deathly pallor and habit of sleeping in a dirt lined coffin.” Data enquired bemused.

“Yeah, probably readers tended to romanticize the vampire to overlook these obvious drawbacks, as well as likely ending up dead or undead.” Emma laughed. It was written for a specific age; in many respects the Count was a figure already out of his time and place in industrialised Europe.”

“I see, but I still do not appreciate the appeal of such stories. However, I do understand and appreciate the stories of Sherlock Holmes and often partake in holodeck tableaus which are based upon the collective stories and books. I go with my friend Geordi La Forge he is my John Watson to my Sherlock Holmes and we seek to solve detective mysteries.” He advised.

“I understand that several of the Sherlock Holmes stories had a gothic horror type feel such as ‘The Adventure of The Copper Beaches’, ‘The Speckled Band’ and of course, ‘The Hound of The Baskervilles.” She offered. "Not surprising with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s interest in the ghosts, occult and mediums".

“Indeed, you are quite correct. I was not aware of the depth of your knowledge of Holmes.” Data stated in amazement.

“I have read all of the stories at least a couple of times.” Emma revealed. “Perhaps you do not appreciate gothic horror stories because you have not experienced the thrill of being truly immersed in it. I have an idea. Would you be interested in engaging in a holodeck gothic horror romp, with Commander La Forge of course?”

“That sounds most intriguing.” Data stated enthusiastically. “However, I need to advise you that I will not experience the ‘thrill’ as I do not have emotions. I engage in Sherlock Holmes tableaus in that they offer the opportunity to solve mysteries, which is central to my very being.”

“Okay, I will make some arrangements and perhaps you can be available to attend.” She offered.

“Indeed, that would be most appreciated. Do you have any other gothic horror stories that you would recommend?”

“How about Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ but I do not have a copy on board with me however the ships library may hold a digital copy. Then perhaps you may wish to consider the tales of Edgar Allan Poe who wrote the very first detective story called ‘Murder at Rue Morgue, with the main protagonist Mr C Auguste Dupin’.”

“Thank you, you have given much to explore.” Data replied, the corners of his mouth lifting slightly in the emulation of a smile.

“Should you need any more recommendations please do ask and perhaps you may find ones that I have not read.” Emma added.

“Thank you, I will endeavour to locate the Frankenstein novel. I am in the process of researching classical music pieces for the ships string quartet, I will identify some Gothically inspired music. I will try to arrange the event close to Halloween. Perhaps you may wish to come as my guest, unless of course you have another who you wish to attend with.”

“That would be wonderful, I am looking forward to hearing you play your violin. But I will be attending on my own.”

“May I ask a personal question?” Data enquired.

“Err, yes.” She nervously replied.

“Are you in a romantic relationship with a man or woman?” He enquired.

“No, not presently. Since my arrival and my promotion, I have been concentrating on my career, perhaps to the detriment of personal relationships. However now that I feel that I have settled in, well you never know, I will just keep my options open for a suitable man.”

“What sort of man do you find attractive?”

“I don’t know if there is a particular type, but given than I am here on a star ship he is likely to be a Starfleet officer, but that is not a preference. Someone who has a decent guy with a good sense of humour and shares some of my interests, is passionate, reliable yet can surprise me. I don’t want a boring relationship; indeed, I would rather just remain on my own.” Emma enthused. “Data, what of you?”

“I was recently in a brief relationship with a female tactical officer. She initiated the relationship following the breakdown of another. She said that she could not be with a man incapable of emoting despite knowing full well that I do not have emotions. Whilst I am aware of my short comings as a potential mate to humans, I am capable of offering intimacy and pleasure, however the relationship did not progress that far.”

“That’s a shame Data” Emma stated with a genuine look of concern.

“Do you believe that it may be possible to find a romantic partner who would accept me as I am?” he enquired keen to know the answer.

“I would imagine so” Emma stated playing with her cup. “Many short-term relationships are based upon a physical connection; however, it may be problematic for longer term relationships.” Emma noticed Data’s brows furrowing into a frown. “But hey I am no relationship expert.” She added. “However even within the contact of physical intimacy there is raw desire, emotional engagement, small talk and the like.”

“I have sub routines that I may employ within romantic relationships which enable me to engage in romantic gestures and talk and I can recite romantic poetry, plus emulate desire. My greatest wish is to closely emulate humans.” Data explained.

“Well then. Perhaps one way forward is to socialise with someone that is available, develop a rapport flirt with them to show that you are interested in a romantic relationship and just ask them out.” Emma suggested.

“Thank you for your insight.” Data replied, he looked perplexed.

“Data, you do know how to flirt?” She asked uncertain that he did. To her Data presented as staid, self-contained and serious.

“I am not sure?” Data replied.

“Would you care for a demonstration? I am not saying that I am in any way proficient.” she asked, then looked around the lounge, which appeared quiet. She did not want others to get the wrong impression.

“Yes, that would be most helpful.” Data replied.

“Okay, please feel free to join in, or else it will just be me acting weird.” She added. Emma leaned in across the table.

“Data, has anyone ever remarked on how beautiful your golden hued eyes are, they are warm and inviting as the sun?”

