Ambassador Joy Seven and Vice Chair Rybalt walked quickly and confidently down the corridor, flanked fore and aft by the newly arrived Alyce class bodyguard androids. "Vixen from Hell", Joy muttered.
Joshua was startled. "Excuse me, Joy?"
"I'm sorry." Joy's body language clearly stated she was not at all sorry. "Vixen from Vulcan."
"Should you speak that way of the citizens of your planet?"
Joy sighed. "I suppose not. I did request recent model units. The Alyce Class is the newest, excepting the Stellas and the Joys. But... Well, the Alyce Class and the Joy Class never did operate well together."
Alyce Five, using her usual helpful and direct tone of voice, explained. "Emotion chip androids - such as the Joy class - are inherently unstable, incapable of reliably performing simple tasks, and prone to spending energy on status display rather than assigned functions."
Joy's response was rather dry. "The Alyce Class was one of Milord Mudd's two favorite classes of androids, the other being the Joys. There was... a conflict in approaches to serving Milord's welfare."
"This information is incomplete," insisted Alyce Five. "While Milord Mudd was fascinated by the Joy Class's erratic behavior, the Joy Class was at frequent intervals banned from his presence. Describing the Joys as 'favorites' is highly inaccurate."
The exchange was beginning to remind Joshua of a tennis match. "Joy?"
Joy just smiled a secret satisfied... evil... little smile. "Milord was a bit... full of himself... not to mention being bored by years of emotionless robots pandering to his every whim. The Joy Class was attempting to teach him to love someone, other than himself. It was quite a task. The Alyce Class was a distraction, able to engage his eyes and his sexual apparatus, though never his heart."
It may not be entirely true that the Alyce class cannot express emotion. Five seemed pleased, in a somewhat superior sort of way, to correct Joy's interpretation. "Which is, of course, why Milord sold the Joys as soon as he left the planet."
"He needed cash."
"He never loved you. Your emotion chip renders you incapable of objectively observing the behavior of sentient beings."
"You don't know what being alive means!"
Joshua sensed this was beginning to get out of hand. "Ladies?"
"At least I got him away from the Stellas! Under your care, he would have been nagged to death."
"And in doing so, you violated your Second Priority, never to let Milord leave the planet. This is a malfunction." The way Five delivered that line, one would suppose it the ultimate insult, at least among androids. But she wasn't through. As if she was simply stating a known fact, she went on. "The Joy class Asimov processor provides insufficient feedback to the emotion chip."
Definitely, getting out of hand. "Ahem. Ladies?"
Joy ignored him, getting very very angry. "That was Kirk's priority! Can't you understand? Kirk was Milord's enemy! As long as Kirk's Stellas dominated the atmosphere of the planet..."
All four Alyces blurred, weapons instantly in hand. Joy backed to the wall, a phaser coming quickly and cleanly out of her own purse. Everyone organic in the corridor was either dropping to the floor, or running to get out of the line of fire, regardless of the fact that no shot had been triggered yet.
An exception, a human male, was observing that his gun was in the left hand of Alyce Three, while his wrist was in her right hand. He seemed somewhat impressed by how easily his weapon was being crushed by Three, which made him not inclined to break out of the rather firm grip on his wrist. Alyces Two, Four, and Five were not watching the attacker. Their weapons were out, scanning for additional threats that might be trying to used the first attacker as a distraction, trusting that Three was quite capable of handling a single organic being.
Joshua was the first to speak. "They seem rather fond of crushing weapons."
"It generally has the effect of reducing an organic's will to fight," Joy explained. "You organics have created too many weapons, anyway."
"And grabbing wrists?"
"Wrists and ankles. The preferred non-fatal restraint is to break a wrist or ankle, then control the captive through manipulating the attached hand or foot."
Joshua winced. "I see. Computer, end program."
The Council corridor system and most of it's occupants were replaced by a plain black room, with yellow cross hatched lines covering walls, floors, and ceilings. The Alyces, without being told, lined up for review. Their inspection stance was somewhat unusual. It seemed designed to expose the maximum amount of leg through the slit skirts, and to maximize the effects of certain curves. Their identical smiles exposed brilliant white, evenly space teeth.
Joy struggled to approve.
Joshua was having a bit of trouble keeping his eyes on their faces. "Interesting uniforms."
"Milord liked them," Joy replied dryly. "We're having new ones made up, more appropriate to the dignity of the Council. More extensive... Less transparent... More importantly, I hope, you do find them acceptable as bodyguards?"
"Two, Three and Five are quite acceptable. Four, however, is not."
For the first time, the uniform smiles on the faces of the Alyces faded. With a glimpse at Joy, Four got permission to speak. "But? My performance was identical to the other three? Why am I insufficient?"
Joshua responded with a hesitant smile. "It is because you are identical that you are insufficient. Three was perfect! You were identical to Three! Therefore, you are flawed!"
There was a brief pause as the four Alyce units looked at one another, and nodded. Four's hand blurred, seeming to rematerialize around Joshua's wrist. He shortly found himself face down on the floor, with his arm somewhere it would really rather not be. "Joy!"
"Excellent, Four, but do let him up. He is not a genuine threat, at least, not at the moment." She eyed Joshua with genuine amusement, and Four with genuine approval. "You have been doing your homework, Joshua."
He stood up somewhat slowly, embarrassed. "I thought I had done my homework. Kirk's logs said the Mudd Androids were vulnerable to paradox and riddles. If you fed them conflicting information, they would shut down."
"Your information is correct. The Alyces are prone to Paradox Shutdowns. However, we have taught them to recognize some Paradoxes and hostile intent. Your mistake was in using a paradox they have heard before. You will have to be far more original, or the Alyces will assume you are attacking them, and take appropriate action."
"Ouch. Alyce Four, your performance is quite acceptable, then."
"Thank you, Milord Joshua."
Joy smiled to Joshua, and gave him a brief bow. She then turned to the Alyces. "Come along then, ladies. Home..."