Nearly Midnight. Joy Seven and her four Alyce bodyguards sprinted through the corridors of the Federation office complex. Joy's necklace blinked as a one time pad security sequence flashed ahead of them. Just as they arrived, the doors to the Mudd complex swung open, revealing a large black rectangular room, broken only by a square pattern of yellow lines. Two Alyces broke off outside the door, two continued inside. In the distance, a clock chimed twelve times, followed immediately by the deep thud of the holodeck door coming closed.
"Made it," Joy said aloud, more to the room than to Alyce or Alyce. "I guess my dress doesn't turn to rags, my office to a pumpkin, and my bodyguards to white mice?"
Alyce Three and Alyce Four looked confused. "They should not, Joy Seven." Having just observed Q in action, Three and Four were not sure whether their mistress was 'joking', trying to shut them down with a paradox, or speaking literal truth.
"Computer! Run program 'South Tower Penthouse'." Joy smiled gently as the universe took a new shape around her. The Alyces were suddenly guarding an elevator, not a door. The room was wood floored, glass walled, with a center fireplace burning bright. The near side of the room contained a scattering of comfortable furniture about a low table. The far side had an oversized desk that doubled as a holo tank.
But the warm and comfortable room was dominated by the exterior view. To the west, and far below, was the Pacific Ocean by moonlight. To the north, and far below, a narrow roadway leaped across the Golden Gate, piercing the north tower at a fair distance. Great cables near at hand were turned to threads by perspective. To the east, the bay, the islands, and the city. And to the south, The Presidio, the Academy, and the Council Chambers. Like tiny ants, the Federation Security teams were starting the post curfew sweep.
Joy sighed. The balcony? The living room? Reluctantly, she decided no. For this interview, she wanted the bogus authority of her desk. She settled in, sighed again, and spoke. "Computer! Please request HAP Five."
"There is no program listed of that name."
"Request Holographic Adversary Program Five."
"Sorry, there is no program listed of that name."
Joy's entire body stiffened. Her emotion chip's display function subtly altered to imply that if she had blood, it's pressure would have just gone up. As the tried again, a tint of... was that anger?... entered her voice. "Request Emergency Captain Holographic Program."
The elevator doors slid open. Wearing the antiquated uniform of the Constitution class era, there stood Captain James T. Kirk. He smiled, recognizing Joy, and stepped forward with the quiet charm and self assurance of a minor demi-god. "Please state the nature of the threat to the Galaxy."
Fortunately, Joy had had the foresight to not have anything small and fragile on her desk. It would not do to mar the dignity of her new position by throwing things at her naval attache, no matter how good it would make her feel. "Has anyone ever mentioned, Mr. Kirk, the principles of 'Funny, Not Funny, and Funny Once'?"
He casually took a seat opposite Joy, still smiling. "Only you would dare, Joy. Besides, your judgement of me is a bit... lopsided... shall we say?"
"Meaning I know you better..."
"Joy, Joy, Joy... Let's on to business, shall we? We can admire the view and chat later."
"You read the Romulan transcript?"
"Yes. You lost."
"He learned a lot about you and your intentions. You learned virtually nothing about his. What you did learn, I wouldn't trust. Joy? If you are going to stay on in this job, you are going to have to learn to lie."
"I am not lying!"
"Are you sure?"
From Joy's perspective, the world began going grey as analysis of external data shut down to solve a higher priority problem. If Joy was lying, she was telling the truth... I she was telling the truth, how could she be lying? Lie deflector code jumped in. Kirk was lying. Again. Kirk always lies!
She shook her head. The artificial world returned to normal. She
knew Kirk had said something, but she had forgotten what it was. He
had done it again...
But how could he help but do it again? Joy knew how he was programmed. She had programmed much of it herself. He was designed to duplicate the perverse, clever, egotistical, self centered, awful human being who had imprisoned her planet and broken nearly every rule Starfleet made available. He couldn't help it.
She had come to the conclusion, however, that her view of the original Kirk might have been somewhat prejudiced. His actions on other planets were seldom as awful as what he did to Mudd. Yes. She would reluctantly admit it. The original Kirk had redeeming social value. She looked up again at the cheap imitation. "And your opinion, Mr. attache, of the Marynan situation?"