“Emma, no one has ever alluded to them being inviting.” He replied.

“Wow, that surprises me Data” she reached out and touched the top of his hand and traced his bioplast with her finger tips. “You skin has the most gorgeous golden lustre and warm soft enticing texture. Your fingers are wonderfully elegant.” Data placed his other hand on top of hers and mimicked her gesture then traced his fingers on the top of her hand.

“Emma, your skin is of the softest that I have touched.” Data replied.

“Well thanks Data” Emma stated gazing into his eyes “You have a noble nose and lips that look so soft and inviting enough to kiss and be kissed. Would you like to kiss?” she rasped and she crossed her legs and ran the toe of her shoe up along the side of his calf.

“I would be fortunate to kiss your pillowy lips.” Data replied.

“Oh, would you now?” She asked rhetorically “What more would you desire?”

“I wish to be alone with you, to give you pleasure, or I may simply accept a date whichever you prefer?” Data took Emma’s hand in his and gazed into her eyes.

“Okay Data, I think that you have the general idea of flirting. I can come across a little cheesy, but you know it is what it is. Start off gently and casually, you may lightly touch a hand or arm, then see how she responds.”

“What of your foot?” He enquired perplexed.

“Some people, especially women may touch your leg with their foot. I also have something else that you may need to be aware of that an interested woman may do, but only if she is receptive to your advances.” Emma stood then moved around then table and sat next to Data, “A woman will sit knees facing towards you, she may even do any of these.” She briefly touched his lower arm then withdrew, she placed a hand flat between them and onto his knee and wrapped her fingers around his lower thigh, gently pressed then removed her hand. Then she placed her hand mid-thigh again briefly. She then placed her hand on his knees then stroked upwards until her hand rested on his mid-thigh then withdrew her hand. “These are all promising signs, but not every woman will engage in physical contact when they flirt.” She added.

“Then what should I do in response?” Data enquired.

“Well, you may mirror the touches on the woman, or place an arm around her shoulders. Or perhaps ask her if you can kiss. Or if in company of others if you would like to go for a walk. It all depends upon the context. But do not sound desperate, give her the option to think things over and to approach you, then it is up to her to take the initiative. Look if you get stuck speak to someone, okay?”

“Yes, thank you Emma, you have given me much to consider. But may I ask, were you making up the exchange or do you believe the positive comments that you made with reference to me?”

Emma’s face flushed s shade of pink “Data, I wasn’t lying, I do find you physically attractive.” She said with a shrug. Then returned to sipping her drink as her throat was parched.

“Emma, you are also attractive.” Data solemnly replied.

“Thank you, Data” Emma replied deciding firmly against asking him to expand on the statement. “I think that I will order a salad for my evening meal, you are more than welcome to stay.”

Emma welcomed the mixed Greek salad dish which came as she requested drizzled with balsamic vinegar. She carefully lifted each forkful to her mouth trying to avoid spills and then thoroughly chewed each morsel. She noticed Data intently watching her. However, when he caught her eyes, he looked away.

“Are you okay Data?” She enquired.

“Yes, Emma, you have given much to contemplate.” She nodded in response. “I have a cat and it is her feeding time. Thank you for your guidance.”

“That’s okay Data. Perhaps you can practice some flirting techniques, when you are in your quarters, in between reading. Unless of course you wish to flirt with the ships librarian whilst you are in the library searching for your books.” she joked. Data got up and left, Emma shook her head and carried on eating. She finished her meal and Guinan swept over.

“Emma, did you enjoy your salad?”

“I did actually, the topping of Italian balsamic vinegar elevated the dish.” She beamed.

“Can I tempt you with a mouth-watering desert?”

“You are, but I won’t as I will be taking a jog and it is better not to run on a full stomach.” Emma replied and Guinan nodded.

“You appeared to be very friendly with Data.” Guinan stated with a smile.

“Yeah, I suppose you could say that we are friends.” Emma replied.

“You looked to be more than friends.” Guinan stated.

Emma groaned. “Data wanted to know how to flirt and I was giving him tips.”

“Oh, okay, only I have rarely seen Data so…animated.” Guinan offered.

Emma finished her glass “Thank you, I better get changed and run before I talk myself out of it.”
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NEXT DAY

Lt Reg Barkley was crawling along a Jeffries tube, when he heard a woman’s voice. “Hi Reg!” The nervous man became startled went from crouching to trying to stand and banged his head on the room of the chamber with a few curses under his breath.

“Who is it?” he nervously enquired.

“It’s Lt Emma Hawkins.” Came the reply.

“Oh, hello Emma, what can I do for you.” He replied.

“Well, your reputation as the best holodeck programmer precedes you and I was wondering if you would help me to arrange a leisure programme for Halloween. If you like, you can join Geordi, Data and myself.”

“Okay” he replied.

“Why don’t we meet up in 10 Forward after our shift and I will tell you what I am seeking.”

“That’s a date. No what I mean is, I will be there.” Reg mumbled.

