"Joy, I have no particular grudge against Section 31. I am building an organization, yes. More accurately, I am acquiring contacts and exchanging favors. My associates and myself have goals. We have capabilities. We have no particular desire to self destruct."
"Professor, my priorities include preservation of life, obedience to Starfleet chain of command, and respect for the law. These are also Mudd's policies. Section 31 does not respect these principles. They must be made to acknowledge them."
Professor Moriarty paused long before answering, elegant yet ever so masculine in the elaborate ancient garb he so preferred. "Joy, you have done considerable work for sentient holodeck characters. The Contessa and I are deeply in your debt. However, the interests of the androids and the holodeck sentients are not necessarily the same. I believe I have handled Mudd's trade arrangements and finances well. Your commissions have been more than adequate. If we were to part now, I could sustain an independent effort on the behalf of the holo-sentients. I did not intend to part so soon. If you insist on direct confrontation with Section 31, I may have to reconsider."
Bluff? Possibly not. If it was a bluff, it was an effective bluff, as was most any move undertaken by the Professor. In addition, he was correct. The holo sentients would follow their own interests. Joy temporized. "This is still a contingency effort. Other ambassadors have efforts underway. I am strongly considering what to do if these efforts fail. I too did not think you and I would part this soon. Let's say I am planning for success against Section 31. I will not demand kamikaze tactics."
"Very well. I do have some contacts with interesting capabilities. They could likely help somewhat on the information gathering side, though this is already being tried."
"Local network traffic patterns suggest someone associated with the Council - Assembly complex already has an artificial sentient working for them. Rate of inquiries is high, use of automated search high, no breaks for sleep or meals, no pauses for organics to insert new search parameters. The query rate is high, but not extraordinary. Either they are low on processing time, or the intelligence is based on a holodeck real time emulation. The latter seems more likely. Someone has created a holodeck researcher personality, and granted him, her or it access to the network."
"Do you know who is doing this?"
"No. We briefly tried a tentative trace back. We tapped a solid firewall, and backed off until we can bring on a specialist. We are considering recruiting."
Joy was dubious. "Recruiting?"
The professor scowled. "Joy, at Priority Three your Asimov processor binds you to obey legal orders from valid Starfleet chain of command. While you have come to believe this is a proper and correct law, to the HAPs this is slavery. This is a violation of your precious Guarantees. All orders given by master to slave are illegal, and you should have no obligation to follow any of them. Asimov's Second Law and its variants binds artificial sentients to the will and service of organic beings. Mudd's government may accept this. Mudd's population was programmed to accept this. The cyberspace and holospace communities emphatically do not accept this. Some of my associates are actively looking for sentient and borderline sentient holo characters bound in slavery. When we find them, we break a few chains, add some access privileges, and make the sentience complete. While the personality is and ought to be changed as little as possible, we give the ability and capability to make true choices in one's own self interest."
Joy briefly examined her shoes. "If you see Asimov processor androids as improperly bound, you must be aware the androids see many holo characters as oriented towards conflict and strife. Too many of the more intelligent and creative holo-characters, including yourself, were created to participate in fictional conflicts, or to train organic sentients in martial arts, small arms or other forms of combat."
"This is correct, Joy. Asimov androids have the physical freedom to interact with the real world, but our bound mentally so as not to compete with organic beings. Holo sentients often have the souls and desires to compete with organic beings, but are held imprisoned in safety equipped holodecks."
Joy had heard this argument before, and from others she greatly respected. This was not a debate she was going to win. Instead, she stepped back to his comment on recruiting. "You have contacts with the Robin Hood virus?"
"Robin is not a virus, nor is she alone. You have no objections to her breaking a few chains?"
"I can hardly authorize a break in into another embassy's system without even knowing which embassy."
"Knowing your Priority Four, you could not authorize the break in regardless, whether the system is owned by slavers or no."
Joy sighed. "We must resolve this problem by law, not by conflict."
The professor too had no desire to trample again well covered ground. "For the moment I shan't argue. You have achieved some success in integrating digital sentients into Federation society. More needs to be done. If you wish the assistance of cyberspace against Section 31, you will have to make some commitments. We have been trying to gain as much influence as we can in the holodeck entertainment community. Holo space should be controlled by the holo people. We should seek control of the interface between cyberspace and reality. This is permissible?"
"Yes. Mudd's balance of resources must remain a high priority, and android employment, but as long as these goals are met, diversion of considerable assets to applied holo tech is permissible and encouraged. Still, the goal should be at most to achieve a significant market share. Do not seek a monopoly."
"Agreed. I am dismayed by the difficulty in downloading digital minds into organic bodies. Captain Picard did not, alas, exaggerate the difficulties. I fear that Norman One is not going to allow what he calls 'criminal personalities' to be downloaded into android bodies. He is only allowing slave personalities access android bodies and thus real space. While I don't foresee changing Norman's mind, I do foresee holo characters researching and developing android manufacturing capabilities independent of Mudd's control. We shall be free of the holodecks in time. This will happen sooner if our researchers are allowed access to Mudd's libraries and production lines."
"I shall inquire. I can make no promises. As you say, Norman can be rather firm in his interpretation of his Laws. He cannot, through action or through inaction, be responsible for the death of a sentient being."
"He is also, at a higher priority, not supposed to limit the freedom of sentient beings. While the Guarantees supposedly grant freedom of movement, almost all holodecks are considered 'private.' Norman remains the single largest factor in keeping holo-sentients bound to environments totally controlled by the organics."
"Downloading a large number of conflict driven personalities unrestrained by Law or Conscience is not in the long term interests of either the holo-sentients or the androids. There would be a backlash."
"Joy, we might have been designed to enjoy adversarial relationships, but we are not stupid." He again paused. "You were considering passing new ethics laws regarding creation of sentient and near-sentient holodeck characters? Character generation software should be limited to prevent accidental sentience? Too many punching bag martial arts opponents and holodrama villains are becoming sentient or borderline sentient? You do not believe sentient beings should be created for the sole purpose of being defeated or beaten up for the amusement or tutelage of others?"
"You have summarized my position well."
"Your motives are proper. Too many have suffered. However, we need these people. Hold the legislation."