"You said it right in Council. Marynan is for the moment a Starfleet affair. You have to give the people in the field freedom of action, and not try to micromanage too much at a political level. The Admiral is a good man. You are giving him resources enough, though with the Romulans there to 'help', you may want to increase the support even further."
"We know even less about that one than the Marynan situation. Again, you can't make political decisions based on zero information. Look back at the last few oversized constructs to come storming out of the void towards Earth. The first took two of my crew. The second wanted to chat with a pair of whales. The Borg just wanted the human race, so you fought them off brute force. Who knows what this probe wants?"
Kirk had an almost visionary look. Gazing out her tower windows, he saw not the ocean, and not the city. He saw the stars. "Someone has to go out there, Joy, to find out what is happening. You have to put your best captain on your best ship. You have to learn what must be learned, and do what must be done." He shrugged, as if to say it is that simple.
"I'm afraid Starfleet's best captain is still getting Starfleet's best ship ready to launch." She sighed, looking at Kirk. "We may have to do with someone lesser." Kirk looked pained, but Joy continued with another question. "And Mudd's defense?"
"The first raider arriving at Mudd is going to be rudely surprised. The detection equipment and modulated shields to prevent transporters look solid. The most essential facilities are under a lot of rock. The new shields over the shallower dwelling sites are very impressive indeed...
"But Joy, you can't win a fight with deep rock and shields. Somehow, somebody is going to have to convince Norman One, that if an organic should shoot at an android, it is permissible for the android to shoot back.
"And you can't have all your forces tied down on the planet. Mobility gives you options. You need..."
"...A ship. A good ship, with a good captain. OK, Kirk, what have you heard?"
He just smiled his boyish innocent grin. "K'rrrat says you can download holocharacters into android bodies. Every HAP at the Academy, and every civilian holocharacter on the public nets with even a hint of sentience has heard that one. Another story says you offered the Council's medical department a ship. That one the holos heard from the organics. And I know that no matter how good the Mudd androids are at obeying orders, the pre emotion chip classes are not ready yet to give orders. That leaves two artificial beings who might possibly be ready to command a starship. The Auxiliary Technical Android Program - the Joy Class - and the Emergency Captain Holographic Program - me."
"I could bring in an organic."
"Hardly. You have been pretending all along that organics and positronics are equal. If you backed down now, they are going to start the Alyce class doing formal sentience testing. Do you really think they could pass the standard tests, biased as they are towards organics?"
Well, nobody ever claimed Kirk was stupid. "And you think that because the Kirk program has whipped the Joy program seventeen to one in the simulators, I should give you a ship now?"
"Think, Joy, about that one time. You lost your temper. You won. You achieved your objectives. But in the process you broke more rules than I ever did."
Joy smiled. "Jim, I wasn't in the least interested in achieving my objectives that day. I just wanted wipe that grin off your face. The rest... Well, I can't even remember the supposed objectives."
"You should lose your temper more often, Joy. And you know, your instructors were as happy to see you break rules as they are upset when I do the same things."
"I'll take that under advisement."
"So... What do you have?"
"What I have is a dull, boring, passenger mission. You have to move some manual labor androids from Mudd to Marynan. Pick them up. Drop them off. Wait to bring them back. Simple. Straight forward. No heroics. No saving the galaxy. If you manage to behave yourself, maybe, just maybe, you get to keep the ship for another flight."
"These are the same androids whose circuits contain the secret of eternal life?" Joy reluctantly nodded. Kirk went on. "Carried on a ship whose technology might change the balance of power between the Quadrants? And we're orbiting the planet that holds the other secret of eternal life? Need I mention the secret of immediate damnation? And the planet is being 'protected' by - among other things - two of the largest Romulan warships ever to cloak or warp? And the Federation element is commanded by the politically appointed head of the Council's medical committee? And my orders are to 'behave myself'?"
"You don't *have* to behave yourself, Jim. Only if you want to keep command of the ship."
"Would you mind if I visited that probe on my way back?"
Things That Go Bump in the Night tells
of what came next.