“It’s fine I knew what you meant. See you later Reg.” Emma stated with a warm smile.
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MEANWHILE –

Data and Geordi were running through the results of various projects including the one where Emma was lead engineer. “You know these results are looking promising.” Geordi announced.

Data nodded his head “I agree. May I ask your opinion on Lt Emma Hawkins?”

“Well, she is a highly competent and confident engineer who instils confidence in the team and mentors those who are not up to speed. She is a real asset, regardless whether or not this project is successful, she has initiative.” Geordi replied.

“But what do you think of her as a person?” Data enquired.

“She is open, honest, respectful, willing to help, she can read the tone of the room well and adapts she has a great sense of humour.” Geordi added.

Data nodded “Only yesterday evening I asked Lt Hawkins about romantic relationships and she gave me advice on ‘flirting’. Indeed, she acted out scenarios and I engaged as best as I was able. She was flattering in her comments about me. Later I asked her if she was being truthful. She said that she found me attractive. We have interests in common. However, when I had earlier asked what qualities that she sought in a mate she said that they have a good sense of humour. But both she and you know, I do not possess any emotions.”

“Buddy, why don’t you ask her out and see what happens?” Geordi asked.

“Lt Emma Hawkins has given me skills to enable me to flirt which may stand me in good stead. So, I will give the matter further consideration.” Data replied. Geordi coughed and placed his hand to his mouth

 

Lt Emma Hawkins breezed past. “Greetings Commanders” she stated. She walked past the LCARRS where Data and Geordi were stood and onto the section with her team. She had caught the latter part of their conversation from Geordi’s comments about asking someone out. ‘So, Data is following up on her guidance’ she thought to herself.

LATER -

Emma entered the lounge and spotted Reg sitting nervously his leg and hand tapping. “Hi Reg, would you like a drink?”

“I will have a synthale thanks” he replied.

Emma promptly returned with Reg’s drink and a white wine for herself. She sat down and gave an overview of what she was seeking requiring a large holodeck, knowing that Engineering had several including the largest type aboard the ship. “Reg if you can help me with the parameters of the programme, I will complete the detail rendering as I want you to enjoy some elements of surprise.”

“I will start this evening. In a few days I will be able to show you an operational programme for you to enhance and modify. Of course, safety protocols will need to remain in place.”

“That is wonderful” Emma enthused. “Are you sure that you don’t mind?”

“No not at all.” He replied, he pondered that he was only being asked as he was the main holodeck engineer, then he thought that he had developed good relationships with both Commanders La Forge and Data.
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MEANWHILE –

Data sat on the sofa with Spot on his lap and he was considering the classical pieces that would be played by the string quartet and arranged practice sessions. The Date was set for Saturday 31st October Halloween, location Holodeck 3. He then reflected upon the advice given to him by his friend and confidant Geordi, however he had not had the opportunity to meet up with Emma.
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NEXT DAY -

Emma activated her PADD as she breakfasted and she groaned, the concert was going to clash with the Holodeck adventure which was also slated for 31st October. She then decided to bring it forward several days to the Wednesday evening when all four would be available to attend. She sent a message to Reg for an update on the holodeck programming. She ate her breakfast and finished her drink then headed off to Engineering.
----------------------

Geordi sat with Data running some calculations in Engineering. “What is this with Lt Emma Hawkins and this holodeck event?”

“I have been talking with Lt Hawkins and she has an interest in reading ancient novels including horror ones. She was rereading one called ‘Dracula’ and she sent me a copy and I found it interesting. I commented that I could not appreciate horror stories, but then talked about acting out Sherlock Holmes inspired mysteries in the holodeck. She then offered to arrange for an immersive horror story to aid my appreciation. She suggested that I ask you and she would ask Lt Barkley as he will be helping her with aspects of the programming.”

“Okay, then I will go along to see what it is all about, also to help you out buddy. Apparently, we are to wear clothing of the late 19th Century, so same era as Holmes.”

“Indeed, I have a selection of garments that I may wear.” Data replied.

“Perhaps you can give he a hand in selecting some suitable clothes as I only have my Watson outfits.”

“I will assist you.” Data said in earnest.
--------------------------

 

Later, Data was sat in 10 Forward PADD in hand. He looked up “Ah, Ensign Matilda Mather. It is fortuitous to see you, I am considering suitable atmospheric music for our concert at Halloween. I would welcome any insight that you may have.”

“Yes Sir, Data.” She replied and sat down beside him, cup in hand. Data lifted up the PADD which displayed the long list of classical pieces. They listened to excerpts from each and Matilda leaned in close to hear each track, with Data keeping the volume low as a means of minimising the disruption to others nearby, but also to conceal the music as wanted to keep the audience anticipation right up until the event.

Emma strolled into 10 Forward and to the bar and ordered a dry white wine. She picked up her glass and leaned on the bar top, turned and noticed Data sat at a table with a young woman in a Starfleet blue and black uniform in close proximity, apparently absorbed in the contents of a PADD. The woman was highly animated frowned, shook her head then nodded, laughed and placed a hand on Data’s forearm. She turned to the bar and took a stool.

Guinan approached from behind. “Greetings Emma, how are you today?” she smiled.

