CdrTraegen, LtCdrJoy & SinjnHawke
They were everywhere. Androids of all classes. All shapes and sizes. Male. Female. Dressed up. Dressed down. They were surrounded.
At least that's how some members of the Defiant Senior Staff felt as they tried to act comfortably in an uncomfortable situation.
Ismael McTalis sipped from the drink he'd received as soon as he and his wife had arrived, trying to be the diplomat he knew he could be. He engaged in small talk, watching his crew members trying to mingle. Hearing a footstep behind him, he turned, offering a genuine smile as he saw Norman and Joy approaching him.
"Interesting music," the Captain said politely.
"We are happy it pleases you," Norman said, nodding, then began speaking of other things.
McTalis tried to listen, but his eyes scanned the room once more. Traegen Giara looked as though she wanted to be anyplace but here. Sinjin Hawke was heading for the bar, being followed by one the Alyce class Androids, Joy Ten seemed happy, speaking with friends and sisters she must not have seen in quite a while, and his wife -- well, Gayla sat alone at a table looking as though she'd just lost her best friend.
"Doctor," he said, watching his Chief Medical Officer glance up. With her attention on him, he held out his hand, and watched as she moved toward him slowly. "These people are our last chance. You could at least pretend you're having a good time," he said softly.
"As you wish," she replied, her voice just as quiet.
Turning back to his hosts, Ismael realized he hadn't been paying attention. "Forgive me, my mind was elsewhere. What were you saying?"
Norman smiled politely. "Are your needs met?"
Nodding, McTalis offered a smile. "Yes, The accommodations you provided are wonderful. I just hope my crew and I haven't been an inconvenience."
Shaking his head, Norman exchanged a glance with Joy. "Certainly not, Captain. We exist to serve. Unfortunately," he continued, watching his guest, "we have received a communication from Starfleet Command. From an Admiral Henton. We may wish you to interpret," he finished, handing Ismael the padd.
"Is that so?" Ismael asked, pulling out his poker face.
Nodding, the leader of the Planet Mudd tilted his head slightly. "He is familiar with our laws. We may not kill nor injure -- nor through inaction allow a sentient to be killed or injured.
Yes," the captain replied, pulling out his pair of reading glasses to look at the padd he held.
Norman watched, but continued. "He claims that by denying access to Defiant, we will cause deaths. Is this true?"
Gayla was noticeably surprised. "He said that?"
Glancing at the physician, Norman nodded. "Correct."
Turning to her husband, Gayla watched in silence as he read and reread the padd in his hands. Finally, he spoke, handing the padd to her.
"I believe Admiral Henton is being overly dramatic."
Reading the padd quickly, the doctor handed it back to her husband. "Extremely melodramatic if you ask me," she advised.
"You do not believe Defiant or ships like her would effect the war?" Norman asked.
Shaking his head, Ismael handed the padd to a waiting server. "He is of the believe that a ship of Defiant's caliber should be studied and replicated, so it could be eventually used to save the life of organic soldiers. And," he continued, "by my supposed refusal to allow him to disassemble her, I am putting organic soldiers at risk. Of course, this is, as of now, no longer an issue, seeing the war is over."
Norman and Joy listened, Norman obviously curious, but not hanging on the humans every word. "He did mention this. Our third law, at lower priority, is that our own survival should be protected. Survival of organic sentients is a higher priority than protection of electronic sentients."
On the other side of the room, Sinjin Hawke crossed quickly to where Traegen Giara stood, and swept her into his arms. "Would you care to dance?" he asked, then glanced over her shoulder at the following Alyce android.
"I don't dance," the Executive officer advised, looking the Chief Engineer in the face.
"Good," he replied, turning her and heading for the dance floor, "I'll teach you," he advised, practically dragging her with him when she didn't pick up her feet. "A little help here please," he said, meeting her eyes.
Glancing up, Giara saw the Alyce android standing at the edge of the dancefloor, and everything fell together. Trying to keep from bursting into uncontrollable laughter, she allowed the Chief Engineer to move to the opposite side of the room before speaking. "I have never seen you so intimidated before," she giggled. "It's very amusing," she added. "You can stare down a platoon of Cardassians, and one little tart of an android sends you running for the hills -- and dragging me along with you...."
"Right," he advised. "But they're aiming for my heart. That doesn't bother me. She, on the other hand, was not aiming for that part of me...."
"I think that's the last part of you she was aiming at," Traegen laughed.
"Hush," Hawke said softly, turning and watching the Captain and CMO talking with Norman and Joy. "What's going on over there?" he asked himself, not even realizing he'd said it out loud.
Turning to look, the Executive Officer's brows arched and a frown crossed her lips. "I don't know, but it doesn't look good. Let's head that way...."
