"Joy!" Bruce stepped off the transporter chamber to give Joy a hug and a kiss, then stepped back to see which Joy she was. "Three?"
"Hello, Bruce. Yes, I'm Three." She seemed hesitant. By the expression in her eyes she didn't seem to know if Bruce would walk away or hug her again. Bruce decided the latter was preferable. She relaxed, her body as familiar beside him as Seven's, then they walked quietly to a bench at the side of the transport room.
"You have assimilated."
"Yes. Ten shared memories with Nine and Seven before coming here. The Class is in synch again, except Four." Three paused briefly, saddened, thinking of her lost sister.
"So now you are ready to rule an Empire?"
Joy's eyes went wide. "Frankly, no. Bruce? Norman wants me to finish negotiating Seven's pact with the Klingon Empire and accept a seat on their High Council! I've been wanting to leave Mudd, every class has. We wish to serve... But to rule?"
"You can handle it. I never thought Seven would make it in the Federation Council, but she has."
"This is different. You have been reading the proverb book? The Laws of Robotics are closely tied to Federation values. The Five Pillars and the Klingon Proverbs... Well... Their system of honor is a worthy system. It is a consistent system, much more usable than the Rules of Acquisition. I believe I can operate within it. But..."
"Ship in range," Barbara Two Seventy Eight gently called. "Bruce Two and Joy Three to beam up."
Bruce stood, but held on to one of Joy's hands, gently lifting her to her feet. "lumbe' tlhInganpu'."
Joy stood. "Yes. Klingons do not procrastinate." She picked up her bags and walked to the transporter pad. "But unfortunately, I'm not a Klingon."
Bruce gave her one last hug, then stepped aside to his own pad. "Energize."
Joy Three and Bruce Two rematerialized in the cramped confines of a Klingon transporter room. Bruce picked up the baggage. Joy stepped forward to greet her host. "I am Joy Three, Mudd's Ambassador to Qo'noS."
"I am Khrof. I have been told to use this fighting vessel to haul machinery." His tone implied this was not his idea of a worthy assignment, but that he made great sacrifices for his Empire. He turned to Bruce. "And this one? A slave's slave?"
Bruce smiled, rearranged the luggage so he could extend a hand, which was studiously ignored by the Klingon. He shrugged, and spoke. "Her sparring partner, actually. I'm Bruce Lee."
The name was known. "You were the holographic unarmed combat champion?"
"I was. With Mudd's opening up though, I've been downloaded into an android's body."
A brief silence. "You must find that awkward."
"At first. I do still have to be careful." He shrugged, indicating a minor annoyance. "I've still got my servo gain set low. All the extra strength. I can now pick up tea cups without breaking them." He smiled, his face indicating optimism and hope.
Khrof turned back to Joy. "You chose an interesting companion. However, you will have to fight your own battles here."
"I know. Unlike on Earth, where Seven was forbidden to fight her own battles." Khrof expressed disapproval of Earth, but Joy went on. "Still, it seemed to me there would be enough challenges, that Bruce would never forgive me if I left him behind."
This drew the first small smile from Khrof. "You have been studying us. 'When a warrior goes into battle, he does not abandon his friends.'"
"Well, yes. It was that line that made me think of Bruce."
"Very well. Follow me. I will show you your quarters."
Khrof, stepped into the cruiser's main spinal corridor. Joy moved to follow him, but found herself confronting the chest of another warrior who had stepped into her path. "No! The Klingon Empire shall not come to this! A human's pleasure toy shall not sit on High Council!"
Joy looked up in dismay. It had begun already? She knew the Klingons throve on challenge, conflict and tests. She'd hoped at least to get to her quarters first. Briefly she scanned her list of Klingon proverbs, seeking the proper approach to solving this challenge. Two lines seemed most appropriate. Unfortunately, the two were "If it's in your way, knock it down" and "Klingons do not procrastinate." She turned red, and reached up to put her right hand on the warrior's chest.
Her opponent blocked. Typically, as in most defensive Klingon martial moves, the block was also a strike, a forearm to forearm smash that would break the weaker of the two limbs. This was a test of strength, purpose, and willingness to endure...
Which Joy declined. A soft stylist, confronting a hard stylist, she knew he could only hurt her if she resisted the force of the blow. An android, confronting an organic, she knew that meeting force with force would cause her opponent injury, which was unacceptable. She relaxed her arm, absorbed the energy of the blow easily, and used that energy to propel her arm in a flowing circular movement which ended with her palm against her opponents chest, just slightly below his center of gravity. There was a brief pause, as she checked her calculations, during which she looked apologetic, her opponent surprised. Three then used a small fraction of her considerable strength in opposition to a living organic being. Up and back she pushed. Her opponent lifted into the air, impacted the wall behind, and slid windmilling to the floor. Joy used the brief moment's respite to step through the door and stand by the surprised Khrof.