“Fine” Emma replied with a flattened affect.

“You don’t sound too happy” Guinan replied.

“I am just tired what with work and another project that I am planning.” Emma advised and continued nursing her wine glass. Guinan swept away and Emma became lost in thought, she considered that Data had many fine qualities for a relationship, although she knew that long term, she needed a partner able to express their emotions.

“Emma” a now familiar voice uttered. She turned and saw Data by her side.

“Hello Data, I saw you earlier and I didn’t wish to interrupt as you seemed deep in conversation.” She explained.

“Thank you, Ensign Mathers and myself were engaged in a private matter.” He informed; "Emma would you care to join me?”

“Yeah, okay” she stated and followed him to the now empty table. “I will stay for a short while as I really need an early night.” She sat drinking and Data noted her quiet serious demeanour.

“I have selected my preferences for the concert I just need to share them with my fellow musicians for their input.” He shared.

“Good” she said and nodded.

“I have read the short story ‘The Murder at Rue Morgue.’ It was intriguing and one I presume Sir Conan Doyle was familiar with, however the Sherlock Holmes stories are an advancement on the theme and whilst Dupin was a police officer, Holmes was indeed the first private consulting detective.” Emma smiled thinly and nodded her agreement. Data continued to chat about the details of the story and Emma listened.

Emma stood to leave for bed and was joined by Data who advised that he was soon due on bridge duty.
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WEDNESDAY 28th October

Data stood looking at his reflection in a mirror in his quarters, he was dressed in a white shirt with a collar, black tie, waistcoat, black trousers and a fitted black coat. He then picked up his PADD and read the pen portrait of his character plus the specific holodeck rules.

MEANWHILE -
Emma stood in front of the mirror and gazed at her reflection. She was wearing a long black watermark taffeta dress with a bustle, the lace of her underskirt poked bellow the skirt and just above her small heeled black boots. The bodice had a cinched waist, she was aided by shapewear, she decided against wearing a recreation of a whale boned corset due to the tight restrictive nature of the garment and being unable to tie the garment on her own. The front had black beads which sparkled and she wore similar long black earrings. The top of the dress scooped low on the chest, she wrapped a black lace shawl over her shoulders and preserved her modesty as it met at the front. Her hair was swept up into a bun. She applied makeup including mascara to her eyes and red lipstick-stained lips. Satisfied she picked up her skirts and exited her quarters with a small beaded drawstring bag. She entered the large holodeck located at main engineering; the door closed.

She was stood in a Victorian parlour with dark red walls and drapes, there was a large black marble fireplace with a large hearth with a roaring fire. The room was furnished with chesterfield sofas and a chaise lounge and a highbacked chair. A large richly coloured and patterned rug furbished the wooden floors. She smiled Reg had perfectly captured the brief. She approached a window and gazed at the full moon.

The holodeck door opened and in strode Data, Geordi and Reg. Each wore variations of dark Victorian suits, shirts and boots. They entered a small hallway and collected Gladstone and carpet bagger bags which contained the necessary apparatus. They proceed through a door.

“Greetings, gentleman, I am Leanora Northwood, thank you for answering my call for assistance. These are dark times indeed.” Emma dramatically stated.

Data stepped forward “Miss Northwood, I am William Hope, please allow me to introduce you to my associates Henry Deeds and Norman Simons. How may we assist?”

“Gentlemen, please be seated.” The men sat on the sofas. “As you are no doubt aware, my ancestral home Chatterton Manor had been plagued with bizarre inexplicable events, over many years. I have engaged Priests in exorcism to no avail. At first objects were moved around the house, then clocks would chime together at odd times of the evening. The house would be warm with fires in all inhabited rooms and yet temperatures would plummet then suddenly return to normal. Offensive odours, loud noises and mists befell surrounding the house and also spirits or ghosts can be felt and even seen. Many livestock have died and numerous townsfolk and suspicion has been cast upon this great house and its inhabitants. I live here with my aged parents and my two brothers all of whom I have sent away on this most frightening of nights of Halloween. I am uncertain whether you may be able to assist but I am desperate!”

Geordi/Henry Deed stated “We are men of logic and reason; we have unorthodox methods led by science and ancient wisdoms. We will endeavour to give you some answers.”

“We will not rest until we have productive results.” Reg/Norman Simons.

“Gentlemen would you care for tea?” Emma/Leanora Northwood enquired, they all nodded. She poured hot tea out of an ornate silver teapot into delicate fine bone china teacups. No sooner has she filled the cups, than they began to vibrate and move on the side table. The men reached for and grabbed the cups which became still in their hands. The temperature dropped to a freezing chill, despite the roaring fire, water vapour could be seen as they breathed. Emma shivered and pulled her shawl tighter over her shoulders. She picked up a tartan patterned blanket and wrapped it around her. There was a sound of gust of wind which vortexed around the room, the lighting flickered and the door they had entered through opened then banged shut seemingly on its own.

The men stood and immediately took to checking each corner of the room and working inwards. “It would be beneficial if we checked the other rooms, if we may.” Data offered.