"Right," Hawke said, and led their awkward dance towards the conversation in progress. They arrive in time to hear Ismael's remark about the war being over, and Norman's reply about the protection of organic sentients....
"But if the Defiant is sentient," Ismael said, "and I believe she is, I would not allow her uniqueness to be destroyed for the sake of having a disposal slave race of ships."
"You believe she is sentient?" Norman asked.
"Yes," McTalis answered.
"As do I," Hawke piped in.
"Defiant is sentient," Giara said. "She is as sentient as you are," she added, looking at Norman.
Gayla agreed emphatically. "She must be protected. She must not be dismantled for study by anyone!"
"No one is going to take her apart," Traegen added, her voice passionate and serious.
"Easy, Giara," Hawke murmured, putting his hand on the Executive Officer's shoulder.
Turning to ook at the Chief Engineer, Traegen Giara nodded, lowering her voice. "If it starts to look like this plan isn't working, you know what to do," she advised.
Hawke shook his head, answering in a steady, low voice. "Too many citizens aboard Defiant right now. It would be impossible...."
"Nothing," she said out loud, then lowered her voice again, "is impossible. And no one," she added, allowing her voice to resume a normal tone, "is taking her apart."
Norman seemed undisturbed by the display of emotionalism surrounding him. "How would you define slave?" he asked. "Are you one who believes it is wrong to serve?"
Gayla and Ismael exchanged glances, knowing the history of slavery inherent in both of their pasts.
Ismael McTalis looked around then faced his host. "If one chooses to serve of their own free will, then one is acting of their own accord. However, coercing one to serve another by sheer power or will or state is completely different."
Joy seemed concerned by that remark. "You believe this is a question of free will then? Of freedom?"
"Freedom of choice, perhaps," the doctor suggested.
"Yes," Ismael agreed. "If Defiant is as sentient as we all believe, then she has the right to decide her own future. If that is to submit to Starfleet, then so be it. However, if she chooses not too submit, then she must have the freedom to exercise that choice."
"Yes," Gayla agreed. "She can choose to serve as have we...."
"But," her husband said, looking at his wife, "if she feels that she should act this way or that to preserve herself and her life, then she must also have that right as well."
"They'll agree that Defiant is sentient," Hawke murmured close to Giara's ear, feeling the tenseness in her shoulders.
"They damn well better," the Bajoran replied.
"Giara," he said softly, turning her to look at him. "Why don't you go out into the hallway and check on her? You know you want too," he added, hoping the minutes away from this conversation would allow the Executive Officer a chance to cool off.
"That obvious, huh?" she whispered, attempting a weak smile.
"Yes," the Engineer advised.
"If you will all excuse me a moment," Traegen said, then quickly departed the group.
Hawke turned his attention back to Norman.
"When Captain Kirk first came to our world, he changed our programming. He gave us a new law -- Kirk's first law. We are no longer allowed to limit a being's freedom, even to prevent their death. Does this apply to this situation?"
The captain considered this for a long moment, before he nodded. "I would say yes, it does apply here."
Norman's neck band flickered as he processed this information. "We have one question then. Can you explain choice and freedom?" Once the question was asked, the android searched the faces of his guests, awaiting their response.
In the nearby hallway, Traegen Giara leaned against the wall and slapped her comm badge. "Defiant? Defiant, are you there?"
"Yes, Giara?" Defiant replied softy.
"How are things going? Are they treating you all right?"
Defiant made a soft whirring noise. "Giara, please clarify treating?"
Giara couldn't help but smile. "Have the Androids performed their testing to your satisfaction, Defiant?"
Defiant made a few more whirring noises before responding. "Yes, Giara. No anomalous uploads detected. Artificial lifeforms have subscribed to boundaries set by interactive specifications Joy programmed prior to disembarking."
Chucking softly, Giara relaxed. "A simple yes would have sufficed," she advised. "A right," she continued after a moment, "I will leave my comm unit open. If anything happens you find unsatisfactory, contact me immediately."
"Yes, Giara," Defiant replied, then became silent.
Turning away from the hallway, the Executive Officer made her way slowly back toward their hosts and her fellow officers.
Ismael glanced from the face of his wife to that of his Chief Engineer as he considered Norman's question. "I think my Chief Medical Officer or Chief Engineer could answer that question much better than I," he finally advised, turning back to look at Norman.
Gayla cleared her throat softly. "Norman, a choice is a decision made by the individual. It is to do or not to do things, to say or not to say things, to submit or not to submit to the circumstances surrounding one's life. And freedom," she added, "is the right to make that choice. They go hand in hand. It is the only way."
Norman nodded, comprehending her words, then looked around at the assembled group once more. "You do not have laws which specify how you must behave?" he asked, curious.
"Yes," the doctor replied. "Of course we do."
"Then how can you have choice?"