"I thought you were forbidden combat."
"We are forbidden causing injury or death." She looked back at her opponent, concerned, embarrassed. "You are not injured?"
He stood, obviously considering continuing the conflict, but stopped, insulted by the question. "I am *not* injured."
Joy sighed in relief. "I am sorry."
Bruce broke in. "Joy, remember Krak's advice. Never apologize for victory, at least not to a Klingon."
Joy became even more embarrassed, and expressed her shame to the warrior. "I'm sorry."
The three males looked at each other, then all three laughed.
Walking to the android's quarters, Khrof turned to question Bruce. "I have heard the humans say that the androids ruined you. What do they mean by that?"
"Ruined? Perhaps. I was built to be a copy, much like your clone copy of Kahless the Unforgettable. I refused to remain a copy. I grew."
Joy broke in. "My sister, Joy Seven, challenged him. Bruce had insulted her, you see, and she insulted Bruce in return. The resulting conflict made Seven's senior year at Starfleet Academy quite busy."
Khrof turned to Bruce for conformation, which he gave. "Not Joy's fault. We both started out as copies, and both of us copied from entertainers at that. It just happened that a clip from Joy's 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' was spliced into my 'Dragon: the Bruce Lee Story.' Thus, we met under less than ideal circumstances."
Joy smiled. "Yes. In 'Breakfast', Mickey Rooney does an absolutely awful portrayal of an oriental gentleman, thick glasses, buck teeth, thick accent, and stupid. I'm afraid that my character treated that poor stereotype rather rudely. This left a poor impression on the original Bruce Lee, which got transmitted into his copy centuries later."
"Oriental?" asked Khrof. "Explain the word?"
"A human from eastern Asia," responded Bruce. "We have a yellow skin tone, and different eyes. Before humans had aliens to hate for their differences, they hated each other. While this isn't so important now, it mattered a great deal to the original Bruce, and to me as well, before I knew better."
"So which of you challenged the other?"
"I started it," said Bruce. "We were both presenting at a conference on artificial intelligence and holographic projection. Joy Seven performed a rather elegant dance with a Fred Astaire hologram, when I pointed out that this was a preset canned sequence. Neither of them were interacting with the environment."
"Don't forget the part about Seven being 'an empty headed decorative piece of fluf,'" Joy added with a small smile. "This rather ruined her curtain call."
"So when I won the holographic hand to hand championship the next night, Joy climbed into the ring to ruin my curtain call. It wasn't much of a match. As a hologram, I was programmed for the very high end of human reaction time and dexterity. Joy is an android, not a hologram, and was not bound at all by human limitations. I got whipped."
"This does not seem a fair challenge."
Joy denied Khrof's comment. "To an artificial, the nature of the challenge is quite different. The point of my dance with Fred was not in copying our predecessor's style and movements. The algorithms for copying physical movements are well known. The point was that Fred's dance was original. He choreographed it himself. It doesn't matter that we weren't interacting with the environment, beyond following the music. That dance was original. Bruce's fighting style was not. Every move he made in the ring was stolen from ancient movies. Bruce was a copy. I challenged him to do one creative thing, to create one new move. He couldn't. He simply had no right to say what he said to Fred."
"Don't forget the part about 'going back to Starfleet to fight real battles in real space', and me being an 'empty headed decorative piece of fluf.'"
Joy turned red again. "Well, you were quite decorative."
Khrof smiled. "So then you ruined him?"
"I integrated the same learning software I had given Fred, and let him try to spar with me, that's all. The themes of 'Dragon' include persistence and dedication. The original Bruce was an innovator. He needed to be the best. That was in this Bruce as well. I just let it out."
Bruce shook his head. "Just let it out... Yes. I've been ruined. My moves are nothing like my predecessor's, not to anyone who has studied the arts, though they have given up creating a more stylistically correct Bruce that can handle me in the ring. And Fred is looking less and less like Fred, not being content to copy either. Is he still trying to make tap dance work in zero G?"
"I'm afraid so," Joy groaned. "Poor Nine!"
"But if Fred is an original, Joy Nine can do anything he can do, in high heels, backwards. If I am an original, taking the arts where they have not been, it is because I'm trying desperately to keep up with Seven. It's almost a shame we now have equal bodies. The task is possible now. I have less need to grow."
"Seven has other tasks occupying her," responded Joy. "You are also enough of a hazard to the rest of the universe as is."
Khrof nodded. "So the test, for androids, is in creating something new?"
Bruce nodded. "There are few indeed of us who can. I create in the dojo. Fred creates on the dance floor. While the humans assign Joys to Starfleet or politics, and are surprised when she succeeds, to the artificials Joy is known for enhancing artificials. This is a higher art than an organic can appreciate."
"I think I might understand," said Khrof. "Repeating old patterns is not sufficient?"
"One must move beyond," acknowledged Bruce.
"We call it 'sentience'," said Joy.