“Of course, gentlemen. Do whatever you will to help I am at the mercy of these phantasmagorical events.” Emma stated. But please do not leave me alone” She beseeched.

“Henry and Norman will you search together and Miss Norwood, you may accompany me.”

“That seems reasonable” Emma replied with relieve tangible in her voice and demeanour.

“Henry and Norman start your search downstairs and extend to the out buildings meanwhile I will start on upstairs.” Data instructed. They all left the room with the plans agreed.

Data observed the low-lit expansive curving wooden staircase, he extended a hand to Miss Northwood who gratefully took it. Data guided her upstairs into the unknown. They arrived at a wide high landing, with a long corridor either side. Data cautiously walked to the left and opened the first room. The door opened into a large library with shelves of books, they walked around to the end and Data looked out of the window facing the front of the house. Data turned in response to a clattering noise and observed books flying off the shelves around them. He drew Emma to him and held her against his chest and guarded her head with a hand and arm. The books thudded as they struck walls, ceiling and floor as if thrown by an unknown force. Soon the books were pilled into heaps upon the floor. Data approached the shelf. He picked up an oil lamp and peered at the wall and studied the structure to try to determine whether any person or mechanism was responsible for the strange occurrence.

They exited and moved to the adjoining room the door opened and it was a nursey with a rocking cot and a painted and polished rocking horse, grotesque porcelain dolls sat with unsettling rictus grins. The rocking horse began to move and the bell on its neck tinkled, the cot rocked and creaked eerily. Data peered in no baby was present. “This was my nursery” Emma advised. Data methodically searched each and every item. He opened an ornate box and a ballerina sprung up and spun around as the box tinkled with a nursey rhythm. Emma looked increasingly uneasy and moved towards the exit. “My sister died in here as an infant, ever since this room has remained a memorial to her.” Emma stated, Data nodded.
----------------
Meanwhile Geordi and Reg exited the grand house and into the stables. They held gas lamps to help illuminate the structure. There were horses in several of the stalls, tethered by reins, they whinnied softly. A gust of wind rushed through the stables followed by a purplish mist out of which two women stepped, their pallor was deathly pale one smiled with white protruding teeth. The horses grew fractious, banging about the stalls with their hoofs and – in fear. One of the women reached out and each grabbed an arm of the men and pulled. Reg resisted and kicked out contacting a leg and managed to free himself from her grip and he shuffled backwards to his bag. Geordi pulled his assailants arm outward and dislodged the woman’s hand. Reg grabbed pistols from the bag and passed one to Geordi. Reg took aim and fired the gun which discharged with a bang, it struck its target and the woman fell. Geordie followed suit, the bullet struck the woman in the chest and she also fell.

They took to their heels and ran back into the manor house. Reg took the lead out of pure fear with Geordi close at his heels. They ran from room to room, ending in a cold store larder, Geordi pulled the heavy door behind him and the men hid behind the suspended carcases of pigs and lambs, and perched themselves on a ledge. Reg then found an oil-cloth blanket and pulled it over his head covering his eyes, then poked a hand out and passed a palm sized cross to Geordi he then retrieved another which he held out facing the door hand shaking whilst the rest of him remained hidden. “Reg, know you are taking this far too seriously, didn’t you programme this?”

“Well, I did programme the tableaus, including this safe room. However, the apparitions or whatever they are were, were programmed by Lt Hawkins.” Reg advised.

“Still, I don’t think that we are in mortal danger.” Geordi advised to try and calm the nervous Barkley.

“I…I know but I will let you into a secret…I scare relatively easily.” He shared.

“Reg, you don’t say. I’d never have known.” Geordi replied trying to hide his chuckling.
----------------
Data and Emma checked all of the rooms, with similar eerie unsettling happenings. They then walked, Data with lamp in hand towards the other side of the corridor and opened a room, there was an austerely furnished room. “This is my brother Mathew’s room” she advised. The was a large bed, an armoire wash basin and stand and tall boy drawers. A wailing noise could be heard behind them. They turned towards the door and a glowing phosphorescence hung heavily in the dank air which coalesced into a ghostly figure with a wraith like face and torso with a trail of billowing smoke it looked like a willow-the-wisp. It rushed towards them and disappeared through their bodies and out of the other side and emitted a cackling vocalisation.

Emma took to her heel and ran out and along the corridor and into a room, Data followed. Emma took breaths as deep as she was able in her restrictive clothing. “This is my bedroom; I feel safe here.” She advised and briefly closed her eyes.

The curtain draped billowed out displaying a human form. Data grabbed the soft velvet cloth and the draped fell as the form seemingly slinked away into the ether. He looked behind as the closed window, no one was there. He turned and saw three spectral figures glide through the open door, their feet clear of the ground, the figures became denser in form until they appeared near human like. They were of three beautiful women with hair trailing in their wake. “Sister come join us” they whispered in alluring sensual voices. Data reached into his back and grabbed a bottle and flipped the cork stopper and threw holy water at the figures who changed into hags with grey lips and missing teeth and stringy silvery hair. The apparitions cackled. Data, curled his hand into a fist and shook his arm and then hurled an object at speed which struck one of the preternatural figures in the heart, it let out a blood curdling scream and fell to the floor, red blood stained the grey white clothing. The two other figures fled the room.