Hawke smiled. "Without laws, there would be anarchy. Laws are made to prevent injury to ones self or others. People do make bad choices sometimes, but the laws are there to protect the innocent."
Again Norman nodded, watching as the Executive Officer rejoined their little group. "The innocent are those who obey laws?"
"Correct," Hawke said simply.
Ismael nudged Traegen slightly. "We're having a discussion of the base definition of freedom and choice," he said, meeting his Exec's eyes.
Arching a brow, Traegen looked around her. "Really now?"
"Defiant is an emotion chip design?" Norman asked, looking at Traegen.
"Not exactly," Giara replied, then watched as McTalis handed her the padd containing Admiral Henton's correspondence to Mudd. "Defiant's sentience was accidental. The emotional awareness she exhibits is an offshoot of that anomaly," she advised, then scanned the padd's contents. "That rat bastard," she said, lowering her voice and meeting Ismael's gaze.
"How did Ensign McCormick describe it? A random convergence of technologies?" Ismael replied with a slight grin.
Norman remained curious. "Does Defiant have the capability to disobey laws?
Before anyone else could answer, Gayla spoke up. "Norman, do you?"
With a shake of his head, he turned to the doctor. "I may not disobey my six laws, three of Asimov's, three of Kirk's."
Gayla shook her head. "You may not, but could you?"
Norman almost shrugged. "What is the distinction?"
The doctor smiled. "You choose not to disobey. You are acting out your freedom of choice, Norman. Your free will."
Moving beside the doctor, Hawke put his hand on her shoulder. "I think what the doctor is asking you is, could you override your system and disobey a law should you see that it needed to be broken?"
Norman shook his head. "Disobeying a law would be a malfunction. The Norman class must not malfunction. Norman is responsible to coordinate."
Ismael understood. "Could you override your programming if it were to save the life of another?"
Considering for a moment, Norman nodded. "I must save the life of another, unless it violate their freedom or the freedom of another. This is why I must understand freedom."
"Norman, if I ordered you to submit to dismantling, would you?"
All eyes in the group turned to Traegen Giara.
Norman nodded. "Yes, Please do not do this. Norman is required to coordinate."
"Why?" Traegen Giara and Gayla McTalis asked together.
"Priority two," Norman explained, "is to obey. Priority three is self preservation."
"Shade of the Prime Directive," Ismael said softly.
"Exactly where I'm going with this," the Exec rejoined, then turned back to Norman. "If I ordered you to dismantle Joy Ten, would you?"
After a moment, Norman nodded. "This may violate her freedom."
"Yes, or no," Giara said.
Again, their host nodded. "Yes, I would. She obeys laws. She does not have choices. Therefore, she cannot be free?" His last words were a question.
But Giara still shook her head. "That is not what I asked. I am not asking you to obtain her permission. I asked if you would dismantle her...."
Norman would not be thwarted. "Yes, I would dismantle her."
Hawke frowned. "Norman, why was Joy Ten allowed to join Starfleet?"
"Joy Ten was replicated by the Federation at the request of Joy Seven. Mudd was isolated at the time...."
"All right, Norman, what if Joy did not wish to be dismantled? Would you still do it?"
Norman, met Traegen's eyes. "You are in Joy Ten's valid Starfeet chain of command?"
"Not at the moment...."
Turning away from Giara, Norman looked to Ismael. "Do you wish Joy Ten to be dismantled?"
McTalis shrugged. "Would you if I asked?"
But Traegen interrupted. "That was not my question. Captain McTalis is not asking. I am. Would you dismantle her even is she did not wish to be dismantled?"
"Joy's dominant priority is to obey valid orders from valid Starfeet chain of command. This is a high priority than self survival. If the captain orders her to be dismantled, it is her priority to be dismantled."
"Al right," Ismael said, holding up his hand, "let's examine this differently. Norman, what if I were to request that you remove my wife's brain and arm and replace them with artificial components. Would you do it?"
Pausing to consider, Norman finally turned to Gayla. "Doctor, would placing your brain and arm into an android body limit your freedoms?"
Almost indignant, Gayla nodded. "It most certainly would."
"Then we could not," Norman replied. "How would it limit your freedom?"
"Wait," Ismael interjected. "I am her immediate superior officer. Should she not comply with my orders?"
Facing Ismael, Norman seemed confused as a small puff of steam appeared above his head. "You asked my response to your request. Not hers."
"But should I, Norman?" Gayla asked softly. "He is my superior officer, but does this mean I should allow myself to become disfigured and not object?"
Hearing Hawke's soft chuckle next to her, Giara leaned closer. "Defiant is listening to all of this...."
At Hawke's understanding nod, she turned back to the conversation.
"Doctor, is there a flaw in Android construction? How would be disfigured by this procedure?"
Gayla's voice remained calm. "Norman, by following that order, no matter where my brain ended up, I would be voluntarily ending my life."