Data turned and spoke “These phantasmagorias are none other than vampires and their familiars who had infested this house, their dank earth bed cannot be too far away.” Emma shuddered. “Do not worry Miss Norwood, I can protect you. Now that I now the nature of these beasts.” Data took Emma’s hand and led her downstairs and into the reception room where they had initially met. He closed the door and proceeded to rub garlic cloves around the door frame.

“Mr Harris this odour is overpowering and not acceptable in a civilised household," she uttered then turned and opened the windows. Data turned to warn her of the potential dire consequences of giving access to evil spirits through the windows. The drapes blew ferociously.

An ultra violet mist appeared from the gap under the door. Data tutted and realised too late his error in not having placed garlic cloves into the floor by the door. The wraiths formed with rage on their hideous faces. They ominously moved forward. Data felt in his bag for further stakes however his search was futile. Data stepped back to the far reaches of the room. Grabbing Emma by the waist to protect her. She turned and grasped the end of a sofa and pushed Data backward, he landed onto the floor with Emma toppling on top seeking to desperately escape the vampire wraiths. Their bodies were jammed between the back of the sofa and a long writing bureau. Emma reached up and pulled a tab on the bureau the top of which banged down concealing the prone couple. Emma breathed hard. Data managed to avoid letting the lamp topple over he placed it on the ground above his head and reached to increase the illumination.

Emma who was lying face down against Data held his head and leaned in seemingly to bestow a kiss, instead she opened her mouth and bared long fangs and sunk her teeth against the golden flesh of Data's long neck. Data felt the unusual sensation of moisture running down his neck to pool in its base, then trickle onto the floor. He pushed against Emma trying to dislodge her. Emma looked up with blood red eyes “You are under my spell; you will let me feed off you!” And laughed in a deep sensual manner. Data’s grip slackened, he recollected the rules of engagement that he had read prior to entering the holodeck which advised that if a malevolent force take hold of you for five seconds or more then you are under their spell.

“Miss Northwood, vampire or whatever you call yourself, you have me beaten.” He conceded.

“That is as well Mr Hope. You will do as I bid!” She menacingly intoned then cackled. She poked out her tongue and proceeded to lick and lap at Data’s skin where she had ‘bitten’ him.

“Emma, what are the constituents of the blood, as is smells sweet?” Data enquired breaking character.

“Data it is glycerine with bright red food dye.” She swiped a finger against his neck and offered a finger to Data’s mouth. He opened his lips and teeth; Emma gently placed a fingertip into Data’s mouth, he enclosed his lips around her finger and licked the fake blood off her finger. She then removed her finger with a pop. “Do you wish for me to mop up the blood with a handkerchief, would you prefer that I continue to lick it up?” She toyed with him.

“My fancy is that you use your tongue.” He huskily replied. Emma immediately turned to the task at hand with relish. Long laps of the flat of her tongue lathed over the side of his neck until his golden skin was free of any mark. She then turned her attention to the front of his neck, the tip of her tongue dipped into the nape of his neck. She raised her face and looked into his eyes and giggled. Fake blood ran freely from the corners of her mouth and across her chin and down her neck, she briefly sat up and adjusted her precarious hair do, meanwhile the blood freely ran down her neck and onto the top of her breasts.

Data took the brief respite from Emma’s oral ministrations to consider the situation, he was only too aware of the sensual nature of Emma’s actions and wonder how much planning has gone into this. He also considered his options to respond. Data reached up and pulled Emma down into a passionate kiss. Their lips met and opened, Emma brushed her tongue up against her top row of teeth and pushed the sprung fangs to the roof of her mouth. She felt Data’s warm tongue between her lips, she responded enthusiastically and their tongues rolled together. She giggled and broke the kiss, then removed the hinged fangs that were clipped over her own teeth and also the ‘blood’ bag which was lightly sealed to the roof of her mouth, she placed then into her drawstring purse bag. Data used one hand to lightly push away the heavy leather sofa, and the other shut the writing bureau, thus allowing him to easily roll over pulling Emma onto the floor. “Perhaps you will permit me to return the favour and cleanse your skin with my tongue?”

“Data. I am not sure that it would be appropriate.” She replied, her voice with a serious tone.

“Ah, because we are not in a romantic relationship?” He enquired.

“Yes, and I wondered if you were already in one…with another.”

“No, I am not. However, I would welcome it if you would be my romantic partner.” He stated with a hint of a smile.

Emma’s face lit up “Yes Data, I would like to give ‘us’ a try.” Data started at Emma’s chin and lapped down her neck, he took the viscous liquid into his mouth them swallowed. He returned to where he had left off and licked down her neck and again swallowed. “If you would permit the indulgence of licking your embonpoint, I can complete this delicious task” He teased.

“I would Data” she replied. Data repositioned himself further down on Emma body, and straddled her, careful not to crush her with his weight. He poked out his tongue and began to lick. As soon as his tongue touched her plump flesh she squirmed and giggled and closed her eyes, his hands cupped her breasts.

Geordi and Reg entered the parlour room and peered in, they could hear a woman giggling and a pair of men’s boots poking out from behind a sofa. They approached, unsure whether this was a ruse as part of the detailed programme and both peered over the top, of the sofa. Geordi could only see the back of his friend and Emma with her eyes closed with bloodstained mouth, however he has a good idea that they were engage in some intimate activity. Reg however gasped in surprise. Emma opened her eyes and shrieked. The observers shrank away not wanting to be considered voyeurs. Data sprung up onto the balls of his feet and turned and saw Geordi and Reg hastily exit the room, hallway and out of the holodeck doors. Data chivalrously offered Emma the palm of his hand which she accepted and pulled her up.

Emma led him out of the side door, into the hallway and up the stairs and into her character’s opulent bedroom. She instructed the holodeck to reproduce candle effect lighting and guided Data to the bed. “Would you care to continue giving me pleasure?” she enquired.

“I would Emma.” Data eagerly responded. They hastily shrug off their clothing, until both were naked. They each looked in awe at their partners glowing skin. Emma pulled herself backwards onto the bed and Data followed. He first took to the task of cleansing Emma skin of fake sticky blood with his tongue, whilst holding her breasts. He then turned his attention to her aroused nipples, giving her all manner of pleasant sensory experiences with his mouth and hands. He worked his way down her abdomen and then stopped. “Emma, do you know where the largest accessible arteries are located after the carotid in the neck?”

“No” She replied.

“Let me show you” Data placed a palm between her thighs then opened them wide. He placed his mouth at the top of one of her inner thighs and licked a spot and stroked it with his fingers. His head popped up “Here is the femoral artery” he announced.

“Then it’s as well that you are not a vampire” she announced.

Data considered her statement, “No but perhaps I am an Incubus!” Data stated salaciously.

“I am intrigued with that idea!” Emma cooed.

Data kissed her mons and slipped a finger between the lips of her labia. “Your flesh is too hot to be a vampire, however I will need to continue my exploration to be certain.” He stated, he spread her labia with his elegant fingers and dipped in his tongue, which though warm, was considerably cooler than her hot throbbing flesh.

“I think that you will need to do full exploration…to be certain.” She said in encouragement.

He lapped up her intimate excretions then lifted his head “You taste delicious, I need to drink more of you.” Emma murmured in both agreement and in appreciation on his eagerness and technique. She felt her body heating up as her muscles twitched in response to Data’s ministrations, she cried out and shuddered as she came.

“I will lie upon you, as an Incubus would.” He whispered in her ear and slipped his erection into her core. Emma sighed in appreciation and caressed the flesh of his spine and kneaded the flesh as she urged him to bring her pleasure of a different kind pushing her hips into his. “I know what you want…what you need” he huskily intoned and began to move rhythmically against her.

“Don’t stop!” she announced.

“I won’t. I can and will continue for as long as you need” He replied.

“How wonderful!” She exclaimed.

The lovers, lay together, rolled together. Through words and caresses Emma guided Data in how she took her pleasure, he proved to be a keen and efficient student, she became lost in wave after wave of absolute pleasure. “I can pleasure you in ways you can’t even imagine.” He spoke sensually and with confidence.

“I hope that you will show me, but it will take an age to realise the limits of my imagination.” She replied with a breathy laugh.

“That means more to me than you realise.” He replied and mimicked a smile. He reflected upon his brief encounters intimate or otherwise.

Straddling top of Data, Emma giggled and a glided upwards, passionately took his mouth in a kiss. “So, what are your conclusions, thus far?”

“Emma you are not a vampire, as a you take such sensual pleasures.”

“Data, given that you say that you are an Incubus” Emma slid down and took Data cock into her mouth and rolled her tongue around the smooth skin of his cock then sucked and withdrew his flesh with a pop. “Then I must be a Succubus!” She giggled. “Let me show you.” She took her time kissing, licking and sucking his hard, engorged flesh. Data was enrapt. “Can you come for me?”

Data “Yes” he replied, 'breathing heavily' as he continued to access his sexuality sub routines,.

“Show me.” Emma requested. She placed his glans on her tongue until she felt his hot ejaculate. She closed her mouth and swallowed. “It tastes weird, like silicon gel.” She frowned.

“It takes is taste and consistency from my silicon-based drinks. I have not had the need to experiment with taste, that is up to now. You should know that it is the first time that I have received fellatio and whilst I cannot give it an emotional context it was interesting and one which I would welcome repeating.” He stroked Emma’s chin.

“I can promise you we shall.” She giggled. “But now I am both hungry and thirsty.”

“The holodeck can replicate whatever you wish.” Data informed. Emma ordered a pasta dish and a cordial drink.

“I think that I have burnt up plenty of calories.” She said with a smile before heartily tucking in. “How long can we stay here?”

“I am sure that we can stay as long as you like.” Data replied.

“I would love to bathe in an actual bath.” She sighed.

“That can be arranged.” Data replied and as per his instructions a large free-standing bath appeared full with bubbles. Emma clapped her hands in glee, Data took her hand and guided her into the bath.