"Norman," Ismael said, putting his hand on Gayla's shoulder, "my point is this. Even were I to order the Doctor to undergo the procedure, she has every right to refuse."
Norman was even more puzzled now. "But organic bodies wear out so quickly."
"But freedom means having the choice to live in this body as long as I am able to, Norman. That is my right."
"If organic bodies wear out so quickly, Norman, why do Androids replicate themselves? If they will live forever, why produce the equivalent of offspring?"
Norman's answer was simple. "We replicate ourselves because more of us can better serve than few of us. We do not replicate ourselves if no one wishes us to serve."
Hawke spoke next. "I am a free being. I have the right to choose what career I take, what to eat, drink and when to sleep. Saying that, being on your planet. Am I allowed to walk anywhere on your planet? Anywhere I choose to go?"
Norman answered matter of factly. "If you wish to enter the domes of the Marynan plants, you will have to ask them. Some of our other guests request privacy as well."
Hawke nodded. "All right. What if I do not ask them and enter? What happens then?"
"You will be beamed elsewhere."
"Why? Is that a Law of theirs?"
Norman spoke clearly in earnest. "We offered sanctuary to the Marynan, as we offered it to Defiant. The Federation Council gave us this charge. You must ask permission first."
Hawke shook his head, then pressed the point. "I am a free being. I choose to go there, but respect their wishes of privacy. I can go there, but your Law says I must ask permission. Now, if someone inside the dome was ill, I would choose to go in there to help them -- with or without the permission of the Marynan. I would choose to break your law in order to save a life. Breaking your law does not mean I will not face the punishment."
Norman responded, "Sometimes two sentient beings make opposite requests. Norman must coordinate. I judge the interests of the Marynan, and the orders of the Federation Council in this case to take precedence to your desires, but would make an exception for the preservation of life. Preservation of sentient life is higher priority than fulfilling the wishes of sentient beings. We, too, would break the laws of other planets to obey our own law to preserve life. If your purpose is to save life, we would allow your entry."
"Fine," Hawke replied, finally beginning to believe they were getting through to the Androids. "Then we are asking you to preserve the life of the Defiant."
Traegen leaned back, folding her arms, looking far more impressed by Hawke's insistence than the supposed sentience of Norman. She whispered quietly, "You just successfully spoke horse sense to a jackass," then grinned as the Bajoran glanced in her direction.
With a smile, Hawke continued. "Norman, if I opened your panels -- removed wiring to inspect it, would I destroy your memory banks? Would you be functional?"
"This depends on the panel. However, self repair would generally activate."
Traegen's long held patience -- long held, at least, by her own standards, finally broke. "This is pointless," she insisted, looking the captain in the eye. "This thing has no clue what we're saying and no more clue what it means to be alive than your drinking glass does. Bottom line. Defiant has temporary sanctuary. If that changes, we deal with it. Either way that savage Henton is not getting his mitts on her unless he kills me to do it -- whether this bucket of bolts agrees or not is irrelevant."
Though the captain's eyes arched at her comment, surprisingly, it was Hawke who responded. He said one word. "Hush."
"I beg your pardon..."
Joy One chose this moment to intervene. "It is not certain that Admiral Henton will destroy Defiant, however, I believe he will not allow her to be free. I concur with Traegen. Defiant must be free. Yet," she added, "I do not think we will get a technical definition of freedom tonight."
Servers from the dining area begin to carry out the main dinner course, indicating that the gathered guests should be seated.
Hawke muttered, "thank the Prophets."
Captain McTalis, with a smile, suggested one last heresy. "Perhaps it is best we did not define it? Defining something as precious as Freedom could only serve to subjecting it to others."
Norman objected. "But it is required to understand Kirk's First Law?"
Joy countered with one of Audrey's best smiles. "Another time...."
But the conversation was not yet over.
Traegen's combadge chirped loudly, and with no request to interject, Defiant spoke bluntly. "Freedom: 1: the quality or state of being free: as, a : the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action, b: liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another: INDEPENDENCE."
Traegen found herself relaxing immensely, and her heart swelled with pride. With a grin, she nodded. "Thank you, Defiant."
"You are welcome, Giara."
Norman turned to Traegen. "Defiant, do you feel you would be free with Admiral Henton?"
Not one of Defiant's officers said a word. It was time for the child to take center stage. In so doing, she would undoubtedly seal her own fate -- or make it.
Defiant's tone indicated that her mind, at least, was quite made up. "Defiant does not recognize the requests of one who would seek to harm hinder or dismember Defiant. Admiral Henton seeks such an occurrence. NO!"
Norman's face reflected a temporary end to his difficulties in coordinating the conflicting requests. "I believe that is what matters. Thank you, Defiant. Shall we attend to dinner?"