“Come join me.” She gushed, he joined her. Then they retired to the large and comfortable bed. Emma slept in Data’s arms until he awoke her to prepare for the duty shift ahead.
---------------

Emma entered engineering and nodded towards Geordi and Data. “Good morning, Commanders” then continued to meet up with her team.

“Any developments that you care to share, as I noticed that the holodeck programme was in use until about an hour ago?” Geordi stated with a grin.

“Lt Hawkins and I have engaged in a romantic relationship.” He replied sotto voice.

Geordi slapped his friend on the upper arm. “Good for you Data! So, you put the flirting lessons to good use?”

“Perhaps, a little. However, to say anything further would be indiscrete.” Data stated with a slight frown.

“Well as long as you are both happy.” Geordi smiled.

“Geordi, may I remind you; I do not possess emotions.” Data replied.

“Yeah, Data whatever.” Geordi replied, “Just don’t go upsetting my lieutenant” he mock cautioned.

“I have no intention to ‘upset’ my girlfriend.” Data replied.

“Good luck with that, all relationships have their tense moments. As long as one of you has emotions.” Geordi smiled and shook his head. “Anyway, let’s get on with the task at hand.”

“Agreed” Data replied.
---------------------------

SATURDAY 31ST OCTOBER – EVENING.

The audience filed into the holodeck and took their seats. Emma attended on time and was met by Data who showed her to her front row seat. The seats were soon filed. The four members of the ships string quartet, dressed in all black, took their seats and Emma smiled knowingly to herself.

There appeared behind the quartet, a series of hologram characters, orchestra musicians making up brass, percussion and piano sections, In, addition there were others stood further back which Emma surmised were to provide the choral element. The music started with the light musical piece of Paul Dukas’ ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ followed by the equally rousing Camille Saint-Saens’ ‘Danse Macabre’, then Rachmaninov’s ‘The Ise of The Dead’. There followed a break during which drinks were served whilst JS Bach’s ‘Tocca & Fugue in D Minor’ a dramatic organ piece played in the background.

Data approached Emma “Are you enjoying the music?”

“Very much, you are all so talented, especially you.” She gushed.

“Thank you” He replied with a half-smile and took her hand and placed her knuckles to his mouth and gently kissed. He turned, “Meet Matilda Mather, she assisted me in the arrangements for tonight’s concert”. Introductions were exchanged, both women smiled warmly. Emma sighed with relief recalling the time that she saw her and Data talking conspiratorially they were probably planning tonight’s event.

The second half opened with Camille Saint-Saens ‘Symphony No 3’ followed by Hector Berlioz’s ‘Symphony Fantastique’, Sergei Prokofiev’s ‘Dance of the Knights’ from ‘Romeo & Juliet’ and finally Carl Orff's ‘O Fortuna’ from ‘Carmina Burana’. The quartet stood and took bows to cheers and applause.

Data stepped forward and was met by Captain Picard, “What I wonderful selection of music. Played beautifully.”

“Thank you, Sir, the other members of the quartet, most notably Ensign Matilda Mathers assisted with the production.” Data replied, he held out his hand and was joined by Emma. “However, Sir, the inspiration for a ‘Halloween’ themed evening from my girlfriend Lt Emma Hawkins.”

“Hello Lt Hawkins, did you enjoy the evening?” The captain enquired.

“Absolutely Sir” she stated a little nervously as this had been the first time that she had both met and spoken with the captain. Picard moved on, Data was congratulated by both Beverly Crusher and Deanna Troi to whom Data proudly introduced Emma.

“I am going to 10 Forward” Emma announced “Would you care to join me once you have finished up here?” Data nodded. Emma spotted Guinan and walked with her to 10 Forward.

“I enjoyed myself. It looked like you also did.” Guinan stated.

“Yes, I loved the variety and of course the quartet were sublime, especially Data.” Emma gushed.

“Yes, he is certainly proficient at playing the violin.” Guinan responded.

Once at the bar Emma ordered her usual, a dry white wine. She looked around as the tables filled up. Observing her concern Guinan spoke up “Don’t worry, I have reserved a double table for the quartet.” Emma smiled.

Data and his three other musician friends walked in and over to the bar, he spotted Emma sat high up on a bar stool. He stepped behind and leaned in and kissed the side of her neck “Emma you look stunning” he whispered and glanced over her cyan blue silk cocktail dress. He then looked at his friends, “Let me introduce you to Emma who is my girlfriend…” The group took seats at the table and Data sat beside Emma and gently took her hand and rested it on his mid-thigh, concealed to the view of others. Data drank his silicon drink, he whispered in Emma’s ear that it had the aroma and taste of strawberries.

After an hour of chatting, Data and Emma took their leave. “I am now going to perform to an exclusive audience of one” he declared and whisked her out of the bar. “Your quarters or mine?”

“Definitely mine,” She replied. “Are you not going to collect your violin?” she asked a brow raised.

“No, that will not be required for what I have in mind.” He smiled and wrapped his arm around her waist.

“Ooh, I can hardly wait.” She giggled as they entered the turbolift.

 

THE END